Chemical cleaners can harm those who have asthma

Dear Heloise: I like your advice on using natural substances, such as baking soda and vinegar, for cleaning. As a person with allergies and asthma, one of my pet peeves is walking into a public place and being the unintended target of window cleaners, air fresheners, table cleaners and even construction and lawn chemicals.
People often spray these chemicals with abandon, as if they are totally harmless. They are not, and they are a particular problem for those with respiratory problems who might suffer asthma attacks from breathing them. Please, people, if you absolutely must use an aerosol or pump spray, both of which put tiny chemical droplets into the air, do it in such a way that no one can be harmed. The lungs you save might be your own, and you will be giving a much-appreciated helping hand to a lot of people. Chris, Omaha, Neb.
Chris, many readers feel just as you do. There are some alternative, natural items that can be used to clean and freshen around the house. We love using vinegar and baking soda. They are both great cleaners and deodorizers, and they are cheap! Did you know that vinegar can actually absorb room odors? All you need to do is place some shallow containers of vinegar around, and most odors will be gone. Want some more great ways to use vinegar or baking soda around your home? Please send $8 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (87 cents) envelope to: Heloise/V & amp;B, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Did you know that baking soda sprinkled on a damp sponge will clean glass and ceramic surfaces without scratching? So, the next time you have a stubborn stain, give baking soda a try. Heloise
Fast facts
Here are some other ways to use a hotel shower cap:
Place around the bottom of hanging plants to catch stray drips.
Use to cover bowls of leftovers in the fridge.
Put shoes in them to protect clothing in a suitcase when you travel.
Dear Heloise: I cut the slats from discarded miniblinds into short lengths, write the names of plants on them with a laundry marker and use as plant markers. A Missouri Reader
Dear Heloise: When faced with cleaning a cast-iron skillet (with years of baked-on grease and grime) that I had acquired from my late father-in-law's possession, I took a gamble and put it through a cycle in my self-cleaning oven. Everything was reduced to ash, and after wiping it out and re-seasoning the skillet with oil, it looks like a new skillet and is now ready to serve more generations of cooks. A Reader in Warrenton, Va.
Dear Heloise: I purchased a magnifying glass and one of the new fine-point permanent markers. I mark expiration dates in big letters on spice containers, medications, etc. Then I don't have to look for my reading glasses while trying to read that fine print. A Reader, via e-mail
Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to (210) HELOISE or e-mail it to
King Features Syndicate

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