Ask Me Anything: Chromebook, Oven Grates, Best Inexpensive Curling Iron, Fluffy Soft Towels

I don’t know where I first heard it, but I sure do believe it: “Teaching teaches the teacher!” I love your questions because they keep me on my toes and always learning.

Would I be able to use QuickBooks on the Asus Chromebook laptop computer you recommend as your Best Inexpensive pick?

If you use QuickBooks Online you should have no issues. A Chromebook won’t run the actual software version of QuickBooks, but if you are able to access it from a web browser the way that QuickBooks Online works, then a Chromebook should work just fine.

Is there an easy and time-efficient way to clean stainless steel oven grates/racks? I was advised not to leave them in oven during the self-clean cycle.

My favorite method is to spray them with Dawn Dish Power Dissolver spray cleaner. I’m mostly heartbroken that Procter and Gamble has discontinued manufacturing this cleaner, but happy that it is still available in limited quantities. The problem is finding it. So far and as I write, you can still get Dawn Dish Power Dissolver online. I’m harboring a couple of cases, which I intend to make last for a very long time. A reasonable alternative, also from P&G, is Dawn Heavy Duty Degreaser. If your kitchen sink isn’t large enough to accommodate those racks, consider scrubbing them in a bathtub. Just make sure you lay a towel or mat on the bottom of the tub first to prevent damaging the tub surface.

Irregular Income, Erasing Credit-Card Debt and an Overdrafting Fiancé

Every week I get at least a couple of letters from readers whose situations prompt them to start out something like, “I’m embarrassed to ask, but ….” Then they pour out their hearts, often lamenting what they believe to be their own stupidity and ignorance. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The only stupid questions are those we don’t ask because we’re afraid of what other might think. It warms my heart to know that so many of my dear readers find my inbox a safe place for even their most embarrassing questions.

Q: My husband has two jobs—he is an artist and a salesman. He earns commissions from both jobs so we never know what our income will be. I work part-time and am paid hourly. I’m so embarrassed to admit that I have no idea how to go about setting up a budget. Is our situation impossible?

Ask Me Anything: Kitchen Towels, Home Chef, Stubborn Stickers, Chromebook, Floor Cleaner

It doesn’t happen often, but now and then I’ll get a message from someone who must be having a particularly bad day, like the fellow who wrote this past week accusing me of making up letters, messages and questions on the days I invite you to ask me anything. Oh, my. I only wish I could show him my inbox!

Why doesn’t anyone make a dish towel that actually dries dishes? I’ve purchased all kinds over the years—100% cotton, flour sack, waffle weave, whatever. What’s your recommendation? Jeri

Ask Me Anything: Disposal Splash Guard, Oyster Sauce, Computer Toner, New Refrigerator

On this beautiful day as we celebrate America’s independence and offer gratitude for freedoms we enjoy in this land of amazing opportunity and abundance, I want to take a moment to say how grateful I am for you. Your trust and loyalty mean the world to me as we are on this journey together. Have a wonderful day of celebration. God Bless America!

I wish you could see the giant stack of mail I have from readers who have taken me up on my offer to ask me anything! It’s mammoth and I couldn’t be any happier about that. Enjoy this batch of answered questions and then keep ‘em coming!

How do you remove the splash guard on your garbage disposal, where odors hide, for regular cleaning? Sheila

The easiest way to clean in that odor hideaway is to not remove that rubber splash guard at all. Once a week or so, dip a sturdy brush, like a toothbrush or similar kitchen cleaning brush in antibacterial grease-cutting kitchen cleaner (Spray Nine Degreaser is a good choice; other antibacterial products will work too). Then lift up one flap of the splash guard. Scrub off the crud and rinse with cold water. Repeat with each flap until that area underneath is totally clean and rinsed. It takes only a couple of minutes and will make all the difference in the world to keep the sink smelling fresh and clean.

Ask Me Anything: Rust Stains, Computer Printers, Dark Spot Remover

Got a question? Lots of readers do and chances are pretty good their questions just might be your questions, too. At the very least, you may find these answers to be somewhat educational, if not entertaining!

