Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Mothballs - Gateway Gazette

Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Mothballs

By Contributor

Feature Content
Aug 11

By Reena Nerbas

Bathroom Grout

Dear Reena,

Can you help us with a grout problem in our bathroom? We want to clean the grout between the one inch tiles. What can we use to clean the yellowish grout? I have tried a commercial cleaner and it didn’t do anything. I used a spray cleaner; it was garbage I will be taking it back to the store. Thanks. Joyce

Dear Joyce,

Spray the grout with 3% hydrogen peroxide and then gently scrub with fine sandpaper and dish soap. Another option is to scrub with sandpaper and whitening toothpaste. Be persistent and it will pay off.

Mothball Smell

Dear Reena,

We were given a beautiful old trunk that smells of mothballs. We have tried many ways to get rid of the smell such as airing it out, stuffing it with newspaper and leaving lemon juice soaked cotton balls in it, and nothing has worked so far. We wonder if we didn’t try these tricks for a long enough time or if there is something else we can do. It really is a beautiful old trunk! Eleanore

Dear Eleanore,

The key is to overpower the mothball smell with another smell which will eventually disappear on its own. Find a tray and place it on the bottom of the trunk, sprinkle the tray with either a generous amount of kitty litter or even better dry coffee grounds. Leave for 2 days and then remove tray.

Cleaning River Rock

Dear Reena,

Do you have a solution for cleaning weathered river rock? It has discolored over the years with dirt and I wonder if there is a solution I can add to the power sprayer. Thanks. Terrie

Dear Terrie,

There are many popular commercial products on the market, manufactured specifically for power washers. Here is a homemade formula that was submitted to me, I have not tried it but was told that it works well. Into a bucket combine: 4 gallons’ bleach, 3 ounces’ dish soap and one gallon water. Spray the stones, being careful not to hit anything green with the solution.

Another option is to make a wooden frame. Cover it with wire mesh similar to chicken wire but with smaller holes. Find a large, empty bucket and place the frame over the bucket. Scoop the rocks onto the wire. The dirt will fall through the wire. Pour the rocks sitting on the wire into a separate bucket and wash them with dish soap and water. Rinse with water. This is a long process, perfect for very small amounts of rock.

Be sure never to combine bleach with any product. Sometimes people may look at a bottle of bleach and wonder, ‘Why shouldn’t this be mixed with ammonia?’ The answer? Huge danger! Chlorine gas (or chloramine gas) was used as a chemical weapon during World War I and later by Nazi Germany in World War II. Bleach and ammonia create chloramine gas, a deadly combination!

Feedback from Friendly Reader

Re: Smelly dishcloth

Dear Reena,

For dishcloths and facecloths, I add one cup vinegar to the rinse load. It has helped prevent smelly cloths. RM

Measure and Serve

Did you know?

  • 3 teaspoons equal 1 Tbsp.
  • 4 Tbsp. equals one quarter cup
  • One gallon of ice cream feeds 10-12 adults.
  • Mashed potatoes; prepare one and a half potatoes per person.
  • One large pizza feeds 2-3 people.

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at

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