Ask Me Anything: Robot Mops, Sun Block, Tile Grout, Stinky Cigarette Smoke

From cars that reek of stale cigarette smoke to tile grout and robot floor mops, I get questions of every kind from my awesome readers. I love the challenge. So please, keep those cards and letters coming!

I love my Eufy Robovac II. I have an entire house of wood plank tile and it has changed my life! It has recently come to my attention that there are now robot mops. Do you have a Best Inexpensive recommendation for these? Janet

I’m so happy to hear how much you are loving your Eufy robot vacuum. I love mine, too! As for a robot floor mop/scrubber, the one or two that works pretty well most of the time is way too expensive. Affordable robot floor scrubbers seem to be more trouble and make a bigger mess than they’re worth! As soon as that changes—and it could anytime—you’ll be the first to know!

What can I put on a window to block the heat from the hot sun on that side of the house from coming in? Doris

The easiest, and to me, the most attractive option would be a drape that you can open and close. As long as the fabric is fairly heavy and a tight weave, this will do wonders. Just make sure you draw the drape so the window is covered before the sun comes up. Other options include covering the glass itself with aluminum foil (not the most attractive or functional if you want access to light once the sun is not beating in, but super cheap). Solar blinds do a great job of blocking the heat while allowing light to come through. Last, I suggest you consider applying transparent heat control film to that window. A product like Gila Heat Control Adhesive Window Film will reduce incoming heat, glare and UV rays while allowing natural light to enter and maintain your outside view.

What is the best cleanser to use for kitchen floor tile grout? Bob

I use Bar Keepers Friend cleanser and my OXO Deep Clean Brush Set. BKF contains oxalic acid, which gets white grout nice and white but won’t harm colored grout. For super stained white grout, allow that BKF paste to sit for a while before scrubbing.

How would you recommend removing the stench of cigarette odor from a car’s interior, short of buying a new car? Diane

While this is a difficult problem, it’s not the time for a new car just yet! You need the only thing I know that will truly eliminate that cigarette odor—Nok-Out, which will absolutely oxidize (neutralize) the odor of tobacco smoke. The challenge is to make sure Nok-Out comes in contact with every square millimeter of the surface that the smoke has penetrated. Fortunately, the inside of a car is fairly small, which will make this more doable.

When treating an area where the odor became airborne and most likely is now clinging to every bit of the headliner, walls, flooring, cracks, and crevices, Nok-Out must do the same in order to reach and then oxidize all of the stink. To do this, you need a room humidifier or vaporizer that produces cool mist (Nok-Out should not be heated to or near the boiling point) and has a capacity sufficient to allow it to hold enough Nok-Out to run the appliance for a number of hours between refills. When using Nok-Out in a vaporizer or humidifier, use it full strength. If it is a maintenance dose, then you can dilute by around 1/3 water.

Set the humidifier inside the car with all of the doors, vents, and windows closed. You’ll want to run it for many hours or until you are satisfied that the Nok-Out mist has reached every crevice. No need to rinse. Allow it to dry naturally. If you still detect that cigarette smell, do it again. You’ve got a tough problem, but I promise that if Nok-Out gets to all of the places the cigarette smoke has, it will be miraculous.

Nok-Out is not cheap, but worth every penny for its ability to truly eliminate bad odors—starting at about $25 here with free shipping. And if it can rescue a car for you, what a bargain!

The Best Inexpensive humidifier with this criterion is Honeywell Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier HCM-350. Its large capacity will allow it to run for up to 24 hours straight between fill ups. The regular price is $79.99, however you can find it for less if you are patient and super savvy. Right now, as I write, this humidifier is available online at Amazon for $59 with free shipping. I don’t think you can beat that price, but if you do be sure to let me know! As a bonus, this particular humidifier is enjoying many 5-star reviews, which for me, speaks volumes.

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  • Been there

    Re: cigarette smoke in car. At some point all that Nok-Out will need to be run through the air conditioning system or it will continue to blow nasty odor in your face every time you turn it on. I guess the only way to do that would be to run the air for a while when the humidifier is running. Someone else may have a better idea.

    And that would be “reek”, not “wreak”.

    • Gail Gislason

      Just going to comment on the spelling, as well.

  • Cally

    regarding sunny windows…I bought cling film in the auto parts section of Walmart, intended for RV windows, and used it on our western facing bedroom windows. i can see out if i open the curtains but it gives privacy -no one can see in. my husband and i like a dark bedroom for sleeping so we have this film, faux-wooden blinds AND curtains on two bedroom windows.