A Brief History of Humans versus Dirt

A Brief History of Humans versus Dirt

One of the great things about Nok-Out and SNiPER is their environmental friendliness. They are both quite safe for use in your house or place of work and this is something that distinguishes our products from other cleansers, which are not so nice, not so friendly to your environment. So I became a little curious and did a little research into how modern cleaning products developed. It is actually kind of interesting. To me, anyway. I hope you will get something good from it too, because in a very real way, it is Humans Versus Dirt. And we have to stay on top of this!

History of Clean

Water was our first cleaner and is sometimes referred to as the closest thing there is to a ‘universal solvent’. All kinds of stuff dissolves into water and, of course, we still use it today because it is so good at being a solvent. Around 2200 BC, the Babylonians made the first known ‘soaps’. Their soap was made from ash and animal fats and water. The Egyptians improved on this by using vegetable oils and alkaline salts that they used for laundry and for their skin as well. The ancient Greeks didn’t use soaps, but instead, scrubbed themselves with salt, clay, pumice and the like, topped off with a coating of oils, which they then scrapped off their skin using a tool called a strigil.

Romans worshiped their Gods by sacrificing animals. The fats that drained out mixed with water and volcanic or other ash to create the first lye solutions. One of the temples where this occurred was named “Sapo” and it is from this place that we get the modern word ‘soap’.

Stinking their way through life…

Alas, Roman civilization collapsed and with it went the habit of washing ourselves. The average person in Europe had no access to any cleanser other than water and personal cleanliness became a thing of the past. Heavens! Can you imagine the stench?!? While our European ancestors were stinking their way through life, the Islamic societies were using soaps with a pleasant smell made from olive oil, lime and alkali. These were exported to Europe. The 16th century in Europe saw the first European production of soaps made from vegetable oil only – called Castile Soap. It was not until the 18th century in Europe, that advertising campaigns promoted the awareness of the relationship between cleanliness and health.

Once the industrial revolution got going, we had production of bar soap and then – liquid soap. BJ Johnson used palm and olive oils to make ‘palmolive” liquid soap. Since then has been a lot of changes as detergents were introduced and the miracle of modern chemistry was applied to cleaning products. Instead of using natural products such as animal or vegetable derived fats and oils, chemists began producing more and more powerful chemical cleansers with components whose names are difficult to pronounce. (A good example is”alkylbenzenesulfonates” and if you go looking at the ingredients list of cleaners, you will certainly find many more!)

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All this Modern Cleanliness is healthy, Right?

Although modern cleaning products do an awesome job of cleaning, some of them are harsh and smell bad. Other ingredients are highly toxic and dangerous – like bleach and ammonia. Many of these chemicals smelled terrible and people wouldn’t use them. So the manufacturers began adding chemical fragrances to hide the really awful chemical smells.

Somewhere along the way, people have become trained (like Pavlov’s dogs!) to believe that when you smell that fresh scent, you know it is clean. Well, it may be clean in the sense that you have washed away the populations of microbes successfully, but the chemicals are still there and they may leave residues and by-products that distort the relationship between being clean and being healthy. Is a home really ‘clean’ when the cleansers being used create a toxic indoor atmosphere? This is some of what is driving the concerns about Indoor Air Pollution and also why the EPA tells us that it is not uncommon for our homes to have up to 400% of the ‘pollution’ found in outdoor air.

What to do? How to choose a cleaner that won’t harm my home and family?

Like most things in life, there is a middle ground that is probably the best place to be. There may be times when you do need to use bleach or other harsh chemicals inside your home. But most of the time, a lesser cleaning solution that is not so harsh will work just fine. A friend who is a carpet cleaner says that “Green Cleaning’ means using cleansers that have a neutral or near-neutral pH. This makes a lot of sense to me. Look at the following table

     Cleaner   pH  
Chlorine Bleach 11 – 13 Alkaline
Ammonia 11 – 12 Alkaline
Tub & Tile Cleaner 11 – 13 Alkaline
Borax 10 Alkaline
Mild Dish Soap 7 – 8 slightly alkaline
Cleaning Vinegar 3 acidic
Toilet Bowl Cleaner 1 – 3 Acidic

Remember your chemistry class? The scale goes from 1 to 14 with neutral being 7. You can see that most cleansers are alkaline and the really powerful ones are very high pH. It is the extremes that deserve special care because they are the ones likely to form harmful by-products. It is risky when some of them are combined, as might be the case if you are cleaning your toilet bowl with more than one cleaner.

The Bottom Line

We have come a long way since water was our only cleanser and in the battle of humans versus dirt, we are winning. Our homes and bodies and clothes are LOTS cleaner now than they have ever been in the past, but due to cleanser residues and chemical by-products that can form, the quality of our indoor air has suffered. This is especially true in homes that are sealed tightly against heat or cold.

