Ask me a Question

Scroll down to the bottom to Ask me a Question

156 thoughts on “Ask me a Question

  1. Last night I began stripping an old cedar chest with Citri-Strip QCG73801T Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel. Upon finishing up last night, I put everything I had used and/or had dirtied up (rags, scrapers, bottle of gel, etc.) in a plastic bag and brought it all inside including the cedar chest still with a residue of stripping gel on it. It says that it is safe for indoor use so I really didnt think anything of what I was doing. Now I’m at work this morning and I’m experiencing some minor difficulty with breathing. Also, I’m now worried about my dog being in the house experiencing some prolonged exposure to any harmful toxic chemicals. I will take everything back outside at lunch nevertheless, and my dog is in a kennel that is not in the same room as the cedar chest right now – but the house is small. Anyways, will he be okay being exposed to that for the next couple of hours?

    Thank you.

    • It’s not the Citristrip. The active ingredient is NMP which is completely safe (and odourless) – that’s why it’s used. The citrus smell is a natural extract from citric fruits (orange oil). It sounds like it may be some allergic reaction to something but I have no idea what it is.

  2. I so not have a comment I have a question…so please pass this on the Dr Chemical. Five years ago I had my boards polished with a water based polish. Over the last 6 months white marks are appearing on used and unused areas of the floor, I invited a floor polisher in to get some advice. I was told that the patches were separating from the floor, no known reason and that I would have to have the whole floor redone,

    I am in my 70’s, a pensioner and the furniture is immovable…other than paying thousands for a commercial mover to move it. Is it possible to fix these marks?

    Or would it be possible to purchase a normal home polishing machine and just put wax on the floor as it peels off? I can tell you I am beside myself and am in great need of assistance. Thank you for your valued time

    • That advice doesn’t sound right. I’d be getting a 2nd opinion if I were you. I’m not sure where you are, but if you are in Perth call Duncan Beatty at Clean Underfoot on 0418 916245. Alternatively Bunnings hire floor polishers, and they normally have people who can give good advice

  3. Hi Dr Chemical
    My dog urinates on my plants in the garden and is killing them of, is there anything i can do to resolve this problem, kind regards Geoff

    • Get some jars of Vicks Vaporub, take the lids off, and sit them near the plants. I’m told it works well, as the menthol fumes mask the marking odours that the dogs are looking for.

  4. i have a pure wool carpet. While taking out Christmas tree the water in bottom tipped out. i sprinkled bi carb over & cleaned with warm water, vinegar, detergent & it didnt work. I then called a carpet cleaner who used something that he said wasnt vinegar but smelt the same. Then steamed cleaned it. It looked as though the stain was gone. After awhile as the carpet dried the stain was back.
    can you help

  5. What a wonderful site! I have an indoor teak table oiled with a mix of linseed and turps which has gone sticky in high humidity. What do you suggest I use to strip it off that won’t damage the wood?

    • Linseed oil oxidises in air and polymerises with time. If anything will work, it’s turps. Failing that try “Easy Cleanup” from Bunnings, or acetone

    • Buy some washing soda (not baking or bicarb) from the cleaning aisle in the supermarket, make it into a paste with water and a scourer and it will work a treat

  6. Usually when the guys working in the factory of the business that I work for come into the office area they leave their work boots at the door. One of them forgot to do that and has left oil footprints on what I think is synthetic carpet. What can we use to remove the footprints? It looks a bit like a crime scene at the moment.

    • It’s a bit tricky as leather is pretty fragile. Wet a rag with metho and soak it against the mould. Eventually it’ll kill the mould and it’ll be able to be brushed away but it might take a while

  7. I oversprayed a spring controlled moveable arm on a piece of equipment at work and now the arm won’t stay in place where I put it. Is there anything I can do to counter the overuse of spraying too much WD40 on the spring mechanism?

    • If that’s what it is, any acid will get it off. Have a look at the labels on your bathroom cleaning products. Get some Ajax Spray & Wipe Bathroom if you don’t have any

    • Bit tricky as I’m not sure what it is. Try Preen Oxy-Action prewash. Spray it on and leave it – it might take a while but it should do the job. You may have to do it a few times

  8. Hi
    Excellent show on Curtin, thankyou. Two questions. Firstly how to remove rust stains in the bottom of a swimming pool. Made by my daughters hair grips!
    Second question, how to remove engine oil stains from pavers.

