Category Archives: Healthy Living

TAKING THE MISERY OUT OF MOLD ALLERGY

Unhappy young woman catched a cold and using paper handkerchief

I have learned that symptoms of a mold allergy are very similar to other allergic symptoms. Sneezing, coughing and itchy, watery eyes are common. There are many types of molds both indoors and outdoors, and not all of them cause allergic symptoms. And while mold allergy symptoms aren’t dangerous unless you also have asthma, they can certainly cause misery and reduce quality of life. While medications can help with serious cases, here are simple ways to keep mold at bay and symptoms away:

  • Mold flourishes in humid conditions. Keep the humidity levels in your home at 50% or below. An inexpensive hygrometer, available at hardware stores, can monitor home humidity levels.
  • Check basements and all pipes for leaks and dampness, and make necessary repairs. Clean areas of damage with a mild bleach solution.
  • Keep bathrooms well ventilated with windows or fans. Ideally, run a bathroom fan for 30 minutes after showering to dry the indoor air.
  • Sleep with windows closed. Night air is damp air and mold count is highest during those hours.
  • If you are particularly troubled by mold allergy symptoms, avoid going outdoors right after it rains or on particularly humid days.
  • If possible, install central air conditioning, and use a high-efficiency air particulate attachment (HEPA) filter. At the very least, use a window unit in the bedroom during warm months.
  • Change filters regularly in air conditioning units and furnaces.
  • If you have plants, avoid overwatering, and keep all woven liners such as baskets very dry.

If you work outside, mowing lawns, raking leaves, or planting a garden, wear a dust mask to prevent inhaling mold spores.

CLEANING PROBLEM PET ZONES

collie dogPets add immeasurable joy and companionship to our lives—good thing, because they sure make a lot of mess. I have found a nifty solution to some of those messes, like tracked-in leaves and dirt, spilled pet food, tumbleweeds of shed fur, stray litter around the cat box, and other miscellaneous debris created by pets:

Spot by Vroom is a flexible, 15’ long hose that lives in your wall and hooks directly to your central vacuum system. You can place one in your messiest zones, like the laundry room/pet room/mud room and pull out the Spot whenever you need a speedy cleanup. The hose automatically retracts back into the wall when you’re finished. There are also special attachments you can buy for Spot—even one that grooms your dog!

Save time messing around with a broom and dust pan or lugging out a vacuum cleaner. Spot is right at your fingertips. Also perfect for powdered detergent spills; lint screens; dust bunnies behind, between and underneath appliances and cabinets; small messes in hobby rooms or workshops. You’ll find a hundred uses for this handy little gadget that hides away when you don’t need it and appears in a flash when you do.

Don’t have a central vacuum system? You can retrofit your home with a central vacuum system in less than a day, and you won’t know how you lived without it.

NINE WAYS TO KEEP THE MOLD OUT

Spray Bottle with spongeMold can cause serious respiratory health issues, in addition to being unsightly. Keep your home clean and healthy by following these preventative maintenance guidelines:

  • Use adehumidifier in humid climates and/or in basements.
  • Keep yourhome cool.
  • Don’t leavewater standing anywhere in the home or near the home.
  • Useventilation fans in the bathroom during and after showers and baths.
  • Use ventilation fans in thekitchen while cooking.
  • Use your nose: If you suspect a moldy odor, see if mold is hiding under carpets or behind walls.
  • Check regularly for leaksin plumbing, roofs, ceilings and walls. Correct the problem immediately.
  • Make sure yourdryer is vented to the outside.
  • Vacuum frequently, since mold spores are microscopic and can be housed in dust that forms in your home.

If you have minor mold problems on a non-porous surface like bathroom or kitchen tiles, you can easily treat it with a mild bleach solution or vinegar. Minor carpet mold can be treated with baking soda or professional cleaning. Just make sure you locate and solve the source of the mold problem, as well.

Drywall mold is another story. Since it cannot be cleaned, it must be removed and replaced.

WHY AND HOW TO CLEAN BIRDFEEDERS

birds feedingBirds live outdoors among all manner of dirt, bugs and weather, so why, you might argue, would a soiled birdfeeder be of any concern, as long as it’s filled with the things birds eat?

I found out there’s plenty of good cause to keep your feeders clean.

Birdseed that becomes damp or rotten harbors bacteria and disease that can quickly spread throughout a flock, decimating a local population. Also, rancid seed smells bad, which attracts predators such as raccoons and rats that not only present a danger and nuisance, but that can also carry disease.

Feeders should be cleaned once a month in dry weather and once every few weeks in warm, damp weather. Bird food high in fat content, such as suet, is even more prone to turning rancid. For best results, take apart the pieces of the feeder and scrub with a bottle brush thoroughly with dish soap, or a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water. Rinse well and allow the feeder to dry thoroughly. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned with each refill. Plastic feeders can usually be safely cleaned in the top rack of a dishwasher.

Take care, as well, to remove piles of old seed or husks from around the base of the feeder, where bacteria can also grow. Refresh mulch or gravel under feeders periodically to cover bird feces.

