Winterizing Your Home

It’s the start of the cold season, soon enough there will be snowstorm and frozen lakes because of the negative temperature. New season means that you should be prepared for two things: the cold and the hot. Here’s our winterizing tips to prepare your home for the coming of winter:

Winter Preparation

1. Flush the water heater

This is something that is often forgotten. As you know, the water filter, filters out the sediment and particles and it settles usually at the bottom of it. When not cleaned regularly, this may cause the water heater to decrease its efficiency and might also increase your electricity bill. Winter is the best time to flush it out as it is expected that you will use more hot water than before. In order to clean it you just need to clear out the drain valve by flushing it with water and you’re done.

2. Programmable Thermostat

One of the best things that you could buy this winter (and is also very helpful) is the programmable thermostat. It lets you know the current temperature inside your home and it also tells you if it is within the ideal temperature. Also, this can lessen your electricity bill because as for every degree you lower the temperature of your home, it also lower’s your winter bill.

3. Clear the Yard

If you are a green thumb, I bet you already trimmed and prepared your garden for the coming fo the cold season. If you’re not, well I guess this is the perfect time for you to spend some time at your yard and cut some long branches of the tree, remove dead leaves and branches and just clear out your garden. Make sure that you leave nothing in there that can potentially damage any of your property, as snowstorms tends to be strong enough to do harm.

4.  The Garden Hose

We are used to leaving the garden house where it is supposed to be – the garden. During winter, the hose can freeze and clog it making it not useful. To be able to use it for the next months or so, make sure to drain the water inside the hose and store them away, maybe inside your garage or somewhere it will not freeze. While you’re at it, shut the water valves properly and insulate the faucet.

5. Test your detectors

Fire is not just common in summer but also in winter! There are many reported fire accidents during winter because of overuse of heater or improper use of the fireplace. To avoid and prevent any fire hazard, store your flammable materials somewhere safe and don’t forget to replace your smoke detector’s battery as it may not be working anymore. It is also an option to install a carbon monoxide detector for added protection.

6. Weatherproof

Winter is the best season to weatherproof your home. Aside from making sure that the cold air does not go inside your home, weatherproofing also maintains the heat inside the home – less energy usage. The first thing to check is always the windows and doors. Install a weather stripper to the gaps to prevent the heat from going out. Also, check for spaces in between cupboards and cabinets that may have leakage or holes you may need to fill. You may use caulk to fill in those extra gaps that the weather stripper cannot fit into. Insulating your home is the best way to keep you and your family warm during this cold season.

7. Clockwise Ceiling Fan

This may be the best home hack there is during winter. Ceiling fans gives us comfort during all seasons except on winter which we may find it not useful. People found a great way of using it during the cold season, you just need to make it rotate on the different direction it usually does. Doing so, will help it maintain the heat at home and lessen your energy usage.

8. Outdoor equipment

Men love to buy power tools and string trimmers, but do they store it correctly? Probably not. In order for it to be in a good condition when needed, proper storage and maintenance of the equipment should be followed.  This is the best time to check on them if they are still working. You may use one or two this winter season. Also, don’t forget to stock up on some ice melt, they are a must in winter.

9. Embrace the Sun

We all know that the sun’s ray gives us warmth. Why not let the sunshine in inside your home? It does not only lighten up your home, but it also warms the house. This is the best time to love the sun and keep your curtains on the side. 

10. Save on your Energy Bills

Since the winter season makes you want to use all kinds of heater, it means that your energy consumption may be higher than usual. To counter this, you may consider shifting to LED lights from a traditional one as it is proven to be more efficient. Also, wear your winter wardrobe even at home as it gives you extra warmth lessening your use of the heater. Lastly, make sure to winterize your home to prepare it for the coming season and for you not to have unnecessary expenses when the cold cause damage to your home because you forgot to prepare for it.  

Winter Energy Saving Tips For The Home

The winter season is just around the corner and you are wondering whether or not your house is ready for it yet. As much as winter means skating and snowballs, it is also a season for your home to be ready for warm and relaxation that is brought by the cold breeze. We listed down energy saving tips that can save some of your money during the next 3 to 4 months:

Energy Saving Tips

1. Switch your ceiling fans blade rotation.

I bet you never thought about which direction the span is spinning. Changing the ceiling blade rotation is actually helpful to save you some money. When the ceiling fan rotates counterclockwise, the fan will prevent the rising of the hot air contributing to the warmth of the room.

2. Upgrade your fireplace.

Having a fireplace during the winter is the best place to be especially with the negative temperature outside. Most of the fireplace made before uses wood in the fireplace and costs much higher than the new fireplace. Upgrade your fireplace to an EPA certified model, it will not only conserve energy but also you might even receive a tax credit for it.

3. Let the sunshine it.

Most people do not appreciate the sun as much as they do especially in winter. Take advantage of the warm rays of the sun by letting the heat naturally enter your home by drawing the curtains. Letting the sun in not only makes the room warm but also lighten up the room.

4. Weatherproof your windows.

During winter, you may not notice it but some of the heat inside may go out through the spaces in between the windows or the doors. If you don’t have the budget to upgrade your windows and doors to a weatherproof one. You may opt to buy a clear plastic film or a weather proofer and apply it on the windows and doors. This simple and cheap trick will save about 14% of the heating bill.

5. Get selective with a space heater.

If you found yourself rarely at home, you may invest on a portable space heater and use it on areas where most of the people in the house stay like the living room and bedrooms. The portable space heater is not only keeping you warm, but it also reduces your heating costs.

6. Wear winter clothes.

Winter is not all about the the snow and the cold weather. It is also the time for you to rock some of your winter wardrobe that were only hidden in your cabinet for months and waiting for this season to come. Wearing the appropriate clothes at home during winter also lessens the energy needed as it keeps your body warm without using any electricity. Don’t forget to use your favorite fuzzy socks, matching PJs and your cute earmuffs!

7. Avoid using your exhaust fans.

During winter, it is not ideal to use the exhaust fans at your home. It may have been useful in the previous months but during winter you should turn it off. The exhaust fan may cause heat loss in your home as it pulls the warmth inside your home and bring it outside. Save your kitchen and bedroom exhaust for the seasons after winter.

8. Change the old bulbs with LEDs.

If your home is still not using LED bulbs, then you should make the switch now. Winter is the perfect time to do this because LED lights are known to save much energy than the traditional light bulbs. Aside from lighting up your home, it will also lessen your electricity bill for months.

9. Invest in a good thermostat.

You already have so much spending this holiday, why not spend on a vital part of your home – a smart thermostat. Having a thermostat is not only useful during the winter season but all throughout the year. Knowing the temperature at home can help you determine when you need to open the air conditioner or the heater. It decreases energy use by almost 12%. The optimal temperature at home during winter at home should be around 10 to 15 degrees Celsius.

10. Look for Leaks.

Aside from the spaces between the door or window, there are other areas that can cause seepage of heat from gaps around the chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceiling and unfinished spaces in between cupboards and closet. It is important to determine the cause of air leaks so that you can use weather stripper to seal the air leaks.

