Keeping Your Home Safe – Sanitizing or Disinfecting?
There is nothing like that feeling of satisfaction when you survey your newly cleaned home. But we all know that just because something looks clean, it doesn’t mean that it truly is clean, because germs that can cause illness are all around us. Some germs, such as Salmonella, E. Coli, canine parvovirus or Influenza can persist on hard surfaces all around us at home, at work and at school. Some can persist on those surfaces for a year or more. For more than a century now, we have been taught to sanitize and clean so as to remain healthy and germ free. Preventing the spread of illness through hard surface disinfection or sanitizing can help keep your family safe and healthy. But what ‘level of clean’ is appropriate for your home?
Here are some tips to help you decide what ‘level of clean’ is appropriate for your home and work place.
What is the difference between Disinfecting and Sanitizing?
A non-technical explanation is that disinfecting means that you kill 99.999% of germs within a certain time limit (usually not exceeding 10 minutes). Disinfecting ensures a high level of clean. Sanitizing means that you kill 99.9% of germs within 1 minute. The difference between 99.999% and 99.9% may not seem like much to you or me, but a microbiologist will tell you it is a big difference. Certainly it takes more work to achieve disinfection. Sanitizing, on the other hand, is a level of clean that is practical and realistic and can be achieved in 1 minute.
How do I Know Whether to Disinfect or Sanitize?
You can think of disinfection and sanitizing as 2 points on a continuum. To the right is disinfected. In the middle is sanitized. To the left is dirty. Disinfection will require a high degree of care to achieve. This means more work. Often, however, that level of cleanliness is what is needed. If, for example, you brought home a new puppy and then discovered that the pup had canine parvo virus, you would need to thoroughly disinfect, because that is a really difficult pathogen that can live for a long time on a wall or something, just waiting for the right conditions to activate again.
Your bathroom, for another example, is probably a place where you would want to get closer to disinfection. In other places, ‘sanitizing’ is likely a level of clean that is ‘clean enough’. We’ll never get rid of all the germs in our homes, but we can find the ‘degree of clean’ on that continuum where our families can live safely and happily.
Where Exactly are These Germs?
High-touch areas where many people will put their hands such as door knobs, light switches, computer keyboards and mice, refrigerator door handles, car door handles, telephones (both desktop and hand helds) even pencils and markers! Any surface where many hands touch is a candidate to spread germs.
Kitchen – the cutting board is a surface that needs to be cleaned regularly and well, lest that chicken you cut up spread germs (such as salmonella) to your tomatoes and lettuce. Sanitizing your cutting boards regularly will go a long way towards keeping your family safe. The door handle to your fridge – in addition to the inside – is another area where you can expect that germs will multiply if allowed. The sink drain area, being wet often, is a growth spot for germs. Add faucet handles to the list
Bathroom – as crazy as this may sound, there are studies showing that the bathroom is cleaner than your kitchen. This may or may not be true for you, but in many homes, bathrooms are the subject of frequent and intense cleaning. Especially when those homes have small children. High touch surfaces here would include the toilet flush handle, light switches, the hand towel, handles to the shower and cabinet doors. Don’t forget the shower floor!
Office – how many of you eat or drink at your desk? I know my computer keyboard is too scary to think about. Then there is also office equipment where many hands other than just yours touch.
Classrooms – all it takes is one kid coming to school with the flu, and it can spread rapidly.
Other hard surfaces that need regular cleaning include countertops, toys, changing tables and remote controls.
|Buy a Gallon of SNiPER Disinfectant & Odor Eliminator
You can dilute SNiPER by 6 to 1 for no-rinse Sanitizing.
First, clean any mess that is present. Then just spray dilute SNiPER onto that surface, and walk away. It’s that easy. It’s that effective. Just one minute to a ‘sanitized’ level of clean!
Can I ‘sanitize’ food preparation surfaces such as cutting boards with SNiPER?
Yes, you can. Clean away any debris first, then spray diluted SNiPER onto the board – and walk away allowing it to air dry naturally. It’s that easy. It’s that effective. Again it is just one minute to a sanitized level of clean.
How do I use SNiPER to disinfect a hard surface?
Pre-Cleaning Instructions: Remove gross filth and heavy soil by cleaning. Thoroughly wet surfaces, by spray, sponge, mop, or immersion, with SNIPER® on to soiled surfaces then thoroughly clean and wipe away gross filth with sponge or cloth.
Disinfect Hard Non-Porous Surfaces: For disinfection of pre-cleaned hard non-porous surfaces such as glass, plastic, painted or finished wood, chrome, stainless steel, aluminum, polyurethane coated hardwood floors, glazed ceramic tile, sealed concrete and linoleum floors.
Disinfect Items such as appliances, bed frames, wheelchairs, chairs, counters, tables, doorknobs, cabinet handles, handrails, light switch covers, tubs, showers, toilets, faucets, sinks, waste containers, etc.
Spray SNiPER® at full strength wetting surfaces thoroughly. Allow surfaces to remain visibly wet for 5 minutes for disinfection of bacteria1. Allow surfaces to remain wet for 10 minutes for virus inactivation2.
1) Allow surfaces to remain visibly wet for 5 minutes for disinfection of Gram-negative bacteria and Gram-positive bacteria, Salmonella enterica ATCC 10708, Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 6538, Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 15442, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) ATCC 33591, Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE) ATCC 51299.
2) Allow surfaces to remain wet for 10 minutes for virus inactivation of Swine Influenza virus, Type A (H1N1)* ATCC VR-
333 and Canine Parvovirus* ATCC VR-953.