    • If you have emptied the pool you can get th rust off with hydrochloric acid (1 part in 3). wear gloves and safety glasses. To get oil stains off pavers sprinkle some caustic soda flakes on the area. Wet down with a minimum amount of water then use a stiff broom to scrub it in. Then hose off with a HP cleaner. But it won’t get it all off as pavers are porous

  9. Hi Mark, Can you please advise the best way to remove a black scuff mark from a white carpet. this carpet is new and never been shampooed!

  10. Hi , what can I use on my fibreglass pool to remove the dullness of gunge build up above the waterline !! Have tried liquid Jif Cream cleaner but to no avail !! Would like it cleaned back to its original shiny surface if possible , your program on curtain fm is not worth missing as it is superb !!

    • I’d try oven cleaner on it – spray on, allow 30 sec or for it to react, then wipe off. If it’s organic buildup it’ll work, but if it’s inorganic it won’t. In that case try an acidic bathroom cleaner (such as Easy Off with sulphamic acid as the active ingredient)

  11. Dr Chemical
    How do I remove red dust stains from a vehicle of the type people get from driving in the north of the state. I assume it is the iron in the dust which is the problem.
    The worst surfaces are galvanised steel, aluminum and plastic body parts.

    Regards Steve

    • The red dust is due to either clay or iron. Where you can get to it squirt oven cleaner onto it – that will neutralise the acidity that the red dust has (if it contains iron) that causes rust, and will make it easy to wipe off

  12. Hi I have just about to open a cafe and am stocking up on cleaning chemicals. When I am looking at a degreaser for the floor it says it can’t be used on polished or sealed floors. What exactly does that mean as not very clear on the internet. Also a few of the stainless steel appliances have what looks like run marks on them, how has this happened and can I get rid of them.

    Thank you

    • The best polish for stainless steel is Brasso. With a bit of elbow grease it’ll get the run marks off. Best floor cleaner is ammonia. 1 part in 50 generally, or higher if the floor is dirtier or greasier

  13. Hi Dr Chemical,

    Is there anything I can use to clean dog urine from carpet? Also is there something I can use to deter my dog from doing it again?
    Kind Regards

  14. Please could you help with the removal of oil stains on a cotton top and also the best way to clean grout in-between the tiles on a 14 year floor. Have tried a few tile and grout cleaners with limited success.
    Thanks a million
    Regards Josie

    • For oil stains use an oven cleaner. Spray it on, work in with your finger and rinse. Use AJAX Professional Bathroom cleaner for the grout

  15. Hi I have a chair that is covered in100 per cent polyester luxasuede,I was advised by the retailer to use there cleaner but it has left water marks, is there any thing that can be done to get rid of the marks.

    • That’s a tough one – water marks are very hard to get off suede. Someone asked a question on my blog a few weeks ago, and someone posted in with a solution, but I can’t remember what it was, but if you browse the questions you should find it

  16. hi dr chemical have been listening to you on Jennys show can you please tell me how ican get white coffee stains off concrete in the garage I have a disability daughter he smokes in garage and falls asleep and knocks her coffee all the time I need something as I have to hand this house over in a week hope you can help me thank you very much

  17. Could you please tell me how I can remove some of the glue that is used to join bamboo flooring that has splashed and dried on vinyl lino, also wooden cupboards.
    This happened over a year ago and I have tried every thing I can think of to clean the dried stuff off with no success.

    • Acetone will do it, but do a spot test first to see that it isn’t damaging the surfaces. If it is, try metho – soak a rag and sit it on the glue for an hour or so – that should shift it

  18. Hi how do I remove hard solid antiperspirant build up from business shirts. I’ve tried baking soda vinegar hydrogen peroxide but no combination seems to work. I need some thing that will dissolve the build up which I know is the aluminium in the antiperspirant. Please tell me something thT will finally work.

    • Baking soda and vinegar won’t clean anything, as you’ve no doubt discovered. I’d like to know what conc peroxide you used, as it is not an over-the-counter chemical. I’d try an acid first – get some Easy Off bathroom cleaner (forget the actual product name) with Sulfamic Acid (listed on the label). Squirt that on and see if it does anything. If that doesn’t work, try an enzyme cleaner – Biozet liquid laundry detergent. Rub in with your fingers – allow some time – enzymes have a slow mechanism of operation. Rinse and repeat. Failing that, try an oxidising prewash (Preen OxyAction). Spray it on then leave it. last resort, a premium brand whitening toothpaste (that contains peroxide). Rub it in, and rinse and rpt if necessary.

