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Questions For Reena – for Aug. 5, 2010

Hi Reena,

I read your column in our paper and quite enjoy it. I bought an artificial plant, with grass-like plumes a few months ago. This plant has a very strange and disgusting odour. I didn’t notice it at first but some days it is quite unbearable. Is there anything I can do to get rid of the odour? I put it on my deck during the day hoping to air it out but it doesn’t seem to help. I bought the plant at Superstore. It is made of artificial materials like plastics. My son says it smells like dog pee. My sister-in- law, who works at a gift shop, says that a lot of their products have similar smells. She likens the smell to a “mouse” smell. I have sprayed

it with Febreeze, which is only a temporary fix. – Dorothy

Dear Dorothy,

It makes sense that the plant is made of plastic because artificial silk plants are often not silk but rather made from a variety of synthetic materials, and then heat pressed into expertly designed moulds. These newer synthetic materials hold shape much better than silk, allowing for a wider range of natural-looking leaf and flower designs.

This smelly challenge is similar to that of people who purchase backpacks that carry a strange odour. It sounds to me like the culprit is the dye used to colour the plant. The not-so-good news is that any fragrant spray that you use will only be a temporary fix. The good news is that the smell will minimize over time. If your plant were actually silk instead of synthetic it may still carry an odour. In fact some experts say, “Inferior silk gives off a slight smell of chemicals and silkworm pupa, which will become stronger in more humid and warmer environments.”

Since you have observed that the plant is plastic, your best bet is to soak it in the bathtub with a half-box of baking soda, water to cover and 3 tbsp. inexpensive shampoo. Soak, rinse and leave outside to dry. Keep me posted!

Hi Reena, I recently saw you at a show where you gave a very informative

talk on unusual cleaning supplies and methods. The one I’m interested in is cleaning toilet bowls with pumice stone. Would you be so kind as to send it to me? Thanking you in advance,

– Lyn

No problem Lyn,

Put a little shampoo or dish soap onto a pumice stone and rub the inside of the toilet bowl to remove stains. That’s it! Does a great job!

Dear Reena,

I am in a bit of a quandary and have always appreciated your approach to cleaning. I have been put in charge of finding a solution for removing allergens from student desks at the school where I work. As peanuts and eggs are not bacteria, but proteins, I don’t see harsh chemicals as having any benefit. Plus, this would just add more unhealthy molecules waiting to be ingested by our children. I am thinking vinegar and water, although I fear the smell would turn up noses. I cringe as I spray the harsh chemical solution I am currently using.

– Jaine Way to go Jaine,

It’s people like you who are really making a difference. Before trying a new cleaner please check with your supervisors to make sure that they approve any new cleaners that you are using. In my opinion, you are on the right track with vinegar but what you need to add to the bottle is about 10 drops of nice-smelling essential oil (found at grocery and health food stores). Choose tea tree oil, lavender, peppermint, rose, orange or grapefruit. The room will smell great and the concoction in the bottle has wonderful additional antiseptic properties. Let me know how it goes!

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming!

Check out my website: www.householdsolutions.org.

Reena Nerbas is a highly popular professional speaker and the author of three national best-sellers, Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions, Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets and Household Solutions 3 with Green Alternatives. Books and Household Solutions 1, 2 and 3 Cooking/Cleaning Gift Packs are available online or by calling: 204-320-2757.

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RENA NERBAS

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