Not All Water Damage is from Bad Weather
You leave for work one day, and then when you come home, you open the door and see that there is water everywhere – your home is flooded. The water supply line to your washer burst during the day and now there is 2 or 3 inches of water on the floor throughout your house. You need to act quickly to avoid costly water damage . It’s not Harvey or Irma, but it is a real mess nonetheless. Here is what to do.
First – turn off the water. You should be able to turn the valve just before that burst water supply to shut off the water. But if it is not accessible, then you will have to find the valve for the whole house.
Next – take photos of everything as documentation for the insurance company. And that is your third step – call your insurance agent and find out if they will send an adjuster and what they require you to do.
Get rid of that water!
Water is the stuff of life, but when it gets out of control it can create it’s own problems, even in a small-flood issue like this. Your most important task to minimize water damage is to get everything dry within the next 48 hours to prevent the growth of mold, mildew and fungus.
If it is a large amount of water you have to deal with, the easiest solution is to call a carpet cleaner and request immediate water extraction services. Their truck mounted machines have tremendous vacuum power and large storage tanks. They can vac up that water quickly, and they may have powerful ‘air movers’ that can speed drying.
If it is not so much water, you may be able to use a shop ‘wet vacuum‘ to vacuum up that water. Peel back the carpet (unhook it from the ‘tack strips’) and pull the carpet back until you see dry floor underneath. The pad underneath is cheap – don’t hesitate to bundle it up and just throw it outside, where you can later decide whether to replace it or dry it for re-use.
Be aware that the reservoir is small in a wet-vac, and you will have to stop and empty the tank frequently. Remember that water is heavy!
NOTICE: It is crucial to get standing water out from under your carpet as quickly as possible. If the restoration company tells you they can extract water through your carpet and pad using ‘deep extraction tools’ – fire them and get a new company! There is a time and place for such tools – but a flooding event is not one of them.
|Buy a Gallon of SNiPER Disinfectant & Odor Eliminator
Keep the Air Moving
Once you have vacuumed up as much as you can, point fans at wet areas, turn the fan in your HVAC to the ‘On’ position, borrow more fans, do everything possible to keep air moving and keep that water evaporating.
If the drywall is waterstained higher than the baseboards, you may need to remove those baseboards to check for trapped water. Hope and pray that there is no water trapped in the walls behind the baseboards!
It is absolutely crucial that you get your home dry within 48 hours or mold WILL start growing. Mold only needs one thing to start growing – water. In dry conditions, spores which are floating around us everywhere may land on the carpet. But since it is dry, nothing happens, mold does not begin to grow. Add a bit of wetness, however, and natures little recyclers come to life and start growing resulting in water damage.
Remember that bleach DOES NOT KILL MOLD. It will weaken the mold and it may make it change color, but bleach does not kill mold.
SNiPER kills mold and if you spray the air using atomizing sprayer, you can kill the spores in the air too. SNiPER is so safe because it is not a poison. You don’t need to wear protective gear to apply it, it doesn’t leave toxic residues, and it is non-corrosive, so you can spray it down – and walk away. Nothing could be easier.
We have several documents to help guide you in dealing with mold.
The active ingredient in Nok-Out and SNiPER™ is a substance called chlorine dioxide. This substance has unique properties and is responsible for both eliminating odors and for disinfecting. The wikipedia entry1 for ClO2 tells us, “As a disinfectant it is effective even at low concentrations because of its unique qualities.”
In it’s natural state, ClO2 is a gas like helium or nitrogen. As you might imagine, gases are quite difficult for most people to use. For our products, this gas has been stabilized into a water base. If you examine the ingredients on the SDS, you can see that SNiPER™ is 99.59% water.
Historically, no consumer grade product was developed for 3 important reasons: 1) gasses are hard to use – most of us can’t. 2) In it’s gaseous state, gas ClO2 is toxic. And 3) in it’s gaseous form, it’s useful lifespan is measured in minutes. In our formulation, when ClO2 was stabilized into this water base, all 3 of those flip-flopped. It went from hard to use gas, to easy to use liquid; from toxic to very low toxicity (the EPA gives Sniper a “IV” rating for toxicity – that’s the lowest toxicity rating they give out) and third, it went from from very short lifespan to a lifespan measured in years and years.
“Many evaluations have shown ClO2 compounds to be non-toxic. Five decades of use have not indicated any adverse effects on health. The main areas of use have been disinfecting water supplies, the elimination of unwanted tastes and odors…”2
How Does It Work?
Nok-Out and SNiPER™ are highly selective oxidizers and when they come into direct contact with something smelly, they oxidize that stuff, thus eliminating that odor permanently.
Oxidizers require direct contact with the odor source to be able to do their work. It takes some time for this oxidization process to occur, so if you were to spray onto a hard surface and then immediately wipe it up, there may not be time for this work to take place. it’s usually best to spray, wipe (to smear it around evenly) and walk away, allowing it to air dry. It is during this drying time that Nok-Out does it’s job.
Why Should I Use ClO2? Why Not Just Use Bleach?
The dangers of using bleach are well documented, (do a google search for “is bleach dangerous?” and you’ll see!) but there is no protective agency warning consumers of these health hazards. In the workplace, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires anyone handling bleach to use a mask and gloves when handling this substance. Even scientists in a lab will wear gloves and mask and have good ventilation when using this product. Do you take these precautions when cleaning with bleach in your home?
Unlike bleach, the reaction that takes place in removing odors or in disinfecting when using ClO2 does not result in by-products that are toxic to wildlife or the environment. That environment includes your home! So both Nok-Out and Sniper products can be relied upon to clean and deodorize while not contributing to a toxic home or office.
