February's Ask Charlotte contest, the winning question
picked by Charlotte was a bit out of her expertise, so
she asked Lori
Handeland, award-winning author of Rising
a friend who happens to be an expert on such matters to
out. . .
do you get werewolf drool out of the carpet?
Sharon Mitchell of California)
To get werewolf drool out of a carpet, mix holy water with
a pinch of wolfsbane. But be careful! Wolfsbane is poisonous
to both man and beast (which is why it works so well to
repel werewolves). Then apply to the stain with a silver
spoon beneath the light of a full moon.
Lori Handeland, Guest Cleaning Expert and
Author of the Nightcreature series of novels.
Visit Lori at www.lorihandeland.com and enter her contest!
got a two-year old daughter who just loves to throw cheese
on the carpet and smoosh it in
with her foot. Do you have any suggestions on
the best way to clean it when she does this?
Cheesy in GA
(Submitted by BJ Deese of GA)
Cheesy in GA:
give that precious little girl a hug for me. They're so
sweet at that age. I should know. Barbara's youngest granddaughter
will be two in January, so I'm around her quite a bit. But
I digress. Back to the problem. First, think seriously about
confining your little daughter to a booster seat at the kitchen
table "before" giving her cheese. If all fails,
when the little darling smushes the cheese in the carpet
again, scrape up as much as you can using the dull edge of
a plastic knife. Then, sprinkle a bit of corn meal onto the
remains, rub in well, let sit for a while, then vacuum it
up. If there's still a greasy spot left, try rubbing the
stain with some waterless hand cleaner. Rinse with clear
water, let dry, then vacuum.
For your interesting question, I'll be sending you a genuine,
personalized packet of Charlotte LaRue handwipes and a mini
Good luck and keep it clean!
Charlotte searches high and low for solutions to stubborn
cleaning problems, and she found this particular solution
in Graham and Rosemary Haley's book, HALEY'S CLEANING HINTS.
do you get blood out of cotton? Since you solve murder
mysteries I'm sure you come across this
Yet Harmless! in CT"
Melissa Lawson of CT)
Curious Yet Harmless,
are you sure about that "harmless" part? After
all, I wouldn't want to be accused . . . again . . . of
tampering with evidence.
I find it really strange that you should ask this question
at this particular time. If I didn't know better, I would
suspect that you've been spying on Barbara while she writes
my next book--MARRIED TO THE MOP-(available February 2006)?
Actually, in MARRIED TO THE MOP, I do have to contend with
this bloody problem. I get blood on my apron, and (gasp!)
it's the victim's blood. Talk about getting me into trouble!
And all because I was trying to help out a client. Why,
would you believe, I end up being a suspect? Can you imagine
anyone thinking that I could actually murder someone?
I digress. Back to your question. There are several solutions
to this nasty little problem*. If it's old blood, and by
this time, I would assume it is, then try applying a paste
of baking soda and cold water to the stain. Let the paste
dry, then rinse off the paste. If that doesn't work and
the stain is still there, simply rub the stain with waterless
hand cleaner and rinse in tepid water. And if that doesn't
work and you're getting desperate, soak the area of the
stain in some hydrogen peroxide, but only if the cotton
fabric is white. Now, if that doesn't work, the only thing
left to do is to get rid of the icky thing, then treat
yourself to a shopping spree and buy something new. :-)
luck, and "Keep it Clean!"
again to Graham and Rosemary Haley's book, HALEY'S CLEANING
HINTS, Charlotte was able to find several solutions to
this particular bloody problem.
can be done to get rid of the 'awful' odor in your cupboard
when you find that 1 or 2 potatoes have spoilt and gotten
rotten. There is this brown liquid that seeps out and
the odor is beyond explanation; it seems to permeate
Robyn Lee of SK, Canada)
away the gas mask. Help is on the way.
you haven't already done so, and I hope you have, the first
chore is to remove the offending potatoes. I'd suggest
using rubber gloves, a wad of paper towels, then, dumping
it all in an outside garbage can. Once you've wiped up
that nasty brown stuff with a couple of damp paper towels,
then soak a cleaning rag in distilled vinegar, squeeze
out excess moisture, and wipe down all of the insides of
your cupboards. (Old washcloths or old cotton socks are
great to use for this type of thing.) This should get the
job done, and should take away that putrid odor as well
as disinfect your cupboards too. After the cleanup, to
insure a sweet smelling cupboard, open up a small box of
baking soda and set it inside the cupboard for several
days. Baking soda is a wonderful, inexpensive product to
use to absorb offending odors. But after several days,
throw the baking soda away.
luck, and "Keep it Clean!"
