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.

WSJ’s Best Canister Vacuum for Allergy Season: Miele HomeCare Plus

Miele Complete C3 HomeCare Plus

In a Wall Street Journal Miele HomeCare Plus Reviewof vacuum cleaners for allergy season, the only canister chosen was the Miele Complete C3 HomeCare Plus.

Calling it “The Killer Canister” and the “Mercedes S-Class of the vacuum world,” the Wall Street Journal lauded the Miele HomeCare Plus’ array of floor tools and attachments, power and quiet operation. More important for allergy sufferers, though, is Miele’s HEPA sealed system filtration.

As the article notes, it’s one thing to have a HEPA filter that will trap even the smallest particles, and quite another to completely prevent contaminants from finding other ways out of the vacuum and into the air you breathe. “The best vacuums will have a totally sealed unit so that there is no blow back into the room,” the WSJ quotes Dr. Philip M. Tierno, Jr., a professor of microbiology and pathology at the NYU School of Medicine.

The Miele HomeCare, in fact all Miele HEPA vacuums, provides that total seal.

The Complete Canister Vacuum Cleaner

The Miele Complete C3 HomeCare Plus is a full-size HEPA canister vacuum that includes every floor tool and attachment you need to clean any type of floor and above-floor surface.

There are two floor tools: the SBD285 AllTeq combination floor brush and the SEB236 Electro Premium power brush. The SBD285 floor brush takes care of smooth flooring and low-pile carpeting, while the SEB236 power brush handles thick wall-to-wall carpet and lots of difficult to clean pet hair.

With the SEB236 comes Miele’s deluxe handle with fingertip controls for the power brush and suction. The floor tool itself features a bright LED headlight to see under furniture, a soft rubber bumper to protect baseboards and an auto-stop parking feature that shuts off the brush when in the upright position.

The Miele HomeCare Plus also includes a complete assortment of cleaning attachments: dusting brush, upholstery nozzle, crevice tool, universal dusting brush and flexible crevice tool.

More Miele HEPA Sealed System Options

The standard Miele Complete C3 HomeCare comes with all the same HEPA sealed system filtration and cleaning attachments, but just the SBD285 AllTeq combination floor tool. It’s a better choice for homes with just smooth floors and low pile rugs and carpeting.

There are other Miele vacuums, upright and canister, that feature Miele’s HEPA sealed system construction, as well as models designed specifically for homes with pets. For information on those options, as well as on the Miele HomeCare Plus, talk to one of our Miele experts at 888-205-3228.

Everything You MUST Know about HEPA Filters

Miele HEPA FilterOne of the best things you can do to help keep allergies at bay is to use vacuum cleaners and air purifiers with HEPA filtration. But different manufacturers use different terminology to say, essentially the same thing, so comparing one product to another isn’t always as straightforward as it should be.

There’s the HEPA filter, and then there are variations on the HEPA filter, as well as ULPA and HEGA filters and a few things in between. There’s a lot of information available about the underlying technologies and how they relate to vacuum cleaners and air purifiers, including articles in our own library, but there are only a few things you absolutely must know about filters before you start shopping: Continue reading Everything You MUST Know about HEPA Filters

Why Doesn’t My Vacuum Cleaner Work?

Why doesn't my vacuum work?Since we service as well as sell at Best Vacuum, “Why doesn’t my vacuum work” is a question we hear a lot, followed by, “And what can I do about it?” Sometimes the answers are complicated. Other times, they’re pretty simple. On that side, here are some things you can do yourself to see check why your vacuum may not be working as you expect, and what you can do about them.

It’s lost suction and is not picking up.

It could be that you have plenty of suction, but the brush is not working. Take off the brush and feel the end of the hose. If the suction seems right, the brush may need replacing, or it could have an obstruction that prevents it from turning (see below). Continue reading Why Doesn’t My Vacuum Cleaner Work?

Coping with Spring Allergies

pollenIt looks like some of us, at least, can stop asking “Will Spring ever get here?” For the rest of us, we can take comfort in looking at a calendar that says “April” and knowing it must get here pretty soon. Unfortunately for too many of us, when Spring returns, so does hay fever.

Hay fever allergies, aka seasonal allergic rhinitis, is marked by sneezing, congestion and a runny nose . the symptoms are similar to those of a cold, but where a cold can last a few days to a couple of weeks, hay fever can go on for months. In fact, for many sufferers, once it starts in the spring, it doesn’t end until the first hard frost of winter.

Pollen is the culprit here, from trees, weeds and various grasses. Unfortunately, short of staying indoors with the windows closed tight and a constantly running air conditioner and air purifier, there’s not much sufferers can do to avoid pollen. Even if you don’t have trees or plants in or near your home, pollen grains will hitch a ride on the wind and find their way to you.

Mind the Pollen Count

The pollen count measures the concentration of all the pollen the air in a certain area at a specific time. The actual measure is grains of pollen per cubic meter of air collected over a 24-hour period. Local weather reports and any number of Web sites and apps can give you the number. While pollen counts will change throughout the day, they still can help decide when it may be better to stay inside.

Regardless of the count, as a general rule of thumb pollen counts are higher during the early morning hours. It’s best to avoid the outdoors between 5-10 a.m., saving your outdoor activities for late afternoon. Warm, breezy days also increase pollen counts, but rain washes the grains out of the air, so going out after a heavy rain can be a good choice.

Treating Pollen Allergies

If you’re going to treat your symptoms yourself, you probably shouldn’t without first seeing a physician. Especially if you’re just beginning to feel the effects of allergies or if those affects are severe, it’s a good idea to find out exactly what is causing the allergy before trying to treat it.

