Once again, it’s time to reach into my inbox and pull out a handful of questions from you my dear readers. Every day I get questions galore, great stories, lots of love, and tons of encouragement. Please, never stop writing to me!
While I do read every message, I simply cannot respond to all of them. And honestly, I don’t have specific criteria for which questions to answer in posts like this.
Generally, I select questions with universal appeal and a high likelihood that others have the same or similar questions. And here’s a hint: Well-written, complete messages with a clear situation and question get special consideration.
Here is a quick summary of the questions I’ll answer in today’s post. You can click on one to go straight to it, or just scroll down to read all. Enjoy!
Dear Mary: I was wondering if you had a quick and easy way to keep the dish scrubbers—like ScotchBrite with a sponge on one side attached to a pad for scrubbing pans on the other side—from smelling like mildew.
Mine is fine for a few days and then starts smelling. I try to run it in the dishwasher, but don’t always remember. I sometimes spray it with bleach and let it sit for a minute or two before rinsing, and that seems to work, but I was wondering if there was a better way. I tried microwaving a wet sponge, and that just created a hot smelly sponge. Bronson
Dear Bronson: First, let me congratulate you on discovering a popular cleaning hack that doesn’t work—sponges in the microwave. The theory is that high heat kills most bacteria. However, the amount of time needed in a microwave to reach the desired temperature to kill the bacteria and mildew harbored in the center of a sponge will result in a flaming, incinerated sponge. As reported in The New York Times citing this study, nuked sponges still harbor about 40% of their bacteria, some of which can be life-threatening.
Putting that kitchen sponge in the dishwasher daily, or as often as you run a load of dishes, is a better solution. The heat and detergent are sufficient to kill bacteria and mildew.
I’m going to assume that you use one sponge at a time, and that may be the problem. Let me suggest you have at least two sponges going. This way, one will always be available to wipe the counter and so forth, while the other is getting sanitized in the dishwasher. Do this without fail for a couple of weeks and soon it’ll become a habit.
All that being said, a better choice is to use cotton or microfiber cloths that can be tossed in the washer after every use.
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Dear Mary: How did you know I’ve been looking for a cordless stick vacuum? I open my newspaper Sunday and there you are, reviewing one! I went online to look for the Hoover Linx you recommend and found there are different models. Which model is it? A loyal reader, Judy
Dear Judy: First, I should let readers know that my blog posts routinely show up in several hundred print newspapers around the country, syndicated by Creators. Local editors often edit for space, dropping details such as specific resources. But not to worry. This is the model you want: Hoover Linx Signature Cordless 18V Lithium-Ion Stick Vacuum Cleaner (Amazon). You can read the whole thing here: Best Inexpensive Cordless Stick Vacuum.
Thanks for being such a loyal reader and feel free to write anytime!
Dear Mary: Can I use your Wood and Laminate Floor Cleaner to clean my wood cabinets? Millie
Dear Millie: Cleaning wood cabinets with our Wood and Laminate Floor Cleaner (one part rubbing alcohol to four parts distilled water plus a few drops blue Dawn dishwashing liquid) will not harm your cabinets. But that would not be my first choice if you want to deep clean and at the same time condition the wood to bring it back to its original beauty.
Howards Feed-N-Wax Orange Oil Polish and Conditioner is what I recommend for this job. It melts away grease and grime and conditions the wood with beeswax and orange oil. You won’t believe the results. Now by the same token, please do not use Howards on your floors. It would make them too slick for safety.
Dear Mary: I love your blog and have learned a lot from you. Now I have a question. My husband and I are considering a membership to either Sam’s Club or Costco. What is your opinion on these types of stores, good idea or not? Any good tips I should know? I am really wanting to stock up on things for future use. Thanks! Terri
Dear Terri: I’ve been a member of both Costco and Sam’s Club in the past but have let my Sam’s Club membership expire. It really is a matter of personal preference, so I recommend you check out both stores as a visitor before making your decision. At Sam’s Club simply request a one-day visitor pass. At Costco, say that you would like to visit the pharmacy, the optical or hearing services (access to all three services are protected by Federal law, which means a Costco membership is not required to use those warehouse club services).
Personally, I find Costco to be more consumer-friendly, while Sam’s Club caters more to small businesses. You should also consider the location. I like the close proximity of my Costco. If my closest Costco were 25 miles away and Sam’s Club was much closer, I might reconsider.
As for how to make a warehouse club work for you, read more here: How to Win the Warehouse Club Game. Thanks for being an EC fan!
Dear Mary: My son is saving cash in envelopes. That seems kind of cumbersome. What is your opinion? Why not in a savings account then assign categories, keeping track of the amounts for each category? Dick
Dear Dick: I agree. Kids need savings accounts. In my book, Raising Financially Confident Kids, I recommend that kids be required to save at least 10 percent of everything they receive in a real savings account at a bank or credit union.
Of course, your son could save more than 10 percent, and keep a record for how much in his savings account he is allocating for say “College Savings,” or “New Bike,” “Summer Camp” and so forth.
Since most banks now allow customers to track their accounts online, your son could watch his money closely via computer or mobile device.
Tell him that I’m proud of him and those envelopes! Not many kids are aware of how important it is to take good care of their money. But now he needs to learn about a real, live bank, too, by keeping some of his money there.
Dear Mary: We just discovered that we have a small ant invasion. How can we get rid of them with a Mary’s home remedy before this turns into all-out war? Thank you in advance. Janice
Dear Janice: You have options depending on what items you have in your pantry or around the house, from boiling water to vinegar, black pepper, and citrus peel or products like WD-40 and diatomaceous earth. Check out 11 Quick and Easy Ways to Get Rid of Pesky Ants for exact recipes, instructions and options!