DEAR MARY: I was wondering if you know of a quick and easy method to prevent dish scrubbers (like the kind with a sponge on one side and a scrubber pad on the other) from smelling like mildew. The ones we use start smelling after just a few days. We try to always run them in the dishwasher, but we don't always remember. I sometimes spray them with bleach, let them sit for a minute or two and then rinse them off. That seems to work, but I was wondering if there is a better way. I tried microwaving a wet sponge, and that just made it hot and smelly. — Bronson
DEAR BRONSON: Putting kitchen sponges in the dishwasher daily — or as often as you run a load of dishes — is the best solution. The heat and detergent kill bacteria and prevent mildew from growing. I'm going to assume that you only use one sponge at a time. That may be the problem. I suggest you rotate between at least two sponges instead. That way, one will always be available for use while the other is being sanitized. Force yourself to run a sponge through the dishwasher every time, and soon it will become a habit. I hope that helps!
DEAR MARY: Can I use your floor cleaner recipe to clean my wooden cabinets? — Millie
DEAR MILLIE: Cleaning wooden cabinets with my EC Wood and Laminate Floor Cleaner (1 part rubbing alcohol to 4 parts distilled water, plus a few drops blue Dawn dishwashing liquid) will not harm your cabinets. However, if you want to deep clean your cabinets and condition the wood to look as beautiful as new, that would not be my first choice. I recommend Howard's Feed-N-Wax Polish and Conditioner (about $8 for 16 ounces). It is a special blend of beeswax, carnauba wax and orange oil that melts away grease and grime and conditions the wood. You won't believe the results. By the way, don't use Howard's on your floors, or they'll be too slippery for safety.
DEAR MARY: I love your blog and have learned a lot from you. My husband and I are considering getting a membership to either Sam's Club or Costco. I really want to stock up on things for future use. What is your opinion on these stores? Is getting a membership a good idea or not? Do you have any good tips? Thanks! — Terri
DEAR TERRI: I've been a member of both Costco and Sam's Club in the past, but I let my Sam's Club membership expire. It really is a matter of personal preference, so I recommend you visit both stores to check them out before making a decision. You can request a one-day visitor pass at Sam's Club. At Costco, tell the doorman you would like to visit the pharmacy, optical services or hearing services (access to these services is protected by federal law, which means a Costco membership is not required). Then you can window-shop to see what each club offers.
Personally, I find that Costco is more consumer-friendly, while Sam's Club caters more to small businesses. You should also consider each club's location. My Costco is close to my house, but if Sam's Club were closer, I might've gotten for a Sam's membership. I recently wrote about this in "How to Win Big with a Warehouse Club Membership." Read that column for tips on how to make the membership work for you. Thanks for being an EC fan.
For links to the products and column mentioned above, visit everydaycheapskate.com/sponge.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.