female hands typing on white computer keyboard on white desk

Ask Me Anything: Pet Odor, Line-Dried Towels, HOT Cold-Brew and MORE!

Here it is mailbag day, when I reach into my virtual mailbag to read and respond to a handful of letters and messages from my wonderful readers. I love to hear from you with your questions, feedback, thoughts, and ideas.

1. Help! Dog, cat odor in carpet

2. My stiff, line-dried laundry

3. HOT cold-brew coffee?

4. Appliances and power strips

5. Lawn mushrooms, garden aphids

6. Cook’s trick to counter sweetness

7. How to safely store linens and textiles

Q1: Help! Dog, cat odor in carpet

After reading about Lestoil and how amazing it is for removing laundry stains and cleaning up all kinds of greasy messes, I’m wanting to know, does Lestoil also removes animal smells like cat and dog pee in carpet? Corinne

Dear Corinne: I can’t confirm that Lestoil will remove that very strong, difficult-to-deal-with odor. I have not tested that, nor have I read anything to suggest Lestoil is that powerful against awful odors.

But I know what will—and with amazing results. You need Nok-Out. It is safe around pets and kids, has no fragrance, fumes, or odor, is not toxic. Provided you use it as directed, will completely neutralize and remove that odor—even if it has soaked all the way through the carpet, pad, and into the flooring below. Nok-Out is available direct from Nokout.com or at Amazon.

Let me direct you to How to Completely Neutralize and Eliminate Pet Odors for specific instructions on how to use Nok-Out effectively. There’s a lot of science involved so you want to follow the protocol carefully. It’s super easy—but must be done right to make sure those odors are completely neutralized and removed. Good luck and let us know how that works for you! xo m

Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn from qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Q2: My stiff line-dried laundry

I live in Northern Colorado, too! And I have a clothesline. No Dryer. That’s how cheap I am!! My towels are stiff and it would be nice to add something to the wash that would make them dryer soft even though I hang them outside. Any ideas? Tera

Dear Tera: Terry cloth by its nature needs to be fluffed. A clothes dryer along together with dryer balls do that really well. But so can wind and a good shaking while those towels are air-drying.

If your towels are super stiff and maybe a little scratchy, too, you may have a problem with detergent that has not been well rinsed away; that continues to build up over multiple washings. This is a super common problem!

Terry cloth, if you look closely, is made up of millions of little “loops.” That’s what gives it the loft and fluffiness. If those loops get stuck together with dried-up detergent that didn’t get rinsed away in previous launderings, they’ll become compressed and stiff. Towels that are white or light color may also turn an ugly shade of dingy gray.

Please read The Solution for Dingy Gray Laundry learn a process known as “laundry stripping.” This is something you should with your towels and bed linens two or three times of year, whether you use a clothes dryer or not. This will release all the build-up of detergent, minerals, and other stuff, to get your towels, sheets, t-shirts, socks—anything that’s turned dingy gray and stiff—back to soft and bright again.

Hope that helps! xo m

Q3: HOT cold-brew coffee?

I’ve followed you for years, and love all the tips, etc, etc.

Recently, I tried your instructions for cold brew coffee using Trader Joe’s French Roast decaf and it was delicious! I can’t have caffeinated coffee but this worked out perfectly, although a little messy, LOL!

My question is, now that the weather is cooling off, is there some way to make this hot short of making the cold brew and warming it up? Seems like that would defeat the purpose of keeping it more alkaline. Suggestions? Cheryl

Dear Cheryl: No. It’s the process of extraction and the difference between doing that with hot water vs. cold that makes cold-brew coffee so awesome. So if you want the benefits of cold-brew—low acid, smooth flavor—it needs to be cold brewed

You may have noticed that your cold-brew result is very strong! When you pour it over ice, the melting ice counters that super strength to make perfect cold-brew iced coffee.

When you want hot cold-brewed coffee, pour 1 to 2 ounces cold brew (more or less to taste, which you have stored in the refrigerator) into a coffee mug. Fill it with boiling water. Bam! There you go—a perfect cup of, in your case, decaf coffee! See how that works? Simple! Hope that helps and thanks for being such a loyal friend and fan. xo m

Q4: Appliances and power strips

Your recent article, 10 Simple Gadgets That Put Money Back in Your Wallet,  you recommend surge protectors with auto switch and power conserve switch for safety from creating house fires. Are these gadgets safe for plugging in kitchen appliances? Thank you. Mary T.

Dear Mary T. This is tricky, so my answer is the dreaded, “it all depends.” If that appliance creates heat, which you tell by the red-hot heating elements (toaster, toaster oven, space heater), then NO never plug that into a power strip. Those heat-producing appliances must be plugged into the wall outlet directly.

