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Home-Ec 101 Guide to Cleaning The Bathroom

 

Home-Ec101.com's guide to cleaning the bathroom

If guests are coming over the bathroom is the first room I head to with cleaning supplies. It definitely helps to give it some attention weekly, and once I met a woman that wiped hers down daily so she never had heavy cleaning in the bathroom. Whatever your choice is – or if it’s a bit more of a random thing like my bathroom – these articles have lots of good bathroom cleaning advice for you. Click on the title to read the complete post.

How to Clean Up After a Toilet Overflow

So I have all the towels to mop up the water and um mess, from the toilet overflow itself. Then I have to wash the towels, floor, and toilet. And then I feel the need to run a bleach cycle in the washing machine, just in case…

How to Clean the Bathtub

The phenomenon of which you speak is the dreaded bathtub ring. Every time someone takes a bath, all of the dead skin cells, grease, and oils wash off their body and float in a layer on top of the water. Add soap to the mix and theses lovely little particles are trapped in a sticky residue that clings to the side of the tub.

How to Clean a Very Dirty Bathtub

My bathtub is so funky, it makes James Brown look stodgy. Especially since he’s dead. But I digress. The yuck in my tub is so nasty, I’m afraid to take a shower, and my co-workers are starting to complain. Help me, Luke Skywalker Home-Ec 101, you’re my only hope!

How to Clean Tile

We just moved into a home with white mosaic tile in the bathroom.  The grout is sealed.  How do I clean it and what was I thinking?

How to Repair Stained Grout

Yes, you can make permanently stained grout look white again! I want to warn you the solution is a little labor intensive -especially in a large room like a kitchen, but the payoff is high.

How to Clean a Toilet

…how a toilet cleaning is done. Besides the obvious-  Outside first: top, sides, bottom then  Inside: scrub.  I have read you can use toilet bowl cleaner, diluted to clean the whole toilet. One must wear gloves of course. Please advise.

Toilet Cleaning Tips

Cleaning toilets is one of those adulthood sucks kind of things. It’s not fun and there’s no big reward for having a clean toilet.  Most of you know that I rarely recommend convenience products. This is one of those rare exceptions.

How to Clean the Bathroom

Getting your house back in shape absolutely requires that you clean the bathroom. Let me tell you, you could have mounds of laundry piled everywhere and a spotless bathroom and I totally wouldn’t think you’re gross. But make me use a dirty bathroom and I’ll take pictures and post them here on Home Ec 101 with the Home Ec 101 Seal of Disapproval. Just kidding.

How to Clean Cultured Marble

First, we have a relatively new shower whose walls are cultured marble. What is the best way to give them the occasional clean to remove soap scum, etc? Second, in the same shower, we have sliding glass doors. While doing a deep clean yesterday, I discovered that there is a fairly well established colony of mold under the railing…..

How to Clean a Jetted Tub

Help! I’ve got funky stuff coming out of my jetted tub. I turned it on the other night and bits of black sludge ruined my bath. How do I clean out the jets?

How to Get Rid of Hairspray Residue

How do you get stuck on hairspray off walls and a cheap linoleum bathroom floor?

How to Get Rid of Pink Shower Mold

We keep getting these pale pinkish stains on the shower curtains and at the base of the tub… Could it be mold?

How to Clean Moldy Shower Tile

What is the best way to clean that black yuk that tends to grow in the corners of the shower? I have a ceramic tile shower and I have used every mixture I can think of to rid the shower of the black stuff from straight Clorox to the gimmicks from “As Seen On TV” and nothing seems to work. Help!

Hard Water Spots in the Shower

I’ve always hated cleaning shower walls – they just seem so impossible to clean. And now we have a shower stall with clear doors that shows sports from our hard water in DAYS (even with squeegee-ing after every shower).

Why Do Hard Water Spots Come Back?

No matter what I do, the hard water spots on my shower and tub keep coming back?  What am I doing wrong?

Have a questions about cleaning your bathroom that hasn’t been answered? Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

guide to chemical cleaners

Click this picture to learn more about cleaners!

how to clean appliances

Click the picture for more tips!

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Here is to 2015

Heather says

2014 has been very quiet at Home-Ec101.com; it’s been a year of healing and new beginnings.

The year has been about learning what is good enough and what can and can’t be tolerated.

Manda

Back in April, one of my best friends, who is also my assistant at FeedBlitz, found a lump and began the longest eight months of her life. It’s not my story to tell, but she had her last chemo treatment the week before Christmas and we are anxiously awaiting her return.

