Bagless Vacuum Cleaner

5 Benefits of Bagless Vacuum Cleaners

How a Bagless Vacuum Cleaner Will Benefit You

The idea of centrifugal separation vacuuming has been around since at least the 20’s, but the most recent trend toward this technology, and the bagless vacuum, was the making of James Dyson who introduced his first unit in 1979. They gained in popularity especially in the 1990’s and soon other big name vacuum manufacturers, such as Hoover and Shark, adopted examples of the technology.

What makes a bagless vacuum a good decision?

Most bagless vacuums have much the same options their bagged counterparts including; motorized brushes, all the extensions and add-ons and running lights, but they have some standout characteristics. Below, we have taken a closer look at five benefits that bagless vacuum cleaners have over their bagged counterparts.

1. Less Loss of Suction

You know those times your vacuuming along, really putting a dent in the house cleaning, and you feel that slow dread rising as you realize dirt particles aren’t staying in the vacuum. A kernel of popcorn is sucked away as you pass over it only to be spat back out a moment later. You pull the hose, placing your hand against the end and sure enough, the satisfying slurp and high whine of good suction is not to be found.

Vacuum Cleaner Bag

Does the bag need to be changed? You expose the vacuums guts and tentatively poke at its stomach. It seems only half full. But something has stolen suction, so you pull the bag off the fitting, see nothing, replace it on the post, close it up and start the vacuum again. And suction is back, but still not quite what it is with a brand new bag.

Okay, it doesn’t always happen like this, but I’m sure this has happened to you at least once. Overall bagged vacuum cleaners preform admirably, but we all know that they have a tendency to slowly lose suction as the bag fills.

Bagless vacuums lose far less suction as the dust collection cup fills and often even continue to have good suction when the cup is almost completely full. But there is also less chance of the dust cup becoming completely full; it’s transparent and you know exactly when it needs emptying.




2. Bagless Vacuums Are Environmentally-Friendly

Bagless vacuums are better for the environment. Every bag takes resources to make, takes resources to transport to the store where you will purchase it. Every bag you use and throw away goes into a landfill. It may seem a small thing but when you’re trying to live greener the small things add up.

With a bagless vacuum you are not taking part in the using of those resources and the only thing you are throwing away is the dust and other debris sucked up off the floor. You are not adding to it by throwing away the container too.

3. Satisfaction of Seeing Your Work

There is something very satisfying about being able to look through the transparent plastic canister and see all the dirt and grime you’ve gotten off the floor. Like a salesman working hard to sell the vacuum, you may find yourself running to someone else in the house just to show how much you’ve picked up, how messy the house really was, and pointing out, yes it actually really did need to be cleaned.

Bagless vacuums also make it tons easier to find that jack of Jimmy’s or little Mary’s doll barrette, sucked away in a moment of poor floor scrutiny. There’s no having to cut into a bag to get at lost items, just dump the canister carefully in a trashcan lid and easily fish out the once missing treasures.

4. Easy To Empty

Bagless canisters are also very easy to empty. Usually only requiring a release from the vacuum body and a snap of the bottom or top canister lid. You want to do this over an outside trashcan and as close to the bottom as possible, because all the dust can easily turn into a big cloud if some care is not taken.

This also brings up the point of allergies. Bad allergies may be a good reason to stick with bagged vacuums. But many bagless vacuums now have HEPA filtration built right in and if done carefully and with a little thought these canisters can be emptied with minimal allergic reactions; and, going back to the green point, a single reusable allergy face mask worn when emptying the canister is greener then throwing bag after bag away.

After emptying the canister, you also have a unique opportunity to clean the inside of the bin and perhaps wash/replace the filters. Taking the extra couple of minutes to clean your machine will go along way in keeping it in top working condition.




5. No Fussing with Bags

I know I’ve found myself in the situation where I’m in a cleaning mood. I start vacuuming and realize the bag needs to be changed, so I start searching… where did I put those, in closets and drawers until finally I conclude that I have no more bags, so, an extra trip to the store to get bags. It’s a hassle, at least for those lacking in their organization. With a bagless vacuum cleaner this is just not a worry. When you’re ready to clean, the vacuum is ready to clean.

There is some maintenance with bagless vacuums. The filters need to be cleaned periodically to maintain best performance. Most are easily washable. They will also need to be replaced once-in-awhile, but far less often than you would be buying bags (again the greener part).

There’s also a reason most handheld, stick, and robot vacuum cleaners are bagless, this type of technology is more easily molded into these less conventional vacuum configurations. Not to mention more favorable by consumers.

Conclusion

Regardless of whether purchasing a bagged or bagless vacuum cleaner remember to do some research on the pros and cons of each type. It is important to purchase a well-designed and easy-to-use vacuum. After all, if you don’t like to use the vacuum it makes cleaning that much more of a chore. Bagless vacuums are not inherently better than vacuums that require bags, but they do offer a greener, more hassle-free cleaning experience for those that would like the option.


How to Save Energy in Your Kitchen

5 Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Whether it’s cooking, baking, or washing dishes, the kitchen is one of the main areas within your home where you will be consuming energy. There’s no way around this, but you can, however, reduce the amount of energy used by being a smart and frugal consumer.

Here in this article, we will discuss some easy ways that homeowners can learn how to cut their energy use in the kitchen while still preparing delicious meals and keeping a tidy — and functional — cooking space. Here’s how.

1. Buy Energy Efficient Appliances

If you’re in the market for new kitchen appliances, look for the Energy Star label before you buy. This is a designation given only to items that have been deemed highly efficient by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Department of Energy. If you have perfectly good appliances that are not Energy Star, don’t just trade them in for new models.

2. Make Your Refrigerator More Efficient

Your fridge can cost you approximately $90 a year to operate, unless you outsmart it with a few frugal maneuvers, such as:

  • Change the Thermostat Setting:

    If you set your refrigerator’s thermostat to too cold of a setting, you are spending more money than you need to. Adjust your fridge’s temperature to a range between 37° & 40° F. Your freezer should be set between 0-5°F. Buy two appliance thermometers to monitor the temperatures if your appliance doesn’t have them already built-in. By raising your fridge temperature, you can save around $20 annually.

  • Make Your Own Ice:

    A built-in ice maker may be convenient, but it’s costing you extra cash. By relying on this feature, you could be spending 14 to 20 percent more than you need to be. Turning off this auto-feature is fairly simple, and by doing so, you can keep more money in your bank account.

  • Clean Off Your Coils:

    When your refrigerator’s coils get dusty, the cool-air flow is restricted, which makes your appliance struggle to do its job. You can remove this dust with a vacuum cleaner attachment, and save yourself nearly five dollars a year after performing the task.

  • Limit Yourself to One Fridge:

    Do you have an extra fridge in the basement, garage, or game room for beer, holiday turkeys, and party food? If so, you are shelling out hard-earned cash for something you only use seasonally. Find a way to make one refrigerator work for your household and save yourself $90 a year.

3. Spend Less on Cooking by Altering Your Oven/Stove Habits

The gas or electric oven and stovetop in your kitchen can cost you less if you change a few of your cooking habits. When you pay attention to the way you use your range, you can shave dollars off your utility bills. Follow these tips:

  • Stop preheating your oven: It’s not necessary to preheat your oven for every single recipe you prepare. There are a few items, such as fragile cakes like angel food, that may require preheating, but most dishes don’t necessarily need this step performed. If you want to be extra sure that you can skip this step with your meal preparation, it might be a good idea to do a bit of research beforehand, but for the most part it isn’t a big deal. If you skip preheating, you can save a couple dollars each month, which adds up to big dollars over time.
  • Use the right size burner: When you have a large pot or pan, use a larger burner. If you’re cooking with a small saucepan, use a smaller burner. Putting small pans on oversize burners is a waste of gas or electricity. It’s also not great for the pan. This practice will save you money on your energy bills, plus protect your pans for years to come.
  • Turn the power off early: You don’t have to leave your oven or burner on till your food is fully cooked, because plenty of heat will still be present when you turn the switch to “off”. Take advantage of the lingering heat and save cash in energy costs.
  • Clean your burners: The shinier your burner pans are, the more they will reflect and magnify the heat.

