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Friday, June 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Household Hints Martha Advises Readers On How To Clean Wood Floors, Neckties, And Make Herb Oils

By Martha Stewart New York Times S

Q. I have wood floors throughout the first floor of my home, including the kitchen. How can I get the longest wear out of the finish? - Gloria Jacobson, Oceanside, N.Y.

A: Keeping the floors clean is one of the best ways to protect them. Dirt isn’t just unsightly; it can also scratch a floor’s finish.

To keep dirt from coming into the house, station two doormats at each entry door: a coarse mat outside to remove grit and a cloth one inside to absorb moisture.

You can also use runners to protect the floors in hallways, where they get a lot of wear and tear. In the kitchen, you may want to place a small, soft cotton rug in front of the sink to catch drips.

Regular cleaning is your next line of defense. How often depends on your household. Some rooms may need it every day, others once a week. On wood floors, a vacuum cleaner does the most thorough job. You can also use small electric brooms, which are lightweight and convenient. For a quick cleanup, a dust mop also works well.

Today, many wood floors have a polyurethane finish, which can be damp-mopped with water and white vinegar (about a quarter cup of vinegar per quart of water). The finish isn’t impervious to water, though, so always wring the mop well and dry as you go.

Wood floors with a wax finish shouldn’t be mopped at all. Wax them once or twice a year and buff to a soft glow.

Q: I make flavored oils with fresh garlic cloves, and I am concerned about the possible toxicity of oil and fresh garlic combinations.

Is it safe to leave oil and garlic at room temperature while the flavors are infusing? I read that soaking the garlic in vinegar before adding it to the oil would kill any dangerous bacteria. Is this true? - Donna O’Connor-Sanderson, Davison, Mich.

A: With their increasing popularity, flavored oils - specifically, those made with garlic - have become the subject of quite a bit of controversy. Garlic and most other fresh herbs and vegetables (with the exception of tomatoes) can be a source of bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. The bacteria are harmless when the vegetables are exposed to air. When deprived of oxygen and exposed to warm temperatures, however, they can produce the toxin that causes botulism, a potentially fatal kind of food poisoning.

Garlic has a low acid content. The garlic oils sold in stores are acidified to keep toxins from developing, and most can be stored at room temperature. (Check the labels for specifics.) However, I don’t recommend acidifying garlic at home with vinegar. There simply aren’t definitive guidelines on how much vinegar to use and how long to soak the garlic.

It is possible, though, to infuse oil with garlic safely. Keep it refrigerated, even while infusing, and remove the cloves after the flavor is strong enough. Use the oil within two weeks (this includes the infusing time). The same precautions should be taken when using fresh herbs.

It should be noted that vinegars flavored with garlic are not dangerous and can be kept at room temperature for several months.

Q: Can you tell me how to clean neckties? - Mrs. John Lukas, Syracuse, N.Y.

A: Neckties are notoriously difficult to clean. Simple as they look, good ties are fine pieces of clothing and should be treated with the kind of care and attention that went into making them.

Unfortunately, ties simply cannot be washed at home with satisfactory results. They can be dry-cleaned, but this is not always the best option. When you buy a tie, it isn’t pressed flat - but when it comes back from the dry cleaner, it usually is. Pressing also dulls the look of the fabric and flattens the lining.

If you do want to send a tie out to be cleaned, look for a specialized dry cleaner with the proper equipment necessary to clean ties and maintain their shape. If in doubt, ask to see a sample of a tie the cleaner has worked on.

Many spots, however, can be removed at home. Solvent-based dry-cleaning spotters work well, particularly on oily spots. They are available at hardware stores and many grocery stores (brand names include K2r, Goddard’s English Dry Clean and Afta).

Always use these cleaners in a well-ventilated area. Be careful not to pull the fabric out of shape as you work, and always get to a spot as soon as possible to keep it from setting.

To prolong the life of a tie, good care is crucial. Tugging and dragging the knot to remove the tie will shorten its life dramatically. The man wearing it should untie it carefully, reversing the process used to tie it, and hang it immediately.

MEMO: Questions should be addressed to Martha Stewart, care of The New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions may also be sent to Stewart by electronic mail. Her address is: mstewart@marthastewart.com.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Martha Stewart New York Times Syndicate

Questions should be addressed to Martha Stewart, care of The New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions may also be sent to Stewart by electronic mail. Her address is: mstewart@marthastewart.com.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Martha Stewart New York Times Syndicate

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