Some of you know that I made the decision to buy what I’ve been calling the fixer-upper late in the summer. That wasn’t a simple decision, it’s the house I grew up in. It’s the house where I tried to raise my youngest sister when our family fell apart.

Financially I knew it made sense, but I didn’t know if I could handle the emotional cost.

The house has come a long way. Yes, the bathroom floor is still sagging, but there is a new roof (and no more squirrels!).

kitchen

bedroomWorkinprogress

dining room

Living room

Paint and new appliances are helping. I am looking forward to the day I can rip up the carpeting, but there are a few more pressing repairs to handle first.

I’ve gotten so good at “cutting in” when painting that I don’t even have to tape the borders.

I’ve learned how to install new outlets and  light switches and what happens when you do that incorrectly. (In my case you live with extension cords from rooms with power to those that are lacking. At least until your ex-husband, an electrician can troubleshoot for hours, to finally pinpoint the problem -the brand new light switch, oy.)

I’ve learned that, in my home, the most important room, is still the dining room, that having the table where we can eat together matters far more than all of other improvements we’ve made.

I’ve learned that making an effort to stay on top of the kid mess matters so much more when the surroundings aren’t nice. It’s so much easier to fall into a why bother attitude when the walls need a new coat of paint and the blinds are torn. Dishes seem to pile faster, too.

But, I’ve also learned that a colorful bathmat can help me ignore the sagging floor until it can be repaired and that Ikea really can be a magical place of wallet-draining wonder.

2013 was awful, some of it was my own fault and some of it was caused by situations far beyond my control. I thought I would hit the ground running in 2014 and that I’d get Home-Ec101.com back to where it was in 2012. It turns out that new beginnings are a lot of work and much of that work happens where no one can see.

I’ve committed to keep showing up and I’m looking forward to 2015, yellow counters and all.

Some of it will be getting back to basics like a return to menu planning, but I also plan on addressing more reader questions and being more active in the online community that allows Home Ec 101 to exist in the first place. Thank you for being a part of the journey. I wish you well in the new year.

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Taken for Granted

Dear Home-Ec 101,

I just found your site and love it! So I thought I would ask about something I need advice on. I have 12 year old twins,  a 14 year old son, and a 16 year old daughter. My house is in a constant mess and I’m the only one who cleans at all, how would you handle this? I have laundry piled up, they act like the washer and dryer aren’t there. Nobody knows what the dishwasher is for and there’s always nasty dishes in the sink, I went on strike but all that happened were bigger piles of laundry, dirtier bathrooms, and a disgusting kitchen and then I gave in and cleaned that up. My husband works and I stay home with the kids but I want a life, too. I’m not the maid, my husband is the worst of them all and he comes from a more “traditional” family and thinks that I should be the one to do it all!

Signed,
Unappreciated in Union City

Heather says:

Oh boy, situations like this are difficult because it’s actually a multi-faceted problem. It’s not just about the workload, it’s about feelings of resentment and a lack of respect, there’s frustration, and that feeling of not being appreciated. It’s not a fun place to be and in all honesty you’ve got a bit of a struggle ahead of you. You’re in charge of turning four children into responsible adults and that’s not an easy task. Heck just take a look around at what’s going on in society and there are plenty of examples where we (this is the general, America as a whole) have not done this.

The issues between you and your husband need a third party that he respects, whether that’s a counselor or perhaps a priest or a pastor, if you attend church. Your job as a parent is extra hard if he’s undermining your efforts.

I have friends who will tell stories of their mothers throwing their clothes out on the lawn after they weren’t taken care of appropriately. While I laugh at the image and I totally get the temptation, I’m not sure I have that in me and I’m not saying it’s something you should do. I’m only saying you aren’t alone in that feeling of complete frustration.

It’s time to get all of the kids in the same room at the same time with no distractions. But before you do this, be prepared. Know what you expect from each child so it can be spelled out plainly have a list something like:

  • bedrooms clean
  • dishes done
  • trash taken out
  • laundry
  • etc

Each kid has something he or she values over which you still have some control: whether it’s their cell-phone, access to the Internet, driving privileges, access to friends etc. Remind them of this. Heck, some counselors suggest writing up a contract of responsibilities and privileges.

If you click the yellow sticky note in the upper-right of Home-Ec101.com, you’ll land on a page with a printable weekly chore chart. By all means feel free to rearrange the days to fit your schedule and needs, just know that these chores, if done on a weekly / daily basis as outlined will keep your house reasonably clean.