11. Clean the Air Ducts and Fernace filters.

This is one of the simplest energy-saving tips for winter. Clean the air duct that has been clogged by dirt in previous months. A clogged air duct will prevent the air from coming to and from the house. The furnace filters are advised to be cleaned or replaced monthly especially during the winter season. Like the clogged airduct, a dirty filter blocks the flow of heat and can cause your electricity bill to increase.

Let us know if you tried one of the things on the list and if it works!

House Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Cleaning may be the hardest house chore ever, but it is also the most fulfilling one. It may seem as a fairly self-explanatory task but there are a lot of tips and trick to make cleaning easier! We’ve listed down a few that we think will be useful in doing so.

Time-Saving Tips

Can somebody tell me why there isn’t an actual guide for cleaning? Cleaning the house takes a lot of time if you don’t know where to start. Knowing where to start and what to clean will lessen your time doing the task and more time for other things that needs prioritization too.

Toothbrush cleaning keyboard

1. Cut the Clutter

Before starting anywhere, make sure to de-clutter all the scattered mess around you. Reorganize your things especially on your desk or the kitchen. This not only make your room organized but it also helps decreasing the cleaning process.

2. A Toothbrush can make a change

We all know that the toothbrush is used for brushing, but did you also know that it is an effective cleaning tool? Its brush helps reach areas that can’t be cleaned by the vacuum or any sponge or cloth. It is not only handy but also inexpensive (saving you lots of money!).

3. Microfiber Cloths

Maybe one of the best inventions ever made is the Microfiber. It is easy to clean, absorbs water fast and dries surfaces faster. It lessens the rinsing time of the cloth meaning more surfaces can be cleaned!

4. Start with the Cleanest, End with the Dirtiest

Start cleaning the “cleanest” or most organized room in your house. It is imperative to start at the cleanest area to avoid cross-contamination of bacteria all-over your home. Imagine cleaning your bathroom first then your bedroom after. You are spreading germs all over your house! This is not only a dirty way of cleaning but it can also be a source of disease in your family.

5. Clean the Drapes

Oh, but not the way you’re thinking. You don’t need to put it on the laundry. Every heard of vacuuming the drapes. It takes much less time cleaning it and far easier to vacuum the dusts that is sticking on the drapes.

6. Vacuum, then Mop

Sweeping the floor is quite the traditional way of cleaning one’s home but maybe people needs an upgrade. Just like how sweeping works, vacuuming also does the job pretty well. Don’t forget to mop after!

7. Don’t Forget to Turn-off the Electronics

Some people just clean without really think whether or not their electronics are plugged or unplugged. Cleaning your TV or any devices while its powered on or plugged may put you at risk of being electrocuted and at the same time might cause damage to your devices.

8. Read the Tags

I believe everyone is guilty of not reading the labels off the clothes and sheets. Did you know that the tags on the bottom of the fitted sheet is a guide to know what size the sheet is? If it’s on the left, it’s a king-size sheet and on the right, it’s a queen size sheet. Also, the tags show exactly the way on how and how-not-to clean it.

9. New House Smell

Who doesn’t love the smell of a clean, fresh, new house? It makes you want to move from one house to another. Adding a few drops of essential oils on your organic cleaning solution is a great way of starting your cleaning. It does not only make you feel relaxed but also eases your mind and heart.

10. Always remember the Showerhead

This is one of the items that isn’t usually cleaned. The showerhead builds-up residue and is quite hard to remove. You need a cleaner that you can leave overnight to dissolve the dirt. Don’t forget to rinse it in the morning!

Smart Cleaning Tricks

ice cubes to deodorize garbage disposal

Ice cubes to Deodorize a Garbage Disposal

Got a stinky garbage disposal? Get rid of its unruly smell by dropping lots of ice cubes made of vinegar down the disposal. The vinegar’s acidity help remove the smell and also clean your disposal. Don’t forget to flush it with cold water after to rinse all the residues.

Use Aluminum Foil to Scrub Off Pans

Do you love baking but never the cleaning part? The aluminum foil is an effective scrub to remove remnants of your baking on a pan. Don’t forget to add a few drops of dishwashing liquid!

Baking soda does Wonders

It’s no secret that baking soda has a way of making everything sparkling and clean. There are many baking soda recipes and the most popular one is the baking soda and vinegar mixture. This is most effective in cleaning the kitchen sink, drain and even pots and pans.

Pillowcase for the Ceiling Fan

Cleaning a ceiling fan is not only messy but is also quite dangerous. Its blades can cut your hand. Using a pillowcase is the best way to clean it. Just slide it over the blade and slowly pull it back removing the dirt from the fan while protecting your hands.

Rice for your Coffee Grinder

Rice is not only good for eating but also for making your coffee grinder squeaky clean. Just toss some rice grains on the coffee grinder, let it stay for a while to remove the odour then wipe it clean.

Rubber Glove is your Protection

Rubber gloves are often used as a protecting when cleaning. But did you know that it works wonders on your pet’s furs. The hair and furs that is scattered on your sofa will automatically cling to the rubber glove like a magnet. Saves you a lot of time!

Coffee filter to Dust

The dust on your flat screen TV can easily be removed by using a coffee filter. Unlike cloths, the coffee filter it leaves your screen lint-free.

Lemon Juice is the Best!

Lemon juice is a popular fruit that has a lot of health benefits. It has antioxidants that helps remove all the toxins in your body. Aside from that, lemon juice is also an effective cleaning agent. It helps remove stains and deodorizes surfaces. Giving you that lemon fresh scent.

Common Types of Bacteria at Home

How sure are you that after cleaning there are no bacteria or viruses lingering somewhere in your home? Our home is our comfort zone and where we spend most of our day in. Keeping it clean, disinfected and tidy must be hard but if you want to prevent you and your loved one from getting sick, you might need to start with it real quick. We listed down the most common bacteria and we also included the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 for you to know them better.

Types of Bacteria

1. Proteobacterium

If a man is a dog’s best friend, it is Proteobacterium that is a dog’s best friend.  Every time your dog comes into your house, expect them to bring this bacterium with them. Proteobacterium comes from the group that causes whooping cough.

2. Streptococcus mutans

Every morning after you wake up and every night before you sleep you often brush your teeth. Aside from preventing cavities from eating your teeth, brushing also helps remove this bacterium away. It can also be transported to the bathroom especially when we drool in our pillowcase at night.

3. Lactobacillus

This one is what most of us are familiar with. It is included in some processed foods such as cheese, sour cream and any kind of thickened milk. This is the bacteria that causes the milk to become thick. Some Lactobacillus are also mixed with milk and are good for the digestive system. Its acidification helps kill off or inhibit the growth of other bacteria.

4. Non-tuberculous Mycobacteria

I bet you are familiar about Mycobacteria, which is often associated with tuberculosis. We also have non-tuberculous mycobacteria which often resides in the shower or on the shower curtains as well.

