Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Laundry Detergent

By Reena Nerbas

Sparkling Stainless Steel

Dear Reena,

How can I brighten stainless steel cutlery to bring back the sparkle? Thanks, Sharon

Dear Sharon,

In commercial settings; it is very common to toss cutlery into a sink of plain old white vinegar, let soak and polish with a cloth. Or cut a potato in half and sprinkle it with powdered laundry detergent, rub onto rust spots, rinse and dry. Doing this gets rid of water and rust spots. Bar Keepers Friend is another effective option. To make your own silver or stainless steel cleaner: Place crumpled aluminum foil in a pan or plastic bucket. Dissolve one quarter cup baking soda in enough hot water to cover the cutlery. Place cutlery on foil and let stand for 5 mins. until the stains are gone. Rinse and polish dry.

Laundry Detergent Suds

Dear Reena,

What is the lowest sudsing laundry detergent for use in a top loading washing with an agitator? I also have a water softener. Sharon

Dear Sharon,

Choose any HE detergent and you will have chosen a low sudsing detergent. Laundry detergent labelled HE produces fewer suds and is recommended for top and front loading machines. High Efficiency detergent is concentrated and less detergent is required thereby saving you money. HE detergent reduces the risk of mold growing inside the machine; since less suds are produced. Most new washers use less water and when excess detergent is used it is not completely rinsed away which may shorten the life of textiles.

Good Clean Fun Laundry Detergent:

Grate one Fels-Naptha bar soap. Boil 4 cups water into a pot. Switch stove temperature to low and add the grated soap. Stir until dissolved. Fill an ice cream bucket with 3 gallons of warm water; add one quarter cup borax and one cup washing soda. Stir well; close lid and leave for 12 hours. The mixture will have lumps, stir before using (lumps dissolve in washing machine). Use one cup detergent per load.

Sticking Rice

Dear Reena,

How can I prevent rice from sticking to the pot while cooking and ending up with a ball of ‘glump’ (to use one of your words)? Thomas

Dear Thomas,

One way to prevent rice from sticking to the pot is to cook it in the microwave. For 1 cup of rice, add 2 cups of water. Season and cook in microwave on HIGH for 10-20 mins. No sticky mess. If you prefer to cook rice on the stove: Rinse the rice before you boil it (until the water becomes fairly clear). Add a little oil or butter to the pot (rice in a pot should not be overcooked). Or boil your rice in lots of water and when done, just strain it through a sieve. Perfect rice every time.

Feedback from Readers:

Re: Bedbugs

With regards to Peter’s letter in a recent column, he can check out the bedbug registry for online reports of hotel bed bug encounters: Jeannette

Re: Cleaning Paving Stones

I have very successfully used Dawn dish detergent to clean sidewalk stones. I dribbled it over the stains, added a very small amount of water and scrubbed it very well. I let it sit for half an hour and washed it off with the hose! Voila, a clean sidewalk! Nadine 

Bird Feeder Ideas:

  • I save empty toilet paper rolls for birdfeeders. Smear the toilet paper roll with peanut butter and cover with birdseed. Hang them on trees outside. Submitted by: Duncan

  • Repurpose empty plastic water bottles for birdfeeders. Cut holes on both sides of the bottle; fill the bottle with birdseed. Slide a wooden spoon through the middle for the birds to perch. Make the hole large enough for the birds to access the food inside the bottle. Submitted by: Ladee

  • Instead of tossing out stale bread or bread ends; I smear them with peanut butter and bird seed. The birds eat the food in one afternoon. Submitted by: Helene

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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