Assign the chores to the children and give each child a thorough, hands-on demonstration of how the chore is performed so expectations are clear. Keep repeating said hands-on demonstration / chore inspection until the child -and I don’t care if they are teens, they are still children- can do the chore to meet your expectations. Yes, I know this is so much easier for me to say than for you to do. It is likely that it will take a lot of effort and close monitoring on your part until the new normal is well-established. As of right now, they know that if they stall and ignore you long enough you’ll do it for them. That part has to change and it’s going to take time.

Hang in there and seek help from a qualified professional if you aren’t making headway. Because you are right, it’s not just your job. Everyone who lives in a household should be making some contribution toward maintaining reasonable living conditions.

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

 

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Gluten-Free Sausage Balls

Heather says

Let’s just go ahead and get this out of our systems right now. It’s Saturday Night Live, so if you’re easily offended don’t click. The rest of us will embrace our inner twelve-year-olds.

Better now? Yeah, me neither, but hey I know two things:

The sausage balls are highly entertaining, I’ve been giggling all day.

The sausage balls are also dang good, getting three out of four kid’s approval. The fourth one is like that fifth dentist who never recommends anything, so don’t read too much into her opinion.

I based this recipe on one I found over at Plainchicken.com. She’s got a great site with a lot of realistic recipes that I’m looking forward to diving into.

When would one serve sausage balls? Anytime a savory, not exactly highbrow appetizer or hors d’oeuvres is wanted. For breakfast instead of  biscuits would work, too. Today they were lunch.

Here is my usual caveat: If you are cooking for someone with celiac disease you need to be certain the ingredients you choose are also gluten-free. Bulk sausage varies, depending on the brand as does shredded cheese. I am lucky, I cook for someone with a wheat allergy, not celiac (he may disagree with how lucky that is, food allergies aren’t fun). Trace amounts don’t seem to be an issue here, we watch for “hidden” sources but don’t have to stress cross-contamination. Do your homework.

 

 Gluten-Free Sausage Balls with Hash Browns and Cheddar

Gluten-Free Sausage Balls

Ingredients:

Directions:

I find these easier to assemble if done in this order, stir the sausage and cream cheese together before adding the flours. Follow with the cheese and hash browns.

If you have a stand mixer, use that, if not just be prepared for a little but of an upper arm workout.

Pre-Heat the oven to 400ºF.

Grab and grease a baking sheet.

Roll the dough into 1.5 inch balls and make slightly off-color jokes to anyone who appreciates that humor. (It took me 1.5 baking sheets and 5.75 jokes)

Bake 25-30 minutes. (I like mine a little darker?) You may opt to check a little sooner.

Enjoy.

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How to Cook for Very Different Tastes (an Ask the Audience)

Dear Home Ec 101,

I live in a home with two adults (myself and spouse), neither of whom much like to cook. I am the one who’s at home most of the day so I feel I should be planning and preparing our week night meals. The problem is that I have minimal cooking skills, and on top of that the spouse is a meat loving diabetic, whereas I am a vegetarian carb lover. We end up eating out way too much.
HELP!
Can you suggest how I can plan meals that are simple to make and will be satisfying enough for both of us to keep us from escaping to the nearest take out joint?

Sincerely,
Take-Away Turkeys

Heather says

I can see how this situation can feel difficult. I was actually discussing a problem with my boss that reminded me of your situation.

You see, I let perfect be the enemy of the good.

I have been struggling with a project and every minor roadblock frustrated me, took away my momentum, and made me feel helpless. These roadblocks weren’t even something I should need to solve, but because I couldn’t see that delegating was part of the solution, I have been needlessly banging my head against the wall for weeks.

The problem has many pieces and each of these pieces contribute to the solution.

Part 1: You currently have limited cooking skills.

The good news is this is not a static situation. Each technique you learn, each success you have is another tool for your solution.

Part 2: He is diabetic

Try not to look at it as completely up to you to solve. Yes, you both should absolutely take this seriously. Yes, learning to create meals that are low on the glycemic index should be a goal. However, at the end of the day, he is the one putting the food on his plate and in his mouth. He’s a grown man and it isn’t your job to be the food police. Obviously you love him and care for his well-being but don’t make yourself completely miserable in the process

Part 3: You’re a vegetarian who loves carbs

Just because you technically can have a lot of carbohydrates doesn’t mean they are they healthiest option for you, either.

Not every meal is going to be  a perfect solution for both of you.