5. Pseudomonas

The kitchen is almost the most important part of the house (and should be the cleanest!). But this place also hides a dark secret and that is because it is a home for the Pseudomonas, especially the sink! Most strains of this bacteria do not cause a problem but one, Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  It is a powerful bacterium that causes a serious infection when a person is infected. It is one of the most hated bacteria as there are only selected antibiotics that can work against it.

6. E-Coli

This one is also a resident in our home. It can be found almost everywhere and on any surface. Sometimes, it can also be found on fruits and vegetables and that is why washing them prior to consumption should be given greatest importance. It comes from the family of Enterobacteriaceae which is known for causing food poisoning and diarrhea.

7. Micrococcus Bacteria

Most of this type of bacteria is harmless but can be deadly for people who have poor immune system. This bacterium can be found on dust, dairy products, beer and even the skin.

8. Bacteroidaceae

It is not a surprise to find a fecal bacteria inside the bathroom. Honestly, they traveled long before they found themselves to be on the outside world. Usage of chemical cleaners helps wiping them out, but a few often survive. Since the environment inside the bathroom is moist and oxygen-poor, they are more likely to multiply as this is their natural habitat.

The Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19

With the ongoing pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. It is important to get to know this virus for us to better understand how this virus works and prevent ourselves and our family from being infected with this deadly virus. This virus was first reported in the city of Wuhan, China late last year which caused a massive epidemic in China and quickly spread across 70 other countries in the world causing the current pandemic.

The coronavirus disease or COVID-19 is an infectious disease that primarily present as a case of mild to moderate respiratory illness and most of the patients recover without requiring treatments. For the high-risk people such as the elderly and those who have known co-morbidity such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer,  and patients with immunosuppressive disorders, they are more likely to develop the severe type of this disease.

The virus spread quickly through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when a person infected with the virus sneezes or coughs. It may also stay for long hours in the air causing it to easily infect people. Here are some symptoms that you might take note of to see if you may or may not have the virus:

Most common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigability

Less common symptoms:

  • Body aches and pains
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Headache
  • Rash on skin and discoloration of fingers or toes.

If you are currently experience these symptoms, immediately go to your doctor to seek consult. There is no vaccine yet available for the coronavirus, but some medications were proven to be effective in lessening the symptoms an infected person is experiencing. To prevent spread of the virus, let us continue social distancing, proper and frequent hand washing, practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette and lastly, do not go out if you don’t have anything important to do. STAY AT HOME.

Clean and Disinfect yourself and your Home

With the government slowly loosening the Covid-19 restrictions across the country, British people are able to move around freely. The coronavirus is still a threat, majority of the industries needs to open and continue to serve the people. It is more important now to still continue with social distancing, wearing of mask and maintain proper cleaning habits on yourself and even at home. To keep you, your family and your home virus-free take note of the following:

  • Always wash your hand before and after holding anything. Usage of hand sanitizer is no substitute to washing hands.
  • Clean and disinfect your home at least once daily just to be safe. Always assume that you have had contact with a person infected outside your home.
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces like the doorknobs, tables, kitchen counter, faucets, light switches and remote controls. These items are held or touched more than once a day and can easily cause spread of the virus if not properly disinfected.

Sources Of Bacteria At Home

Ever wonder where bacteria can be residing at your home? There are many possible places, but we will only enumerate the most common places they can be found. Knowing where to find them is helpful in keeping a clean and healthy home for you and your family.

Sources of Bacteria

The Kitchen Sink

According to a study and survey by the Hygiene Council, it was found that there is a about 17, 964 bacteria per square inch that can be found on your kitchen sink. This is in agreement with the findings of infection control, where they found that the toilet bowl may be cleaner than your sink. Food particles that was left behind after eating from plates that were soaked and rinsed from the dishes may make its way to the dishwasher where it can serve as the breeding ground for E. coli and salmonella. These two are known for causing food-poisoning and diarrhea. When getting the table ready, this bacterium has already multiplied on the plates and can get on your hands or spread to the food.

Quick-clean: For deep cleaning of the sink, wash it using a mix of bleach and water once a day and letting it run down the drain. Make sure to remove the drain plug and include it in the cleaning.

The Toothbrush

A toothbrush is a must and part of our daily hygiene care. When brushing your teeth, some bacteria comes stay on the toothbrush afterwards. But this is not the worrisome part. According to a study, the flushing of the toilet can send sprays of bacteria and virus-contaminated water into droplets. These germs can float in the air and can find its way to your toothbrush.

Quick-clean: Place your toothbrush somewhere it can air dry between usage. Make sure that it is not near the toilet. Also, it is recommended to replace your toothbrush often especially after you’ve been sick.

The TV Remote Control

Woman eati

The living room is the most comfortable place to stay and relax aside from your own bedroom. The TV remote control is one of the most common touched items in the living area aside from the books and magazines. Researchers found that it is the dirtiest item in the living are and has viruses and germs living on it.

Quick-clean: Use an alcohol wipe or bleach to clean the surface of the remote control. Also, remember to do regular and proper handwashing to prevent acquiring such viruses and germs and getting sick.

The Bathtub

Who doesn’t love to soak on the bathtub for long hours after a day of hard work? It is the best place to clean oneself, but it may not be so clean at all. Studies showed that the bathtub has multiple bacteria living on it such as fungi and staphylococcus bacteria. When you turn on the jets, the germs on the tub can mix into the water where you are soaking.

Quick-clean: Disinfect your bathtub with bleach or bathroom cleaner after bathing then dry with clean towel. Drying it after cleaning lessens the chances for the bacteria to breed on your bathtub.

Importance of Proper Cleaning and Disinfecting

a family cleaning and disinfecting the house together

Aside from the bacteria that is dormant in our home, there is also the threat of the new novel coronavirus or COVID-19 that can be spread from person to person up to 6 feet away. This is known to be transmitted by respiratory droplet and the WHO is considering that it might be airborne.  Recent studies suggest that the virus may stay viable on surfaces for hours. Cleaning and proper disinfection at home may not only help eliminate the bacteria but also prevent such viruses from entering our home. Here’s what you should know regarding cleaning:

Cleaning is different from disinfecting. These two terms are used interchangeably. Cleaning refers to the removal of germs and dirt on surfaces. It does not help eliminate them. While, Disinfecting refers to the use of chemicals to kill these germs and viruses on surfaces. By eliminating these bacteria or viruses, it lessens the risk of a person from acquiring and spreading infection.


  • Always wear gloves when disinfecting. These can be reusable but make sure that this is durable and recommended for cleaning and disinfecting. You may also use latex gloves but make sure to properly discard it as infectious.
  • Always wash your hands before and after disinfecting the house.
  • For disinfection, use one EPA-registered household disinfectants as these are the ones that are proven effective against viruses such as COVID-19.
  • Weak skin protection and eye protection for possible splashing incidents.
  • Make sure that there is proper ventilation.
  • Always read and follow the directions on the label to ensure effectiveness and safety. Do not use more or less than the recommended mixture or dilution.
  • Electronics such as cellphones, tablet, iPad, remote controls and keyboard should be cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instruction. You may also use alcohol-based wipes or spray to disinfect them. Make sure to dry them thoroughly after to avoid pooling of liquids.
  • In doing Laundry, use the warmest appropriate water setting possible for the items and make them dry completely. Use bleach according to the manufacturer’s instruction.
  • For hard surfaces, use a multi-purpose disinfecting spray to disinfect surfaces and prevent growth of bacteria. Let the disinfectant stay for about 5-10 second before drying the surface clean.
  • Make sure to change your toothbrush regularly and provide a fresh hand towel every day. The bathroom’s hard surfaces is recommended to be disinfected 2x a day as this is the area most exposed to body fluids.

