If you’re itching to get rid of fleas, try salt

WHAT does one do about fleas in a house with wooden floors? – RK, East London.

I must point out that fleas need a host and this is invariably a household pet, usually a dog.

Unless you rid your pets of fleas you will never be able to combat the problem completely.

Veterinary control methods are expensive but effective. These include Frontline spray and Frontline Plus capsules. There are also generic versions of these products.

Fleas lay eggs in carpets and places like skirting boards. When it comes to wooden floors, they could be in the cracks.

These eggs can lie dormant for two months, so regular vacuuming and cleaning is essential. In bad infestations, destroy the vacuum bag.

Reader Lee-Ann, who is asthmatic, wrote in to say that salt is a good flea deterrent.

She sprinkles it over the carpets, leaves overnight and vacuums in the morning.

Another reader from Gonubie provided an interesting tip.

When going away for a while, they place pieces of khakibos in the rooms and passages, and they always return to a flea-less house.

She realised that the plant might not be readily available, but having lived in East London and PE all their lives, they never had to drive far before finding some in the veld.

This item brought news of a khakibos spray for combating pests, such as cockroaches and fleas. It is distributed by a pharmacist in Cape Town, AN White.

“MF” of East London had good results with paraffin, sprinkled round the edge of her carpets.

Perhaps you could also try it on the wooden floors, though the smell is not pleasant.

Incidentally, though fleas may be deterred by strong smells, their eggs will still hatch. You have to get to the root of the problem.

I have a problem with a mildew smell in the built-in cupboards in our bedroom. They are made of raw press board and are not sealed or painted. I have used these dry gel things and also the Sta-soft refills, but to no avail. Is there anything else I could try? – CS, Port Elizabeth.

Obviously the unsealed press board is absorbing some level of moisture and this is causing the mildew smell.The first thing to do is clear out the cupboards and wipe them down thoroughly with a cloth wrung out in household bleach. This will kill the mildew spores.

Allow the cupboards to dry, and then either paint them with an oil-based enamel paint, or seal the surface with a good-quality varnish. There are a number of products on supermarket shelves or at life- style shops to provide cupboards with a pleasant smell. Another option is perfumed lining paper, which smells and looks good.

I have cream-coloured bull denim lounge curtains. My husband was charging penlight batteries in a plug behind the curtains. For some reason the batteries burst, splattering the curtain with a horrid black mess. I immediately soaked the stain in Vanish powder, which diluted the stains to a dark grey. I thought I would contact you before trying anything else. – Helen, Port Alfred.

You could try repeating the soak in Vanish, but when you have your back to the wall in trying to remove stains, bleach may be the only answer.

Jik, which claims to have 101 uses, even comes in a pleasant-smelling version these days.

There are detailed instructions on the container on the correct procedure for stain removal, and – most important – how to pre-test for colour fastness.

In your case, the treatment would involve a soak of five to 15 minutes in a solution in the proportion of a quarter-cup (62.5ml) of Jik to five litres of water. Then rinse thoroughly.

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