From dishwashers to debt, readers of this blog ask great questions. And if statistics can be trusted, we know that for each one who asks there are 999 others who have the same question but just haven’t gotten around to asking, yet!

 

Do you have any suggestions for cleaning the inside of a dishwasher? I have seen packaged cleaners in the supermarket, but are they worth the money? Kelly

Dear Kelly: While I’m a big fan of Glisten Dishwasher Magic Cleaner for that once-a-year major dishwasher cleaning, I do have a super-cheap solution that works really well for routine maintenance.

You’ll need three packets unsweetened lemonade Kool-Aid powder—about $.25 each, available in any supermarket or online by the case of 48.

Divide the contents of three packets between the two detergent cups. Run the dishwasher empty on the hottest, longest cycle. Lemonade Kool-Aid is loaded with citric acid, which will remove rust, hard water build-up and soap scum—leaving the dishwasher sparkling clean. Just know that lemonade is the only Kool-Aid flavor that works for this task.

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I wish you could see my email inbox. No, wait. What I really mean is I’m grateful you can’t see it.  It’s in chaos. I get so much mail and while I genuinely appreciate every single message, it’s the sheer volume of mail that has created such a challenge for me.

My goal in 2018 is to get on top of this situation with a killer organizational tool or better yet, perhaps a virtual assistant. Your comments, ideas, and general feedback are like pure gold to me. More than that, communication with my readers charges my batteries. That is something that I need and have come to depend on.

woman-at-desk-buried-in-mail

Today, I reached into the mountain of mail and pulled out a handful of comments to past posts  to share with you.

Comments to How I Spent Forty Bucks to Avoid Surgery

Thank you very much for bringing this simple device, Lo-Bak Trax to my attention. I have been using my Lo-Bak Trax only once a day, before bed, for almost three weeks, but what an improvement! I am walking longer, farther and with almost no pain. I will use it several times a day, as you recommend after the holidays. That is my New Year’s resolution. Living in Italy, I certainly would never have heard of it were it not for your column. Peter

We ordered and received a Lo-Bak Trax. It came with no instructions for its use. Can you help? Betty

Oh, that is terrible! You need instructions, for sure. I suggest you watch THIS VIDEO, which is very instructional and clear in how to use Lo-Bak Trax. And HERE is a link to the printed instruction manual. This is a wonderful device. However, it’s not an overnight fix. Truly you must commit to three weeks straight—at least 21 days in a row—using it 4 to 5 times each day to get started. It is not difficult and it doesn’t hurt. In fact, if feels great, so it’s something I want to do as often as possible. After three weeks you should see a HUGE difference. When I am faithful to do this every day (and for the rest of my life), I am pain-free. Love this thing! –mh

I have followed your hair routine for four months, and I have never had such reliably good hair in my entire life. This has saved me so much time and angst! Thank you so much for sharing this. Kathy in Indiana

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Does this happen to you? You get so involved in doing something that you completely lose track of time? You’re shocked to look up and see it’s time to go home when it feels like you just got back from lunch. Or you sit down for a few minutes to start a new book and suddenly you’re on Chapter 21.

woman reading a book and drinking coffee

Happens to me when I open my email inbox. I can blow through four hours without ever looking up.

There is a theory floating around that smart people are more likely to lose track of time (we like that theory, right?) but also solid research to show that artists lose track of time when they are fully engaged in their artwork.

I suspect that the more often a person is fully engaged in whatever he or she is doing, the more likely that person is to lose track of time. All that to say, I really enjoy the mail I get from you, my dear readers.

Dear Mary: I have not used fabric softener for more than a year. Instead, I now use white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser of my washer and wool dryer balls in the dryer. I love everything about this new routine except some of my dark colored items are picking up white lint from the dryer balls. I have tried a sticky roller like you would use for pet hair to get this lint off my dark wool socks, without success. The only thing that works is to pick the lint off by hand. Any suggestions? Gail

Dear Gail: I know that problem—and the solution. Read more

Got a slippery throw rug? A bathmat that’s lost its backing after 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.

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Have you seen the latest iPhone X? Read about it? I nearly choked when I learned it comes with a price tag of $1,000 or more.

Granted, I’m no iPhone aficionado, but I cannot imagine spending that much on a mobile phone of any brand, size, or capability. Can you?

Debra writes, “It’s time for me to get a new smartphone and I’m having a hard time deciding. Since they are so expensive, I don’t want to make a bad choice. I’ve been using a Samsung Galaxy 2 for about five years. Everyone else in my family has iPhones and they suggest I do the same even though they have no experience with Android phones. Also, I’ve come across certified used phones which are cheaper, but I’m a bit leery of going that route because I don’t know how safe it is. I would appreciate any advice you could offer.”

Answer: This is going to come down to your own personal preference, however as one who has never really bonded with any mobile phone (my family members are mostly at their wits’ end with me as I rarely even know where my phone is—let alone think I should answer it if I’m busy), I would be hardpressed to give you a specific recommendation. But I do have some thoughts.

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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 ….

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As I write, it is very early in the morning. I just peeked out to see that it’s snowing! As you may recall, we are new to Colorado, having moved from Southern California. I must be still in that wide-eyed, child-like phase of transition because I am all giddy with excitement and wonder. Snow!

How fitting it is that our first reader question is right on-point with wanting to keep warm and cozy without breaking the bank.

Dear Mary: A coworker had a programmable thermostat installed in her home. She says the temperature is always perfect and her utility bills are lower. Hers cost over $200, plus installation. Is it really worth it? Martha in Vermont

Dear Martha: Programmable thermostats that control a home’s central heat and air conditioning can return many times their original cost in lower electricity bills. You can set your timer to turn off the AC about the time you leave for the day, and to turn back on a half hour before you get home.  Contrary to popular belief, this does not use more electricity than having the heat constantly maintain a warm temperature; it uses less. In the summer you can program your air conditioning similarly.

Programmable thermostats like the Lux Products TX500E-010 Smart Temp Programmable Thermostat are available online or at local home improvement stores and start at about $35. All programmables come with installation instructions, which I’m confident you could follow easily. Or it’s a quick job for an electrician if you’re not comfortable doing the installation yourself.

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Today’s batch of reader questions reminds me how complicated our lives have become since the introduction of something known as consumer credit. Some days I long for simpler times so long ago when cash was king; when there was no such thing as a billion-dollar consumer credit industry attempting to control our lives.

Dear Mary: A couple months ago, I left my wallet on the bus. I immediately called the bus company and was told the driver had turned it in. When I got it back, I found everything in its place, including my cash. I didn’t think any more of it. Now my credit-card statement is two weeks late. Should I be concerned? Brian

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