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.

Water Based Cleaning Using Fiber Gloves

Question from Paula Spencer

I’ve been cleaning using Enjo cleaning gloves for over 3 years now. Generally, you need just the cleaning glove plus water to get things amazingly clean. They are fantastic cleaning products, and easy to use, so I wanted to let you know about them.

I used to sell them, so I know a bit more about them:

1) Per a university study done in Australia, they remove 100% of bacteria from a surface, which is more than any other cleaning method tested, even anti-bacterial wipes, and they do so without the use of chemicals.

2) How they work: they consist of microscopically thin fibers – each is 1/100th the size of a strand of hair – and these fibers are lined with barbs; the fibers + barbs lift and hold the dirt, reaching into micrscopoically small crevices found on all surfaces, and therefore picking up dirt that typical household sponges, cloths, cleaners, etc. can’t reach.

Their website (not all that informative, really) is Here, you can order gloves in the U.S. through the Canadian distributor. And since they no longer have a U.S. presence, you won’t be asked if you want to host a demo.

I hope this is helpful information. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.

Debra’s Answer

I just want to make a comment on all cleaning cloths made from microfibers.

First, “microfibers” are ultra-fine manufactured fibers with a diameter size of less than 1.0 denier (a unit of fineness for yarn about one hundred times finer than a human hair). Over 200,000 strands of microfiber fit in every square inch.

Fabrics made from these extra-fine fibers have some excellent qualities–they feel smooth, they are incredibly soft, and they are extremely durable.

A specific type of microfiber is used for cleaning cloths, which gives it the ability to pick up dust and dirt without use of toxic cleaning products. The fibers are split in such a way as to create microscopic “hooks” which act as claws that scrape up and hold dust, dirt, and grime like a magnet without scratching the surface. They also absorb water–up to seven times their weight.

Some consider microfiber cleaning cloths to be better for the environment because they dramatically reduce the use and disposal of toxic chemical cleaning products. And they are so durable, a microfiber cleaning cloth can be rinsed and re-used countless times– known to still be effective after five hundred uses and washings.

When choosing any product, we always have to weigh the environmental and health benefits against the harm. In this case, the down side is that they are made with synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon, which are made from petrochemicals. Microfibers are not made from a renewable resource and they are not biodegradable. They are better than toxic chemical cleaners, but they are still a plastic that persists in our ecosystems.

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How do I remove smoke odor from fabric?

Question from Frank

My wife is an hygienist and she sometimes has patients that smoke which is transferred to her clothing and than to our home. Is there any product that you know of that can alleviate the smoke smell?

Debra’s Answer

Use baking soda. Sprinkle it on the fabric (clothing or upholstery) and let it sit for a few hours, the vacuum it off.

On our recent vacation, my husband and I spent a day in Maryland, where they still allow smoking in restaurants and do not have no smoking sections. We found this out in the middle of our first meal, when diners started lighting up around us. It was enough smoke for me to notice my clothing smelled like smoke when we left. I just aired out the clothes and then washed them with soap and oxygen bleach when I got home, and all the odor is gone.

[No smoking legislation is in process in Maryland, it just hasn’t passed yet.]

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Dangers of Burning Wood in Fireplace

Question from Nancy

Thank you for your website. I have learned so much from your web pages, including how to make the best Magic Disappearing Chocolate Fudge!

Eighteen years ago my next door neighbor burned his shake roof in his fireplace. It’s wood, so that’s perfectly legal in California. He made so many people very sick and permanently damaged the lungs of a small grandchild that was living with us. I found it so annoying but had no idea of how much long term damage this can cause children. It’s pretty hard to stuff a small baby with greens.

Now I have a neighbor a half block away that burns wood even when it is 80 degrees out. I thought you might be interested in this letter from Jenny Bard, director of Clean Air Programs for the American Lung Association of California in Santa Rosa. She has given her permission to reproduce it. In addition you might try to google [wood smoke brain]. I think you will be very interested. She is working for a state law against wood burning, and I think a federal law might be even better.

N a n c y

By Jenny Bard

Is there any sight more comforting on a cold winter evening than a roaring fireplace?

Debra’s Answer

Thanks for sending this article, Nancy.

It brings up a dichotomy I want to comment on.

First, I completely agree that wood smoke can be harmful to health. And, at the same time, wood has been burning on this planet since the beginning of trees, some millions of years ago, being set afire by lightning strikes.

