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Substitute and Solve - Bathroom countertop needs facelift

Dear Reena,

I have an arborite countertop in my bathroom which needs rejuvenating. Can you give me the name of a product to help my counter? Gordon

Dear Gordon,

If replacing your countertop is not an option, you can purchase products that will help the counter to improve its appearance. You will need to buy a wax based sealer in paste (i.e. Miniwax), liquid or spray form (i.e. Gel Gloss). Since you are not preparing food on the counter, you can also use auto wax. Whichever product you choose, test on an inconspicuous area first to ensure that you are satisfied with the results. Before applying the wax product, scrub the counter with a combination of baking soda and dish soap. Rinse with water and dry.

Dear Reena,

I have removed wallpaper from a bedroom wall with no problem. The problem is the remaining glue from the sizing that was used before I applied the wallpaper years ago. I have used hot water to no avail. I have also heard that vinegar and water will remove it. Help! Olivia

Dear Olivia,

Contrary to 10 years ago, wallpaper removal does not have to be an annoying, tedious process and I am happy for you that the wallpaper came off easily. When it comes to removing wallpaper, the secret is to arm yourself with the proper tools before beginning the project. Purchase a wallpaper perforating tool. This is a little tool that you will run in a circular motion all over your wallpaper to puncturelittle holes in the old, ugly paper. Get a hold of a garden sprayer and fill it with one and a half gallons of hot water and addwallpaper enzyme stripper (that’s the key). Saturate the old paper with the solution. If you do not have access to a garden sprayer, use a spray bottle and add wallpaper enzyme stripper. After the wallpaper is nice and wet, leave it for 30 minutes and grab yourself a hot cup of coffee. During your coffee time, the enzymes will do their work loosening the wallpaper glue. Next, peel the paper. For the remaining glue, use a wet sponge and additional stripper to wash the wall. When the wallpaper is gone, clean the wall with T.S.P. and water according to the directions on the carton.

Dear Reena,

I have red circle marks left on my vinyl floor from a wrought iron plant stand. I have tried everything I can think of to try and remove. Can you help? Shirley

Dear Shirley,

In a measuring cup, combine one quarter teaspoon dish soap and half cup water. Pour onto area. Next, combine one quarter cup three per cent hydrogen peroxide and 1 tbsp. household ammonia. Blot and cover the area with plastic wrap and pile a heavy pan on top of the plastic. Leave for eight hours. Remove pan and plastic. Scrub area with a damp scrubby pad and rinse (test on an inconspicuous area first).

Dear Reena,

Do you know of an easy way to dust pleated horizontal fabric blinds without having to remove them from the windows? Thank you. Elaine

Dear Elaine,

The easiest solution for dusting fabric blinds is to use the brush head attachment on your vacuum. Dust the blinds every few weeks to keep dirt from collecting between the slats. To reduce the amount of dust that settles on your blinds, swipe a fabric softener sheet along each row to repel air borne dust.You can also usedry sponges, or a good quality microfiber cloth, or a static duster which are efficient at collecting dust. Once in a while, you will want to give your blinds a thorough cleaning (check with your manufacturer’s guidelines to see if the blinds can tolerate water). When this day comes, remove the blinds from the windows. Line your bathtub with rags. Pour a few drops of liquid dish soap into the tub and fill with water. Set the blinds inside the tub and let them soak for at least five minutes to loosen dirt. Drain tub and then using the shower head attachment, rinse with water. Set blinds on towels until damp and then hang to dry.

Feedback from Readers Who Care:

I read about the lady that was having a problem cleaning her laminate floor. I also had this problem. I tried different solutions that were recommended to me by the store where I purchased the flooring. No results. I phoned the manufacturers in Texas and they recommended cleaning with Windex Ammonia D. It worked wonders. I spray it on the floor and then mop it up. Try a small area first. Helen

I read the tip from the reader who wanted to reduce the fat in ground beef, stating that she pours the beef into a strainer in the sink and rinses with hot water.What I do is after the beef is browned,I tilt the pan slightly and spoon the fat off into a disposable container, i.e. a used tin can or small plastic disposable one.I then put it into the freezer, and when frozen solid, just put it in the trash.That's my "tip of the day".Always enjoy your articles. Ruth

Fantastic Steak Marinade Recipe:

Next time you find steak on sale at the store, consider whipping up the following delicious marinade into a sealable bag and refrigerate overnight or freeze. As the steaks defrost, the marinade will soak in and bring out delicious flavour. Or instead, make the marinade in a slow cooker and cook the steaks throughout the day on low. Here’s the stuff you will need to combine: One third cup Worcestershire sauce, one cup Italian salad dressing, 1 tsp. garlic powder, half tsp. black pepper seasoning and one cup barbecue sauce. Yields two pounds of sirloin steak.

Harness the power of words!

"The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook." ~ Julia Child

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Missed a column? Can’t remember a solution? Need a motivational speaker for an upcoming event? Check out my brand new website:

Reena Nerbas is a rural Manitoba home economist is a lab coat - and she’s not afraid to use it. Keep your questions coming:


(204) 320-2757

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 9, 2014

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Dear Reena,

I have an arborite countertop in my bathroom which needs rejuvenating. Can you give me the name of a product to help my counter? Gordon

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Dear Reena,

I have an arborite countertop in my bathroom which needs rejuvenating. Can you give me the name of a product to help my counter? Gordon

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