I've tried everything but cutting out the armpits.
How do you get those stains out of t-shirts? I've tried
name brand laundry pre-treat products and suggestions
on websites and nothing works. They are a little better
if I use a pre-treat product and also use baking soda in the wash. Is there
Aglow in Wisconsin"
Leggate, New Berlin, WI)
your active family members insist on sweating, try putting
the stinky garments in a sink with 1 cup of vinegar and ¼ cup
salt. Soak for about an hour before laundering. Or you
could try soaking the offending garments in a solution
of 2 tablespoons cream of tartar and 1 gallon warm water
for about an hour, then launder as usual.*
about that sweating. As the old saying goes, "horses
sweat, men perspire, ladies get all aglow." ;-) Which
reminds me of another old saying..."an ounce of prevention
is worth a pound of cure." Perhaps shopping around
for a stronger anti-perspirant would help solve that sweaty
to what everyone thinks and what Charlotte would like
them to think, she doesn't know everything. Occasionally
she needs a bit of help giving advice. The wonderful
source she always turns to is Haley's Cleaning Hints,
a compilation by Graham and Rosemary Haley. But please
don't tell Charlotte I told on her.
do you think up your story lines? Are they based on true
events? Thank you.
Crutchfield, Justin, TX)
this question, I'll have to let Barbara give the answer!
story ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. It could
be from something I saw that interested me, a haunting
song that evoked an emotional response, or simply a conversation
with someone about a particular subject. For example, once
I was on vacation with my family in Florida. I had never
been sailing and became fascinated with the idea of using
a sailboat as the setting for a romantic
suspense. I wouldn't go so far as to say that all of
my ideas are based on true events though. After all, I
write fiction. But there are true events that have sparked
OUT, my most recent book, I became fascinated with
the idea of someone being poisoned. And yes, I know that
sounds a bit strange, but as a mystery writer I have
to keep an open mind to all types of murder possibilities,
and I needed a new method to kill someone. I'd already
had someone bludgeoned to death in MAID
FOR MURDER, and in DEATH
TIDIES UP, and POLISHED
OFF, I had the victims shot, so I thought, why not
have someone poisoned!
for your question and "Keep it Clean!"
the best way to get grease marks off of clothes?
Maureen Emmons in Yardley, PA)
you just hate those tell-tale grease spots? Barbara tells
me that she once had a beautiful silk suit that was ruined
because she indulged in a fried catfish platter and ended
up with grease spots all over the front of the jacket.
Not even the dry cleaner was able to get those grease spots
out. Of course I reminded her that as the old saying goes,
an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If the grease spots are a result of careless eating habits, then might I suggest
wearing a bib. If you don't happen to have a bib handy, try tucking the corner
of a napkin in the neckline of your garment with the rest of the napkin spread
over the front of your garment. But if the grease spot is the result of grease
popping while you're cooking, then wearing an apron is a must. If you did neither,
and the clothing item is washable, but you're out of one of the many stain
removing products available at the grocery store, then make a paste of baking
soda and water, rub it into the spot, rinse with clean water,then wash as usual.
The wonderful book, Haley's Cleaning Hints, also suggests that waterless
hand cleaner rubbed into the grease stain usually works very well. Then rinse
the item in clean water.
for your question and "Keep it Clean!"
do I get chocolate out of my ivory crocheted bedskirt?
(I was hiding it from my husband when he came
by Cheri Oggy in Elsmere KY)
shame on you for eating in the bed. ;-) Seriously, though...unless
you’re ill and can’t get up, one should never
eat in the bed. Food crumbs, and in your case chocolate,
can attract all kinds of creepy critters. It gives me the
shivers just thinking about what could be crawling on you
while you sleep.
Second, I would really like to address this “hiding it from your husband” business,
but since I’m not a marriage counselor, I guess I should really keep
my opinions to myself. ;-)
Now, about that chocolate stain. There are a couple of things you can try.
Blot the stain with club soda until it’s saturated, then rinse well with
a mild detergent and cold water. Or, you can try blotting it with a waterless
luck and "Keep it Clean!"
ask the same question every month. I would like to know
if there is a way to remove hard water stains on my clothing.
I often get rust color stain and I cannot get them
by Debra Guyette of Wolcott, CT)
one is truly a puzzle, but of course I love puzzles. There
are a couple of solutions to this dilemma that might help.