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Recipes Using Vinegar And Baking Soda

vinegar and baking soda

I bet every single household kitchen has a baking soda and vinegar as a part of their condiments. Did you know that these 2 ingredients are a key to a cleaner home? It is a well-known and proven way of disinfecting your home harm-free. We listed down some recipes that you can follow to achieve a squeaky-clean home!

What happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar?

We often use vinegar in cooking and baking soda in baking but these two, when mixed together, it produces a reaction that can clean your surfaces in a non-toxic way. Baking Soda, also called as sodium bicarbonate, is a mild alkali while Vinegar is an acid. When the two is mixed together it produces carbon dioxide gas which is seen in the formation of the bubbles in the mixture. The sodium bicarbonate and acetic acid reacts to the carbon dioxide, water and sodium acetate that helps remove the stains, mold and rust.

Cleaning with Baking Soda and Vinegar

woman cleaning the kitchen

In the Kitchen

  • Clean a Stainless-steel Kitchen Sink. Wet the sink the sprinkle baking soda all-over the surface, scrub it for a minute two then rinse it afterwards. You may use a soft-bristled toothbrush and make a paste then spread it all over the sink. Put paper towels or cloth wet with vinegar then put it over the paste. Let it stay for about 20 minutes before rinsing it again.
  • Cleaning the Drain. Sprinkle about 4 tablespoons of baking soda followed by 2 cups of vinegar. You will see it foam. Once it stops, rinse it by flushing the drain with boiling water.
  • Cleaning Pots and Pans. Baking soda can also remove baked-on residues on your pots and pans. Just sprinkle it with baking soda, soak it for about 15 to 20 minutes then rinse it with dish detergent and hot water.
  • Cleaning the Dish washer. If you have a dishwasher, just run a cycle with only baking soda. You may also run the vinegar on the machine at least once a month to keep it clean and free from stains.
  • Cleaning the Refrigerator. Mix vinegar with water then use a spray bottle and spread it on your refrigerator. Aside from keeping your refrigerator clean, it is also an effective deodorizer. It removes that unwanted smell on your refrigerator.

On Foods

  • Store-bought produce. To clean your produce, mix two tablespoons of distilled vinegar with a pint of water. You may also use baking soda as an alternative for commercial produce wash. Vinegar and baking soda are effective in cleaning and removing the pesticides used on the fruits and veggies.
  • Meat. Aside from tenderizing the meat, vinegar can also be used to make sure that the meat is clean and has no bacteria. Make sure to marinate it up to 24 hours with a ¼ cup of vinegar before cooking.

In the Bathroom

a clean bathroom

Bathroom surface recipe:

  • Create a paste using 1 2/3 cup of baking soda and ½ cup of dish soap.
  • Mix the paste with ½ cup of water then add 3 tablespoons of water.
  • Make sure that the ingredients are well mixed and without any lumps.
  • To apply, put it on a spray bottle then squirt it on the area that is desired to be cleaned.
  • Let it stay for a minute or two then scrub it with a sponge.
  • When done, rinse it off with water. 

The Toilet. Sprinkle about ½ cup of baking soda on the toilet along with a diluted white vinegar. Let it soak overnight, scrub afterwards, then rinse.

Loofah. Soak the loofah for 24 hours in equal parts of water and vinegar to remove the soap residue and disinfect it.

When Doing Laundry

  • Washing. Mix a ½ cup of baking soda with your liquid detergent of choice at the beginning of the cycle. Baking soda helps whiten your clothes and make the color of the clothes brighter.
  • Cloth Hampers. To remove stinky odors of your laundry, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the hampers.
  • Socks. Socks are the nastiest piece of clothing as it often gets stained and dingy. Soak them on a pot of boiling water with a mix of cup of distilled white vinegar. Aside from removing the odor, it also makes the socks whiter and cleaner.

Other Household Cleaning Tips:

  • Carpet. Sprinkle baking soda over the surface of the carpet then vacuum it after 15 minutes. It helps keep the carpet odor-free.
  • Carpet stain. Stains on the carpet are very hard to remove and unsightly to look at. Make a paste using baking soda and white vinegar, rub it into the stain then leave it for a day. To remove, vacuum it the day after.
  • Floors. When cleaning the floor, mix a half cup of vinegar with a bucket of water as a rinse for the mop. It helps remove easily the stains on the floor and at the same time disinfects it.
  • Crayon Marks.  If you have a kid, you probably experienced crayon marks on the wall because your child loves to draw. Worry not because you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush that has been dipped on white vinegar to remove these marks on your wall.
  • Rusted Screw. Pour vinegar all over the screw and let it stay for a while. Vinegar helps break down the rust that has covered the screw.
  • Flowers.  To keep the flowers fresh, pour a mixture of 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar and one 1aurt of water into the vase.
  • Hairbrushes. One teaspoon of baking soda and warm water can be used in cleaning your combs. Make sure to rinse it thoroughly afterwards.

In summary, vinegar and baking soda are no ordinary condiments that you have in your kitchen. They can be more useful than just using it for cooking. They can also be used as an alternative cleaning material when mixed with the right ingredient. Usage of these items also minimize exposure to harmful substances as these two are considered as green ingredients. Try and see it work!


Tips and Tricks to a Beautiful Built-In Storage

Beautiful custom built-ins are unicorns for renters: more myth than fact. If you want to up your storage game, without spending a lot of money, try making freestanding units look like they were born where they currently sit. It’s not hard to pull off, with these simple tricks and ideas.

Paint the Same Color as the Walls

Because they are painted the same color as the walls, the shelves above from Alvhem look more permanent and cohesive versus tacked on after the fact. Although they do require screws, the whole system is extremely easy to make, and very do-able for a renter to install, then take out, when you move. VT Wonen shares how to make this simple shelving system (lead image above).

Cover the Seams with Trim

Sunset Magazine’s Irene Edwards started with IKEA BILLY bookcases, added a facade with inexpensive trim, then painted the front sections a very dark grey. They are a showpiece in her living room makeover, seen on Lonny.

As a military spouse, PMQ For Two knows a few things about rental apartments. In her most recent home, she created a wall of bookshelves for storage and decoration. None of the millwork is actually affixed to the walls —it’s all nailed, glued and screwed to the bookshelves, which are themselves mounted to the wall using the manufacturer’s device. Articulated wall sconces complete the look and add function.

Fit An Existing Space Perfectly

This hallway reading nook from Alvhem is a great example of how inexpensive IKEA storage units can appear built-in. Here the upper units were surrounded by trim for a sleek finish, and the lower ones topped by a throw and cushions for a modern-yet-warm feel.

