Dear Mary: I've heard that if you regularly blow-dry your hair with an ordinary hair dryer set on high, you'll never have head lice, because lice and their eggs cannot tolerate heat. Is that true? I hope so because that special lice-killing shampoo is very expensive. —Jill
Dear Jill: You just might be on to something here! The National Center for Biotechnology Information supports what you heard. The hot, dry air produced by standard hand-held hair dryers (122 degrees F) may suffice to kill lice and their eggs on a person's hair. Use great care if you try this method, especially if you are drying a child's hair, as the heated air from these devices can also easily scald the hair and the scalp.
The information goes on to say that a clothes dryer set on high heat or a hot clothes iron also may effectively kill any lice or their eggs on pillowcases, sheets, nightclothes, towels. and similar items that will not be damaged by this process.
Dear Mary: Since I've been on my own, I've had to learn to iron. I found that spraying clothes with a commercial wrinkle release and then stretching as directed and hanging items on a hanger works almost as well as ironing and takes a lot less time. Any tips on how to make my own wrinkle release solution? —Robert
Dear Robert: Downy Wrinkle Releaser is pricey ($6.95 for 16 ounces), but as you discovered, it works quite well for non-ironers. But seriously, $7 for two cups of glorified water? I've done a little experimentation to come up with a formula I believe works as well ... for just pennies.
Fill a spray bottle with distilled or bottled water; add 1 teaspoon liquid fabric softener (use Downy and you'll even duplicate the fragrance).
Directions: Spray the wrinkled garment using a sweeping motion from 6 to 8 inches away until slightly damp. Tug and smooth away wrinkles. Hang until dry. Use more spray for heavy fabrics or severe wrinkles. For a pressed look, spray fabrics while ironing.
I hope you'll give this a try, and be sure to let us know how it works for you!
Dear Mary: I am trying to find the best upright vacuum cleaner. I need your suggestion. Thanks! —Kathryn
Dear Kathryn: In the decade since I met and fell in love with my first Shark upright vacuum, I've purchased, tested, given as gifts, and worked nearly to death (it's really hard to wear out a Shark) many Shark vacuums, because the company seems to come out with a new model every week. I can say with confidence that there is no better corded, upright vacuum cleaner on earth.
Now throw in the lift-away feature on some models (which allows user to pop off the lightweight canister to easily carry and vacuum stairs), an extended wand for high reaches, a high-capacity dirt cup, an anti-allergen HEPA filter, and a 30-foot electrical cord, and you've got yourself a Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional vacuum— a fantastic piece of housecleaning equipment.
But here's the most important feature—the price. Wow! I'd put my Shark up against any brand anytime anywhere, and I'm even talking about those pricey European brands that come in at $1,500 and more.
When you walk into a store such as Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, or Costco looking for my specific Shark vacuum, prepare to be confused. There are so many models and some that are unique to that particular retailer. So, look for these words: "Shark," "navigator," and "lift-away," and you will have found my favorite vacuum in both price and function.