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Asthma and Allergies Awareness Month

BLOG-asthmaAs some people may be aware, May is “National Asthma and Allergies Awareness Month”. This is most likely because May is also the peak season for allergy and asthma sufferers. Having suffered from asthma as a child growing up, I am fully aware of what molds and activities may trigger an asthma attack for me, as I’m sure most asthma sufferers are. However, many people may be unaware that the products and methods used to clean their home could also be key contributors to some allergic and/or asthmatic issues they may have.

For example, many people may not be aware that fumes from some cleaning products may induce asthma in otherwise healthy individuals. A large and growing body of evidence links frequent use of many ordinary cleaning supplies at home or on the job with development of asthma and other respiratory problems. It is already known that traditional cleaning product fumes may trigger attacks in people previously diagnosed with asthma.

If you or a family member suffer from allergies or asthma, a good defense is air quality. And, while you may not be able to control the air quality outside of your home, you can certainly do something to improve it inside. The first step to higher air quality may be as simple as switching from a traditional cleaner to a greener alternative. If you happen to use a cleaning service, make sure they use Green Seal certified cleaning products, as Clean Conscience does.


Fight Allergies By Cleaning

BLOG-allergyThis time time of year, many people have their windows open to let in the sweet smells and comfy breezes Spring has to offer. Unfortunately, along with those smells and breezes, a number of allergens seem to make their way into the home as well. Pollen from trees and dust and dirt from freshly cut lawns, overtime can sneak in through window screens and settle on window sills, furniture, and floors; causing allergies for many people. The solution to this problem is a thorough cleaning. However, what you clean isn’t the whole answer, how you clean it can be just as important. Here are a few tips on how to rid your home of allergens this spring.

“Dusting”- When it comes to dusting, try to use microfiber cloths instead of cotton cloths. Cotton cloths can actually spread particles on surfaces and send them back into the air. Microfiber cloths do a much better job of trapping the dust and other allergens on hard surfaces.

“Vacuuming”- The best kind of vacuums to use for people who suffer from allergies, are vacuums with a HEPA filter. These filters prevent smaller particles from blowing back out.

“Mold”- Sometimes it’s not the dust or pollen in the air that causes allergies, but the moisture. Moisture can cause bathroom mold to form. Besides just looking gross, bathroom mold can also cause allergies. The best natural solution for this kind of mold is a combination of water and borax.


Bring the Smell of Autumn, Indoors

There are many things that I love about the fall season; the chilly temperature, the changing of the leaves, and tailgating at a football game are all things that make Autumn, my favorite time of year. However, the one thing that I love even more than all of the things I’ve already listed, are the scents of the season. Apple, pumpkin, cinnamon…..I love it all! There is also nothing better than coming home and having those wonderful scents fill your home. Unfortunately, in order to achieve this many people turn to artificially scented sprays and candles. However, thanks to our friends at Seventh Generation, you can forget about those sprays and candles, and make your own Autumn concoction in a simmer pot. The following article tells you what ingredients you’ll need and gives directions on how to naturally fill your home with the scents of fall.


Fill Your Home With the Scents of Fall – Naturally

As cooler air makes its way across the country, we’re reminded that the holidays are quickly approaching. From Thanksgiving decor to Christmas trees, our homes start to feel the holidays approach, too. This year, skip the artificially- scented candles and sprays and create your own simmer pot! Using fruit, liquid and spices, a simmer pot is an easy, natural way to make your house smell like fall.

What You’ll Need

  • 4 cups of apple cider
  • The peel of 2 naval oranges
  • 1 apple, sliced in half
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon of allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon of whole cloves
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Add all of the ingredients to a small saucepot and bring to a simmer over low heat. Keep the pot on very low heat for up to a few hours, allowing the scent to fill your house. Add more liquid as needed – and save the mixture in your refrigerator for up to 3 days!

Have a Green Office

It is no secret that switching from chemical laden traditional cleaners, to more natural green cleaners at home, can help keep you and your family safer and healthier. However, how can you be sure you aren’t inadvertently inhaling toxic chemicals at your office? Recent studies have shown that cleaning substances, are among the top reasons for exposure to poison in adults. So, what are some things you can do to make sure your office isn’t a hazard to your health? This article from Green Cleaning Magazine, discusses several steps you can take to ensure a safer work environment for you and your coworkers.


10 Tips for a Clean & Green Office

clean and green office

Recent government reports and non-profit studies have revealed that exposure to chemicals and toxins found in common cleaning products can cause reproductive problems, lung issues, and multiple forms of cancer. In fact, a recent EPA study concluded that toxic chemicals in common cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. Additionally, in 2013, the American Association of Poison Control Centers listed cleaning substances as one of the top three most common reasons for exposure to poison in adults.