Similarly, Jenna Sue remade her master bedroom with his and hers freestanding wardrobes, which are each wedged in perfectly on each side of the room. The custom DIY door fronts make them look even more built-in.

Unify Multiples with One Single Top

Room for Tuesday combined two upper kitchen cabinets from IKEA to form a padded bench. Place a couple of these units in a kitchen corner and you’ll have some beautiful “built-in” banquette seating (and storage!) until you’re ready to move.

You can see this idea in action over on Pretty Nice, where Lisa just used some basic plywood boxes in a nook, which look polished but aren’t permanent.

via Apartment Therapy | Main

Tips to Allergy-Proof Your House

Is your house making it hard to breathe? Here’s how to fix it.

green house
Outside of our homes, we are constantly surrounded by toxic fumes coming from all sorts of places, such as vehicles and factories.But what may be even more harmful are the toxins we’re exposed to inside our homes on a daily basis. Yes, the place you call your sanctuary can be the most poisonous of all.In addition to the toxins, there are also a number of potential allergens lurking in our living spaces. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the levels of indoor air pollutants may be two to five times higher than the levels of pollutants outside.Indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental threats to human health. Considering that most Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors, this is a major concern.Here’s how to fix that, from my book, Dr. Psenka’s Seasonal Allergy Solution…FILTER YOUR AIR

air filter
Filter your air

Look for an air filter that handles particulate matter, such as dust and dander, as well as chemical matter.

I have freestanding air filters in my office and home, and they work quite well. The best kinds of filters for people with allergies are high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which are specially designed to remove allergens from the air.

The most important place to run an air filter is in your bedroom, which is where you spend most of your time. It’s also frequently the most polluted room in the house. It’s a good idea to try and adjust the filter so it directs clean air toward you as you sleep.

You can also help remove debris from the air by installing a furnace filter, which traps pollen and dust before these allergens have a chance to circulate throughout the house. Furnace filters are easy to install and are relatively inexpensive.

If you live in an arid region, such as the desert Southwest, make sure that you regularly clean or replace your air duct or furnace filters. I try to change the filters in my home on a monthly or bimonthly schedule.

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to clean air is the state of your air-conditioning (AC) unit. A clean unit can act as an air filter, but a dirty one contaminated with mold or other substances in the drip tray or filter can actually pump new allergens into your home. To truly condition your air, hire a professional to inspect your AC system once a year, and have your ducts cleaned at least once every five years.

bug bread
Combat pest problems

Deter dust mites. Microscopic dust mites are a common asthma and allergy trigger. They feed on sloughed-off skin cells and lurk in bedding, stuffed animals, storage boxes, carpeting, and upholstered furniture. To discourage them, do the following:

• Encase your mattresses, box springs, and pillows in allergy-proof or airtight zippered plastic covers.

• Wash all bedding weekly in water that is at least 130°F, and dry everything in a dryer on the hottest setting.

• Keep your home cool by turning down the heat or turning up the AC; dust mites don’t reproduce in temperatures colder than about 77°F.

Kick cockroaches to the curb. Cockroach droppings and cast-off skins can stimulate allergy symptoms and asthma. To fix it:
• Block areas where roaches can come in, including windows, wall cracks, and crevices.

• Fix and seal any leaks.

• In addition to water, cockroaches love and need food, so clean it up, put it in covered containers, and vacuum and mop any crumbs or spills quickly.

• Change your kitty litter at least once every few days, as roaches are attracted to the droppings.

• Put grocery store bags outside in recycling bins as soon as you get home from food shopping. Better yet? Use reusable bags and wash them regularly. Roaches often hang out in grocery stores and have been known to hitch a ride home in shoppers’ grocery bags.

cleaning under sofa
Make weekly cleaning a “must-do”

Not only does a clean house make for a more pleasant and enjoyable living environment for all, but clean conditions also help keep allergens under control (just use these tips to clean your house without polluting your air).

If you can, try to clean your home weekly. Mop all of your floors with a damp mop and vacuum all carpeting and rugs with a vacuum cleaner that has a small-particle or HEPA filter. (Don’t forget to vacuum the backs of chairs and couches, where dust, dust mites, and mold can hide.)

Wipe the dust from windowsills, furniture, and other surfaces. If you have allergies, wear a dust mask while you clean, or ask a family member who doesn’t have allergies to do these chores.

cat and dog
Think twice about pets

It’s not their fur that causes allergy symptoms, but the proteins in dog and cat saliva, urine, and dander. Also keep in mind that while dogs and cats tend to get the most blame when it comes to pet allergies, rabbits, mice, hamsters, and guinea pigs can also set off allergy symptoms—even Siamese fighting fish have been known to indirectly cause allergic reactions!

Clothing made from animal fur, such as cashmere, goat hair, mohair, and alpaca sweaters, can trigger allergies, as well.

If you or one of your family members has a known pet allergy, the very best thing you can do is not get an animal in the first place (or opt for one of these 17 Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds for Allergy Sufferers). If you already have a pet that is part of your family, try to keep that pet outdoors as much as possible. In addition, do the following:
• Keep the animal out of your bedroom and other rooms where you spend a lot of time.

• Vacuum carpets and rugs often.

• Ask a nonallergic family member to brush the pet or clean its cage or crate.

• Bathe the pet weekly, or better yet, twice a week, to minimize dander.

• If possible, replace carpeting with hardwood flooring, tile, or linoleum. Keep in mind that even after a pet is no longer in a house, pet dander can remain on fabrics and in carpeting, triggering allergies for a year or longer.

Lower humidity

In general, when it comes to fostering a clean, allergy-free environment, the rule is “the dryer, the better.” Mold loves moisture, as do allergenic pests. So aim to keep the relative humidity level in your home at 30 to 50 percent or lower by running a dehumidifier. On humid days, keep your windows closed and run your air conditioner. To measure the humidity in your home and make sure you’re staying in the right range, you can use a tool called a hygrometer, available at your local hardware store.

As a side note, if you run a dehumidifier, make sure to keep it clean. Rinse and scrub the water tank at least once a week, and dust the grills with the soft brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner.

Cut household clutter
kitchen clutter
Cut household clutter

The more knick-knacks, ornaments, books, magazines, and general clutter you have in your house, the more places there are for allergens to park themselves. (Here’s a 10-step plan to declutter your kitchen.)

Limiting the number of picture frames, figurines, and other dust traps in your home will help you breathe better. Keep fibers to a minimum. Cloth and carpets create surfaces for dust and allergenic critters to hide. Old shag carpeting is the worst because it not only traps dust, but it also produces new dust as the fibers break down.

Remove as much wall-to-wall carpeting as possible and replace it with hardwood floors. Throw rugs are OK if you wash or dry-clean them regularly. If you must have carpeting, choose low-nap instead of the high-nap variety, and vacuum it at least once a week (or daily, if you can), preferably with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter.

Also, shampoo any carpets regularly using a nontoxic product. Heavy drapes and horizontal blinds on windows are additional traps for dust and other allergens.

