Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Waterless Hand Cleaner and Attracting Lady Bugs

By Reena Nerbas

Stubborn Burnt Pot

Hi Reena,
I have a Le Creuset Dutch oven that I have owned for over 30 years. I was cooking a tomato jam that had sugar in it and the temperature was too high and it burnt the bottom of the pan. I have tried to scrub the burnt substance with baking soda, baking soda with vinegar, I have boiled water with baking soda and dish soap and there is still some burnt on residue left. Any suggestions? Thanks, Theresa

Dear Theresa,
Adding the element of heat is smart but instead of water and baking soda, pour enough vinegar into the pot to cover the bottom. Add baking soda, bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Turn element off, cover and leave overnight. Scrub in the morning. Unless there is a chance of permanent scratches, use an S.O.S pad. Or sprinkle the inside of the pot with a layer of dishwasher detergent powder. Fill the pot one-quarter full with water. Boil for 5 minutes and remove from element. Leave overnight and wash as normal. Or soak cola in the pot overnight. Scrub with an abrasive pad in the morning! Some people have great results by soaking a fabric softener sheet inside the pot with some water overnight, however it sounds like your pot needs a more aggressive solution.

Concrete Stains

Hello Reena,
Over the years, stains have developed under planters sitting on concrete or patio paver from water and fertilizer running through planters. Any solution to remove these white fertilizer stains? Thank-you, Walter

Hi Walter,
Pour a liberal amount of vinegar onto the stain. Sprinkle with a liberal amount of salt and leave for 15 mins. Scrub with a bristled brush. If the stains remain, rinse with water. Pour one-quarter cup bleach to one gallon water. Pour onto the area and scrub with an abrasive brush. Thoroughly
rinse with water. Muriatic acid is a last resort, because it is a dangerous product if not used correctly; see label instructions before use.

Waterless Hand Cleaner

Dear Reena,
Do you have a recipe for waterless hand cleaner? Sam

Dear Sam,
The FDA states that for a waterless hand cleaner to effectively kill germs, it must contain at least 60% alcohol. Make your own ‘Peppermint Hand Sanitizer’ by combining: half cup Aloe Vera gel, three quarter cup rubbing alcohol and half teaspoon peppermint essential oil. Mix and store in a spray bottle.

How to Make Vanilla Extract

Dear Reena,

Is it possible to make my own real vanilla for baking in contrast to imitation vanilla extract? Deepak

Dear Deepak,

I really enjoy using real vanilla as opposed to vanilla extract. Let’s begin with proper storage, vanilla doesn’t typically go bad, but if stored in a warm place it will deteriorate and lose flavor. Refrigeration is not recommended but if it’s a choice between a hot storage area and refrigerator, opt for the fridge! Pure vanilla extract is made by percolating chopped vanilla beans with consumable alcohol and water. Combine 1 vanilla bean in a container of vodka. Keep in mind you will require patience, because the mixture needs to sit for about 8 weeks to reach full strength.

Attracting Lady Bugs to Your Garden:

Many species of lady bugs eat aphids, which suck the life force out of your plants.

  • If you purchase lady bugs for your garden, release them in the evening, because while they do climb at night, they don’t fly at night which increases the chance that lady bugs will stay put.
    · Lady bugs can eat up to 50 aphids a day.
    · Create an enticing environment for ladybugs by watering your garden and keeping the plants moist.
  • Lady bugs are harmless to humans but when threatened, they do emit a foul odor.



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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