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)
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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.
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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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.
The cold dry air of Winter is a real pain – dry eyes, dry itchy skin, dried-out mucosal membranes in the nose and throat, and so on. When suffering from this ‘winter condition’ many people turn to the use of room humidifiers or vaporizers for relief, and this is a great idea! Safe humidifier use eases the pain caused by the cold air of winter because breathing moist air can soothe the respiratory tract and ease congestion and coughing. But too much moisture can be a negative rather than a positive.
Humidifier as Biological ‘Farm’
Many molds and fungi infestations can exist and perhaps thrive, on humidity they pull from the air. Excessive humidity can also increase growth rates for dust mites, contributing to allergic reactions. And since humidifiers and vaporizers are wet for long periods of time, they can become a little ‘farm’ for the growth of biologicals such molds, mildews, fungi and so on. When a humidifier is allowed to operate as a ‘mold farm’ they can spread spores and other biological elements around a room. Yuck! So let’s look at how to use a humidifier safely.
The key – as with so many things in life – is balance. We need to find the ‘Goldilocks zone’ that is not too humid, and not too dry. Not too humid to prevent runaway growth of biologicals and not too dry to provide relief from that itchy feeling.
Hitting the Goldilocks Zone
A ‘hygrometer’ is a nice little tool to accurately measure the relative humidity. They are available starting at $4 or so (for a cheapie) that might last you through the winter. Between 45 and 55 percent relative humidity will be enough to feel comfortable but not so much as to allow biological growths we prefer to inhibit.
Humidifier / vaporizer maintenance becomes a safety issue if you start using one regularly. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations carefully! If your water has a high mineral content, calcification can build up on furniture, walls or other areas in a room. Use distilled or de-mineralized water to minimize any buildup. Change the internal filters regularly.
As a further deterrent, you can add a bit of SNiPER disinfectant to the reservoir to prevent growth of mold inside your unit. Periodically, add four ounces to a quart of water in your machine. This will be sufficient to keep your machine clean and free of biological growths.
With good cleaning and maintenance, a humidifier or vaporizer can provide comfort and health benefits during the months of cold dry air. Be safe! Keep that machine clean and safe, and it will keep you more comfortable and healthier.
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There is a great way to treat a room for odors, where you don’t know the exact source. Learn more here: https://www.nokout.com/Vaporizer-How-to-use.html
As part of your normal weekly cleaning, remember that humid air will often condense near windows. Spray a bit of SNiPER there every week to prevent the growth of mold in the little puddles of condensate near those windows.
Living the mold-free life is good for you, good for your family and good for anyone who visits your home.