4. Save While Operating Your Dishwasher

If you have a dishwasher, you can save money while using it by doing the following things:

  • Use it: Most people think that hand washing dishes is cheaper than running the dishwasher, but this is actually not true. It is cheaper to run a full dishwasher than to hand wash every dish along the way. When you hand wash dishes, more water is lost down the drain than is used to wash and rinse the dishes.
  • Load it up: Be sure to wait until your dishwasher is full of plates, cups, bowls, and utensils before running it. It takes the same amount of water, energy, and soap to run a half-full load and a completely full load, so be sure to fill it all the way up before washing the load.
  • Skip heated-dry feature: Your dishes will dry without the extra heat, so skip this feature and save money. If your machine has an energy-efficient setting, be sure to utilize it.

5. Cut Costs During Cooking

You can cut dollars from your budget if you practice a few frugal cooking practices, such as:

  • Use your microwave as much as possible, because it’s a fairly economical machine and won’t heat up the rest of your home.
  • When using the oven, reduce the amount of heat you need to cook foods by baking your meals in glass or ceramic dishes.
  • Stop opening the oven door to check your meal, because you’re wasting heat.
  • Cover pots and pans on top of your stove for faster cooking times.
  • Boil foods in smaller amounts of water, to reduce energy needed to bring liquids to a boil.
  • Use a pressure cooker, because foods cook quickly and efficiently.
  • Double or triple recipes so you have leftovers.
  • Cut foods into smaller pieces, because they will require less energy to be cooked.
  • Use your barbecue on your patio to avoid using your oven and to keep your house cooler during the summer months.
  • Instead of using a blender, mixer, food processor, or electric coffee grinder, use your muscles to chop, blend, beat, or grind.

Your kitchen is the heart of your home. It’s where your family congregates, and where food and beverages are prepared to feed appetites and provide comfort. You can keep this important room warm and welcoming, but still trim dollars off your energy bills. When you know how to cut energy use in your kitchen and make “green” practices the norm, everyone benefits.

relative-humidity

Relative Humidity: What Every Homeowner Should Know

Relative humidity is an important factor of the indoor air quality in your home. As such, it’s wise for homeowners to educate themselves about what relative humidity is, as well as how they can control it in order to protect their homes and family members.

As weather changes and temperatures move up and down the thermometer, relative humidity changes, as well. Homeowners should learn about how the humidity in their homes impacts air quality, wellbeing, and building structures. Excess moisture can damage the structural integrity of a house, plus lead to mold, mildew, and a wide variety of ailments for anybody living within. By controlling our indoor humidity, homeowners have the ability to prevent all sorts of problems.

What Makes Healthy Indoor Air?

Considering we spend the vast majority of our time inside, the indoor air quality of your home or office is so crucial that the EPA considers it a substantial environmental threat. In order for air inside a structure to be considered healthy, it should be:

  • Free of toxins
  • Fresh & well-ventilated
  • Less than 50% RH

In order to have fresh air, buildings must be well-ventilated to flush out pollution and airborne particulates. An air purifier is a great way to instantly improve the indoor air quality of your home. Outdoor air should flow in and out of a building, and allergens and harmful airborne particles should be kept at an absolute minimum.

What is Relative Humidity?

Relative humidity is a measurement of water vapor being held at a specific temperature compared to the amount it could hold. This calculation is usually expressed as a percentage. As temperatures rise and fall, the capacity of the air to hold the H₂O is impacted. The warmer the temps are, the more moisture the atmosphere can contain. When air cools down naturally, its moisture-holding abilities are diminished.

Once this happens, there are many variables that may affect an individual’s comfort level, such as their health, clothing, or physical activity at the time. Of course, everyone has their own personal preferences, but for the most part, humans are typically most comfortable when relative humidity stays between 20% and 60%.

While this may be the broad comfort range for your average person, however, it is not recommended to allow the relative humidity levels to rise above 50% inside your home.




What is the Ideal Humidity Levels For Homes?

Between 30-50%. To prevent mold growth, the EPA recommends keeping “indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent) relative humidity.”

Depending on whether you’re using a heater or air conditioner to help control the temperature, homeowners may change the humidity levels in their home to make the air feel more comfortable.

Confused? The Paper Towel Metaphor.

If the concept of relative humidity seems confusing, you’re not alone. It may help to think of a concrete example such as a paper towel.

Have you tried to mop up a spill with a paper towel? After the towel is saturated, it can’t hold any more liquid. This would be considered 100% capacity; whereas if the sheet could still absorb a bit more, it would be a lesser percentage, such as 70%. Air’s capacity to hold moisture is similar to the paper towel’s; when it can hold no more, it has reached 100%, and this is known as its dew point.

How Can Excessive Humidity Affect Your Home?

You can use your senses to determine if your home has a problem with excess humidity. Unless you live in a dry desert, chances are you’ve noticed a few of these red flags:

  • Mold growth.
  • Warped boards or wood floors.
  • Musty smell, especially in crawl spaces, attics, and basements.
  • Bubbling or peeling paint.
  • Wallpaper peeling away from walls.
  • Stickiness on surfaces.
  • Condensation on windows or other areas.
  • Water stains on ceilings or walls.
  • Sneezing and other allergic reactions to inhaling dust mites.
  • Moisture build-up on ceilings or inside closets.
  • Frequently-fogged windows.

Is Excessive Humidity Unhealthy To Live In?

It is not healthy to live in a house that perpetually has too much moisture in the air. Many of these ailments develop as a result of mold exposure and other issues that homeowners face when there is too much humidity in their home.

For further research, here are a few studies that discuss the potential health effects associated with relative humidity.

  1. “Indoor air humidity, air quality, and health – An overview.” (PMID: 29398406)
  2. “Indirect health effects of relative humidity in indoor environments.” (PMID: 3709462)
  3. “The dichotomy of relative humidity on indoor air quality.” (PMID: 17499853)



Can A Dehumidifier Help With Relative Humidity?

Yes. If there is too much moisture inside your home or office, a dehumidifier can be utilized to help you remove the excess moisture and get your relative humidity back at an ideal level.

These devices have many uses and benefits for homeowners, but its most common purpose is to help extract H₂O from your indoor air, as well as help remove any musty odors that may be lingering as a result of too much moisture. Once that water has been removed, it will either be collected within the unit or pumped away automatically, depending on the type of dehumidifier you are using. To get rid of excess water by vaporizing it, an ionic membrane dehumidifier may be used.

Can A Humidifier Help With Relative Humidity?

Yes. Just as there are many reasons to remove moisture from the air, there are also many reasons why moisture in the air is beneficial. Striking the right balance of relative humidity is the key to having comfortable indoor air.

If your home is lacking humidity, you can help correct this by using a humidifier. Because they add moisture to the air, humidifiers can help alter the relative humidity levels in your home and make your indoor air more comfortable. These are especially important to use in the cold winter months, as you likely have a heater running which may be drying out the air. Just remember to clean your humidifier on a regular basis.

There are different types of humidifiers on the market, including:

  • Portable:

    These models are designed to humidify a space by forcing air to circulate through a wet pad, which then flows into the room in a fine mist.

  • Evaporating:

    A pan or absorbent pads are dipped into water, and then attached to a heating system. This causes moisture to evaporate into the environment.

  • Power:

    Water moves automatically into this unit to allow moisture to be circulated. A humidistat allows a homeowner to control the amount of water generated.

Where Household Moisture Comes From

The world is full of moisture; even your breath and body release droplets of water. While certain percentages of RH are desirable in an environment, too much can lead to trouble. Moisture moves through buildings in several ways:

  • Roof leaks
  • Rain water
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Steam from cooking
  • Steam from showers and bathtubs

No matter how your home becomes saturated with water vapor, condensation may occur on windows or other surfaces. This occurs more readily during chillier seasons. When moist warm air meets the cold glass of a window, it causes the air temps to drop, changes the relative humidity, and results in condensation.