Additionally, bleach is a strongly corrosive material that WILL irritate the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. These dangers are greatly increased when it is mixed with other cleaners, sometimes forming toxic gasses that can seriously damage your health.
How is Nok-Out and SNiPER™ Different from Bleach?
In our formulation of ClO2, the technology we have is a management system that manages ClO2 in such a way that dangerous by-products are not formed and no raw chlorine is ever released. This stabilized formulation is recognized by the EPA as being of very low toxicity in the 4 categories of toxicity they care about:
- toxicity to skin – level “IV” (the lowest rating they allow)
- toxicity to eyes – level “IV”
- toxicity to be inhaled – level “IV”
- toxicity to be ingested – level “IV”
After thorough testing, the EPA has granted us the lowest toxicity rating they give out.
Is ClO2 Environmentally Friendly?
“Because chlorine dioxide oxidizes but does not chlorinate, chlorinated organic by-products (e.g., THM, HAA, dioxins, furans) typically are not produced. Neither does chlorine dioxide produce appreciable amounts of aldehydes, ketones, ketoacids nor other problematic compounds associated with oxidation of organic matter by other, less selective means.”3 Additionally, toxicological studies have shown that Chlorine dioxide disinfection pose no significant risk to human or animals. So yes, both SNiPER and Nok-Out can be considered as being ‘green’.
Thanks for reading! If you have questions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866 551 1927.
Recently I spoke on the phone with a long-time customer of Nok-Out who told me a story from her workplace. They had a temporary worker – a volunteer – who had an untreated incontinence issue. She leaked a little bit of urine somewhat regularly as she moved around in the office area, sitting in different chairs to do different jobs. The cushioning in the chairs was absorbing the urine and once bacteria get a hold of that urine as a food source, the chairs start to stink. The caller was purchasing some Nok-Out to eliminate urine odor from those chairs. It got me to thinking about the difficulty in treating foam cushioning. Here is how to treat smelly cushions for odor – including urine odors.
Problem: Nok-Out works when it comes into direct contact with the odor source. In fact, it can ONLY work, when it is in direct contact with all of the odor source. If you miss a bit of the source, then that missed place will continue to stink. Cushions are thick and are not necessarily as absorbent as a sponge, so it can be a bit of a challenge if urine or other smelly stuff has penetrated deep into the cushioning. How do you get Nok-Out to work for you in this case?
If possible, remove the cushion from the covering. There may be a zipper in the back and if you are lucky, you can pull the foam cushion out and put it back later. You will need a largish tub. It doesn’t necessarily have to be as large as the cushion, but it should be big enough that you can ‘dunk’ large portions of the foam in it. Add water to this tub,and then add Nok-Out. A dilution ratio of 8 water to 1 Nok-Out will work here and will be efficient. Dunk a portion or all of the cushion in your mixture and palm flat, squeeze it down slowly, forcing the air out. Then slowly release the pressure, allowing the diluted Nok-Out mixture to be drawn into the cushion. Do this a couple of times. Treat the entire cushion in this way. This will both rinse away the dried urine and will leave a bit of Nok-Out behind to eliminate the urine odor. Allow it to dry and put the cushion back into its covering. This is the easy, most reliable method.Unfortunately, not all cushions can be removed from the covering. So another plan may be required.
|Buy a Gallon of Nok-Out Odor Eliminator
Even if you can’t get direct access to the foam, you still need to get Nok-Out to penetrate deeply into the cushion to achieve direct contact with any urine source deep in the cushions. But it is not efficient at all to just pour Nok-Out directly on the seat or sofa. We can, however, dilute Nok-Out at a dilution rate ranging from 4 to 1 to the same 8 to 1 in the ‘tub’ method. Put this diluted Nok-Out into a sprayer and go to town on that cushion! Spray heavily. Wait a few minutes for it to be absorbed – and spray again. And maybe again and again as needed, to get this dilute Nok-Out mixture to penetrate deeply. Much like ‘lather, rinse and repeat’, you may have to go through this process more than once to be successful.
Why not just spray the cushions directly with Nok-Out?
You can, but your
success will depend on how deeply you can get Nok-Out to penetrate
into the cushion material. However deep the urine went, Nok-Out needs
to get there also.
Will this work for pet urine also?
Yes indeed. At some level, urine is urine, whether dog, cat, ferret, pot-bellied pig or people. Nok-Out will work as long as it comes into direct contact with the odor source. It will remove ALL the odor if you can get it to come into contact with all the smelly stuff.
A new home is a blank slate to be decorated, furnished and filled with memories to come. But first, you need to clean up the previous owner’s dirt. From dust in the corners to grime on the bathtub, a lot of mess becomes apparent when a home is empty. As much as you want to get settled into your new home, it’s best to clean before moving in. With an empty house, you can reach every nook and cranny to get your home truly good as new. Before unloading the moving truck, take care of these essential cleaning jobs.
Be Mindful of What You Bring In
Before you break out the cleaning solution – and before you even pack your first moving box – think about the allergens and irritants you could potentially be bringing into your new home via your old, worn-out furniture. Your mattress, for example, could be harboring microorganisms, such as dust mites, dead skin cells and bacteria, if it’s older than five years. It’s best to replace your old one rather than risk bringing it with you if it’s unhygienic.
