Prepare for New Medicare Cards Coming in 2018

If you haven’t already heard or read, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be issuing new cards to beneficiaries beginning in April.  The cards will automatically be mailed to all 58-60 million current beneficiaries. Beneficiaries don’t need to do anything to receive one beyond watching their mailbox. However, if there has been an address change, beneficiaries should contact the Social Security Administration (SSA), which will be preparing and mailing the cards, at or by calling 800-772-1213.  

Image used with permission from CMS.

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, required the removal of Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019.  The new cards will feature a randomly assigned Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) made up of 11 letters and numbers rather than the beneficiary’s social security number that is currently used to help prevent identity theft.  The MBI will replace the SSN for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility, and claims.

Recently the CMS released information as to when beneficiaries can expect to receive their new card.  The mailing schedule is as follows:

  • Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia: April-June 2018 

  • Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon: April-June 2018 

  • Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin: After June 2018 

  • Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont: After June 2018 

  • Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina: After June 2018 

  • Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming: After June 2018 

  • Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virgin Islands: After June 2018 

Beneficiary benefits won’t change under the new MBI and there is NO charge for the card.  Sadly, scammers are already at work.  Beneficiaries should  beware of anyone who contacts them about their replacement Medicare cards.  CMS officials will never ask a beneficiary for personal or private information or for any money as a condition of getting a new Medicare number and card. 

This would be a good time to prepare elderly parents, relatives, or friends for the change and warn them of any possible phone or internet scams regarding the new card as well as check addresses with the SSA.  Since most Midwest beneficiaries won’t begin receiving the new cards until June 2018 or later, there is time to act.  Just don’t forget to do so!

For additional information, check the CMS new card info site.

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

More Posts

Tips for Cleaning Electric Pressure Cookers

Recently a friend emailed me asking how to clean an electric programmable pressure cooker (EPPC) so that it didn’t retain the smells of previous cooked foods.  This friend is certainly not the only one asking this question.  In fact, after I got my own EPPC, I had the same concern.  In my search for advice, I encountered lots of stories and advice from other EPPC owners with one owner even claiming to have found maggots growing in the condensation collector!  True or not, there are at least eight parts of any EPPC that should be cleaned after every use and it only takes minutes to do:  the inner pot, base, trivet, lid, silicone ring, pressure valve, condensation collector, and the anti-block shield.  With the exception of the base, all of these parts are dishwasher safe with most manufacturers.  The cooker base must be kept dry but can be wiped with a damp cloth.

It is always best to consult the manual that came with the EPPC for the best way to clean the appliance, but we know how manuals get misplaced or sometimes really don’t provide much information.  Another source is to look online for the EPPC manufacturer and hopefully find care information; however, this may not be possible with some generic EPPC brands.   One EPPC manufacturer, InstantPot, provides great care and cleaning tips.  While the tips may be specific to InstantPot, they would be useful for other EPPCs as well if information cannot be found from a specific manufacturer.

If after all of these areas have been cleaned properly and a lingering odor is still detected, it is likely coming from the silicon sealing ring as it does hold food odors.  I have found three ways to help defuse those odors: soaking the ring in vinegar, turning the lid upside down between uses or leaving the ring exposed to air, and placing a small box of baking soda in the unit between uses.   Other suggestions I’ve read include putting the ring in the sun, wiping the ring with a stainless steel soap disc, soaking or steaming in lemon water and baking soda, or purchasing two rings, one for savory and one for sweet.  If one does opt for a second sealing ring or needs to replace a ring, be sure to get genuine manufactured parts to ensure the EPPC will work correctly and safely.

Another concern EPPC users have is with the gradual discoloration of the stainless steel inner pot.  If it is turning a blue-yellow, white vinegar will bring it back to it’s original luster.  The procedure is to let white vinegar stand in the pot for at least 5 minutes and then rinse with water.  If the bottom of the pot is dulled perhaps due to sautéing or hard water, I have found that a small amount of baking soda or a non-abrasive scouring cleanser like Bar Keepers Friend Liquid Cleanser on a damp cloth or sponge does an excellent job of bringing back the original shine after rinsing and drying. Don’t use anything metallic for scouring because it will damage the finish!

