Readers ask anything

By Mary Hunt

As you may know, and just because I mention it so often, I get a lot of mail. And up until just recently, it’s gone into one big out-of-control pile I call The Mailbag. Having reached the tipping point, where I was ready to pull every last hair out of my head, I’ve come up with a new three-category plan. From now on, all of my mail will be sorted into Questions, Comments or Tips.

Today we’re kicking off a new “Ask Me Anything” feature. I’ll answer as many questions as space permits.

Comments will be addressed in another new feature, “Letters to the Editor” (watch for it), and your awesome tips will continue to show up in “Great Reader Tips.”


Q: Years ago, you promoted Dawn Power Dissolver — a powerful product that cuts through grease and grime on appliances, removes baked on and burnt grease on bakeware and lots more. It works great! Well, it worked great. Dawn Power Dissolver does not seem to be available any longer. Was it replaced with a better product by Procter & Gamble or a competitor?

A: This is not the news you want to hear, but in March 2014, Procter & Gamble stopped making Dawn Power Dissolver. It was not popular enough with consumers to continue.

You can still get Dawn Power Dissolver on Amazon. It’s no longer cheap (costs about $21 for one bottle, or about $60 for a six-pack), and supplies appear to be extremely limited.


Q: What is your recommendation for the best inexpensive pick for a basic blender?

A: My pick for Best Inexpensive basic blender is the Ninja Professional Blender at about $80. For the money I don’t think you can possibly beat this really great machine. It has 1,000 watts of crushing, pulverizing and pureeing power, multiple speeds and a safety feature that prevents the blades from spinning until the lid is fully secured. And it’s nice-looking, too.


Q: Our wood porch floor needs to be refinished, and I think you wrote awhile back about a deck wash to clean wooden decks before refinishing that was safe for bushes growing nearby.

A: I’m pretty sure you are recalling a product: Wet & Forget Mildew & Algae Stain Remover. You’re right about it being powerful to clean stains, moss, mildew and algae but completely harmless to vegetation, kids and pets. There’s no scrubbing, no rinsing and no power-washing required. It is bleach-free and nonacidic. You can use it on virtually any outdoor surface. You’ll have a hard time stopping at your porch! It cleans concrete, brick, stucco and even painted surfaces.


Q: Any tips for checking out the cleanliness of the hotel room?

A: What an interesting topic. Regardless the brand, location or cost, I assume that despite the best efforts of housekeeping, there are some areas in every hotel room that are filthy with germs: TV remote control, telephone, door handles, toilet handle and the bedspread/duvet cover. I carry a small spray bottle of Nok-Out with me whenever I travel. Before I do anything, I sanitize those surfaces. I’ve never drowned a TV remote, even though I spray it very well and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before wiping it dry. I remove the bedspread, call housekeeping and request a fresh replacement. I’ve never been denied.

Is all of this necessary? I don’t know. I may be one to go overboard. What I do know is it makes me a lot more comfortable, and that’s not a bad thing. For links to Nok-Out and other products mentioned above, go to

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, go to the Creators Syndicate webpage at