Start by making a list of foods and recipes that you already know you both like. Is there a cuisine you both prefer? Some techniques: grilling, stir fry, roasting for example make it very easy to keep the meat based ingredients away from the vegetarian options.

Not every meal you make needs to have meat as the source of protein and not every meal needs to center on a pile of pasta or potatoes, either.

I highly recommend making a vegetable dish the focus of each meal. You can then add a side of rice or pasta for you and a grilled or pan seared protein for him.

Pinterest can be your friend when looking for your main dish, BUT search based on an ingredient that is in-season and preferably on sale.

And don’t focus on the whole week today. Start with, what will I make for dinner tonight? If you still have energy and motivation to think about tomorrow, pick that out, too. It’s a long term goal, it’s okay to take it one step, one meal at a time.

What other advice would you offer this couple as they work to stay out of the drive-through

Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com

 

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Cooking Is Good for Mental Health?

Heather says:

There is a post circulating on Facebook, at least in my circles, that notes a trend among therapists promoting cooking and baking as a part of treatment for depression and anxiety. Please not that I said a part, baking three dozen cookies isn’t going to turn you into Little Suzy Sunshine for more than a few minutes. . .

I’ve been saying this for almost 8 years, but here we go again:

Life skills are important.

Feeling confident in the ability to take care of one’s self is critical to self-worth.

Mastering a skill that has the potential to make your daily life significantly easier and more enjoyable is going to have a positive impact on your emotional state. Yes, there are people out there who hate to cook; I get that. I have an acquaintance who once mentioned to me that he’d be happy when they invented the meal-replacement pill. I have no file for that, but I’m pretty sure cooking therapy wouldn’t be effective for him. (That said, he’s one of the most obnoxiously cheerful people I know).

It’s funny, for me, I knew I was finally back when I started wanting and enjoying to cook again. I don’t necessarily look forward to cooking every meal, but I do get a little excited when I can add a new item to the menu or have an idea to test a new recipe.

For those of you feel you can’t cook, but aren’t completely against the idea, what is your stumbling block?

What would enable you to walk into the kitchen with confidence?

 

 

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How Do You Do Everything That Needs to Be Done?

Hi Heather,

I don’t recall when I subscribed to your site, but I do recall having found your site at a time when all my children would eat for breakfast was pancakes and I knew there had to be a way to freeze them. Lifesaver! Thank you!

But, anyhow, to the point. I know you recently moved. And you work. And you blog. So, how do you find time to do the non-essential things? We’ve lived in our house for 2 and a half years and I still have half-painted trim and the register covers have still not been replaced (from the few rooms that we had painted when we first moved in). How do you do it? I’m a new stay at home mom and had all these awesome plans to get things done around here, yet I find I can’t even handle the laundry anymore. What’s your secret. Please share!!
Signed,
Seriously Slacking
Heather says

Drive comes and goes, at least for me. During the divorce and after my sisters’ deaths, I really had none. I barely could do the things I absolutely had to much less the things that were beyond the bare minimum.
It’s been well over a year now since these events happened and life’s a lot different for me. For the first time in a very long time I am truly happy.  Yes, I still get irritated and annoyed with my kids, especially when I have them for long stretches of time. I’m human and parenting is a tough, but wonderful gig.
That said, to get the things that need done around here, in this hot mess of a fixer-upper, I try to make myself accountable.

What motivates you?

