How to stretch leather shoes that are too small

A little while ago I bought some RM Williams boots on Ebay that were just the style I like and were surprisingly cheap.

Small problem – they were a size too small. I could get them on, but after a couple of hours it hurt so bad I had to take them off. So I hunted around for a way to stretch them. There are lots of ideas out there, and it took a while before I found that I thought would work: rice.

Fill the front half of the boot with rice, sit the boots up against something so that the toes are pointing to the ground, and fill them with water. The rice, of course, soaks up the water and expands, and in doing so moistens the leather and helps it stretch.

I left them overnight and it worked – my boots are now a comfortable fit.

Shannon Lush gets it wrong #7

Shannon Lush once again regaled us with her advice on home cleaning on 6PR on Monday.

One listener called in and said that he had a shirt that had one white sleeve and one black sleeve. He wanted to know how to wash it such that the brightness of the white was enhanced. Shannon’s answer referred solely to the washing temp, and suggested that if the water was “blood temperature” that this would achieve the desired result. This answer is partly right – with modern detergents warm water produces optimum results. But the point is that such a detergent is required. Premium brands such as OMO or Biozet contain optical brighteners that not only will make the white brighter, but will also make the black a more vivid black.

Next a listener wanted to know how to get a wasp nest off the cement rendering of his house. He said that he had used high pressure to remove it but it hadn’t worked. Shannon’s answer was, firstly, that high pressure cleaning only “forces dirt in further.” I’m sure this information would be news to the many businesses that use high pressure water to clean houses and driveways. We were then told that the wasp nest would release endorphins. I think she meant pheremones – endorphins are the natural feel-good chemicals that your body releases as a response to intense exercise.

The advice to use glycerine/tea tree oil to dislodge the nest is sound, however. Glycerine has pretty good stain removing properties due to its de-facto surfactant structure. But caustic soda would work better. Spray the nest with an oven cleaner, wait half an hour or so, and then blast with the HP cleaner and it will come away.

Then came a pantry moth question. Shannon’s answer was to use Bay Leaves, as they “release enzymes that render moths sterile.” This sounded a little far-fetched to me, but I don’t know everything so I investigated. I asked Bryce Peters, a well-known entemologist at UTS in Sydney.

His verbatim reply was:

I have not heard that one. I know some people claim Bay leaves repel moths. I have not seen any evidence of that.

How to Kill Ants (outside)

If you have an ant problem, it’s always a big problem. That is, whether it’s inside or outside, you have ants in their thousands, or possibly millions.

In this situation, forget fly-sprays – they don’t kill enough, and in any case they leave a residue.

The only course of action is to get some WMDs – something that will wipe them out in their millions.

Last week I was attacked by ants while trying to hang out the washing. The cement paving near the clothesline was infested with them, so I had to take drastic action.

In this circumstance, I resorted to a remedy that we used to use as kids to kill trapdoor spiders – boiling water.

So I boiled the kettle, took it outside, and poured it down the crack between two pavers from which the ants seem to be coming. Then I did it again, and again, and again. Over about a two week period, I tipped boiling water down the crack, and along the ant trails, wherever I saw them a couple of times a day.

Now they are all but wiped out, and I can hang out the washing without being attacked. But there is an odd and slightly smell in the air in the vicinity – cooked ants.

Shannon Lush gets it wrong #6

Shannon Lush once again regaled us with her home cleaning tips on 6PR today.

My general comment on her expertise is that about a third of what she says is good advice; about a third of what she says will work, but is exceedingly complicated (and a much simpler solution is available), and about a third is completely wrong.

In the second category, Simon B asked her how to get coffee out of carpet. Her answer was a complex, three-step procedure involving paper towels, glycerine, and a soap stick. Would it have worked? Probably, but if you understand the chemistry of coffee there is a much simpler solution.

The brown colour produced by the roasting of coffee beans is a class of chemical called melanoidins, the naturally occurring result of any roasting process with sugars and amino acids. The same class of chemical is responsible for the brown colour of the crust of bread that has been baked, for example, or any biscuits.

Consequently, there is a very simple and obvious way to remove these compounds – enzymes. Spray some White King Stainlift laundry prewash on the coffee and you’ll see it disappear after a few minutes – no wiping or scrubbing will be required. An alternative would be to oxidise it with Preen Oxy-Action, but the enzymatic formula of the White King would probably work better.

Image result for white king stain lift

In the third category was her advice to replace 2/3 of your laundry powder with bicarb soda.

Unfortunately, this advice is as wrong as it could possibly be. Bicarb soda has weak cleaning properties at best. If you use it as a paste its scouring effect, along with its mildly alkaline nature, will clean some things. But as I’ve said before, anything bicarb will do, washing soda will do better.

But a few spoonfuls tossed into your wash will achieve zero, zip and zilch.

Washing powders are highly sophisticated formulas that contain up to 9 or 10 different components (surfactants, enzymes, oxidizers, builders, alkaline salts, fluorescing agents, antiredeposition agents, free-flow agents, fragrance, softeners), and you simply cannot replace these with any one chemical – particularly bicarb soda, which has almost no cleaning properties whatever. If a chemical existed with such magical properties, you can be sure that I would know about it, as would the thousands of chemists worldwide that formulate the laundry products that we see on our shelves.

But then after this we learned that apparently using bicarb will make your clothes dry faster, and stop them getting stained as easily in the future. No mechanism was given for this. She seemed not to be aware of the fact that bicarb soda is water soluble and it will all wash out in the rinse and spin cycles.