Q. Thank you for your prompt answer to my inquiry about a smell from under my sink/dishwasher. You suggested I pour a cup of bleach into the dishwasher. I did so, and it seems to have helped. However, I ran the dishwasher right after that with some of my sterling silver flatware in it. While everything else came through the cycle OK, my silver came out with a grayish tint that doesn’t wash off. Could you tell me how to get rid of the gray? I guess I should have run a cycle with the washer empty after!
— SUSAN BOYLE, BY E-MAIL
A. Any good silver polish, the kind that you apply with a cloth, will restore the shine: Brasso is OK, but others such as Maas, are better. Don’t soak the silver in one of those liquid cleaners; they will take away tarnish that belongs on deep, elaborate designs.
Q. We have large green stains around the bathtub and sink drains, and I’ve tried almost everything to remove them. The stains won’t fade or scrape off. We rarely use this particular sink and tub. Could they be from leeching of copper pipes connecting the water there?
— MEG HAMILTON, BY E-MAIL
A. Those green stains, blue ones, too, are from contact with copper pipes. Try one of these: X-14 soap scum remover, Lysol Liquid Bowl Cleaner, or Zud. Straight bleach also works. A seldom used sink and tub allows the stain to build up over time without regular rinsing.
Q. I left a nice brass grasshopper sculpture out in the rain, and it rusted. How can I clean off the rust?
— JUDY B., MANCHESTER, N.H.
A. Too bad, it’s not solid brass but plate brass on steel. So, polish it with a good brass polish and keep it out of the rain.
Q. My son bought a house in Andover, and one bedroom has a foul odor when it gets hot. How can I get rid of it?
— HOLDING MY NOSE
A. Chances are that it is a dead critter. Dead critters can smell for weeks before they dry out, so they do need disposing of. Do this by breaking into the wall where you think the odor is strongest. Or, call an odor reduction or odor location specialist; such a person will use a scope to locate things in the wall without making big holes. If you can’t find one, call an exterminator. Using an anti-odor spray will work only temporarily if the source is still there.
Here are some good ideas from Tim Parker of Marblehead on a caller’s reluctant disposal: “In reference to your column of July 7, I have a possible reason why EL had trouble with the pipe from her garbage disposal getting clogged up. A similar situation happened at a soup kitchen where I sometimes volunteer. The dish room is equipped with an industrial strength disposal, but the pipe from it got clogged.
“My theory is that the volunteers did not run enough water when using the disposal. The pipe did clog up, and unfortunately, it was necessary to take up the tile floor to get at it. Now, volunteers are told not to use the disposal, although it works fine. A contributing factor in both EL’s case and that of the soup kitchen could be that the pipe has little or no slope to it. By any chance, does EL have a faucet with an aerator that has not been cleaned out and thus restricts the flow of water?”
Good point, Tim, and much appreciated. I should have suggested using lots of water in my answer.
Q. My wallpaper is 26 years old, nice looking and I want to keep it. It is coming loose at the seams and along the top. The paper at the top is rather tightly curled, making it a sort of spring that might make it harder to repaste? How can I put it back and keep it back?
— DARLENE OSTROFF, HYDE PARK
A. For the seams, there are several kinds of paste to reattach them. One is a seam adhesive sold in wallpaper shops. Another is Zinsser Sure Grip Seam and Repair Adhesive. I have used an adhesive caulk such as Phenoseal or PolySeamSeal. For the larger areas at top, I suggest you use a vinyl paste to hold against the springiness of the curled paper. In all cases, apply the paste or seam repair and rub over it with a wallpaper brush, or seam roller, until the paste holds.
One idea for the paper at top is to apply the paste, roll or sweep it with a brush, then apply a few staples to hold it until the paste holds. Later you can pull the staples, or leave them in because they are virtually invisible.