ITHACA/ELMIRA carpet cleaners


Is It Really Possible to Clean with Green Cleaning Solutions and Still Get Results That Equal or Surpass Cleaning with Today's Commercial Cleaners?

Yes, it is most definitely possible! Toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, phosphates, ammonia, sulfuric acid, and chlorine bleach, which can be found in those bottles of commercial cleaners, are not healthy. The fumes emitted from these cleaners not only affect those doing the cleaning but are also released into the area being cleaned, impacting the health of the rest of the occupants.

You Can Stop Using Toxic Chemicals to Clean!

One of the best things we can do for our children and our planet is to stop using toxic chemicals to clean. We all need to find viable solutions for 'green cleaning.' 

At ABC, we regularly use biodegradable, non-toxic solutions to clean the rugs and upholstery that come into our plant as well as the wall-to-wall carpets and tile and grout we clean on our clients' properties. Our equipment is very powerful and toxic chemicals are not needed. If more aggressive cleaning is required, we always choose the least toxic method and make sure our rinsing process removes any and all residues.

How can ABC Help?

Part of our commitment to our clients is to help them find ongoing information and tips on how to clean 'green' in their homes, businesses, and vehicles, or wherever their belongings may be. The majority of these suggestions will use common, and usually inexpensive, items.

(Please note: The green cleaning solutions you find on this website will be from trusted sources but we may not have individually tried them in our own homes.) We welcome your comments and any additional information you would like to submit.

Together we can spread the word about green cleaning solutions and really begin to make a difference in our world.


Chlorine Bleach, which contains the active ingredient Sodium hypochlorite, is one of the most widely used cleaning products. Research has shown that for safety sake, it would be wise to limit our usage of chlorine bleach, replacing it in most instances with safer substances such as hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, baking soda, etc.

Because we are offering suggestions for in-home cleaning with common 'natural' cleaners vs. commercial cleaners which may contain toxic chemicals, it is important to remember that certain of those 'natural' cleaners should NEVER be used together or dire health consequences could occur. One such example we have all probably been warned about is the danger of mixing bleach and ammonia together. Other examples are listed below.


Important also is that many other household cleaning products may contain bleach, (one such example is pool chemicals) and window and glass cleaners may contain ammonia, so it is extremely important to read the labels of all products before using.


Bleach should never be used with AMMONIA or ACIDS or any product containing either of these.  


  • Various glass and window cleaners
  • Urine such as in diapers pails and cat litter boxes
  • Some interior and exterior paints


  • Vinegar
  • Various glass and window cleaners
  • Certain automatic dishwasher detergents and rinses
  • Some toilet bowl cleaners
  • Some lime, calcium, and rust removal products
  • Some brick and concrete cleaners 


The active ingredient in bleach, sodium hypochlorite, produces a negative reaction with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) or ethanol.


  • Some oven cleaners
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Some insecticides



  • Pesticides
  • Dandruff control shampoos
  • Mold removal products
  • Other products containing sulfur or sulfates

The combination of fungicides and acids produces hydrogen sulfide gas. Even in small amounts, inhaling can cause eye irritation, coughing, dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Inhaling large amounts can result in tracheobronchitis, seizures, and death.


Toxic gases are produced. Exposure to these gases can cause the following to occur:

BLEACH and AMMONIA (chloramines):

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Nausea
  • Watery eyes
  • Irritation to throat, nose and eyes
  • Pneumonia and fluid in the lungs

BLEACH and ACIDS (chlorine gas and chlorine gas + water=hydrochloric and hypochlorous acids):

At low levels:

  • Irritation to mucous membranes (eyes, throat, and nose)
  • Coughing and breathing problems
  • Burning and watery eyes
  • Runny nose

At higher levels:

  • Chest pain
  • Severe breathing difficulties
  • Vomiting
  • Pneumonia and fluid in the lungs

At very high levels:

  • Death

NOTE:  Chlorine can also be absorbed through the skin causing pain, inflammation, swelling, and blistering. Hydrochloric acid causes burns to the skin, eyes, nose, throat, mouth, and lungs.


Chloroform could be produced if the above items should be used together.

