9 Common Asthma Triggers and How to Fight Them

Any number of things in the home can trigger an asthma attack or discomfort, forcing suffers to turn to inhalers or other medications for relief. But the best “treatment” for asthma sufferers is prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency has identified nine common asthma triggers in the home and suggestions for how to combat them.

  1. Dust Mites – These tiny bugs are in every home, but without proper care they can irritate asthma sufferers. Washing bedding in hot water at least once per week and using dust proof covers on pillows and mattresses can help to alleviate allergy and asthma symptoms. Vacuuming carpets, drapes and upholstered furniture once a week using a HEPA vacuum cleaner will also cut down on dust mites.
  2. Mold – Molds love damp environments, unfortunately for many asthma sufferers mold can trigger an attack. Using soap and water to clean mold off of hard surfaces.  In the bathroom, turn on exhaust fans or open a window when showering. Fix any leaks as soon as possible and dry any damp or wet things within 24 to 48 hours. Try to maintain indoor humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent.
  3. Cockroaches and pests –Nasty pests like cockroaches are common in urban areas an in the southern United States and their body parts and droppings can trigger symptoms in asthma sufferers. Keeping counters, sinks, tables and floors free of clutter can help to deter them from congregating. Clean dishes, spills and crumbs right away. Store food in airtight containers and seal all cracks around cabinets.
  4. Pets – Cats, dogs, hamsters and other family pets can, unfortunately, trigger asthma symptoms. For many, simply keeping the pet out of certain areas, such as upholstered furniture or bedrooms, can be sufficient. Otherwise, the primary line of defense is vigilant vacuuming of carpets, drapes and upholstered furniture. Using a special pet hair attachment will make the job easier, as will a pet grooming tool that helps reduce the amount of hair and dander that lingers about.
  5. Nitrogen Dioxide – NO2 is an odorless gas that can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and cause shortness of breath. Appliances in your home that burn gas, kerosene and wood are the most likely sources of NO2. When cooking on a gas burning stove or oven make sure to use a vent connected to the outdoors and never use the stove for heating. If using an unvented gas or kerosene space heater open a window for ventilation.
  6. Outdoor Air Pollution – Between pollen and pollution, going outdoors at the wrong time of year or time of day can be enough to trigger an attack. Asthma sufferers should watch the daily air quality indexes and plan their daily schedules around times when pollutants should be at their lowest. Close windows on high pollen days and use an air conditioner to filter it before it enters the home can also help. We also recommend a HEPA air purifier to clean the inside air of pollen and other particulates.
  7. Chemical Irritants – Chemical paints, cleaners, adhesives, pesticides, cosmetics, or air fresheners can irritate asthma sufferers or trigger an attack. Following all instructions on product labels and opening windows when using chemicals can help to alleviate symptoms.
  8. Secondhand Smoke –Secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack and even make symptoms worse over time. If there are smokers in your household, don’t let them smoke around asthmatics. Ideally, any smoking should be outside the home completely.
  9. Wood Smoke – Smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces contain a mixture of harmful gases and small particles that can cause asthma attacks. To help reduce smoke, be sure the wood that has been dried completely. Have your stove or chimney professionally inspected at least once every year to be sure it is working correctly and free gaps, cracks and dangerous creosote.

Vacuum Cleaners for SmartStrand Carpet

SmartStrand carpeting from Mohawk and Karastan is becoming very popular because it both looks and feels good. But it can be a little tricky to clean.

Our favorite vacuum cleaner for cleaning SmartStrand Carpeting for 2016 is the Miele C3 Complete SoftCarpet.

Cleaning SmartStrand High-Pile Carpet

Miele SEB228 Power BrushMany vacuum cleaners get “stuck” in high-pile SmartStrand carpeting. Either the wheels will sink into the carpet, or the long, soft fibers stop the brush from rotating. To find which Mohawk SmartStrand vacuum can overcome the challenge, we tested over a dozen vacuums from Miele, SEBO, Dyson, Electrolux, Sanitiare, Hoover, Eureka, Kenmore and Bissell.

