Martha Stewart: To avoid pilling, buy quality towels, wash separately &don't overdry

Posted: March 25, 2011

Q: How can I prevent my towels from pilling in the washer and dryer?

A: To prevent pilling, start with well-constructed towels made from quality fibers. When buying new towels, check the labels for 100 percent Egyptian or pima cotton. These types have long fibers; they form strong, even yarns that are less likely to produce lint, which results in pills. Combed cotton is another option. It is made with thread that is combed before being spun to remove the shorter fibers that form pills. Also, inspect the weave to ensure that it is tight and uniform. These towels may cost more initially, but they will last longer.

When caring for towels, keep in mind that pills result from long fibers rubbing against short fibers. This sort of contact occurs mostly in the wash, so laundering towels on their own should help. Finally, overdrying can weaken fibers and lead to pilling; don't dry towels for longer than necessary.

Q: How do I repair damage that occurred to my lawn over the winter?

A: Just because turf is frozen or dormant for several months doesn't mean it is immune to harm. It needs to grow in order to recover from wear. Snowplows and shoveling can remove swaths of turf; ice melters can cause yellowing. Frequent foot traffic and seasonal equipment (such as a boat or a recreational vehicle) parked on dormant grass can result in a noticeable lack of turf come spring. Late-season cold temperatures, diseases such as snow mold, and voles, among other pests, also take a toll.

Nothing needs to be done for yellowing and snow mold, a fungal disease that can develop as snow begins to melt. Turf should recover as growth begins. Bare patches, however, need repair not only for aesthetic reasons but also to keep weeds at bay. Wait until the ground is no longer wet and muddy. Then use a steel rake to remove dead grass and rough up the surface of the soil. You can level any uneven spots with topsoil. Densely sow grass seed over the exposed areas and rake it in lightly. Water regularly until the grass is well established. Don't mow until several weeks of growth have occurred.

Next autumn, take some preventive steps. Rake the lawn regularly to keep it free of leaves. Before the grass goes dormant, mow it and water it thoroughly one last time. Ahead of the first snowfall, mark the boundaries of your driveway and walkways to keep snowplows and shovels off the turf.

Q: How do I remove nonslip decals from a bathtub?

A: You'll need vinegar and a wooden or plastic tool with a scraping edge (an old credit card will work), as well as time and patience. Warm the vinegar briefly in the microwave. Plug the stopper, and pour the vinegar over the decals, saturating them. Let the vinegar sit for about half an hour. Gently wedge the credit card between the tub and the decal. Separate the sticker slowly and methodically. If the layers of the decal begin to separate, move to another section and continue scraping. Remove any remaining glue with a rough cloth. For tougher jobs, use Goo Gone cleaner.

Questions should be addressed to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 601 W. 26th St., 9th floor, New York, N.Y. 10001. Questions may also be sent by email to:

mslletters@marthastewart.com. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number.

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