I'm So Clever

New use for Christmas tree stand

The winner: We had a lovely cast iron Christmas tree stand that hadn’t been used in years, so my clever husband added a coat of black paint and our patio umbrella has a new home! Much nicer than the standard umbrella stands and a great repurpose for something that once had held trees from Christmases past, when our children were small.

Susan D. Thompson, Monroe

Goof Off the toilet?

We have very hard well water at home. Our toilets were embarrassing – on par with an old service station. I had tried everything – including a pumice stone, a bottle of Coke, bleach soaking, a paste of Bar Keeper’s Friend. Nothing worked. In a last-ditch effort, I tried Goof Off and a Scotch Brite scrubber. IT WORKED! The hard water residue came off with some scrubbing by hand. I shut the water off to the toilet, got the bowl dry and then used my ceramic cook-top cleaner to put a wax-like coating over my new clean porcelain. Good as new! Monica Burke, Terrell

Clever editor’s Note: We checked with American Standard bathroom fixtures, which warned this method could permanently discolor or scratch the surface. A senior product manager said this: “If you wouldn’t use the cleaner or cleaning method on your car surface, don’t use it on your toilet either.” They said a product called “Super Iron Out” may work, or advised trying vinegar. You’ll find suggestions online.

Win an ‘I’m So Clever’ book

Send your clever tip, address and phone to clever@charlotteobserver.com or Home Section, Charlotte Observer, P.O Box 30308, Charlotte, NC 28230-0308. Each week the best idea wins an “I’m So Clever” book. You can order a copy at www.charlotteobserver.com/clever for just $5.99, plus shipping. Also available at Park Road Books and Blackhawk hardware.