  • Severe damage to nervous system, lungs, and kidneys.
  • Death


If exposure occurs, no matter how small, leave the area immediately, go outside and take deep breaths of fresh air and then seek emergency medical attention.   

Call 911. You can also call your local poison control center or go to your local hospital emergency department.  


Want to get started right away.... Here are some easy recipes for cleaning solutions with items you probably already have on hand.


Vinegar is one of the most amazing cleaners around (and very inexpensive as well). If you don't like the smell of vinegar, try this: Pour vinegar into a glass container, add some orange or lemon peels and let sit overnight. (Make sure to use a plastic cover on the jar because metal lids will rust when they come in contact with the vinegar.)

Use your scented vinegar in a spray bottle to clean and deodorize your refrigerator. Spray it on, allow it to soak in, then use a clean cloth to wipe down the inside of the fridge.

Use white vinegar to whiten and soften your clothes. The recipe is 1 cup of white vinegar to each load.


These 2 household items used together will clean pots and pans and do a great job on cutting boards as well. Just wet the surface of the item to be cleaned, sprinkle it with salt, rub with half a lemon, and then rinse.


Here is another 'must have' for your green cleaning solutions. Spilled grease on the stove top is no fun to clean up and you don't want to scratch it. Just sprinkle baking soda over the mess. Allow it to absorb the grease and then just wipe it away!


Would you ever have thought that olive oil would make a great furniture polish! Just mix three parts olive oil to one part vinegar and you have an excellent, non-toxic, polish for wood furniture.


Save endless brushing and rinsing your vegetables and fruits. Here is the recipe:

In a spray bottle combine 1 cup water, 1 cup distilled white vinegar, 1 tablespoon baking soda and 20 drops of grapefruit essential oil. Ready to use?  Shake the solution to mix well and spray it on the produce. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes and then rinse.



White Household Vinegar

Liquid Blue Dawn (not ULTRA) or Liquid Joy


Heat the vinegar in the microwave until hot and pour it into a spray bottle. (NOTE: Only use heat when mixing the ingredients, not every time you use the spray.)

Add the Dawn in a ratio of 2 parts vinegar to 1 part Dawn. If all you have is Ultra Dawn, use it in a ratio of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part Dawn.

If you would prefer Joy Dishwashing liquid (not Ultra) use it in a ratio of 1 cup vinegar, ½ cup water, ½ cup Joy.

Shake the mixture gently. Spray it on, scrub, and rinse.

For really tough soap scum buildup, such as the glass door of a shower, spray the mixture on and let it sit for at least an hour, up to overnight. You may need to scrub a little with a small brush. Wipe off with a microfiber cloth rinsed in warm water. After the initial cleaning of a glass shower door, quickly wipe down with a dry microfiber cloth after each shower to keep it looking great.


  • Beware of too many suds. Reduce the amount of Dawn or Joy if this happens.
  • If the area is too sudsy during rinsing, sprinkle a little bit of salt on the suds and they will disappear. Especially in a bathtub, you may want to sprinkle some baking soda on the tub after spraying to make it a little more abrasive to prevent slipping and falling.
  • Do not use this spray on granite or marble. It can cause pitting.
  • Do not use on brushed nickel faucets.
  • Could cause possible damage the caulking around the shower and tub after a few months.
  • If you would like to add a scent, try 20 drops of essential oil.


If you are still using sponges to clean up your dirty counters and paper towels to dry the area, try replacing these with microfiber cloths. They are totally reusable and actually do a much better job of cleaning.

Paper towels are expensive and those sponges soak up a lot of bacteria along with the messes. Microfiber cloths can go right into the wash and they can be used again and again.  


Ordinary distilled white vinegar is not only environmentally friendly but also an extremely economic cleaning product.

Cleaning with white vinegar offers a two-fold advantage:

  1. It not only deodorizes, but also cuts grease and soap scum and dissolves mineral buildup. 
  2. The acetic acid content of vinegar allows it to be used as a disinfectant to kill odors and most bacteria and germs and mold. 

Below are 27 uses for white vinegar that you may not have heard of or tried, but that may allow you to begin to remove and replace some of those toxic commercial cleaners you may have been using in your home. 