Similarly, take a look at your couch and dining room chairs, especially if they’re fabric-based. Furniture pieces in common rooms get a lot of use, and therefore, trap in a lot of germs. If these pieces are relatively new – under about five years old – and in good shape, they may only need to be refreshed. An oxidizing, odor-eliminating spray, such as Nok-Out, can give stinky pieces new life. However, as with your mattress, fabric furniture has a finite life span, so rather than bring them and their germs into your new digs, consider replacing them. After all, this is your fresh start – keep it that way!
Dust High and Low
From baseboards to ceiling fans, no surface in your new home should go untouched. Remember to start high and move down as you go; otherwise, you’ll knock dust onto freshly-cleaned surfaces.
As you clean your new home, be mindful of ventilation. You’ll be stirring up a lot of dust and debris and spraying cleaning solutions, which can irritate your respiratory system. Turn on fans and open windows to maintain air quality as you clean, and choose non-toxic cleaners whenever possible. If you want to be an overachiever, opt for adding an air purifier to help remove bacteria and other pollutants from the air.
Deep Clean the Kitchen
The kitchen is full of hidden messes. Grease, crumbs and dirt hide inside and under appliances, inside cabinets, and in range hoods and garbage disposals. Open everything and clean with a degreasing cleaner; you can make your own non-toxic solvent using this recipe from The Kitchn. (see link below)
|Buy a Gallon of SNiPER Disinfectant & Odor Eliminator
|Buy a Gallon of Nok-Out Odor Eliminator
Descale the Bathroom
Mineral deposits can make a clean bathroom look grimy. Arm yourself with white vinegar, baking soda, salt and a toothbrush for tight spaces to clean the unsightly build-up off faucets, shower doors, and tile. If the build-up is severe, it may be simpler to replace fixtures than clean them.
Clean the Carpets
Unless you’re certain the previous owner cleaned the carpets before moving out, add this task to your to-do list. Even if the carpets look clean, allergens and dust mites are probably lurking within its fibers. If you don’t have one already, now is the perfect time to invest in a high-quality cordless vacuum. These models make for quicker cleanup and are easy to cart around. If you realize your carpets need a deeper clean, use a steam cleaner to get rid of any stains or odors, or better yet, tear the carpeting out and replace it replace it with allergy-friendly hard flooring.
Wash the Windows
Washing windows isn’t anyone’s favorite chore, but it has to be done. Bring a ladder and someone to hold it, and spend a dry, overcast day washing the windows and sweeping dirt from frames and screens.
Clean the Gutters
While you have a ladder, take a look at the gutters. Are they full of leaves and debris? If so, take this time to clean them out; you’ll want rubber gloves and a tarp to contain the mess. Once the gutters are cleaned, install guards to spare yourself this chore in the future.
Replace the Air Filter
A dirty HVAC air filter affects air quality throughout your home. Rather than trust that the last homeowner replaced it before moving, install a new filter yourself. It’s a cheap and easy assurance that you’re breathing cleaner air.
Check the Humidity
Even if your home is spotless, dust mites, mold and mildew can thrive if it’s humid enough. To keep these pollutants at bay and optimize indoor air quality, follow HVAC.com’s recommendation and aim for relative indoor humidity between 35 percent and 50 percent. If you’re out of that range, buy a humidifier or dehumidifier to correct it.
Pausing for a deep clean is the last thing you want to in the middle of a big move. However, you won’t regret spending the time to get your home truly clean before moving in. When you handle these tasks yourself, you can rest assured that your new home is clean, healthy and ready for your family.
We all love our pets (Pets are family!) but sometimes they may leave a little mess for us to clean. If that little mess is a hard surface, then it’s usually not a problem – clean away the urine (or other), spray some Nok-Out right there, and walk away allowing it to air dry, problem solved. But if that surface is soft or thick, (think sofa or carpet), then it becomes a bit more challenging to clean and deodorize pet-related issues. Carpet Cleaning with Nok-Out or SNiPER removes the odor and helps your carpet to smell normal again! (and may redeem your pet!)
Puddle on the Carpet
Puddles left in the night will be pulled down deep into – and below – the carpet by the force of gravity. When you wake up, there’s a damp spot on top, but the puddle remains below. As it dries, bacteria get a hold of it and, oh my! It can become terribly stinky. When dealing with a puddle, remember that Nok-Out can only do its work, when it is in direct contact with all of the odor source. If the urine is all the way down to the concrete slab or other flooring, then somehow Nok-Out needs to go there as well.
You can spray right on that spot using a trigger sprayer, but the tiny little droplets that come out of the sprayer will just float on the surface of your carpet and not necessarily go down all the way. This is a great time to dilute Nok-Out heavily and just pour it onto that same area. Allow it to sit for 15 – 20 minutes, then get old towels and spread them out. Walk on them over and over to blot up the excess fluid as much as possible. Use a wet vac if you have one – you want to remove as much of that fluid as possible. Put fans on the area to dry it out as quickly as you can.
Hint: Each one of the carpet strands acts like the wick in a candle and as your carpet is drying, it is also pulling up stuff from deep down in your carpet. This is why ‘spots’ sometimes come back after a cleaning – wicking action. The solution is to remove as much of that liquid as you possibly can, and speed the drying, to reduce this wicking behavior.
|Buy a Gallon of SNiPER Disinfectant & Odor Eliminator
|Buy a Gallon of Nok-Out Odor Eliminator
Whole Carpet Cleaning – Professional Cleaning
I recently met a nurse who works 12 hour shifts. She couldn’t always get someone to go let her dog out to pee. As you might expect, her carpet had serious odor issues from repeated peeing. She had had the carpet professionally cleaned, but they only really cleaned the surface – above the mat backing for her carpet. The smelly stuff deep down was still there and her apartment still stank terribly. We found her a carpet cleaner who did Hot Water Extraction cleaning and had the right tool for DEEP cleaning. They poured gallons of water on the areas and then vacuumed it all back out using the deep extraction tool. The water coming up was a horrible yellow color! But after many gallons of water, it started to come up clear again – most of the urine was gone.