People with hard water should always remember to add more
detergent than usual, enough so that the water will suds
up really well. You might also try adding vinegar to the
water during your rinse cycle, about ½ cup should
be enough. Another solution: according to my old friend, Halley’s
Cleaning Hints by Graham and Rosemary Haley, sprinkle
the rusty area of the clothing with cream of tartar, roll
the item into a tight ball, soak in hot water, then launder
as usual. Of course you should always check the washing
instructions on the clothing tag first, just in case the
item shouldn’t be soaked in hot water.
And finally, if none of the above work, have fun buying a new wardrobe.
Keep it Clean!
What is the easiest way to keep animal hair off furniture?
by Christy Mckenney of Mehoopany, PA)
If you’re talking about your husband’s hair, then I’m afraid
it’s a lost cause. Just kidding!
The easiest way to keep animal hair off furniture is to train your animal
to stay off of the furniture. Of course if you insist on letting animals
in your home, then there are several solutions. If vacuuming alone won’t
remove the offending hair, then try using a lint brush—one of those roller
kinds with a handle that you use on clothes to remove hair and lint—or
wipe the furniture using fabric softener sheets. Another solution that
you might try is to loosely wrap masking tape, sticky side out, around
the piece of furniture. The hair should stick to the tape.
Keep it Clean!
How (if at all) can I remove mold from a painted wall?
(Submitted by Christy
Hawkes of Tremonton, UT)
Moldy in Utah:
Are you psychic? How did you know ahead of time that so many people in my town
would need to know the answer to this question?
Thanks to the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center there is help
for this problem.
WARNING! Exposure to mold can be very dangerous to your health.
Molds produce spores that spread easily through the air. I strongly
urge you to wear gloves and a mask or respirator that can filter
mold spores when dealing with this icky problem.
You’ve heard the old adage, “Where there’s smoke, there’s
fire.” Even though the mold is on a painted surface, I’d be very
suspicious of what’s beneath that painted surface, but then I’ve
been known to be a bit paranoid. Before you start tearing out that wall, try
thoroughly cleaning the mold area first. Then mix ½ cup of household
chlorine bleach to a gallon of water and use as a follow-up disinfecting cleaner.
After cleaning, dry thoroughly and quickly. Wait several days to see if the
mold returns. If it does return, I would clean it once more, dry it, and wait
again. If it still returns, then get out your sledgehammer and see what’s
behind that wall that’s causing the mold.
For more detailed information for dealing with mold, visit the Louisiana
State University Agricultural Center Web site.
Best of luck...and Keep it Clean!
How do you go about removing the sticky residue left on glass and plastic after
removing labels or price stickers? (Water and soap don't work).
(Submitted by Sue Ahn of Vancouver)
Sticky in Vancouver:
Don’t you just hate this kind of thing? I mean really! You spend your
hard-earned money on a product and can’t get that ding dang label
or price sticker off. Even if you do succeed in scraping the label or price
off, that yucky residue is left. But I digress.
There are actually several solutions that you can try. Though you said
that water and soap don’t work, have you tried soaking the item in HOT water?
Soak the item until the hot water cools, then try to remove the label or price
sticker and hopefully the residue. If that doesn’t work, try nail polish
remover. Soak a cotton ball with nail polish remover, blot the stubborn residue
until it’s saturated, and then try rubbing it off. If neither of
those work, try soaking a clean cloth in warm white vinegar, place the
the residue for several minutes, then try rubbing the residue off.
If none of the above work, then take the item back to the store and demand
that they remove the mess. JUST KIDDING!
Good luck and “Keep it Clean!”
that summer is getting closer, I was wondering if you could offer any tips on cleaning the grill.
Grill in Illinois
by Kim Westgaard)
I’m shuddering just thinking about summer. Not because I don't like summertime—I
do—but in south Louisiana, with summer comes those pesky mosquitos, not
to mention the 95+ degree heat and humidity. And of course there are also the
threat of (big shudder) hurricanes. But as usual, I digress.
There are several possible solutions to this dirty grill problem. First, there’s
an old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Once
you have the grill clean, save yourself the big hassle of the messy clean-up
by spraying it with a non-stick cooking oil before grilling. This way, the
clean-up afterwards is much, much easier.
Oops, there I go digressing again. Back to the problem of actually cleaning
the dirty grill.