Because a home’s relative humidity can impact family members’ overall well-being and the building structure, it’s crucial that homeowners educate themselves about this important component of air quality. If the RH percentage is kept in the proper range, health problems can be avoided or greatly minimized. For homes with too much moisture, a dehumidifier can create a safer and more comfortable interior. On the flip side, houses that are too dry can add water vapor with a humidifier. Armed with knowledge about humidity, individuals can live happily ever after in their homes.


Mold In Home

How to Remove Mold From Your Home

As a homeowner, it’s critical for you to know and understand the dangers that mold presents to your home. It is a common concern for homeowners and can cause unseen damage to your home and your health.

Mold is a fungus that has the potential to grow within any location that is damp or excessively moist. If these areas are also warm, poorly ventilated, or have no light, then mold is more likely to thrive and cause issues.

At first, mold in your house will only create a musty or unpleasant odor, but as time goes on, mold can lead to some pretty serious damage. In fact, according to the CDC, exposure to mold has the potential to provoke allergies and asthma attacks for people who are prone to them.

In this article, you’ll learn more about how to get rid of mold from your house, as well as how you can spot it and prevent it from growing in the first place. Ask any homeowner, mold is not something you want in your home.

1. Control Humidity & Moisture

Mildew is a thin black or white substance that you typically find growing on grout in a bathroom. It flourishes in warm, humid areas, so the first step in removing and preventing it is to clean the places in a home where it’s mostly likely to show up, and keep them dry.

Mold

Be sure to regularly clean your bathroom and kitchen, stretch out wet shower curtains and dry damp clothing quickly.

If your basement is often damp, there may be crevices in the walls letting moisture in, so replace cracked mortar and make sure you have sufficient outside drainage.

An air conditioner can help by taking in warm air, which holds more moisture, and circulating it back out as cool, dry air. A humidstat or dehumidifier is also useful for reducing humidity.

On days when the air outside is dry, open up your windows and use electric fans to let the outside air circulate into your home and carry the moisture out.




2. Use Cleaning Solutions & Products

There are a number of cleaning solutions you can use, all of which are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.

Bleach

Bleach is very effective when used on moldy surfaces. Mix 1 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water, then use either a spray bottle or a bucket and sponge to clean the affected area.

If you want to prevent growth, don’t wipe the area afterward. Note that bleach has some drawbacks, the foremost being that it’s useless on porous materials like wood and drywall. It also gives off harsh fumes, and mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia or certain other household cleaners is incredibly dangerous as it produces toxic gas.

Note: Never mix bleach with other chemicals!

Vinegar

Vinegar isn’t quite as effective as bleach, but it’s safe and doesn’t give off harsh fumes. Pour undiluted white vinegar or apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle, spray the affected area, let it sit for an hour, then wipe clean.

If you want to use it to prevent growth, simply don’t wipe afterward, and spray again every few days. Use it only on non-porous surfaces.

Borax

Borax is dangerous if swallowed, but it’s otherwise safe and doesn’t give off dangerous fumes. Create a mixture of 1 cup of borax for every 1 gallon of water, then clean with a scrubbing brush. Once again, only use it on non-porous surfaces, and you can use it to prevent growth by not wiping it off afterward.

Ammonia

Ammonia is similar to bleach in that it can’t be used on porous surfaces, and also that it’s a dangerous chemical. Make sure that you only use clear ammonia. Create a 50/50 mix of water and clear ammonia, and spray the affected surface. Let it sit for a few hours, then wipe and rinse.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is both mild and safe, and it also acts as a deodorizer. What’s more, unlike the other solutions, baking soda can be used on porous surfaces.

Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to 8 ounces of water and mix thoroughly. Spray the affected area, scrub with a sponge or brush, then rinse. Follow this by spraying a second time, but don’t rinse afterward.


3. Cut Out & Remove Large Infestations

Mold can grow behind the walls and other unseen places in a house, leaving homeowners unaware until they smell it or notice stains on the wall. At that point, it has to be literally cut out of carpets and drywall.

How to Remove Moldy Drywall & Carpets

If you choose to do this on your own, you’ll want to wear old clothing and shoes along with goggles, gloves and N-95 respirator.

N-95 Respirator For Mold Removal

N-95 Respirator For Mold Removal from 3M

Prep & Set-Up

Set a box fan in the window of the room you’re working on. Next, make sure you tape plywood or cardboard around the window openings so spores expelled by the fan can’t get back in. Turn off your air conditioner and/or furnace, and then seal off the airflow within the room by covering the vents and doorways with plastic sheeting and duct tape.

Removing Moldy Carpets

Use a utility knife to cut moldy carpets into 6′ x 8′ sections, and mist the surfaces with a pump sprayer to control spores. Roll up the sections and wrap them in thick plastic trash bags.

Removing Moldy Drywall

Turn off power to the room, and probe stained or soft spots on the wall with a screwdriver to find the infestation and locate any wiring, removing baseboards and trim if necessary. Use a drywall saw or utility knife to cut out the infested drywall and any moldy insulation behind it. Mist with the pump sprayer to control spores, then double-bag the material in heavy plastic bags and tie the bags off.

Clean-Up

Vacuum up the debris with a shop-vac with an extra-long hose, so you can keep the shop vac outside to keep spores from spreading. Use a brush to scrub stained surfaces inside the walls with a water and bleach mixture, and then wipe the areas, but don’t rinse them. Dry any trim you washed in direct sunlight, and use fans and dehumidifiers to dry the room for at least three days.

When you’ve eliminated it all, seal the wood with a pigmented shellac or oil-based primer. Put in new insulation and drywall, replace the trim, and repaint using paint that contains mildewcide.




4. Hire Mold Remediation Professionals

If you have a persistent infestation, you may need to hire a mold remediation specialist.

Do your homework to find one who is reputable. The specialist will thoroughly inspect your home to determine the extent of the infestation, and afterward he or she will let you know if you can take care of the problem yourself, or if you’ll need to hire professionals to handle it.

Make sure the specialist gives you a written report. Note that, to avoid conflicts of interest, the specialist who inspects your home should work independently from the company you hire to clean out the infestation.

Downsizing

9 Reasons Why Downsizing Your Home Makes Sense

When we consider the benefits of downsizing, we need to go far beyond the idea that the term “downsizing” simply refers to just moving into smaller living quarters. That’s not a fair definition for homeowners to go by.

What Is Downsizing?

Downsizing can be defined as an intentional reduction in size. This could be as simple as the amount of belongings you own or the size house you live in.

However, we would suggest that it is larger than that. Downsizing is a complete overhaul in your lifestyle. It’s more than just a smaller home, it’s a move towards the simple life.

For the purposes of this article, we will be examining all the reasons why your average homeowner should consider this change in mindset, the benefits of downsizing and how the simple life can bring happiness to your front door.

The Benefits You Should Expect by Downsizing

Once we focus on the totality of downsizing, the benefits increase exponentially. From the testimonials of many who have discovered the wonders of downsizing, here are nine benefits that they smile about.

1. Less Stress, More Happiness

This is a huge benefit that cannot be overestimated. From losing a large mortgage on an oversized house to not running around an urban area trying to have the family involved in so many different activities, downsizing brings less stress, which means more serenity and a much greater chance of actually enjoying life.

You may also will find yourself arriving early for appointments, not always being late. In short, you will be more on top of your weekly schedule, not sweating bullets as you pull up to the dentist 20 minutes late. Another related perk is the ability to find lost items more quickly. With less stuff to clutter your living room, you can locate your keys and purse much faster. Who can put a price tag on that stress-buster?

2. Saving Money on Monthly Expenses

When possessions are jettisoned, one has to spend far less on maintaining them. When the McMansion is left behind, so is the monster mortgage payment.