The first thing we found is that while some upright vacuums will move through the carpet, pushing and pulling a 15-20 pound upright on high-pile SmartStrand carpet can be very tiring. The second is that most vacuum cleaners with height adjustment will not clean deep down past the surface when raised high enough to be easy to push.

In order to push the vacuum through the SmartStrand, you have to raise the cleaner head so far off the carpet that you lose a great deal of suction. Most machines just don’t have the airflow to create enough suction to compensate. So you end up just “sweeping” the top of the carpet. You never get deep down into the fiber where the dirt gets embedded.  Lowering the head back down increases the suction and cleaning performance, but then makes the machine difficult to push.

The best all-around performer we found is a Miele canister vacuum coupled with the SEB228 power brush. The power brush nozzle on a canister-style machine weighs only a few pounds, so it won’t push the brush down into the matting of the carpeting as much as an upright, and the design of the SEB228 offers the best balance of “deep down” clean and “able to push without a torn rotator cuff.”

The Miele SEB228 power brush is different from other canister power brushes because it has extra-wide wheels that won’t “sink” into the carpet. It also has a height-adjustable bottom with a suction sealing strip that allows it to be raised very high to accommodate ultra plush weaves with minimal suction loss. These features combine with the powerful suction of a Miele canister vacuum to let you push the power brush easily and safely across the carpet, picking up dirt and debris without it getting stuck or damaging the carpet fibers.

The SEB228 power brush is standard with the Miele C3 Kona and Miele C3 Cat & Dog vacuums. It also is available as an option on any other Miele canister vacuum equipped with an electric brush, including the Miele C1 Delphi, Miele C1 Titan and Miele C2 Topaz canister vacuum cleaners.

Cleaning SmartStrand Loop-style Carpet

Miele SEB285 Floor ToolVacuums with rotating brushes should not be used on SmartStrand loop-style carpets. A floor tool with a spinning brush is too abrasive. It can break the fibers so that they stand straight up, detracting from the look as well as wearing the carpet out long before it otherwise would.

Instead, use a suction-only nozzle that deep cleans with intense suction, but has gentle velveteen thread lifters to help guide dirt and debris off the carpet and into the suction nozzle without harming the loops.

Both Miele and SEBO brands make excellent tools for this type of carpet. The Miele 285-3 Combination Rug & Floor Tool has no rotating brush. Large rubber wheels and a smooth metal bottom plate help glide the tool safely across the top of the rug. In addition, two thread lifter strips around the intake gently work through the carpet fibers to pull debris towards the intake.

This floor tool also has retractable synthetic bristles used to sweep smooth floors surfaces. It’s standard on several Miele canister vacuums and can be added as an option to any Miele canister.

The Sebo Kombi Tool, included with the Sebo K2 and Sebo D1 canister vacuums and the Sebo Felix Kombi, is another suction-only floor tool that works well to safely clean these delicate carpets. The Twin-Stream suction system and the crescent-shaped stripes with natural bristles guarantee dust will be collected for edge-to-edge cleaning on hard floors, as well as delicate loop pile. It also has two lint removers also pick up thread and fluff.

Tips for Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Clean Wood FloorHardwood floors are becoming the first choice for many homes. The beauty of fine hardwood adds a subtle yet distinctive look to the design of any room. Equally appealing is the seemingly easy care offered by hardwood. But “easy care” doesn’t mean “no care.” Learn how to clean hardwood floors below.

Hardwood floors need to be cleaned regularly, to remove dust and dirt particles before they can scratch and dull the finish. Regular vacuuming will do the trick, but you need to be sure you’re using a soft-bristled floor tool designed for dusting floors. Otherwise you risk dulling the finish or even scratching the floor as you vacuum. Continue reading Tips for Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Top 10 Smells People Want Out of Their Homes

Best Vacuum

The smell of cookies baking is thought to be so universally loved that real estate agents often bake some in a home before an open house to add some warm fuzzies to the event. But that may just be a myth, according to recent survey by the makers of the Blueair air purifier.

Make no mistake, cookies, brownies, bread…most anything baking…are my personal favorite aromas. But according to research conducted by Blueair in late December, those smells rank at the top of list of “bad” odors people most wanted out of their homes.

Here’s the entire list: Continue reading Top 10 Smells People Want Out of Their Homes