The rust in our city water leaves an unsightly brown build up in my bathroom sink made of vitreous china. I have tried homemade remedies and store-bought products, nothing has worked in completely ridding the unsightly stains.  Can you recommend something that will help make my sinks look new again? Diane

Bar Keepers Friend, available in the household cleanser aisle of most supermarkets and discount stores, will remove those stains without harming the enamel coating on porcelain, known as vitreous china. The active ingredient in Bar Keepers Friend is oxalic acid, an organic acid that works as a bleach and rust remover. I think you will be amazed by the ability of BKF to remove these stains! As always, it is vitally important that you test any product in an inconspicuous place first to make sure it will not be damaged before proceeding.

Ask Me Anything: Oven Door, Window Air Conditioners, Hardwood Floor Cleaner

I’ve been accused of thinking I have an answer for everything (you know who you are, my dear husband), and that kinda’ makes me laugh because I have to admit that maybe I do think that. I do love to reach into my inbox to find so many letters from my readers,  many of which do include questions.

Truth be told, when you send questions to which I do not have reliable answers, I set them aside pending further research. They say that “teaching teaches the teacher,” and I couldn’t agree more!

The self-cleaning function on my oven works great for the oven itself, but doesn’t get the glass door clean. I’ve tried to clean, but nothing works to remove the baked-on crud. Do you have a solution? 

While you should never use oven-cleaning products on the self-cleaning oven itself, the best way to clean the glass window is with oven cleaner! I suggest Easy-Off Fume Free Oven Cleaner. Unlike other oven cleaners, this one works on cold surfaces. Spray it on liberally, then leave the door open and allow it to sit for several hours. That should soften everything that has become baked-on, allowing you to wipe all of that away with a scrubbing sponge. I’ve used this product to remove stubborn hard-water marks from shower doors and other glass surfaces. I’m hopeful this will be great solution for your oven door.

Do you have a Best Inexpensive Window Air Conditioner recommendation for us? Please!

Since I don’t know the size of the space you need to cool, here are two options, both of which are great little workhorses: For a small space of up to 150 sq. ft., the Frigidaire 5,000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted Mini-Compact Air Conditioner about $130.

If you need to cool a larger space, up to 350 sq. ft., the Frigidaire 8,000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted Mini-Compact Air Conditioner will be the model you need, about $240.

Letters to the Editor: Stick Vac, Travel Tips, Cleaning “Juice,” Garbage Disposals and Sweet Peas

One of the great joys of writing is receiving letters to the editor. Not surprisingly, responses to what I write vary greatly, which I find gratifying. That means your’e reading and thinking. And from time to time I find myself re-thinking in response to what you write. I hope you find this selection of recent letters both interesting and thought-provoking.

Best Inexpensive Stick Vacuum—Finally!

I’m a happy user of the Eufy Cordless HomeVac you recommended. I love it—especially as we have a cat who tracks litter all over. This vac works for so many medium and lightweight uses (toast crumbs, scattered litter, dirt tracked in, for a fast buzz around the dining table, etc). In fact, we have hardwood floors and use this vacuum 90% of the time. It is so lightweight and portable compared to our heavier duty vacuum. Also, I’m amazed how long the charge lasts. When it is charged up and not used for even a week, it still maintains its full charge and is ready to go. Definitely a winner! Joyce

Comments to Travel Tips, Tricks and Hacks

Great tips, as usual. When we travel, along with the Do Not Disturb sign on the door, we also leave the T.V. on so it seems as though someone is in the room. Cathy

Ask Me Anything: Dehumidifiers and Glass Stovetop Disaster

Humidity, or the lack thereof, is a popular topic this time of year. Where I live in northern Colorado, it’s dry! We have like no humidity. Well, not exactly, but it averages in the low mid-20 percent during the summer and fall months. We have a humidifier in our home and it runs 24/7 year round for health and comfort.

Recently, lots of readers have inquired about how to deal with the opposite—high humidity, which can get pretty miserable this time of year.

What is the best inexpensive home dehumidifier? 

I am confident and very happy to recommend two different high-quality machines (depending on the size of the space you have), both of which just happen to come from Frigidaire. A dehumidifier can be a godsend for those who live in high humidity areas to remove excess moisture from indoor air. Some of the most common indications that you may need a dehumidifier are: wet stains on walls and ceilings, stuffy feeling in a room, rotting wood, condensation on windows, musty smells and allergies (if the air in your home is too moist, it will encourage the growth of bacteria and mold, which are common allergens).