What to Do?

The solution is to use those powerful cleansers sparingly and only when you have good ventilation. Take great care when using more than one cleaner. You are likely to leave small amounts of chemical residues behind as you clean. The cleanser you use next may cause dangerous fumes to develop, such as can happen when ammonia comes in contact with bleach. As a general rule, you and your home will be safe if you use cleaning products that do not stray far from the neutral 7.

Nok-Out and SNiPER both have a pH of around 8.5 which is close enough to the middle ground of 7 that it is unlikely to cause any harm. Mild dish soap is one of the most useful and least harmful cleaners. Vinegar may be a natural product but with a pH of 3 is is a fairly strong acid.

Additional Reading

How to Sanitize your Phone or Tablet

How to Sanitize your Phone or Tablet

We all wash our hands regularly because they are in contact with the rest of the world – shopping cart handles, doorknobs, money, toilet seats, other hands – the list goes on and on. We wash our hands to stay protected, it’s also a good idea to clean and sanitize your phone and tablets to continue that protection. Add to this that flu season is here. SNiPER is perfect for cleaning your devices because it is not corrosive and won’t cause harm to touch screens. Here’s how to use SNiPER to clean and sanitize your phone or tablet.

What you’ll need

– One or two clean, lint-free soft cloths that won’t scratch. A lens cloth is perfect, but you can also use microfiber cloths.
– Cotton swabs
-Sniper disinfectant

Here’s the process

First, remove any protective cover from the device.

No matter how careful you might be, you aren’t going to spray the phone directly, (but you can spray down the protector case later if needed). Instead of spraying the device directly, spray a corner of one of the cloths until it is damp. Take that damp cloth and wrap the damp bit around one or two of your fingers so that the wet bit is around your fingertips. Then you can use your wrapped fingertip to gently scrub down the screen of your device. If you scrub for at least 1 minute with the wet cloth, you can be satisfied that your phone/tablet screen is sanitized. Clean the back and sides if they need it.

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Other important bits to clean

Find the charging port and inspect it. If there is a lot of dust present, blow onto it gently. Don’t use compressed air because that can bend the tiny connecting wires. If that doesn’t get it, use the cotton swab very gently to wipe around the exterior of the port. If dust persists inside, where the connections are made, blow sharply into the port. Don’t use a toothpick to try and clean inside. It is far too easy to bend the connecting wires out of alignment, and then you’ll have a new problem!

Cleaning the case or protector is easy. You can spray it directly, or you can use the still damp cloth to wipe it down thoroughly. After everything has dried, you can put it all back together again. It’s easy to clean and sanitize your phone or tablet!

You can also use SNiPER to sanitize your computer mouse, keyboard and other devices. The same techniques of spraying the cloth – and not the device – will work perfectly.

Additional information here: https://blog.nokout.com/what-level-of-clean-is-right-for-you/

Want to use Nok-Out or SNiPER in your home carpet cleaning machine?

Want to use Nok-Out or SNiPER in your home carpet cleaning machine?

Great Idea! Here’s how.

Maybe your new puppy has had a few accidents on your carpet and it is beginning to smell bad. Or maybe you have a new baby that is soon to be crawling on your carpets or rugs and you’d like to disinfect them. There are many reasons you might want to use Nok-Out or SNiPER in your home carpet cleaning machine, and using either of them on your carpets and rugs can be a great idea. It will work just fine and can remove the odor or do a great job of sanitizing – or both. Remember that Nok-Out eliminates odors. SNiPER both eliminates the odors and sanitizes.

It doesn’t matter what type of machine you have – they all work more or less the same. Nok-Out and SNiPER are both non-corrosive and will not cause harm to the machine so they are perfectly safe. It’s easy to use Nok-Out or SNiPER in your home carpet cleaning machine. Best of all, it works great!

Deodorizing with Nok-Out or SNiPER

First – give your carpet a good vacuuming. Most of the ‘soils’ in your carpet are not water-soluble and vacuuming them up will prevent the formation of ‘mud’ when it gets wet. It’s a lot easier to pull that stuff out of your carpet while it is dry.

Next, you have to make a decision. If your carpet is really dirty and needs washing, then clean it first using your favorite carpet cleaning detergent and hot water. I think it is better to clean first – if needed – and deodorize or sanitize after. This eliminates the possibility of the detergent reacting unfavorably with Nok-Out or SNiPER (this is highly unlikely but better safe than sorry). Nok-Out or SNiPER will be able to do a better job of deodorizing or sanitizing when the grime is gone first. When you have finished the cleaning phase, the ‘best practice’ is to perform a clean water rinse to be doubly sure you are not leaving detergent residue behind.