Downsizing Saves Money

It is almost impossible to downsize and not be in a better position financially. Many people who have downsized have experienced an immediate windfall as they have money left over from the sale of their previous home.

Others see a better balance each month even if they don’t move, as one car needs regular maintenance, not three, as the gasoline bill dips precipitously when the family’s schedule is de-cluttered.

Whether you see this improved picture clearly during Day One of downsizing or after six months, it will be clear at one time or another. Enjoy the view.

3. Better for the Environment

Smaller house equals fewer trees felled. Less driving equals less CO2 that you put into the air. Fewer or smaller appliances equal less electricity consumed. The list can go on and on. You will be the “green” person you’ve always aspired to be without even trying!

4. More Energy to Focus on What Matters

Someone once wrote that the opposite of happiness is boredom. That statement can be debated, but the weariness that comes with routine is well known by many. Downsizing your life could very well push you out of your comfort zone. That change very well may energize you as you re-create your life and become a happier, less stressful person.

As you see the benefits on this list take shape, you will become even more excited about the possibilities of your new minimalistic lifestyle, and rather than sleeping away your precious spare time, you will want to be spending your new free time in constructive ways.




5. More Time to Do What You Want

Do you have any idea how much time you will gain every Saturday when you don’t have to clean so many rooms? You can easily add another hour or two instantly to the weekend!

You will have more time to pursue the passions you’ve always wanted to develop, from painting to reading, from traveling to tennis. Less time cleaning, less time driving, less time shopping — the hours add up rapidly and you will find new joy as you are able to spend more time on pursuits that bring you joy.

6. Fewer Temptations to Buy Stuff

This might not sound like a benefit, but when you really think about it, it does have many upsides.

9 Reasons Why You Should Downsize

Less space means less temptation to buy new items and clutter your living space. Downsizing your living space also means less cleaning.

In another benefit that apartment dwellers have long understood, it can also cause you to spend more time outside, which always equates to better health.

7. Opportunity to Get To Know Your Neighbors

It has been said that when people live on top of each other, they tend to keep to themselves. That necessary social distance in urban areas is true, but it is also true that the opportunities to get to know your neighbors and local shopkeepers multiply when you live in smaller spaces.

Many Americans, in particular, have traditionally sought to live on large lots, separated from other human beings. They have ended up with huge yards to mow, mortgages to pay and a gnawing sense of loneliness.

Of course, not all apartment dwellers revel in community spirit, but don’t be surprised if you see the same people again and again and begin to build a relationship with them. It’s much easier in an apartment or condo building, or in townhouses that adjoin without giant lots in between.

8. More Control On Your Everyday Life

This benefit comes up again and again as veteran downsizers talk about their new way of life.

They offer perspectives such as, “My stuff used to run me. Now, I control my stuff,” or “I was a slave to my possessions. Now, I’m free.” A more open schedule, a less cluttered living space and life, and a realignment that puts you in the driver’s seat–not your things–can surprise you with a far greater sense of control than you’ve previously experienced in life.

9. The Freedom to Live Simple

Whether that freedom comes from you dictating your schedule, not the other way around, or simply feeling liberated by getting rid of junk that has cluttered your mind and life, downsizers all revel in the new freedom that they feel.

Add to this list as you downsize. Fill in the gaps that we may have missed in the list above. Begin the great adventure of living with less and gaining far more in return than you anticipated.

Have you downsized your life? What benefits did you experience? Let’s hear them in the comments below.


Cleaning A Humidifier

How to Clean Your Humidifier

One of the most important factors in determining your indoor air quality is the amount of moisture in the air. The relative humidity inside your home becomes particularly important as winter sets in.

This is because as the temperature starts to drop and you start to crank up the heat, the warm air circulating around your home will dry out the air you breathe. When the air in your home is too dry, you may start to experience a whole bunch of issues, all of which may range from minor annoyances to significant health complications, such as the flu.

Now that the seasons are starting to change and the mercury is starting to drop, we created the below guide to help homeowners learn how to clean their humidifier, and have it ready on those long, chilly nights.

How Often Do I Need to Clean My Humidifier?

Every 24-36 hours. If water has been standing inside your humidifier for longer than that time, you should not use it inside your home. While inconvenient, it is strongly recommended that you clean your humidifier prior to every use.




Why Do I Need to Clean My Humidifier?

Cleaning the humidifier will prevent any sort of bacterial growth or mold from developing inside the device. If you have this sort of contamination inside your humidifier, and you do not clean it before you turn it on, then you may inadvertently disperse harmful particulates into the air.

Not only is this detrimental to your indoor air quality, but it can immediately impact the health of anyone inside your home. This is not only detrimental to your indoor air quality, but it also puts everyone in your home at risk for developing respiratory issues. This is especially true for young children, the elderly and anyone that breathes it in for an extended period of time.

Check the Cleaning Instructions In Manual

Before you try using any of the cleaning methods listed below, it is wise to take a look at what the user manual that came with your humidifier says and follow the care instructions from the manufacturer. These guidelines are the best way to keep your humidifier in good working order, and prevent any unexpected damage that voids the warranty or leads to you having to replace it.


3 Ways to Clean Your Humidifier

Without proper care and regular cleaning, your humidifier puts your indoor air quality at risk. Below, we have highlighted three methods that you can follow to clean your humidifier.

1. Use White Vinegar & Tea Tree Oil

Due to their natural disinfectant properties, the easiest and “all-natural” way to clean your humidifier is to use a mixture of vinegar and tea tree oil.

Vinegar & Tea Tree Oil

Supplies You Need:

  • White vinegar
  • Tea tree oil (optional)
  • Bottle brush if required for your humidifier
  • Water

Cleaning Instructions:

Begin by disassembling your humidifier. Pour any standing water from the tank and lay all pieces out as you take it apart.

Next, add a generous amount of white vinegar to the base of your humidifier, as well as a few drops of tea tree oil. Do the same for the water tank, as well as submerge all other external parts into a similar mixture. Allow it to soak for at least 20-30 minutes.

Before you pour out the vinegar, use a brush or washcloth to scrub all parts of the humidifier. Try to remove any deposit buildup that may be visible.

Once you have scrubbed it thoroughly, rinse all parts of your humidifier with warm water. You may need to do this several times to get rid of the vinegar smell before reassembling your humidifier.

2. Disinfect With Bleach or Hydrogen Peroxide

To give your humidifier a deep clean, try following the cleaning instructions listed above but substitute the tea tree oil with bleach or hydrogen peroxide. By using one of these two chemicals, you ensure that all bacteria and mold spores inside your humidifier is killed off.

Bleach & Hydrogen Peroxide

Supplies You Need:

  • Bleach or Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Clean Towels
  • Safety Goggles & Gloves
  • A Soft-Bristle Brush
  • Water
  • Optional: White Vinegar*

Cleaning Instructions:

For the most part, this process will follow the same instructions recommended for the vinegar and tea tree oil option. However, if you decide to use bleach, you should wear gloves and goggles to protect yourself from the chemicals. *And never mix bleach and vinegar together!*

When using bleach, you can choose to do so at the same time you are cleaning the tank or you can disinfect after the tank is clean. Disinfecting a humidifier with bleach will take an additional 30 minutes, so if you are short on time, it is probably beneficial to do both at once.

Step 1: Begin by disassembling your humidifier. Don’t forget to remove the air filter, if there is one. You can clean the filter by using cool water and letting it air dry.

Step 2: Mix about 1 teaspoon of bleach — or use 3 percent hydrogen peroxide — into a gallon of water and fill the tank with it. Ensure the entire inside is coated by stirring the mixture around.

Step 3: Once you’ve completed both steps, rinse the base, tank and all of its small parts. Shake it well to dislodge any trapped moisture. Remember to do this several times to get rid of any vinegar or bleach odors. Set the pieces on clean towels to air dry.

Once everything is dry, you can reassemble your machine.

