Everyday Cheapskate: Reader Mail on Cleaning Mushrooms, Whiteboards and Pfaltzgraff Dishes
Dear Mary: In a recent column, you suggested to not wash mushrooms but to simply brush them well with a vegetable brush or clean towel. While I agree with you 99% of the time, on this one I had to write. Did you know that mushrooms are usually grown in manure? You must wash them. I use a commercial veggie wash and brush, too. -- Patricia
Dear Patricia: Contrary to popular belief, mushrooms are not grown in manure. Mushrooms are, in fact, grown in a pasteurized substrate. Yes, this does contain manure, but once the whole process is finished, it is not even close.
Commercially grown mushrooms you buy in the store begin their lives in sterile laboratories, where conditions are controlled so that no contamination takes place. Mushrooms can grow on any richly organic matter like rotting logs, rich soil, etc. but most commercially grown mushrooms are grown in compost. The compost used in mushroom farming is scientifically formulated and contains various materials such as straw, corn cobs, cottonseed and cocoa seed hulls. It is carefully monitored to make sure it is not contaminated.
The folks from Pictsweet mushroom farms confirm: "When ready to use, wipe gently with a damp cloth or soft brush to remove occasional peat moss. Trim the stem if it has become dried. Do not soak mushrooms because they absorb water which speeds up deterioration."
Dear Mary: I'm a middle-school teacher and spending WAY too much money on special whiteboard cleaner. Do you know of any homemade solution I can use to effectively erase ghosting and marks left behind after I erase the dry-erase markings? A typical bottle now lasts me less than two weeks and costs $5.99 for 12 ounces. I've learned so much from you. Thanks! -- Kellee
Dear Kellee: I had the same problem with my board. I tried every possible concoction, and nothing worked to remove all the markings -- not even my beloved baking soda. In desperation, I grabbed a tube of toothpaste, spread a bit on a wet cloth and went to work. Like magic, it cleaned the board to new condition. I used plain white paste, nothing minty, striped, gelled or otherwise expensive. If you are patient and hang onto your toothpaste manufacturer's coupons until you can combine them with a sale price, you can get toothpaste for next to nothing. Thanks for your kind words; you made my day!
Dear Mary: Do you have a tip on how to clean my white Pfaltzgraff dishes? -- Barb
Dear Barb: Pfaltzgraff has been making dinnerware for many years and has used earthenware, stoneware, porcelain and bone china at some point in its history. Most Pfaltzgraff patterns currently in production are made primarily of stoneware and earthenware, with only a few patterns being offered in ironstone and porcelain. The good news is that all Pfaltzgraff dinnerware is microwave and dishwasher safe.
The appearance of gray lines or "scratches" on Pfaltzgraff dinnerware is not a defect -- in fact, it is quite common. These marks appear when metal utensils come in contact with the hard glazes used by the manufacturer. You can remove these marks easily using a variety of cleansers. Pfaltzgraff makes its own Pfaltzgraff Stoneware & Porcelain Cleaner, but it is expensive.
Two other products that are safe to use on Pfaltzgraff are Zud and my personal favorite, Bar Keepers Friend. Simply dip a wet cloth into a small amount of Bar Keepers Friend and apply it to the stain or mark. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, and then rub gently to remove the mark. Work slowly, and do not use a lot of pressure. Wash the dish in warm water using a mild dishwashing soap, and dry with a soft, clean cloth.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate Inc.