Q: After the last hurricane, we were stuck with wet rugs. They have finally dried, but now I have a number of mildewed areas. How should I treat these?
A: Without knowing what your rugs are made of -- or whether you mean area rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting -- it's difficult to give anything beyond generic advice. Left unchecked, mildew can rot fabric to the point that it will be beyond saving.
If the mildew is on carpeting, first vacuum it thoroughly and throw out the bag; you don't want to keep mildew spores around. If your rugs aren't washable or colorfast or if you don't want to spend time on your hands and knees, call in a professional carpet cleaner. For referrals, check with the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, toll-free, at 800-835-4624, or visit www.certifiedcleaners.org. Avoid cleaners that advertise ridiculously cheap prices; you'll get what you pay for.
If your rugs are small enough to machine-wash, treat them as you would if ridding them of climate stains. Soak them for several days in a strong solution of Sharon's Solution, which can be purchased at www.sharons solution.com, 954-893-8342 or, toll-free, 800-601-7070. You can use it on cotton, linen, polyester and washable, colorfast silk.
You can also use oxygen-based cleaners, but don't use them on silk or wool. Bleach is very effective at taking out mildew stains, but it weakens fibers and, of course, may take out colors. A bleach pen, available at the supermarket, is useful for spot-treating colorfast areas. Its advantage is that the bleach, held in a water-soluble gel, doesn't spread beyond the area it's applied to.
Drying rugs outside on an old-fashioned clothesline, ideally in sunshine, is better than the dryer, which can permanently set remaining stains.
Q: Our neighborhood is overrun with cats. They're in my carport, on top of my car and reproducing all over the place. Is there something I can do to destroy the horrible odor they leave behind?
A: Try d-Limonene. This is an organic terpine that's commercially available as ''Orange TKO.'' It can be used in diluted form to eliminate the pervasive odor of cat urine and keep strays off your yard.
Alan Koshar, the local distributor, can be reached at 305-274-5781 and email@example.com. He explained that d-Limonene is orange peel that has been distilled twice, has no acid, can be used in the place of window cleaning products and can be mixed with vinegar and baking soda to take mold and mildew off bathroom tiles.
''It's super-concentrate,'' he said. ``Hundreds of products are made from it, but d-Limonene isn't diluted and has no additives or fillers.''
Only two kinds of stains have defied the magic: (1) Something you've put through the clothes dryer; and (2) something that stems from berries, mustard, hair dye, shoe dye and the like, he said. Otherwise, ``I've seen couches return to pure white after being hit by red wine.''
In addition to handling mail orders and phone orders, he makes appearances at dog shows, cat shows, home/consumer shows, boat shows and expositions that bring in nurserymen. The product costs the same as it has for a dozen years: $12.95 for eight ounces; $19.95 for 16 ounces. Much larger sizes are heavily discounted.
Q: I remember an article in which Action Line described the cause of brownish stains that are appearing on the T-shirts in my closet. I think you said they were called ''Florida stains.'' They seem to migrate from shirt to shirt; now, almost all of them are affected. Is there any way to stop it from happening?
A: They're indeed known as ''Florida stains'' and also ''climate stains.'' They occur mostly in closets where the air is humid and can't circulate.
If your T-shirts are colorfast, try soaking them overnight in very hot water using a strong solution of the oxygen-based cleaners commonly available in stores. You may have to do it more than once. Rinse them thoroughly afterwards; if you like your T-shirts ironed, residue from the oxy cleaner leaves a brown stain. (It will wash right out.)
You can use oxy cleaners on any colorfast washable fabric other than silk and wool. Don't use it if there are metallic threads in the fabric; that can leave holes in the fabric.
Another option is Sharon's Solution, which can be purchased online at www.sharonssolution.com, by calling 954-893-8342 or, if you're outside Broward, at 800-601-7070, toll-free. It's also sold at the fine linens store ThreadCount, 1250 20th St., Miami Beach (305-532-1222).
Sharon's Solution can be used on cotton, linen, polyester and washable, colorfast silk. A 10-ounce container costs $13.99, plus $6 shipping. If you have a clear mixture left over, it can be used to clean something else. It's also good at removing yellow deodorant stains on white clothes. The active ingredient is sodium perborate, which some pharmacies stock.
Getting climate stains out of clothes that can only be dry cleaned is difficult, and most dry cleaners don't have the expertise, so ask around. It tends to be an expensive treatment.