One of the most prolific places for exposure to concerning cleaning chemicals is the workplace. Are you longing for a clean and green office? Check out 10 green office cleaning tips below—offered up byOpenWorks, a leading commercial cleaning and integrated facility services company—and share them with your office’s manager. These tips can help all employers and cleaning professionals avoid dangerous cleaning products and create healthier work environments.

“Too few American workers realize the health risks they face at their office due to dangerous cleaning products and uninformed cleaning crews,” says OpenWorks founder Eric Roudi.  “At OpenWorks, we are dedicated to improving all workplaces we serve by using 100% green and environmentally sound cleaning strategies, including using the safest cleaning products on the market. We are sharing these ten tips to make sure all Americans have an opportunity to execute similarly healthy and green strategies at home and at work.”

10 Tips for a Clean & Green Office

1. Quick-Fix Means Danger: Avoid air fresheners and fabric protection sprays as they contain chemicals linked to endocrine system issues, like reproductive problems.

2. Treating Carpet is a No-No: Stay away from carpet floors if you are opening a new facility. However, if you do have carpet, avoid carpet cleaners and stain-resistant treatments that expose your office to chemicals.   Rely on a steam cleaner instead.

3. Beware of Old Furniture: In recent years, laws have been created to rid the furniture market of PBDE’s, which are fire retardants that break down into dangerous metabolites linked to cancer. Old furniture may be putting your office (and its workers) at risk.

4. Replace Cleaners with Clever DIY Tricks: For DIY projects,  there are many standard household items that can be used to clean surfaces and handle tough odors. These include, but are not limited to, lemon, cooking oil, vinegar and baking soda.

5. Carefully Inspect Cleaning Product Labels: Even though only 7% of cleaning products adequately disclose their list of ingredients, some do reveal dangerous chemicals on the bottle. Make sure to avoid cleaning products that contain dangerous chemicals like phthalates, formaldehyde, and “chemical surfacants.”

6. Make Air Quality a High Priority: A recent EPA study concluded that toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. Additionally, consistent exposure to other dangerous elements (like asbestos) has been linked to cancer and mesothelioma. Make sure your internal and/or external cleaning team has the resources to check HVAC/ventilation systems and control air quality.

7. Go Green with LEED-Certified Cleaners: It’s important to make sure that the cleaning crew who maintains your building is LEED certified. The US Green Building Council ensures LEED certified facility management teams are up to speed on best practices regarding green cleaning. Help the environment while keeping your staff healthy.

8. Don’t Skimp on Cleaning Technology: Commercial cleaning experts are investing considerable time, money, and resources to improve health and quality. Technological advancements, like sprayer nozzles that reduce chemical releases, are making a big difference. Invest in modernized cleaning equipment to take advantage.

9. Establish a Cleaning Policy with Employees: All of the changes you make as an employer will be compromised if your staff neglects to follow suit. Educate your employees on the damaging effects of cleaning products and create a policy that restricts and/or bans their use.

10. Hire a Proven Cleaning Company that Values Health and Open Relationships: Trust a commercial cleaning and facility maintenance company who uses only safe, environmentally sound products and understands green cleaning techniques. Make sure they work with you to understand the your specific needs.

Numbers You Need to Know: Common Cleaning Products

• Indoor air quality is a top five environmental risk to public health. *
• Toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. *
• 30% of cleaning products contain ingredients known to cause human health or environmental problems. **
• Cleaners are the third most common reason for exposure to poison in adults. ***
• 53% of cleaning products contain lung harming ingredients. ****
• Only 7% of cleaning products adequately disclose their list of ingredients. ****
• 22% of cleaning products contain chemicals known to cause asthma in otherwise healthy people. ****

* Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
** Green Schools Initiative
*** National Capital Poison Center
**** The Environmental Working Group

Make Sure Your Child’s School Is Fragrance-Free

When any parent sends their child off to school, they are doing so trusting that their child will be safe. There are a number of concerns parents have while their kids are at school. Things like….”Are they getting the best possible education?”, “Are they making friends?”, “Are they being bullied?”, etc…. The last thing a parent should have to worry about is the quality of air in their child’s school. Poor air quality can lead to a number of allergies and/or respiratory problems. The air quality in schools can be negatively affected by what type of cleaning products they use. Cleaning products with fragrances can be particularly harmful. Luckily, there may be some things you can do as a parent to help. In this article from Green Cleaning Magazine, they give 6 tips on how to help keep your child’s classroom fragrance-free.


