Why do new towels never dry properly?

If you love a luxury towel, you know how good it feels to wrap yourself in a brand new, fluffy towel. But they don’t seem to get you dry, they just seem to move the water around! In reality your new bath towel has a "break in" period before it reaches maximum softness and absorbency. It can actually take as many as three full wash cycles for your towel to actually absorb water the way it was designed to. Towels are treated for softness with a silicone finish before they even leave the factory, to give an illusion of softness when we go handling them in a shop. (Sounds like a trading standards issue to me).

Why does anything with tomato in it stain so much?

Tomato has tannins that stain fabrics easily, and if the stain was caused by tomato sauce, one of the components of tomato sauce is oil. The good news is you can remove it. If the fabric is washable, run cold water through the back of the stain as quickly as possible – but not through the front of the stain, as this will only make it worse. Rub a liquid laundry detergent into the stained portion of the fabric with a gentle circulating motion, from the outside moving inwards.

If the garment is white, apply a mild bleaching agent, such as hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar applied with a sponge, lemon juice or a stain remover spray or gel. Rinse well and wash normally. Before drying, check if the stain is gone by holding it up to the light to double-check, as once stains are dry they will often be permanent. (Why do I always forget about the apron hanging up behind the door?)

Does a fan actually cool the air?

A fan actually adds extra kinetic energy to the air, slightly heating it up! Fans do not actually cool down the room. They just make humans feel cooler due to increased evaporation on our skin. Leaving a fan on in an empty room will not decrease the temperature - only increase your energy bill. (Or does switching it on and off every time use up more energy? Hmm.)

Did you know what Kleenex was invented for?

They weren't originally intended to assist people in blowing their noses. Kleenex started during WW1, in which its parent company, Kimberly-Clark, invented it as a paper filter for gas masks. (Perhaps people blew their noses on the filters when they took them out, and thought, why not? I was going to throw it away anyway!)

Why does gas smell?

Propane and butane gas are odourless, just like natural gas. In order to detect any leaks, a strong, bad-smelling substance is added to the gas. The odour that you smell when there is a leak is comparable to rotten eggs. (Better to be knocked down by the smell than be wiped out by the gas!)

Why do we get goosebumps?

Small muscles attached to individual body hairs contract, which leads the hair to stand on end. We inherited this from our ancestors in part as a way for our (then) coat of body hair to capture air beneath it, to retain heat. It also caused our ancestors to appear bigger than they were, helping to ward off predators. With modern humans having less body hair, goosebumps no longer cause us to look that much more intimidating! (Take note, all you hairy men out there!)

Spilled your red wine? Slosh on some white!

White wine has an enzyme that can neutralize the stain caused by red wine and make the stain easier to remove. Simply pour some white wine on the red wine stain, and gently blot the stain using clean damp cloth. (And people will think you are nuts wasting even more wine!)


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan