Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Water Stains on the Ceiling

By Reena Nerbas

Cat Urine

Dear Reena,

Is there any way to clean cat urine off a silk duvet? I understand silk duvets are NOT to be washed or dry cleaned. Thank you for any help with this problem. Janet

Dear Janet,

It is true that high heat and domestic washing machines can damage the beautiful and strong properties of silk fibers. For this reason, it is important to refer to the care label instructions. If the instructions direct you to dry clean the product, contact a variety of dry cleaners to locate a company experienced with caring for silk duvets.

Water-Stained Ceiling

Hi Reena, Do you have any suggestions for removing water stains on a stipple ceiling without making it too noticeable? With all the snow this year, melting and freezing it has found a weak spot and moisture is coming into the ceiling. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks, Evangeline

Dear Evangeline,

Begin by determining if the stipple has previously been painted. If the stipple was painted with an oil-based paint, paint over the oil with latex or oil. If the ceiling was never painted, spray it with the following all-purpose cleaner recipe: two cups rubbing alcohol, half a cup household ammonia, one teaspoon Dawn dish soap and enough water to fill the bottle. Spray, wipe and rinse (taken from Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets). If the stain remains, hide it by using shellac before painting. The shellac will seal the stain and prevent the stain from bleeding through. Or paint with an oil-based stipple paint, to harden the surface making it easy to wipe. Keep in mind that once stipple is painted, it is extremely difficult to remove if you ever do decide to scrape it. Touching up stipple on ceilings can be difficult to color match, often the entire surface must be repainted. Other options in touching up stipple are to sponge on color-matched grout or Stipple Fix, which comes in a small container and is available at hardware stores.

Yellowed Plastic

Dear Reena,
Please tell me how to whiten plastic that has yellowed. Thanks. Marie

Dear Marie,
While there are plastic whitening products on the market, you want to be careful and read the label to make sure that the cleaner is appropriate for your particular item. Another option is to soak the area in bleach and scrub with an abrasive cloth. Rinse with water.
Extra Tip: If you have bleach smell on your fingers, soak them in lemon juice or vinegar to remove the odor. Wash hands as usual.

Feedback from Clever Contributors

Re: Areas many people neglect to vacuum

Another neglected spot while vacuuming is behind the door of the room you’ve just walked into! Irene

Re: Vacuuming

On the topic of vacuuming, I find that many people neglect to vacuum between the cushions of their couch. Because elastic bands and coins tend to collect in those areas, I take a piece of pantyhose and use an elastic band to secure it to the nozzle of the vacuum. That way the small items don’t get sucked into the machine. Lihua

Share Your Wisdom

  • To remove candle wax from the bottom of votives, put the votive into the fridge overnight. By morning, the wax will become very hard and can be popped right out. Submitted by: Sue
  • The best tip I ever received was from a restaurant owner in Fargo. The owner said that the best way to clean mirrors is by using a coffee filter. I now also use them to clean my windows before tossing them into the compost. Submitted by: Landon

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at

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