6 Tips for a Fragrance-Free Back to School Zone

back to school

It’s back to school season when every parent puts a focus on protecting their child’s health in the classroom. One of the often-overlooked areas, however, is the presence (and prevalence) of air-contaminating fragrances.

More than 53 million children and 6 million adults in the United States spend significant amounts of time in more than 120,000 school buildings across the country. Studies have shown, however, that certain cleaning products used in the school setting, such as industrial-strength cleaning products and room deodorizers, contain chemicals identified as potential asthmagens (triggers of asthma symptoms), allergens, carcinogens, and air contaminants. In fact, about 25 percent of chemicals in school cleaning products are considered toxic—and they also contribute to poor indoor air quality. Women and girls are especially vulnerable to fragrance: with studies showing that that they are two to three times more likely to have fragrance allergies than men and boys.

The good news is that schools are becoming increasingly aware that healthy and environmentally-friendly facilities foster academic achievement and staff well-being. And, as states have begun to enact air-quality policies, many more eco-friendly products have become available for school use. To date, ten states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to advance green cleaning in schools and more eco-friendly products have become available for school use.

How can you encourage your own school to limit the fragrances in your child’s environment? Here are six solid tips from Women for a Healthy Environment (WHE).

1. Encourage your school to purchase janitorial supplies with green cleaning in mind. Many manufacturers and retailers use terms such as “environmentally safe,” “green,” and “non-toxic” to boost sales. Some of these claims are valid but many are not. Choose products that are rated “green” by independent third-party organizations.

2. Encourage your child’s school to ask its employees to refrain from wearing scented products (especially ones where the sole purpose is to produce a scent).

3. Ask your principal to designate classrooms and other areas as non-scented/fragrance-free zones.

4. Share resources that your school may use to educate employees and parents, such as this WHE Fragrance Free Toolkit and this poster about fragrance sensitivity that can be placed around the school.

5. Discuss a fragrance-free school policy with your district. Click on the link to the resource guide above for examples of fragrance-free school policies.

6. Provide triclosan-free and fragrance-free hand sanitizers and chlorine-free and fragrance-free hand wipes to your teacher for use in the classroom.

The Dangers of Fragrance in Cleaners

If you happen to see a commercial for a traditional cleaner on television, you’ll notice that many of the products that are being sold have a pine tree scent, or smell like fresh lemons, or whatever else they think will help sell their product. But, what are you actually getting with these added fragrances in traditional cleaners? According to this article from Destination Green, what you may be getting is some potentially serious health problems.

The Fragrance Factor in Cleaning Chemicals

From a News Story Released in 2013

Many Green chemical manufacturers now remove fragrances from their products, according to Stephen Ashkin, President of The Ashkin Group and long considered “the father of Green Cleaning.”

“There is a very real reason for this. For some people, the fragrance found in these and other products can be as problematic to health as secondhand smoke.”

However, Ashkin says it is not necessarily the fragrance that may produce adverse health impacts. “Instead, it is often because some of these product fragrances have been produced from petroleum or made from ingredients such as acetone, phenol, toluene, benzyl acetate, and limonene, all of which can harm human health.”

Public health officials report there are four categories of health effects due to fragrances. These are:

1. Respiratory, including allergic asthma, nonallergic asthma, and reactive airway dysfunction syndrome (RADS)

2. Neurological, which includes headaches, migraines, nausea, dizziness, and confusion

3. Skin irritation

4. Eye irritation, tearing, and inflammation

Adverse reactions to fragrances also cost the U.S. economy more than $25 billion annually in absenteeism due to illness as well as reduced worker productivity.*

Because of this, Ashkin suggests the following steps that employers can take to help reduce the amount of fragrances found in the workplace:

· Select fabrics, upholstery, and carpets that have reduced “off-gassing” levels, and install them on the weekend, allowing time for off-gassing to dissipate.

· Strongly recommend that employees refrain from wearing perfumes and colognes.

· Limit the use of some automatic air fresheners; increase air ventilation in restrooms and foodservice areas.

· Use office air purifiers.

· Have indoor air regularly tested by an industrial hygiene professional.

· Create scent-free zones and meeting rooms.

· Educate all staffers about why exposure to scented products can be a problem.

· Select Green Cleaning chemicals; most are fragrance free.

“And take fragrance complaints seriously, even if just from one office worker,” adds Ashkin. “It is more likely than not that many others are also being impacted.”