These natural cleaning solutions will get the cleaning results you want but you can rest assured that you are not releasing harmful fumes into your indoor environment.

Words of Caution:

  1. Do not add vinegar directly to materials containing ammonia or bleach as this could produce harmful vapors.
  2. EXTRA NOTE OF CAUTION CONCERNING MIXING OF VINEGAR AND HYDROGEN PEROXIDE!!              Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide when used separately are natural and harmless cleaning agents. However, combining the two products produces peracetic acid.  This acid is a corrosive acid strong enough to dissolve lead bullets!  It can cause permanent scarring skin and corneas.
  3. Never use white distilled vinegar on marble because the acetic acid can damage the surface. The same warning applies to smartphone screens and monitors. The acidic vinegar can strip off the thin layer of coating that helps to limit fingerprints and smudges.
  4. If using vinegar to clean pots and pans, use exclusively on stainless steel and enameled cast iron surfaces. Do NOT use on cast iron and aluminum which are reactive surfaces.
  5. Vinegar can remove mildew & mold, but like bleach, it only kills surface mold and mildew. To permanently remove these substances, the source has to be located and removed.
  6. Do NOT spray vinegar directly on bug-infested plants as it can damage them, but vinegar makes a GREAT WEEDKILLER!

Also Remember:  If the odor of vinegar is unpleasant to you, just add orange peels or lemon peels or any number of essential oils to your solutions.

1.  All Purpose Cleaner

Mix 2 cups of white vinegar with equal parts water and warm it up in the microwave in a glass container to boost its cleaning power. You only need to warm up the solution one time. This solution will easily wipe up those messy spots. (See Also All Purpose Cleaning Spray above.)

2.  Baby’s Toys

Instead of wiping down toys with commercial chemical cleaners, try cleaning with vinegar instead.  Adding a good amount of white vinegar to warm, soapy water will disinfect and clean baby toys. Use an old toothbrush for hard-to-reach places.  Rinse with clear water and dry. Vinyl baby books and larger toys can be wiped clean with a damp cloth that has been soaked in vinegar.

3.  Barbecue Grills

Spray a solution of ½ water and ½ white vinegar onto a warm (not hot) barbecue grill.  Leave for about 10 minutes. Spray full-strength vinegar onto a piece of wadded-up aluminum foil and scrub the grill vigorously. Repeat if necessary and then rinse.

4.  Can Opener Wheel

Use an old toothbrush and vinegar to clean.

5.  Cutting Boards (Wooden)

Wipe down with vinegar-soaked towel.

6.  Dishwasher

Pour 1 cup of vinegar inside an empty machine and run through cycle.

7.  Doorknobs

Doorknobs are often forgotten but they are one of those hidden areas that are full of germs. Spray full-strength distilled vinegar on doorknobs and then wipe dry.

8.  Drains (Clogged)

Pour ½ cup baking soda into the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Leave for about 30 minutes and then flush the drain with boiling water. (NOTE:  Check with manufacturer’s instructions when using with garbage disposals).

9.  Dusting

Use a spray bottle filled with half vinegar and half water. Lightly spray a rag to dust surfaces.

10.  Faucets (Chrome) To get mineral deposits off your chrome faucets, soak a cloth or paper towel in distilled vinegar and wrap it tightly around the area. If the faucet is hard to wrap, tie a plastic bag filled with 1/3 to ½ cup vinegar around the faucet. Allow to soak for 2 or 3 hours. Remove the wrap or bag and use an old toothbrush to scrub off the loosened deposits. For areas that are stubborn or tough to remove, scrub with a paste of 2 tablespoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Rinse all areas with clear water.

11.  Fireplace Glass Doors 

Spray or wipe on a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water. Then wipe clean of dirt and soot with a dry cloth.

12.  Grout

Put full-strength vinegar on and let sit for a few minutes. Then scrub with an old toothbrush.      