Optional Step: After the humidifier has been disassembled, fill the base with vinegar and submerge the smaller parts. Allow it to soak for at least 20-30 minutes, use a brush or washcloth to dislodge any deposits or buildup, and thoroughly rinse out the vinegar. Do not mix vinegar and bleach together.

3. Buy & Use a Humidifier Disinfectant (Bacteriostat)

Humidifier Bacteriostat Treatment

If you don’t want to fool around with any of the cleaning options listed above, you can also buy a ready-made disinfectant or cleanser online. Often labeled as a descaler or bacteriostat, there are plenty of these cleanser available online. (View your options on Amazon.)

All you would do is simply follow the instructions that comes with the product. That’s it, your humidifier is clean and ready.

Effective, but Expensive:

While it is easy and convenient, and no doubt effective at disinfecting your humidifier, this option is not recommended for homeowners as it is grossly more expensive than all the others options listed here.

Vinegar, bleach and peroxide are all very effective at cleaning your humidifier, and they are also all incredibly cheap. You can buy all of them at every grocery store or corner store, and you’ll get a larger supply at a fraction of the cost.


Humidifier Maintenance & Care Tips

Now that you know how to clean your humidifier, it’s recommended that you also learn some simple maintenance tips to prolong its life and overall effectiveness.

How to Clean Humidifier

Empty Basin / Limit Standing Water

Besides weekly deep cleaning of your humidifier, you should be sure to rinse the water basin before every use. Doing so helps to keep bacteria from growing, keeps your unit working properly, and ensures your family is breathing the best air possible.

If possible, disinfect the humidifier any time that water has been standing for more than four hours.

Use Distilled Water

When you do fill your humidifier, only use distilled water. Tap water usually has added minerals. These minerals could be released into the air and create a thin layer of white dust on the surfaces in the room. Additionally, added minerals can build up as deposits in the machine and harbor the bacteria and mold you’re trying to prevent.

Drain & Dry Before Storing

Finally, be sure to drain and clean your humidifier and allow it to dry completely before storing it for the season. Storing a damp unit in a dark place, such as a closet or garage, only creates an optimal breeding ground that encourages bacteria and mold to grow. This will lead to a very gross discovery when it comes time to pull the unit out of storage.


The Homeowner Payoff

Knowing how to clean your humidifier ensures the air you and your family breathes is as pure as possible and leaves you comfortable and healthy. Even better, proper cleaning helps your machine to work for as many seasons as possible so you will be able to save money instead of purchasing a new unit each winter.


Kale

How to Make Kale Chips (With Recipes & Flavoring Tips)

We hear about many food crazes and diets all the time. Let’s face it. Every time a new food is introduced to the world, restaurants, food critics, television chefs and celebrities go out of their way to talk about the food as they try to show us the infinite possibilities there are for turning an otherwise boring ingredient into something special.

That’s probably the case with kale.

A few years ago, no one ever talked about this green leafy vegetable. Now you see it everywhere. High-end restaurants are finding ways to elevate it from its former role as a garnish on food trays and salad bars. Grocery stores are selling packaged salads that use kale, bags of washed kale, and bunches of kale. It’s even on the shelves of Walmart Supercenters and other discount stores. It’s also become a critical addition to the growing movement that encourages embracing ingredients that go from the farm to your table.

According to a May 2014 news report from Bloomberg, between 2007 and 2012, the number of farms that grow kale in the United States has more than doubled.

How Did Kale Become So Popular?

It’s long been known that kale is healthy for you. But, the popularity of the cruciferous vegetable has skyrocketed in recent years. The story behind this rise is a curious tale.

Fresh Kale

As the story goes, in the year 2013, a New York PR agent and self-proclaimed “punk-at-heart,” Oberon Sinclair, concocted a scheme to get people to believe that the American Kale Association hired a publicist to help desperate farmers who were growing kale while spreading the word about this dark green cruciferous vegetable throughout New York City.

After all, when you want to turn something into a trend, you go to New York to announce it to the world, right?

It’s hard to know whether people believed this story because let’s face it, no self-respecting foodie would ever admit that they’d been conned into believing that the American Kale Association (AKA) launched a campaign to promote the wonders of kale. Especially considering that the American Kale Association did not exist when Sinclair launched her campaign.

Whether or not the American Kale Association actually existed at that particular time, has become somewhat of a moot point. It exists now, and has carried on with the original “kale-awareness” campaign.

However, it must be noted that prior to the curious PR campaign launched by Sinclair, there was another organization already on this precise mission. Founded one year before the curious PR campaign referenced above, the National Kale Day Organization was created with the same vision: To educate people about the nutritional value of kale and helping people learn about different ways to cook, use and eat it.

Cruciferous vegetables are healthy. They are full of vital nutrients. Variety is also good. So if you’re looking for a way to add variety to your diet, include more healthy leafy greens, and eat more vegetables, you might want to consider trying kale. Raw kale can be bitter. But there are other ways to use it. It’s a delicious addition to soup, and if you’re used to sauteing spinach, Swiss chard, mustard, turnip or collard greens, you can add kale to your gustatory library.


Bunch of Kale

How to Select the Best Kale

Before you start the process of making kale chips, you have to buy the vegetable itself. You have a few options to choose from.

Fresh & Raw

You can find fresh bunches of kale in the produce section, typically stocked alongside other cruciferous vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, lettuce and cauliflower. The key is to get a bunch of kale where all the leaves are dark green and crisp looking.

Starting at the end of summer through winter, you’ll notice the selection and overall price of kale become more competitive, as they are in season.

Organic & Locally-Grown:

If possible, try to buy organic kale that is locally-grown. The Environmental Working Group includes kale on its list of produce items that contain pesticide residue.

Bagged Kale:

If you’re short on time, bagged kale is a good option. Already chopped and washed, the bagged option will save you time. However, this added convenience comes with its own set of pros and cons. Not only do the bags tend to be more expensive, you also sacrifice the ability to hand-pick the bunches you believe would be the best.


How to Prepare Your Kale

Now that you have the kale bought and ready to go, it’s time to prep.

Cleaning:

Before you start, it is strongly recommended that you thoroughly wash all of your produce before cooking with or consuming. This is especially true with kale, as the leaves are often covered with dirt and other loose materials.

Kale

Remove Stems:

Use a herb stripper (if you have one) to remove the stems. Don’t skip this step. Kale stems are tough, and they’ll take much longer to cook. You’ll risk burning your kale leaves if you don’t remove the thick stems.

Tear the Leaves:

Tear each leaf into pieces. The size of your pieces should be comparable to that of a potato chip or tortilla chip. Don’t go to a lot of trouble to make sure that each piece you tear is the same size. That’s not necessary.

Remove Excess Water:

Now that your kale leaves have been torn into smaller chip-size pieces, you’ll want to remove the excess water. A salad spinner is a fantastic tool to help you with this. If you don’t have a salad spinner, give each piece a little shake and the water will roll off.




How to Bake Kale in the Oven

You’ll want to lay your kale pieces in a single layer on a flat baking sheet. If you intend to add salt, spices or herbs for flavor, a small amount of oil will catch the seasoning. Fill a half a tablespoon with extra virgin olive oil. Spread it on the baking sheet and rub each torn piece of kale into the oil, making sure to massage the oil into both sides.

Some recipes recommend using coconut oil. For kale chips, since you’ll be baking them in an oven that’s moderately hot, you won’t have to worry about whether the oil is safe for high heat.

If you line your baking sheet with a piece of parchment, clean up will be easier. You also won’t have to worry about whether anything sticks to the pan.

You don’t have to use a dehydrator to make kale chips. The oven is a fantastic alternative because you can turn the baking sheet during the drying and baking process.




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Recipes recommend oven temperatures but expect to adjust the temperature because of variations in different oven brands and heating methods. Turn the baking sheet periodically during the cooking process to make sure that every piece of kale cooks evenly.

