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Jan 28 2012

Author, Mysti Reutlinger Shares Crucial Information on Dangerous Chemical Cleaners

At Crucial Vacuum we know how important it is to keep our families healthy and breathing easy. Why else would we spend so much time cleaning and sanitizing? But lately there has been a lot of talk about the dangers of the chemicals found in common household cleaners and it got my attention. Am I doing more harm than good?

So I caught up with Mysti Reutlinger, author of “The Pantry Cleaner: Chemical Free Cleaning”, to pick her brain about the dangers of household cleaners and I was shocked by what she had to say.

CV: So, just to clear things up, what is chemical free cleaning as opposed to “commercial cleaning”? 

MR: Chemical-free cleaning uses natural products that eliminate germs, grime, and all the goo any child (or adult) could produce without adding any chemicals into the home.  

CV: What first sparked your interest in chemical free cleaning? 

MR: The short version; My youngest son.  My son arrived at 24-weeks in gestation. He was 1 pound, 7 ounces and 12 inches long at birth. He spent the first 115 days of his life in a Neonatal ICU and when he came home, he was on oxygen. I quickly noticed that he struggled breathing when I cleaned. Upon hours of research, including reading many medical studies published in accredited journals, I found the correlation between commercial cleaners and a host of problems occurring in people. 

CV: Your book is described as teaching us how to clean without the use of harmful chemicals that can lead to respiratory distress, loss of smell, and even cause cancer… are household cleaners really that dangerous? 

MR: In a word, yes. When we purchase food in a store that is processed and packaged, we have a list of ingredients on the side and can make reasonable decisions about the quality of the food in the package. Commercial cleaners (anything purchased) don’t have to follow the same regulations because their chemical formulas are considered “trade secrets.” Longterm exposure to some chemicals found in the most common of cleaning products leads to many disorders, diseases, and yes, even cancer.  

A study published in the October 2007 issue of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine provides a good illustration. Over 3,000 people who did not have asthma or asthma symptoms at the start of the study were followed by researchers and their cleaning habits were evaluated. In the people who used commercial spray cleaners once a week, 42% had asthma symptoms at the end of the study. Those who cleaned more often were diagnosed with asthma and required medication. 

CV: I was shocked when I read about the damage that chemicals in common cleaners can do. Like disinfectants are toxic to our respiratory and circulatory systems? Isn’t that a bit ironic? 

MR: It is ironic. We want what is best for our families. We love them and want everyone to be safe. Cleaning shouldn’t be dangerous! 

CV: Is it safer to not clean at all rather than use store bought chemical cleaners? 

MR: Before there were commercial cleaners, people cleaned. They used vinegar, lemons, baking soda, corn starch, and regular lye soaps. Dishes were scrubbed and when someone was sick, rinsed with boiling water. Even without understanding the science behind having a clean home and eliminating germs and bacteria, our ancestors cleaned. Just like they knew what science has proven today, a clean home will keep our families from becoming sick. It is definitely not safer to live without cleaning. 

CV: I tried! But what about allergy sufferers? Don’t we need something more powerful to clear the air? 

MR: Allergy sufferers most certainly need clean air, not chemically-filled air.  

At one point in my life, I took prescription allergy medicines every spring and fall. I was convinced that the stuffy nose and burning eyes was a result of the seasonal plants growing and irritating me. When I changed how I cleaned, I still had the occasional stuffy nose and burning in my eyes, but I no longer needed medication to treat the symptoms.  

So now that I’ve got your attention, check back next week for Mysti’s tips for beginners like me who want to try their hand at chemical-free cleaning. Part two of our interview includes a couple simple chemical-free cleaner recipes, tips for getting rid of dust, and Mysti tells me what one item I should throw out today.

Jan 25 2012

Crucial Reader’s Cleaning Tips

At Crucial Vacuum, we know that a healthy family starts with a clean home. Last week, we shared some expert cleaning tips to help you keep your home clean and safe. And while expert advice is great, sometimes tips from people just like us can be even better.

So we reached out to you, our readers, and asked for some of your favorite cleaning tips and tricks. We must say, you guys didn’t disappoint. Here is what you said:

Get creative with how you use your cleaning supplies.  One of our genius readers has found that a dry mop works wonders for those hard to reach corners and places you can’t reach with a rag. She was amazed by how well dust and cobwebs clung to the mop. Also she says she realized a long time ago that if you just get into the habit of dusting and vacuuming every couple of days it really isn’t so bad and won’t take as long if you don’t let it build up. She likes that vacuuming is even a little bit of a workout!