We finished up by doing one more round of pouring a couple of gallons of water that had a 20% mix of Nok-Out (5 to 1 dilution) and allowed it to sit for 10 minutes, then deep extracted the remaining fluid and put fans on it to speed the drying. Problem solved! Solution: first, clean away the smelly stuff using the deep extraction process. Then get Nok-Out down there where it can come in contact with any remaining stinky stuff.
Whole Carpet Cleaning – DIY
Renting a carpet cleaning machine or using your own. This sometimes-cheaper solution can work, but these little machines don’t really have the powerful vacuum suction needed to accomplish DEEP cleaning. If you have a real problem (like that nurse) then it may be smarter for you to pull back the carpet from the wall, clean under it, spray with Nok-Out or SNiPER thoroughly, put fans on it and allow it to dry before rolling the carpet back down and re-attaching it to the tack strips. You may be able to do this one-half the room at a time without too much pain. If you don’t have deep cleaning capability, then this is a great method to tackle tough urine issues in your carpet on your own.
If your urine issue is not so severe, these rental machines can work well enough to give you a big improvement. Use less detergent than they recommend and clean the carpet. Take special care to rinse away as much as possible and then make several ‘vacuum-only’ passes to remove as much water as possible. While the carpet is still wet, spray Nok-Out on it at a 4 to one dilution. It is much more efficient to spray a wet carpet than a dry one, because when your carpet is wet, the surface tension is broken and Nok-Out can spread across the whole carpet more easily. Put fans on the carpet to speed drying and reduce ‘wicking’.
Regular carpet cleaning can reduce allergens and pollutants in your home. Spraying it with SNiPER Disinfectant/Odor Eliminator immediately after that cleaning can further reduce pathogens and give your home a much improved Indoor Air Quality.
Kids are at a high risk for harmful health effects when the quality of air in the home is poor or polluted. Their growing minds and bodies — not to mention immune systems — are more susceptible to allergens, illnesses and pulmonary conditions than adults. What may seem like a small issue to fret over, it could cause serious issues for a child. That’s why it’s important that parents and childcare providers understand what factors influence indoor air quality and how to make your your home or facility is setup to reduce air pollutants. We’ve gathered some of the top tips from air quality professionals to give you a solid start on improving your indoor air quality.
Tip #1 Manage Moisture
Both too much and too little humidity — the amount of moisture in the air — in your home can impact the health of your little ones. Low moisture can dry up your child’s mucus membranes, making it harder for their noses and throats to eliminate germs that can cause illnesses. High moisture has its own impacts, too. With high humidity, breathing can be difficult and mold can grow more quickly. You can control moisture by:
• Making sure all exhaust fans, from your bathroom to your kitchen, vent outside, not into basements, attics or crawl spaces.
• Staying on top of quickly fixing any leaks and immediately removing any water-damaged materials.
• Applying caulking around windows, doors and vents.
Tip #2 Hire Professionals
Air quality is a mighty big project for any homeowner. Consider hiring a professional to evaluate your central air conditioning system and ductwork. If necessary, they can install proper venting around combustible appliances and create outside vents for your clothes dryer. A professional assessment of the ventilation and air quality in your home buys you priceless peace of mind.
That being said, there are many tasks you can do yourself. Use simple precautionary steps like opening windows when using cleaners, solvents and chemicals. This will keep the air free of poisonous fumes and chemicals that might only irritate and adult but can really damage a child. Most homeowners are also able to change their own HVAC system’s air filters. Talk with a professional at your local hardware store to get the best, highest quality filter you can. For example, use an air filter to clean the pollutants out of the air in your home, including pollen, dust mites, mold, and bacteria. Air filters should be changed every 90 days — and more often if you have pets in your home or if anyone suffers from asthma.
Tip #3 Watch for Warning Signs
Air quality can impact common and not-so-common childhood pulmonary conditions like asthma, pneumonia, RSV, whooping cough or Childhood Interstitial Lung Disease. While several of these are caused by encounters with people who have the virus, poor air circulation in your home or childcare facility can accelerate the spread of these illnesses. In addition, allergens in the air can make a diagnosed lung condition worse. Take steps to reduce the allergens in your home and then watch out for symptoms like:
• Frequent coughing, especially at night that can disrupt sleep
• Wheezing sounds when exhaling
• Chest congestion and/or pain
• Frequent cold, flu or other respiratory infections
• Difficulty breathing during active play
Tip #4 Get Fresh Air
While the air quality in your home is very important, you’ll also want to find a balance between indoor air and outdoor air. Exposure to fresh air is essential for healthy kids and growing lungs. Be sure to get everyone fresh air with family-friendly activities right outside your backdoor, such as backyard camping, bird watching, gardening or going on bike rides or walks. If possible, especially if you live in an urban area, try to get them out of the city air and into fresher countryside air. Drive to some nearby forests, mountains, national parks or state parks for an hour, a day or overnight.
Air quality can impact your entire family — from adults to kids, even pets and grandparents. Take steps to manage moisture, keep your filters clean and updated, watch for signs of illness and balance indoor and outdoor air. Improving air ventilation relates directly to improving children’s health.
(This article contributed by Amanda Henderson. She can be reached at: email@example.com. Thank you, Amanda!)
How much time do you spend indoors, versus outdoors?
More and more, we are turning into an “Indoor Generation”. Recent studies tell us that modern people are spending less and less time outdoors. Indoors, we can get everything we need. Failing that, we can have home delivery. The problem with this is – indoor air can be terribly polluted, up to five times as polluted as outdoor air. Whether it is the accumulation of toxins released from cleaning products, or mold spores, or excess humidity or just plain old stale indoor air, our indoor air quality at home is quite likely to be much worse than outdoor air quality. And yet, indoors is where we are spending most of our time.
The Velux Group has released facts from many countries documenting “The Indoor Generation”. For Americans, 25% of the population reported that they spend 21 to 24 hours daily indoors. We get up and go to work – where we are indoors much of the day. Then, when we come home, we spend our “leisure time’ in front of the tv. Then we go to sleep and then do it all over again. Now that it is hot, we stay indoors just as much or more, due to the heat. How much time do you spend indoors versus outdoors?
What’s wrong with spending so much time indoors?
Most people don’t realize how bad our indoor air can be. The EPA publishes info telling us that indoor air can be 2 to 5 times as bad as outdoor air, but 77% of the respondents to this Velux Report survey did not believe that indoor air quality is worse than outdoor air. We have talked often about sources of indoor pollutants in this blog before here and here and here. Aside from the polluted air indoors, there are other health issues with spending so much time indoors. People who spend a lot of time indoors tend to be linked with higher rates of obesity, issues with cholesterol and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as various chronic health concerns, such as asthma, headaches, fatigue, and respiratory inflammation.
There are plenty of studies showing that there are LOTS of benefits, both direct, and indirect, to spending more time outdoors. Sleep, for example. More time spent outdoors exposes you to more bright blue light during the daytime. This stimulates you so that you are more alert and productive and helps to reset your internal circadian clocks so that you sleep better at night. Time spent in sunlight will increase the vitamin D available to your body. Look around while you are out and relax your eyes by looking at far-away objects – rather than that computer screen!
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It is blazing hot outside – I don’t want to go out in it!
Being out in the outdoors doesn’t have to be for hours and hours each day. Try spending a few minutes here and a few minutes there outside. Small things you do can have a bigger impact than you think. Take your lunch out and eat it outdoors. You don’t have to sit in the direct sunlight to enjoy benefits.
What if I just can’t make it out more often?
There are many things you can do to clean up your indoor environment. Check out the 8 Principles of a Healthy Home here: http://blog.nokout.com/ideas-to-help-you-keep-a-healthy-home-in-summer-heat/.
Look in those places under the sink where you keep cleaning products. Read a bit about how to identify what might be a problem here: http://blog.nokout.com/personal-care-products-contribute-to-air-pollution/. Remember that one of the claims-to-fame of Nok-Out and SNiPER is that they are, at the most basic level, all-purpose cleaners that are suitable for casual use around the house and they will not pollute your home.
If learning more about Indoor Air Quality interests you, then visit the EPA website – they have lots of great information for us here: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=.
Other Information Resources
What is it?
Let’s say you are buying a home, and the moment you walk in the door, you get this nose-wrinkling odor that hit’s your nostrils – it’s the dreaded “Old House Odor”. The house may not even be old, but that smell is definitely there. If you are the one trying to sell that house, this is a real problem! It can be a deal killer. This is a mold and or fungal issue and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have an expensive mold problem to fix. But it is a decided turn-off for anyone walking in a door for the first time. Excess humidity is enough to get mold started smelling. You probably won’t find mold actually growing anywhere, but the odor is definitely there. If you do find mold growing, then that is a bigger issue.
Here is what you need to do to handle this.
First, check thoroughly to ensure there are no water leaks, no dripping faucets, no leaks with the toilet water supply, the drain from the air conditioner coil is not blocked and so on. Look closely under each sink and lavatory – feel to see if there is any dampness. Check thoroughly!
Second, dry out the house. If the humidity is not high outside, open the windows and give the place a good airing out. If humidity is high outside, run the air conditioner because this will dry out the inside air. Keep the inside temperature fairly low for several days to allow everything inside to thoroughly dry. If this is not possible, or if some rooms do not have sufficient ventilation, you may need to purchase a de-humidifier for each of those rooms.
What about Furniture?
If there is furniture in the home, be sure and give that old overstuffed sofa the ‘nose test’ to make sure it is not the source of that musty odor. If this turns out to be the source of that odor, you can replace the sofa – or you can fight the fungus that is likely growing deep inside the stuffing by diluting SNiPER disinfectant and odor eliminator by 4 to 1 with water. Spray the sofa heavily. SNiPER must penetrate the stuffing thoroughly and come in contact with the growing stuff. In my personal experience, it took the sofa a week to dry fully, but it has been 6 years now, and the odor has not returned.
If the old house odor persists, then start washing the walls with SNiPER diluted by 4 to 1 with water. Use a rag to wipe down the walls. Do this wherever you detect a bit of that odor. A better option is to use a fogger – they are not cheap, but they are the quickest, most efficient way to treat large areas. With one of these machines, you can literally ‘paint’ walls ceiling and so on with a very thin coat of SNiPER. In a perfect world, someone would go behind you and give those ‘painted’ surfaces a quick wipe down with a rag that is already damp with SNIPER. You are not trying to dry it, but to wipe away anything stuck to the surface of the walls.
