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posted: 7/24/2013 6:00 AM

Frugal living: Tips for cleaning grease and wax

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Q. Grease above stove? I'm trying to deep-clean my kitchen and I cannot get rid of the caked-on grease under the cupboards above my stove! I've tried baking soda, vinegar, Fantastik and every other cleaner I own! Is there any way to get rid of this stuff?

Rachel, Toronto

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A. I would use Murphy's Oil Soap or Guardsman wood cleaner (guardsman.com/en/find-a-retailer.html). The oil soap will take some elbow grease, but it's worth it, because most other types of cleaners will damage the finish on cabinets.

Q. I've made toffee that calls for melted chocolate chips spread on top of the candy, but the chocolate hardens and just falls off. What can I do to prevent this? I've tried chocolate chips of varying levels of quality. Thanks!

M.B., email

A. You can add the chocolate chips on top of the hot toffee (after you spread it), then spread them with a rubber spatula once you see the chocolate begin to melt. Once melted, let it all cool for 20-30 minutes at room temperature, then put it in the fridge to set.

Q. I have a patterned white-on-white formal tablecloth that recently got cranberry-colored candle wax on it. How do I get it out? I haven't tried washing it yet.

Jean M., email

A. I would let a professional remove the wax. But if you'd like to give it a try at home, freeze the cloth and scrape off as much wax as possible. Don't use a sharp knife. Try something flat like a credit card. Pour boiling water through the waxed area until the remaining wax has melted and disappeared. Or you can place a brown paper bag, thick paper towel or cloth towel over any wax spots, then go over them with a hot iron. As you iron, check to see whether any of the wax is being absorbed by your bag or cloth, then place a clean bag or cloth to absorb more until you have removed as much as possible. I would pretreat the stain with Dawn dishwashing liquid or rubbing alcohol, then launder as usual. Don't put the tablecloth in the dryer if the stain remains after washing, because the stain can set more. Don't try bleach, because it can discolor and leave yellow stains. I recommend taking it to a professional.

Q. How do I remove hair dye from my hands after I dye my hair?

Jan, email

A. Prevention is key. In the future, wear gloves when dying your hair. To remove the dye, makeup remover works well. Try baby oil, too. If you have any leftover hair dye (it won't take much), applying it to your hands then wiping it away immediately will often remove the rest of the dye. Lemon juice applied to a cotton ball is effective, too.

• 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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