YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


INSIDE & OUT : Gentle Cleaner Rids Vinyl of Stains


Q. We have white vinyl-strapped patio furniture that looked great until this past summer. A yellowish film has developed on them and nothing I've used has been able to remove it, except that I've had some luck using a nylon scrub pad and cleanser. Is there any other solution other than replacing the straps?

V.M. La Habra *

A. There is a product that's recommended by most patio furniture manufacturers called Feron Clean, says Linda Snow of Yorba Linda Patio & Hearth. It's simply applied with a rag, and it removes most vinyl stains. Then you can apply a sealant to the straps to protect them. She advises against using an abrasive since you'll end up scratching the finish.

Vinyl-strapped furniture is often subject to staining from the sun's ultraviolet rays when it's left unprotected all the time. Suntan lotion can also help deteriorate vinyl, which is why it's a good idea to keep your furniture clean. If you have good quality chairs made with what's called "virgin vinyl," and not vinyl that's clay-filled, they should be able to last and stand up to numerous cleanings.


Q. Since it's started getting cold at night, we've noticed that the windows in our bedrooms tend to fog up on the inside. I suspect it's a problem with the insulation. Any ideas on how to fix it?

C.N. Lake Forest *

A. If it's a double-glazed window, fogging is a sign of a broken seal, says Katy Jackson of Maley's Glass in Anaheim. If it's a single-glazed window, it usually means the glass isn't very tight in the frame. A double-glazed window generally has to be replaced once it loses its seal. With a single-glazed one, you can fix it by replacing the window or installing a glasscene panel. This is a soft clear plastic insert that creates a double-pane effect. Many people put these up just in the winter to help them save energy because they insulate so well.


Q. Our furnace works very well, except when we turn it on after it's been shut off for a month or more. The problem is that after the thermostat is clicked on, it takes an hour or more before the furnace runs. After it's been running for a day or so, it comes on immediately. Is this a sign of big trouble around the corner?

M.M. Santa Ana *

A. Today's furnaces are very complex, so it would be difficult to determine whether there is a problem in the thermostat or igniter without examining it, says Tom Houlihan of Orange County Appliance Parts in Garden Grove. One possibility is that spiders or other insects may be getting inside the passages during spring and summer, and their webs and nests might be blocking the gas. You may want to have a furnace technician or the gas company inspect your unit.


Q. We have a large fireplace made of slump stone that we've had a difficult time cleaning. We've used a variety of solutions, but it still looks dingy. Any idea on what can be used to brighten it up?

J.R.F. Garden Grove *

A. There are stone cleaners available at most fireplace shops that will work on slump stone, says George Moelter of Anaheim Patio & Fireside in Brea. Slump stone looks like an uneven flagstone. There are no easy ways to clean it. You have to use a stiff brush and lots of elbow grease to make a difference because you're probably dealing with a lot of old soot and dust. Look for a cleaner that will also work on your grout.


Q. We'd like to move the oak wall paneling from our den and put it in one of our bedrooms. We realize that the job will hinge on how successful we are at taking the old nails out without damaging the paneling. Are there any tricks to this?

E.F. Laguna Hills *

A. With a good pair of needle-nose pliers, try to grip the nailheads as you push the paneling in and out, says carpenter Dave Willits of Santa Ana. Once you can get the head out just a little, use a pair of nippers and cut the head off. Once the heads that hold a piece of paneling have all been removed, you can pry it off the wall. You need to be careful if you're reusing the panels, but keep in mind that you'll probably need to make some repairs in the finish once it's been reinstalled.

Los Angeles Times Articles