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Maybe your carpet is fairly clean looking but has odor issues. In this case, you may not need to shampoo first, you can instead just focus on the next step when you are deodorizing using Nok-Out or SNiPER. We recommend a ratio of 4 (cold) water to 1 Nok-Out (or SNIPER) for deodorizing. It is highly unlikely that Nok-Out or SNiPER might cause color bleeding, but it is always a good idea to test this in an inconspicuous area first. This is especially true for natural fiber carpet or rugs. Use your machine slowly during this step. When finished, make a final pass that is vacuum only to try and get up as much of the liquid as possible. Put fans on the carpet to speed drying. In the summer, turn the AC down to a lower-than-normal temperature until the carpet has fully dried.

Sanitizing is quick and easy with SNiPER

For sanitizing, you can dilute SNiPER by 6 to 1. The process is the same as for simple deodorizing. Do not perform an additional ‘rinse only’ step at the end. For more information on the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting, see: http://blog.nokout.com/what-level-of-clean-is-right-for-you/.

So you see, using Nok-Out or SNiPER in your home carpet cleaning machine is easy and reliable. It can make a big dofference in your home. Give it a try! You’ll be glad you did!

Refrigerator Odor / Freezer Odor

Refrigerator Odor / Freezer Odor

A customer called recently and told me a story – the electricity had gone off for several days and her refrigerator had begun to stink. She asked whether SNiPER would be safe to use inside her fridge. We all have to clean the refrigerator now and then. Spills, mishaps and the occasional leak are reason enough to give the fridge a good thorough cleaning now and again. Some of those spills may have gone unnoticed and may have become the source of odors no one wants to come from their fridge! SNiPER can safely disinfect and remove odor from your fridge for you. Or, if you don’t need disinfection or sanitizing, Nok-Out will remove refrigerator odor. Here’s how.

What you’ll need

  • 1) bucket of warm, mildly soapy water, a sponge and a couple of rags or dishwashing towels.
  • 2) You may also need a soft scrub pad that won’t scratch plastic.
  • 3) SNiPER disinfectant and odor eliminator in a spray bottle

First off, you’ll need to unplug your refrigerator. Both Nok-Out and SNiPER work best in temperatures above 40 F (and below 110F, if you were wondering!) and since the fridge door will be open for a while, you might as well allow it to warm without wasting electricity. Keep the freezer door closed if you will not be cleaning it as well. Start removing items from the fridge. As you are emptying the fridge, wipe down all bottles and containers with the soapy water to remove any gunk. Don’t forget the bottom of those containers!

Once all the items have been removed and cleaned proceed to dismantle all the removable trays, drawers and what have you. Anything that can come out, should. Take these things to the sink and spray, wipe down and clean them using warm soapy water and then rinse them clean. Use a dishtowel to dry them. After they have dried give them a spray with SNiPER and use a small piece of paper towel to make sure all surfaces are wet evenly. Air-dry naturally at room temperature to both disinfect and remove refrigerator odor.

Go to the fridge itself and wipe any crud away. If you find a sticky mess somewhere, use a rag dampened in the warm soapy water to clean away all that mess. Make sure you get all the little bits and pieces out of the fridge. Spray the inside of the fridge and again, use a bit of paper towel to ensure that all surfaces are evenly wet with SNiPER. Allow to air dry naturally.

SNiPER and Nok-Out both have a bit of ‘soapiness’ that can leave a tiny amount of soapy residue. After everything has fully dried, you may want to give all surfaces a wipe with a dry towel to remove this tiny amount of residue.

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Extreme cases – powerful stink!

Sometimes in situations where the electricity was off for several days, you may find that you have a really big problem and simple cleaning doesn’t take care of the odor. Most likely, the odor is now impregnated in the plastic itself (plastic is porous!) In this type of situation, you will need to warm the unit to fully room temperature. Spray the entire inside. Use a rag to wipe it around and provide gentle agitation. Leave the door open and allow it to air dry naturally. Don’t be discouraged if the stink isn’t gone after the first treatment. Repeat the process, perhaps many times. Every time you apply, you’ll get a little more of the stinky stuff and eventually, you will completely remove refrigerator odor and the fridge will be ready to go back to work for you.

No Rinse Sanitizing

Dilute SNiPER by 6 parts water and you can ‘sanitize’ your fridge, your counters even your cutting boards. Just spray and walk away – no wipe! Say goodbye to refrigerator odor!

Related Reading

Disinfect your Pet Carrier

Disinfect your Pet Carrier

Recently, I received an information request from a customer who carried a sick puppy to the vet and discovered that her poor little new puppy had canine parvovirus – Horrors! Canine Parvo is a really nasty, hard-to-kill virus that is highly contagious and is spread by direct contact with feces. Since diarrhea is a hallmark for this sickness, it can spread easily and is difficult to eradicate. The question was how to disinfect the pet carrier she used to take the pup to the vet. SNiPER is lab tested to kill canine parvovirus and can be used to safely and thoroughly disinfect your pet carrier – and other surfaces too.

First, remove any cushion, towel or blanket from the carrier. If you see feces on the cushion, take it to the sink and carefully rinse that stuff away. Clean the sink as soon as you can using an abrasive scrubbing compound such as Barkeeps friend or Comet or the like. Try to avoid splashing.

Find yourself a washtub just big enough to hold that cushion. Add around a half-gallon of cool water and then a pint of SNiPER disinfectant. You are aiming for a 4 water to 1 SNiPER dilution ratio. Immerse the cushion and hold it under, forcing it to become fully wet all the way through. This step is essential because direct contact with the virus is essential. If it floats too much, put something heavy on top to hold it down under the SNiPER solution. Allow it to soak for an hour. If you can’t keep it all underwater, come back and flip it over every 10 – 15 minutes. When the hour is up, hang it up to dry.

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As for the carrier itself, spray it down thoroughly with SNiPER inside and out, top and bottom. It needs to remain wet with SNiPER for 10 minutes, so you are likely to need to come back before it dries and spray again to get to the full 10 minutes.

That should do it for you. It is really the cushion that is the challenging bit because it’s not so easy to get the disinfectant to penetrate deeply into that cushion. Even heavily diluted, SNiPER can still kill the virus, it just needs more time to accomplish it, therefore, the long soak time.

Other Reading

For information on how to disinfect other things that might be contaminated by parvo, see https://www.nokout.com/Canine-Parvovirus.html. Also see a previous blog article here: http://blog.nokout.com/canine-parvovirus/

Spring Cleaning For your Mattress

Spring Cleaning For your Mattress

One Spring Cleaning Chore that often goes overlooked is cleaning your mattress. Since that mattress is where you spend about a third of your life, it makes sense to give it a good cleaning periodically. Especially, if you suffer from allergies or asthma. Regular cleaning of sheets and linens is the first line of defense, but periodically, your mattress will need an especially thorough round of cleaning and maintenance. Spring cleaning for your mattress is a good idea and can help you breathe easier at night! Here’s how to use Nok-Out and /or SNiPER to do a good job of cleaning it, and help you sleep easier.

A Breeding Ground

Your mattress is likely to come in contact with sweat, blood and other body fluids, and because you are lying in it, it is a warm moist place. That warm moist place is inhabited by bacteria, living and dead dust mites, the feces of those mites (which can cause allergic reactions), dead skin cells, fleas from pets and their feces, and so on. There is a regular ecology of critters living in your bed. Being warm and moist, with all those ‘food’ sources, it is indeed a breeding ground. A good Spring Cleaning of your mattress will reduce that population of critters to a healthier level.

What to do?

Daily: Leave the covers pulled back and allow the sheets to air out and dry. Run the AC in summer to keep indoor humidity levels low.

Weekly

Check the washing instruction on your sheets and if permitted, wash your sheets in the hottest water available. Don’t overload the washer! Triple rinse. While the sheets are in the wash, vacuum the mattress. Despite sheets separating you from the mattress, there will still be lots of dead skin cells and vacuuming them up removes a food source for many tiny critters, including dust mites. Pay special attention to the seams and vacuum them carefully. This is where many mites like to hide. If you are allergic to dust mites, this is an important step!

Spring Cleaning for Your Mattress:

Vacuum the mattress thoroughly using some kind of ‘beater brush’ attachment. Inspect the seams carefully, looking for living bugs or eggs. It may be that you can use your carpet floor vacuum for this. The beater brush will shake and scrape loose stuff that has attached to the fibers of the mattress cover. When done, spray the mattress thoroughly with SNiPER and allow it to dry thoroughly before putting sheets back on.

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If you do find bedbugs, call a specialized pest control company that has expertise with these pests to help you deal with this problem. Or, the EPA has good guidelines here: https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs/do-it-yourself-bed-bug-control

Urine

Nok-Out can help with any odors in your mattress, including urine odors. Locate the source of the odor to find where to spray (remembering that Nok-Out and SNiPER both, need to be in direct contact with the odor source to be able to do their jobs) and spray directly on the source – allow to air dry. If the urine has soaked deep into the mattress, Nok-Out also needs to go that deep in order to get to all of the urine, so it may be a good idea to dilute some Nok-Out with 4 parts water and spray heavily. If this is the case, put fans on it to speed drying.

Bacterial Contamination

If your concern is for bacterial contamination, use SNiPER. Friendly to pets and people, SNiPER is lethal to microorganisms and can disinfect your mattress without leaving behind any toxic residues. Vacuum the entire bed thoroughly. Spray the entire bed until it is uniformly damp. Allow it to air dry.

Additional Reading

https://www.redfin.com/blog/allergy-proof-home/