These are the suggestions that I gave my friend as they seem to work well for me.  If you are an EPPC user and have additional suggestions, I’d love to hear your tips!


Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

More Posts

Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet

While spring isn’t quite here, it’s not too early to set some time aside to clean your medicine cabinet, drawer, or shelf.  To some extent, most people welcome spring with a little extra attention to mopping, dusting, or vacuuming away winter’s dust and dirt.  While the windows may shine and the house and yard look fresh, the medicine cabinet remains untouched with a variety of forgotten old prescription bottles and OTC medications that “might come in handy someday” still on the shelf.  Likely some of these medications have expired and may cause more harm than good.

I’m guilty of keeping them too long myself.  Largely I forget about them and as long as I don’t need anything from the medicine cabinet, they are out of sight and out of mind.  Since it is a common problem, different groups have initiated “Take Back” or cleaning times to call attention to the issue.  Twice each year we have “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day” when consumers are encouraged to return unused or old medicine to their pharmacies, hospitals, or drop-off sites.  The first one in 2018 will be April 28; there will be a second in the fall, usually in October.  We also have National Spring Cleaning Week the last week in March when medicine cabinet cleaning is encouraged as part of the spring cleaning routine.

What should consumers do the rest of the year to safely dispose of medicines if they are unable to utilize the designated drop-off times?  The FDA offers instructions on how to safely dispose of medicines by flushing unwanted drugs down the toilet and for placing them in the garbage.  The downside of these alternatives are that drugs that are flushed can taint our rivers, lakes, and water supplies.  Drugs in the trash are a potential hazard to the environment and may be found accidently by children or pets, or scavenging teens or adults looking for a high.  In 2014 the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) authorized pharmacies and hospitals to take back drugs designated as controlled substances any time from a consumer wishing to surrender them; prior to that time, controlled substances had to be surrendered to law enforcement.  Controlled substances include opioid painkillers like Oxycontin, stimulants like Adderall, and depressants like Ativan.  Drop-off is completely free and anonymous.

Now there’s a new alternative.  Since 2016, the drugstore chain, Walgreens, has been installing safe medication disposal kiosks across the nation.  Not every store has one so to find a kiosk in your area, visit Store Locator.  The kiosks provide a safe and convenient way to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions, including controlled substances, and over-the-counter medications, ointments and creams, liquids, lotions, pet medications, prescription patches, and vitamins and supplements at no cost.

Certain medications or items are not accepted at the kiosks including needles, inhalers, aerosol cans, hydrogen peroxide, thermometers, and illicit drugs. As part of Walgreens drug take-back program, the kiosks make the disposal of medications easier and are available year-round during pharmacy hours to help reduce the misuse of medications and the rise in overdose deaths.

Here are some tips to get you started on extending your spring cleaning to your medicine cabinet:

Check the dates. Examine everything in the medicine cabinet, including ointments, supplements and vitamins. Discard any item that is beyond the expiration date and any prescription medications that are more than a year old. It is important to note that the expiration date really refers to that product unopened.  Once a medication has been opened and used, the clock starts ticking on its shelf life as contamination has been introduced. Medications and vitamins may lose their effectiveness or potency after the expiration date. Some may even become toxic.  Therefore, write the date you opened it on the container and after one year, get rid of all things opened or partially used.

Discard any items that have changed color or smell funny.  Regardless of the expiration or use by date, these items should be disposed.  This includes any colors that have faded, because they may have been exposed to too much light

Discard unmarked containers. If something is no longer in its original container or cannot be identified, get rid of it. Medications should always be kept in their original containers so that they are easily recognized. This includes ointments, since these can easily be mistaken for creams.

