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Submitted questions will be posted with my response by the following Tuesday or before.
Submitted comments will be moderated and approved within 24 hours.

Can vinegar be causeing pilling on my clothes?

Question from Kerri

Since I have been reading so much on how great vinegar is for laundry for a variety of different reasons, I have been using vinegar in my rinse dispenser and in my bleach dispenser. I use no more then a cup. Sometimes I just use half a cup in the rinse dispenser. Do you think this can be causing pilling on my clothes? The longest I have my clothes in the dryer,on delicate, is 3 minutes to get the dog hair off my clothes and then I air dry, so I do not think it is from the dryer? I wash my clothes in cold water only and on a delicate cycle. I also use seventh generation soap and use very little, like maybe only 1/8 of a cup. I’m ready to go crazy because my clothes are getting ruined and I am having to get rid of them. If you have any ideas regarding this I would greatly appreciate your advice.

Also I have read some of what others are saying about laundry soaps etc. but I get overwhelmed because there are so many different opinions and advice. Do you recommend a book or something that pretty much just states the facts on non-toxic cleaning products or ones that you can make on your own?

Thanks for your help!

K, Illinois

Debra’s Answer

Yes! See the Cleaning page of Debra’s Bookstore.

And I don’t think vinegar is causing pilling, but, readers, has anyone else had this experience?

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Reversing Dementia

Question from Carol

My dad was recently diagnosed as being in the beginning stages of dementia. He is 83. His doctor prescribed Aricept but I took my dad off it because I noticed that it made him extremely tired all the time. Does anyone know of any natural remedy/food/vitamin that helps or cures dementia?

Debra’s Answer


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Cleaning Visions Cookware

Question from Natalie

Is it ok to scrub food off of the Visions cookware? I just bought some pots and skillets on ebay & was wondering if I scrubbed it really hard if it would leach something in to the food. Thanks.

Debra’s Answer

It’s OK to scrub VIsions cookware. Nothing will come off into the food.

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Organic vs local (non-organic) produce

Question from Helen


Things I’ve been reading lately have emphasized local produce over organic. In Washington state, we have a bounty of locally grown fruit, but most is not organic. A local u-pick blueberry farm (with delicious, gorgeous berries) uses copper sulfate as a fungicide and diazanon. How bad is this stuff?

Debra’s Answer

The MSDS for copper sulfate says:

The MSDS for diazanon says:

These MSDS are easy to find on the internet. All you have to do is type in the name of the chemical and MSDS, for example, “diazanon MSDS”.

My search for diazaon MSDS also yielded:

Teacher poisoned by pesticides in classroom

Chemical Warfare Agents And Toxic Waste Disguised As Household Cleaning Products

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Colander and Lead

Question from I.V.

I recently bought a food strainer from Ikea in Emeryville, CaliforniA. The clerk said it was stainless steel. The product or the label itself does not state the metal it is made of. The product stated it was “Made in China”, “design and quality Ikea of Sweden”.

Is there someway I can verify that it has no lead in it as I will probably put hot foods in it that have been blanched or otherwise heated and do not want lead to leach into the food or water if I stick the colander into hot water.

Also, there is a small soldered attachment on the bottom for it to rest on the table and out of the water and a handle which is also soldered to the colander.

Am I being over cautious about lead from China or is this something I should have checked out somewhere before using it for hot foods and in hot water?

Thanks. iv

Debra’s Answer

You can test anything you are wondering about for lead using Lead Check Swabs.

I’m not really concerned about lead in a colendar sold at Ikea. Ikea is pretty environmentally aware and has eliminated a lot of toxic chemicals from their products. I would be surprised if they sold a colendar containing lead.

Still, it’s always wise to test if you have a concern.

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Outdoor Mosquito Control

Question from Diana

I was wondering if anyone had experience with the co2 machines for attracting mosquitos and then trapping them as an outdoor control for several acres for mosquitos. I already know about getting control of any standing water even if minute. THere is a ditch running behind the property which makes it hard without some help. I’m getting eaten alive and just want to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Thanks in advance. D

Debra’s Answer


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Removing Flame Retardent

Question from kpc

I recently had an employee at whole foods tell me that by washing children’s pajamas in dish soap you could remove the flame retardent chemicals. Do you have any knowledge about this?

Debra’s Answer

That doesn’t sound right to me.

Finishes such as permanent press and flame retardants are designed to stay in the fabric for the life of the garment. If it washed out that easily, it wouldn’t meet the federal flame retardant laws, which is why they put the flame retardant on in the first place.

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Natural Shoe Polish

Question from Michelle

I am wondering if you researched a product called URAD. They claim to be 100% natural and biodegradable.

I have used the the leather cream. It works great to clean, moisturize and it seems to protect the leather a bit. They also have the product in a couple of colors so you can do white leather…brown or black.

I would appreciate knowing if this is a good product. I never use gloves with it. I apply it sparingly. It’s not greasy. I just rinse out the sponge with water and it’s clean.

Thank you for finding an answer.


I cannot go into any clothing or shoe stores etc so I have to buy shoes by catalog or on the web. I was wondering if leather shoes would be easier to air out then sneakers with all the rubbery stuff on them. But I would have to find natural shoe polish – does anyone know if this exists? Thanks.

Debra’s Answer

The website says “URAD is mainly composed of Carnauba (natural wax to protect and shine), Lanoline (sheep skin oil to moisturize and also to protect), and mineral salts (to clean).” They don’t give an MSDS sheet, so I don’t know what, if anything, else it may contain, but they do say it is 100% natural and biodegradable.

Give them a call and see if it contains anything else and let us know.

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