DEAR SUN SPOTS: Last night I spilled coffee on the light gray fabric seat of my new car and didn’t realize it until this afternoon and, of course, it’s dried on now. Because my car is new and my very first one, I don’t want to make a mistake and you are like a modern-day “Hints to Heloise,” at least that’s what my mom says, so please help.

— Lucy, no town

ANSWER: Congratulations on getting your first set of wheels! Worse things could happen to a new car, let me tell you. Hopefully, this will be the extent of mishaps!

To get that stain out, work carefully and take your time. Use a cup of white vinegar in a gallon of warm water, or a similar ratio for a smaller quantity. Add a cup of club soda and a small squirt of dish soap (preferably Dawn) and apply to the coffee stain with a clean cloth. Work the solution into the stain with a stiff-bristled brush and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes before rinsing with water and blotting it dry with a towel.

On the next sunny day, leave your windows open to air the coffee smell out of your car and make sure the seat is nice and dry.

Now, if you spill coffee in your car again, which is bound to happen, and you can catch the stain right away, a baby wipe works as does a glass cleaner like Windex. Just test the Windex first on a spot that doesn’t show. Sometimes the blue color stays behind and you don’t want that!

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I usually buy new geraniums for my patio every year, but this year I am trying to be more frugal and save them from last summer. I brought them indoors and have them in a space that gets a lot of sun, but they aren’t doing all that well; they are sparse and leggy and only have a few small blooms. My daughter does the same thing and hers always look nice. Can you shed any light on this subject?

— No name, Windham

ANSWER: Geraniums can be saved through the winter if you realize how sensitive they are and that they need just the right conditions. They need a lot of light so try having a lamp with a fluorescent bulb near them 24/7. If you haven’t already, cut them down by about a third and be sure the pots they are in are nice and roomy so their root ball doesn’t get squished. Lastly, be sure they get enough water and put them in a room that is cool, but not cold.

Another way to save geraniums is to make them go to sleep. Gently remove most of the soil from the roots and hang them upside down in a place where the temperature stays about 50 degrees. Once a month, soak the roots in water for an hour then rehang them. The geraniums will lose their leaves, but the stems will stay alive. In the spring, replant the dormant geraniums and they will give you another season of beauty.

Visiting your local greenhouse would be worth the trip to get more information, and to get a dose of heat and light for yourself during these dark days.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name. We won’t use it if you ask us not to. Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected].


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