I can’t do X until I do Y and if it’s something very important, but off-putting I tell someone who matters about my goal. I really stink at coming up with internal motivation. Over many years, I’ve learned I can get myself to face the things I don’t want to by placing that motivation and accountability somewhere outside of myself.
My therapist and I have gone back and forth about whether or not it’s the healthiest coping skill.  That said, for me, it works and I have done so many things I never would have had the courage, energy, or motivation to do on my own.
For you, consider getting the tools to do the job, before setting your deadline. This way you remove the excuse of, but I don’t have the right paintbrush, the correct size register, drop cloth… whatever it is that would prevent you from finishing the job you want to start.
Set up a reward for once you’ve accomplished the chore. I can’t have a fancy coffee, adult beverage (eh you may see a pattern with me) or nice dinner out until I’ve done whatever I need to do. It doesn’t have to be food, it can be I won’t start that book from the library until I clean up the house. There are many kinds of little reward motivators you can find for yourself.
When the kids are involved it’s more specific: we won’t go to the park until the kids help pick up the house. We won’t start the movie until the dishes are done. And sometimes? Sometimes I have to be firm and not go to the park or turn on the movie. House didn’t get clean in time to go? Sorry, guys, them’s the breaks.
Rewards and “bribery” only work when used correctly. You can’t give in to yourself or the kids and expect anything to get accomplished.
Yes, sometimes you have to be rigid even with yourself, perhaps especially with yourself. But getting the I don’t wannas done removes the guilt from the fun things.
Over time, the successes build on themselves and a sense of pride in the task itself can develop. To get the ball rolling set the bar low, don’t say I will clean the house and paint the laundry room before I have another cup of coffee… that’ll just lead to frustration.
Today I won’t let myself take a break for lunch until I actually call the contractor about the roof. (I don’t know why I’m dreading this, he already gave me the estimate).
This weekend? I have to paint the dining room and replace the light fixture before getting a Christmas tree. (Wait, I’m rewarding myself with more work, who is in charge here? Oh… me. )
IMG_20141210_085408
If you’re curious, I’m going with the color on the right and whatever light fixture matches. I really want to set my dining room table up so we can all sit comfortably together for meal. I miss that and really, that’s the real reward, the Christmas tree is just a nice bonus.
Tell me, Home-Eccers, what is your motivation for projects you should, but don’t want to do?
Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com
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How Long Should I Cook Chicken Stock?

Dear Home Ec 101,

Thank you for making your lovely page about the French and Asian methods of cooking chicken stock. I have a question: If I have a long period of free time, can I cook the stock longer than four hours. I’ll often have up to seven hours at a time. Is there any benefit to cooking longer? It seems like it would give more time for vegetable and chicken goop to turn into liquid, but I’m not sure if this is really true.

Signed,
Simmering in Cincinnati 

Heather says:

As long as you remember the difference between boiling and simmering and keep your chicken stock simmering, a long simmer is just fine. Chicken stock with a long, slow simmer does tend to have a richer quality to it. Since I work from home, it’s no big deal for me to throw the bones and vegetables in the stock pot first thing in the morning and check on it occasionally, but not everyone has that luxury.

If you have tested your slow cooker’s temperature range, it’s perfectly fine to use, as well. I’m just weird and prefer using the stove.

Alton Brown’s recipe for chicken stock suggests simmering for 6 – 8 hours. When I shared the recipes for chicken stock, my intent was to make the concept seem as simple as possible without compromising results. Many people would look at a recipe with a 6 – 8 hour simmering time and write it off as impossible. You know and I know that simmering does not mean you have to hover over the pot, but there are those who don’t. My goal, here on Home Ec 101, is to take the intimidation factor out of the kitchen. Cooking is both a craft and an art, anyone can become competent in the kitchen, but there are also those who have a gift.

Chicken StockI digress, back to the question:

If you want to make chicken stock with an extended simmering time, you may find it necessary to add water during the process. It’s really no big deal, just keep an eye on it and if the water level drops below the bones, simply add enough hot water to get everything submerged again.

Stock made with a long simmering time is the currently popular bone broth. The long simmer gives time for the collagen and minerals time to leach out of the bones and into the broth.

Now, something to consider, if you want a clear stock, skip the vegetables if you want a long, slow simmer. Personally, I don’t care about clarity, but some people do.

Enjoy!

Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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Review: Kitchen Curry Master

Heather says:

Just before the kickoff to the annual Thanksgiving day series started I received a The Master set from  Kitchen Curry Master, a new product designed to take the intimidation out of learning to cook curry and other Indian foods.

I am a big fan of Indian cuisine, but this is not the case for the small* people around here.

This meant I waited and waited for the right time to give the recipes a real chance. Date night finally rolled around and instead of going out we made curry.

Shrimp and potato curries

And oh what a couple of curries we made. They turned out very well. I may be a bit biased, but it was significantly -to my undeveloped palate- better than what I’ve had at one of the local establishments. The other I enjoy very much and will happily submit myself to more trials for “research”

The directions were clear and unless you choose shrimp, like we did, most of the recipes are budget conscious.

The Master Set from Kitchen Master Curry, at first glance is not an insignificant investment ($59), but you’ll find if you compare the cost of the spices included to places like Penzey’s it’s definitely reasonable. The storage tin also makes an attractive gift.  I might just be a big old food nerd, but I think spices are gorgeous and hope one day to actually see a real spice market. (I may drool over those travel photos)

I want to point out something very important, if you are gluten sensitive, this book is labelled gluten-free. All of the spices included with the product are indeed gluten-free, but it is important to remember to choose gluten-free ingredients for the recipes. Obviously naan is not gluten-free -if you are unfamiliar with it, it’s a flat bread. Beer is also not gluten-free.