      • Hi just thought I would let you know the Sulfamic Acid worked a treat to remove even the worst hard residue from 16 shirts. I bought a $12 bottle of a Descaler from Bunnings which was 99 per cent Sulfamic Acid Mixed it with water as per instructions on container and soaked the armpit area of the shirts in this solution for several hours. I used all of the sulfamic acid as I would mix a new solution most days. Some of the shirts needed to be treated twice but the results were amazing. Thank you for your help.

  19. We have bought a house with “glass cancer” already etched in!! I have been using bicarb & white vinegar & after reading your article bought Bam Easy Off. Have used it twice & seems to be worse!!! What do I do now????

    • I’m afraid it’s too late. Glass of course doesn’t get cancer – it’s a term invented by Shannon Lush because she doesn’t understand the chemistry of glass. What has happened is that the alkaline soap scum will etch the glass over time. When you remove the soap scum, you see the valleys and ridges created by the etching process. Often this can look worse, as you have removed the soap scum that was filling them in. So it can look like there’s still stuff on there when there isn’t – essentially you’re looking at the photographic negative of the image created by the soap scum.

      The only solutions are to either mechanically polish away the etching without leaving scratches, but I don’t know enough about this to suggest how you could do it, r attempt to fill them in with a silicone polish. I’d try an automotive polish on it and see how it looks. It certainly won’t fix the problem but it will probably improve it

    • Use Biozet liquid detergent as a spot cleaner. Rub it in with your finger – that will ensure the right temperature for the enzymes to work at their optimum. It won’t happen quickly – enzymes take a few minutes to work their magic, but it will happen

  20. Hello again Dr Chemical,
    I posted a question about efflorescence on my house bricks. It stayed on your website for a couple of weeks unanswered but now it has been removed.
    I don’t understand why.
    It case that was an accident I’ll try again.
    We have a new (4 years old) house. On a couple of spots efflorescence has appeared on the bricks. This is seen as a white powdery looking stain.Nothing I have tried will remove it.

    • Very difficult to remove, as it is essentially insoluble salts. Try a bit of hydrochloric acid (1:1 in a garden sprayer) to remov any calcium carbonate. Other than that, try wetting it. What colour are the bricks? If the colour goes away while it’s wet, then all you have to do is create a permanent wet look. You will find some clear coat products at Bunnings that may help to produce this effect.

      • The bricks are a dark grey/brown colour. Yes, the white marks do seem to go away when the bricks are wet. I will try your ideas – the hydrochloric acid first, then if that does not work, a clear coat from Bunnings. The clear coat will need to be a matt finish I suppose or it would stand out from the rest of the bricks on the house.

        • Be a little careful with hydrochloric acid on dark coloured bricks. It can discolour them, although this process is reversible with high pressure cleaning. Yes, matt finish clear coats are available

  21. Hello Dr Chemical, We have a four year old house which we think looks really nice. However, there is one problem regarding the appearance. On several spots efflorescence has appeared on the bricks and nothing I have tried has removed it – acid solution, stiff brush, high pressure water spray etc.
    Do you have any suggestions?

  22. Camebak Poduim Chill cycle drinking bottle has a removable clear plastic like drinking nipple. I rinse with hot soapy water after each ride but black spots eventually appear which are virtually impossible to remove; have tried soaking in a mild bleach solution – nipple goes pinkish & spots stay; scrubbed really hard with Jiff but has no effect; tried boiling but spots stay, nipple goes soft but recovers. I have emailed the manufacturer but ‘no response’. It appears that ‘some’ other riders have the same problem but others do not – any ideas?

  23. Hello,
    I have recently made liquid Castile soap and wanted to thicken it up for dishwasher liquid purposes. I have read that using table salt will help to thicken it. I did try this, the results not very useful. It was either too thick/clumpy or too liquid, there was no happy medium with adding the salt a teaspoon at a time. Do you have better suggestion to thicken the soap?

    • Nope – it can be done but you’d need an ultrasonic emulsifier and a zeolite=based thickening agent, neither of which I’m guessing you have lying around

  24. Hello I am about to paint my childrens outdoor timber cubby house and wanted to know what could I add to the water based paint to deter/prevent mould besides the additives you can buy?