Instead, go for washable roller shades or cotton or synthetic curtains. Or better yet, forgo window treatments entirely. In terms of furniture, upholstered pieces trap dust mites and other allergens. The best furniture materials for people with allergies are those that are easy to clean: wood, leather, metal, and plastic.

exhaust fan bathroom
Get rid of mold, pronto

Not only can mold trigger allergy symptoms like watery eyes, runny nose, headaches, and coughing, but some forms can also release dangerous toxins. To prevent mold growth, lower the humidity in your home (run a dehumidifier to eliminate excess moisture) and fix all leaks.

If you see visible mold, wash it with soap and water and, if necessary, a 5 percent bleach solution before drying the area completely. If you can’t wash and dry a moldy item, throw it away.

Wipe up excessive moisture in your refrigerator and clean drip pans under appliances, as well as rubber seals around appliances, often.

To keep mold at bay in your bathrooms, always run your exhaust fan while you take a shower or bath; don’t put carpeting in your bathroom; swap out any wallpaper for tile or drywall painted with mold-resistant enamel paint; replace moldy shower curtains and bathmats; and use a bleach solution to scrub any visible mold from your toilets and sinks.

bedroom clutter
Pay special attention to bedrooms

You spend more time in your bedroom than in any other room in your house. Unfortunately, in many cases, this room is the most polluted and inviting for allergens like mold, pollen, animal dander, dust mites, and cockroaches. So clear out knickknacks and clutter, remove drapes, and avoid storing things under your bed. Also, keep your bed away from air vents, if you can, so you don’t breathe in dust that comes out of them as you sleep.

Get bedding and pillows you can machine-wash, and avoid down pillows and comforters, which can’t be washed easily.

In kids’ bedrooms, keep stuffed animals to a minimum—they are dust traps. If your kids can’t part with them, wash stuffed toys every so often to remove the dust. Use a damp cloth to wipe those that can’t be machine-washed, and dry them on your dryer’s hottest setting to kill dust mites.

Keep yourself clean

During allergy season, pollens are rampant. When you go outside, that pollen collects on your clothing and in your hair. To minimize the allergens you drag inside, change into fresh clothes as soon as you get home, and take a shower and wash your hair before you go to bed.

Grow your own filters

Use plants to clean your air. Plants act like natural air filters; they produce oxygen and actually help clean the air. As a bonus, they look pretty. Some plants are better air filters than others. According to the National Institutes of Health, the top 10 air-cleaning houseplants are:

1. Areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
2. Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)
3. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea erumpens)
4. Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)
5. Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis)
6. English ivy (Hedera helix)
7. Pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
8. Banana-leaf ficus (Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’)
9. Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’)
10. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii).

The more of these filtering plants you can put in your home and office, the healthier your air will be. Houseplants may not be a good idea if you have a mold allergy or sensitivity, however; mold can grow in moist dirt, triggering your allergy symptoms. To help control mold growth in your potted plants, spread aquarium stones over the soil.

open window
Freshen your air naturally

There are lots of things people use in their homes to make the air smell good that are, ironically, quite toxic. Plug-in air fresheners, spray air fresheners, and scented candles are scented with synthetic chemicals that then permeate your home. So if you are concerned about your respiratory health, avoid any products with added fragrances or that list “fragrance” as an ingredient.

A safer option is to scent rooms using pure essential oils (like these 5 Essential Oils That Will Replace Your Entire Medicine Cabinet). Put a few drops of pure essential oil into a spray bottle filled with water and spray it on absorbent surfaces, such as the toilet paper in your bathroom. Or dip cotton balls into essential oils and place them in open jars. (Just make sure children and pets can’t get to them.)

If no one in your home has pollen allergies, simply open up the windows and let the natural breeze sweeten your air. Modern homes are very airtight. That’s great for keeping in heat and air conditioning and lowering energy bills, but it also keeps allergens trapped and circulating through your indoor air.

eco friendly cleaning
Clean green

Some of the worst ingredients in household products are the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in a number of products, including chlorine bleach, detergent, dishwashing liquid, dry-cleaning chemicals, rug and upholstery cleaners, furniture polishes, oven cleaners, floor polish, air fresheners, and aerosol sprays.

In addition to irritating your throat, nose, and eyes and worsening asthma and allergy symptoms, these VOCs may cause lung damage.

Whenever possible, clean with safer, alternative cleaning solutions, such as baking soda or a mixture of vinegar and water. Check the safety of your cleaning products at Environmental Working Group‘s online database. No matter which cleaning products you use, always open the windows to keep the area you are cleaning well ventilated.

beauty products
Phase out parabens

In addition to VOCs in cleaning products and building materials, there are health-damaging chemicals in some of your beauty products and kitchen containers.

Parabens are synthetic preservatives found in personal-care products and cosmetics, including deodorants, skin creams, shampoo (including baby shampoo), and hair gels. They have been linked to a number of conditions, including cancer, reproductive problems, skin irritation, neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, and hormone disruption.

To avoid parabens, choose certified-organic products and those without synthetic preservatives. (Or make your own.) Keep in mind that products that claim to be “natural” aren’t always so. Read label lists yourself and look out for the words “butylparaben,” “ethylparaben,” “propylparaben,” and “methylparaben.”

cans bpa
Say bye-bye to BPA

Newer research has found that bisphenol A (BPA) exposure in utero can predispose people to food allergies later in life. BPA is a chemical used mainly in plastics, including food and drink packaging, water bottles, baby bottles, and some medical devices.

You can ingest BPA through air and dust, but most exposure comes through diet; BPA can seep into foods and drinks from plastic containers. (It’s also in cash-register receipts.) Most people have been exposed to some BPA. The 2003–2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found BPA in 93 percent of people tested.

To avoid BPA, don’t microwave in plastic; steer clear of plastic containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 on the bottom; keep your consumption of canned foods to a minimum; and practice plastic-free food-storage practices in your home.

drying clothesline
Dry your laundry the old-fashioned way

Want fresh-smelling linens? Dry them on a clothesline outside in the breeze (pollen allergies permitting, of course). Whatever you do, try to avoid using dryer sheets and scented laundry detergents. A 2011 study done at the University of Washington found more than 25 VOCs emitted from dryer vents, two of which are considered carcinogenic.

The culprit: the fragrances in detergents and fabric softener sheets. The study authors noted that unlike factory smokestacks or car tailpipes, emissions from dryer vents aren’t regulated.

Plus, companies that make household products like laundry detergents and fabric softeners aren’t required to list all of their ingredients on their labels, so it’s tough to know whether or not they contain harmful chemicals. The best thing you can do to avoid toxic laundry is to go for unscented detergent and skip the dryer sheets entirely.

Just say “no” to smoke

wood burning fireplace
Just say “no” to smoke

Smoke, whether it comes from tobacco products, wood-burning fireplaces, or bonfires, can worsen allergy and asthma symptoms. So go for a gas fireplace instead of a wood-burning one, if you have the choice.

