Dear Mary: I don't know where I first heard it, but I sure do believe it: "Teaching teaches the teacher!" I love your questions because they keep me on my toes and always learning.
Would I be able to use QuickBooks on the Asus Chromebook laptop computer you recommend as your best inexpensive pick?
Answer: If you use QuickBooks Online, you should have no issues. A Chromebook won't run the actual software version of QuickBooks, but if you are able to access it from a web browser, the way that QuickBooks Online works, then a Chromebook should work just fine.
Dear Mary: Is there an easy and efficient way to clean stainless steel oven grates/racks? I was advised not to leave them in oven during the self-clean cycle.
Answer: My favorite method continues to be Dawn Dish Power Dissolver spray cleaner. I'm mostly heartbroken that Procter & Gamble has discontinued manufacturing this cleaner but happy that it is still available in limited supplies. The problem is finding it. As I write this, you can still get Dawn Dish Power Dissolver online. I'm harboring a couple of cases, which I intend to make last for a very long time. A reasonable alternative is Dawn Heavy Duty Degreaser. If your kitchen sink isn't large enough to accommodate those racks, consider scrubbing them in a bathtub. Just make sure you lay a towel or mat on the bottom of the tub first to prevent damaging the tub surface.
Dear Mary: What is your pick for the best inexpensive curling iron?
Answer: As you know, there so many choices. And most that are affordable are not very high-quality. But there is one that I adore for so many reasons: Conair Infiniti Pro Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Wand, which costs about $17 on Amazon.
Its conical shape tapers, giving the user a choice of tight 1/2-inch or looser 1-inch curls. It heats up to 400 degrees F in 30 seconds, has five temperature settings and an auto-off feature and comes with a heat-resistant glove to protect your hand. This is a really cool tool, but it may present a bit of a learning curve because it has no clamp. Take a look. I'm confident you're going to agree that it is quite amazing!
Dear Mary: Why can't I get my towels soft? Everyone in my family has nice soft towels, but mine are NEVER soft. I have very hard water and use a high-efficiency front-loading washing machine. I wash the towels on the sanitize setting with an extra rinse, and I dry them on sanitize. I don't use the full cup of soap and never use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets (based on what I've read in your column in the past). I occasionally use vinegar in place of softener, but it never seems to work.
Answer: Stiff towels are usually a sign that detergents, soaps, shampoos, body wash, bar soap, body oil or residue has not been washed and rinsed out of them. Think about all of the products we use in the shower these days that find their way onto the towels. Now, combine that with the detergent we pour into the washing machine, and the fact that we often stuff the machine so tightly items can barely move.
Here's what I suggest: Grab three or four large clean bath towels and wash them as a large load. Use the hottest water possible and no detergent at all. Put them through a double rinse, and add a full cup of white vinegar to the last rinse — the way you have done that tin the past. Make sure you have a good set of wool dryer balls, like a six-pack of Smart Sheep wool dryer balls. It costs about $17 on Amazon.
Place all six dryer balls into the dryer with the wet towels, and let them go to work at the hottest setting available. As long as those towels can tumble freely and those wool dryer balls are hitting the towels to separate the fibers, they can't help but come out soft and fluffy. And if they do not, repeat the process. The accumulation of soaps and bath products in towels can be stubborn enough that they require a few of these deep cleaning cycles. Good luck, and let us know the outcome!
For links to the products mentioned in this column, please visit www.everydaycheapskate.com/amachromebook .
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 webpage at www.creators.com.