Q. My husband left a permanent ink pen stain in his shirt pocket and it went through the wash. What's even worse is the ink found its way into the dryer where it really raised havoc. Is there a product I can use to try to remove all of the mess?
I've used the dryer many times with all the ink marks inside and the ink doesn't seem to come off onto the clothes. It's just that it looks so terrible when you open the dryer's door.
A. I assume you have tried to remove the stain from your husband's shirt, and probably not very successfully, by putting it in a washing machine again. However, without having dealt with the ink before the first trip through the dryer, the stain is likely to be permanent.
But your question is not about dealing with the shirt but how to remove the remaining stains from the dryer. Putting the shirt in the dryer seems to have liquefied the ink, which left stains inside the dryer. It is best to determine which ink was in the pen, as there are several types and the way to remove the stain depends on whether the ink was oil-based, water-based or gel.
Ballpoint pens are oil-based and require a solvent to remove. Rollerball pens have water-based ink and should be easy to remove. Gel pens use a highly pigmented type of ink, which is more difficult to remove.
If you still have the pen, you should be able to go to an office supply store and have someone tell you which ink is in your pen. They may also be able to tell you how to remove the stain.
But it may not be of too much help with the ink now thoroughly stuck to the dryer's inside. I suggest you first try rubbing the stains with rubbing alcohol or a regular hand-wipe. If not successful, try acetone; be sure to have plenty of ventilation by using fans and open windows.
Sorry, but I've run out of ideas. You may be stuck with a colorful dryer.
Q. About 20 years ago, I stripped the ornate wood off my kitchen cabinets and painted them white with an oil-based gloss paint. They have held up pretty good, but now it is time to redo them. This time, I want to use a latex white on them.
My questions are: What is the best way to prepare them for the new paint? How do I kill the gloss finish and repaint them so the new finish will not chip off? Should I use a gloss or semi-gloss finish paint and which brand would you recommend?
A. Lightly sand the old finish. Use a tack cloth to remove any sawdust still clinging to the wood.
Prime the cabinets with B-I-N and paint them with your choice of either gloss or semigloss of any quality brand of latex paint.
If you apply more than one coat of finish paint, lightly sand between each coat and wipe with the tack cloth before applying the next coat.
Q. Our Trex deck boards are stained with moldy-looking patches. What can we use to clean it up and restore it? We have been told not to power wash synthetic deck boards.
A. It is best not to use power washing unless it is used at the lowest possible pressure setting, which may still be too strong depending on the washer used. Wisdom would suggest washing the deck boards with a stiff-bristle deck brush on a long handle.
A very effective solution I have used and recommended to painters who have raved about it after using it is as follows: Mix 4 to 6 oz of Oxy-Boost in a gallon of hot water to which add one-quarter teaspoon of dish detergent.
Oxy-Boost is now only sold in 5-, 10- and 20-pound containers (only the 20-pound product shows on its website, but they told me the other sizes are available by request).
They no longer offer Deck Cleaner as they found it no better than regular Oxy-Boost. Even the 5-pound box should be far too much, but it does not spoil and Oxy-Boost can be used for a lot of other cleaning jobs.
You can order Oxy-Boost on its website: www.ecogeeks.com, or call the company to order it, and if you wish, mention that you are friends of mine. The phone number is (262) 898-1522.
Q. I have a patio with wood in between the cement. I need to re-stain the wood. What is the product I can use? I did re-stain it last year with a stain for outdoors but it is peeling off, so I need expert advice on not only what stain to use, but also whether I could stain over what is there.
A. What king of wood is it? If it is pressure-treated wood, it is difficult to apply a coating on it because the wood absorbs water, which will cause peeling of most coatings. You need to select a coating that is very penetrating and does not sit on top of the wood.
As an alternative, you can simply not bother to stain it, but if you wish to do so, a good product to use is Amteco TWP, www.amteco.com. Choose TWP series 100 or TWP series WS. Both penetrate deeply into the wood.
TWP series 100 has very little surface-build while TWP series WS has none, which limits or prevents any peeling since there is nothing to peel off.
If the wood is not pressure-treated, you can still use these TWP products.
You can find local sources by entering your ZIP code on Amteco's website, but be aware that few dealers carry the full range of TWP products. Hopefully, they will be glad to order the product of your choice, but if not, call Amteco and ask for help in getting it.
Q. We really enjoy your column -- it's given us much practical advice over the years -- so we're glad it's back!
Our problem is a white heat ring on a Surell brand, black-speckled countertop (similar to Corian) that happened when a hot pan was put down directly on it without a pad or trivet underneath. Do you know of anything that would remove the stain?
A. To remove scratches and stains from Surell and Corian surfaces, the treatment is the same. Clean the surface with a solution made of equal parts bleach and water to remove all pollutants that may have accumulated. Let dry thoroughly.
Sand the stain with 180-grit sandpaper dampened in clean water. Go over the surface several times in all directions until the stain is removed. You may want to sand the entire countertop to avoid differences in the look.
Follow this with sanding the entire top with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out the entire surface and follow this by sanding with 400-grit sandpaper to give it a finer finish.
Finally, wash the top with any kitchen cleaner, using a sponge. Buff the entire top to bring it to its original condition.
• Henri de Marne, a former remodeling contractor turned columnist and consultant, is the author of "About the House with Henri de Marne" (Upper Access Publishing). He continues to take questions from readers for this column and his website, www.henridemarne.com. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.