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A HELPING HAND

Stainless Steel Can Belie Name

June 29, 1996|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q We inherited an antique knife and fork set that has silver handles and what we believe are steel blades and tines. The silver was easy to polish, but the steel portions have stains that don't come out. Any ideas?

C.F.

San Clemente

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A When stainless steel becomes stained over time, about the only way to clean it is to place it in an acid wash, which can only be done professionally, says Connie Pushckor of Antique Metal Finishing in Long Beach.

Some professional silver polishes might work, but usually the piece needs a chemical bath to remove the blotchiness before the steel can be polished to look like new. Once you have your cutlery looking the way you want, take care not to put it in the dishwasher. Hand wash it, and be sure it's perfectly dry before putting it away.

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Q I recently moved into a home with off-white carpeting. The previous owner had throw rugs around the house, and when I removed these and had the carpet cleaned, a number of spots appeared. I've tried getting these out, to no avail. Is there something I missed?

V.S.

Laguna Hills

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A It's not uncommon to see a problem like this; many times cleaning will bring out old stains, says Joel Spencer of Floors Unlimited in Orange.

Stains that get down into the padding can resurface on top of the carpeting, which is frustrating. Getting rid of the stains will depend on what they are, how long they've been there and the stain-resistance of the carpet.

The type of carpet fiber also affects staining. Polyesters are very porous; nylon is semi-porous; natural fibers can often be cleaned with a good carpet-cleaning system. Your best bet is to find a professional carpet cleaner you can trust to give you an evaluation.

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Q I have a small redwood deck between the house and garage, an area that gets very little sun. During the rainy season, black-spot mildew quickly develops on it. Bleach removes the mildew, but also the deck stain. Is there anything else I can do?

L.M.

Dana Point

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A Mildew can take a lot of work to eradicate, especially in areas near the ocean, says Gene Teramura of Dutch Boy Home Decorating Center in Santa Ana. Because of the mildew problem, you should probably count on re-staining and sealing the deck once a year.

Clean the area with bleach and water, then let it thoroughly dry. Next, make sure you're using a high-quality oil-based stain; many of the better ones have a mildewcide mixed in. Most paint stores also carry deck cleaners that help remove mildew without hurting the stain.

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Q The neighborhood dogs and cats are attracted to a post next to my driveway, and I'm always finding urine stains on the concrete. How can this be cleaned, and how can I prevent the animals from coming around?

K.P.

Anaheim Hills

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A You may want to start out by using a concrete cleaner to get as much of the scent off as you can, says Robin Sanders of Wildwood Pets in Yorba Linda. You should also try a cleaner with enzymes, which work to eliminate pet odors.

After the area is clean and the odors are gone, any of several pet repellents can keep animals away from the area. Both types of products can be found at pet stores.

If you have a question about your home or garden, A Helping Hand will help you find the answer. Send questions to John Morell, Home Design, The Times Orange County, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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