Freshen Your Home’s Air, Naturally

There are countless reasons why people need to have some sort of air freshener in their home. Things like; cooking certain foods, pet odors, children’s sports equipment, garbage, etc…..These are all reasons to break out that air freshener. The problem is, many air fresheners contain chemicals which you breathe in every time you use them. Not to mention, air fresheners can often times be a bit overwhelming. So, how do you combat offensive odors in your home without having to resort to traditional air fresheners? The good people at Wise Bread, have the answer. This article tells you about some of the best natural air fresheners to use. Best of all, many of these items can already be found in most homes, so you’re also saving some bucks!

Breathe Easy: 10 Natural Air Fresheners


When something stinky takes over your home, the first thing you reach for might be Febreze. But when you run out, you have no choice but to rely on Mother Nature to provide aromatic relief (which, by the way, is better for the environment and your budget). So to help you battle all the stenches and smells that life wafts your way, here are 10 natural air fresheners that make breathing more bearable.

1. Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the most effective and inexpensive air fresheners around. Just pour distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle and attack the problem areas head on. The vinegar scent may be overpowering at first, but as it evaporates, it’ll take the offensive odors with it.

2. Kitty Litter

Kitty litter makes sense as a natural air freshener because its main purpose is to mask the scent of a feline’s “business,” but one litter brand in particular — Jonny Cat Litter — is a cut above the rest, according to Joey Green, author of “Joey Green’s Cleaning Magic.” The main ingredient in Jonny is diatomaceous earth, a mineral that absorbs odors and moisture in the air. If you can’t find Jonny Cat, settle for straight-up diatomaceous earth, which you can find at a garden supply store.

3. Ground Coffee

To use coffee grounds as an air freshener, let them dry out (an important step to avoid mold) before transferring to a bowl or wrapping in an old stocking that you’ll place in an area that you want to freshen. If you’re not a coffee drinker (I’m among that minority), visit your nearby coffee joint and ask if you can take some of their used grounds off their hands.

4. Potpourri

There are many recipes to make all-natural, homemade potpourri, but I thought you might enjoy this video recipe for “green” potpourri. All you’ll need is a brown bag, dried flowers (passion, hibiscus), orris root, orange peel, juniper berries, sandalwood, and orange-scented essential oil. You can find all these organic ingredients in a natural herb store.

5. Vodka

I bet you never expected vodka to be on this list of all-natural air fresheners, but here it is. The reason vodka makes such a great freshener is because it contains ethyl alcohol — the main ingredient in store-bought, chemical-laden fresheners — and when it dries, it leaves no odor. You can, however, enhance the smell of the vodka freshener with an essential oil — about 25 drops will do. And if I may — use the cheap stuff; you’re not drinking it, so there’s no need to waste the Grey Goose.

6. Citrus and Spices

Bring a pot of orange or lemon rinds and peels to a boil, add in a few cinnamon sticks and/or cloves, and enjoy the fresh, festive fall-like scent it sends through your home. While this freshener will begin to work immediately from the stove, there’s no reason you can’t bottle it for later use.

7. Essential Oils

Essential oils are an important part of several of these natural air fresheners in order to give the base a more pleasant scent. But outside of vodka and potpourri, you can add essential oils to just about anything — such as a homemade candle, perhaps — that will help facilitate easier breathing wherever you are.

8. Baking Soda and Essential Oils

I like the idea of combining baking soda and essential oils in a small jar to make a natural air freshener for two reasons:

  1. It’s small, unassuming, and aesthetically pleasing.
  2. It’s perfect for gifting.

9. The Great Outdoors

Nature is Earth’s air freshener — which is something we often overlook. When there’s a foul odor permeating your abode, open the window — or several — and let the cool breeze travel through your home while pushing out any offensive stenches.

10. Lemons

To remove seafood smells for your hands, it’s recommend to rub them with lemons. Likewise, when your garbage disposal starts to stink, throw a few lemon slices down the hole and run the blades for a burst of citrusy freshness. When you want to deodorize your home, dissolve one-eighth of a cup of baking soda in two cups hot water and a half-cup of lemon juice for an instant air freshener.


Does Your Home Have Mold?

Does your home have mold? Mold may be growing in certain areas of your home and you may not even know it. If your home does have mold, removing it as quickly as possible is definitely advised. Mold can cause damage to your home but it can also cause problems to your health, especially if you or someone in your family suffers from allergies or asthma. In this article from our friends at Enviro Maids, they explain what exactly mold is, how to detect if it is in your home, and ways to remove and prevent mold.

