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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 hearing from you about 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, it will completely neutralize and remove that odor—even if it has soaked 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 it must be done right to ensure those odors are completely neutralized and removed. Good luck and let us know how that works for you! xo m

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!

If you look closely, Terry cloth 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 to learn a process known as “laundry stripping.” You should do this with your towels and bed linens two or three times a 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.

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 the 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 a 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 rotated continually, which means used 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, acid-free tissue paper, and unbleached muslin is readily available at Amazon.

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


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7 replies
  1. Denise says:

    I’ve looked but can’t find a post on this. Is there a good way to get old coffee stains out of white shirts? I’ve tried the usual w/poor results.

  2. Kathy says:

    For the lady that uses a clothes line, I always add 1/2 C of white vinegar in the fabric softener slot on my washer..but I use a dryer, but it might help? I don’t use anything else in dryer..

  3. Bonnie says:

    Good morning Mary. I was wondering if you could answer a question about diatomaceous earth and it’s many uses. I’ve heard you can use it on plants and also to groom a pet to kill fleas. Any feedback would be appreciated.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Yes! Go to any page on this blog and look upper right. Find small search icon (it’s orange). Click. Type in diatomaceous earth. Hit enter. There you go! I’ve written extensively about this.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Hi Adair … I answered your question with specifics in the EC Daily Email dated 10-20-22. Check your email inbox! Can’t find it? HERE is a link

      If you do not get EC Daily Emails, you can sign up HERE. It’s free, it’s fun … and it’s a lot of work! So show Team EC a little love, and sign up!


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