Home & Decor

Solutions & Substitutions Column

By: Reena Nerbas

Dear Reena,

Can you tell me how to make my own waterless hand cleaner? Ruby

Dear Ruby,

The FDA states that in order 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.

Hi Reena,

We are interested in buying a home in our area. The problem is that the house has a very strong curry odor. Please tell me what I can do to permanently get rid of the smell. The thing is we love the new carpet and the paint color. Please help us! Thanks, Charles

Hello Charles,

You may want to consider renting an ozone machine. This little machine is not recommended for regular use but it is great for enclosed areas that have had smoke or flood damage or other strong smells. The machine lets out a molecule called O3 (which of course is oxygen with an extra molecule attached). The third molecule escapes into the air and absorbs all odors. These machines can be rented at tool rental retailers as well as some hardware stores.

Other than that you can light fragrant candles such as soy blueberry or cinnamon (this will only be a temporary fix). Always put soy candles in a container as they will spread out when they melt. You can also light my absolute favorite; a collection of beeswax candles. Or make your own air freshener with vinegar or water and 15 drops of your favorite essential oil such as cinnamon, orange or grapefruit. Happy Housewarming!

Dear Reena,

We bought bronze ware cutlery in Thailand 25 years ago and found it shows spots that look like water stains. How can we remove them? Michelle

Hi Michelle,

“Bronze disease” is one of the most serious hazards of bronze. This disease is caused when chlorides and oxygen combine in a damp environment. “Bronze disease” can be stopped by going over the piece with a layer of coconut oil. If this does not help, wash the piece in repeated changes of boiling hot, distilled water. You may have to soak the object for a week or more in distilled water. Or dissolve 1 tbsp. salt in 1 cup white vinegar. Add enough flour to make a paste. Apply paste to bronze and let sit for one hour. Rinse with clean, warm water, and polish dry. Or place 2 tbsp. baking soda in a small dish. Drizzle a small amount of lemon juice onto the baking soda and mix until a soft paste forms (start out with just a little lemon juice and add more as needed). It is normal for the mixture to bubble at first, and will settle down after a moment or two. Apply the paste to your bronze item using your rubber gloves or a small polishing cloth.

Worst case scenario for non-plated bronze use a diluted solution of muriatic acid, available at any hardware store. Now I hesitate to mention muriatic acid because it is the strongest product available for home use and VERY dangerous to use, extreme caution must be taken as it will burn through skin. If you are desperate and decide to choose muriatic as a last resort (test first). Mix 30% acid with 70% water according to the directions on the bottle. With proper gloves, take a rag, dip it, and rub lightly. The acid will work immediately on corrosion, and you will notice a light, copper colored tarnish. Wipe off all traces of acid and water and polish with olive oil. Use muriatic acid at your own risk and be safe!

Dear Reena,

Do you have a solution to get lipstick out of cotton navy slacks that have gone through the dryer? Thank you, Elspeth

Hi Elspeth,

Tackle this dyed grease stain with the help of hot water and Oxyclean; it may take more than one washing. Other products that you can use are; shaving cream, dandruff shampoo and rubbing alcohol remember to test them first so that you don’t risk discoloration. You can also wash the slacks in washing soda. Don’t give up, wash the slacks several times and don’t put slacks into the dryer until the stain is gone. Worst case scenario; boil the pants in a product called Iron Out or use Rit dye remover according to the directions on the box. Note that either of these products will lighten the fabric color.

Spice Up Your Life with these Refreshing Tips of the Week!

Cinnamon comes from a small evergreen tree 10-15 m tall, belonging to the family Lauraceae, native to Sri Lanka and Southern India. The bark is widely used as a spice.

  • Make your own Rapunzel Cinnamon hair tonic: Combine 1 tbsp. crumbled sage or 1 sprig chopped fresh rosemary or a mixture of 1 tsp. allspice, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon and half tsp. ground cloves. Pour 1 cup boiling water over the herb mix; let it steep for 30 minutes. Strain through a coffee filter, and let it cool. Pour over your squeaky clean head after shampooing.
  • ·        Smoochy Mouthwash recipe; Boil one cup water and remove from heat. Add one tsp. of each; ground cinnamon, parsley, whole clove and peppermint extract. Let sit for 30 mins. Strain and add one more tsp. peppermint extract (not oil). Gargle and spit.
  • Peppi La Pu It Smells Good in Here Air freshener: In a pot (or slow cooker) simmer: apple cider, whole cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and a dash of nutmeg on the stove. Add a few drops of orange essential oil.


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 Gift Packs are available on-line or by calling: 204-320-2757.

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming!

Check out my web site! www.householdsolutions.org

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