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Why you're probably washing your clothes wrong

Published: Saturday, October 03, 2015 @ 4:19 AM
Updated: Saturday, October 03, 2015 @ 4:19 AM

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When it comes to best practices for washing clothes, there are some traditional rules of thumb. According to some recent insight from the experts over at Consumer Reports, however, the rules have changed.

With all the different options for detergents and machines available today, many people have forgotten how water temperature impacts the effectiveness of washing clothes.

Washing in cold water is a much more effective option than it used to be, according to Consumer Reports experts. Traditionally, detergents required higher water temperatures in order for them to be most effective.

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That's no longer the case. Detergents are made differently today, in a way that allows them to be more effective at lower temperatures.

Today, “detergents are formulated with enzymes that kick into action even at 60 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Pat Slaven, a chemical engineer who has worked as a detergent tester for Consumer Reports for 10 years. 

So what does that mean exactly?

Cold water works just fine

You can wash your clothes on a cold cycle and the detergent will do its job and clean your clothes just fine. The only exception is for people who live in areas where tap water is typically colder -- places like Maine and Alaska, where tap water can run at temperatures of around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you're one of those people, experts says it's better to have a newer machine "that automatically adds some hot water to your cold cycle or your detergent won’t dissolve properly."

If you're trying to remove a stain, cold water is still a better option, according to the experts. Once the water temperature reaches above 75 degrees, detergents becomes less effective, and the heat can actually help stains set into the clothing. Hotter water can also damage some fabrics and colors.

When to use hot water

Cold water will clean dirty clothes just fine, but it won't sanitize them. And sanitizing clothes and other items is necessary in certain situations, for example, if someone in your home is sick -- and potentially contagious -- or if you use reusable diapers.

In order to properly sanitize sheets, clothes and items like cloth diapers, you need to use very, very hot water. Even the warm and hot cycle settings on new washers don't use water that's hot enough.

How to properly sanitize laundry

According to Consumer Reports experts, “As long as you’re using a decent detergent and a decent machine, almost anything washed in water at 65 degrees Fahrenheit is fine."

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4 drinks that could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 3:01 PM

The following four drinks are some that can sabotage your diet when you're trying to cut calories Juices Coffee with add-ins Alcohol Smoothies

When you're trying to lose weight, you may not give much thought to what you drink, but those calories definitely add up! These "liquid calories" can sabotage your weight-loss efforts, and you may not feel as full as if you'd eaten the same number of calories. Many drinks also provide little to no nutrients and are often loaded with sugar, which can further hamper your weight loss.

»RELATED: Drink up: Black tea helps you lose weight with gut bacteria, study says

These drinks – and their calories – may add up to more than you realize, even on a single day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered a sample list of the drinks you may choose during a day in order to total the calories. They started with a morning coffee shop run with a 16-ounce café latte made with whole milk at 265 calories. A non-diet soda with lunch had 227 calories, and an afternoon sweetened lemon iced tea from the vending machine was 180 calories. A glass of non-diet ginger ale with dinner added 124 calories for a daily total of a whopping 796 calories!

The following four drinks are some that can sabotage your diet when you're trying to cut calories:

Orange juice prices could rise as much as $2.30 per gallon, because Hurricane Irma destroyed much of Florida's crop.


You may think that swapping out sugary sodas for fruit juices is good for your diet, but it may not be as good as you think. Fruit juices are concentrated sources of natural sugar, so they have more calories and don't fill you up as much as fresh, frozen or canned fruits do, according to the Mayo Clinic.

For example, a 20-ounce glass of 100 percent apple juice has 300 calories, and the same portion of 100 percent orange juice has 280, the CDC says.

»RELATED: It's official: Coffee is good for you, according to new research


A plain black cup of coffee isn't a calorie problem, according to the Mayo Clinic. It contains fewer than five calories and no fat, but most people need at least a few extras with their coffee, and these also add extra calories.

Although at-home add-ins like creamer and sugar raise the calorie count, a specialty coffee can make it soar. A grande (16-ounce) size of white chocolate mocha espresso at Starbucks has 360 calories. If you choose a venti (20 ounces), you'll be drinking 460 calories.

