My fondness for TV game shows’ lighting rounds—the duration of the round is a pre-determined length of time, and the goal is to accomplish as much as possible within that period—may have something to do with my attention span. Lightning round questions are short, the answers quick and concise.

I see we have lots of questions in the audience, so let’s set the clock. Ready? Set … Go!

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Q: Do I HAVE to use HE labeled laundry detergent only in my new Whirlpool washer? Why? Pegg

A: Yes. If the owner manual recommends HE detergent, that means it is a high-efficiency washer. HE washers use considerably less water and have sophisticated computer-like electronics. They’re very smart!

HE detergent creates no suds or bubbles. The presence of too many suds can confuse washing cycles, cause delays and make proper rinsing of clothes difficult if not impossible.

By the way, you can make your own detergent is HE because it creates no suds or bubbles. Recipe and tutorial HERE. Make sure you measure the detergent in every load. I use 2 tablespoons in my HE machine, which seems like not nearly enough,  but it is! Using too much detergent can cause all kinds of problems. Read your manual.

Q: Do you have a favorite makeup primer? I’m wondering if using a primer will help hide some of those tiny lines. Jeannine

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I had to laugh when I opened my mail to read how one reader was able to get his shower doors so clean and sparkly, they looked like new. I had a can of his remedy sitting right there next to my computer.

Hold on! It was NOT there to be used as a computer screen cleaner. (I’ve never tried it, do not intend to and hope you do not either. There is a much better way to do that: Five Fabulous Homemade Products that Use the Power of Rubbing Alcohol).

Photo: Instructables.com

It was on my desk because I had just used it to test the theory that WD-40® would waterproof my leather boots. Supposedly, WD-40 acts as a barrier so moisture can’t seep into your shoes and get your socks wet.

Dear Mary: We bought a home not long ago and the glass shower doors were so badly stained I actually thought the glass had become etched. But I wasn’t ready to give up on them without a fight.

I took the doors off thinking I could put more pressure on them if they were laying flat. Then I tried all the cleaners you mentioned and then some. Still the spots remained. That’s when I remembered what I had used on my car when I found a few spots of tar on it. The answer was WD-40.

I took the doors outside, covered my picnic table and then laid a door on it. Next, I sprayed the door with the WD-40 with the open spray (“straw” setting off), let it set a few minutes then just wiped it off with a paper towel. A couple of spots required more application. When done I put some Blue Dawn in a bucket, used a sponge to soap it down then leaned it against a fence putting a wood block under it to keep it off the ground. I sprayed it with the water hose and allowed it to dry. Then I repeated the process on the other door. They looked great!

The only problem encountered was when I went to retrieve them I discovered a bird had found one before me but THAT was a simple clean up! Randy

Dear Randy: Remarkable! And a what a great idea to use WD-40® to clean those doors (although we need to make it clear that had the glass become etched, it is not likely that WD-40 could not have fixed the problem). WD-40 is a great product. The blue and yellow can is about as familiar as anything. Banished to a shelf in the garage, most people assume WD-40 is only an automotive thing. Wrong! This stuff is amazing. And cheap. 

Most of us already know to use WD-40 to loosen bolts and fix squeaky door hinges. But there are quite possibly thousands more ways WD-40 can make our lives easier. Here are a few of my favorites!

REPEL SPIDERS. And other bugs too! Just spray some WD-40 on windowsills and other places spiders can get in. Wipe away the excess and that’s it. It will keep spiders and other creepy crawlies away.

CLEAN GREASY HANDS. When you’re done with a messy job that got your hands all greasy, painty or sooty, spray them with a little WD-40. Wipe with a paper towel and then follow with soap and water. So much better than getting the sink super dirty.

Lots More: Got a Problem? Grab the WD-40 

REMOVE PAINT FROM LEATHER. It happened to me once. I got paint on my jeans, didn’t realize it and while it was still wet, got into the car. Yep. Paint on the leather seat. A quick spray of WD-40 followed by a soft clean rag took that paint away in a flash—and didn’t leave a trace. Took it out of my pants, too.

CLEAN UP CRAYON MARKS. Whether they’re on the walls of your home or your clothes dryer, WD-40 works like a dream to soften crayon marks making them easy to remove. Always test first, especially if that wall happens to be wallpapered.