While it could be just pollen, you also could have developed allergies to mold or dust or even animals. These may not by themselves be very serious, but you also could be starting to develop asthma. Allergies can be really annoying, but asthma can be deadly if not treated properly. It’s not something  you want to take chances with.

If you decide to forego the trip to the doctor, you can treat hay fever yourself with any number of over-the-counter medications. Most popular have been antihistamines, but those can cause drowsiness. The ones that don’t work fine for many people, but have been said to be less effective for those with serious allergies. Nasal decongestants help with stuffiness, but they can have the opposite side effect, causing restlessness or nervousness .

Nasal corticosteroid sprays are considered more effective than antihistamines and decongestants, and don’t have their drowsiness/restlessness side effects. They don’t start working immediately, though, and have their own set of side effects to consider and watch out for before committing to long-term use. The choice also is limited if you want something without a prescription. Only one brand currently is available over the counter.

Dyson V6 Possibly the Best Stick Vacuum Ever

Dyson V6 Cordless VacuumThe new Dyson V6 Cordless vacuums may look like spiffed up versions of the older models, but they aren’t. The new Dyson V6 range is far and away better than the earlier models. They’re far and away better than other stick vacuums. In fact, Dyson V6 cordless vacuums with the new direct-drive motorhead – the V6 Absolute, V6 Animal and V6 Motorhead – are among the best products we sell.

The new Dyson V6 vacuums have all the features and extras you’d expect from a Dyson cordless. They are lightweight, with the center of gravity towards the grip for easy cleaning from floor to ceiling. The digital motor generates suction that puts Dyson cordless vacuums in a class by themselves. The two-tier arrangement of 15 cyclones increase airflow and capture the more fine dust than earlier models.

But it’s that direct-drive cleaner head that makes these machines special. It makes them the first stick vacuums that clean all types of flooring well, both smooth floors and carpets. And not just smooth floors, but into the crevices of hardwood, stone and tile floors. And not just low-pile carpets, but the most difficult carpets, like flokatti, shag and frisee.

Dyson V6 Direct Drive Motorhead
Dyson V6 Direct Drive Motorhead

The direct-drive cleaner head provides 75% more brush bar power than the motorized cleaner head of the base Dyson V6 cordless vacuum, and better performance than many standard uprights. For carpets, its stiff nylon bristles drive deeper into pile, removing ground-in dirt other stick vacuums can’t reach. For hard floors, there are soft carbon fiber filaments that pick up the fine dust that other stick vacs leave behind.

If you just want a cordless stick vacuum with the cleaning performance of the direct-drive cleaner head, but don’t need much else, then the Dyson V6 Motorhead will be your choice. It comes with a crevice tool and Dyson’s combination tool with dusting brush and will meet most typical cleaning needs

If you have pets or want to use the Dyson V6 to clean furniture or stairs, you’ll want to consider the Dyson V6 Animal. It has the basic tools plus a mini motorized tool designed for vacuuming pet hair, upholstery, stairs and other small, tight spaces.

If you want a HEPA stick vacuum or need to protect delicate finishes on your hardwood floors, look at the Dyson V6 Absolute. It’s Dyson’s only HEPA cordless stick vacuum. The Dyson V6 Absolute includes the mini motorized head that comes with the V6 Animal, and also Dyson’s new Fluffy soft cleaner head.

Dyson V6 Fluffy Cleaner Head
Dyson V6 Fluffy Cleaner Head

The Fluffy cleaner header was designed especially for hardwood floors. It’s covered in soft woven nylon, with rows of anti-static carbon fiber filaments that pick up fine dust and large debris pick-up simultaneously. With the Fluffy, the direct-drive cleaner head and the mini motorized tool, the Dyson V6 Absolute cordless vacuum could be the only vacuum you’ll need for spaces of 1,000 sq. ft or less.

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.

Introducing the 2015 Miele Vacuum Cleaners

2015 Miele Vacuum CleanersThe Best Vacuum team met with Miele at the VDTA show and got the lowdown on the 2015 Miele vacuum cleaner line changes. There are some minor tweaks to the model offerings, but the big change in how Miele is branding its products.

Miele vacuum series names have changed to bring the naming conventions in line with those used in other countries. So, gone are the S1, S2, S6, S7 and S8 designations. In their place are descriptive names that clearly show the differences between the products. Continue reading Introducing the 2015 Miele Vacuum Cleaners

How to Choose the Right Dyson Vacuum Cleaner

Dyson Vacuum CleanersWe’ve just updated our Dyson vacuum buying guide with new information on the latest Dyson models to help you find just the right Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner. Check it out before you buy, but in the meantime, here are some tips taken from our Dyson buying guide.

Dyson has a full range of vacuum cleaners, upright and canister, for just about any home. They can be broken down into two categories: Dyson vacuums for medium to large homes and those for smaller homes and apartments. Continue reading How to Choose the Right Dyson Vacuum Cleaner

Blueair Sense Brings Motion Control and Multi-stage Filtration to Compact Air Purifier

Blueair Sense Air PurifierBest Vacuum is one of only a handful of retailers authorized to sell the Blueair Sense in the United States, and we just got our first shipment. And, well, wow. Blueair’s design team really kicked it up a few notches for this one. Great looking with futuristic touchless controls and Blueair’s famous HEPA Silent technology anchoring an outstanding multi-state filtering system, the Blueair Sense truly is a one-of-a-kind air purifier. Continue reading Blueair Sense Brings Motion Control and Multi-stage Filtration to Compact Air Purifier