Whether you're worried about the ingredients in commercial cleaning products or just looking to save some money, "Homemade Cleaners: Quick-and-Easy, Toxic-Free Recipes" (Ulysses Press, $14.95) can help.
The book is written by Mandy O'Brien, a biologist, and Dionna Ford, a lawyer and natural-parenting advocate. They provide recipes for natural cleaners formulated for a range of household chores, along with explanations of why they believe such alternatives are better. Most of their recipes rely on common ingredients such as vinegar, borax and hydrogen peroxide, as well as essential oils.
O'Brien and Ford also make suggestions for green choices, such as using cloths instead of paper towels and drying clothes on a line or rack instead of in a clothes dryer.
Remove a candle stain from wood
Q: I placed a dark red candle on our oak kitchen table for a day or so, and it left a round ring stain from the red dye. Other than refinishing the table top, is there any way I can remove the stain?
A: You may be able to remove the stain if it hasn't penetrated too far into the finish, the Hardwood Information Center says.
Try rubbing it with a soft, dampened cloth and either toothpaste, baking soda, creamy white appliance polish or non-sudsing ammonia. Or use a mixture of boiled linseed oil and either pumice or rotten stone, a fine abrasive limestone powder found in hardware and paint stores.
Apply the abrasive material to the cloth, not directly onto the wood, and rub in the direction of the grain. Dry the spot, and then apply paste wax to another clean cloth and use it to buff the spot.
Fixing heat damage on furniture
Q: We have a Willett table with a glossy finish. It has many areas of heat damage from hot food placed on it without using the table pads. We've tried products to try to hide the areas, but it really looks bad. What can we do about the table finish?
A: I once got this tip for removing whitish heat marks from furniture from Gary Hendrix of Hendrix Furniture Restoration in New Franklin, Ohio: Cover the heat marks with a plain, brown paper grocery bag with no printing, and iron over the paper with an iron set at medium heat. The heat may draw the moisture out of the finish and into the paper.
If that doesn't work, he said a furniture refinisher may be able to apply a chemical to soften the finish and allow the moisture to evaporate before the finish hardens again.
If all else fails, you can have the table top refinished. You can do that job yourself if you're skilled, but you'll probably get better results from a professional.
Akron Beacon Journal