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Ask Me Anything | Power Dissolver, Deck Cleaner, Hotel Rooms

As you may know, and only because I mention it so often, I get a lot of mail. And up until just recently, it’s gone into one big out-of-control pile I call The Mailbag.

Having reached the tipping point where I was ready to pull out every last hair in my head, I’ve come up with a new three-category plan. From now on all of my mail will be sorted by three categories: Questions, Comments and Tips.

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Today I’m kicking off a new “Ask Me Anything” feature where I’ll answer as many questions as space permits.

Comments will be addressed in another new feature, “Letters to the Editor,” (watch for it) and your awesome tips will continue to show up in “Great Reader Tips.”

Questions, comments and tips will be considered for publication based on their appeal, relevancy and whether the message strikes your humble columnist’s fancy!

While I wish I could respond to each one of your messages personally, it’s not possible. And even if yours is chosen, I cannot promise a personal response. Questions selected for a response will show up right here in an upcoming column.

Dawn Power Dissolver

Years ago you promoted Dawn Power Dissolver—a powerful product that cuts through grease and grime on appliances, removes baked- and burned-on grease from bakeware and lots more. Yes, it works great! Well, worked (passed tense). Dawn Power Dissolver does not seem to be available any longer. Was it replaced with a better product either by Procter & Gamble, or by a competitor? Jim

Dear Jim: This is not the news you want to hear but in March 2014, Procter & Gamble stopped making Dawn Power Dissolver. The reason they cite is that it was not popular enough with consumers to continue. It got canceled! Customer service tells me that Dawn Platinum Foaming Dish Soap is a great alternative, but I’m not convinced.

And now for some potentially good news: You can still get Dawn Power Dissolver at Amazon, discontinued though it be! It’s not cheap and supplies appear to be extremely limited. Depending on how much you would like to have this in your life for at least the foreseeable future, it may be worth the cost to you. I’ve stocked up that’s for sure.

Best Inexpensive Blender

What is your recommendation for the Best Inexpensive pick for a basic blender? Doris

Dear Doris: As you know, these days you can spend upwards of $400 for a fancy blender that does everything from making cold ice cream to hot soup! They can power through whole fruit in seconds and turn egg shells into a velvety smooth drink. But that’s a lot of money to spend on an appliance with features most people never use once they get it home.

My pick for Best Inexpensive basic blender is the Ninja Professional Blender, For the money I don’t think you can possibly beat this really great machine. It has 1000 watts of crushing, pulverizing and pureeing power, multiple speeds and a safety feature that prevents the blades from spinning until the lid is fully secured. And it’s nice looking, too.

Deck Cleaner

Our wood porch floor needs to be refinished and I think awhile back you had written about a deck wash to clean up wood decks before refinishing that was safe to bushes growing nearby. Jack

Dear Jack: I’m pretty sure you are recalling a product, Wet & Forget Mildew & Algae Stain Remover. You’re right about it being powerful to clean stains, moss, mildew and algae but completely harmless to vegetation, kids and pets, too. There are several variations of Wet & Forget, and you want the one for outdoors. You can find Wet & Forget at some home improvement stores or online. It comes concentrated, to be mixed with water. A container holding .75 gallon of Wet & Forget concentrate makes 4.5 gallons of ready-to-spray leave-on product. No scrubbing, no rinsing and no power washing required. It is bleach-free and non-acidic. You can use it on virtually any outdoor surface. You’ll have a hard time stopping at your porch! It cleans concrete, brick, stucco and even painted surfaces.

Clean Hotel Rooms

Any tips for checking out the cleanliness of the hotel room? Maureen

Dear Maureen: What an interesting topic. I’ve stayed in a few high-end hotels that gave me the creeps, and one very inexpensive motel in Los Alamitos, Calif., ($60 per night), that was so clean, it squeaked! But I don’t trust my eyes or my nose to tell me the level of cleanliness.

Here’s the way I approach every hotel room regardless the brand, location or cost: I assume that despite the best efforts of housekeeping, there are some areas that are  filthy with germs: TV remote control, telephone, door handles, toilet handle and the bedspread/duvet cover. I carry a small spray bottle of Nok-Out (also known as Sniper, which is exactly the same odor eliminator and sanitizer, just a new re-branded name) with me whenever I travel. Before I do anything, I sanitize the surfaces I just mentioned above. I’ve never drowned a TV remote, even though I spray it and the other areas very well and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before wiping them dry. I remove the bedspread and call housekeeping and request a fresh replacement. I’ve never been denied.

Is all of this necessary? I don’t know. I may be one to go overboard (just ask my husband). What I know is it makes me a lot more comfortable, and that’s not a bad thing.

Do you have a question, comment or tip? I can’t wait to hear from you. Send it to me HERE.


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4 replies
  1. Carol Skowronski says:

    My back cement patio needs help. The concrete isn’t cracked but there is large spacing in between some of the sections. Also, I would like to brighten it up with either a concrete paint or epoxy. I live in a cold winter climate (zone 4) so that is another problem. Any suggestions?

  2. R Sisson says:

    Mary, Is there a way to purchase a gift membership for someone to your site? I think it would be a great wedding or graduation gift! In the past I have only been able to do so leaving my credit card number attached to the subscription. Maybe a gift certificate purchased through your book shopping site with a code for the recipient to use? I would like to share your wisdom! Thank you.

  3. Sandy Lane says:

    Hi Mary, Is there a cheaper company to buy checks for those of us who still right checks to pay bills ? It cost $25.00 to 30.00 for 100.00 checks

    • Grace says:

      yes try- http://www.samsclubCheckPrinting.com/contactus.aspx
      They have a large selection and are the cheapest around. There are 240 checks in each box not 120 like what you order from the bank. I just got 1920 checks for around $72.00.


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