We have a tendency in our culture to think of things in good/bad opposites, such as wood smoke is harmful, so wood shouldn’t be burned, rather than looking at a bigger picture though the lens of appropriate use.

The thing about wood smoke–which is true for every pollutant and poison, by the way–is that the degree of harm depends largely on the concentration of the pollutant in the air. It has long been known that wood smoke can be deadly, as people have been dying from smoke inhalation in fires for millenia. What is new here, I think, is to realize that the concentration of particulates in wood smoke in fireplaces is enough to cause harm to health.

Another concentration issue is how much wood is being burned in how many fireplaces or wood stoves within a particular area. If everybody living in an enclosed canyon, for example, heated with wood, it would get pretty smoky. A cabin surrounded by twenty miles of uninhabited land could burn with wood and the concentration of pollutants in the air would be so dilute it would be appropraite to heat with wood.

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Healthy Breathing Success

Question from Carina

I was so happy to hear you talk about Dr. Buteyko in your March 20 newsletter.

I wanted to let you know that my son used this technique for his asthma and was cured. He’s a teenager and like all teenagers he’s inconsistent, therefore, his asthma returned since he never worked this technique to the level where he would just practice it monthly for maintenance.

Nevertheless, he now has at his disposal an enormously useful technique, with absolutely no side effects, that he can use if he wants to cure his asthma again. The choice is his.

Thank you again Debra for posting this technique.

Debra’s Answer

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Solo sauna

Question from Linda

I was thinking of getting the Solo sauna, it is a lay down, stick head out sauna. Since I have CFS it would be very good to lay down and because of MCS, head sticking out means I could have a strong fan bringing me clean air. This sauna costs ’round 1900, but it seems very good quality for the sweat/best infrared rays, and can be moved around, used anywhere. It is completely covered in vinyl but with Florida sun it should burn out very quickly taken out every day.

What do you feel is a PRUDENT amount of time in a sauna? Currently I just began detoxing and have greatly increased my sensitivity to chemicals from skin brushing, clean, mostly organic diet and ability to exercise (first time in about a decade). I had to slow down the detoxification and I did that by eating over more hours (I was eating in a 4 hour period so there was a 20 hour fast every day.)

Do you feel a sauna with a prudent amount of time spent detoxes WITHOUT adding to the circulating burden of mobilized chemicals, or does it break up and detox only chemicals close to the skin surface in the fat and sweat that right out? I know huge questions I’m sorry but I can’t find the answers anywhere. It’s a lot of money. But I cannot sweat. I can exersize for about 20 minutes but I don’t even really sweat.

I have made my CFS better so far from a scale of 35(able to leave house a few times a week) to a 50 (able to do 4-5 hours of work at home a day) so really good, but now of course the MCS is the more disabling issue. (100 is fully cured with no symptoms ever).

Your opinions Debra and readers who have an infrared sauna will be so appreciated.

Thank you,

Debra’s Answer

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Looking For Plastic-Free Coffee Maker And Rice Cooker

Question from B. Lee


I’d like to find something more convenient than a French press but I have had no success with finding a coffee maker that does NOT use a plastic basket. I don’t mean the gold mesh filter basket but the basket that the filter actually sits in.

I have also looked in vain for a rice cooker that uses a stainless steel, rather than aluminum or non-stick, insert.

Thanks for any suggestions you can offer (and thanks for writing your books; I’ve referred to them for years)!

Debra’s Answer

I myself use a French press–not to make coffee because I don’t drink it at home–but it is perfect for making tea.

Readers–do you have any suggestions?

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Amylia’s soapworks

Question from Kay

I have used this soap for laundry and liked it alot. I can’t find it on line at Has she sold out and is it in any stores?

Thanks you.


Debra’s Answer

Just had dinner with Amilya last night in fact and asked her about this. Unfortunately, Soapworks products are currently not available. She hopes to bring them back sometime in the future. And when she does, I will be sure to announce it because I liked her products too.

Chemicals from Car Wash

Question from Donna

I have serious MCS and much trouble finding a safe car. After finding a 1998 Toyota 4 Runner with leather seats, I waited a year for the fragrance from the interior “detailing” to subside. I have used it joyfully for 2 years.