FREE STUCK DISHWARE. Ever get a small bowl or drinking glass stuck inside one that is slightly larger? A quick spray of WD-40 just might be all you need to get them unstuck. Give it a try!

As for the boots? Yes! In my test, WD-40 did make my boots repel water and snow so my feet stayed nice and dry.  Pretty cool!

Just this past weekend, while selecting grout for the new ceramic tile in my laundry room, I did a double take in the flooring aisle at Home Depot. The beautiful “hardwood” flooring didn’t seem to match the sign that clearly read Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring. What?! Really? Truth.

But even the most luxurious vinyl comes with somewhat of a challenge, as evidenced by today’s first reader question.

Photo credit: Pinterest.com

Dear Mary: We have just installed vinyl plank flooring in our home. Instructions say to use only non rubber-backed rugs and mats on it. Is there an anti-fatigue, non-rubber mat or rug out there that you recommend? Karen

Dear Karen: This past weekend I was looking at a new line of luxury vinyl plank flooring. Not only is it gorgeous and practical, it’s amazingly affordable. Vinyl flooring has come a long way. But the problem remains that petroleum-based products like rubber can, over time, permanently stain vinyl. On light colors that stain will be an ugly shade of yellow. On darker vinyl, over time, the stain may give a dark, shadowy appearance.

This Guardian Air Step Vinyl Anti-Fatigue Floor Mat may be a good option for you. These mats come in a variety of sizes and two color choices.

Another option would be to use rugs that have no rubber backing over thick felt rug pads. As long as the pad is heavy and slightly smaller than the rug itself, it should stay in place and provide a luxurious cushion for your feet and protection for your floor.

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Over the years I’ve received thousands of money-saving tips from readers—many of which I’ve shared in books, newsletters, and this column. And there are plenty that I’ve not shared for a variety of reasons, but mostly because they don’t work. Some don’t work so poorly, they actually end up costing time and money, not saving a thing!

Today’s first question reminded me of that useless tip. It still makes me laugh. It goes like this:

Start with two empty toilet paper tubes and a new roll of 2-ply toilet tissue. Carefully separate the two layers of toilet tissue, re-rolling each of the layers onto an empty tube to create—ta-da!—two rolls of paper for the price of one.

Not only does this take an unbelievable amount time, unless you own a toilet tissue rolling machine of some kind, the result is a ginormous, ridiculous mess of toilet tissue that is so thin, it takes at least twice as much to get the job done.
Don’t do that, OK? Instead, learn how to comparison shop for toilet tissue. And when you find it on sale, stock up.

Dear Mary: Is there a reliable way to compare prices on toilet paper? It should be easy, but so far I haven’t figured out how to do it. There has to be a way, and I’m going to bet you know it. Thanks! Darryl

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It may not show up in The Top Tens Biggest Pet Peeves (yes, there is such a thing), but getting the corners right when putting on a fitted bed sheet ranks high in my mailbox.

Here’s the funny thing: Because it doesn’t bother me, I had no idea that quickly figuring out which corner goes where when putting on a fitted bed sheet was a major pet peeve for so many people! I guess I’ve lived my life just assuming that everyone knew the easy trick to get it right the first time, every time.

Q: Putting sheets on my bed is one of my biggest pet peeves. The frustration and total waste of time trying to figure out which way that fitted sheet goes drives me absolutely crazy. Help!!

Bed sheets, both fitted and flat, have a tag sewn into or near one of the four corners. The tag gives care instructions, the manufacturer’s name, sheet size and so forth.

Related: Best Inexpensive™ Bed Sheets

Find the tag then place it at the bottom right corner of the bed as you are standing at the foot of the bed looking toward the head. Right bottom corner. Visualize it. That’s all you need to remember for both the fitted and the flat sheet. I cannot confirm that this is universal tag placement protocol for all sheet manufacturers, but it’s true for the sheets I own now and have over the years. Read more

Imagine for a moment that you were not in debt and didn’t have to send those big payments to credit-card companies every month. What would you do with that money instead?

One reader whom I heard from recently faced that exact, and may I say awesome, situation. Her reward for getting out of debt was the freedom to start paying herself every month instead of Visa and MasterCard!