The sidecar is a classic sour cocktail containing three ingredients: cognac, lemon juice and orange liqueur. CONTRIBUTED BY MARCEL(For the AJC)


A few drinks after work with your friends or a couple of beers or glasses of wine with a meal can raise your calorie count.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously took a look at some of the calories contained in popular alcoholic beverages and found that five ounces of red wine has about 106 calories, and five ounces of white wine has 100 calories. A regular Budweiser beer comes in at 143 calories, and Bud Light isn't far behind at 110 calories. Cocktails like a four-ounce margarita up the calorie count even higher at 168 calories, and a 4.5-ounce Piña colada packs 245 calories. These counts could vary somewhat depending on the alcohol and sugar content of your specific drink.

The Angel Food smoothie from Smoothie King contains 340 calories for a 20-ounce serving and 690 for 40 ounces.(For the AJC)


Smoothies have a "health halo" that leads many people to believe they're harmless, Marisa Moore, a local dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told the AJC.

Serving size is important, she pointed out. For example, a 20-ounce Angel Food smoothie from Smoothie King containing 340 calories. If you order the 40-ounce mixture of strawberries, bananas, nonfat milk, vanilla and other natural flavors and turbinado sugar, you'll be getting a whopping 690 calories. You can save some calories by omitting the sugar, saving 90 calories on a 20-ounce Angel Food smoothie, but it's still fairly high in calories.


Which foods can help you fight the flu?

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 2:53 PM

Doctors say some of the increase could be explained by fewer children getting flu vaccinations

Some are advising that in addition to the usual rules about getting your flu shot, washing your hands more often and getting enough sleep, you should also think about shifting your diet towards foods that may boost your immunity. As Fox reports, some nutritional experts suggest stocking up on foods that may help keep you healthy during the peak of flu season. Now, we all know that chicken noodle soup is a go-to elixir and not just for emotional reasons. It’s also a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory properties.

>> 7 ways to meet the costs of cold and flu season

“When we’re sick, we don’t want to eat and don’t want to drink, but you need to continue to eat and give your body the nutrients and energy you need for the immune system to function properly,” Michael P. Angarone, D.O., assistant professor of infectious diseases and medical education at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine told Fox.

But here are some foods you may not have thought about in terms of helping shield you during what is being called a deadly flu season. Try increasing the probiotics in your menu, because that boosts the health and wellness of your gut, which may aid your immune system. It’s pretty easy to do, too. Why not have some Greek yogurt at breakfast and dress up your hot dog with sauerkraut?

“Probiotics are healthy microorganisms that can help support bacterial balance in the gut,” dietitian Jaime Mass, R.D.N., L.D. told Fox.

>> Armed with belt, woman fighting flu fends off home invaders

Another good immune booster is ginger tea, a zesty and soothing choice for cold weather. In a review published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, as Today noted, researchers found that ginger’s potent anti-inflammatory properties were key in the root’s power to combat a cold or flu.

Another easy pick is blueberries, which are bursting with antioxidants that may help treat and prevent coughs and colds, advised Today. According to research conducted by the University of Auckland, consuming flavonoids — the kind of antioxidants found in blueberries — made adults 33 percent less likely to catch a cold than those who did not eat flavonoid-rich foods. You can also tuck into some oranges with their famed Vitamin C, the traditional antioxidant.

>> School cancels classes after more than 160 students call out with flu

You might also want to stock up on salmon, chicken, lamb, spinach, sesame seeds, lentils, and chickpeas, all of which have loads of zinc. While the jury is still out on how effective zinc is in terms of reducing cold symptoms, some studies have showed promise. As Today touted, the Journal of Family Practice published a study examining the effects of zinc on the common cold in children ages 1 to 10 years old.

Researchers found that zinc, in comparison to a placebo, significantly reduced the severity and duration of symptoms when taken within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms. They also found that children who took 15 mg of zinc daily for seven months were a lot less likely to catch a cold during flu season.

This is your LAST CHANCE to see ‘Crystal City’ in downtown Dayton

Published: Friday, September 15, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

We take you inside of Robert Blackstone's creation, Crystal City. Video by Amelia Robinson

UPDATED January 12, 2018 

It is the end of the road for Crystal City, the epic, sprawling, ever-evolving art installation in downtown Dayton. 

After a two year stint, the must-see art installation is ending its run at The Collaboratory, 33 N Main St.

Collaboratory founder Peter Benkendorf said the search is on for a home where artist Robert Blackstone, Crystal City’s creator, can continue his work. 

A farewell reception will be held at The Collaboratory for the exhibition starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26. 

>> EARLIER REPORTING (Sept. 15, 2017): 

After more than 25 years, it is still hard for Robert Blackstone to explain the project he began on his grandma’s dining room table at age 20 or so. 

