Ask Me Anything: Bath Mat Repair, Wood Cleaner, Keurig Safety

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Got a slippery throw rug? A bathmat that’s lost its backing after just one too many trips to the clothes dryer? Today’s first reader can certainly identify.

I’ve got good news for both of you—something you may have already that’s sitting on a shelf in the garage.

Mary M. asks: Is there any way to rescue throw rugs that have lost their rubber backing? They are no longer safe on the floor when they slip around, but the tops are in perfect shape. I hate to throw them out. There must be some kind of adhesive backing available to buy or make.

There is. In fact, you have a couple of options:

To Repair: To give a bath mat or other type of area rug some traction to give it a new lease on life, flip it over, and apply lines of acrylic-latex caulk every 6 inches or so. Once dry, you can safely use that rug again; the rubbery strips of caulk will hold it in place.

Repair area rug rubber backing with vinyl-latex caulk

To Restore: Another option is an excellent product, Fiber-Lok Non-Skid Rug Backing. You may be able to find this locally at select Staples, Joann and Walmart stores, and also online at Amazon. It comes in size options of pint, quart, and gallon. From my research, Amazon offers the best price with the added benefit of Prime shipping on the pint- and quart-size options.

Use a paintbrush to apply this rubbery liquid to the back of a bathmat, carpet runner or area rug, being careful to follow the label instructions.

Once applied and allowed to fully cure, both acrylic-latex caulk and Fiber-Lok Non-Skid Rug Backing treated rugs are washable.

In the future, I suggest you not machine dry mats and rugs that have anti-slip rubber backing, allowing them to air dry instead. The dryer heat has a way of breaking down most types of rubber (although Fiber-Lok does purport to be both machine washable and dryable once applied to a rug or mat), which could be the reason you’re facing the task of repair and restoration.

Hope that helps!

Betty writes: It’s been awhile since you gave us a recipe for restoring old but still good furniture (or it may have been kitchen cabinets). Best I remember, olive oil and vinegar was involved, and I don’t know what else. I used it on an old chest of drawers I had and it looked like just what it was—an excellent piece of antique furniture, well preserved! Could you publish that recipe again?

I’ll bet you are referring to this column, How to Remove Years of Kitchen Cabinet Grit and Grime, which has the recipe you’re referring to, plus another for really grimy kitchen wood cabinets. Here they are:

Recipe #1: In a spray bottle  (I use these 16-oz. bottles for homemade cleaners) mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, 4 tablespoons white vinegar and enough warm water to fill the bottle (about 2 cups). Shake to mix then spray on one door or drawer front at a time. Scrub with a soft cloth to remove any dirt, then buff to a beautiful shine. Before each spray, give the bottle a shake to keep the oil mixed in.

Recipe #2: In a small bowl, measure out 1 part vegetable oil and 2 parts baking soda (for example 2 tablespoons oil and 4 tablespoons baking soda—or 1 cup oil to 2 cups baking soda depending on the size of your job).

Using your fingers, mix this into a thick paste. Smoosh it a little bit at a time into the surface of that grimy cabinet, being particularly mindful of the areas close to the handles that receive so much handling and human contact.

Scrub with a soft cloth, sponge or your fingertips to get this paste into the grain. Use an old toothbrush to get it into all of the nooks and crannies. This paste is very thick, and as you begin to scrub and brush, it will fall off, along with a lot of grime. Save yourself a mess by placing an old towel beneath the areas you are cleaning to catch it as it falls off. It could get disgusting and that’s what you want because that signals that you are getting rid of it. Buff well with a soft cloth then step back to admire your beautiful work.

You can always add a few drops of essential oil to your homemade cleaners—orange or lemon would be a great choice—and that will leave a wonderful clean scent.

Peggy writes: Love your column. Both my husband and I read it every day. I am more than a little germaphobic. Although I love the convenience of Keurig coffee brewers, I have always worried about what the little germ community is doing inside the brewer when the water remains in it overnight or longer. The reservoir can easily be detached and washed, even in the dishwasher. But what about the water inside the brewer?  How do we make sure it is safe for consumption?

You can relax based on this:

1) Keurig Co. reports its brewers come preset at 192 degrees F. That’s the temperature the water must reach before the machine releases it to flow into the K-cup coffee grounds.

2) Bacteria that are harmful to humans are killed, or pasteurized, within 1 second once the temperature reaches 191 F.

Related: How to Keep a Keurig Coffee Maker Making Coffee (Even if You Think It’s Broken)

From this data, it is reasonable to conclude that even if your worst fears were to become reality—your Keurig brewer becomes a playground for harmful microorganisms that multiply while you sleep—bacteria and pathogens harmful to humans will be destroyed just in time for the water to be released into your next cup of coffee.

I’m confident—and I believe the Keurig folks would concur—you have one less thing to worry about. Your Keurig is safe.

Thank you for your kind words. Keep reading!


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  • Jane

    Can the cabinet cleaner be used on refaced cabinets? I’m unsure of the material but it is not wood.

    • I’m sure it can but just to be save, make sure always test first in an inconspicuous place!