There’s an old proverb that says, teaching teaches the teacher. Not only do I believe this, it was proven to me once again only recently in a way that has me doing the Happy Dance! The best part? Now I get to teach this simple yet very useful tip to others.

Dear Mary: The Fuller/Stanley company recently informed me that after many years, they have discontinued their wonderful product, Original Degreaser. I use it mainly for laundry stains but is also wonderful for greasy spots in the kitchen. Do you have a recommendation for a similar product? Lisa

Dear Lisa:  I do, but first let me tell you a story ….

For years, I have recommended any number of laundry stain treatments to my readers—products that do a great job. Recently, I’ve heard from more than a few readers who’ve chided me for overlooking what may be easiest and cheapest option out there—my beloved Blue Dawn Dishwashing liquid, which is a fabulous degreaser. “Use it full strength and just dab a tiny bit on the stain and toss it in the washer,” is what more than one recommended.

Several weeks ago I suffered the mother of all laundry stains—a huge yellow mustard stain on a white tablecloth. Argh! I decided to give these readers my full cooperation—a test that would either prove or disprove the theory.

Boy is my face red. That tablecloth came out completely stain-free with no effort on my part. How have I missed using Blue Dawn straight up for laundry stains for all these years?! I don’t know, but it is a wonderful tip that I am grateful to pass it along to you.

Blue Dawn is a lot cheaper than your now-discontinued product (which is still available online, by the way) and works wonders on laundry stains. You can be sure I now have a plastic condiment bottle filled with Blue Dawn sitting right next to the washer. It’s getting a workout and so far—no stain has been even a close match for Blue Dawn. Love the stuff!

Dear Mary: What is the best way to clean a diamond ring. I do take mine to the jeweler every six months to have it cleaned and checked for loose stones but between those visits I’d like to keep it sparkling. What do you recommend? Becky

Dear Becky: I do have a favorite method, but first let me tell you what NOT to do: Never clean your fine jewelry with toothpaste, a tip I receive frequently that is just so wrong.

Even the smallest amount of toothpaste left behind under prongs or tucked into filigree will harden like concrete—something I learned from a jeweler who charges a lot of money to remove it.

There are lots of tips out there for how to clean diamonds, but my favorite—because it’s so easy and works like a dream—is household cleaning ammonia. You can find ammonia online or in the cleaning aisle of most grocery and supermarkets—just $1.59 for two quarts at my market.

To use: In a small bowl or cup, make a mixture of 50/50 hot tap water and ammonia. Drop the diamond jewelry piece in and allow it to soak for an hour or even overnight. Just don’t forget it and toss the bowl’s contents down the sink! Remove from the bowl and gently brush with an old soft toothbrush you keep just for this purpose. Rinse in a cup of warm water, dry gently and enjoy that shine!

CAUTIONS: Never clean jewelry over an open drain. Do not use this method on soft gemstones like opals or costume jewelry. This is for diamonds and gold—both are extremely hard and durable.

Dear Mary: Can you suggest something that will eliminate this awful ring around my toilet bowl? Lola

Dear Lola: Yes I can! It’s a common problem, especially for folks who live in areas with extremely hard water. That build-up of minerals can be nearly impossible to remove if allowed to remain over time.

The secret to removing that ugly ring no matter how long it has been there is a pumice stone. Used occasionally, this will not scratch the porcelain finish but will make easy work of that ugly ring. If you do not have a pumice stone that you can devote to this one household chore, I recommend Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover, (less than ten bucks), which comes with a convenient handle, making the job quick and easy. Pumie a household cleaning tool you’ll have and enjoy using for a long time.