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Originally published Friday, December 14, 2012 at 8:01 PM

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Coming clean on stains, and how to remove them

Answers on how to remove tomato, rust stains.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Phil and Victoria Kluss will be getting the last word on tomato stains on marble, only because their solution is so interesting, and they sent me before and after photos to boot.

“We got out the color by making a poultice with food-grade diatomaceous earth and hydrogen peroxide,” the Klusses wrote. “Mix them together so you have a thick paste, cover the stain and then cover with plastic wrap until the mixture dries out.”

What about other stains?

Reader Joan Fry uses this procedure she found in a magazine to remove copper and rust stains, and she says it works every time.

Place a dry paper towel on the stain, pour lemon juice on the paper towel and cover the juice with table salt.

Let it set overnight. The stain should be gone.

Reader Karen Dante has had success removing superficial etching from marble using Marble Polishing Powder (MB-11), by MB Stone Care, available online at www.mbstone.com.

It is an abrasive powder that requires a bit of elbow grease and is rather messy.

Dante said she tries to discourage people from using marble for kitchen countertops, and to use it with caution in the bathroom, because many bathroom and facial cleaning products will cause etching.

Q: I have blue stone/slate floors in my kitchen. They were here when we bought the house. Several years and two dogs later, they are really looking dirty. A regular washing doesn’t do the trick anymore. Any commercial cleaner I call says they don’t clean this type of floor.

A: I recently tried a poultice of talcum powder and hydrogen peroxide on the part of our quarry-tile kitchen floor where our beagle used to show her annoyance with us. I had some success but my thought is that I’ll need to bring a floor-washing machine to really do the job.

Q: I’ve discovered that our basement cedar closet now has a musty odor and some of the clothes that have been kept there for a while have some mold spots on them.

We’ve been in the house for over 17 years and this is the first time I’ve noticed this.

I don’t see any signs of water getting into the closet. Could this musty odor/mold creep in if the door was left open? It is usually kept shut.

A: I don’t believe that water has to appear in a gush to cause this kind of problem. The closet might just have become damp and lacked the proper ventilation to dry out completely.

Cedar needs to be renewed periodically to do its primary job, deterring moths and bugs from feasting on fabric.

The experts recommend that the cedar be sanded using fine-grade sandpaper at the end of each season. This will expose a new layer of the wood to the air, and allow the natural oils in that fresh layer to evaporate and release their aroma.

Q: I have a 22-year-old house. In the garage in the past two years, the drywall tape is falling off the ceiling. The garage is three-car in size with an attic that has ridge and soffit vents.

We keep the garage door open about six inches so the cat can go to and from.

The walls are Sheetrock and both the wall and ceiling only have primer paint/sealer on them.

Why is the tape coming off, will the wall start falling apart, and could this be stopped?

A: We had the same issue in our master bedroom, which gets misty when we take showers, and discovered that the reason for it was that the taping had not been done properly.

I tore off the tape and redid it. No problem.

Maybe that is also the solution for you. It appears that there isn’t an excessive amount of moisture, but when paper tape gets damp and dries out a couple of times, it tends to come away from the joint.

I used fiberglass tape that sticks to the joint, and this ended my problem.


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