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Other Odor locations
Another hiding place for those old house odors is the inside of the air ducts. That fogger is a great way to apply SNiPER deep inside the ductwork in your home. Remove the grille, and use the fogger to spray up in there. You are trying to spray enough ‘fog’ inside that it will begin to condense on the interior walls of the ducts. You may also want to check the coils of the HVAC system. Those coils can become dusty and that dust is a food source for molds. Clean the coils thoroughly and spray them with SNiPER. Allow to air dry naturally.
Carpets in the house could also be the source of Old House Odor, so give them the ‘nose test’ as well. Treating the carpet is much the same as treating the sofa. You need to dilute SNiPER by at least 4 to 1 with water, and spray fairly heavily to ensure sufficient penetration in order to achieve contact with all the stinky stuff. Put fans on the carpet, run the AC to dehumidify and try to get it to dry as quickly as possible. Each twisted strand of carpet fiber acts like a candle wick and can pull up stuff from deep down. Speed the drying process to minimize what ‘wicking’ might bring up.
And that should do it! Give Ted a call at 866 551 1927 with any questions.
“Why do my just-cleaned clothes smell bad? What?!? My front-loading washing machine is dirty?!? How can that be? It’s a cleaning unit!” This is a ‘whodathunkit’ thought for sure, but it is also true. The front-loading washer that gets your clothes clean needs regular cleaning too, because it is damp (think mold here!), it has residues from the organic matter that was the ‘dirty’ part of your laundry to start with, and it’s often the least well-ventilated room in your house (that also may never see direct sunlight). I know that in your washroom that machine looks all shiny and clean on the outside, but in the absence of regular cleaning on the inside – your clothes can begin to smell bad and it is the dirty machine that is the culprit. Nok-Out can help your machine be as clean on the inside as it is on the outside and will keep your clothes odor free.
Why does this happen?
Front loaders are HIGHLY EFFICIENT machines that are designed to use less water, less detergent and to be better at cleaning your clothes, while causing less wear at the same time. To a large degree, these same benefits are a source of the problem as well. Most people use too much detergent and there is less water to rinse away the grime, debris and excess detergent. This grimy filmy soapy gooey residue can build up over time and become a food source for the microbes that cause the stink. Because that laundry room has less ventilation, less light and is generally warm, it is potentially a breeding ground for mold, mildew and other micro-organisms. THIS IS THE SOURCE OF THE STINK! Soap Scum being eaten by micro-organisms!
I want to keep my Clothes Odor Free, so – What do I do?
Every wash session
Get into the habit of spending a few seconds to wipe down the gaskets and seals after every wash session. These seals and gaskets are the primary source of odor because if you don’t wipe them down, they will stay wet and often have a load of built-up gunk that is the food source for microbes that are the source of the stink. Use a bit of rag and fold back the seals to get under them and wipe away that debris. Wipe dry the interior of the tub itself as well. Spray the seals and the interior surfaces of the tub lightly with Nok-Out or SNiPER. Allow the door to stay open until the interior has air dried naturally.
I know this will sound crazy, but read the manual that came with your machine – they will have a section describing best cleaning practices. Check to see if your machine has a self-cleaning cycle. Many do. Follow the instructions. Do this once per month.
Remove and clean the little dispensers where you pour detergent and give them a good cleaning.
Find the in-line filter that traps debris coming through the drain and clean it. The access panel is often low on the front of the machine. You may have to remove a screw or three to get at the filter, and there is likely to be water present when you open it up, so have a hand towel around just in case. Just clean the debris and put it all back together.
What else can I do?
Use a “High Efficiency” detergent. You probably need only 2 teaspoons or so! Not two cups! Again, give that manual a quick read and follow their instructions for the right type and amount of detergent to use.
Avoid detergents and fabric softeners with fragrances. Fabric softeners are basically just an acid wash. You may be able to use white vinegar to soften those clothes. See: http://www.greenideareviews.com/2012/04/25/using-vinegar-as-fabric-softener-review-does-it-work/
If you ever notice a build-up of white ‘mineral deposits’ from hard water, it can be cleaned away using vinegar.
Don’t overload your washer.
If you add Nok-Out to a wash cycle – DO NOT ADD VINEGAR! Nokout has a Ph of 8.5 making it mildly alkaline. Vinegar is a mild acid and at best, the two will cancel each other out. Stronger acids and stronger alkalines might cause other problems. So use one or the other, but not both.
Other Nok-Out and Laundry reading
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A newly published study finds that pollution from vehicle emissions is down – great news! – but also that there is a surprisingly high contribution to total pollution that comes from paint, perfumes, pesticides and – household cleaners. The study focused on Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and concluded that around 50% of VOC pollutants in industrialized cities now come from chemical products such as “pesticides, coatings, printing inks, adhesives, cleaning agents, and personal care products”. “As transportation gets cleaner, those other sources become more and more important. The stuff we use in our everyday lives can impact air pollution.” The surprising thing here is that personal care products are now included along with vehicle exhaust emissions and industrial plant emissions as a significant source of air pollution.
What ‘Stuff’ are they talking about?
That ‘stuff’ comes from those bottles and cans under the sink, from those little bottles on your dressing table, and from petroleum-based products such as varnish, paint, fingernail polish, perfumes, lotions and so on. They are called “Volatile Chemical Products” (VCP’s) and are found in common cleaning solvents and personal care products.
Part of the issue is that in modern home construction, our homes seal up tightly to keep our energy usage low during cold or hot weather. When you varnish that shelf in the living room, it releases VOC’s for some time. Those VOC’s cannot escape because of the tight seals around doors, windows and vents and so they accumulate indoors. The study found that “indoor concentrations [of VOC’s] are often 10 times higher indoors than outdoors” and thus, people indoors are exposed to very high concentrations of VOC’s in their own homes.
