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.

Green Campgrounds, Guest Houses, Yurt Clusters

Question from jeanne

I’m hoping to find info about green campgrounds and/or guest houses in the Pacific NW (I live in Gig Harbor WA) and Southern California within 2 hours of LA/OC (seemingly better weather for outdoor activity). I’m also curious about the green-ness of yurts vs. platform tents vs. traditional tents as camping shelters. Thanks. Take care.

Debra’s Answer

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How do you get rid of plastic fumes from dryer/washer?

Question from Millicent Meeks

I have a question and I wasn’t sure how to post one. Do you, or any readers, know how to remove plastic fumes from a clothes dryer/washer more quickly? My husband just had to have a new one enough though our old one was fine, and now I am washing my clothes at my mom’s house right now.

My uncle suggested vinegar on the washer, but I know this wouldn’t be an option for the dryer. I tried to find one with as little plastic as possible on the inside and outside, but they all have plastic now I think.

Millicent Meeks

Debra’s Answer

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Re mineral oil

Question from Alison Philip

I would like to ask for more information from anyone regarding the safety of regular use of mineral oil on the skin especially a child’s skin.

I would like to say that I am reading with interst the for and against the use of it. I do like to think I have an open mind on the use of it on the skin.

I would like to say that as a district nurse for 20 years I worked in a village where many patient’s had skin cancer and I did read an medical article some time ago saying that when the village was in full production of using the by products of paraffin and petroleum that this village had one of the highest incidences of skin care in Europe.

Debra’s Answer

I suggest you read Q&A: Mineral Oil–Is It Safe and Natural? and then post any additional questions you have there.

Please keep in mind that whatever we place on our bodies goes directly into the body via the skin. So I wouldn’t put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t eat.

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Carpet Anti-Stain Chemicals

Question from Carrol

In trying to avoid Stainmaster (Teflon) on my new carpets, I have discovered that all chemicals used for stain resistance are fluoro-chemicals. According to the represenative I spoke with at Shaw, all of these chemicals react the same way. Since this is proprietary information, he could not give me a breakdown of the product they now use (R2X). But he assured me that all anti–stain chemicals are in the same class. He also said that only the cheapest made carpets aren’t treated with stain resistance chemicals. These carpets are meant to be replaced frequently/annually. Of this would cause more outgassing problems and ecological problems.

Do you have any information on this and how to avoid these chemicals? The AFM carpet sealer does not list this as an indication for their product and I am waiting for them to call me. Unfortunately, I can not choose a different flooring.



Debra’s Answer

Take a look at Debra’s List: Interior Decorating: Flooring for a start. The natural carpets listed there should be free of these finishes. Also check the link there for The Carpet and Rug Institute Green Label Carpets. These are low-emitting synthetic carpets that would at least be safe-er.

Readers, any suggestions?

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Kid Friendly Cleaners

Question from tracey wick

in our home i use as many non chemical cleaners as possible, although with my laundry i have been using Melaleuca products. I think I need to switch laundry products due to my daughters so so sensitive skin. Aubrey Organics makes an all purpose cleaner that doubles as a laundry detergent, how well does it do with the laundry? also i found the “Sun and Earth” brand, are those totally natural and chemical free? thanks…

Debra’s Answer

Readers, what are your recommendations?

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Sweeteners for gestational diabetes?

Question from Jennifer

Thanks so much for the information. I learned about Agave from your site. I am a pregnant woman with gestational diabetes and I was using agave daily in moderate amounts. Now I’m depressed and panicy all over again. I have no idea what to do. What sweetener would you recommend to be used in moderation for a pregnant woman with gestational diabetes?

Stevia hasn’t been declared safe for pregnancy and neither has vegetable glycerin.

Honey is out too, as far as I know.

Processed sugar and artificial sweeteners are always bad for you. I know that.

Glucose makes your blood sugar up and fructose is bad for the liver and heart.

Sugar alcohols like Xylitol are laxatives. I am sensitive to those.

Debra’s Answer

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Information on PUL fabric


I’m wondering if anyone knows if there are health issues involved in using PUL fabric for diaper covers.

Thanks for your help!

Sandy Moskovitz

Princeton, NJ

Debra’s Answer

PUL is short for Polyurethane Laminate, which is an aromatic polyether polyurethane film/sheet. It is used for bibs, diaper covers, and other baby products because of it’s excellent resistance to water and fungus.

This is a plastic, made from petrochemicals. It is made from a nonrenewable resource and is not biodegradable.

I’d opt for bibs and diaper covers made from natural ingredients.

Dried Herbs

Question from MP

Hi there,

I have been growing oregano, parsely, dill, and basil on my deck and was wondering how I could dry it to replace my store bought herbs in my spice rack?


Debra’s Answer

I just bundle stems together and hang them upside down indoors in a dry place. If it’s too damp they will mold.

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Murphy Oil Soap

Question from Violeta Nazario

I would like to know if Murphy Oil Soap is good for health. I have been using it instead of other detergents that are toxic. Now I am questioning my decision. Does anyone have information?

Debra’s Answer

The Murphy Oil Soap website says it is made from “safe, naturally gentle soap, specially formulated for cleaning wood floors, furniture, and other household surfaces. And it leaves your home smelling fresh and clean. Murphy’s contains no harsh detergents, ammonia, or bleach.”

The ingredients listed on the Murphy Oil Soap MSDS are potassium soap of vegetable oil, sodium EDTA (a preservative), water, fragrance, propylene glycol, and unspecified surfactants. None are listed as hazardous, but I wouldn’t call this completely natural. I have no reason to believe that the fragrance is natural.

Still, it is somewhat natural and certainly soap-based, making it a better choice that other supermarket cleaning products.

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Homemade V8 Juice

Question from Melissa


I absolutely LOVE V8 vegetable juice, but would like to avoid the sodium, pasturization, packing waste, and high cost that comes with buying the cans at the store. How would I go about making my own?


Debra’s Answer

I love V8 juice too and just created a way to make a juice that tastes very much like it. I call it “V5” juice. I put all these vegetables in my VitaMix and blend it rather than juicing:

Put everything in the blender, cover with water, and blend until pulverized. This makes two large glasses. My husband and I drink some version of this juice almost every morning. Our bodies love it!

The original V8 juice is made from tomatoes, carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress, and spinach. You can try blending any of these together or adding more to my mix. Carrots would make it sweeter, watercress more peppery.

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