I can have all the wheaty goodness I want, but not everyone in my life is so lucky. I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting what recipes will work and when to make appropriate substitutions. If you use the included cookbook, just remember to plan carefully if you are cooking for someone with a wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity.

I also want to let you know that there is a promo code for Home-Ec 101 readers, $11.50 off,  just use the code: ZBV56J1R92CB

I’ll be writing up a few curry recipes in the coming months -I find they make excellent cold weather recipes, but here are the two we tried and loved.

Shrimp Curry

Potato Curry 

If there is a foodie in your life, quality spices are not a bad way to go. (And if you’re really lucky, they just might invite you over for dinner as an excuse to use their gift)

Questions?

*young is probably a more accurate descriptor

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Is Vinegar an Acceptably Safe Alternative for Chlorine Bleach when Disinfecting

Dear Home Ec 101,

Can one substitute vinegar -lots of it- for the bleach when cleaning and disinfecting?
I can’t be around bleach, it triggers SEVERE migraines.

Signed,
Pickled in Pickens

home ec logoHeather says:

There are certain times where I am reluctant to give a hard answer. In our litigious climate, I’m sure you can understand my concern. The CDC says the use of vinegar is inconclusive and needs to be studied further and I only found this after using a multitude of search terms to try and weed out the 934462 sites on the web that basically say, “Vinegar is the Greatest Cleaning Agent Ever!!! I don’t have any evidence, so you’ll just have to trust me because I say so”.

Bleach v Vinegar

Do you know how vinegar is made?

Vinegar is the byproduct of ethanol fermentation. Basically, a specific kind of bacteria -genus Acetobacter metabolize (think of it as their equivalent of eating) alcohol and produce acetic acid as their waste. You’re just craving some french fries with malt vinegar, now aren’t you?

Distilled vinegar is the only type of vinegar that should be used for disinfecting. Why? You need to know the acidity of your cleaning agent. Aside from that, you certainly aren’t going to save money by cleaning your toilet with aged balsamic vinegar, even if it does smell nicer.

So here is my advice, given with the understanding that if you have any type of condition that may compromise your immune system, you follow your health care provider’s advice and not mine. Got it?

In most cases, distilled vinegar is acceptable as a disinfectant for hard surfaces in a home.

It is not safe to use as a disinfectant for any medical equipment. If you are looking for information on cleaning home healthcare items, you must follow your physician’s advice.

There’s a whole genus of bacteria Pseudomonas out there that really don’t give a hoot about vinegar. Is Pseudomonas an issue? Well, for some people, it certainly is. If you have anyone in your home with Cystic Fibrosis, it can cause pneumonia, in patients on chemotherapy it can cause skin infections, etc. Ever heard of hot tub rash? Pseudomonas is the likely culprit. So there are cases where vinegar really isn’t the smart choice. In hospitals, Pseudomonas can be particularly devastating, it’s the cause of Necrotising Entercolitis in NICU patients and devastating skin infections in burn patients.

Dilute solutions of chlorine bleach applied properly is the only agent I feel comfortable recommending when disinfection truly matters. If you use chlorine bleach properly, there should not be a significant source of fumes.

Your home is not a hospital.

As humans we actually need some exposure to pathogens (disease causing agents). Encounters with small amounts of some bacteria may actually be good for our body’s ability to recognize and fend off disease. Think of it this way, influenza is especially problematic because of the way it changes. It’s still the flu, but each season new strains of it show up. Because they are just different enough that our immune systems may not have defenses, they cause people to get sick. If the virus did not change, most healthy individuals would pick up a natural immunity to the virus through exposure and it wouldn’t tear through populations each year. It would be more like the chicken pox or other one-time diseases that can be miserable -or worse in cases like polio, but it wouldn’t really have the potential for a pandemic.

Those of us who have healthy immune systems should be exposed to some bacteria. On a related note, there are some really interesting studies that suggest allergies are the result of our lack of exposure to parasites. -I know when I’m sneezing, itchy-eyed, and snot-nosed for days on end, that a low-grade case of hookworms sounds like a fabulous alternative. I am not an advocate of keeping a hyper-sterile home. Despite all this there are times where disinfection matters, in those cases vinegar is a good choice for most of us, but dilute chlorine bleach is the better alternative for those at risk.

Please use your best judgement when making these decisions.

Also? Wash your hands.

Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

ref: http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/Disinfection_Sterilization/3_3inactivBioAgents.html