FAQs About Mold Growing in Your Home

Mold is a four-letter word for some homeowners. Depending on where you live and if youFAQs About Mold Growing in Your Home, September 2013 have moisture problems in your home, you may have a mold problem. Mold thrives in damp, dark environments, and after Hurricane Sandy, mold problems became even more troublesome for many homeowners as flood waters invaded their basements. Not only is mold smelly and unsightly, it can pose a health risks for many. With the help of the EPA and CDC, we’ll answer general questions about mold — what is mold? How do I know if I have it in my house? Is it harmful? How do I get rid of it? How do I prevent it from growing?

What is mold?

Molds are musty-smelling fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. Molds thrive in warm, damp, and humid conditions. Basements and crawl spaces are the ideal places for mold to grow. Molds reproduce through tiny spores invisible to the naked eye that float through outdoor and indoor air. When these spores attach to indoor surfaces that are wet, they begin to grow and multiply. As long as there is moisture present, mold can grow on many surfaces including wood, leather, paper, and carpet.

How do I know if my house has mold?

The simplest way to determine if you have mold in your house is to follow your nose! Large mold infestations have that distinct musty odor. Basements are the main source of mold, that’s why they’re notorious for having a musty smell. Once you smell mold, look for its presence on exposed surfaces such as walls and ceiling tiles. Mold often looks like black, brown, green stains or a fuzzy white film.

Is mold harmful?

Some people are more sensitive to molds than others especially allergy and asthma suffers and people with some lung conditions. For these people, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, redness and watering of the eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions.

How do I get rid of mold?

It’s impossible to get rid of every trace of mold. The goal is to remove as much mold as possible and then to take measures to prevent mold spores from growing into unhealthy levels. As long as the moisture problem has been resolved, these spores will not grow. Consult with a professional to help with your specific mold problem.

According to the EPA, the use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms (including chlorine bleach) is not recommended for mold cleanup due to the harshness and toxicity of these chemicals. There may be instances, however, when a professional may suggest its use. To remove mold contained to smaller areas, scrub hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy.

Can I prevent mold?

Since mold needs moisture and humidity to grown, the key to preventing mold is to control the moisture and humidity in your home. The EPA website suggests these preventive measures:

  • Use air conditioners in the summer and install dehumidifiers in the basement to lower indoor humidity to less than 60%.
  • Vent bathrooms and dryers to the outside.
  • Use exhaust fans whenever cooking.
  • Add insulation to prevent condensation on cold surfaces such as windows, piping, exterior walls, and roof.
  • If the source of mold is due to a leak or if water is getting inside the house from the outside, fix the source of the water problem. Make sure the ground slopes away from your house and that gutters and downspouts are functioning properly.
  • Remove or replace carpets that have been soaked and cannot be quickly dried.


Flood Cleanup

Floods can be extremely devastating and come almost without warning. A flood can cause damage to a home or business in many ways. The damage may be a ruined rug or floorboard, furniture, utilities, or even the buildings foundation. Cleanup after a flood can be a long and difficult process but a proper cleanup is very important. According to the EPA, failure to remove materials that have been contaminated during the flood, can severely effect your indoor air quality which can lead to long term health problems. Here is an article from Flood Safety, which has guidelines for a proper flood cleanup. We hope this information will be helpful, especially for our friends in and around the Boulder area who have been effected by recent flooding.

A Description of Typical House Flood Damages and Cleanup Requirements:

When your house floods, the water can wreak havoc on the structure of the house, your personal belongings, and the health of the inside environment. Flood waters contain many contaminants and lots of mud. High dollar items can get ruined all at once, even with just an inch of water, for example: carpeting, wallboard, appliances, and furniture. A more severe storm or deeper flood may add damage to even more expensive systems, like: ducts, the heater and air conditioner, roofing, private sewage and well systems, utilities, and the foundation.

After a flood, cleaning up is a long and hard process. Here is a list of common techniques for sanitizing and cleaning flooded items:

