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Dear Aunt Agatha,      
How do I get my stainless steel sink shiny again?
TS, Invercargill

Dear TS, 
Being an avid tea drinker I find that our sink at home gets very stained.  
We carefully fill the sink up (almost to overflowing) with warm water, adding a cupful of ordinary household bleach as it fills. Then we leave it to stand for a couple of hours (or overnight even) to remove the stains before we wipe it over with hot soapy water. Take the usual precautions over slopping the bleach solution, not getting it in your eyes and so on.  You can also get some good stainless steel polish in the hardware stores if the other treatment doesn't quite do the job.  The important thing to remember is not to use an abrasive cleaner.

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Dear Aunt Agatha,  
How do I get tea stains out of a pure wool jumper? I have tried searching the web, but nothing obvious comes up.

Dear BB, 
Oh dear, it is obviously an article which is precious in many ways.  Uncle Tom is always spilling stuff down him so I sympathise. 

I can't find anything on the web either, so I dived into my trusty volume of 'Mrs Beaton's Cookery and Household Management'. For removing tea stains it suggests: 'Soak in hand hot solution of enzyme detergent. Wash as recommended. Wash at a high temperature or use bleach.' Of course, dear, this is somewhat at conflict with the usual washing techniques for woollen articles. Wool tends to shrink if subjected to too much mechanical action and/or heat during washing. My only suggestion is that you soak gently for a while in a weak, hand-hot enzyme detergent (make sure it is fully dissolved before placing the article in the solution) and then wash in a cleaning agent specially designed for wool. As my old mum used to say 'the secret of good washing is in the rinsing.' This is especially true for pure wool. Take it slowly and gently. (And, I am sorry dear, but such a process is fraught with problems - which is why you have written of course - so be very careful and steel yourself for disappointment.)

Hi. I'm hoping that you can help me.
My son spilled tea on our carpet, and it is proving difficult to remove.
Do you have any suggestions? Your help is greatly appreciated.

Dear Joanne,
I found the following sites and information on the web which may help with this problem and many others:
General Instructions - Dry the stained area. Mix together 3 parts dishwash liquid with 1 part of D'Limonene. Soak the stained area in this solution for 10-15 minutes. After the soak time, rinse in water as hot as is suitable for the fabric, then wash as usual, but preferrably with a Laundry Liquid. This treatment may require repeating.

In New Zealand...
Hi Tech Detergents Ltd
Sold as D'Limonene (Raw Material)
PO Box 15205, 3-7 Kells Place, Hamilton
FreePhone within NZ: 0800 448324
Phone: 64 7 847 9904
Fax: 64 7 847 9689


1. Mix one teaspoon of a neutral detergent (a mild detergent containing no alkalies or bleaches) with a cup
of luke-warm water. Blot. 
2. Mix one-third cup of white household vinegar with two-thirds cup of water. Blot.
3. Repeat step one.
4. Sponge with clean water. Blot.
Michigan University

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Dear Agatha,
Please Help. I have spilt candle wax on the carpet and it has gone right through. Is there a way of removing the wax that doesn't make a big mess?
If you could help me with a solution I would really appreciate it

Dear Sonia,
I hope you enjoyed the dinner party or whatever lead up to the accident!

I have consulted various references and like you have searched the web ... to no avail. So I tackled a commercial cleaning company and talked with a couple of friends.
The best advice follows (but I must stress the bit about using these suggestions at your own risk ... as those I spoke to did NOT envy your situation or hold up much hope for a total recovery)
It is suggested that you get some thick blotting paper, thick brown paper (matt side down), or plain newsprint (like they use in childcare centres for protecting tables) - to transfer heat and absorb the wax.
Lay the paper over the area and apply a little heat from an iron. As the candle wax melts it should be absorbed into the blotting paper. You should change the paper frequently. Apply just enough heat to melt the wax to keep it from spreading.
Avoid trying mechanical means to remove the wax as you will damage the pile.
There is a caution that there may be a greasy stain left when you have removed the wax. This should be tackled carefully using an appropriate stain remover (De-Solv-It perhaps) and techniques to avoid further damage
Please let me know how you get on and any experiences that can be used to modify the above suggestion.
Best of Luck

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Good day,

I have a lot of good quality small bottles which I want to fill with mint jelly for Christmas presents. I just cannot remove the very adhesive labels from them. Do you have any advice?  It would be gladly appreciated. I've tried hot water and scrubbing, I don't know any chemicals that may work.

Thank you, Beth


Have you tried metholated spirits (available from most service stations)?
There is also a product called De-Solv-It which is available in some hardware stores and seems to remove most things. You may need to soak the labels for a while (in the meths) or at least allow the meths/De-Solv-It time to soak in, and then rub off the residue.

The mint jelly sounds nice. I hope one or other of these suggestions works!

Best wishes

Dear Aunt Agatha,
Removing rubber adhesive from Wool Rug.
My daughter gave me a beautiful wool area rug, with just one pretty major drawback; it has a "SAMPLE" label attached to the top of the rug by a rubber-looking adhesive.  When we try to peel the label from the rug, it either will not come off or what does come off still leaves behind the adhesive.  Any advice on how we may solve this problem? The adhesive does look and have the consistency of rubber.  The manufacturer is Mahdavi's A&A Rug Company / handmade woolen rug made in India.  Any help you may be able to provide will be most greatly appreciated. 
Thank you.
B.H. Florida

Dear B,
Rubber adhesives pose their own problems. Some of the advice above applies in general terms. I would imagine that De-Solv It might work, but do not know if it is available in the USA. I've not met this problem myself, so had a look on the web. Since writing the above some time ago there are more resources. Have a look at howstuffworks and the Consumers Institute stain guide
I do hope these work for you. Remember to take it really slowly and carefully.
Good Luck
Aunt Agatha


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'Aunt Agatha' provides the comment and advice in this column to entertain, to help and as a public service.   However, while the information and opinions are provided in good faith no responsibility can be taken by Web4U, site sponsors or any others connected with the site, for any injury, hurt or consequence, physical or mental, which may be attributed to this advice. Though Aunt Agatha does not have the resources to enter into a continuing dialogue and a response cannot be guaranteed, if it will help you to work things out by writing them down and sending them to someone please feel free to do so. All emails are read by someone who cares and our correspondents are known only to AA. Whilst we ask for an email address as a sign of good faith, names and other personal details are never divulged to other parties. The maintenance of this site is made possible by the sites at Web4U but the responsibility for the content is Web4U and Aunt Agatha's alone.