Dispose of medication and medical supplies properly and carefully. Because of the potential harm to the environment or to humans or pets, it is not recommended to simply throw out medication or flush them down the toilet. If you must do so, follow the FDA  recommendations.  Consider the disposal options aforementioned and utilize whichever works best for you.

Most collection sites won’t accept asthma inhalers, needles, insulin syringes or any other syringes, marijuana, mercury thermometers, and medications containing iodine. For disposal information and drop-off locations for syringes, needles, and other injectables—for example,for example, expired EpiPens—go to Safe Needle Disposal or call 800-643-1643.  When in doubt about how to safely dispose of a medication or medical device, check with your pharmacist.

Remove any personal identifying information on the prescription label.  Prior to disposal or container recycling either remove the label or black out any personal information including the RX number.  Also be sure the container is clean before recycling.

Inspect adhesive bandages.  Bandages and tapes have a limited lifespan, too, and should be replaced before their adhesive breaks down.

Lastly, consider relocating your medicine cabinet.  The bathroom is not the best place to store medication. The temperature and humidity changes that come with the shower running can lower the potency of some medicines. Medications should be kept in a cool dry place, away from children, pets, and scavengers. Consider a locked drawer or a locked box on a shelf.

It’s smart to undertake a medicine-cabinet cleaning every spring.  An annual review of prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and medical products can help keep us safe and healthy. Using an old product won’t necessary land you in the ER, but it could or it may not work effectively thereby wasting you money, affecting your health, or possibly delaying your recovery. Further, if the medicine isn’t on the shelf, it can’t be accidently used, incorrectly used, or abused.

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

More Posts

Help! Our car smells like a locker room!

While I enjoyed many holiday conversations with family and friends, the one that sticks out the most in my mind was a conversation about car odors.  Oh, the stories and oh, the laughs!  I’m not sure how we got to the conversation, but it certainly flickered an idea for a blog when someone asked, “So how do you get rid of those smells?”

Anyone who has lived with children—newborn to teenagers—and animals, and have carted them around from one event to the next in the mom-mobile, knows those  smells—spit up/vomit, diapers/urine, milk, French fries, mustard, ketchup, apple juice, dirty or wet clothes and shoes, coffee, peanut butter, dog breath, wet dog, cigarette smoke, etc.

The smell of a new car is intoxicating but quickly disappears with human use.  If you’d like to regain a bit of that new-car smell, here’s some tips.  I make no promise that these tips will return you vehicle to a showroom quality smell but do promise a clean, fresh, and better smelling car to enjoy.


  • Pick a sunny day to clean, if possible. Throw away all the trash, dirt, and refuse.  Remove the floor mats, child seats, and child seat mats.
  • Thoroughly vacuum the carpet and seats. The headliner may also be vacuumed.  If the odors are particular strong, sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and cloth seats and let sit for several hours before vacuuming.
  • Use vehicle cleaning wipes or a wet cloth to wipe down the dash board, the inside of the doors, door rests, steering wheel, seat belts, seats, seat backs, and other surfaces. Be sure to get between the seats and seat backs where spills can reside and go unnoticed.  If there are food spills on seats or carpet, use a wet cloth to gently rub and wash the spill away as much as possible.  A 50/50 white vinegar and water solution in a clean spray bottle is good for cleaning as well as eliminating odors.  Use a lint-free or microfiber cloth for wiping.  There will be no residual vinegar smell once it has dried.  Vinegar water is quite effective even on cigarette smoke.
  • Clean the floor mats. Use warm water and a few drops of dish soap water.  Place the mats on a flat surface (maybe the driveway) and scrub the mats with a soft scrubbing brush and the solution.  Rinse the mats and hang them to dry before placing back in your car.
  • Use a leather cleaner to clean leather seats following the manufactures directions.
  • Shine the inside window glass, mirrors, screens, and light covers using the vinegar/water solution or your favorite window cleaner and a lint-free cloth to wipe.
  • Launder the infant/child seat covers and thoroughly clean the plastic liner, base, and lock- down belts with the vinegar/water solution.
  • If you are a fan of commercial odor neutralizers, hanging car fresheners, or essential oils, use them sparingly in your freshly cleaned car. Some of them can undo the cleaning, scrubbing and elbow grease you just put into your vehicle. Most of these products simply mask the odor rather than solve them; further, they may give off irritating odors for those who are sensitive to them.

