Ask UfYH

Ask UfYH: Hard Water Stains and More Stuff Than Storage

Q: What’s the best way to remove hard water stains from dishes? We’ve tried cleaning the dishwasher with some random cleaner I found at the grocery store and that helps a little bit, but there are so many deposits on all of the glasses and silverware and plates and everything. It’s gross because sometimes it’s hard to tell if there’s soap residue or if it’s just the damn minerals.

A: Well, there’s good news and not-so-good news. The only reliable way to prevent hard water stains on your dishes is to use a water filter/softener so that the water coming into the dishwasher doesn’t have the minerals to deposit. However, there are a number of ways to minimize the effects of hard water if a filter or softener isn’t an option for you. First, I’d run the dishwasher empty with a bowl or glass full of white vinegar on the top rack. The vinegar should help remove some of the existing deposits in your washer itself. There are a number of products on the market that are made to be used in the rinse cycle of your dishwasher to keep mineral deposits from settling on dishes, so you may want to investigate those. (Consumer Reports did a comparison test of three of these types of products.) Also, try not using the heated dry option on your wash cycle, since this can make hard water deposits more obvious on your dishes.

Q: Do you have any tips on organizing if you just have too much stuff? Books, clothes, apartment wares all in a tiny bedroom —I don’t know how to begin! Thanks beforehand.

A: This is what we call “more stuff than storage.” Basically, there are two solutions to this problem: more storage, or less stuff. Less stuff is almost always the better option. So first, see what you don’t need, what you can get rid of, what’s not necessary, and clear it out. If you still have a more stuff than storage situation after that, you need to maximize your space. Start thinking about unconventional storage options. Make sure you’re using all of your available space: under things (the bed, the couch, etc.), behind things, and all of your vertical space. People always forget about vertical space. This is especially relevant in closets, where you end up wasting an awful lot of space if you don’t figure out how to use all the way up to the ceiling, and all of the “dead” spots, like those against the front wall of the closet. Keep in mind, too, that the more stuff you have “out” and on display, the more cluttered your space will appear, no matter how well-organized that stuff is.

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