Every day my email box loads up with messages, many of which contain questions from you, my dear readers. And if you’ve sent a message, you are aware by now while I read my mail and keep it filed, I just do not have enough time in my days to answer every message personally. However, I reach into that file regularly and select questions I believe will have a wide appeal for readers.
Dear Mary: What is the best way to dispose of expired medication and old household cleaners? I want to do this in a safe manner. — Chris, Virginia
Dear Chris: I suggest you start by going to search.earth911.com, where you will find convenient recycling locations by ZIP code for various material types, including your expired meds, household cleaners and potentially toxic items such as paint.
Another option is to call your local refuse company to inquire about the disposal of hazardous household items. Most have an accommodation center where you can drop off cans of paint, cleaners, medications and other such items that should not end up in the regular landfill.
You might learn the company picks up hazardous waste, provided you have followed the proper guidelines for setting it out for pickup.
A couple of times per year on a Saturday morning, I load up potentially hazardous items that have accumulated around our home and drive them to our recycling center. It’s quick and easy, even when there’s a long line.
The Department of Toxic Substances Control (dtsc.ca.gov) regulates the generation, treatment, storage, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. Go to its website for additional information or to find the answer to any specific questions or situations you might have from time to time.
Dear Mary: My bathroom sink, vanity top and shower walls are cultured marble. Recently, I have noticed pale yellow stained areas showing up here and there, which do not disappear with normal cleaning. Any suggestions for what I can do to remove the discoloration? Thank you. — Linda, Delaware
Dear Linda: Cultured marble, as opposed to natural marble, is a manmade blend of stone particles and resins combined with pigments to produce a wide range of colors and realistic, natural-looking patterns. Cultured marble is very durable, and the sure-fire way to remove stains is to use wet/dry sandpaper. Just know that this will also remove the finish and you’ll end up with dull spots. Then you would have to cover the spots with high-gloss finish to match the sheen. But before you start sanding away on these stains, there may be some other options you haven’t tried that will remove the stains without damaging the finish.
Here’s one: acetone, available at any drugstore in the nail care aisle right next to nail polish removers. Make sure it says “100 percent acetone.” Fold a paper towel so that is it slightly larger than the stain and soak it with acetone. Lay it over the stain. Follow with clear plastic wrap larger than the paper towel. Grab some tape and tape this down to cover the soaked paper and plastic. This will prevent the acetone from evaporating, allowing it to absorb into the stain. Leave it overnight. I’m hopeful the stain will be gone when you remove it in the morning.
Other options: Make a paste from Bar Keeper’s Friend cleanser and water. Smear it on the stains and let it sit overnight and see if that helps. If that doesn’t work, saturate a rag in hydrogen peroxide and allow it to sit on the stains overnight.
Hope that helps.