Why Do VOC’s matter?
VOC’s are linked to health issues including respiratory irritation, asthma, headaches and dizziness. Long-term exposure may cause damage to liver, kidney and may contribute to cancers. Additionally, long term exposure to indoor concentrations of VOC’s may be a factor in people who develop Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). For strong healthy people, exposure to small amounts of VOC’s may not be a problem. But for more vulnerable people, minimizing exposure to concentrations of VOC’s in the home is the smart thing to do. You wouldn’t want your child or elderly parent to breathe in the exhaust from your car, and you also wouldn’t want them to be exposed to pollution in your home either.
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What to Do?
Your home doesn’t have to have such high concentrations of VOC’s. Here is a list of things you can do to clean up the air inside your home.
- Air out your home when possible. If your home is a bit drafty, then you are already doing this. If your home is newer and seals more tightly, this airing out becomes more important. Just flush out the old air by opening windows and doors.
- Choose cleaning products that do not have fragrances and do not contribute to VOC formation. Both SNiPER and Nok-Out are good examples of products that won’t harm your indoor environment, or you!
- Do away with products that have chemical fragrances. Air fresheners, laundry products, scented candles and so on. Check the labels to ensure this.
- Check your favorite cosmetics. Google “are my cosmetics safe” and check the ingredients. Here’s one list for you: http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/red-list/
- Keep houseplants. NASA did a study showing that common houseplants can extract things like benzene and formaldehyde from your indoor environment. See https://blog.nokout.com/indoor-air-pollution-the-green-solution/ for more information.
- Whenever possible, use petroleum products such as paints, varnishes, nail polish, and some adhesives outside. Allow them to dry thoroughly before bringing them back indoors.
The flu season is upon us – again – and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “This year’s flu season may be especially severe“. According to the CDC, “This is the first year we had the entire continental U.S. be the same color on the graph. Meaning there’s widespread activity in all of the continental U.S. at this point”. An influenza strain known as H3N2 is the most prevalent this year and the vaccine developed to protect us is “about 30% effective”, the CDC says. For most people, getting the flu is uncomfortable, but little more. Some people however, including those with underlying health conditions, are more vulnerable. The most vulnerable are the elderly, children younger than five (and especially younger than two) as well as residents of nursing homes and longer care facilities. If you are concerned, and want to protect your family against the spread of the flu, here are some precautions you can take to keep your family safe.
1) Get a Vaccination
With only a 30% effectiveness rate, you may think, why bother? But some protection is better than none. And if you do get the flu after getting the vaccination, it is likely that your bout with the flu will be much milder than someone who didn’t get vaccinated at all. This is especially important if you are a member of one of the most vulnerable groups.
There could still be up to 13 weeks of flu season remaining. Be aware that there is often a rise in the prevalence of the ‘B’ strain of influenza later in the season. Getting vaccinated may help protect your family.
2) WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY!
This is probably the single most important thing you can do. The reason is that we are constantly touching the same places: door knobs, keyboards, money, steering wheel and so on.
You can use SNiPER to wash your hands – it is perfectly safe. Just spray your hand, then ‘air-wash’ them to help spread the spray effectively on both hands. Hold them up to air dry for 1 minute.
If you have the flu:
a) Don’t go to work (or school). You will potentially spread it to others! Stay home for 24 hours after the fever subsides.
b) If you can see a doctor within the first 48 hours, you may be able to take antiviral meds to shorten the length of time you are sick and reduce it’s severity.
c) Cover your mouth and sneeze into a tissue or handkerchief – not into the air!
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3) How can I keep the rest of the family safe if one member gets the flu?
Spray ‘high contact’ areas with SNiPER Hospital Disinfectant. The CDC tells us that “Most people are at peak contagiousness in the three or four days after becoming sick, but you may be able to infect others from a day before to seven days after developing symptoms“. Spraying high contact touch surfaces will reduce the likelihood of spreading contagions. High contact areas could include doorknobs, push plates on swinging doors, light switches, handles, even money! Take a small 4oz bottle of SNiPER to the gym and spray the equipment you use.
Replace your air filters. If they don’t need replacing just yet, spray them with SNiPER to kill trapped germs.
If you have a ‘fogger’ use it to treat many surfaces (and the air) efficiently. See https://blog.nokout.com/to-fog-or-not-to-fog/. If you don’t have a fogger, you may be able to use a common household Vaporizer to treat a room. See https://www.nokout.com/Vaporizer-How-to-use.html. Treating rooms or your home in this way can reduce exposure to other family members, so this makes perfect sense.
4) Use that Humidifier
Recent studies show that it is not so much the cold weather that helps spread the flu, but the relative humidity. According to one expert, “We don’t have the airtight evidence that a humidifier reduces your chance of getting sick, but we know that dryness is bad for you. Low relative humidity can dry out your nasal passages, making you more vulnerable to the flu virus and other bugs.” The ‘sweet spot’ appears to be a relative humidity range of 40% to 60% for overall health. See: https://blog.nokout.com/safe-humidifier-use-eases-the-pain-caused-by-dry-air/
SNiPER is a great tool in your toolbox to fight the influenza virus, and protect your family, because, while there are many disinfectants capable of killing germs, most other disinfectants are highly corrosive, or highly toxic or just plain dangerous. SNiPER has the lowest toxicity rating that the EPA gives in ALL FOUR Categories: inhalation, ingestion, to skin, and to eyes, so it is safe for you, your family and your pets also.