Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Cleaning Bird Baths and Preventing Garden Pests

By Reena Nerbas

Foil Stuck to Oven Floor

Hi Reena,

I am a faithful reader to your column. I was cooking chicken in my 7-year-old oven, and put some tin foil in the bottom of the oven. I thought it would catch the grease droppings. However, the tin foil began to stick to the bottom plate. I removed most of the tin foil, but some is still stuck. Do you have a solution for getting the rest of the tin foil off?  Also, is it still safe to use the oven? Your help would be most helpful and deeply appreciated. Many, many thanks, Connie

Dear Connie,

While the following isn’t an instant solution; it is effective at removing foil without damaging the porcelain finish of your oven. In a cool oven, lay a hot, wet rag on the oven floor, leave for 20-30 mins. Use a little liquid dish soap to lubricate the area and scrape the foil with a plastic scrub pad, plastic scraper, or a credit card. The foil will eventually burn off over time. Refer to the Instructor’s Manual to determine whether it is safe to use the oven. I have not heard of any problems from people who have used their oven when foil was stuck to the bottom.

Algae in the Bird Bath

Dear Reena,

I read your recent article advising others to use a few drops of canola oil in bird baths to discourage mosquitoes; thanks for that tip.

After much research, I have determined birdbaths are prone to the microorganism Haematococcus Pluvialis, and pigment Astaxanthin is present to protect the organism from the sun’s rays.  My structure is in a sun exposure; I suppose which stimulates the situation. It is necessary for me to clean my birdbath every few days as the red alga builds up. When changing the water, I scrub with either washing soda or bleach which only lasts for a few days. Are you aware of an effective solution, other than frequent cleaning and replacement of water, to deter the growth of red alga? Mary

Dear Mary,

You are correct, the most agreed upon technique for cleaning bird baths is to scrub them with bleach and water every few days. Some people recommend dumping the old water and spraying the bath with plain old water. Also, a few drops of apple cider vinegar in bird bath water is an effective way to slow down algae growth and may be worth the time and effort it takes to add it to the bird bath water.

Stained Shower Walls

Dear Reena,

Our shower stall walls are getting stained from the water. I used to spray the walls with “Lime Away”, but can’t find it anywhere. The walls are white heavy vinyl. Can you please advise me how to clean them? I tried “Lime Out”, but it’s a thicker substance and does not work as well as the Lime Away. Please advise. Thanks, Hilaria

Dear Hilaria,

If you have tried products such as: Iron Out, baking soda/vinegar, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or Lime Out without success. Consider silver jewellery polish and a green scrubby pad, this has surprisingly good results and with a little elbow grease you will be amazed at the outcome!

Fantastic Household Discoveries!

  • I was given an old Flan pan from the 70’s, the kind with the wavy edge. The bottom is not removable. I greased the pan and pressed the pastry into it but after it was baked I could not remove the pastry so it ended up in the garbage. The second time I tried it, I began by lining the pan with greased foil. The pastry was a cinch to remove. Reena
  • To control tomato viruses on my tomato plants, I found that spreading cornmeal around tomato plants is very effective. Submitted by: Manjeet
  • I have a brilliant remedy for repelling bugs onto my veggie plants. I attach a plastic cup coated with Tree Tanglefoot onto popsicle sticks. Push the sticks into the ground between plants. Tanglefoot does not wash off with rain, making it very effective at repelling ants and aphids. Submitted by: Serena

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

, , , ,