I needed a simple oil change and took it to a Toyota dealership. (My regular mechanic has an old, oil-burning stove in his service bay in the winter, which is problematic for me. )

The night I picked up the car I immediately experienced ENT problems, and after several short outings, I was extremely ill with chemically-induced porphyria. I don’t smell any odors or see any evidence of a spill.

A possible culprit: they gave the car a courtesy car wash (exterior only). When questioned, the service manager said to flush out the fresh air intake grill below the windshield with lots of water, as soap residue can remain there and infiltrate the car’s interior.

I have been so ill and am devastated at the loss of my vehicle. I know the automated machines can use pre-soaking, washing, and rinsing agents with loads of chemicals. I would not have consented to it had I been there but am also astonished at how invasive and long-lasting the result has been.

Have others had this negative experience with a commercial car wash and how did they neutralize the interior of the car? I have washed everything, and am now proceeding with steam cleaning the air vents and placing activated charcoal containers in the front seats. Please help with any shared experiences and/or ideas. Donna in Distress

Debra’s Answer

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Mayonnaise recipe

Question from HAH

Hello Debra,

Looking for a very simple but tasty ‘Mayonnaise’ recipe can you help??

Thank you,


Debra’s Answer

As a matter of fact, I do have one at Sweet Savvy: Mayonnaise.

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A New Look at Shaklee

Over the years I have received a lot of questions about Shaklee products. Shaklee recently reformulated, repackaged, and renamed their cleaning products into a new line called “Get Clean”–which has a cleaning product for every need in your home–so I thought it was time to take another look at them.

Shaklee has been well-known for their biodegradable Basic H since 1960, but I have not recommended Shaklee products in the past because I was not able to obtain ingredients lists or MSDS sheets. I still couldn’t obtain ingredients lists, but I did get MSDS sheets and took a look at their website.

In general, the Get Clean cleaning products are advertised to be natural, biodegradable, fragrance-free, and super-concentrated (which makes them very economical to use and reduces a lot of packaging). And, Basic H2, has so many uses, it is truly a wonder of a multi-use product.

Shaklee states that their Get Clean products “do not contain hazardous ingredients.” More specifically they state

  • No napthalene

  • No kerosene

  • No formaldehyde

  • No phenol

  • No cresol

  • No lye

  • No hydrochloric acid

  • No sulfuric acid

  • No petroleum distillates

  • No benzene

  • No ammonia

  • No paradichlorobenzene

  • No sodium hydroxide

  • No butyl cellosolve

  • No phosphoric acid

  • No chlorine

0 ingredients that are hazardous to humans.

0 chemicals like phosphates, chlorine, and nitrates that are harmful to the planet are in Get Clean.

0 volatile organic compounds, chemicals that produce noxious toxins and air pollution, are in Get Clean.

Their MSDS sheets do list a few items under “hazardous substances” but there are either minerals, which are considered hazardous because of dust exposure (not toxicity), enzymes (I don’t know why they are considered hazardous) or in the case of the one substance I would consider “hazardous”–ethyl alcohol–are present in very small amounts and is made from plant sources (this is not stated on the MSDS or the website, but I have an email from Shaklee stating this is so).

I have a small sample of the Basic H2 and it basically smells like nothing.

There are no ingredients listed on the labels (which are on the website, by the way, for each product), the “Product Bulletin” for each product tells some of what the products are made from. Basic H2, for example, is made from corn and coconuts; Nature Bright Laundry Booster and Stain Remover is made from natural enzymes and oxygen bleach.

Shaklee says their products are “safe for the planet” because:

  • Sustainably sourced natural ingredients

  • Biodegradable

  • No phosphates

  • No nitrates

  • No borates

  • No animal testing

  • Recyclable packaging

  • Recyclable wipes

  • Recyclable dryer sheets

In addition, Shaklee has zero impact on global warming by offsetting 100% of its greenhouse gas emissions. They were the nation’s first business to be certified Climate Neutral.

And their world headquarters utilize the latest energy-efficient designs and sustainable resource materials. They also print on recycled paper, recycle, offer telecommuting, encourage use of public transportation, and more. They have received many awards for their environmental efforts.

Shaklee does not test its products on animals.

After all these years, I’m happy to have finally gotten some information on Shaklee products I can review, and having done so, decided to put these new Get Clean products on Debra’s List as “earthwise” cleaning products.

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