WEIGHING THE FACTS: WHAT’S THE BEST VACUUM CLEANER?

VACUFLO fam 307x250I remember a time when shopping for household items didn’t used to be so complicated. Certain brand names could be relied upon, or you bought what your mother always used. Today, the marketplace is saturated with a proliferation of products offering a dizzying range of pricing, quality and features.

When buying even a toaster can boggle the mind, how to choose a much-used appliance like a vacuum cleaner, which can make a significant impact not only on the cleanliness of your home, but the health of your whole family?

While every household will have unique cleaning needs, weigh these facts when considering what kind of vacuum system you want to purchase:

  • EFFECTIVENESS: Traditional vacuum cleaners remove only a portion of the dust and dirt in your home. The rest is re-circulated in the air. That “just vacuumed” smell is actually the result of particles that have been kicked up into your indoor environment, explaining why many people sneeze a lot after vacuuming. A central vacuum system, on the other hand, suctions all of the dirt from your home and transports it into a central source located away from living spaces, such as in a basement, closet or garage. This level of effectiveness is especially critical if someone in the household suffers from dust allergies, asthma, or any kind of respiratory difficulties.
  • EASE OF USE: Central vacuum system owners love the easy operation of a system like VACUFLO. No more lugging heavy, awkward equipment around furniture or up stairs—a bonus for people with back or knee problems or mobility issues. Just attach the end of the hose to a central vacuum outlet positioned in several convenient locations throughout your home, and sweep. It’s quieter than a traditional vacuum cleaner, too—you can even carry on a conversation without yelling!
  • COST: Certainly the initial cost of a central vacuum system will be higher than a traditional vacuum cleaner. Long term, however, you might be surprised at the economic sense of installing a central vacuum system that will last many years, offer superior cleaning and ease of use, and increase the value of your home.
  • RETURN ON INVESTMENT : A central vacuum system like VACUFLO increases the value of your home and sets it apart from others, making it more appealing to prospective buyers should you ever decide to sell. The increasing number of people who suffer from allergies or asthma, especially, will immediately recognize the value of a home equipped with a central vacuum system.

VACUFLO®, DIRT DEVIL® AND ELEMENT CENTRAL VACUUM SYSTEMS

Creating a clean and healthy home environment is important for homeowners. The EPA has identified indoor air pollution as one of America’s most serious environmental health problems. The American College of Allergists also reports that 50% of all illnesses are caused by, or aggravated by, polluted indoor air. No wonder indoor air is one of the top priorities for today’s homebuyers.

With up to five times the suction and power of uprights, Vacuflo®, Dirt Devil® and Element Central Vacuum Systems capture 100% of all vacuumed dirt, dust, odors and allergens. After vacuuming with most uprights it is typical to smell odors and see dust particles reflected in the sunlight. Traditional vacuums spread these particles and allergens around your home and recirculate them into the air you breathe. The power of Vacuflo®, Dirt Devil® and Element central vacuums eliminates these odors and dust particles for a cleaner home and cleaner air.

The Cyclonic Filtration Technology® of Vacuflo®, Dirt Devil® and Element central vacuums creates a powerful centrifugal force that separates the dirt from the airflow and deposits 96-98% of all debris into a remote dirt canister. The remaining fine particles are then exhausted outside or caught in a high-performance filter, depending on the model.

 

A HOUSE CLEANING SCHEDULE FREES UP TIME AND ENERGY

As if your life isn’t already schedule to the hilt, here’s an article that proposes you create a schedule for cleaning your house.

Plan conceptBefore you run for the hills, know that the word “schedule” can be applied as tightly or loosely as you wish, and still free up time and energy while resulting in a house that looks good and feels even better to come home to.

You just need to know yourself. Do you like to finish big chunks of cleaning in one swoop? Or divide up the labor in smaller, concentrated efforts? Do you find a predictable routine easier to stick to, or the freedom to change things up depending on your mood and other life demands? Finally, how clean is clean? Everyone has different requirements for a home that feels livable and pleasant, weighed against available time and energy.

First make a list of all your routine household tasks, such as vacuuming, scrubbing toilets, weeding the garden, laundry, putting toys or hobbies away.

Second, decide how much time you can spend on the housework each day. You might want to leave a few days totally housework-free, and distribute some chores more heavily on a few days.

Third, choose how to distribute the labor throughout the week. You might approach this on a room by room basis, such as bathroom cleaning on Mondays, kitchen cleaning on Tuesdays, TV room on Wednesdays, etc. Or you could organize your time by task: you’ll vacuum on certain days, dust on a certain day, de-clutter on a certain day, change bedding on a certain day. Try to divvy up big tasks with a few smaller tasks for maximum visible results for time spent.

If you like more flexibility, create a job jar with slips of colored paper listing one job per slip. Color code the chores by difficulty and length of time required. Create an additional category for tasks that aren’t routine but need done occasionally, like weeding through old magazines, sorting through clothes for outgrown or worn items, or cleaning a file cabinet. Then on any given day, choose at random from the jar one labor intensive chore and one easy chore. Once a week, also choose at random an “occasional” task to tackle, even if you’re only willing to spend 15 minutes on it.

