Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Ceramic Stovetop

By Reena Nerbas

Cleaning Ceramic Stovetop

Dear Reena,

In an apartment building that I own, the client cooked on the ceramic top stove but neglected to clean the top surface and now the food is all baked on. How can I start the removal of the old baked on mess? Jean

Dear Jean,

Head to a store where appliances are sold. They will sell you a tool that looks like a razorblade. This little gadget will not damage the surface but it will save you time and effort in cleaning the stove top each time you use it. There are also products on the market for cleaning cook tops but a little dish soap, water and the razor tool is all that you really need.

White Colouring in Houseplant Soil

Dear Reena,

I have recently noticed a layer of strange coloured soil on all my houseplants that looks fuzzy much like white mold. I do not water my plants very often and am wondering what the cause of this is. What is the best way to get rid of it and prevent it from happening again? I just mixed it into the soil but am thinking perhaps I should have scraped it off. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks, Sheri

Dear Sheri,

Depending on where you live the problem may be the amount of salt in your water. In other words, if you have a salt softener on your cold water taps and you are using cold water to water your plants, the white layer that you see forming may be salt and not mold. If this is not the case, typically mold comes from over watering your plants. Wait until the soil is dry two inches deep before watering. Or move the plants to an area where they will receive additional sun. If the problem remains, re-pot the plants and start over with sterile soil.

Permanent Marks on Window Sill

Dear Reena,

I have been reading your column regularly and appreciate your easy solutions on so many things. I have a problem that I am unable to resolve. I used rubber/silicon feet to support some display items on a window sill which was exposed to morning sun on the east side. After a few weeks I discovered that these feet left marks on the paint of the sill. I tried many products to remove these marks without success. I was hoping not to have to sand and paint the whole area. I did try sanding with a very fine paper (DIAMOND GRIT 600) without any success. I would very much appreciate any suggestions. Thank you. Harvey

Dear Harvey,

What I would use in your case is plain old baking soda and water. Make a paste. Leave for 20 minutes and scrub hard. If the marks remain, spray the area with WD-40. Wait for 10 minutes and wipe. If the marks are still there, you will need to clean the area with TSP and water or dish soap and water and re-paint (test everything on an inconspicuous area before using).

Perfume Smell in Books and Clothes

Dear Reena,

When I lend books to my friend they come back smelling strongly of perfume and/or creams. Sometimes after I’ve visited her my clothes also reek of perfume. I am highly allergic to strong odors. How do I get the perfume smells out of my books and clothes? I very much enjoy your articles. Thank you. Marion

Dear Marion,

Leaving books and fabrics outside on a dry day is an effective way to zap odors. When you bring your items back into your home, soak fabrics in borax and water before washing (according to the care label directions). As for the books, place them in a plastic container or garbage bag with either kitty litter or charcoal. Or lay the books in your freezer for a couple of hours that should zap any lingering odors.

Fabulous Painting Tips of the Week:

  • Prevent white paint from yellowing by adding a drop of black paint to the can.
  • Use a roller made for rough surfaces when painting over a stippled ceiling.
  • Tint primer to the colour that you are hoping to paint, that way you can see if that is the colour that you really want.


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.

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