Appliances like a blender, coffee maker and can opener can be used with a power strip, but one at a time. Don’t overload by running everything at the same time. And now for my important disclaimer: Always check the user manual for important safety information. So nice to hear from you! xo m

Q5: Lawn mushrooms, garden aphids

I need solutions for two garden problems: mushrooms in the lawn and aphids on my roses. Thank you for any suggestions for these two problems. Lorena

Dear Lorena: The mushrooms are a good sign that your soil is alive and well. Really, there is very little you can or should do about them.

Mushrooms are just the fruit of something decomposing under your lawn. Mushrooms move nutrients from underground up to the surface. Most mushrooms are good for your yard, degrading waste products and returning them to the soil. The mushrooms will disappear once their job is done.

We are a Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn from qualifying purchases, at no cost to you., an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon, at no cost to you.

As for the aphids, I’d look to nature for the most effective solution: Ladybugs! You can buy live ladybugs at any garden center (or online with guaranteed live delivery of 1500 ladybugs) during the growing season in your area. Hope that helps with both the mushrooms and aphids. x0 m


Q6: Cook’s trick to counter sweetness

My dad is 80, and still loves to cook. Recently he made a big batch of vegetable soup and for some reason it was too sweet. We think it might have been the carrots. Could you suggest a way to get rid of the sweetness without having to waste otherwise great food? Thank you. Jeannie

Dear Jeannie: I must be the queen of fixing cooking mistakes—I’ve had so much experience. A good rule of thumb when something is too sweet is to add a little vinegar or lemon juice. Start with small amount like a teaspoon, stir, and then taste adding more as necessary. Tell your dad he’s an inspiration for cooks everywhere! xo m

Q7: How to safely store linens and textiles

At my bridal shower I received beautiful linens that I will not be using until we move into our new home next year. Can you tell me the best way to store these items so they do not become discolored, smelly or infested by moths? Kari

Dear Kari: If you store your beautiful comforters, blankets, and other linens and other textiles in a wooden chest—even one that is cedar-lined—be sure to line the chest with unbleached muslin or acid-free paper to prevent the wood from touching the linens. The acids in wood fibers are what cause yellow or brownish stains.

Similar yellowing will result if the fabric is left in direct contact with any product containing wood pulp like regular tissue paper, and cardboard.

Fine linens should never be stored wrapped in plastic! Plastic deteriorates over time, exposing the fabric to polyvinyl chloride gasses, which may cause yellowing. The plastic does not “breath” and may encourage the growth of mold and mildew.

Now to answer your question: For the best results, linens and textiles should be carefully stored loosely folded and wrapped in acid-free archival quality tissue paper or unbleached muslin cloth if they are not in continual or rotational use at least every two months.

You can purchase acid-free tissue, storage boxes, and unbleached muslin at many quilt shops. If you are unable to find this locally, museum quality acid-free storage boxes, and acid-free tissue paper, and unbleached muslin is readily available at Amazon.

Got a question? Mary’s mailbag has its own address.


More from Everyday Cheapskate

homemade wasp trap from empty plastic bottle hanging in a tree
Sweet Homemade Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake Ready to Eat
A pan of food on a plate, with Steak
Group of kids going to school together.
female using Chromebook on desk
family travel airport
rack of Costco rotisserie chickens
mom and three kids finding a geocaching treasure

Please keep your comments positive, encouraging, helpful, brief,
and on-topic in keeping with EC Commenting Guidelines

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Caught yourself reading all the way 'til the end? Why not share with a friend.

11 replies
  1. Tarah says:

    Regarding your request for ideas–can you include info on composting / buying compostable items, as well as ways to NOT use plastic bags (for marinating–use Pyrex) and plastic wrap (use wax paper–and which ones really are better for the environment?)? Perhaps ask readers “what DID people do before we had plastic wrap/bags?” and compile their answers. “If we each do a little, we can all do a lot.” Thank you so much for your column! I look forward to it each day!

    • Mary Hunt says:

      I’m approving your comment to give others an opportunity to respond. To encourage such a conversation, I’ll throw this out, Tarah. What DID we do before computers? What DID we do before the convenience of automatic dishwashers?

  2. joan Deweil says:

    At a hospital I worked they made a bread pudding with stale bread and cheddar cheese and eggs&milk It was very good. Do you have a recipe?

  3. Laura Bousquet says:

    Help! When I purchase new kitchen towels, they often won’t absorb water so are useless for drying dishes until they’ve been laundered many, many times. Is there a trick to speeding up the process?

  4. Judy in AZ says:

    Wait a minute! I have a huge problem I cannot seem to conquer…..DUST. We live in the dry, dusty desert in AZ.we used to live in town more but 4 years ago we mover to a beautiful, more open location along a desert riparian area. Since the day we moved in I have fought the dusting issue. Tried many types of cloths, products, even bought an air purifier to no avail. I can dust on Monday and by Wednesday it looks as if I hadn’t dusted in a month. What the heck is going on and how can I control this problem? Any ideas Mary??? Pleeeeease?

  5. Val says:

    One question and one idea!

    How to get ride of aphids and spiders from house plants?

    Use a leaf blower to remove snow if just a dusting. Saves on the back!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.