post off: have you experienced bed bugs?

bedbug1

In New York, it feels like bed bugs are everywhere. Even if you don’t have them, you can’t ride the subway or read a newspaper without seeing an advertisement or story on them. Just last week, the New York media were abuzz with the closing of a Hollister and an Abercrombie & Fitch store due to infestations, and I also read about how popular they are with the plush seats in movie theaters. A few weeks ago we had our own scare and it was completely emotionally draining. The good news: we didn’t have them. The bad news: many people do, and they’re very hard to control. There are numerous online resources for identifying and treating the problem, but when we were buggin’ out (sorry!) we found speaking to friends who’ve dealt with them most helpful in quelling our anxieties. So sound off, for the love of bug-free beds! Have you ever experienced bedbugs? How did you know, and what did you do about it? — Sarah C.

Photo via MedicineNet

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eliminate odors (and mice?) with peppermint oil

peppermint oil

Not to boast, but when it comes to dealing with odors, you won’t find a sharper shooter with a bottle of Febreze. I’ve got fabrics covered, but hadn’t found a suitable solution to dealing with atmospheric odors until my mom shared this all natural trick. Simply add three or four drops of peppermint oil to a few cotton balls, place them in a small bowl and leave the dish to sit in a problem area. Not only does the oil replace the smell with an energizing peppermint aroma, it also eliminates it, absorbing odor as it dissipates over time. As the proud sibling of a college-aged brother, I’m thrilled to report that we use this often to fumigate his car (a tall order, what with all the punky ultimate frisbee clothing and half-eaten hamburgers), with awe-inspiring results.

I like Aura Cacia’s certified-organic options but any 100% essential peppermint oil will do. I’ve even heard that a similar strategy helps get rid of mice. Anyone care to weigh in? – Sarah C.

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help! i need a narrow bottle brush

sodamakers

Last year, quite a few of our readers were enthused about the Soda Stream and other at-home water carbonators. But now reader Christine has a cleaning question:

Can anyone find a bottle brush that fits the bottles provided with the Penguin water carbonator? I can’t find one that is small enough for the bottle openings. Help! Love my Penguin!

We checked around, and enjoyed reading posts like this one at AT, but couldn’t find mentions of cleaning the bottles — any sources for Christine out there?

From our partners

yet another green cleaner: citrus and salt

saltgrapefruit

I hope we’re not annoying you with too many green cleaner posts, but when I saw this post at Re-Nest on how to scrub the tub with half a grapefruit and some salt, I had to give it a try. The comments at the original post were divided, with one person proclaiming it “Absurd!” (harsh) and more than one complaining that it was a waste of a grapefruit. Well, I figured one acidic citrus would do as well as another, so I bought a large lemon, halved it, and coupled it with some sea salt to take on my own tub and sink. For the tub, mixed reviews, but I’m starting to suspect it’s just my tub. I’ve written before about how our house is a work in progress — it was previously a rental, and it’s become apparent that someone cleaned the tub with something that removed a lot of the shiny finish. So while my tub smelled amazing after a scrubbing with lemon and salt, it didn’t look a whole lot cleaner to the eye. Our sink, however, has its porcelain finish, and it looks fantastic! Shiny as new! I will caution you that some of the commenters warn against using large-grain salt on an acrylic finish because it could scratch. See the how-to with grapefruit here. — Mary T.

Related:
Putting more green cleaners to the test
Make your own green cleaners

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putting more homemade green cleaners to the test

Piperflowers

For my birthday earlier this month, I finally got something I’ve been asking for since I could talk: a puppy. My husband and I adopted a beautiful, tiny Pomeranian from F.I.D.O. Rescue and, as you can imagine, I’m over the moon! As any new owner has to, we had to doggie-proof the house from top to bottom. That included ditching all the harsh bleaches and chemical-heavy cleaners that make your eyes water and can harm a curious pet. I started by mixing up some of Mary’s highly recommended green cleaners, then found some more concoctions that worked just as well as more toxic recipes. After the jump, check out some recipes for furniture cleaner, drain cleaner, grout cleaner, oven cleaner, mildew cleaner, and oil/grease cleaner. — Katie D. (more…)

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