Recently, after saving for 10 years, I paid cash to remodel my kitchen with stainless steel sinks, granite countertops and new wood cabinets. I’ve been reading your columns and newsletter for many years and used your Debt-Proof Living method to get out of debt and stay out. What advice do you have for caring for my new sinks, counters and cabinets? Thanks, Mary, for changing my debt-ridden life to a beautiful debt-free life! Karen

painted-white-kitchen-cabinets-oak-cabinet-in-country-style-design-combined-white-rectangle-top-dining-table-cool-apron-sink-design-ideas-neutral-paint-color-for-

Dear Karen: Getting out of debt is no small feat, but once you hit that goal, the money you were sending to credit-card companies each month was yours to save. You did it exactly right and I am so proud of you!

STAINLESS STEEL SINK

Daily Stainless Steel Cleaner. Start with a clean 16-oz. spray bottle. Pour in 1 1/3 cups white vinegar, 5 drops Dawn liquid dishwashing detergent and 2/3 cup water. Apply the spray top and shake to mix.

To use: Simply spray on stainless steel sink (appliances, too) then scrub with a cloth or sponge to clean, rinse well then buff with a dry microfiber cloth to shine. (Be sure to label this product clearly, as you DO NOT want to use it on natural countertops of granite, marble or stone because it contains vinegar.)

Then once a week, or as needed, scrub the sink with Bar Keepers Friend cleanser and warm water. Unlike porcelain sinks, durable stainless steel stands up well to abrasive cleansers. BKF is by far the best cleanser for stainless. Remember always to scrub in the direction of the polish lines (look closely and you’ll be able to see these grain lines in your sink) then rinse well with hot Read more

There are days when I open my mailbox and have to sit down because I’m laughing so hard. Some things just strike me funny. Turns out this time, though, the last laugh was on me.

I am a cheapskate. I read your column for hot tips, particularly about Blue Dawn Dishwashing liquid. Recently I have begun to use Dawn for a hair shampoo. My wife is aghast. She says my hair is going to turn blue and I will smell. She claims that shampoos have an acid base balance that ensures shiny luxurious hair. Do you have an opinion? How about using it for body wash, as well? Bill

Dear Bill: l have to admit that I was a bit aghast myself as I read your letter. And I came this close to firing off a response siding with your wife but stopped short by sending myself on a research expedition so I could tell you exactly why you should listen to her and never ever shampoo or shower with Blue Dawn.

Man in shower washing hair

Boy, was I in for a shock. Not only could I not find credible reasons to not use Blue Dawn for personal care, I discovered a cult-like following of people out there who swear by the stuff not only for hair care and body wash but as a very effective acne treatment, too.

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Recently, I reached into the pile known as my mail and pulled out a great question, “How can I restore the finish to an original, classic mid-century modern Formica top table that has some noticeable dull spots?” I have the answer but misplaced the letter. So while I don’t know your name, you know who you are and that’s all that matters.

vintage formica and chrome kitchen table set

Dear Reader: Don Aslett, America’s #1 Cleaning Expert says to brighten dull or scratched laminate, rub it down with Jubilee Kitchen Wax (a venerable product, still available online) or a good paste car wax, Meguiar’s Gold Class CarnaubaJust follow the instructions on the package. By the way, Jubilee Kitchen Wax is for use on almost anything: cars, boats, bikes, countertops, skis, your glasses, but don’t apply it to floors. It’s too slick. As I recall you are very fond of your table, so if you don’t already have one of the recommended products, a $10 investment might be worth the price.

Dear Mary: I have a silverfish problem in my home. Nothing I have tried works. Please help. Helene

Dear Helene: Silverfish are such a pesky problem. They’re nocturnal, so you won’t see them much during the day. And silverfish are so hardy they can go without food for up to a year. When they do eat, they find cardboard and wallpaper to be quite tasty.

An excellent pesticide for silverfish is food-grade diatomaceous earth, available at garden centers or hardware stores. Make certain you purchase food-grade diatomaceous earth, NOT the variety used in swimming pools, which has been chemically altered and will not work as a pesticide.

When silverfish and other crawling insects come in contact with the powdery substance they dehydrate. Even silverfish cannot live without water. Read more