New Home? Here’s What You Should Clean Before Moving In

New Home? Here’s What You Should Clean Before Moving In

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.

Sources

https://www.mattressadvisor.com/best-mattress-guide/
https://www.marthastewart.com/1514361/how-to-dust-right-way
https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-a-natural-kitchen-degreaser-229641
https://www.allergicliving.com/2017/10/25/laying-down-the-best-allergy-friendly-flooring-choices/
https://food52.com/blog/16391-how-to-get-your-windows-squeaky-clean-streak-free
https://www.familyhandyman.com/roof/gutter-repair/the-best-gutter-guards-for-your-home/view-all/
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-often-you-should-change-your-ac-filter/
https://www.hvac.com/faq/recommended-humidity-level-home/

Carpet Cleaning with Nok-Out or SNiPER – Pet Odors

Carpet Cleaning with Nok-Out or SNiPER – Pet Odors

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.

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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.

Additional reading:

https://www.nokout.com/Carpet-Odors.html
https://www.nokout.com/How-to-remove-Urine-Odors.html

4 Ways Improving Air Quality Improves Kids’ Health

4 Ways Improving Air Quality Improves Kids’ Health

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: amanda@safechildren.info.  Thank you, Amanda!)

References

https://blog.esurance.com/how-to-reduce-allergens-around-the-home/

https://www.cigna.com/individuals-families/health-wellness/hw/medical-topics/tips-for-reducing-indoor-pollutants-in-your-home-zp3218

https://www.budgethomeservices.com/the-air-in-your-home-is-dirtier-than-outside-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/

https://www.merrymaids.com/blog/quick-tips/cleaning-tips-for-allergy-sufferers/

https://filterbuy.com/air-filters/20x20x1/

http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/rsv/rsv-symptoms-causes-risk.html

https://plexusworldwide.com/sunnyshare/just-for-fun/13-family-spring-activities

 

Are you part of the “Indoor  Generation”?

Are you part of the “Indoor Generation”?

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

https://www.sott.net/article/385759-The-indoor-generation-A-quarter-of-Americans-spend-all-their-time-indoors

https://www.velux.com/article/2018/indoor-generation-facts-and-figures

Old House Odor – How to Fix it

Old House Odor – How to Fix it

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.

Personal Care Products contribute to air pollution – in your home!

Personal Care Products contribute to air pollution – in your home!

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. Do away with products that have chemical fragrances. Air fresheners, laundry products, scented candles and so on. Check the labels to ensure this.
  4. 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/
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

 

https://sciencesources.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-02/uoca-cai020718.php
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6377/760