multi-ethinic arms outstretched to ask questions.

If it’s Friday, it just might be Ask Me Anything day when I reach into the mailbag and pull out three recent questions from my loyal, loving readers—two of them with the same name!

My dog recently had a “scare” and piddled on my hardwood floor. I did not catch it right away. I now have a stain. Is there anything you would recommend to get rid of it without refinishing the floor? Thank you. Linda

Dear Linda: This is tough. It’s difficult to know if you have a stain sitting on top of the floor or if the floor’s stain has been penetrated and bleached by the heavy presence of ammonia in dog urine. Regardless, it’s surely worth a try to see if this can be reversed. Here is a recipe and instruction for removing dog urine from a hardwood floor:

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For some time I’d been toying with whether or not to write this post on bed sheets. For months I’d been researching, testing and assessing bed sheets with the goal to identify what I could offer to you as the Best Inexpensive Bed Sheets.

You may recall that about two years ago, I did achieve my goal—our Best Inexpensive bed sheets. And then some things changed. One of our Best Inexpensive options was discontinued! And new options appeared, prompting fer today’s update.

 

 

Sheet snob

Here’s the reason I was conflicted. When it comes to bed sheets, I am particular. Call me a sheet snob and you’d have me pegged, which could make my personal standards too high to be considered affordable.

It’s not a matter of decor or brand. It’s the way the sheets feel. They should be smooth and wrinkle-free. The sheets need to breathe and not stick to me. But they can’t be slick, slippery, crunchy or noisy. The weave has to be tight and sheets can’t feel like sandpaper.

For me, sheets have to fit well, too. The fitted sheet cannot pop off the corners of the mattress; but it can’t be too big, so as to become baggy, which can lead to bunching up. Above all, my sheets must be 100% cotton. Not linen, not microfiber or polyester or any other type of fiber or blend thereof.

Seriously, if the sheets are not right, I don’t sleep well. And by well I mean sound asleep—not tossing, turning, and continuously waking up.

Where did the percale go?

There was a time when decent sheets were common and affordable. I don’t know for certain what’s happened there, but I  blame it on synthetic fibers—microfiber, polyester, lyocell and their manmade fiber-cousins that are cheap to manufacture.

We used to depend on the word “percale” to be the sign of a great sheet, but truth be told percale has nothing to do with fiber content. Percale refers to a type of tight weave. I’ve been fooled by percale sheets that turn out to be polyester percale or microfiber percale—not the fine cotton percale I  remember from childhood.

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You just paid a small fortune for new eyeglasses. On top of the cost for prescription lenses and fashionable frames, you opted for Anti-Reflective, Anti-Scratch and UV Coatings too. 

Mother and daughter with eyeglasses

After all, eyesight is a precious thing and it’s only wise to do all you can to protect it, right? Absolutely! But here’s the deal: You may be destroying your investment one cleaning at a time.

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Ever had the occasion to wonder where you’ve been all your life? That’s my reaction to a simple heavy-duty cleaning product, Lestoil.

Apparently, it’s been manufactured right here in the USA for decades and loved by many. Curiously, I’d never even heard of it—let alone used it like a rabid fan—until only a few years ago.

Woman Thrilled by the Results of Lestoil Heavy-Duty Stain Treatment

On the off chance you, too, are not familiar with the powerful cleaner of all things hopelessly stained, here are 10 things you will be glad you know.

Lestoil Heavy Duty CleanerLestoil Heavy Duty Cleaner

Heavy-duty grease and stain remover

Lestoil (pronounced less-toil … get it?) can be used full-strength on stains—especially really difficult stains; the kind of stains you just give up on like ink, toner, grease, oil, scuff marks, blood, lipstick, nail polish, paint, grass stains, coffee stains, crayon and marker stains on every surface you can imagine. Even the sticky stuff left behind by stickers and labels.

Really old

Lestoil has been around since 1933. While I have not been around quite that long, this makes me wonder where I have been since I’ve only learned about Lestoil more recently.

So far 100%

Lestoil has removed every old stain I’d given up on as well as every new stain I’ve acquired since the two of us met—on clothing, carpet, concrete and all kinds of patio furniture including molded plastic. It removed black stains that accumulated on outdoor furniture covers.

RELATED: How to Make Sure You are Using the Right Amount Laundry Detergent

It made short order of some ugly stains on cultured stone. It removed that gross, sticky residue that shows up on vinyl and plastic, restoring it back to its former glory.

So far, Lestoil has worked on everything I’ve tried, most recently this shirt (with apologies to all of my expert photography readers—I promise to work on my lighting ).

Before After Results of Lestoil Heavy-Duty Stain Treatment

Before After Results of Lestoil Heavy-Duty Stain Treatment

It’s soapy

Lestoil contains, among other things, sodium tallate, which is a type of soap. This means that once the job is done, it must rinsed out, washed off or otherwise removed to make sure the item being treated doesn’t retain a residue that will attract a new stain.