  • First things first: call your insurance agent. If your insurance covers the damage, your agent will tell you when an adjuster will contact you. List damage and take photos or videotape as you clean. You’ll need complete records for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions.
  • Contaminated mud
    Shovel out as much mud as possible, then use a garden sprayer or hose to wash away mud from hard surfaces.
  • Clean and disinfect every surface. Scrub surfaces with hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner. Then disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water or a product that is labeled as a disinfectant to kill germs.
  • In the kitchen
    • Immerse glass, porcelain, china, plastic dinnerware and enamelware for 10 minutes in a disinfecting solution of 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of hot water. Air-dry dishes. Do not use a towel.
    • Disinfect silverware, metal utensils, and pots and pans by boiling in water for 10 minutes. Chlorine bleach should not be used in this case because it reacts with many metals and causes them to darken.
    • Cupboards and counters need to be cleaned and rinsed with a chlorine bleach solution before storing dishes.
  • Furniture and household items
    • Take furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to remove moisture or open at least two windows to ventilate with outdoor air. Use fans to circulate air in the house. If mold and mildew have already developed, brush off items outdoors to prevent scattering spores in the house. Vacuum floors, ceilings and walls to remove mildew, then wash with disinfectant. Wear a two-strap protective mask to prevent breathing mold spores.
    • Mattresses should be thrown away.
    • Upholstered furniture soaks up contaminants from floodwaters and should be cleaned only by a professional.
    • Wood veneered furniture is usually not worth the cost and effort of repair.
      Solid wood furniture can usually be restored, unless damage is severe.
    • Toys and stuffed animals may have to be thrown away if they’ve been contaminated by floodwaters.
    • Photographs, books and important papers can be frozen and cleaned later. They should be dried carefully and slowly. Wash the mud off and store the articles in plastic bags and put them in a frost-free freezer to protect from mildew and further damage until you have time to thaw and clean them or take them to a professional.
  • Ceilings and walls
    • Wallboard acts like a sponge when wet. Remove wallboard, plaster and paneling to at least the flood level. If soaked by contaminated floodwater, it can be a permanent health hazard and should be removed. If most of the wallboard was soaked by clean rainwater, consider cutting a 4- to 12-inch-high section from the bottom and top of walls. This creates a “chimney effect” of air movement for faster drying. A reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade works well, but use only the tip of the blade and watch out for pipes, ductwork and wiring.
    • Plaster and paneling can often be saved, but air must be circulated in the wall cavities to dry the studs and sills.
    • The three kinds of insulation must be treated differently. Styrofoam might only need to be hosed off. Fiberglass batts should be thrown out if muddy but may be reused if dried thoroughly. Loose or blown-in cellulose should be replaced since it holds water for a long time and can lose its antifungal and fire retardant abilities.
  • Electrical system
    The system must be shut off and repaired and inspected by an electrician before it can be turned back on. Wiring must be completely dried out- even behind walls. Switches, convenience outlets, light outlets, entrance panel, and junction boxes that have been under water may be filled with mud.
  • Heating and cooling systems and ducts
    Will need inspection and cleaning. Flood-soaked insulation should be replaced.
  • Appliances
    Appliances will get stains, odors, silt deposits, and gritty deposits and need to be serviced, cleaned and sanitized. Running equipment before it is properly cleaned could seriously damage it and/or shock you. Professional cleaning is recommended for electronics, TVs and radios, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners. The hard exterior can be hand cleaned. All metallic appliances that have been flooded should be properly grounded to prevent electric shock. Mud or dirt in a grounded outlet or adapter may prevent the grounding system from working, and you could be electrocuted.
  • Pump out the basement
    If your basement is full or nearly full of water, pump out just 2 or 3 feet of water each day. If you drain the basement too quickly, the pressure outside the walls will be greater than the pressure inside the walls. That may make the walls and floor crack and collapse.
  • Floors
    With wood subflooring, the floor covering (vinyl, linoleum, carpet) must be removed so the subflooring can dry thoroughly which may take several months. Open windows and doors to expose the boards to as much air as possible.

