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Nancy Bock   2010 [320x200] Remember when you were in school and Show'n Tell was a favorite classroom activity? Well, that's just what we'd like to do with this section of Cleaning Matters®. We'd love to hear more from our readers! Write something on our Facebook wall, direct message us on Twitter, text us or send us an email with your cleaning crisis or dirty dilemma.  

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Q: Will a bar of soap last longer if you let it air out or if you keep it closed up in a soap dish with a lid?

A: It's preferable to let it air out. If you keep your bar soap in a closed container, the soap will stay wet. As a result, it can become mushy and dissolve quicker.

Q: I suspect that our new backyard has some poison ivy. If I wear gloves, long sleeves and long pants to protect me, how do I clean these clothes when I'm finished gardening so I don't spread the poison ivy?

A: You are right to be concerned. Poison ivy produces a resin called urushiol. This resin is the culprit that triggers allergic rash reactions in most people. When it remains on unwashed clothing, it is still active. Avoid touching your clothes with bare hands or letting them brush against your bare skin. Take off the garden gloves carefully, using a clean cloth to remove them. If possible, before removing the rest of your clothes, put on a pair of disposable rubber gloves. Then, take the clothes off carefully, putting them in a large plastic bag, along with the cloth you used to remove your garden gloves and the garden gloves, too. Discard the rubber gloves.

Wash the clothes using laundry detergent and the hottest water temperature that's safe for the fabric. Use enough water to allow the clothes to agitate freely. Dump the clothes into the washing machine directly from the plastic bag, being careful not to let them brush against the outside of the machine. Handling it carefully, discard the plastic bag. If you wish, you can wash other items along with these clothes. The urushiol will be suspended in the water and won't transfer to unexposed items.

– Nancy Bock is Vice President of Consumer Education at the American Cleaning Institute® (ACI)

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Cleaning Matters® is compiled by the American Cleaning Institute and is not copyrighted. Such information is offered solely to aid the reader. The American Cleaning Institute and its member companies do not make any guarantees or warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to the information contained in Cleaning Matters and assume no responsibility for the use of this information.