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It’s not something you buy every day. But when it’s time to buy carpet, you’ll want to know your stuff. Make a bad decision and you’ll pay dearly for a long time, and I am not talking just about the money. You’ll pay a significant price in dissatisfaction and disappointment.

 

Carpet Samples Displayed Beautifully in a Carpet Store to Help Customers Know How to Buy Carpet

 

First, decide the style of carpet and type of fiber you want, determined by where it will be installed and how much money you have to spend.

Visit several retail carpet stores that will let you take carpet samples home for a few days. Walk on them, view them in a different light. Set a heavy piece of furniture on them to see if the fibers will “rebound” once removed.

No matter how much pressure the sales staff pours on, remember you are not obligated to purchase from any store even if you checked out samples from them.

 

Styles of Carpet

Plush

Usually one solid color with even, smooth pile height. Varies from lightweight (apartment-grade) with fewer tufts per square inch to heavier weights that are very dense. Comes in a vast range of colors. Shows footprints and vacuum marks.

Textured plush

Two shades mixed with varying pile heights that reduces vacuum marks and footprints. About the same price as plush.

Frieze

Very tightly twisted tufts of yarn. More expensive than plush but wears much longer—15 years is not unusual. Frieze comes in a variety of pile heights from short all the way to super shag. Durable, holds up to heavy use without matting or showing traffic patterns. Rebounds well.

Sculptured

Has two types of tufts—loops and cut pile in varying heights. Often called high-low. Usually has several shades of color varying from light to dark. Doesn’t show much dirt; often used in apartments. Read more

When I pulled out my AAA membership card to get a discount for Universal Hollywood tickets, I locked eyeballs with “Years as Member: 43” printed on the card. I nearly passed out.

That seemed absolutely impossible until I did a little mental calculation. It’s true. AAA has been an important part of my life for more than four decades.

If you are a member of AAA, it’s likely that you depend on it to get you out of an automotive bind with a roadside jumpstart, a gallon of gas or a tow.

And so you know, they also come to the rescue should you ever lock your keys in the car. Or a sleeping baby. Let’s just say that AAA has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.

 

AAA membership has so many other benefits that just roadside assistance—some I’ve taken advantage of in the past, but many others I didn’t even know about.

If you’re a member, perhaps you’ll be surprised too by all of the hidden benefits in your membership.

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Some time ago I got a message, which reminded me about the wonder of an ordinary product most people have somewhere in the house. Georgia wrote …

hydrogen-peroxide-poured-onto-cloth-for-cleaning

“I had a cut on my hand that opened up while I was putting my expensive duvet cover (recent wedding gift!) on my comforter, now I have blood stains where I touched it. Is there any hope of getting these stains out completely? I tried using a carpet cleaning solution and washing it but those stains remain. I’m worried they’ll be there permanently. Thanks so much for your help!” Georgia

I responded immediately, directing Georgia to soak the stains with fresh, full-strength hydrogen peroxide. I heard back quickly. The hydrogen peroxide lightened the stains almost immediately, and within hours they disappeared completely.

I’ll be honest that back then, removing blood stains was about all I ever used hydrogen peroxide for. And because it has such a short shelf life, I was forever throwing out old, useless hydrogen peroxide.

Since then, I’ve learned so much and done extensive research and wow. The stuff is downright wonderful—so awesome in fact, I never throw hydrogen peroxide away anymore. It doesn’t have time in my home to age out. That’s how much I use it.

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In the interest of full disclosure, let me say right up front that when I first heard about ordering prescription eyeglasses online, I scoffed. I rolled my eyes. What next? Mail order surgery? Online doctor visits? Not me. 

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It does seem weird if not downright irresponsible to get prescription eyeglasses online. I’m the first to admit it.

I mean, what kind of person would trust her eyesight to some website in the sky by forwarding a doctor’s written prescription, selecting frames online and expect said unknown entity to grind those lenses properly, fit them into the frames of choice, return these prescription eyeglasses to said person, having them fit perfectly, charging him or her a fraction of the cost he or she would pay locally and expect any of this to turn out well?

Do not be surprised when I say that I would be that kind of person. I’ve had an epiphany, a change of heart. 

Up until the past decade, I’d not worn glasses, enjoying perfect vision. But life happens (perhaps you’ve noticed this). I was totally unprepared for the mind-numbing cost of prescription eyewear. 

I went to a top-notch optometrist (I still do) and assumed that to take the best care of my eyes, I needed to purchase my new glasses from the little boutique there in his office.

When the bill totaled more than $750 for my designer frames, lenses, anti-scratch coating (don’t believe it), UV protection and the anti-glare option, I was shocked. And more than ready to consider other options. Read more