But there Crystal City is, in a space adjacent to The Collaboratory at 33 N Main St. in downtown Dayton. 

“You have to come see it,” Blackstone said. “There are not enough words.”

>> PHOTOS: A trip inside of Crystal City in downtown Dayton

Passersby can see it through the window of the space long ago occupied by an Elder-Beerman department store just off Courthouse Square.

Like any other city, Blackstone’s Crystal City is a work in progress. 

“There is always construction,” he said.  

The street artist’s animated, mixed-media installation started off as a hobby. Packed with whimsical found objects, it combines a list of hobbies that include music, games, trains, race tracks and video games. 

>> PHOTOS: The Collaboratory welcomes 'dreamers and doers' at the to Idea Exchange

Dayton artist Robert Blackstone has been working on Crystal City, his mixed-media project, for more than 26 years. The project, a work in progress, is currently assembled in an empty space next door to the The Collaboratory in downtown Dayton. Photo: Amelia Robinson

“When I first started having kids, I wanted to show them something beautiful,” the father of four said. “It started out on one table and now it is on two tables and the whole floor.” 

A painter, Blackstone credits his time at the Dayton Visual Arts Center with turning him into an artist. He found the arts organization by word of month. 

From a 1994 Dayton Daily News article on a street art exhibit Blackstone participated in: 

He had no portfolio, no slides, no resume. His formal education had ended after a year at Colonel White High School. He didn't know anything about traditional art making, but he felt compelled to create things.

Using discarded items he found on the street in his neighborhood or that he bought at nearby thrift stores, he re-formed used objects to reflect his vision of life around him. Sometimes the new pieces he created stood alone, sometimes they became part of elaborately structured miniature worlds.

DVAC not only accepted Blackstone in, but also encouraged his efforts.

Blackstone said DVAC Executive Director Eva Buttacavoli and Peter Benkendorf of The Dayton Collaboratory helped him find space for the latest version of Crystal City. 

Benkendorf said the details found in Crystal City are even more intriguing when Blackstone takes you on a tour of the piece.  

“You can spend an hour in there and come back the next day and see something completely different,” he said. 

Want to see it?

Those who want to see it in person can contact The Collaboratory at 937-476-1535 or to set up an appointment.

The piece includes grafitti by artist Simeon Oyeyemi.

The Playground Theater Company donated the platforms that Blackstone has built Crystal City on for the past 18 months. 

>> MORE: You won’t believe what this artist is doing all over Oregon District sidewalks

Sometimes the artist worked such long hours that he only paused for naps in a cubby -- a move inspired by a story famed Dayton artist Bing Davis once told him about family members sleeping under a table due to cramped quarters.

Dayton artist Robert Blackstone has been working on Crystal City, his mixed-media project, for more than 26 years. The project, a work in progress, is currently assembled in an empty space next door to the The Collaboratory in downtown Dayton. Photo: Amelia Robinson

Crystal City is thunders, whirls and flashes. 

There are screens, a turntable, crabs, stuffed animals and bowling trophies that Blackstone transformed with paint and the heat of a welder’s torch. 

An earlier version of Crystal City was part of an exhibit at the University of Dayton in 1994, said Blackstone, who is an independent construction contractor.  

Crystal City is partly a reminder of war and a memorial to Blackstone’s late father, Robert Goodson, and grandmother, Aredia Goodson, as well as those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Dayton artist Robert Blackstone has been working on Crystal City, his mixed-media project, for more than 26 years. The project, a work in progress, is currently assembled in an empty space next door to the The Collaboratory in downtown Dayton. Photo: Amelia Robinson(Amelia Robinson)

It includes monuments representing the Twin Towers, complete with a beacon inside of the Pentagon building.  

Blackstone says Crystal City is also about love. Images of love can be found throughout the project. 

He says he wants Crystal City’s vistors to use their imaginations, and called on the advice he gives to his youngest daughter. 

“Hold onto your imagination for as long as you can,” he said.

>> MORE: See photos of Crystal City in downtown Dayton

Dayton artist Robert Blackstone has been working on Crystal City, his mixed-media project, for more than 26 years. The project, a work in progress, is currently assembled in an empty space next door to the The Collaboratory in downtown Dayton. Photo: Amelia Robinson(Amelia Robinson)

Dayton artist Robert Blackstone has been working on Crystal City, his mixed-media project, for more than 26 years. The project, a work in progress, is currently assembled in an empty space next door to the The Collaboratory in downtown Dayton. Photo: Amelia Robinson(Amelia Robinson)