Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I went hiking in my expensive gym shoes, and they got covered in mud. (I know it was a dumb thing to do, but I didn’t have any other shoes with me.) I let the mud dry and tried brushing it off with a nail brush, but they still look awful. What can I do? – Coleen
Dear Coleen: Throw them in the washing machine with a few old towels (so the shoes don’t bang around in there). Use cold water and a delicate wash cycle. Powdered detergent gunks up, so use liquid only. You’re better off taking the laces out first, knotting them together, then tossing them in with the shoes, but that’s not crucial. Important: Let the shoes air dry. Good as new. I usually remove the insoles but have forgotten to do it a couple of times with no bad results. You didn’t ask, but if your rubber car floor mats also got muddy, you can wash them in your dishwasher (top shelf, normal wash).
And another shoe issue …
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My favorite black suede flats, my walk-all-day-in-them shoes, are getting worn, and you can see white areas. They can’t be patched, and besides, it would be silly to pay much to have that done at a shoe repair place. Is there a cheaper solution? (And no, I can’t buy another pair. They’ve been discontinued.) – Clairie
Dear Clairie: Yup. A permanent marker like a Sharpie will fill in those spots. I’ve used Sharpies and permanent fabric markers to fill in the super worn spots on my hand-me-down threadbare Oriental carpets with great success, and the same goes for nicks on my purse. As for finding duplicates for those shoes, it’s a long shot but somebody could be unloading a new or gently used pair on eBay or other resale sites.
Skin cleansers safe?
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Those rechargeable or battery cleansing brushes, are they safe and effective for older women to use? – Megan R.
Dear Megan: Unless your skin is super-sensitive, you shouldn’t fear using the brushes. I tested an expensive model against one I bought at the drugstore and didn’t detect any significant difference. That said, I didn’t see much difference in my skin when I used the brushes, so I’m back to the human touch: Two hands work fine. If you do take the brush plunge, there are scads of online comparisons. One thing I found out is that using them too often can make your skin feel tight and roughed up.
Tie one on
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I want to wear scarves, but I wish I knew how to tie them. – No Clue
Dear No Clue: A scarf is the single best way to perk up a so-so outfit. There is no wrong way to tie one. Just draping it around your neck works fine. But if you want to get fancy, there are enough youtube.com videos to last a lifetime. They even show you how to turn a (large) scarf into a dress, which I tried and do not recommend – unless you’re fully clothed beneath your scarf dress. Yes I’ve done it and regretted it. You know the expression “wardrobe malfunction?” Well, I’m a charter member of that club.
Tips for smelly clothes, shoes
For the reader who was facing huge dry cleaning bills to rid her dresses of the stale smell from normal body odor, P.G. recommends unscented crystal body deodorant that you can find at health food stores and online (amazon.com) in stick, spray and roll-on. An added use, she says, is for those with smelly feet and shoes, “What a miracle! It keeps feet odor-free till the next day. If your shoes are stinky, spray them with it too. It takes the smell right out, even of sandals, and it’s safe and natural.” Carol C. loves Dryel. “You toss a sheet into the dryer with the clothes that need freshening up, then tumble on low for a few minutes. It allows you to wear an item multiple times before needing a trip to the cleaners.” Find it at stores like Target and grocery stores. And here’s a simple suggestion from Mary C. and Sandra B.: After each wearing, hang the clothes inside out over night in the outdoors or in a place inside with good air circulation.