For even greater flexibility, simply decide that each day you will commit to so much time to cleaning the house—let’s say a half hour as an example—and choose the task of your choice to do in that half hour. If possible, put aside the same half hour every day. Set a timer, put on some good dancing music, and go to it. You’ll be amazed how good your house looks, with just this amount of investment a day.

No matter what your personal style or cleaning requirements, there’s an approach that suits you well. Set yourself up for success by allowing yourself to structure housework in a framework that you can live with, and enjoy the results!

CENTRAL VACUUMS ARE THE GREEN CHOICE

Today’s environmentally conscious homeowners, like me, are demanding and getting improved energy efficiency, better indoor air quality and smarter use of building materials. These “green” building initiatives not only protect the environment, but also improve comfort and boost home value.

Central vacuum systems have a unique role to play in “green” homes. By removing 100% of vacuumed dirt and dust, they ensure healthy indoor air and reduce the discomfort of allergy sufferers by more than 60%. Central vacuum systems also offer these benefits:

Improved Indoor Air Quality
Central vacuum systems can help improve indoor air quality by capturing 100% of all vacuumed dirt, dust and allergens with no recirculation of particles back into the living area.

family with dog 500x300

All you discard is the dust
Unlike uprights, which are often discarded after only a few years, central vacuum systems keep up worry-free cleaning for decades.

No additional electricity
Central vacuum systems like Vacuflo®, Element and Dirt Devil® offer turbine-powered powerheads. Turbines run off the airflow of your central vacuum system so they require no additional electricity to operate.

Earn Points with Central Vacuums
Organizations like Earth Advantage®, and the US Green Building Council with its LEED®, (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Rating System are providing standards and certification to ensure that best practices are followed across the country.

Central vacuum systems earn 1 point in the LEED-H standard and 3 points in the NAHB Green Building Standard.

WHY A CENTRAL VACUUM SYSTEM?

There are many reasons why I chose a central vacuum system for my home. Below are just some of them!

Healthier Home – Improves Indoor Air
100% of all vacuumed dirt, dust and allergens are removed from the living area, creating a cleaner, healthier home environment with improved indoor air quality.

Prevents debris and odors from recirculating back into the home.

Great for those suffering from allergies, asthma and other breathing ailments.

Powerful, Sustained Cleaning Performance
Central vacuum systems are up to 5 times the power of traditional vacuums – great for pet owners like me!

Cyclonic cleaning performance from central vacuums like Vacuflo®, Element and Dirt Devil® provides maximum airflow and optimum cleaning power to keep a home clean and fresh.

High-performance motors deliver powerful, reliable cleaning so upholstery, carpets and furnishings are cleaned more deeply with less wear.

Convenient Whole-House Cleaning
A whole-house cleaning system, my central vacuum does the job of an upright vacuum, canister vacuum, dust buster and even a shop vac.

No heavy equipment to lug around, just plug the hose into the nearest inlet valve for fast and easy cleaning.

Value and Versatility
A central vacuum system extends life of carpets and furnishings, increases a home’s resale value, improves indoor air quality, and saves time.

Central vacuums costs less than many high-end portable vacuums, and offers a wide variety of accessories designed to clean all interior furnishings, carpet types and floor surfaces found in today’s homes.

Simple Installation and Quieter Units
Easily installed during construction (or in existing homes), and typically is completed in less than one day.

Power unit is located away from the living area (usually in a basement, garage or utility room) for a quieter home environment.

 

CLEAN-AS-YOU-GO COOKING TIPS

Ugh. Who wants to face a massive cleanup after a delicious meal? Even if you’re lucky enough to have someone on dish duty when you do the cooking, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor more and make life easier for everyone by following these clean-as-you-go tips: man cooking at home preparing salad in kitchen

  1. Assemble all of your ingredients, bowls, utensils and measuring devices before you begin your food prep and keep things grouped roughly by category. That is, spices and herbs in one grouping, refrigerated items together, staples side by side, etc. Your food prep will be much smoother if you don’t have to constantly stop what you are doing to find the next item on your list.
  2. As soon as you are finished with a group of ingredients, PUT THEM AWAY.
  3. Fill up one side of your sink with warm soapy water. As you dirty dishes and utensils, rinse them and drop them to soak in the water. If you can’t afford the sink space during food prep, use a big bowl or pan. This way, food won’t dry and crust, which makes for tougher cleanup. It also keeps most of the mess consolidated into one space.
  4. Keep a sheet of waxed paper, a colander or some other receptacle for peelings, stems, and other discards on your counter or in your sink. If you compost, keep meat trimmings, packaging and other waste separate, and throw it away at intervals as you cook. You can also rest spoons, knives and measuring cups on this area to keep surfaces cleaner.
  5. Use down time to keep up with the mess. While the pasta is cooking, you might wash the pan you used to sauté the onions, for example. Also, good knives are best washed, dried and put away immediately after use.
  6. Wipe up spills on countertops and stove surfaces when they happen so they don’t harden. Ditto for floors.