A large body of water

Don’t Rely on Vinegar to Disinfect

Dear Mary: What is a safe disinfectant for colored clothes, such as underwear and bath towels? I can’t use chlorine bleach, and since I usually wash my colored clothes in cold water, I do not feel like I am getting them sanitized enough. Thanks. Sherri

A large body of water


Dear Sherri: Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tested conventional household disinfectants, hospital disinfectants and natural alternatives to measure each product’s ability to kill specific hazardous microbes. Their results show that white vinegar killed 90 percent of germs without regard to the temperature of the water.

Sounds pretty good until you realize that leaves a 10 percent chance for Salmonella, Streptococcus and Staphylococcus viruses, Influenza A2 virus and Herpes Simplex Type 1 to live on. A product like Lysol disinfectant, on the other hand, kills 99.9 percent of those germs.

For fabrics that cannot be washed with bleach, add a liquid disinfectant according to product instructions, such as Lysol, or Mr. Clean Antibacterial to the wash.

Just a reminder that water at 120 F degrees water (hot) plus laundry detergent is sufficient to kill ordinary household germs without the need for an added disinfectant.

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Dear Mary: I have a sticky situation. My parents are in their mid-fifties and I think they spend way too much money. They have been in big financial trouble in the past and have gotten out of it, but I am starting to see the same type of spending that got them in trouble before.

They both work and make very good money. However, I know that they are not saving a lot of it. They are paying for student loans (theirs not mine) and home improvement loans. I also see them spending a lot of money on other things. These are not extravagant things like cars or trips, but like you said before it appears to me that they are five- and ten-dollaring themselves to death.

I am worried about their future. My mother makes comments about how her children will hopefully help them out if they need it when they are elderly. At this rate, I know they will need help if they don’t start cutting back and saving. Retirement age is coming quickly.

I have my own family, plus college educations to pay for. Of course, I love them and would do anything I could to help them in the future, but at the same time, I feel like they should start worrying now about their future, and not rely on their kids.

What can I say or do that can help them? I don’t want to offend them, but I also want them to be able to have a happy retirement. Mary Alice

Dear Mary Alice: While it’s impossible to force change in a person who doesn’t want to change, never underestimate the influence you might have on them. Your enthusiasm for what you are learning and doing to prepare for your future can be contagious. 

Without criticizing their lifestyle or perceived spending habits, tell your parents what you’ve just told me, that you are worried for their future. Statistics say they’re going to live many years in retirement. But most of all, talk about your own successes with saving and planning for your kids’ educations.

Your genuine concern for them might just be the catalyst that gets them thinking in new ways.

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5 replies
  1. Gehugh says:

    As for the laundry sanitation story…why is there the need to ‘sanitize enough’ your laundry? Sanitation needs definition. Achieving a temp over 180° is unrealistic. Adding additional chemicals to do the job is questionable. Think about the over sanitizing aspect our society practices. Waste water has to go somewhere…
    Like it was said above, hot water and laundry detergent should be sufficient for most cases. I have heard that tea tree oil and a product called THEIVES can do the trick, otherwise.
    I don’t think I’ve ever had any issues with ‘unsanitary laundry’ over the course of thirty years of being the chief, cook and bootle washer, plus laundress and working person. I used bleach (minimally), detergent (homemade) and lots of hot water on 5 years of diapers through 3 kids, and only once used a lysol type product when a toilet upstairs overflowed and everything it hit between there and the floor below was contaminated. Eeeeyuck! I always wash my linens in warm or hot water and leave the cold water washes for the items that I don’t want to fade or shrink. We line dry almost everything, indoors through the winter and indoors and outdoors for the other 5 months of the year. Good old sunshine used to be considered a ‘sanitizer’. I do not use a laundry softener in the wash, but occasionally use a homemade dryer sheet in the dryer.

  2. Iryssa says:

    I feel for you, Mary Alice!! My family AND my husband’s family are the same way. I would just like to add a little to Mary Hunt’s advice: Set good boundaries, and start now. When you start to get your own finances under control, and then the ball really starts rolling, people whose finances are NOT under control WILL start to expect you to foot the bill for them. Don’t let them put that kind of pressure on you.

    It’s okay to be nice now and then, and it’s okay to help your parents out (OF COURSE!) but there needs to be a limit. Do NOT put your own household at risk for someone else, and it is ALWAYS up to you *how* you help. If you want to buy your parents somewhere to live in their old age, great, but YOU own it (don’t just GIVE them that sum of money unless you can truly afford to never see it again). If they want help paying for care, great, but YOU decide whether that care involves a home nurse, or a nursing home, or whatever.

    Whatever the situation is, don’t agree to anything right away, but talk about it with your spouse (if that applies) and a neutral party with financial sense. THEN decide.

    Good luck! And remember, you got out of debt so that your money would be under YOUR control instead of someone else’s. Don’t trade tyrants.

    • Ron 'n Loni Oliver says:

      I don’t think borax is a disinfectant; if it was they would brag about it on the box. Peroxide is a great disinfectant, but it can lift color on some things. Another option is essential oils. Also, the sun disinfects, and bonus–it’s free and reduces your utility bill! –Loni


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