I have a teak sideboard (buffet) that has become dirty, and when I tried cleaning it with Murphy's Oil Soap (recommended in one of your columns) it became spotty.

I was advised to use teak oil on it, which I have done. But the oil seems to have seeped into the wood, carrying surface dust with it.

Would you please advise me on how to clean this wood? -- C.F.

Cleaning techniques can vary with the finish on the wood.

Try one or both of the following formulas in an inconspicuous area of your buffet to test for the best cleaning results.

If you have a heavy wax buildup (wax rather than oil), a simple solution of equal parts vinegar, boiled linseed oil and turpentine is very effective.

Take the furniture outdoors to a shady spot and rub a small area at a time, wiping off the solution. This preparation will remove most of the wax buildup and you won't see many of the small scratches that once were so obvious.

Another method of cleaning cabinets and wood surfaces of greasy film is with a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda dissolved and mixed thoroughly in 1 gallon of warm water.

Work a small area at a time using a soft cloth, applying the solution and rubbing the wood surface to clean.

Finish by using a dry, clean, absorbent cloth to carefully wipe away excess moisture that might damage the wood. We recently moved into an older home that has a badly stained bathtub.

I have used cleansers and bleach but nothing seems to lighten or remove the stains.

We are renting, so I am not interested in refinishing or replacing this fixture.

Do you have any suggestions on stain removal? The stains are yellow and might be caused by hard water. -- H.J.

Effective cleaning methods will depend on the composition of your bathtub -- is it porcelain or fiberglass? In either case, try the following cleaning method:

Make a thick paste using a nonabrasive scouring powder and peroxide, adding a small amount of cream of tartar. Rub on stain and allow to remain about a half-hour. Rinse off with water. Repeat treatment until stains are removed.

Another method of removing hard-water stains is to apply a solution of oxalic acid in water, using a dish mop, then rinse with plenty of water.

Use rubber gloves and wear old clothing and eye goggles when working with acid mixtures. Pour the acid into water to mix this solution, not the other way around, and be careful not to splash or spill the solution on surrounding areas.

Another effective method of removing stains on porcelain is to use fine-grained pumice stone. This won't work if your porcelain is old and pitted, but it is very effective for difficult stains on porcelain that is in good condition. When applied with a lot of elbow grease, your bathtub surface can sparkle like new.

The glass shower doors in our bathrooms have become dingy and dirty.

Is there a method to clean the glass? And do you have any suggestions for cleaning the tracks for these sliding doors so they will slide with ease? -- G.M.

Very likely the staining on the showers doors is caused by hard water.

The solution of oxalic acid recommended in the previous answer can be very effective in cleaning shower doors. Vinegar and water is a milder solution that is also effective if the buildup is not too bad.

Apply either solution with steel wool (use rubber gloves to protect your hands.) rubbing to remove grime. Rinse with water.

To clean the tracks, scrub each one with a toothbrush and a mild abrasive cleanser. Use steel wool on stubborn stains. Rinse with water.

After the tracks are clean and dry, apply a silicone lubricant to assure the glass doors will glide smoothly.

Send inquiries to Here's How, Copley News Service, P.O. Box 190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190. Only questions of general interest can be answered in the column.