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Handyman on Call

Why did plates leave white stains on her dark-wood dining table?

Q. My dining table has a dark finish. I put on a tablecloth and place setting plates for a dinner party. When dinner and dessert were over and I picked up the cloth, there was a white stain on the wood every place a plate stood, the size and shape of the plate. What happened, and can I remove that spot and keep it from recurring?

DIANE RANDAZZO, East Taunton

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A. The white marks were caused by moisture or heat or both, which occurred under each plate. Rub the marks with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. If that doesn’t work, rub with Colgate toothpaste. There is enough abrasive material in both to wear off the white. If all else fails, try this: Wet the white area with any oil, then sprinkle rottenstone (sold in paint and hardware stores) liberally, then rub. Next time you have a dinner party, buy pads for the table.

Q. My bed stand is maple with a nice finish, but a newspaper got stuck on it. I got all of it off except for a small piece. How can I remove it?

MARIA, from Holliston

A. Water will soften the paper enough to scrape if off with a wood spatula. Wipe clean with a damp cloth to remove any excess, then wipe with a dry cloth. To avoid water, spray with WD-40, then scrape. If any print transferred to the wood, rub with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Q. My house on the Cape is dampish, as all on the Cape are. Everything is reasonably OK, except for my refrigerator, which has quite a few small rust spots on the white orange peel finish on the outside. How can I tackle them with reasonable success?

ROBERT, from Belmont

A. Rub with a fresh Brillo pad, and rinse and dry. They might be just droplets of rusty water, but don’t count on it. If the spots persist, spray with a Rust Reformer, which will turn the spots black and make them paintable. Then spray paint the spots with Krylon’s white enamel. The oil-based Krylon will help protect against more rust.

Q. We have a tenant with health issues and sensitivity to lots of things. Recently, trying to deal with mice, we used Great Stuff foam sealant to plug holes in his apartment, and the tenant was so allergic that he had to leave the apartment. I think the caulk around heat pipes and Great Stuff are the culprits. How can we remove it?

CAROL, in Hotton’s chat room

A. Scrape off the Great Stuff, and cut out any caulking with a utility knife. The tenant’s allergist might be able to suggest the proper, non-allergic caulking. Blocking mouse entries can be done with a non-rusting copper wool and other stuffings that mice cannot pull out. Then you can set traps for the critters. Use chocolate or peanut butter as bait, and use a snap trap called the Better Trap or the Best Trap. They are easily armed and any catches easily disposed of. What’s more, they can be re-used. If all openings are blocked, and all critters disposed of, that apartment can be mouse-free.

Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also
appears in the Sunday Real Estate section.
He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions about house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (photton@globe.com) also chats online about house matters at 2 p.m. Thursdays.
Go to www.boston.com
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