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posted: 8/15/2012 6:45 AM

Reader shares solutions for washing produce

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Q. I try to keep the skins on my produce instead of peeling it, since the skin is good for you. But I would like to eat my produce, especially cucumbers and apples, without the shiny, waxy skin. So, how do you remove wax from produce?

Shoiji, forums

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A. To remove wax from your produce, wash it and use a vegetable brush. You can buy fruit/vegetable wash or make your own by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice and a tablespoon of baking soda in a large bowl of water or a clean sink. Scrub with the veggie brush (a new nail brush or baby bottle brush will work if you can't find a vegetable brush) and rinse well. Here are a few homemade solutions submitted by a fellow reader:

Homemade fruit/vegetable wash: I have six washes that I use, depending on what I already have at home. I use them to clean my kitchen counters or to pre-soak my dirty dishes, too.

1. Squeeze some dishwashing liquid into a spray bottle. Add water. Shake to combine. Spray fruit, use a vegetable brush to scrub and rinse produce well. You can soak produce in it, too.

2. Use a solution of vinegar and water to create a wash for produce to soak in. Rinse after letting soak for 10 minutes.

3. Use two spray bottles -- one filled with vinegar and the other filled with hydrogen peroxide. Spray the produce with vinegar and then with hydrogen peroxide. Rinse thoroughly.

4. Combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray fruit or vegetables and rinse well.

5. Combine 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 cup water in a spray bottle. Spritz produce and rinse.

6. Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a spray bottle. Spray produce and rinse.

Annie G., California

Q. Sticky cooking spray was sprayed into my oven. How can I remove it?

Carol, Florida

A. Oven cleaner will work to remove cooking spray from your oven. If you'd rather not use oven spray, you can use Bon Ami or Bar Keepers Friend. Or try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (wet) with baking soda and hot water.

Q. Our home is about 50 years old, and the doorknobs and hinges are brass. I can polish them with brass cleaner, but they soon tarnish. Is there anything I can use to prevent tarnishing?

Dorris, email

A. You can coat them with clear lacquer or acrylic urethane after you've polished them. Your local home improvement store will have what you need.

Q. When we had new carpet put in, we didn't want the area in front of the wood stove to become more soiled or worn, so I bought a matching mat to place there. The mat had a tendency to migrate, though, so someone had the bright idea to put double-sided duct tape on the underside of the mat to keep it in place. It started to migrate anyway, leaving sticky residue in its wake. I have tried spot carpet cleaner on the area and it took up a lot of the dirt, but the sticky residue is still there, so it will just gather dirt again. Any ideas?

Elizabeth, North Carolina

A. I'd try Afta Cleaning Fluid, Goof Off (goofoffstainremover.com/) or K2R Spot Lifter (superkleendirect.com). Test an inconspicuous area first.

Q. How do you freeze green bell peppers?

Melissa, New York

A. You don't need to blanch them. Cut them open, remove the seeds and chop. Place the chopped peppers on a cookie sheet and flash-freeze them, then transfer from the cookie sheet into freezer storage bags. Use within eight months.

• Sara Noel owns Frugal Village (frugalvillage.com), a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. Send tips, comments or questions to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106, or sara@frugalvillage.com.

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