Super Search

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

Ridding Fabric Of Mildew

Question from Tim

My outdoor swing on a covered porch has persistent mildew on the fabric (not sure what it is), but is there a solution to kill the mildew, while not discoloring the fabric?

Thank you (and so does anyone who sits on the swing)

Debra’s Answer


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Watch Batteries

Question from Carol

Is it harmful in any way to wear watches that use batteries? It’s extremely difficult to find wind-up watches.

Debra’s Answer

I don’t have any information on the possible health effects of watch batteries. I’m assuming they would have a very low EMF field.

If you want an EMF-free watch, see the No-EMF Watch at, which has a

“reliable time keeping Citizen Miyota NO EMF automatic movement that never needs winding or batteries”

Anyone know about health effects of watch batteries?

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Curly Hair Products

Question from Rose


I’m making the switch to non toxic products and I am trying to find styling products for curly hair. Has anyone found products they like?


Debra’s Answer


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Aphids on Herbs

Question from Melissa

I seem to have little green bugs on my herbs (mainly the oregano) which I’m assuming are aphids. Is there some concoction I can mix up at home to spray on the herbs to kill the aphids that is non-toxic? If not, what type of non-toxic spray do you recommend? Thanks!!!

Debra’s Answer


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Natural Lee Furniture

Question from DB

Has anyone had experience with furniture by Natural Lee ? They have a line of furniture using organic fabrics & soy foam, which I’ve never heard of before. I understand from a friend that they’re vague about whether their furniture is treated with flame retardants, an important consideration for sensitive people. As many of us are, we’re looking for affordable, comfy, healthy furniture. Thanks for any feedback on this. Dorothy, MA

Debra’s Answer

I went and looked at their website, and it is a bit confusing.

First, the fact that they use the word “natural” in their name is somewhat misleading. Though all the materials have some environmental benefit, some are recycled plastics. While recycled plastics are better for the environment, they aren’t natural by any stretch of the imagination, and I they still outgas like virgin plastic so I wouldn’t call them healthy either.

Still, there are environmental benefits to this line of furniture, which could be appropriate for some people. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with MCS.

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Fragrance Free Hair Styling Products

Question from Lyn

Dear Debra:

I would first like to tell you how much I appreciate your web site and blog and all the hard work you put into it.

My problem is regarding hair styling products. I have had trouble finding a gel or lotion to use to remove the frizz from my hair so I can style it smooth or wavy/curly without frizz. I have tried an assortment of products from Whole Foods and Cooportunity but nothing works. Most of the time the things that could work have too strong a fragrance. I am also allergic to soy so that eliminiates many possibilities.

I would also like to know if you or any of your readers know of a styling iron (flat iron) that has low EMFs.

Thank you,


Debra’s Answer


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Installing Wood Floor

Question from Kathryn

Dear Debra,

I am very chemically sensitive, and your work has been a great help to me over the years.

We are looking into replacing the ancient carpet in our living room with a hardwood floor, but money is limited. In a smaller room we nailed down unfinished maple from Lumber Liquidators, and sealed it with linseed oil. It took about two weeks to dry completely, so this is not an option for the living room as we cannot go live somewhere else while it dries.

After reading your site, we’re considering prefinished wood, also from Lumber Liquidators, especially if we can outgas it for a while before installation. Our question is labor-related. Can we glue ash planks down to a particle board subfloor with wood glue, or does that only work with the click-together floors? (The particle board is very old, so no more outgassing from that.) Nailing it all down may be more than we can handle, but it seems all the click-together types of flooring are some type of laminate, which I think would be far too toxic for me.

In an earlier post you recommended parquet tiles from Lowes. They are far more affordable, but aren’t those made with toxic materials like other laminate floors?

My ideal would be to find a click-together hardwood, pre-finished with a natural sealant, but I haven’t been able to find any. Does it exist?

Debra’s Answer

OK 🙂

Let’s start by clearing up some words.

“Click-together” is a term used for laminate floors. Laminate floors Laminate flooring is made up of various layers of material laminated together. There’s a good illustration of what laminate flooring is made up of on the Armstrong website. The one MSDS sheet I looked at showed that brand of laminate flooring emitted formaldehyde fumes, so all in all, I don’t recommend laminate flooring. That said, a friend of mine recently installed a laminate floor all through her living room and it didn’t smell horrible.

There are some less toxic laminates certified by Greenguard. I would suggest checking the MSDS sheet for any laminate flooring you may be considering.

The prefinished parquest tiles I suggest from Lowe’s are solid wood. Oak. These fit together via what is called “tongue-and-groove.” They are not made with toxic materials like laminate floors because they are not laminate.

I don’t know how click-through installation works.

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Any natural products for bleaching or dye-ing hair?

Question from Jerri Jetter


Does your book Home Safe Home include natural products I can use to bleach or dye my hair? I am a 52 year old natural blond whose hair has darkened and begun to gray. Consequently, I get my hair highlighted and colored every 8 weeks to lighten & brighten the color. But I want to stop putting chemicals in my body this way! Any suggestions or resources would be appreciated.

Jerri Jetter

Debra’s Answer

My book Home Safe Home has some do-it-yourself natural formulas for hair coloring, but I would suggest checking our the Natural Hair Dye website. They carry all the safer hair colors and can advise you on choosing one. All they do is nontoxic and natural hair color.

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Why is sugar bad?

Question from teresa

Hi – I guess I’m new to all of this – what is wrong with sugar (not referring to diabetes). Thanks!

Debra’s Answer

I’ve answered this at Sweet-Savvy: Sweeteners to Avoid: Refined White Sugar.

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Natural Healing/Immune System Enhancement Herb

Question from mary leduc-suruma

Twelve years ago I found that Mother Nature had blessed my six acres in West Virginia with the healingist herb on the planet, Agrimony/Agrimonia (and many other names around the world). The ancient Greeks were the first to write about it’s healing powers and now you can find dozens of research abstracts about them on The most important of these studies demonstrate that Agrimony repairs and generates new immune system cells and modulates immune system reactions to pathogens while correcting autoimmune system disorders. This ability to enhance immune system responses answers the centuries old question, how does it heal eye infections, liver disease, sinus infections, soar throats, ear aches, topical wounds, rashes, Herpes blisters, etc., etc.

Debra’s Answer

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