13.  Irons (Steam)

To unclog your steam iron, pour equal amounts of white vinegar and water into the iron’s water chamber. Turn the iron on to the steam setting and iron a soft absorbent towel to clean out the steam ports. Leave the iron on for 5 minutes in an upright position. Unplug the iron and allow it to cool and then empty the water to remove loose particles. Repeat the whole process with clear water and then thoroughly rinse out the inside of the iron.

If the iron plate is scorched, heat equal parts white vinegar and salt in a small pan. Rub this solution onto the cooled iron surface to remove the stains.

14.  Jewelry (Gold)

For shining gold jewelry, (NOT to be used with opals and pearls) soak pieces in a small jar with vinegar and twist the lid tightly shut for 15 to 20 minutes. Shake the jar gently for a few seconds. Scrub each piece of jewelry carefully with a soft toothbrush. Rinse under hot water and dry with a clean, soft cloth. Repeat, if necessary.

15.  Lunchboxes

Soak a slice of bread in vinegar and place inside a lunch box. Leave overnight to remove odor. 

16.  Metal

To remove tarnish from metal pieces, make a paste of equal amounts of vinegar and table salt. Let set and then gently scrub. Rinse clean and dry.

17.  Microwave

Great for easy cleaning of built-up food deposits. Bring a mixture of ½ cup white vinegar and ½ cup water to a rolling boil in a microwave-safe bowl. Remove the bowl and wipe the microwave clean of loosened foodstuffs.

18.  Mini Blinds

Dip gloved fingers into a solution of equal parts vinegar and warm tap water. Run your fingers across both sides of each blind.

19.  Plastic Containers

To remove odor and stains from plastic containers, wipe them with a cloth dampened with vinegar.

20.  Refrigerator

Use a solution of ½ water and ½ vinegar.

21.  Scissors

Clean off sticky residue with a cloth dipped in vinegar.

22.  Tile Scum, Grime, and Film

Wipe down bathtub grime, mildew, and scum from the tub, tile, shower curtain or door with undiluted white vinegar. For more stubborn areas, use ½ cup baking soda with ½ cup white vinegar in a gallon of warm water.  Spray glass shower doors with full-strength white vinegar before turning on the water and stepping in. This will help release the hard water deposits from the glass.

23.  Toilet Bowl

To clean and deodorize any toilet bowl, put ½ cup of baking soda in the toilet and then put in a cup of vinegar. The solution will foam and clean at the same time. Scrub well with a toilet brush and flush.

NOTE: Another toilet cleaning trick--dump a bucket full of water inside and gravity will make the water go down without refilling. This allows you to clean the bowl without the water getting in the way!

24.  Vases

To get the mineral deposits left inside, pour undiluted white vinegar into the vase and leave for a few hours. Use a bottle brush or add some sand or rice as an abrasive and shake vigorously. Repeat, if necessary, and rinse with hot water when clean. 

Note:  to keep cut flowers fresh longer, place them into a solution of 3 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar per quart of warm water.

25. Vegetable Cooking

If you find your leafy vegetables are wilted, soak them in cold water with a little vinegar and they will perk right up.

Rub your hands with a bit of white vinegar after chopping an onion to get rid of the odor from your hands.

Adding a little vinegar to the water when cooking vegetables from the cabbage family (for ex., broccoli or cauliflower) will not only perk up the taste of the vegetables, but will reduce the gassiness they can induce as well. This works equally well when cooking beans.

26.  Washing Clothes

When you add ½ to 1 cup of vinegar to the liquid fabric softener dispenser in your washer (top off with tap water if necessary), you will not only make your clothes smell fresher, but you will find that you will not need fabric softener and you will have reduced static cling so you won’t need chemical fabric softening sheets in the dryer.

To keep your washing machine fresh, the hoses clean, and to unclog soap scum, pour one cup of vinegar into the machine once and month and run a normal cycle without clothes.

27.  Water Rings from Wood

To remove, rub with the grain a solution of equal parts vinegar and vegetable oil.


Chemically speaking, BAKING SODA or sodium bicarbonate’s claim to fame is that it is able regulate the pH of a substance, keeping it neither too acidic nor too alkaline. Further, it can retard any further changes in the pH balance in a process known as buffering. Thus it can deodorize (such as the acidic odors in the refrigerator) and can maintain neutral pH (such as in the water in your laundry, which helps boost your detergent’s power).  