Along with lots of elbow grease, a good stiff wire brush is always a handy
tool to have around. But, if you don't happen to have one handy—the wire
brush or the elbow grease—take about 2 feet of heavy-duty foil, crumple
it into a loose ball, and use the foil to dry-scrub the top side and the bottom
side of the grill. Then, wash with hot soapy water and rinse. Doing this “should” loosen
up most of that gunk.
Another solution is to use an oven-cleaner product. Follow the manufacturer’s
instructions on this one.
Yet another solution is to simply place the grill in the grass the night before
you plan to grill. Sometimes, the dew overnight will help loosen the burnt
gunk enough so that finishing up with hot soapy water will do the trick. Of
course always rinse well afterwards, then follow up by simply turning the flame
of the grill on high, closing the lid for ten or fifteen minutes, and let the
heat finish burning off what’s left.
If all the above fails, then it’s time to get a new grill.
Keep it Clean!
is the best disinfectant or "smell-well" to
use for under sink garbage can? Attracting ants like
crazy and can't empty every day.
by Ruth Pitts of Wyoming)
I have always found it fascinating and bit horrifying the places people choose
to keep their garbage, and personally, under the sink in a closed-in cabinet
(I assume), in my opinion, is just asking for problems. Besides, nowadays there
are so many attractive and efficient garbage cans, why would you want to hide
it? Would you believe that Barbara’s daughter has a stainless steel-looking
one that has a motion sensor on the lid? Then, there are those foot pedal/lever
Sorry, as usual I digress, so back to your problems. I suggest that you remove
everything from beneath the sink, then wash the garbage can and the insides
of the cabinet with distilled white vineagar and let dry. Before lining the
garbage can with a new trash bag, leave just a splash of pine cleaner in the
bottom of the garbage can.
For the ant problem you really should try to find the outside source and eliminate
it. They usually come inside through holes around the plumbing. But you might
try simply spraying the inside of the cabinet with a commercial window cleaner
instead of pricey insect sprays or try sprinkling a bit of boric acid powder
around the inside edges of your cabinet.
Good luck and Keep it Clean!
have an antique floor lamp. The shade is huge and is
made of satin. It came out of a brothel from New Orleans.
The shade is dirty from cigar and cigarette smoke. What
would be the best way to clean this shade?
(Submitted by Barbara
My goodness! The words satin, brothel, and New Orleans conjure up images I
don’t even want to think about. What on earth were you doing in a brothel?
On second thought, don’t answer that, and I’ll try to keep my mind
out of the gutter and on the question. Since the lamp is an antique, I would
prefer that you get the advice of a “professional antique dealer”.
But if you insist on doing it yourself, I researched the web and found the
following sites that might be helpful:
Another possible solution is to mix a small amount of dish soap, ammonia, vinegar,
and warm water. Use your hand mixer and beat this mixture until frothy. Use
a sponge, and apply only the froth to the lampshade. Wipe off the froth with
a clean, damp cloth, and then blow-dry the lamp with your hairdryer set on
cool. A word of caution. Since I’m not certain how this would work on
antique satin, try this particular solution at your own risk.
Good luck and “Keep it Clean!”
My dear dear husband went to help his stranded sister
in his favorite white shirt. You guessed it ..he ended
up under the car and now has a large black spot shoulder
high on the back. He insist on wearing it even though I tried to "shout
it out" without good results. Can this shirt be saved...because he WILL
by Pam Cassel in Mesquite, Texas)
Spotty in Texas:
What a sweetheart, spots and all! And what a nice brother! I always wished
that I had a brother, but Barbara gave me a sister instead. Not that there’s
anything wrong with having a sister, but as my readers know, my sister Madeline
can be a pill sometimes.
Anyway, back to your spotty problem. If after you tried to “shout it
out”, you dried it in the dryer, then the heat from the dryer probably
set the spot for good. Still, there are a couple of things you can try. Try
using a waterless hand cleaner as a pre-wash. If that doesn’t do it and
the shirt is 100% cotton, try filling your washing machine half full, add ½ cup
of bleach, then soak the shirt in the bleach and water solution for about 15
minutes. Afterwards, run your washing machine through its regular cycle.
If all the above fails, then you’re going to have to get sneaky. Buy
him another white shirt just like the one with the spot on it. Wash the new
one a few times to make it look old, then sneak the spotted one out of the
closet and replace it with the new one. He will never know the difference.
Keep it Clean!
is there any quick and pleasant way to clean the bathroom?