Supplies & Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • Parchment Paper
  • An oven thermometer
  • Baking Sheets
  • Herb stripper or sharp knife to remove tough stems
  • Colander and Salad Spinner
  • Large bowl
  • High quality unrefined and unprocessed oil
  • Sea salt

Tips to Baking Kale Chips:

  1. Be sure you get rid of all of the loose dirt on every kale leaf. Consider using a commercial vegetable cleaning spray to help you remove excess chemical residues and grime.
  2. When you tear up your kale leaves into chip size pieces, take time to tear each leaf so that you remove the woody stem that goes through the center of the leaves. Getting rid of every part of the hard stalks will ensure that every piece of kale gets thoroughly cooked.

Be sure you put your oven thermometer in the oven before turning it on to preheat it.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t make a perfect batch of kale chips the first time. There are often huge variations in cooking times and temperatures depending on the type of oven you’re using, your location and other environmental circumstances. Consequently, you may need to make several batches of chips before you figure out what oven temperature and the length of time it takes to get your chips as crisp as you like them.

Another thing to consider is that you may want to bake your kale pieces at a lower temperature if you’re topping your chips with herbs, seasonings or other flavorings. A lower oven temperature will force you to keep the chips in the oven longer to get them to the desired crispiness. It may also be effective at infusing your chips with more of the flavor you’re adding to them, thereby allowing you to create an unusual, creative, and flavor-packed snack treat.


Kale Chips

A Starter Recipe for Kale Chips

As you’ll soon find out, there is no limit to the flavor combinations that you can come up with to make your own healthy and delicious kale chips. Regardless of the flavors you add, there are two essential ingredients you’ll need to use no matter what else you decide to add.

You’ll need to add some salt to the kale because the salt is critical to drawing excess water out of the kale leaves. You’ll also need to use some type of high-quality extra virgin, first cold-pressed oil. Since you aren’t going to be baking the chips in a hot oven, you can use any kind of oil that tolerates low-to-medium heat. The first cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil is probably the most common type of oil used for making homemade vegetable chips. Grapeseed, unrefined sesame or coconut oils are also options.

How to Make Flavored Kale Chips

There are all sorts of flavors and flavor combinations you can use to create different variations on the traditional kale chip.

How to Make Kale Chips

Regardless of the ingredients with which you intend to flavor your chips, don’t forget that you’ll need to use a small amount of oil as a way of ensuring that each piece of kale gets evenly coated with the herb, spice, condiment or flavor.

Unless you want your kale chips to absorb the flavor of the oil you’re using, you will want to use the purest, mildest, and least flavorful oil you can. Also, remember that temperature isn’t a concern since you’ll be cooking your flavored chips at a lower temperature than you use for the plain chips.

Flavor Combinations to Spice Up Your Kale

If you’re used to snacking on corn or potato chips and have a favorite variety, there’s no reason you can’t try to replicate the taste of that chip on kale. The result will be a healthier version of a snack treat you already like.

1. Salt and Vinegar

This may be a tricky taste combination to try to use with kale. Oil is necessary to get the salt to stick to the kale pieces. If you try to use oil and vinegar, you may wind up with something that tastes more like a wilted salad that’s dressed with oil and vinegar dressing.




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How to Add Flavor:

To make this flavor combination work, try soaking your kale leaves in the vinegar for a few minutes. That short “soak” will give your kale the necessary infusion of vinegar for the taste combination that’s so popular with potato chips. You’ll still need to coat each piece of kale with the salt and oil mixture.

Baking Instructions:
  1. Lay the coated pieces of kale on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Don’t let any of the pieces touch or overlap.
  2. Cook the chips at a low temperature of around 250-275 degrees.
  3. Bake the chips for 25 minutes and check them to see if they are drying out and getting crisp.
  4. You may need to rotate your baking sheets every 25 minutes or so to make sure that every chip cooks evenly.

Keep checking on the baking sheets to make sure that nothing is burning. Once you’re sure that the chips are fully cooked, remove them from the oven. You can leave them on the baking sheet to cool. As they cool, you’ll see that they become even crispier.

Dehydrated Onion Flakes:

Dehydrated onion flakes are easy to find in the spice section of your favorite grocery store. If you love the taste of onion, and would like to add that flavor to your kale chips, dehydrated onion flakes are going to be a great option for you. Plus, give your kale chips an extra crunch.

Follow the instructions listed above for removing the thick stems on each leaf. Then tear all of the leaves into chip-size pieces.

How to Add Flavor:

Add a couple of tablespoons of high-quality extra-virgin “First Cold” pressed olive oil to a large bowl. Add enough onion flakes to cover all of the kale pieces evenly. Use your hands to massage the oil and onion flake mixture into the bowl full of torn kale leaves.

Baking Instructions:
  1. Line your baking sheets with pieces of parchment paper.
  2. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
  3. Carefully lay all of the kale pieces out on the baking sheets, making sure that there is space between each piece.
Plate of Kale

Because you’re baking your kale chips at a lower oven temperature to allow the oil and onion flake flavors penetrate each of the kale pieces, you will need to cook your chips for twice as long as it takes to make kale chips with no added flavoring.

Garlic or Onion-Powder:

If you ever make popcorn at home, you may have learned about the delicious taste of garlic and onion-flavored popcorn. Garlic and onion powder are also excellent flavor enhancers to add to kale chips. This is especially true for anyone looking to introduce finicky family members to a healthier alternative to calorie and salt-laden junk food.

Adding Flavor & Baking Instructions:
  1. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to a large bowl.
  2. Add your kale pieces and use your hands to make sure that every kale piece is evenly coated with the olive oil.
  3. Arrange the kale pieces so that every piece lays flat on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle your garlic or onion powder, or a little of each over the entire baking sheet, making sure that an even coat of powder covers every piece of kale.
  5. Place your baking sheets into a preheated 250-degree oven.
  6. Set an oven timer for 25 minutes.
  7. Rotate the baking sheets to ensure that all of your chips get as crisp as you like them.

Other Spices, Additives & Flavor-Enhancers

Here are a few more options for adding flavor and spices to your homemade kale chips.

  • Sriracha — If you like to add heat to your food, you might want to brush your kale chips with Sriracha sauce before you bake them.
  • Red Pepper Flakes — These add zesty heat and will stick to kale leaves that are coated with oil.
  • Chili & Taco Seasoning — This will give your kale chips a bit of spicy Mexican flavor.
  • Smokey — For an added smokey taste, consider sprinkling ground chipotle peppers or smoked paprika over your oil-coated kale pieces.
  • BBQ — If you like the taste of barbecue-flavored chips, sprinkle your oil-rubbed kale pieces with a barbecue spice mixture or dry rub.
  • Parmesan Cheese — For a cheesy taste, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over oil-covered kale pieces.
  • Brewer’s Yeast — This tastes great on popcorn. Capture that distinctive taste by sprinkling an even coating of brewer’s yeast over oil-saturated kale leaves.
  • Chocolate — If you’re the total chocoholic and go to every extreme to get your chocolate fix, consider sprinkling grated chocolate on oil-covered kale leaves. Use a mild or flavorless oil like coconut oil, so the oil doesn’t overpower the additive. You can use bittersweet chocolate to give your kale chips a savory chocolatey taste.

Final Thoughts To Keep In Mind

Here’s a few parting thoughts to keep in mind as you try your hand at homemade kale chips.

  • Be sure you have fresh, crisp kale leaves. If you’re buying kale by the bunch, be certain you remove the thick, hard stems and massage all of the leaves as you wash them. Use your hands to remove embedded sand, dirt and debris. This may seem like a time-consuming process, but your kale chips will be inedible unless you remove all of the ground in dirt.
  • Use a cooking timer to remind you to check on the progress of your chips. An oven thermometer allows you to monitor your oven temperature to ensure that it is consistent. Some electric ovens have less than consistent thermostats.
  • Don’t try to bake all of your chips at once. Use one oven rack. If your rack only holds one or two baking sheets at once, plan to cook your chips in batches.
  • Don’t prepare your kale leaves until you’re going to cook them. Kale is full of water, and it wilts and gets soggy very quickly.

