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.

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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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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Natural Fabric Refresher Sprays

Question from SLJ

I admit I like to use Febreze now and then to refresh the fabrics in my house. However, with a dog and two cats I now would like to explore alternatives. I haven’t seen any natural substitutes that are safe for fabrics and smell nice. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Debra’s Answer

I haven’t seen any such products, but I don’t see EVERYTHING 🙂


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Honey not good to cook with

Question from Bob Jordan


Awhile back you ran a dessert recipe I don’t remeberer which and suggested a number of alternatives to the sweetener in the recipe one of which was honey. I should have commented then but better late than never, honey when heated to high temperatures becomes a glue like substance. Ayurvedic has long considered it a no no to cook or bake with honey. My source for this information is the Ayurvedic Cookbook by Amadaea Morningstar and Urmila Desai.

Debra’s Answer

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Nontoxic Snake Repellent

Question from Sydney Blum

I am looking for a non-toxic snake repellent. I tried an herbal mixture from Australia and the snakes just sat in it without a care. Any ideas that really work?

Debra’s Answer

Readers? Anyone have any experience with this? We only have small garden snakes here, so I don’t know how to repel snakes.

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