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Clean high spaces with telescoping pole

By on January 8, 2013

Dear Sara:

We have two very high plant shelves in our house. They are approximately 16 feet high and 3 feet wide. Years ago, we were able to get up there with a 20-foot ladder to clean them, but with our health, that is no longer an option. We have no one in the family on whom we could or would impose. We looked at the new Swiffer extenders, and not only are they too short (we’d still need a ladder), but the heads are too small. We also searched online for cleaning services, but they only seem to do the usual, everyday cleaning. We would welcome any suggestions because it’s filthy up there! — Kathy S., Arizona

Dear Kathy:

You were on the right track with the Swiffer extenders. There are telescoping dusting poles (often called “telepoles”) that are longer (10-30 feet, plus the length of the duster). Many are designed for cleaning ceiling fans and high windows, but they would work well for your situation, too. carries a few, but you can look for them at your local home improvement store (Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.). To help point you in the right direction, the brand Unger has a few telepoles of varying lengths to choose from.

Dear Sara:

My husband left a pen in his work shirt and threw it in the laundry hamper. I didn’t notice and washed the whole thing. Result: a HUGE ink stain that runs down the arm of the shirt. I tried using alcohol, but it isn’t getting all of the stain. I’ve now doused and blotted about five times and there is still a lot of ink. Any suggestions? The shirt is gray and the fabric is a polyester and cotton blend. — M.K., Canada

Dear M.K.:

The rubbing alcohol should work. I’d continue to apply it and dab/blot it. You can try shaving cream, nail polish remover, baking soda-and-water paste and cheap aerosol hairspray (one at a time) to boost your efforts. See which removes the most ink and continue to use that method. It is going to come out in multiple stages and not immediately. Be sure to have a folded towel behind the stained area so the ink doesn’t bleed through the garment.

Dear Sara:

Can you advise me on how to clean my shower? It has brass trim and I have mold and calcification. All cleaners are too strong for the brass. Can you suggest something for me? — Joan A., Arizona

Dear Joan:

Please try Bar Keepers Friend ( if it’s not lacquered. There’s a coupon available on the website. You can typically find Bar Keepers Friend at Wal-Mart, Ace Hardware, Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Kmart. You can also try Bon Ami, which can be found in many of the same stores.

Dear Sara:

I enjoyed your article on cookie stamps. Can you give me idea where to find them? — Bonnie, Arizona

Dear Bonnie:

You can find cookie stamps in many retail stores during the holiday season. Their availability can be fairly random and depends on what stores decide to carry them. Try Macy’s. Nordic Ware, Wilton and Norpro are some of the more popular brands found in local stores. I like the clay type available for purchase at Rycraft ( and JBK Pottery ( Sears sells JBK Pottery, too. QVC, Williams-Sonoma, Pampered Chef and Stampin’ Up sometimes offer cookie stamps. There are also many lovely glass and clay stamps available for sale on, and


photo by Jeremy Levine Design

One Comment

  1. Lee

    1/20/2013 at 12:44 am

    Hi Sarah,

    I am starting a cleaning business, and I have a home (post- construction) that has skylights and very high windows that need to be cleaned (15 to 20). Please help me! How am I going to get upthere to clean the dust from all the construction.

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