Q. I use feather pillows on my beds. The pillows need new ticking and sterilization. Where can I get this done?
A. Some dry-cleaning companies, including Edna’s Cleaners in Rockville (301-424-6007), offer this service, often by sending the pillows out to a company that specializes in dealing with all the fluff.
Edna’s sends pillows to Ram Leather Care, based in Michigan (313-864-2111). You could send pillows there directly and pay $20 to $24 to have each pillow refurbished, but once you deal with shipping hassles and costs, you’re probably better off just going to the local cleaners, where the charge is $25 per pillow. Ram renovates pillows with a machine that uses ozone and light to kill bacteria and sanitize and deodorize the down. The old ticking is replaced, and new feathers are blown in.
The result is a pillow that looks, feels and smells like new, but costs half of what you’d pay for a basic new down pillow. If you compare your refurbished pillow with a new luxury one, the savings are even greater.
I have Corian kitchen countertops that are about 20 years old. I like the color and the durability. How can I buff or shine the material myself to make it look newer?
The basic steps are quite simple. Use a random orbit sander, which starts at about $50, and sand with abrasives in a range of grits, from relatively coarse to ultra fine. To create a matte finish, some countertop refinishers start with 180-grit sandpaper, switch to 220-grit and finish up with a light gray (ultra fine) Scotch-Brite pad. To avoid filling your house with dust, hook your sander to a vacuum or use sandpaper that stands up to wet sanding, so you can dribble water over the countertop before and during the sanding, as needed. Pros often use an old soda pop bottle with a couple of nail holes punched in the cap, and they add a few drops of dishwashing soap to the water for a bit of extra lubrication.
To get the best possible results most quickly, purchase wet-dry sandpaper with micron sizing, rather than standard grit sizing. The grading system used for micron paper results in abrasive particles that are more uniform in size. This helps you sand faster, because there’s less chance that a few outsize particles will create deep gouges that you then need to sand away. Micron sizing is especially important if you want a surface that’s highly polished.
The exact grits you need for micron paper vary, depending on what the manufacturer makes. Solidsurface.com sells a $59 finishing kit that includes five grits, ranging from relatively coarse 125-micron paper, which is similar to 120-grit standard sandpaper, down to ultra fine 26-micron paper, equivalent to 600-grit sandpaper. Micron sizes are often listed with the Greek letter mu, as in 80µ. The kit also includes polishing pads and an instructional booklet.
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The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in September, such as tuning up your heating system.