Kale is a fantastically healthy and inexpensive fall and winter vegetable. It’s also fun to create new chip recipes by adding herbs, seasonings, and other flavor enhancers so you can enjoy different versions of your newfound healthy snack treat. Pack a bag full of kale chips to take to work or to add to your children’s school lunches.

Broken CFL Bulb

How to Clean Up a Broken CFL Bulb

Using compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs in your house is a great way to use less energy, save a little bit of money on your utility bills and help protect the environment.

However, breaking one of these bulbs, as simple as it may seem, can create a dangerous situation. Because of the trace amounts of mercury inside the bulb, it’s important that you take proper precautions if you ever find yourself having to clean up a broken one.

Is a Broken CFL Bulb Dangerous?

Yes, it can be a potential safety concern. The tiny shards of glass that come from the broken bulb can easily cut open your skin.

But, that’s probably not why you’re reading this. I’m willing to guess that you’re concerned about the small amounts of mercury inside of a CFL bulb, and, perhaps, what it’s going to do to your indoor air quality. This is a valid concern.




Is There Mercury In CFL Bulbs?

Yes. It’s true that CFL bulbs have mercury inside them. And yes, if one of these bulbs break open inside your home, your indoor air quality could deteriorate if you don’t take proper precautions.

However, this scenario is much like many other emergency-like situations that homeowners often face. When something goes wrong, you take action before it gets worse. It’s simple.

Let’s look at the science:
  • Study from 2008: CFL bulbs tested contained about 3-5 mg of mercury, but the energy savings of each bulb prevents about 4.5 mg of mercury from being emitted into the air by power plants. Interestingly, this study also found that CFL bulbs contain about 1% of the mercury as old thermostats (500 mg).
  • Study from 2011: CFL bulbs tested only contained 0.1 to 3.6 mg of mercury, and would take up to ten weeks to emit vapors that would be considered hazardous to human health.
  • Study from 2012: Concluded that young infants were at the highest risk, and clean-up within the first four hours after a bulb breaks is “critical.” The study also noted that the temperature and ventilation of the room play a big role in whether the air is safe to breathe.

So, yes… A broken CFL bulb can be dangerous, especially for younger kids. But the danger can be minimized if you act quickly and follow a proper cleanup process.

For more information about the dangers of mercury, please visit the EPA’s website.


How to Clean Up Broken CFL Bulb

Cleaning up a broken CFL bulb isn’t a difficult or harrowing task. It’s a rather simple process that doesn’t require a professional and can be completed within a few minutes. However, because CFL bulbs contain mercury, the process for cleaning it up is a bit more complicated than simply picking up glass.

Below, we have explained the process you should follow if you break a CFL bulb, as well as some general tips that every homeowner should know before they start.

How to Clean a Broken CFL Bulb

Gather Your Materials:

  • Cardboard, heavy-duty paper or plastic scoop.
  • Tape, damp paper towels, or cleaning wipes.
  • Plastic bag or glass jar with lid.

Procedure for Clean-Up:

  1. First, use your cardboard or stiff paper to scoop-up the large pieces of the broken CFL glass.
  2. Next, use tape or damp paper towels to help remove the smaller shards of glass.
  3. Continue previous step until you feel confident that all glass shards have been removed.
  4. Wipe area with disinfectant wipes.
  5. Put all materials into your bag or glass jar, and seal completely.
  6. Dispose immediately.

Note: A glass jar with a tight fitting metal lid is the best item to dispose of the broken shards of glass because it keeps the mercury vapor sealed inside.

If one is not available, a sealable plastic bag, such as a large ziploc bag, will suffice. However, if you go this route, try to handle it as little as possible. You may also want to wear disposable gloves or gloves you don’t mind throwing away in order to prevent the glass shards from cutting your hands.


General Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Know that you have a better understanding of how to clean up a broken CFL bulb, let’s take a closer look at a few other factors that will help protect you from the mercury inside.

1) Shut Off Central AC

The first step is to turn off your air conditioner, heater, fans or any other appliance that circulates air throughout your home.

The goal with this first step is to prevent the air in the “zone” with the broken bulb from spreading throughout your home. If the area has been exposed to elemental mercury, than it is important that you prevent the air from dissipating to other areas of your home.

2) Air Out & Ventilate Room

Now that you’ve shut off all air conditioners in the room, open the windows and allow the room to “air out” a bit. As noted in the studies above, a well-ventilated room is an important step to limit your exposure.

It would be wise to instruct all people and pets to leave the room immediately, taking precautions to avoid the area where the bulb was broken. Once everyone has left the room, you should open windows, doors and vents to the outside, but not into the house. Use this time to gather your materials.

CFL Bulb

3) Clean Up Within Four Hours

Allowing the mercury to sit, undisturbed, in a room with no ventilation is extremely unsafe and will quickly degrade the indoor air quality of your home. If you’re using an air conditioner, no matter what kind it may be, turn it off.

As the study above concluded, the first four hours are the most important. Try to clean it up within that time frame.

You have absolutely nothing to gain by waiting.

4) Safely Collect & Seal Debris

After you’ve gathered what you need, re-enter the room where the CFL bulb was broken. Leave the windows, vents and doors to the outside open in order to continue to let the mercury vapor dissipate.

Scoop up the larger pieces of glass from the floor. Place the shards into the glass jar or ziploc bag. Use the tape to pick up the smaller pieces of glass. Make sure that all glass is removed from the hard surface or carpet.

Once the glass has been picked up and placed in the jar, use the damp paper towels to clean the affected area. Disposable disinfectant towels will also be good for this purpose. All of these wet wipes should be placed inside the jar or ziploc bag. If you wear disposable gloves while cleaning up the mess, those too should be discarded inside the container

Once this has all be completed, tightly seal the jar or ziploc bag.

5) Remove From Home Immediately

Now that the broken bulb has been picked up, remove it from the house immediately. This is especially important if you used a plastic bag. This is because the plastic may not completely contain the mercury vapor inside. If not, it may then leak out into the air inside your home.

6) Never Use a Vacuum Cleaner. Ever.

Trying to vacuum up the glass from a broken bulb will only further fan the mercury vapor into the air. This is exactly what you want to avoid. Contain, not circulate.

Of course, depending on the type of floors that the broken bulb is on, this is easier said than done. Below, we have listed out some tips for cleanup based on the type of flooring.

  • Hardwood & Tiled Floors — It would be avoid the vacuum cleaner entirely. Stick with using a steam mop, swiffer or wet wipes to clean up the tiny shards of glass.
  • Carpets & Rugs — On a carpeted area, it can be difficult to find all the smaller pieces of glass from a broken bulb. Vacuuming can help, but it should be done with windows open and entry ways into the rest of the house closed.



No matter what type of flooring you have, once you completed the cleanup process listed above and picked up as much of the broken bulb as possible, you will be able to then — and only then — use the vacuum cleaner.

Note: If you decide to use the vacuum cleaner, it would be wise to use the hose attachment, keep the area well-ventilated and dispose of the bag / empty the canister as soon as possible. You don’t want CFL debris sitting inside your vacuum cleaner for an extended period of time.

7) Always Wash Your Hands Immediately After

Even if you wear gloves when you clean up the broken bulb, there is no guarantee that mercury didn’t get onto your hands. After cleaning up the shards of glass and throwing all the debris away in the best possible way, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and hot water.

This will help remove any small pieces of glass that may be lingering on your hands. It will also give you more peace of mind about residual mercury.

8) Dispose Hazardous Waste Correctly

Check your local regulations for the best way to properly dispose of broken CFL’s. Some municipalities may require you to dispose of the hazardous waste in different manners. Some simply allow you to throw it out with your garbage.

Of course, you could always toss it out and know one would ever know. But, you don’t want to inadvertently contaminate another area of our community. So, be a good neighbor, follow the law and dispose accordingly.