    • Sugar soap is an alkaline cleaner. It’s a little difficult to see how it could damage the floor. But any residual sugar soap will be removed by an acid (such as vinegar)

  25. At work I over filled my forklift battery and my boss is mad cause it left black sticky stuff and white marks and tracks where u drove over it I put baking sofa on it it absorbed some of it now just white is there anything that will take it off the floor

  26. How do I remove mold from the outside of my Jeep without damaging or removing the paint? Is there a Canadian product you’d know if that would help keep it off for good? I continue to wash it but washing only removes the mold and not the spores, which are the reason the mold keeps coming back

    • Oven cleaner will get it off. Can’t offer any suggestion as to stop it coming back other than to keep a silicone coating (with polish) on your paint

  27. Hi Dr Chemical

    I’m a school teacher and want to clean those grubby plastic school chairs. Want them to look as clean as the day they were bought without using a lot of elbow grease. Can you please tell me what to use? Thank you!!

    Miss N

  28. Hi dr Chemical, i am about embark on the xmas cleaning around the house, i need to remove bore stains from my concrete path and i need to clean my driveway which is laid with paving bricks any ideas. I have a high pressure cleaner to help.
    Thanks John

  29. Hi Dr Chemical. I’m wondering if you can tell me how to remove a light blue film/stain from our white porcelain toilet bowl? It is below the water line, sort of around the bend. I usually clean the loos with bicarb and cider vinegar, so it’s not from using a commercial product. Crossing my fingers, and thanks. Susan

    • Well, part of the problem is your use of bicarb and vinegar – that combination of chemicals won’t clean anything (mainly because they neutralise each other). Try washing (or caustic) soda (or drain cleaner – the mechanism is the same). Tip it in, let it sit for at least half an hour, then flush. If you are going to use washing soda (available from the supermarket) you could add an acid before you flush – the violent effervescence may help dislodge the colour. Any acid will do (including vinegar) but I’d suggest some dry acid (sodium hydrogen sulfate) available from the pool section in Bunnings. You can also get the washing soda (sodium carbonate)from bunnings but it’ll cost you more than at Coles

    • Nothing you can do I’m afraid – the acid will already have reacted with the stone. Only chance is (very) high pressure water(>3000psi)

  30. Hi Dr Chemical
    I had my carpets cleaned a few months ago and the adjoining kitchen tiles have like a shadow type mark on them now. How could I get rid of this?

  31. Hi Dr Chemical,
    The water level of the S trap in my bathroom floor waste is a few mm above the incoming drain pipes from the vanity, bathtub and the shower recess (the drain system is on the second floor and rather than increase the thickness on the concrete slab, the plumbers and builder, cramped the drain pipes within the thickness of the slab. The house was built 12years ago). Therefore when soapy water comes from one of those drain, the soap scum etc flows into the other two drains and after drying between usages the soap and debris builds up. Their’s always a smell, we have cleaned it with practically everything but after a day or two the smell returns.
    It’s very hard to physically clean the drain.
    Could you please suggest a cleaning product that we could use that is easy to use and gives us a clean smelling bathroom for a few weeks.
    Thank you for your time and knowledge.

    • I need some more details – what exactly is the smell? If it’s soap scum, however I’d try acidifying it. Either use vinegar or “dry acid” available from the pool chemical section of bunnings. Also I’d be complaining to the builder, and if they won’t help go to consumer affairs – by your description it most certainly does not comply with the relevant standards

  32. My sofa’s cup holders are black plastic, The rim is painted silver. Some of the silver has rubbed off. How can I safely remove the rest of the silver from the cup holders?

    • Very difficult to say without knowing what the silver actually is. You could try acetone, but be careful- it may damage the plastic. Try rubbing a bit of acetone on an inconspicuous part first to see if it damages the plastic. Or squirt some oven cleaner onto a paper towel and rub – that might work too

  33. Hi Dr Chemical. I recently cleaned some tiles with a liquid caustic solution and splashed the aluminium window frame while doing it. This has now left nasty white marks along the frame. It feels like it has etched the frame so to speak. Can you suggest a remedy please??

  34. Hi
    How do I get sunscreen marks off a gren colourbond roof -unfortunately done by adelaide hills very average builders?

  35. We have a wheelchair taxi that has had it floor tag by a passenger. The flooring is thick chip board but has a rough vinyl coating – they have used a black marker pen – is there anything that can be used to remove it

  36. Hi – my problem is not stain removal but maybe you might have a solution – keeping my fingers crossed. I get a wet dog smell in my sink/dishwasher and on my dishes at different times – there seems to be no rhyme or reason – no particular event or time. I get it on my dishes when I wash them in the sink or in the dishwasher. I have looked on the internet and it seems to be a common problem. I have asked different plumbers and they have no idea. It is so strong at times that it makes me feel sick. My hot water heater is only a few years old and I clean the dishwasher filter regularly. I get it even when I dont have egg on the dishes as some have hinted that could be the problem. Its really frustrating – hoping you can help.