It also goes without saying: If you smoke cigarettes or cigars, quit. If someone in your home smokes, encourage him or her to give it up, and in the meantime, ask any smokers to take their smoke outside. (Give up burning your trash, too.)

hardwood floor
Minimize toxic materials

A lot of building materials off-gas, meaning they release toxic gases into the air, which you then breathe in. One such chemical is formaldehyde, which is used as an adhesive and bonding agent in many products, such as plywood, pressed-wood products, and some foam insulation. Formaldehyde is classified as a VOC. Besides being toxic, VOCs are chemicals that become gases at room temperature (in other words, they off-gas). In the short term, formaldehyde causes coughing, headaches, and irritation of the nose, eyes, and throat. Long-term, the exact effects of formaldehyde aren’t known, but the EPA has classified the chemical as “carcinogenic to humans.”

To avoid VOCs during a renovation, you can hire a “green” contractor and use all environmentally friendly materials. In our office, we have a manufactured wood floor (not real wood) that doesn’t off-gas at all; there is no solvent coming out of the glue. We also painted the walls with VOC-free paint, which has virtually no odor.

Many people can’t afford to use environmentally friendly building materials, since they are more expensive. An alternative to going green from the start is to open up the windows, crank up the heat, and try to bake the smell out of your house after your renovation is over but before you start living in the renovated space.

water filter faucet
Drink clean water

There isn’t much of a direct connection with allergies, but in terms of promoting your overall health, clean drinking water is extremely important. After all, your body is made mostly of water, so if you put tainted water in your body, you will literally contaminate yourself. Some of the chemicals lurking in tap water (chlorine, for example) can harm you over time. To help purify your water, and therefore your body, try the following:

• Get a good water filter. Water filters come in a variety of types, from pitchers you put in your fridge to full-house filtration systems. Any filter is better than nothing. I have a simple water filter under my sink at home. I installed it myself, and it works great.

• Put a chlorine filter on your shower headIf you have public water, your water probably contains chlorine to kill bacteria and viruses. But chlorine’s power to kill pathogens comes at a cost: The chemical dries out your skin and hair, and it’s potentially toxic. Several studies have linked it to cancer. In one 2005 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, men who drank chlorinated water were found to have an increased risk of bladder cancer. A chlorine filter will help reduce your exposure.

weeds lawn
Landscape appropriately

Get rid of any weeds growing right next to your house—they are just another source of pollen and allergens. If you have pollen allergies, ask someone else to do the weeding. Also, avoid planting flowers that are relatives of ragweed—mums, sunflowers, dahlias, and zinnias.


via Rodale’s Organic Life

Harden up, soften the blow: How hard water softeners work

Got hard water?

Harden up, soften the blow: Hard water analysis

What’s in your water? It is a very pertinent question given some of the recent failings of large water providers and the increase in reports of hard water issues coming from densely populated cities.

Assuming that your water is safe to drink, we are going to examine another issue that wreaks havoc on your clothes, cars, plumbing and appliances – the dreaded hard water.

What is hard water?

Simply put hard water contains high levels of minerals such as magnesium and calcium which are found in the chalk and limestone build-up on piping, fixtures and inside water-run appliances.

The accumulation of limestone and calcium is similar to a blocked artery in that the passageway becomes restricted and will eventually lead to a complete obstruction of water flow.

That pressure build up inside blocked piping can be extremely dangerous depending on the amount of pressure and the heat of the water being pumped through the lines. On a commercial scale, a failure like this could cause severe injuries.

While there is a small amount of research that hard water can have moderate health benefits, it is a death knell for appliances, car paint, and clothing fibers especially in a commercial setting. We will explore the health aspect later in the article.

Back to the equipment side of the analysis, businesses in particular need to be aware of the water hardness of the influx liquid that is fueling their equipment.

Industrial boilers and water systems can be irreversibly damaged from hard water and can prove to be a costly drama if mitigation strategies are not in place to soften or filter the water accordingly.

Let’s look at some statistics to see just why you should care about the hardness of your water. A heavily encrusted pipeline or fitting can cause a 75% reduction in flow pressure and on average a 20% reduction in efficiency per run hour, based on recent studies.

Without getting all Breaking Bad on you in terms of chemistry, there is temporary and permanent hardness of water. In lay terms, permanent hardness just means that calcium sulfate, calcium chloride, magnesium sulfate and magnesium chloride is present as opposed to calcium and magnesium bicarbonates.

The temporary water hardness bicarbonates can be remedied by simply boiling the water. The permanent hard water can only be filtered to remove particles that cannot be broken down and dissolved by boiling water.

Luckily for consumers, people in white coats have spent far too many weekends in a laboratory testing water filtration technologies to save your clothes, cars, appliances and plumbing from the inevitable build-up of calcium, limestone and soap “scum”.

Water Softener

Water softeners are effective at doing just what they say they will – reducing the hardness/selected chemical levels of your water. It is a simple filtration process whereby the less desirable minerals are captured before water passes through to the individual piping in your home and onto your appliances.

Hard water symptoms can be found all around the home or business. For example, if when washing your car you find white spots after the drying process than it is safe to say the water contains high levels of the hardening minerals and needs to be filtrated.

You will also notice it in the stiffness of clothes as the calcification process cakes the mineral build-up into the fibers of the clothes and reduces their longevity as the material becomes harder to clean.

A lot of detergents these days are formulated in a way that offers mild help to softening water it comes into contact with, however for cases where the water measures high on the hardness scale a water softener is the only way to actually reduce the mineral levels in the water.

How Water Softener Works?

Let’s have a look how a water softener works. The water softener is plumbed into your house or building’s main water lines. This appliance aims to treat the water before it reaches the internal plumbing circuitry which feeds your appliances and taps.

The anatomy of a water softener is pretty straightforward as it contains two main tanks – a mineral tank lined with negatively charged beads and a salt/brine tank.

The benchmark water softeners are fitted out with an automatic regenerating system whereas the budget models are equipped with a very basic timer to recharge the flush the system periodically.

With the basic models, softened water is not available when the unit is in its “recharge cycle” as opposed to the more complex [read expensive also] models that offer different levels of softened water available for limited usage during a recharge phase.

Some top of the line units are fitted with dual tanks meaning softened water is available at all times regardless of whether the unit is recharging or not.

Essentially a water softener works like this; hard water enters the unit from the main plumbing line, filters through the mineral tank in the unit and thanks to an ion exchange the unwanted calcium and magnesium ions in the water cling to beads inside the unit.

To get your fill of nerd in today, the beads carry a negative charge and calcium and magnesium carry a positive charge. So, as these two partners in crime pass through the system they are attracted to the beads through those lovely laws of physics.

When the water is reticulated out of the unit the hardness has been markedly reduced as a result of the lower levels of calcium and magnesium. Simple, right? Well kind of.

The units require maintenance like all appliances do, but when considering the benefits derived from softening the water it is worthwhile in the long run.

Most units require salt infusion through the simple delivery method of tipping in the required amount every so often. Depending on models, the data displayed will alert you to the salinity levels in the unit.