1.  Bathroom Tiles, Tubs, and Sinks

Use baking soda to make a surface soft scrub to safely and effectively clean bathroom tile, tubs, and sinks. It will also clean fiberglass and glossy tiles. The procedure is to sprinkle the baking soda lightly on a clean damp sponge or cloth and scrub the areas. Then rinse thoroughly and wipe dry. 

If a more abrasive cleaner is needed, you can make a paste with baking soda, course salt and liquid dish soap.  Allow the solution to sit and then scrub off.

2.   Battery Acid Corrosion on cars and garden mowers, etc. 

Baking soda is a mild alkali and can neutralize battery acid corrosion. Apply a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water with a damp cloth and scrub the corrosion from the battery terminals. WARNING:  Disconnect the battery terminals before cleaning. After cleaning and re-connecting the terminals, you might want to wipe them with petroleum jelly to prevent any future corrosion.

3.  Cars

Just back from a road trip? Apply a solution of ¼ cup baking soda in 1 quart of warm water onto a sponge or soft cloth and remove the road grime, bugs, tar, etc.  Baking soda is safe to use and won’t scratch the surfaces of your car lights, chrome, windows, tires, vinyl seats, and floor mats. For stubborn stains, sprinkle some baking soda on a small soft brush and gently scrub.

4.  Crayon marks on walls and painted furniture? 

You can remove them by applying baking soda to a damp sponge or cloth and rubbing lightly. Wipe off with a clean, dry cloth. 

5.  Cloth Diapers

These can be pre-soaked in a solution of ½ cup of baking soda in 2 quarts of warm water to remove stains and odors safely. 

6.  Dishes, Pots, & Pans  

Do you like to hand wash your dishes, pots and pans? Add 2 heaping tablespoons of baking soda to the dish water along with your regular dish detergent. This will help cut grease and foods left on the dishes, pots, and pans. If this is not enough to get cooked-on foods, let them soak in the solution first, then use dry baking soda on a clean damp sponge or cloth as a scouring powder. 

7.  Floor Cleaner 

Baking soda is excellent for mopping no wax and tile floors. Use a solution of ½ cup baking soda in a bucket of warm water. Just mop and rinse. For stubborn scuff marks, use baking soda on a clean damp sponge or cloth, then rinse. 

8.  Laundry  

If your laundry detergent is liquid, add ½ cup of baking soda to each wash to make that liquid detergent work harder. Clothes get cleaner and brighter with a better balance of pH in the wash cycle. This works for tough stains on baby clothes as well.  You can also add ½ cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle for deodorization purposes.

9.  Coffee or tea mugs with unsightly stains  

Wash in a solution of ¼ cup baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. For more stubborn stains, soak overnight in the solution or you can scrub with the baking soda applied to a clean damp sponge.

10.  Light-duty Oil or Grease on garage floor or in driveway 

Sprinkle baking soda on the area and scrub with a wet brush.  

11.  Ovens 

Even if you have a self-cleaning oven, the fumes can be harmful to the environment and even fatal to some pets, especially birds. Try sprinkling baking soda onto the surfaces of the oven. Spray with water to just dampen the baking soda. Let it sit overnight. In the morning, simply scrub, then scoop up the baking soda and the dirt and grime with a vacuum and sponge or clean cloth and rinse. 

12.  Silver Polish

Before a party or special occasion, you can polish your silver flatware by making a paste with 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Simply rub it onto the silver with a clean cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly and dry. 

13.  Sports Equipment

Besides deodorizing those smelly sneakers, you can use 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water to clean and deodorize smelly sports equipment. You can also clean golf irons without scratching them with a brush and a paste made of 3 parts of baking soda to 1 part water. Rinse thoroughly. 


We’ve all heard about the odor neutralizing powers baking soda, thanks to Arm & Hammer. But have you tried some of the others?

1.  Cat Boxes  

Many cat litter manufacturers now put baking soda in their kitty litter mixes. You can boost the odor neutralizing feature of baking soda by covering the bottom of the pan with baking soda before filling with litter. You can also sprinkle some baking soda on top of the litter between changes.

