Martha answers readers' questions on how to remove water-based paint stains from clothing, and what things can and cannot be composted.
Q. What is the best way to remove water-based paint stains from clothing?
Katie Burtzlaff, Santa Monica, California
A. While oil-based-paint stains are best left to professional dry cleaners, a quick reaction to water-based paints can make this a do-it-yourself job. As soon as you see a stain, remove the garment and rinse it immediately in warm water before putting it in the wash. Don't put the garment in the dryer until the stain is completely gone, as the heat will set it.
If a water-based splatter has dried before you notice it, you should rely on professionals, says Lorraine Muir, director of textile testing and research services at the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute. A dry cleaner has the stain-removal gents and tools needed to clean the fabric without damaging it.
Q. I want to start composting. What are some things I can (and cannot) compost?
Zach Stone, Arlington, Virginia.
A. Composting helps decrease the amount of trash in landfills and can provide an organic fertilizer for your garden. The essentials of composting are green and brown materials and water. Carbon-providing brown materials include dead leaves, branches and twigs. Green ones, which supply nitrogen, include grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps and coffee grounds. Water provides moisture to assist in breakdown. Here are a few dos and don'ts that might surprise you; for more, go to marthastewart.com/composting.
■ Cut natural-fiber clothing (including wool and silk) into pieces, then compost them.
■ Add wine corks, except plastic ones, to the pile.
■ Tea bags can be added, but make sure to remove any staples.
■ Cooking oil and butter
■ Fish bones can create odor problems, which attract pests.
■ Black-walnut-tree leaves and twigs release a toxic chemical called juglon that will compromise a compost pile.
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