November 18, 2017

Archives for January 2007

Recall: Version-X Hair Dryers

Version-X Travel N Baby hairdryer recallName of product: Travel’N Baby Mini Hair Dryers

Units: About 18,000

Importer: Detour Corp., doing business as Version-X, of Studio City, Calif.

Distributor: Metropolis Beauty Inc., of Los Angeles, Calif.

Hazard: These electric hair dryers are not equipped with an immersion protection plug to prevent electrocution if the hair dryer falls into water. Electric shock protection devices are required by industry standards for all electric hand-held hair dryers. If the hair dryer falls into water during use and is not equipped with this safety device, it can pose a shock and/or an electrocution hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: None reported.

Description: The recalled hair dryers are made of plastic and are red, blue or green. The hair dryer’s handle folds up. The words “Travel’N Baby” are printed on one side of the hair dryer.

Sold by: Independent beauty supply stores and beauty salons nationwide and online at from January 2004 through January 2005 for about $20.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should stop using these hair dryers immediately and contact Version-X at (800) 871-6824 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or visit the recall Web site at for a replacement hair dryer equipped with an immersion protection plug.

See this recall on CPSC’s web site.

Recall: Holmes Group Tower Fans Fire Hazard

holmes oscillating fan recallName of product: Holmes® Oscillating Tower Fans

Units: About 300,000

Distributor: The Holmes Group, of Milford, Mass.

Hazard: Electrical arcing in the fan’s wiring can cause a fire hazard.

Incidents/Injuries: The Holmes Group has received 16 reports of property damage, including one reported injury involving minor burns and smoke inhalation.

Description: The recall involves the Holmes HT30 Oscillating Tower Fan.
The model number can be found on the silver label on the back of the unit. The tower fans are white. “Holmes®” is printed on the front of the base.

Sold at: Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and additional department and specialty stores nationwide from July 2002 through June 2005 for about $30.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the fans and contact The Holmes Group for instructions on receiving a free replacement unit at (800) 524-9204 anytime or visit the firm’s Web site at

See this recall on CPSC’s web site.

Microwaving Sponges May NOT Kill Germs

Well, the skeptics are coming out to challenge the news we reported earlier that microwave ovens may kill germs.

good housekeeping sealAccording to the kitchen technology and appliances director of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute Karen Franke:

the early show - harry smith“We don’t recommend that people do it,” she told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. “They take the risk that their sponge will not be sanitized. It’s a false security.”

Kitchen sponges are the No. 1 source of germs in the house and as many as 80 million Americans contract food-borne illnesses each year — 9,000 of those Americans die.

Critical factors are whether the sponge is wet or dry and the size and power of the microwave oven used. There is also a danger of fire.

In an article entitled Microwave experiments cause sponge disasters there were some strong comments by those who experimented based on the news… omitting the step of wetting the sponge:

“Just wanted you to know that your article on microwaving sponges and scrubbers aroused my interest. However, when I put my sponge/scrubber into the microwave, it caught fire, smoked up the house, ruined my microwave, and p*ssed me off,” one correspondent wrote in an e-mail to Reuters.

“First, the sponge is worthless afterwards so you have to throw it out instead of using it. And second your entire house stinks like a burning tyre for several hours, even with windows/doors open,” complained another.

An inexpensive alternative for frugal shoppers is plain bleach. Add about a teaspoon of bleach to a cup of water, let the sponge sit in the mixture for five minutes, and then germs will be gone.

Good Housekeeping also advises NOT to rely on dishwashers to clean sponges since the water doesn’t get hot enough.

Microwave Ovens Kill Germs

Not sure if I ever saw this in a Hints from Heloise column but it’s the kind of news that shows us again that some obvious solutions are easy, inexpensive and right under our noses.

Who knew that microwave ovens can sterilize sponges?

microwave spongesMicrowave ovens are famous for cooking or heating the food but the appliance that cooks food by means of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation can also help in keeping bacteria away from taking over kitchen, a team of environmental engineers from the University of Florida reported on Monday, January 22.

Working as a sterilizer, this kitchen device sanitizes the household sponges and plastic scrubbers, known to be common carriers of the bacteria and viruses that cause food-borne illnesses, with its microwave radiations rapidly and effectively, meaning that people can use their microwaves as an inexpensive and effective weapon against E.coli, salmonella and other bugs at the root of increasing incidents of potentially deadly food poisoning and other illnesses.

In their study, published this week in the American Journal of Environmental Health, the U.S. researchers have said that two minutes in a microwave can sterilize sponges and dishcloths after use, killing more than 99 per cent of the harmful bacteria that cause illness.

“Basically what we find is that we could knock out most bacteria in two minutes. People often put their sponges and scrubbers in the dishwasher, but if they really want to decontaminate them and not just clean them, they should use the microwave,” said lead author Gabriel Bitton, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of Florida.

Following are some comments of microwaving sponges and the conditions under which the University of Florida carried out its experiments, not addressing any other conditions nor other materials:

  1. Sponges used in our study: The sponges we used were all cellulose sponges (O-cel-O from 3M Co. and the Williams Sonoma Pop-Up sponges; no official endorsement is implied). We have no data on synthetic sponges, Loofah sponges or any other sponges.
  2. Microwave oven used: The microwave oven used in our study has a power of 1,100 watts (which is the power found in many consumers’ ovens). We generally microwaved the sponges at 80%-90% power level.
  3. Exposure time: In the study, it was found that exposure of the sponge for 2 minutes is sufficient for most applications. However, the sponges have to be fully soaked with water before microwave treatment.
  4. Metallic pads: No metallic scrubbing pads should be put in the microwave.
  5. Soapy sponges can be microwaved (you might see soap bubbles forming during microwaving). Do not microwave sponges containing detergents or other chemicals as they may release some undesirable and potentially toxic fumes.
  6. Beware of hot sponges after exposure to microwave.
  7. Consumers should use common sense in trying to zap their sponges in their kitchens. If they have a microwave oven with a higher power or sponges with a different chemical composition, they should exercise caution.

Another article reminds us NOT to put dishcloths in microwave ovens:

“Attempting to sterilize a dishcloth in this way is extremely dangerous. There are too many variable factors such as the capacity/power of the microwave oven or the moisture content of the dishcloth or sponge. Scalding is another potential hazard.”