Q: A big oak tree alongside my house has ruined the light gray shingles on my roof with dark stains. I though I would use a wire brush and clothes bleach or vinegar to clean them. Do you think this would restore the shingles to their orginal color?

A: It is likely that the tree is causing a problem because it keeps that part of the roof in shade and does not allow sun and rain to get to it. The dicoloration is probably due to mildew -- often a problem on light roofs that do not get much sun. If this is the case, washing with a solution containing laundry bleach will get rid of it, but do not use a wire brush: this could damage the shingles. Mix one part fresh laundry bleach with three parts water and add a couple of handfulls of powdered detergent. Scrub this on with a bristle brush and allow to dry for about 10 minutes, then flush off with plenty of water.

Q: My kitchen cabinets are natural wood but they get a coating of grease that I can't seem to remove without leaving a film. How can I get them really clean?

A: I think your problem is caused by the fact that the cleaner you are using (you don't say what that is) is smearing the greasy film around -- not removing it. A good strong detergent solution will soften the greasy film for easy removal, but then it has to be wiped off with a sponge or cloth. If this gets saturated and is not rinsed frequently, the softened dirt is spread around and is still there after the surface dries. Wipe a section with the detergent solution, then immediately rinse the sponge or cloth in clean water and wipe the dirty solution away.