    • Carpeting
      Clean and dry carpets and rugs as quickly as possible. If sewage-contaminated floodwater covered your carpeting, discard it for health safety reasons. Also discard if the carpet was under water for 24 hours or more. To clean, drape carpets and rugs outdoors and hose them down. Work a disinfecting carpet cleaner into soiled spots with a broom. To discourage mildew and odors, rinse with a solution of 2 tablespoons bleach to 1 gallon water, but don’t use this solution on wool or nylon carpets. Dry the carpet and floor thoroughly before replacing the carpet. Padding is nearly impossible to clean so should be replaced. If the carpet can’t be removed, dry it as quickly as possible using a wet/dry vacuum and dehumidifier. Use a fan to circulate air above the carpet, and if possible, lift the carpet and ventilate with fans underneath.
    • Vinyl flooring and floor tile may need to be removed to allow drying of subfloor.
    • Wood floors
      Wooden floors should be dried gradually. Sudden drying could cause cracking or splitting. Some restoration companies can accelerate drying time by forcing air through the fluted underside of hardwood floorboards. Remove hardwood floor boards to prevent buckling. Remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling. Clean and dry wood before attempting repairs.
  • Roof damage and leaks
    • Defective flashing– Flashing is the sheet metal used in waterproofing roof valleys, hips and the angle between a chimney and a roof. Wet spots near a chimney or outside wall may mean the leak is caused by defective flashing, narrow flashing or loose mortar joints. Look for corroded, loose or displaced flashing on sloping roof valleys and at junctions of dormers and roof.
    • Clogged downspouts or eaves– Check for choked downspouts. Accumulated water or snow on the roof above the flashing may cause a leak. Ice accumulations on eaves sometimes form ridges, which cause melting snow to back up under the shingles.
    • Cracks and deterioration– Roofing (especially wood or composition shingles) usually deteriorates first on southern exposures. Check southern slopes for cracking or deterioration.
    • Holes– Missing shingles or holes in the roofing may be causing wet spots. To find holes, check for a drip trail or spot of light coming through in the attic. Stick a nail, straw or wire through the hole to mark the spot on the outside.
  • Private sewage systems
    Flooding of a private sewage system can be a hazardous situation for homeowners. It may lead to a back-up of sewage in the home, contaminated drinking water and lack of sanitation until the system is fixed. When flooding or saturated soil conditions persist, a private sewage system cannot function properly. Soil treatment systems for wastewater rely on aerobic (with oxygen) regions to reduce the amounts of chemicals and living organisms (viruses, bacteria and protozoa). When the soil is saturated or flooded, those hazardous materials can enter the groundwater and your drinking water supply.

Keep Your Home Dust-Free

Sometimes no matter how clean you try to keep your home, dust still manages to build up. Having too much dust in your home can not only make things look dirty, but it can also cause people to have an allergic reaction. In this article from Enviro Maids, you are given some tips on how to keep your home as dust-free as possible.


Strategies To Make Your House Dust-Proof


What is dust?
Dust is a combination of bits of human skin, animal fur, dandur, decomposing insects, food debris, lint and fibers from clothes, bedding and other fabrics, tracked-in soil, soot and pollen. The main reason why it’s impossible to completely rid your house of dust is because our bodies are constantly shedding tiny flakes of skin, while our clothes, bedding and furnishings constantly shed barely visible fibers. These particles constantly rise and settle as people pass by, walk around and doors swing open, settling on every surface in your house.

Getting rid of the dust in your house doesn’t only make your house look clean, it can keep you healthier, especially if you suffer from asthma or allergies. While it’s impossible to remove all the dust in your house, there are steps you can take to keep it at a manageable level and to prevent it from growing out of control in the future.

Choose the right tools
While old-fashioned feather dusters seem to do a fair job of picking up most of the dust on hard surfaces, all they’re really doing is scattering the particles around. These particles become airborne and when the “dust finally settles,” your furniture is once again covered in a layer of dust. Not all feather dusters are bad, however. If you prefer to use a feather duster, opt for one made of ostrich feathers. Ostrich feathers are soft and flexible and dust tends to naturally cling to them. A lambswool duster is another effective tool for cleaning venetian blinds, ceilings and chandeliers — the oils in the wool work together with static cling to trap dust. Rags or disposable cloths that attract and hold dust with an electrostatic charge (like Swiffer) work much better than a dry cloth. The electrostatic charge attracts dust particles rather than just moving them around.

Always work from the top down
Start with ceiling fans and light fixtures and work your way down. If you clean the floors before dusting shelves and furniture, you’ll stir up dust that’ll settle back down on your floors.

Match the vacuum to the flooring
Suction alone isn’t enough to pull most of the dust out of carpet. For good results, you need a vacuum with a powerful agitator. Upright vacuums are usually best for carpet, although some canister vacuums with agitators work well, too. When it comes to wood, vinyl or tile flooring, your best choice is a canister vacuum without an agitator (or with an agitator that can be turned off). An agitator on hard flooring blows dust into the air, causing more harm than good. If you suffer from allergies, use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum. HEPA vacuums differ from conventional vacuums in that they contain filters that are capable of trapping extremely small, micron-sized particles. A good HEPA vacuum cleaner sucks up dust, pet dander and tracked-in pollen from bare floors, rugs, and carpeting and prevents trapped particles from escaping back into the air. A true HEPA filter can trap 99.97 percent of all airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns.

