Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Autumn Pests

By Reena Nerbas

Restoring Grout

Dear Reena,

I need help restoring grout. The tile grout on my bathroom floor around the toilet and shower has turned a whitish color; it is only 3 years old. How can I return it to its original color? I enjoy your column every week, Margaret

Dear Margaret,

Sounds like you are describing efflorescence. A condition caused by salts rising to the surface of cement based products. While there are products on the market available to help clear up efflorescence such as Sulfamic Acid Cleaner, they are not always successful. Some people have had success by cleaning the floor with 50/50 water and phosphoric acid or simply wiping the area with a stiff brush. However, the best solutions are to control moisture in the area by running the exhaust fan after bathtub and showers, properly sealing the grout and caulking around the bathtub and shower.

Measuring Cheese

Hi Reena,

I love all your help and suggestions and hope you can help with this. I would like to know the proper way to measure cheese. Recipes often ask for a measure of cheese, i.e. one cup shredded. How do you properly measure cheese? Thanks so much, Kristen

Hi Kristen!

One of the beauties of cooking is that it isn’t as precise as baking. The most accurate way to measure cheese is by weighing it with a kitchen scale. If you do not own a kitchen scale and the cheese is grated; put it inside of a measuring cup and lightly pack it down.

Feedback from Wise Readers:
Re: Combat Shrinking Pie Crusts

The best way is to prepare the pie crust as usual and then freeze it. Bake as usual in frozen state. The pie crust will not shrink and always works. If you notice, when you buy frozen crusts you always bake them frozen- this is how I learned this trick for my own pastry. Try it, Isla

Autumn Pests
Re: Fruit Flies

Amazingly quick results! I like to use a shot glass. They are highly effective and can be discreet on the corner of a window sill. Place a piece of banana in the glass; put a piece of plastic wrap, over the top of the glass. It’s easy to pull tightly over and just seal it by wrapping around the glass. Make sure it is tight like a drum! Poke a few holes in it with a toothpick! Voila, guaranteed success! Don’t make the holes too big; it’s actually amazing how quickly this works. When it comes time to remove, I just shake it a bit, turn the glass upside down (over the sink) unwrap it from the sides of the glass, shake contents, untwist the wrap and discard the wrap into the garbage. I have success every time and find that by putting a glass in the kitchen and adjoining dining and living rooms the bugs are gone quickly! Kimberly

Re: Fruit Flies

Michael recently wrote about the trap he made to capture fruit flies; here’s another easy solution. Simply take a medium sized glass jar with a screw top lid and punch 3 small holes into the lid. Add apple cider vinegar till the jar is three quarters full. Screw the lid back on and place it on your kitchen counter. The flies are attracted to the fruity scent and work their way inside. The solution lasts for a week and can easily be dumped out, rinse and then replenish with fresh vinegar. Shirley

Life Hacks
  • I use my sunglasses as a stand for my IPhone when I want to prop it up to watch a video. Submitted By: Geesha
  • I gave up drinking wine a few years ago but instead of tossing out my wall mounted wine rack. I hung it in the bathroom to hold rolled up towels. Works perfectly; off to pat myself on the back. Submitted By: Dr. Tan

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