BOSTON — Q. Is it OK to wash your latex paintbrushes in the sink? Is it ecologically friendly to have your paint run down the drain? And what's the best way to dispose of paint cans?
A. "It's generally OK to wash latex brushes in the sink and to dispose of paint cans in the trash," says Al Nardone at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Affairs. Latex paint is not considered toxic household waste.
But he adds, "Large amounts of latex paint shouldn't go down the drain." Significant quantities of paint and paint thinner should be disposed of in alternative ways. Some communities have "collector days" where household waste is collected in order to be recycled. Consult your local board of health or sanitation department to find the days in your area.
Q. Moth balls are used to prevent moths from laying eggs. I have a different problem. The infestation has begun, and the air is filled with small flitting moths. Inquiries at insecticide offices are of no help as they recommend using Raid, which smells like napalm. What do you recommend? Can you name a product?
A. "You must first identify the species of the 'flitting moths' before attempting to control them," says Walt Cline at Do-It-Yourself Pest Control, in Atlanta. You might want to ask your local pest-control service to help you out. If they are Indian meal moths, or chocolate moths, Mr. Cline recommends using Surefire's Pantry Pest Trap, which is a pesticide-free trap that uses pheromone to attract adult moths (available at most home-improvement stores or online: www.consep.com). If they are clothes moths, you can buy a similar clothes Moths Alert trap, which contains a similar kind of lure and a wax-based glue.
The most important method of clothes-moth control is good housekeeping, according to Phil Koehler, an entomology professor at the University of Florida at Gainesville. Sweep or vacuum regularly to remove woolen lint, hair, feathers, or animal fur from floors, shelves, and drawers. Adult moths don't feed on fabrics, but those in the caterpillar stage do. A female moth can lay 100 to 150 eggs that will hatch into hungry larvae. Clothing bags and cedar chests only provide protection when stored materials are free from infestation.
We slipped up and apologize for any confusion. In last week's item "Keeping Cars Clean," the book "All New Hints from Heloise" recommended using soap with "zero pH." Assuming you could find such a product, it would eat away the finish on your car.
As many of you have let us know, zero pH is extremely acidic. You actually need a "neutral pH" (or a pH of 7) soap for your car, one that is neither acidic nor alkaline.
Readers: Pose your questions and we'll seek out experts on home repairs, gardens, food, and family legal issues. Send queries to the Homefront Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail email@example.com.