Solutions and substitutions

Reena Nerbis

Dear Reena: I used a product on our laminate floors, the one that the manufacturer recommended, but it turned out very streaky, and I feel I should not have used the product. I am trying to remove the product from the floor; do you have any suggestions? Bert

Dear Bert: The trick to avoiding streaks on laminate floors is to dry them well after washing. Use a vacuum for regular maintenance to remove dust and debris. For more intensive cleaning, and to remove the product that was already used, consider using the following solution. Into a 4-gallon bucket mix: 1-tsp. dish soap, 1-cup white vinegar and enough hot water to fill the bucket. Dampen the floor and wash. You may also wish to contact the manufacturer and inform them that the product they recommended left your floor streaky.

Dear Reena: Can you please provide me with a recipe to make my own Hot Sauce? I have several allergies, and don’t trust commercial products. Best, Stanley

Dear Stanley: In a stainless-steel pot combine: 18 sliced and seeded chili peppers, 6 sliced and seeded jalapeño peppers, 6 crushed garlic cloves, half cup minced onion and 1 tsp, salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Add 2-cups water. Cook until ingredients are soft about 15-20 mins. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to blender and blend. Add one-quarter cup white vinegar and 2-tbsp. sugar. Blend until smooth. Store in fridge. Tip: If you prefer a spicier sauce: do not remove the seeds.

Dirty Secrets about Germs and Bacteria! Part 3 of 3

TRUE or FALSE

• All bacteria are harmful.

Answer: False. Bacteria are one-celled organisms visible only with a microscope. They’re so small that if you lined up a thousand of them end to end, they could fit across the end of a pencil eraser. Not all bacteria are harmful. In fact, less than 1 percent cause disease, and some bacteria that live in your body are good for you. For instance, Lactobacillus acidophilus — a harmless bacterium that resides in your intestines — helps you digest food, destroys some disease-causing organisms and provides nutrients to your body.

• Life would be better if everyone used antibacterial soap all the time.

Answer: False. Numerous studies show that antibacterial soap is no more effective than ordinary soap in cleaning your hands.  Either kind lifts off germ-laden dirt. But antibacterial soap kills helpful bacteria on the skin, freeing up valuable real estate so that harmful bacteria can move in later. 

• Triclosan is the answer to a cleaner life.

Answer: You be the judge. Over the last two decades, antibacterial products have swarmed the marketplace, showing up in hundreds of different products, in everything from soaps and toothpastes, to clothes, kitchenware, and toys. In fact, a study done in 2000 found that over 75% of liquid soaps and nearly 30% of bar soaps—45% of all the soaps on the market—contain some type of antibacterial agent.

The most common active ingredient was Triclosan. A study of over 200 healthy households found that households using antibacterial products did not have any reduced risk for runny noses, coughs, and other symptoms of infectious diseases. According to the American Medical Association, “Despite their recent proliferation in consumer products, the use of antimicrobial agents such as Triclosan in consumer products has not been studied extensively. No data exists to support their efficacious when used in such products or any need for them.”

• Every cleaner on the market is thoroughly tested and appropriately labelled for safety.

Answer: False. Companies are protected by an old law known as “Trade Secrets”. The law does not require companies to list all the ingredients of a product on a Material Safety Data Sheets. MSDS’s are only required to list ingredients with acute and chronic health hazards. Chemicals are tested for their individual health effects. Few chemicals have ever been tested for their combined health effects and few chemicals have ever been tested for their health effects on women and children.

• Household cleaners are safe it’s not like they can penetrate through skin.

Answer: False. Human skin is remarkably porous and will absorb many substances it touches into the bloodstream. We also ingest cleaner chemicals when we use these products or touch residues left on surfaces and then eat or put our hands to our mouths. Food itself is easily contaminated by cleaners or air fresheners used in the kitchen. Cleaner vapors and tiny droplets suspended by sprays are invariably inhaled.

• According to the EPA, indoor pollution is no more polluted then outdoor.

Answer: False. According to the EPA, indoor air is 2 to 5 times more contaminated than outdoor air. Not only do toxic chemicals pollute the air that we breathe inside, they leach onto our counter tops, floors, carpets, bathtubs, sinks, and walls. Note: Like cleaners, air fresheners are not regulated by the federal government, and once again, companies are not required to list ingredients on their labels. Consumers should be wary of all air fresheners, even those that claim to be “all-natural.” NRDC and other groups are petitioning the EPA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to do more comprehensive testing and to take action to protect the public from dangerous chemicals in air fresheners.