I hope I'm not too late with this advice, because the children in these parts have been off from school for summer vacation since June.
Because the kids may be around the house a little longer than usual each day this time of year, there is increased opportunity for things to get messier.
The best, but more expensive, solution is to send them to sleepaway camp for several weeks.
If that option isn't available, however, Derek Niederquell of 1-800 Water Damage - a national firm in property restoration specializing in water, fire, and carpet cleaning - offers some tips for keeping your rugs in good shape.
Let's start with chewing gum in a plush carpet.
Niederquell suggests applying a bag of ice directly over the affected area and allowing the gum to completely freeze. Once that has occurred, peel off the frozen substance using your hands or a dull butter knife.
For Gatorade or soda, even red wine, Niederquell recommends blotting the stain using cold water and a clean white cloth.
Once that has been done, apply a generous amount of salt to draw out the stain's moisture and let it stand for a few hours. Afterward, discard the salt and vacuum the carpet, he said.
For grass, Niederquell recommends vacuuming up any dry particles, then applying a detergent solution composed of warm water and dish soap.
Let this treatment stand for five minutes and blot the rug dry with a clean cloth.
If it rains and the kids respond by making mud pies and then stepping in them, Niederquell suggests letting the mud dry, then vacuuming up as much of it as possible.
Once you have done that, Niederquell says, apply a mixture of warm water and vinegar using a clean white cloth, then blot it until all the liquid has been absorbed.
A tankless saga
I've been running reader experiences with tankless water heaters.
Here's a quick one from Donald Linzey of Blacksburg, Va., who says he has had a tankless unit for six years:
"We already had a propane tank, so the hookup was simple. Our kitchen sink, almost directly above the unit in our basement, has hot water in less than 30 seconds."
email@example.com or write him at Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.