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Cleaning Matters logo small March/April 2012


Ask Nancy Tell Nancy

Nancy Bock   2010 [320x200] We'd love to hear more from our readers! Ask Nancy for guidance on cleaning surfaces, dirty dishes, laundry and hands. Or tell Nancy how you solved your cleaning crises or dirty dilemmas. Share your questions or story on our Facebook wall, direct message us on Twitter, or send an email to


Q: I washed my sterling silver and stainless-steel flatware in the dishwasher – in the same compartment in the silverware basket. Now, my silver has black marks that won't come off with silver polish. Is there anything I can do?

A: Uh oh. Though silver cutlery can go in the dishwasher, it should never be placed in the same compartment as stainless-steel flatware. If the two metals touch they can react to each other, and the silver can be permanently damaged. It sounds like that's what may have happened since recleaning it with silver polish didn't remove the marks. Your silver is still usable; now it just has "character."

Q: I want to teach my children to do their own laundry. What's the latest advice on sorting loads?

A: Good for you! We don't do our children any favors by letting them abstain from chores. As far as sorting, it's important to wash like with like. So, teach them to check garment labels. All clothing and fabrics that call for the same water temperature, wash cycles and type of detergent should be washed together. Though it's always a good idea to:

  • Wash dark and bright clothes in one load, pastels and lighter colors in another, and whites should be kept separate.
  • Wash lightly soiled clothes separate from the really grimy stuff. Bet you didn't know that cleaner clothes can become dirtier in filthy wash water!
  • Sort items like fuzzy sweatshirts, robes and bulky bath towels that might shed lint, and wash those separately.

But, remember – better that your kids not do the laundry perfectly than not do it at all. So go easy on them when they're just starting out.


– Nancy Bock is Senior Vice President, Meetings & Education at the American Cleaning Institute®

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