Once you have a clean smelling car, try to keep it that way.  Place a container or containers of some sort in the vehicle for collecting refuse or containing equipment.  Take a couple of minutes after every event or trip to make sure all equipment, dirty clothes, food wrappers, etc., are removed from the vehicle.  Clean up spills right away or as soon as possible.  Seal sweaty clothes/shoes or dirty diapers in garbage or zip bags.  Do a weekly cleaning as often as possible and a thorough cleaning three or four times annually.

And if these DIY tips don’t bring the relief that you seek, replace the cabin air filter in your vehicle.  You may also want to consider a professional cleaning job.  Additional sources of help are air filtration products that can be purchased.  Two favorites are an air purifier (Frieg, $20) that can be plugged into the power outlet and a compact filtration system (Philips Go-Pure, $144) that attaches to the back of a seat.  Both of these products are designed to improve air quality by eliminating smoke, pollen, dust, and other irritants.

Here’s to a healthier, happier, smell-free ride!

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

More Posts

Laundry Stains

Now that the holidays are over, it is time to tackle those items in the laundry room that were set aside until you figure out how to get the stains out.

It is best to treat stains promptly. Fresh stains are easier to remove than those that have aged. Even 24 hours can make a difference in how easily the stain is removed. Be sure to blot up any excess liquid or scrape off any solids as soon as the stain happens. However, it may be best to wait until mud has dried before removing it from the garment. Remove all excess solids or liquids before you submerge the clothing in water. It can be tempting to scrub the stain with a bar of hand soap, but soap will set many stains so resist the urge.

Always check clothing for stains before placing in the washing machine. Many stains must be pretreated before laundering. Remember to check the wet clothing before you put it in the dryer to be sure that the stain is gone. If the stain is still there, or if you are unsure that the stain is completely gone, air dry the garment as the heat of the dryer often sets stains permanently. The heat of ironing can also set a stain so make sure the stain is completely gone.

Wash heavily stained items separately. Soil and stains can redeposit on cleaner clothing during laundering. This can happen if too little detergent is used, water temperature is too low, washing time is too long, or if the washer is loaded with too many clothes.

Avoid using hot water on stains of unknown origin. Hot water can set protein stains like milk, egg, or blood. Use the water temperature recommended on stain removal products and detergents. Hot water should be between 120° and 140°F, warm water between 85°and 105°F, and cold water between 65° and 75°F. Water below 60° F is too cold for detergents to be helpful.

Before starting on the stain, test your stain removal agents on a seam or hidden area of the garment to be sure they do not affect the color or finish of the fabric. Avoid excessive rubbing unless the fabric is really tough and durable. Rubbing can spread the stain and damage the fiber, finish, or color of the fabric. However, gentle to vigorous rubbing and agitation under running water helps remove dried food, protein, or oil stains from shirts or jean-weight fabrics made of cotton or cotton/polyester blends.

If you used candles at your holiday celebrations, you may have had a wax stain on a tablecloth or on some clothing. To remove the wax stain, remove the waxy portion of the stain first, followed by the dye portion of the stain. Spray or sponge* with a dry-cleaning solvent like Goof Off or Goo Gone, or treat with a stain stick. “Sponging” confines the stain to a small area and keeps it from spreading. To do this, use absorbent material, such as clean rags or white paper towels, and a dry-cleaning solvent, spot remover, or aerosol pretreatment spray. Follow these steps: Pad the working surface with clean rags or paper towels that can absorb stains. Place the stained area or spot on the fabric face down over the padded surface. Dampen a small white cloth with solvent. Use the dampened cloth to pat the stain from the wrong side of the fabric. Feather the edges of the stain working from the outside toward the center to keep the stained area from getting larger.

As the stain transfers to the absorbent material beneath the fabric, move the stain to a clean place on the absorbent material so the stain has a clean place on which to transfer. Repeat this procedure until all traces of stain are gone. Launder to remove any ring left by the solvent. Then rub with a heavy-duty liquid detergent and scrub in hot water. To remove the dye portion of the stain, soak in an all fabric bleach (examples: Biz, Clorox 2, Snowy Bleach) diluted according to package directions. If the fabric is colorfast to bleach, liquid chlorine bleach may be used. Wash the tablecloth in as hot of water allowable for the fabric using detergent.

You may be familiar with the technique of ironing a wax stain away. Ironing candle wax between blotting paper drives the stain deeper into the fabric. This process is widely used, but not recommended. It more permanently sets the dye from the candle and makes it difficult for the detergent or solvent to reach the wax portion of the stain.

Now that you know the tips, it is time to get those stains out!






Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

More Posts - Website

Tips for cleaning


The calendar tells me that we are still in the middle of winter but it may not be too early to start some spring-cleaning. I always feel like I made the most of a day off when I am productive and get something cleaned. It is so easy on a busy day to ignore the little things that need cleaning. Here are a few easy tips, using things you already have around the home, which will help you get some cleaning done.



Burned popcorn or other odors in the microwave.

  • Combine 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1-cup water in a microwavable bowl. Heat the mixture for 5 minutes and then wipe out the microwave. Repeat this procedure two or three times a day for a few days if the odor is strong.

Slow running drains.

  • Combine 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup salt and 1-tablespoon cream of tartar and pour into the drain. Slowly add 1/2 cup white vinegar and then slowly pour in 1-cup boiling water. Allow to stand; then flush with cold water.

Burned or scorched saucepans.

  • To remove scorch stains in a saucepan, try a solution of 3 tablespoons Ajax in water and boil for 5-10 minutes. Scrub remaining residue with a scouring pad.
  • If your pan is aluminum or stainless steel, try 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice or cream of tartar per quart of water. Boil 5-10 minutes. Be sure the water line remains above the scorched line.

Removing odor from the refrigerator. Try one of these four solutions until the odor is gone.

  • Empty the refrigerator shelf and lightly crumple enough newspaper to fill the self. Sprinkle the newspaper with water and close the door. Replace the newspaper every 1-2 days. In 5 or 6 days, the odor should be gone.
  • Place toothpaste (not the gel type) on small pieces of foil and set in several spots in the refrigerator.
  • Place activated charcoal or activated carbon in a shallow bowl and leave it in the refrigerator while it is running for several days. The charcoal or carbon is available where aquarium and/or plant and garden supplies are sold. It will become saturated but can be reactivated by heating in a 300° F oven for one hour and then put back into the refrigerator. Try this for about 10 days
  • Unplug the refrigerator and thoroughly wash the inside of the unit with a mixture of two tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in one quart of warm water. Wash the shelves, drawers, accessories and gaskets. Be sure to wash corners, crevices or grooves where odor-causing liquid may have settled. Dry everything thoroughly.

If odor gets into the plastic lining or the insulation of the refrigerator, it can take a long time to dissipate.

Using these tips, I will be able to clean without a trip to the store.  I will be busy on my next day off.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

More Posts - Website

Safely dispose of Fats, Oils, and Grease

As much as we try to be healthy cooks and eaters, a lot of fats, oils, and grease (FOG) are used at Holiday time. Leftover fats, oils, and grease are not to be poured down the drain, through the dishwasher or garbage disposal, or toilet. Once FOG cools, it will solidify and begin blocking the drain. It slowly begins to coat the inside of pipes which will restrict water flow and cause a back-up resulting in inconvenience and potential costs to the homeowner which always seems to happen at the most inopportune time.

The safe way to dispose of FOG is to put it in your garbage or compost. There are a few things you can and should do before disposing of it. Number one is to remove excess FOG from dishes and pans before washing in either the sink or dishwasher. You can do this by using paper towels or even coffee filters. Throw the used paper towels or coffee filters away in your regular garbage.

If you have cooked something that needs to have the FOG drained from it (bacon, ground beef, etc), collect the grease in a container. An aluminum foil lined bowl works great for this. Once the grease is cool you can squeeze the foil closed and dispose of the package in your regular garbage.

Are you planning to deep fry a turkey for the Holidays? If so, remember to dispose of the cooled used oil after cooking. It is not safe to leave the oil in the fryer as it attracts pests and may turn rancid.

There are chemicals on the market that claim to dissolve grease. In most instances those chemicals only move the problem further down the line. Many of those chemicals are also not allowed by city ordinances.

With a little effort on all of our parts we can avoid expensive plumbing mistakes by safely disposing of fats, oils, and grease.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

More Posts

Safely disposing of unsafe home canned goods

Canned carrotsMany of you have probably finished your home canning for the season. As you are selecting your jars for use make sure you examine each jar for spoilage. What should you be looking for? First of all make sure the lid is tight and a vacuum seal was created. Look for any streaks of dried food on the outside of the jar. As you look at the contents inside the jar, see if you can detect cloudy canning liquid, rising air bubbles, or any unnatural colors. When you open the jar make sure you do not see any mold growing. Also pay attention to any spurting liquid or odd smells. These things are good indicators of food spoilage. Never taste the food from a jar that you suspect has been spoiled. You will also want to dispose of it properly.

If the jars are still sealed but show signs of spoilage, you can leave the jar intact but write on the jar that it is spoiled or poisonous and to not eat it. You can place those jars in a heavyweight garbage bag, close the bag, and place it in your regular trash container or dispose of it in your nearby landfill.

If the jars are not sealed they should be detoxified before being disposed of. In order to do that you will want to first of all protect yourself by wearing rubber or plastic gloves. Remove the lids from the jars. Carefully place the jars in a large pan on their sides. Add the lids to the pan as well. Add water to the pan until it reaches one inch above the jars. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes to detoxify the possible botulism toxin in the food. Once the food and lids have cooled you can throw them away in your regular trash. Wash the jars and the pan you used in hot soapy water.

To decontaminate any surfaces that the spoiled food may have come in contact with, spray or wet the surface with a solution of one part bleach to five parts water and let it sit for 30 minutes. If you are decontaminating metal utensils, use one teaspoon bleach to one quart of water and again let it sit for 30 minutes. Use paper towels to wipe up any treated spills. Discard of the paper towels in a plastic bag before putting them in your regular trash.

Spoilage in home canned food does happen. Make sure you examine your jars carefully before serving any not only to your family and friends but pets as well.


Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

More Posts

Storing clothing

Now that the weather has changed it is time to store all the spring and summer clothing away and make room for the warm winter clothing. It can be tempting to pack things away without examining them for stains. Sometimes we don’t notice a stain on a piece of clothing but when we get the clothing out of storage, the stains are very noticeable and sometimes hard to remove. These stains can be caused by sugary foods or even perspiration that was not removed before storing the garment.

It would be best to launder or dry clean all the summer clothing and store it in a way that will keep it clean and free of pests until it is needed again. Be sure that clothing is completely dry before storing as your clothing might develop mildew if stored damp. Large plastic tubs with tight fitting lids work well to keep dust out of clothing. Additionally, it will keep out insects like Asian lady beetles and prevent mice from making a nest in your favorite outfit. If a tub has clear sides, it is easier to know what is in the container. Better or more formal items can be stored on hangers.  Allow enough room between hangers that new wrinkles are not pressed into the garment.

Cleaning these summer items doesn’t need to be a huge project. You can keep a large plastic bin near where you do laundry and add a few summer items to each load of laundry you do for the next several weeks. Simply fold and place the dry clean clothing into the bin as you do your regular laundry.

When the seasons change again, you can remove the summer things and begin cleaning and storing the winter clothes. Be sure that all your sweaters and other woolen items are clean and stored in an air tight container. That will prevent damage from clothing moths. It is so discouraging to find a hole in one of your favorite sweaters when it can be prevented so easily. If you would like more information on clothing moths, Iowa State University has an interesting article. Moth balls or granules are no longer recommended for storing woolens, they can be caustic and irritating and difficult to remove the odor when you take the clothing out of storage.

I’m still in the process of getting all our summer clothing stored; when I’m done I will be glad to have more room in my closet.



Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

More Posts - Website

Dealing with Head Lice

With kids back in school, it’s probably only a matter of time until you hear about head lice.  Anyone who comes in close contact with someone who already has head lice is at risk for acquiring head lice as they are easily transmitted from head to head.  Preschool and elementary-school children and their families are most often infected.  While head lice infestation is very common and has been around for centuries, they are contagious, an annoyance and disruption to family life, and sometimes tough to get rid of—been there, done that!

The head louse is a tiny, wingless parasitic insect that lives among human hairs and feeds on tiny amounts of blood drawn from the scalp.  While they are frustrating to deal with, they aren’t dangerous as they don’t spread disease.  However, their bites make a child’s head itchy and scratching can lead to infection.  It is best to treat head lice quickly once they are found as they spread easily from person to person.

Head scratching is usually the first sign that your child has head lice.  However, when scratching is noticed, the child already has an active case.  Therefore, it is best to check your child’s scalp weekly for nits (lice eggs) by parting the child’s hair into small sections and looking particularly near the scalp, around and behind the ears, and near the neckline at the back of the head. Even though small, nits can be seen by the naked eye.  Adult lice lay eggs on the hair shafts close to the scalp; nits look like dandruff, but can’t be removed by brushing or shaking them off.  The eggs hatch within 1 to 2 weeks after they have been laid.  After hatching, the egg casing remains firmly attached to the hair shaft and the newly immerged nymphs, smaller than a sesame seed with six tiny legs, are on the move seeking blood to survive.  Nymphs become adults within 1 to 2 weeks and are gray-white in color and about the size of a sesame seed. Nymphs and adults are often harder to spot as they move fast.  See the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website for pictures of the various lice stages and for the best information on how to treat lice.

Lice cannot jump or survive long without a human host.  They cannot spread to pets as they can only survive on human blood. They are spread by direct contact with the hair of an infested person.  Cleaning is a necessary part of ridding the home of head lice.  Here are some simple, but time consuming, ways to get rid of lice and prevent re-infestation:

  • Wash all bed linens and clothing that’s been recently worn by the infested person in very hot water; dry with the hot cycle of the dryer for at least 20 minutes.
  • Put stuffed animals and non-washable items in airtight bags for at least 3 days. Place the bags in the garage or someplace away from constant human contact.
  • Vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture (car seats, too); dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag in an airtight bag away from the home.
  • Clean hair-care items like combs, barrettes, hair ties or bands, headbands, and brushes by soaking in rubbing alcohol or medicated shampoo for an hour. If tolerated, these items can also be washed in the dishwasher.

Finally, know that having head lice is NOT a sign of poor hygiene or a dirty home.  They are a problem for all mankind.  Remind your kids to avoid head-to-head contact with other children and avoid sharing brushes and hair/head attire.  Most importantly, help them understand that while having lice can be embarrassing, they have not done anything wrong and they are not dirty.

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

More Posts


Subscribe to AnswerLine Blog

Enter your email address:

Connect with us!

AnswerLine's Facebook page AnswerLine's Twitter account AnswerLine's Pinterest page
Phone: (Monday-Friday, 9 am-noon; 1-4 pm)
 1-800-262-3804 (in Iowa)
 1-800-854-1678 (in Minnesota)
 1-888-393-6336 (in South Dakota)