Dear Mary: Our water is very hard and as a result has created rust-colored stains in the fiberglass bathtub. I’ve tried to scrub it away with Comet, but that did nothing. How can I remove these terrible stains? MaryAnne
Dear MaryAnne: I’m going to assume you have already tried applying a paste of baking soda and white vinegar to the stains, allowing that to sit for a few hours. If that or the Comet didn’t work, I have two options for you, starting with a product you may have already but never dreamed you’d use in a bathtub: Lysol Professional Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Cover the stains with it and allow to sit for an hour or so. You may need to scrub a bit with a Scotch-Brite or similar type scrubber. I am reasonably confident this may take those stains away, that’s how well it works to clean fiberglass, acrylic and porcelain tubs.
However, if your stains are really stubborn—or you would need to go out and purchase the Lysol toilet cleaner—I’d skip that and go straight for the big gun in rust-removers, Iron Out. I love this product because unlike other commercial rust removers, it contains no harsh or abrasive chemicals. And boy does it work well to remove rust stains from just about anything, including fabric.
Good luck and be sure to let us know how this works for you.
Dear Mary: I was wondering if you have another option to clean front loading machines rather than the smelly Tide Washing Machine Cleaner? When my husband uses that, our whole house smells like chemicals for a week. Do you have a homemade recipe that would work to clean the drum? Robyn
Dear Robyn: Before I give you my best response, promise me you will weigh it against the owner’s manual that came with your washer. I don’t want you to do anything that might invalidate your warranty.
I have a fairly new GE Front Loader. It has a setting “Basket Clean,” which the manual instructs me to use monthly. The instructions tell me that once a month I need to to pour a half gallon of liquid chlorine bleach into the drum, close the door and run it through that “Basket Clean” cycle without any clothes. Do you see where I am going here? I believe the answer is bleach. I’m not saying that bleach isn’t smelly, but it dissipates quickly through that cleaning cycle.
The reason front loaders need to be cleaned is to kill any bacteria or mold that may be growing in the really tight gaskets and seals that are unique to a front loading washer. Bleach is a powerful foe against mold and bacteria!
Dear Mary: I believe you have written in a previous column about buying prepaid mobile phone service at a highly discounted rate of about $150 to $200 per year. As I recall, there is no contract required. I thought I’d saved that column, but now I can’t find it. Can you repeat this cell phone opportunity? Thank you. Eugenie
Dear Eugenie: I’m pretty sure you must be referring to TracFone and a tip you read that came from one of your fellow EC readers, Julie. She wrote:
“I have been using TracFone for more than 13 years without any kind of contract, bills or credit checks. I highly recommend this company. I bought a $49.99 smart phone from TracFone.com that takes pictures, videos, calls and text.
“I always purchase the 365-day plan for $99 (works out to be $8.25 per month) prepaid. And when I get to the checkout they sweeten the deal by asking if I’d like to purchase an additional year (2 years total) for an extra $50. What a deal ($99 + $50 = $149). That’s only $6.21 per month for 24 months.
“It’s very simple to use and I will probably be with TracFone for the rest of my life. You can purchase directly online (which is what I do) or at stores like Sears and Kmart.”
In the future, when you want to search something from a previous column, you can go to EverydayCheapskate.com and type a keyword into the search box at the upper right of that page. It takes a few moments for the search engine to work through the sizable archive, so be patient. I think you’ll be quite happy with the results.