Summary

Cleanup of any broken CFL bulbs should be prompt and precise. Shut off your air conditioner to prevent circulation of air. Open windows to ventilate air in the area. Never, ever use a vacuum cleaner. And, seal the broken shards in bag or jar and remove from your home as soon as possible.

Water Quality

How to Test the Quality of Your Drinking Water

The majority of homeowners in the United States get their drinking water from public water treatment facilities, and we tend to accept without question that the water that flows from our taps is clean and safe to drink.

But is it?

Americans use thousands of different chemicals every day. Unbeknownst to us, many of these substances ends up in our lakes, rivers and aquifers. These may include pesticides, pharmaceuticals, solvents, weed killers, cleaning agents, you name it — all of these contaminants eventually finds its way into our water supply.

How Does Our Water Become Contaminated?

The contaminants that degrade the water quality come from a number of sources. Some of it gets there from people dumping it down their toilets, while other chemicals show up thanks to runoff from farms or mining, leaching from landfills, or improper storage and disposal at manufacturing plants. In addition to the chemicals, many of our waterways are filled with harmful bacteria, such as E. coli.

Some of these contaminants get removed during sewage treatment procedures, but others find their way into the waterways around our homes. It’s up to our water treatment facilities to properly process the water, removing all toxins to make it safe for us to drink before piping it to our homes.

Water Contamination

Is Your Drinking Water Safe?

The Environmental Protection Agency regulates a number of harmful substances, such as uranium, lead, and arsenic. For each of these, the EPA sets a Maximum Contaminant Level indicating at what concentration these chemicals and minerals can exist in our drinking water before it is considered unsafe to drink.

Each summer, the EPA issues a report for most municipal water systems in the country. These Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR) can be searched on the EPA’s website.

In the CCR, at minimum you can expect to find the following information:

  • The source of your drinking water.
  • A discussion of the general risks of contamination.
  • A list of regulated contaminants and their levels in the water at the time of testing.
  • Possible health risks from these contaminants found in excess of EPA standards.
  • What your local water treatment facility is doing to correct any problems.

The Downside of the EPA’s Annual Water Quality Report

While these reports are a great resource that provide a high-level overview of what’s in the pipes in your home, they cannot reliably provide a complete picture of your water quality.

EPA Water

For the reports, water is tested only once or twice a year and contaminant levels are averaged out across 12 months. Contamination can occur outside of testing periods, or there can be occasional spikes in certain contaminants that exceed EPA regulations, and these issues may not be captured in the report. Furthermore, it’s possible for your water to become contaminated after it leaves the treatment facility.

Contaminants Not Measured by the EPA

As another point of concern, just a few of the chemicals that can be found in our drinking water are measured or regulated by the EPA. Independent water testing laboratories confirm a wide variety of contaminants that may be found in our water supplies. In water samples taken from across the country, these labs have discovered measurable quantities of contaminants as varied as antidepressant medications, artificial hormones and gasoline additives.

The EPA doesn’t regulate most of these chemicals in our drinking water. Although most will only occur in trace amounts, there’s no way to know what the chemical cocktail might be doing to our health. Most of these unmeasured contaminants have no taste or color and pass through our water and into our bodies undetected. While many of these substances may be harmless in and of themselves, there are few studies to suggest what these different chemicals might do in combination with others.


When Should You Get Your Water Tested?

The EPA recommends you test your water annually to get a sense for what you may be drinking and if there are changes over time. In addition to yearly water tests, some of the things that should prompt you to test your tap water immediately include:

Water Quality Testing
  • Recurring stomach or digestive issues: This may be a sign of bacterial contamination.
  • Cloudy, frothy, discolored or smelly water: This can be caused by a number of contaminants.
  • Living in an older home: Aging plumbing may leach copper and lead into the drinking water.
  • Red or rust-colored stains on your sink or clothing: This is a sign that your water has high levels of iron or other minerals.
  • Nearby coal, gas or agricultural activities, especially fracking: These industrial areas may lead to pesticides, herbicides or solvents leaching into your water.
  • Living close to landfills, gas stations, industrial plants, dry cleaners: Many substances can leach into the ground and, possibly, contaminate local water supplies.

For a more comprehensive list, the EPA offers this handy chart (PDF) that can help you determine when you might want to test your water, with symptoms that can occur with certain contaminants.


How to Find Out What’s in Your Water

If you’re experiencing any signs that indicate something could be in your water, or if you want to test your water for your own peace of mind, you have a few options to choose from. The cost and accuracy will vary, so it’s important to do some research on your options prior to investing.

Sending Samples to a Testing Lab

There are many professional water testing labs that can provide extensive testing on water samples you provide. They send you a kit and instructions on how to collect water samples, and then you send the samples to the lab for evaluation.

How to Test Water Quality

Generally you can choose which kinds of tests these labs will perform, from testing for common contaminants to specialized tests for radon, uranium or other substances depending on your location and personal concerns.

These labs provide tests for tap water from both water from city treatment plants and well water, so they’re a good option for the majority of homeowners. The least expensive tests run about $50 and the most extensive ones can cost over $400, so it’s a good idea to know what you’re looking for before purchasing a test kit.

Is a DIY Water Testing Kit Worth the Cost?

Those costs may seem exorbitant, and you do have other options. There are inexpensive home testing kits you can purchase from home improvement stores and online merchants. These kits purport to test for bacteria, lead, pesticides, chlorine, nitrates and nitrites, and can also tell you the hardness and pH of your water.

These kits may seem like a great way to check your water quality and identify potential problems, but they cannot test for all contaminants, including fluoride and glyphosate. They are also far less reliable than laboratory tests, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt.

Do These Types of Kits Even Work?

Good Housekeeping performed a review of different do-it-yourself home water testing kits. Their results showed that most of the common tests inaccurately measured levels of certain contaminants, while entirely missing others. Even worse, many of these tests have given false positives that may cause you to take expensive preventative action when no such need exists.

So, what should you do?

If you’re just curious about your water but have no serious concerns, trying out a DIY kit may be a good place to start. However, if you have any concerns about your water quality, or you have anyone with health issues, small children, or elderly family members, you should probably consider a professional testing lab.

Just be careful: There are some labs out there that offer “free” water testing, but those usually are fronts for companies that want to try to sell you expensive filtration solutions you don’t need. You can find some of these “free” options available near many Home Depot locations.

If you have evidence of contaminants in your water, you can report it to the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline, 1-800-426-4791.


How Can You Remove Contaminants?

For some contaminants, it’s easy to remove them with a filter that attaches directly to your faucet or by using a water pitcher filter.

These filters are inexpensive and easy to maintain, using activated charcoal as their primary filtration medium. They are perfect for removing chlorine (commonly added to disinfect municipal water). Depending on the manufacturer and freshness of the filter, they can also remove trace amounts of minerals such as zinc, lead, copper, and asbestos, as well as some bacteria or other biological contaminants.

Removing Lead from Drinking Water

Because of the significant health problems associated with consuming any levels of lead, if you’re concerned about the lead content in your water, be sure to do your homework. Most pitchers and faucet filters are not certified to remove lead from drinking water.

Reverse Osmosis System

Furthermore, a number of other contaminants cannot be removed with inexpensive filtration solutions. For safe removal of lead, pesticides, glyphosate, fluoride, and many other contaminants, a reverse osmosis filter might be the best solution. For many homeowners, the best choice will be a reverse osmosis filtration system that is installed directly under the kitchen sink, but you can also install a “whole-house” unit that works for the water in the entire home.

What is Reverse Osmosis?

Reverse osmosis is the process many bottlers use to produce ‘purified’ water, and this type of filtration will remove the majority of contaminants from your water. The downsides of these units include a high initial setup cost and a higher consumption of water as part of the filtration, which will increase utility bills.

Hopefully now that you’re armed with all of this information about water quality and filtration, you will be able to make an informed decision about when and why to get your water tested, as well as have some solutions if you find out you do have unwanted substances in your drinking water.