Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Safe Use of Wood-burning Fireplace

By Reena Nerbas

Removing Creases from Vinyl Tablecloth

Dear Reena,

I have two flannel-backed vinyl tablecloths. They were obviously wrapped in tight plastic packaging for a long time, because they have a lot of deep creases. What methods would you recommend I use to remove the creases without melting the vinyl? Thank you, Joan

Dear Joan,

Fill a bathtub with cool water. Soak the tablecloths in the tub for a couple of hours to drench the creases. Hang tablecloths to dry. If creases persist, cover folds with a damp tea towel and iron on low setting to remove creases.

Cleaning Suede Jacket

Dear Reena,

I own a suede jacket that has a big dirt mark on the sleeve, because I fell on my elbow into a puddle. I also have a few scuff marks on the opposite sleeve. What should I use to clean the area? Garry

Dear Garry,

Hope you are not hurt from the fall! Get rid of scuff marks by rubbing the marks with a pencil eraser, and then wiping the nap with your nail brush. Sprinkle the suede fabric with baking soda, and then brush the nap back and forth with a damp nail brush. If the suede is a synthetic fabric, you will be able to clean it with plain old water and dish soap. Rinse and let dry.

Safe Use of Wood-burning Fireplace

Dear Reena,

We moved into an old home and we are excited to use the wood burning fireplace. What do we need to do before we use it, so that we don’t burn down the house? Any tips? Peter

Dear Peter,

Before lighting your first fire, inspect the chimney exterior for broken bricks or crumbling mortar. Shine a light inside the chimney, and be on the lookout for bird’s nests and cracks. Check to make sure that the damper opens and closes properly. Clean the chimney, and any loose ash or contact a professional for seasonal maintenance. Retailers also sell chimney sweeping logs which are designed to reduce and treat creosote buildup.

Extra Tip: It is also important to note that the wood you burn in your fireplace should be seasoned for at least one year before use. Properly seasoned wood burns hotter and creates less creosote.

Homemade Garlic Butter

Dear Reena,

Can you please give me a simple recipe for homemade garlic butter? Thanks, Carolyn

Dear Carolyn,

For the easiest garlic butter recipe, stir together: 1 cup softened butter with one tbsp. garlic powder. But for ‘Garlic Butter with a Kick’; try the following recipe. Into a bowl stir together: One cup softened butter, one tbsp. minced garlic, one tsp. garlic salt, one quarter cup grated Parmesan cheese, one tsp. Italian seasoning salt, one quarter tsp. black pepper and half tsp. paprika. Spread on bread before toasting. Store remainder in a sealed container in the fridge.

Feedback from Loyal Readers

Re: Cleaning dog fur off upholstery

Dear Reena,

Purchase a cat hair brush; not the wire ones. I brush my rugs, couch, cloth chairs, you name it. NOTHING works better. Rekha

Re: Prevent S.O.S pads from rusting

Dear Reena,

Store S.O.S pads in a small container in the freezer to prevent them from rusting. The frozen pad cleans better and faster because it is stiffer. Submitted By: CEC

Good Ideas!

I crocheted a reusable Swiffer cover for my mop. It works well and there are many different patterns available on-line. Great Christmas gift because they are easy to make. Submitted By: Karenna

My exterior festive greenery display is perfect for fall and winter; all I change are some of the plant colors. This year I filled my wooden wheelbarrow with plastic container pots and then with eucalyptus, fresh greenery and holly on branches. The display is a welcoming addition to my home and sits right beside my front door. Submitted By: Sharon

We had a dripping faucet, it was the weekend, and the plumber was scheduled for Monday. To quiet the faucet, I took a piece of dental floss and tied it around the spout so that the water would drip down the floss and not keep us awake at night. Submitted By: Jean-Luc

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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