Q. My kitchen counter surface is a plastic laminate similar to Formica. It shows faint but annoying rings where cups and glasses were left sitting. The surface is otherwise undamaged. We’ve unsuccessfully tried spray cleaners, including one claiming to deal with the problem using surfactants. What can you recommend?
Try rubbing with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It is essentially a dry sponge that you wet with water, then squeeze dry. Slight abrasion is what makes it work. Later, Mark replied: We’ve tried the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser with great success. Light rubbing took the marks away without damaging the appearance of the laminate. Many thanks!
That eraser gets more and more useful as time goes on. Recently I set some ceramic tiles and grouted between them. This created a lot of dried grout smears, which often are hard to remove. The eraser did it all perfectly.
Q. I can’t seem to remove the rust-colored stains that have been left behind on my white vinyl siding from iron and steel fixtures that held flags and plants, and have been removed. Any suggestions?
Try one of these ways to remove rust. There are a lot of them, and some of them work. Try Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, CLR (Calcium Lime Rust), bleach, oxalic acid, Whink products, Rust Magic, Zud and Lime-Away.
Q. What is the best way to test for mold inside the house? We are having our first child soon and want to make sure the inside air is ideal. There are no clear signs, but we want to be safe.
The nose knows. Often just sniffing will reveal the existence of mold or confirm no mold. If your home feels a bit damp, chances are good there is mold somewhere. If your home is nice and dry, you’re probably safe. These techniques are not recommended because they are not foolproof. So, find a mold remedial person who can check with his equipment and certify that your unit is safe or not.
Q. Last year I bought an old house with a concrete basement floor. I painted the floor with cement floor paint. I have noticed since that there is white powdery seepage coming up through the paint. What is it and how can I keep it from happening? If I tile the floor will the tiles loosen at some point because of this white stuff?
I am not sure what you mean by a cement floor paint. If it is Drylock, it is a cement-based paint, and usually will not work well on a concrete floor. But if the paint is not peeling, you will be OK. The white stuff is efflorescence, the leaching of lime out of the paint or out of any concrete by water. It is harmless and can be swept up and thrown away. It cannot be stopped except by eliminating all water, including water vapor that condenses into water on cold surfaces.
All things considered, I think you can put down ceramic tiles with a thin-set mortar after sweeping the floor thoroughly.