Sis obsessed with bleach

My sister-in-law is overly obsessed with bleach. She uses it to wash dishes, and within minutes before she bathes her two small children, she wipes down the bathtub with it.

Dear Annie: My sister-in-law is overly obsessed with bleach. She uses it to wash dishes, and within minutes before she bathes her two small children, she wipes down the bathtub with it.

I have told her that the fumes are not good for anyone. She says germs freak her out and this is what her mother did. I informed her that there are eco-friendly products on the market and even dish soap with bleach, but she is not open to change.

Should I just leave her alone and mind my own business, or should I keep on making the effort for the sake of her kids? — Just Wondering in Southern California

Dear Wondering: It’s possible your sister-in-law is watering down the bleach sufficiently so it is not hurting her children. Bleach can be toxic if undiluted and swallowed, inhaled or allowed to touch the skin. It can also be damaging to the environment. Your sister-in-law should never use it on items where her children will come into immediate contact.

Try to be understanding of her germophobia, while explaining that she might want to switch to white vinegar for the tub and dishes. Vinegar also kills germs, but is more benign. If she refuses, tell her to please be careful and watch her children for signs of toxicity — stomachaches, coughing, irritated eyes or skin. She should never mix bleach with ammonia, and if something should happen, make sure she has the number of the National Capital Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Dear Annie: We have six grandchildren and talk, email and text often with four of them. They always thank us for the gifts we send for birthdays and holidays.

The same, however, is not true for the other two, who live out of state.

They are both teenagers and quite capable of acknowledging gifts, but they don’t. When we ask the parents if the children received their gifts, the answer usually is, “I think so, but I’m not sure.”

Our children were raised to be properly grateful, but for some reason, our son doesn’t feel his children need to follow rules of any sort. We sent money to the kids for Christmas and never heard a word. I sent an e-mail to their mother asking if they got their cards, but she didn’t reply. Our son believes it’s up to the kids to say thank you and if they don’t, we should accept it. He says we are expecting too much.

My first instinct is not to give them anything for birthdays and holidays this year. I wonder if they’d even notice. We are both retired and live on a fixed income. Should I stop sending gifts? Should I donate their share of birthday and holiday presents to the needy who would appreciate them? — Very Disappointed Grandmother

Dear Grandmother: Your son and his wife apparently don’t believe their children should be responsible for even the most basic courtesy. Use this as an opportunity to educate these misguided grandchildren. Send each an e-mail and explain why you expect some type of acknowledgment for any gift, and that if they don’t thank you, you will assume they no longer want your presents. If you wish instead to make a donation to charity in their names, by all means, do so.

Dear Annie: I take exception to your advice to “Indianapolis,” the in-store pharmacy customer.

As a pharmacist, I treat each customer the same whether they are on the phone or in the store. They each deserve the same amount of consideration. A phone call is the only means by which a housebound customer can reach a pharmacist.

Maybe you should have preached the virtues of patience. We always joke that everybody should have to work one week in a busy pharmacy and then they will never complain again about having to wait for their prescriptions. — Pittsburgh, Pa.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to