Expert QA

Preventing blisters from tight shoes and other home hints

Tips on eco-friendly weeding, avoiding blisters, camping storage, barbecue care and more.

Q My daughter wore oyster-coloured satin stilettos to a wedding and they were stained with dust from gravel paths at the venue. How can I clean the shoes without ruining them or paying a fortune to have them professionally cleaned?

M. McKenzie

A I advise professional cleaning, but if you’re prepared to take a chance, wipe shoes with a dry cloth to remove loose dust. Then, working along the fabric grain, dab stains with a cloth wrung in cold water, turning cloth to a clean spot repeatedly. For stubborn stains, add a tiny amount of gentle soap to the cloth and continue. Blot to dry and finish with a hair dryer on a low setting.

Weeds in hot water

After you boil the kettle, pour leftover boiling water onto weeds between pavers or in the garden – works like a charm and is eco-friendly.

Bliss not blisters

To prevent blisters, apply roll-on deodorant to your feet in the places your shoes rub.

Fresh frosting

If you’re unable to cover a frosted cake with plastic wrap before refrigerating it overnight, crumple a piece of newspaper, wet it and put it in the fridge near the cake. It will absorb any odours, so the frosting remains fresh-tasting.

Tidy camper

If you’re camping this summer, take a clear, over-the-door shoe organiser and hang it near the tent – it’s the ideal space to store all the bits and pieces that nobody can ever find, such as sunscreen, bandaids, maps, matches, torch and so on.

No more rust

To remove rust from cast-iron cookware, dip a cut potato in baking soda or salt and rub it firmly over the rusted area until clean, adding more as needed, then wipe out and finish with a little oil.

Barbecue check-list

Get your gas barbecue ready for summer. Replace worn or split fittings, hose or seals, tighten all connections and test for leaks by brushing with soapy water – if bubbles appear when the gas is turned on, there is a leak.

Dryer sheet soaker

Clean baked-on food and burnt bits from cookware by filling with warm water, adding a squirt of dishwashing liquid, then placing a dryer sheet into the water. Leave overnight and the gunk will be easy to remove.

Foldaway favourite

A mesh ironing board frame – minus cover and padding – makes a great adjustable, hose-clean, foldaway table for potting plants or scaling fish.

Get the right measure

Use the internet to convert tablespoon or cup measurements to grams for ingredients such as honey and golden syrup that are hard to get cleanly out of spoons and cups. Place the mixing bowl on kitchen scales, turn the scales back to zero and add the ingredient into the bowl until the scales register the correct weight.

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