Signed "Quick & Pleasant"
by Audrey Larson in Bloomington, MN)
Quick & Pleasant in Bloomington:
bathroom isn’t exactly my favorite room to clean
either. I don’t know about “quick”. That
would depend on how fast you work. But I do have a few
hints that might help make it a bit more “pleasant.”
First, I’m a firm believer in doing the worst job first, so before you
begin cleaning, determine in your mind that you will clean the bathrooms FIRST.
Second, put on your favorite music, preferably something snappy--you know,
the toe-tapping kind that makes you want to dance. Thirdly, gather all of your
cleaning supplies (For this step, you might want to consider using a small
plastic bucket or one of those plastic carriers). I normally suggest you always
work your way from the top down, but in the bathroom, I begin by pouring a
bit of pine cleaner in the toilet and let that soak while you clean everything
else. Then, clean the mirrors, followed by wiping down the countertop and sink.
At this point, don’t forget to dance a little jig to that snappy music.
Next, work on the tub and/or shower. Once you’ve finished the tub or
shower, scrub the toilet inside and outside. The last step is sweeping/vacuuming
and mopping. Oh, and don’t forget to empty the bathroom trashcan.
Once you have the entire bathroom clean, there are some helpful things you
can do to keep it that way. What’s the old saying? “An ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure,” or some such non-sense. Anyway,
keep extra cleaning supplies in the bathroom, such as pine cleaner and Windex.
Each morning pour a bit of pine cleaner in the toilet. Hey, you’re going
in there anyway, so why not take an extra minute to do this. Also, each time
you shower or bath and you’ve dried off, use the towel you dried off
with to wipe down the walls of the shower or wipe out the tub. Again, this
only takes a minute or so and it helps prevent a soap-scum build-up. And finally,
each time after you brush your teeth, use a damp washcloth and a dab of pine
cleaner to wipe out the sink. If you take these preventive measures, then the
next time you clean won’t be so daunting.
Hope the above suggestions help, but above all, remember, “Keep it Clean!”
do you get red permanent ink markers like Sharpie or
Bic off a couch cushion?
by Karen Robinette in Fenton Missouri)
There are a few things you can try, but I would suggest trying them on an inconspicuous
part of the couch first. One thing that comes to mind is hairspray. Spray the
stain then rub it with a bit of regular soap. Rinse with a cold damp washcloth.
You can also try a dab of rubbing alcohol as well, and again, rinse with a
cold damp washcloth.
If all of the above fails, you only have two, maybe three choices left. 1)Buy
a new sofa, 2) buy a dustcover for your sofa, or 3) get rid of the sofa and
sit on the floor.
Just kidding about sitting on the floor.
Good luck, and from now on, please try to “Keep it Clean!”
there anything you can put on your walls to stop them
from getting so many finger prints? And how do kids get
prints all the way up to the ceiling?
by Michelle Draveski from Michigan)
Hmm, you could staple sheets on your walls or have everyone wear gloves. Or
you could set up barricades just out of reach of the walls. As for how the
little darlings’ prints get all the way up to the ceiling, I have no
idea, but maybe you could hire them out to a circus, since they’ve learned
to climb walls.
Actually, the only solution I can think of is to buy a really good brand of
paint, maybe even a semi-gloss, that will hold up to being scrubbed a lot,
and make sure those precious children’s hands stay clean. Of course there
is an old saying, “busy hands are happy hands,” so you might try
keeping the little darlings too busy to climb the walls. :-)
Keep it Clean!
house is a never ending job. I was wondering if there
was a magic wand that you could wave and the house
would clean it's self? By the way I would like for
it to do the laundry too.
(Submitted by Virginia
Horton of Kentucky)
Dear Tired of Cleaning:
Ah, Virginia, I’m afraid there is no magic wand—thank goodness.
Why thank goodness? Because, without people like you, people like me would
be without a job.
Unless you have a ton of money, I’m afraid that the only solution to
your problem is to hire a maid cleaning service. Now, if you do have a ton
of money, I understand that you can have a “smart house” built.
Though I don’t know a lot about it, one of these “smart houses” comes
pretty close to a magic wand.
Oh yeah, I just thought of yet a third solution. If you have children or even
a favorite niece or nephew—young or older—maybe you could persuade
them to do some of that cleaning for you once in a while. Hey, it’s worth
a try, and not nearly as expensive as hiring a maid or building a new house.
I usually sign my letters with “Keep it Clean!” But in your case,
Virginia, I’m not so sure it would do any good, so here’s wishing
you the best,