2.  Cutting Board  

For everyday cleaning of cutting boards, sprinkle with baking soda, scrub and rinse. 

3.  Dishwashers

You can deodorize and clean your dishwasher by using baking soda to deodorize before you run the dishwasher and than as a gentle cleaner in the wash cycle.

4. Drains and Garbage Disposals

Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain while running warm water. This is also a good way to dispose of baking soda that has expired in the refrigerator.

If you have a septic system, weekly use of one cup of baking soda down your drains will keep your septic system flowing freely and help maintain a favorable pH in your septic tank.

5.  Fire Extinguisher for cooking fires

When baking soda is heated, it gives off carbon dioxide which helps to smother flames. Turn off the gas or electricity if you can do it safely. 

WARNING:  Stand far back and throw handfuls of baking soda at the base of the flame. (Remember that it may not be safe to get close enough to the flame to apply the baking soda.) Call the Fire Department or 911 and make sure to have a certified fire extinguisher on hand anyway.

6.  Fruit and Vegetable Scrub  

Sprinkle a little on a clean damp sponge or cloth, scrub and rinse. A very safe way to clean your fruits and veggies!

7. Pet Bedding  

Sprinkle liberally with baking soda, wait at least 15 minutes or longer for stronger odors and then vacuum it up.

8.  Recyclable containers  

Sprinkle a little bit of baking soda on the top as you add items to the container.  Periodically clean the container with a damp sponge or cloth sprinkled with baking soda. Wipe clean and rinse.

9. Refrigerator

As we have all heard by now, an open box placed in the back of the fridge will help to neutralize odors. There is a little bit of advertising hype here because it takes a large amount of baking soda spread out in the fridge to do a really good job. Activated charcoal will actually do a much better job because it offers a maximum surface area to grab those smelly odors.

10. Sneakers

Just sprinkle baking soda into them when not in use and shake out before wearing. 

11.  Stuffed Animals

Keep them fresh with a dry shower of baking soda. Sprinkle on, let sit for 15 minutes, then brush off.

12.  Trash Cans

Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom to keep odors at bay.


1.  Brush and Comb Cleaner

Soak brushes and combs in a solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a small bowl of warm water. Rinse and allow to dry. This will remove natural oil build-up and hair product residue.

2.  Dandruff Remover

Gently massage a handful of baking soda to your wet scalp. Let sit on your hair while you continue to shower. Then rinse scalp without using a shampoo. The baking soda acts as both a shampoo and as a dandruff inhibitor.

A small amount of baking soda sprinkled into your palm along with your favorite shampoo will help remove the residue that styling products leave behind. Shampoo as usual and rinse thoroughly.

3. Deodorant

Pat some baking soda under your arms to absorb perspiration, neutralize odors, and avoid stained clothing.

4. Insect Bites and Itchy Skin

A paste of baking soda and water applied as a salve on affected skin will ease the itchiness. After a bath or shower, shake some baking soda into your hand and rub it into your damp skin to help with the itch.

5. Mouth Freshener

To neutralize, not just cover up odors, put one teaspoon in half a glass of water, swish around your mouth, spit, and then, rinse.

6. Oral Appliances

Soaking retainers, mouthpieces and dentures in a solution of 2 teaspoons of baking soda dissolved in a glass or small bowl of warm water loosens food particles while neutralizing odors. You can also brush appliances clean using baking soda.

7. Toothpaste

Make a paste of baking soda and a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution. Or just dip your toothbrush with toothpaste into baking soda for an extra boost.


1. Balloon Blower

Put 2 tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 4 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar (in that order) into a clean empty soda bottle. Stretch a small balloon a few times to make it easier to inflate. Then quickly fit the balloon over the mouth of the bottle. The carbon dioxide released from the baking soda inflates the balloon!

2.  Roach Remover

For a pesticide-free roach killer, sprinkle the infested area with a mixture of 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup sugar.

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ABC Oriental Rug & Carpet Cleaning Co.
130 Cecil Malone Drive Ithaca, NY 14850


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Ken and Harriet Adams
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