Saline or brine water (salty water in the unit) is required for the units to work effectively. Basically the sodium ions will be sent in to the mineral tank during the recharging/regenerating phase to bump the freeloading calcium and magnesium off the beads and down the drain.

A study conducted in several high-impact regions for hard water recently showed some interesting things in terms of softening the water.

Post softening of the water in the controlled group study, the participants reported less calcification accumulation inside piping and at entry/exit points and an improvement in the texture damage of the clothing fibers.

There are reports that water softeners aren’t value for money, however that is difficult to agree with given the data and testing results from a myriad of sources.

Water testing is fairly simple and it is easy to detect the levels of the minerals in the water. Anecdotal evidence also shows a high rate of success in reducing piping and plumbing encrustation when a water softening system is installed into the household/commercial property.

According to an in-depth study conducted late 2016, water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (GPG) or milligrams per liter. Water up to 1 GPG (or 17.1 mg/l) is classified as soft, while water ranging between 60 to 120 GPG is rated as moderately hard.

Pressure of inbound water impacts the water softener’s efficacy to maximize softening efforts so investigations into flow pressure should be undertaken if the unit’s performance is in question.

Of note is the observation that water measured at over 100 GPG may still not be absolutely softened but is obviously closer to the desired parameters.

There are also non-plumbed models available, however many tests have shown them to be less effective than the plumbed-in units.

These waterless units operate by transmitting a continuous dynamic electro-chemical wave signal from an onboard computer.

Turning an eye to the health aspect of soft versus hard water there is limited yet fairly clear evidence that hard water poses no real health risks to humans, however excess calcium in water does pose a risk for kidney stones.

Otherwise, it is really the affects hard water has on plumbing, machinery and clothing that warrants the use of a water softener. The water softeners are effective in managing hard water areas of operation.

The presence of hard water will drastically reduce the life of your appliances and in problematic regions will be a constant annoyance to manage unless mitigation products are installed.

Pay the relatively small amount of money now for a water softener installation to avoid the pocket pain later!

This signal creates an ionic attraction of the hard water minerals (calcium and magnesium) which purportedly stops them binding to the interior of the piping. This is where the plumbed models have a distinct advantage.

Instead of trapping the calcium and magnesium ions (let’s say particles for this example) in the mineral bead tank to be flushed away later during recharge time, the non-plumbed models simply carry the minerals to the end-user outlet i.e. your taps and hoses.

A filtration system would then be needed at each of the outlet points in our opinion to achieve the actual objective of removing the minerals that cause the hard water issues.

We would stick with the plumbed models purely because there is science to back the claims and the data shows sizeable reductions in water hardness after the water softening process is complete.

The end water product can be 30% softer *on average, based on a generic test site, in which the results of up to 50% were recorded in some testing environments, for the plumbed-in units.

There is one more factor to consider with the water softening process. Some users of softened water do notice a slightly salty taste. It is probable that some users are more attune to noticing elevated salt levels; however it is a reported occurrence.

While the taste difference is minor across testing groups, it is present as a result of the softening process. However, the main reason for softening water is to reduce its damage on inanimate objects, specifically piping, clothing and machinery.

Soft water can be applied to specific regions of a house or business. Consumers often choose to soften water being used for laundry, dishwashing and outdoor hoses and leave the main line to the drinking outlets hardened for taste purposes.

There is mixed reaction to having the water you shower with softened, as soft water can make removing or rinsing detergents (domestic and pharmacological including soaps and cleansers) rather difficult.

The hardness of the water plays a role in dispersing agents present on material or skin. It is for the reason that most experts insist on splitting the softened water pipelines into laundry, hospitality, and general drinking line, general bathing line, ensuring the end user is utilizing the water’s hardness (or lack of) for the most appropriate purpose within the domestic household or commercial setting.

To find out if you are in an area which is plagued by hard water issues, generally your local government is required to provide at least minimal, baseline data on the water quality and the hardness can be determined by the methodology discussed earlier if not explicitly categorized.

Alternatively there are basic water testing kits available online also if you want to drill down and see just what you’re dealing with. A range of contractors will also offer free quotes and limited testing of the water source’s hardness at relatively reasonable rates.

Prepare Your Home For Spring Time

Once the tree and baubles have been put away, the house looks bare, a bit unloved and, if you’ve got kids, in need of a thorough Spring clean!

So where to start?

These are my ‘grubby hotspots’ which usually need tackling first.

The Bathroom

Attack the bathroom with a product such as Blast Away Mould – in spray or gel format, which is ideal for ridding door and window seals, shower units, bathrooms, sinks and WCs of mould and mildew. You can use it on plastic furniture too.

If the bath or sink are running sluggishly and have become clogged with yucky hair, try Kil-Block Drain Unblocker which is a powerful, fast-acting, multi-purpose drain and plughole unblocker.

Now is also a good time to chuck threadbare towels and flannels and replace them with some fresh new linen in bright spring colours. Giving each member of the family their own colour flannel is a good idea too – and stops arguments!

Whilst you’re at it, why not replace frayed toothbrushes and chuck any toothbrush mugs in the dishwasher. Electric toothbrush heads can also be replaced.

I like to splash out on some fancy French soap – anything from Roger & Gallet is heaven.

If you want to go a bit “Marie Kondo” (from the cult decluttering book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying”), you should throw out anything that does not “spark joy”.

That should include all those half used bottles of shampoo, face creams which just don’t do the job, all those hotel toiletries you convinced yourself you’d use and those bath gels you hate the smell of.

interior shot

The Kitchen

The kitchen is really the heart of the home yet it can often appear quite unloved (and grimy!).

Attack those surfaces and worktops with an effective, multi-purpose product like Bar Keepers Friend – a specialist, multi-surface cleaner that cuts through grease, grime, rust, and stains to give gleaming results every time. You can use it on steel, ceramics, copper, brass, chrome, glass and more.

Descale your kettle, coffee machine and iron with a product such as Kilrock-K Multi Purpose descaler which will totally clears heavily scaled appliances in minutes. You can also use it on your shower head.

Clear out any out of date food and leftovers which are unlikely to be used from the fridge and give it a thorough wipe down.

Put a date in your diary to defrost the freezer and make a note to start using up the food you have in there.

For example, chicken can be frozen for up to 9 months but bacon only lasts a month.

Emptying all the bins and adding a fresh bunch or two of Daffodils also works wonders!

The Bedrooms

Start by stripping the beds and vacuuming the mattresses to get rid of dust mites. This is particularly important when you or your little ones have allergies.

Next, check that your mattress protectors are up to the job and actually cover the mattress. If your mattress is over 8 years old, the advice is that is should be replaced.

Check that your pillows are not damp or mildewed and that they have their own protectors. The Sleep Council advises that pillows should be replaced at least every two years.

Tidy up your bedding by storing a double sheet and pillowcases inside a double duvet cover so that everything is altogether. I’ve wasted hours trying to find the right bedding.

If bedrooms are damp, you could try Damp Clear Moisture Trap which is an effective, hassle-free solution for the removal of excessive moisture. It protects against mould, mildew and damp, combats musty odours, lasts three months and is refillable.