Upgrade your home filters
If your home has a forced-air heating or cooling system, it can help control dust by filtering the air. While no filter will completely eliminate the chore of dusting, an upgrade in the type of filter you use can make a noticeable difference. Look for filters that are made from pleated fabric or paper. Most pleated filters also carry an electrostatic charge that attracts and holds dust. A pleated filter can capture virtually all the visible dust that reaches it. Manufacturers usually recommend that you change these filters every three months, but you should check them monthly, especially if you have cats or dogs. Dirty pleated filters can restrict airflow and damage your furnace.

Get rid of clutter
The more clutter you have around your house — knickknacks, books, magazines, etc… the easier it’s for dust to build up. Get rid of the clutter and you get rid of some of the dust.

Beat and shake area rugs
Carpeting is by far the biggest dust collector in your entire house. Carpets are loaded with fibers that attract dust like a huge magnet. Even the padding underneath carpeting holds dust, which goes airborne with each footstep. While tearing out wall-to-wall carpeting is the best solution, many people aren’t ready for this drastic step. The next best solution is to vacuum regularly. Vacuum once a week, paying extra attention to high traffic areas. Be sure to regularly vacuum large area rugs too. For best results, take them outside 3 or 4 times a year for a more thorough cleaning. Drape them over a fence or clothesline and beat them with a broom or baseball bat. A good beating removes much more dust than vacuuming. Don’t forget your smaller rugs; they should be taken outside for a vigorous shaking every week.

Get rid of the dust in your sofa cushions
Upholstery fabric not only sheds its own fibers but also absorbs dust that settles on it. Every time you sit down, you send a puff of dust into the air. Remove trapped-in dust in sofa cushions the same way you would your area rugs by taking them outside and using a tennis racket to beat out the dust.

Cleaning slipcovers for chairs and sofas is as easy as pulling them off and taking them outdoors for a shaking. Better yet, if they’re machine washable, throw them in the machine and launder according to the instructions on the label.

Clean bedding regularly
Your cozy bed is a major dust hoarder. Your bedding collects skin flakes, sheds its own fibers and sends out a cloud of dust every time you move around and roll over. Wash your sheets, pillowcases and mattress pad weekly, preferably in hot water (to kill dust mites and remove allergens). Take items that aren’t machine washable such as bedspreads outside and shake them to remove the dust. Don’t ignore your mattress and box spring. Vacuum your mattress using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum once a month.

Control the dust in your closets
Every time you open the door to your closet, you send up an invisible dust storm of countless tiny fibers shed from your clothes, towels and bedding. You can’t prevent clothes from shedding fibers, but you can make closets easier to keep clean and vastly cut down on dust by doing the following:

  • Store items on shelves in clear plastic containers (with a lid). Clear plastic containers are ideal because they lock fibers and particles in and prevent dust from getting inside. Clear plastic also lets you see what’s inside. When you need to dust, they’re easy to pull off the shelves and wipe clean.
  • Enclose the clothes you rarely wear, such as winter coats and formal wear, in garment bags. Those coats you wear only in the winter shed fibers year-round, adding to your year-round dust problem. Garment bags not only help to contain fibers from shedding they keep the clothes themselves from becoming coated with dust.

Clean the air while you clean your house
All vacuums whip up dust with their “agitator” (the cylindrical brush that sweeps the carpet) or blowing exhaust stream. That dust eventually settles on the surfaces you’ve just cleaned. But if your forced-air heating and cooling system is equipped with a good filter, you can filter out some of that dust before it settles. Just switch your thermostat to “fan on.” This turns on the blower inside your furnace and filters the air even while the system isn’t heating or cooling. Leave the blower on for about 15 minutes after you’re done cleaning. But don’t forget to switch back to “auto.” Most blowers aren’t designed to run constantly.

Other Dust Hot Spots To Watch:

  • Drapes & Curtains: If these aren’t laundered regularly, they can hold a lot of dust (that gets released into the room as they’re brushed against or touched). If you don’t have the time to launder them regularly (or get them dry cleaned), shaking them outside helps remove a lot of the buildup.
  • Pets: Keeping them well-groomed helps reduce hair and pet dander.
  • Walls & Ceilings: If you don’t regularly wipe them down, walls and ceilings can hold an amazing amount of dust. Use damp mops for easy cleaning, they also do a good job of getting into high corners.
  • Refrigerator and Appliances: Regularly clean the coils on the back of the refrigerator and clean behind other appliances. Many people neglect to clean these areas, yet they’re often filled with dust, debris and food particles.
  • Electronics: Electronics such as TVs and computers are major dust magnets. Make sure to pull out electronics and vacuum behind them frequently. Just wiping them on the surface isn’t enough.