Dear Reena,

I purchased a new set of rubber floor mats for my car. The smell is awful. I want to eliminate the odor before I use them in my car so I don’t have to air freshen the car too. Thanks, Donna

 Dear Donna,

Whether the smell is coming from hardwearing polyamide, rubber, thermoplastic, petroleum or some other chemical make-up, the smell should fade over time. You have four choices: install mats and wait for the smell to disappear, leave the mats outside in hopes that freezing temperatures zap odors or exchange the mats for different ones because (many car mats do not carry a displeasing stench). Lastly, purchase or make your own car air freshener. In order to make a non-toxic car freshener; fill a plastic bowl one quarter full with cooking oil. Next add several drops of your favorite essential oil or oils; these are available at health food stores (I like to combine grapefruit, cinnamon and peppermint). Cover the bowl with a lid and cut slits on top so that fragrances fill the air.


Hello Reena, 

I have a very irritating situation. The down in my parka is coming out through the lining. Mostly from the seams. Anything that I wear looks terrible when I remove the parka. To counter that, I also wear a separate protective garment between the parka and my clothing. This “seepage” is happening on both the inside and outside of the parka. I have tried an application of “Scotch guard” hoping that it would somehow plug -up the lining, but it did nothing. Do you have any hints from your book of magic that would help stop the shedding? Thank you, Ron

 Dear Ron,

In terms of your jacket I had this happen to me and I know exactly how it feels to remove your jacket only to find yourself covered in feathers. In my case the store allowed me to return the jacket even though it was over a month old. It sounds as though, the fabric from which the jacket was made has too low of a thread count. However, it is common no matter how strong the fabric is that down will sometimes poke through. The thing not to do; is to pull the feathers out. Doing so will make the holes larger and often bring more down with it. Instead, grasp the feathers from the inside, and pull them back in. If at all possible, exchange the jacket for one that isn’t molting.


Hi Reena, 

Help! Can you please tell me how to safely remove a pen mark from my light colored leather couch? Thanks a lot! Best regards, Jacquie

Hi Jacquie,

The safest solution is to do nothing; ballpoint ink on leather often fades on its own over time. If you do not want to wait, apply a small amount of dish soap and water onto the area, this may be all you need to get the job done. Whenever attempting to clean leather, you must always test cleaners on an inconspicuous area first. Over the years readers have had great results getting rid of ink stains by using one of the following: shaving cream, hairspray, Goof Off, Goo Gone, Sunlight bar soap, saddle soap, Windex, Calvin Klein Obsessions After Shave or Axe Body Spray. Discontinue application if leather dye begins to fade. Another favorite leather cleaner and renewing product is Urad (available on-line). Taken from Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions


Dear Reena,

My toddler is now drinking whole milk from a sipper cup. How long can milk sit out before it needs to be refrigerated? Kendall

Hello Kendall,

Milk can sit out at room temperature for two hours and still be safe to use. If the milk has been out for two hours and 15 minutes chances are it is probably still safe, but why take the risk? After two hours, dump the milk out, wash the cup, and refill.


Handy Tips of the Week:

  • Glue a road map to a large piece of cardboard and then cut into a puzzle. This makes a great educational toy for children.
  • Make bath toys by cutting pictures out of a magazine and covering them with contact paper, leaving a one-half inch lip around each piece to allow it to seal. When these pieces get wet, they will stick to the bathroom tile.


Reena Nerbas is a professional speaker and the author of three national best sellers, “Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions”, “Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets” and “Household Solutions 3 with Green Alternatives”. Books and Household Solutions 1, 2 and 3 Cooking/Cleaning Gift Packs are available on-line or by calling: 204-320-2757.

For all of your home improvement needs please contact my friend Shell Busey at 

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming!

Check out my web site!

By: Reena Nerbas

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Canadian Home Trends magazine gives you a personal tour of the most stunning homes and condos across Canada. You'll be inspired by a selection of accessible home décor products, trend reports, simple yet stylish DIY projects, and much more. In each issue, you are given the tools to recreate designer spaces you've always dreamt of having at home, in-depth renovation and design advice, colour palette and furniture pairings, and Canada's best places to shop.