    • Hmm. What brand dishwasher powder do you use? Finish is the best. Also use Morning Fresh dishwashing detergent if you aren’t already doing so. Get back to me if they don’t fix the issue

  37. Hi, could you tell me if rubbing alcohol is the best thing to use to clean a light coloured leather lounge. Also, when you say ‘oil’ the leather after cleaning, what kind of oil do you suggest. Looking forward to your answer. Cheers Susi

    • Yep – it’s a very versatile roduct and won’t damage anything. Alternatively go to an electronics store and buy some isopropyl alcohol – it’s the same stuff but is 100% (rubbing alcohol is only 60%)

  38. hey, i was just wondering what the Ka value for phosphoric acid is (for an assignment) and if it is a strong or weak acid and how you can tell using the Ka value

  39. HI There

    We had a limestone fence built with an integrated mailbox. The front of the actual mailbox is stainless steel (I think) and the limestone has leached white marks onto the steel and I cannot remove it. I have tried CLR, vinegar, steel wool. Can you please help me?

  40. Hi Dr Chemical
    Once again, thank you for your fabulous site.
    My son is always looking for do at home chemistry experiments of sufficient complexity to submit for school assignments (Y10). Do you have any suggestions or know of any good sites that may have ideas.

    Thanks, Fiona.

  41. Please could you tell me the ingredients needed to produce refill inks for dry erase markers and their composition? Thank you.

    • You mean you get emails sent from the site? Go into Actions on your email menu and select “move to junk” – it will then give you an option for moving all emails from the site when they arrive

  42. I have removed old window tint from a lounge window, it was quite brittle and the top layer came off but has now left a cloudy look on the window. I have tried eucalyptus oil, method and hot soapy water but still not coming off. I have used a razor blade for a small bit but at this rate it will take for ever. Any Suggestions?

  43. I have sprayed an outdoor setting with high gloss white Dulux Metal Shield Epoxy Enamel on a windy day and the part of brick pave not covered by newspaper has become a lighter shade. How do I remove this?

  44. Hi Dr, thanks for yr wealth of solutions – an interesting read.
    My Q is how to revive a faded ‘charcoal ‘ aluminium pool fence? It’s design is thin tubular uprights & would make it quite tedious (@ least 40mt in length) ?

  45. Dr chemical, I have stains in the pillow case ( on my husbands pillow ) the pillow case is maroon and has dark stain on it. He doesn’t use any hair products other Shan shampoo. Have tried laundry spray and soaker to no avail. Cheers Joy

  46. Hi Dr.Chemical
    My mom spill some cleaning chemical for cement on our glass tile and now the tile lost its shine, she try cleaning it but it didn’t work. We try everything to restore its shine but its no use. What can we do.

  47. Hi Professor Chemical,

    Could you please advise me of your email address or contact details and I would like to contact you regarding a project that you might want to do together.

    Kind regards,

  48. Good afternoon,I have a polished and sealed dark marble bathroom floor which when I have all the lights on shows water,soap marks.I have been told to cut it back, repolish and seal.Can you think of an easier way to remove these spots.Kind Regards Tony

  49. Dear Mark,

    Can you please advise me how to remove window tint glue from a fabric car seat. We stripped the tint off some windows and a small piece (approximately 3mm x 1mm) of the sticky glue got stuck on one of the seats. We tried white spirits but the glue is still stuck in the fibres.

    Kind regards,

    Claude Tasmer

    • Hi Dr Chemical. How can I effectively clean the inside of my car windows? I have used Windex, Metho, Washing liquid, Bleach, Glen20 and just about everything known to man but I am always left with a foggy smeary window. I am a driving instructor and it is driving me crazy as I need a clear view when driving.

  50. Hi there – I am unable to find soda ash in any supermarket except the stuff used to balance the pH in pools and spas – is this the same product? This is for cleaning grout on the floor tiles.
    I have also found a product called ‘Grout King’ – it contains 350g/l phosphoric acid – works like a treat but I am wondering how much damage its causing?

    • Yes that’s the right stuff. But you get it from supermarkets at ankle height in the cleaning aisle – it’s a bit hard to find. Where did you find the Grout King – I can’t find any info about it anywhere

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *