There once was a family named Theriot, for which a dirty house was their biggest foe.
Hailing from St. Gabriel, LaPlace, and Baton Rouge,
knowledge of cleaning flowed from them
like the Mississippi bursts a levee: a great deluge.
From Maw Maw Mary Ada to Paw Paw Pie,
the commitment to sanitation one couldn’t deny.
From morning to night the Theriots would toil,
the thought of missing a spot made their blood boil.
So with a rag in one hand and a spray bottle in the other,
on hands and knees or on a ladder, they did what it took, it didn’t matter.
To make their homes shine they used vinegar, water, and baking soda.
They left no dirt, not one iota.
Of the passion for cleaning, there was no degradation;
It was passed down from generation to generation.
In the year 2010, one Theriot named Isabel was in a sticky financial situation.
On a whim, she decided to use her cleaning expertise to bring home the bacon.
From that year till now, this Theriot cleans houses to bring home the green,
with a little company called Eco Clean.
But cleaning for money did not provide satiation,
she longed to share what she’d learned,
all of the dirt-banishing information.
Feeling this calling to share cleaning info, Isabel finds joy
writing a column called Tips From Theriot.

Is there an eco-friendly alternative to using canned air for cleaning electronics?

I’m glad you asked this question, because, to be honest, I’ve never thought about the fact that canned air might be bad for the environment. I mean, it is called canned AIR. But, alas, that can ain’t emitting that sweet, sweet O2-N2 combo. Oh no, every time you smash that actuator to clean your keyboard, you are forcing difluoroethane, tetrafluoroethane (greenhouse gasses with global warming potential), or even butane (highly flammable) into the environment. Ever notice that when canned air leaves the can, the can becomes really cold? Well, this happens because the compressed refrigerant liquid expands as it is dispensed through the aerosol valve and vaporizes from its liquid state. If you accidentally spray your hand, you can actually get frostbite. Ouch! If you are a dumb rascal who uses this compressed air to get that wah wah high, you’re damaging your heart and brain; good job. Luckily there are alternatives to this poison vapor. One easy alternative to get into those nooks and crannies is a small ESD-safe detailing brush (ESD-safe products reduce static electricity). You may have seen one of these brushes in an electric shaving kit. If you’re hell-bent on squeezing air out of something, why not try a dust blower? Dust blowers are cute little bulb-looking apparati (They kind of look like baby nasal aspirators, a.k.a. snot suckers) that emit puffs of air with every squeeze. If you’re really fancy or use lots of air for cleaning, an electric air duster might be the option for you. These dusters are, you guessed it, electric. There are plug-in or battery-powered versions, and they work the same as canned air. Some of these air dusters have changeable nozzle attachments for differently sized dust-hiding places. I hope one of these options works for your electronics-cleaning needs.

How do I get rid of fleas in my house?

I addressed this terrible problem in the July 2021 issue, but let’s revisit, shall we? Yuck! Aside from maggots, fleas are the creature that I find most repugnant on the planet. Why do these blood-sucking, itch-inducing insects exist? Well, there is that whole survival of the fittest thing; these pernicious parasites use their hosts to propagate horrid maladies that can prevent overpopulation, such as Yersinia pestis (bad-old bubonic plague), typhus, CSD (cat scratch disease), and tapeworms (you may have seen these rice-looking Dipylidium caninum in your cat’s poop. Gross!). When I see fleas in a house, I always imagine them making a clicky-sucking sound, like the sound Hannibal Lecter makes in The Silence of the Lambs. Thanks, brain. The thing with fleas is that you must banish them immediately, or you’ll have an infestation on your hands real quick. Once this happens, it’s very, very hard to get rid of them. First you’ll vacuum your floors to remove the live fleas, then immediately empty your vacuum into a bag, seal the bag, and put it outside. Next, grab some diatomaceous earth and salt. Diatomaceous earth is rad; it’s kind of like dinosaurs! This fine powder is made of the microscopic remains of fossilized algae, called diatoms. It’s also non-toxic to humans and animals. Diatomaceous earth kills the fleas by damaging their exoskeletons: The abrasive powder clings to their tiny, hard bodies, sucks out all of their gooey moisture, and causes them to dry up and perish. Wicked. Salt will help with the flea dehydration fun. Mix these two ingredients together and sprinkle it everywhere: carpet, rugs, bare floors, furniture, and pet bedding. Let this sit for a day. After your day of waiting for flea annihilation, vacuum everything again; and again empty the vac contents into a bag, seal it, and throw it outside. Next you’ll make a mixture of half water and half vinegar and a few squirts of Dawn dish soap in a spray bottle. Grab a wet rag and a dry rag. Now get on your hands and knees and spray, then wipe, then spray, then wipe. If you have hardwood floors, make sure to spray in the cracks really well. You can also create a watery death trap-bog for fleas by making a mixture of half water and half dish soap. Fill a few bowls with this mixture and place the bowls around the house at night (not unlike vampires, fleas are nocturnal). Place some lamps next to the bowls, as the light will lure the fleas in the direction of their watery grave. As the fleas dive into the solution, they become trapped by its viscosity. Going forward, a pretty (and fragrant) flea prevention measure is to place some flea-repelling plants around your home. Certain plants contain specific oils, compounds, and chemicals that fleas hate. For example, fleas despise rosemary, pennyroyal, chrysanthemums, lavender, and spearmint. Good luck killing all of the fleas!

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illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm

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