In springtime, our thoughts turn to stain removal

By Alan J. Heavens The Philadelphia Inquirer Published Mar 11, 2014 at 12:01AM

Now that we’re at least on the same calendar page as spring, it’s time to tackle a reader’s question about removing pine sap from her car. Thanks to all for their suggestions.

Trish Davidson says that she makes Christmas wreaths and rubs her hands with olive oil to remove the sap.

Lindsey Nair of Roanoke, Va., says any kind of vegetable oil, as well as peanut butter, would work. Let the oil soak into the sap spots overnight to loosen them.

Susan Grantham of Tallahassee, Fla., uses rubbing alcohol, putting some on a soft cloth and rubbing gently. If there’s some haze, the sap is still there, she says, so you might go over the area with a little car wax. It works on windshields and glass, too. Road tar? Try lighter fluid.

Arline Ritz solved a similar problem with Bluemagic Road Tar & Bug Gel ($5 at Pep Boys). The product claims to safely remove road tar, tree sap, and bird droppings without damage to car and truck finishes, including clear coats, plastic and fiberglass.

Dick Amrhine in Fredericksburg, Va., says lemon oil would probably work. It is sold under the name Goo Gone.

Q: A small Queen Anne chair began to put out an odor that is quite offensive and brings to mind the smell you notice when entering an antiques shop.

After researching on the Internet, we sealed the chair in a plastic bag with lava rocks inside for two weeks. It did not help. Later, it was placed indirectly in the sunlight for several weeks, and it made a slight improvement. It has been reupholstered over the original fabric and padding.

Please let me know if I can save this sentimental chair or will it have to be disposed of? We have had it in our possession for 20 years without any odor.

A: Everyone suggests baking soda, so you might want to try it. We would always use it on the carpet when the dog had an accident, and it worked to a point.

Is the odor emanating from the wood or the upholstery? The upholstery might have gotten damp, since putting it in the sunlight helped, and that musty smell might be mold or mildew.

Perhaps a furniture expert is next.

— Contact the writer: aheavens@phillynews.com.