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Dear Mary: What is the best way to clean a diamond ring? I do take mine to the jeweler every six months to have it cleaned and checked for loose stones, but between those visits I'd like to keep it sparkling. What do you recommend?

-- Becky

Dear Becky: I do have a favorite method, but first let me tell you what NOT to do. Never clean your fine jewelry with toothpaste, a tip I receive frequently that is just so wrong. Even the smallest amount of toothpaste left behind under prongs or tucked into filigree will harden like concrete -- something I learned from a jeweler who charges a lot of money to remove it.

There are lots of tips out there for how to clean to clean diamonds, but my favorite -- because it's so easy and it works like a dream -- is household ammonia. You can find ammonia online or in the cleaning aisle of most grocery stores and supermarkets -- it's just $1.59 for two quarts at my market.

In a small bowl or cup, make a mixture of 50-50 hot tap water and ammonia. Drop the diamond jewelry piece in, and allow it to soak for an hour, or even overnight. Just don't forget it and toss the bowl's contents down the sink! Remove it from the bowl, and gently brush it with an old soft toothbrush you'll keep just for this purpose. Rinse in a cup of warm water; dry gently; and enjoy that shine!

Caution: Never clean jewelry over an open drain. And do not use this method on soft gems like opals. It is for diamonds and gold, as both are extremely hard and durable.

Good degreaser

Dear Mary: The Fuller Brush Co. recently informed me that after many years, it has discontinued its wonderful product Stanley Original Degreaser. I use it mainly for laundry stains, but it is also wonderful for greasy spots in kitchen. Do you have a recommendation for a similar product?

-- Lisa

Dear Lisa: For years, I have recommended any number of laundry stain treatments to my readers -- products that do a great job. Recently, I've heard from more than a few readers who've chided me for overlooking what may be the easiest and cheapest option out there: my beloved Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid, which is a fabulous degreaser. Reader after reader recommended using it at full strength, and just dabbing a tiny big on the stain and tossing it in the washer.

Several weeks ago, I suffered the mother of all laundry stains: a huge yellow mustard stain on a white tablecloth. I decided to give these readers my full cooperation -- a test that would either prove or disprove this theory.

Boy is my face red. That tablecloth came out completely stain-free with no effort on my part. How did I miss this for all these years? I don't know, but I am grateful to pass it along to you. Blue Dawn is a lot cheaper than your now-discontinued product and works wonders on laundry stains. You can be sure I now have a plastic condiment bottle filled with Blue Dawn sitting right there next to the washer. It's getting a workout, and so far, no stain has been even a close match for Blue Dawn. I love the stuff!

Toilet ring remover

Dear Mary: Can you suggest something that will eliminate this awful ring around my toilet bowl?

-- Lola

Dear Lola: Yes, I can! It's a common problem, especially for folks who live in areas with extremely hard water. That buildup of minerals can be nearly impossible to remove. The secret to removing it is a pumice stone. Used occasionally, this will not scratch the porcelain finish but will make easy work of that ugly ring. If you do not have a pumice stone that you can devote to this one household chore, I recommend the Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover (costs about 10 bucks), which comes on a convenient handle, making the job quick and easy. It's a household cleaning tool you'll have and enjoy using for a long time.

mary@everydaycheapskate.com|Everyday Cheapskate, Box 2099 Cypress, CA 90630

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