Choose safe products and let the little ones help. One reader uses a spray bottle filled with a watered-down mixture of an environmentally (child) safe cleaner. Her young daughter loves to go to town spraying it on the table, sink, back of her chair, etc. to help her clean. She love it because her daughter ASKS to help clean. And, she doesn’t have to worry about her child’s safety.

Start ‘em young! One our readers has young girls who just love to put the laundry soap in the washer. So she tell them they can IF they help with the rest of the laundry. And we love this one; Her girls think its awesome to get into their bikinis and take a bucket of water/soap and soak the kitchen floor with it. Then slide on their knees pretending like they are penguins..In the end, her floor is clean and they had a blast. (We bet all these little ones will be great housekeepers!)

Be prepared for messy kids! Another mom says, if u have kids a magic eraser is a must! She says they take off everything, especially crayon markings off of walls and wooden furniture, without damaging it. Sounds like she knows from experience! That same readers adds that baby wipes are awesome for cleaning! We agree, baby wipes are great for everything!

Stay one step ahead of your dirty refrigerator. We love this. One of our readers uses press and seal wrap in all of her refregirator drawers. This makes it quick and easy, just pull, wipe, and add new.

And last but certainly not least…

Stay stocked up. One of our readers said he stays on top of cleaning by making sure that he never runs out of cleaning supplies. He makes sure to always have a backup broom, extra sprays, soaps, and solutions, and replacement bags and filters for his vacuum. (Hey, we couldn’t agree with that last part more!) This way, there is no excuse for not getting the job done.

Dec 30 2011

Worst Chore Ever, or Not So Bad? Where do You Rank Vacuuming?

Crucial Vacuum recently asked on Facebook where vacuuming ranks among your favorite and least favorite household chores. As is to be expected, the answers varied. There werethose who absolutely hate to vacuum, and there were those who don’t mind it at all.

One response was, “ I despise it. Love the house when it’s done, but hate the chore.”

Another Facebook friend said, “My favorite chore too. Instant gratification. That’s my kind of cleaning.”

In fact, about half of the people who responded said it was their favorite chore. But just as many people claimed to not like vacuuming at all.

As for me, I love it. There is nothing better than freshly vacuumed carpet. I love the lines that my vacuum leaves behind as if to say, “why yes, my lovely owner did just vacuum”. I love knowing that there are no tiny little choking hazards for my baby to get a hold of. I even enjoy the actual act of vacuuming, it’s kind of fun honestly. My dog goes crazy chasing the vacuum, which always makes the baby laugh, and it’s a little bit of a workout. So, as far as household chores go, I really can’t complain about vacuuming.

The only problem that I have with vacuuming is that I have to do so much work before I can vacuum. You know, all the picking up, putting away, and dusting that comes first? Those are among my least favorite chores along with dishes and laundry and pretty much every other chore. Sorry to disappoint, but the domestic goddess you see above is not me.

It is because of all the putting away and picking up that my living room has not been vacuumed in a few days. At this very moment, my house is a complete disaster thanks to Christmas. I now know why my parents used to dread bringing home a car full of new toys from every grandparent. I have no idea where any of this stuff is going to go and no desire to start trying to figure it out.

But my husband and I are both already starting to sneeze and sniffle, a telltale sign that it is past time to vacuum. Unfortunately for us our allergies don’t stop when winter comes around. I have to constantly keep our house dusted and vacuumed or we are miserable. So while I would love to put off sorting through these toys for a few more days, I know I can’t.

On the bright side, I have a brand new filter for my vacuum and I am not ashamed to admit that I am super excited to put it to use. Until recently, I had no idea how important it was to keep my vacuum in tiptop shape for my own health. Since I have started changing my vacuums bags before they are completely full and maintaining a clean vacuum filter, I have been able to breathe much easier. My husband and I have both noticed that our allergies are less irritated and we are hoping that by keeping the air clean in our house we are helping to keep our son from developing the same problems.

So the rest of my day will consist of sorting through toys new and old, putting things away, dusting, and last but not least… vacuuming. Maybe that is why I like vacuuming, because it means I am finally done cleaning.

Dec 27 2011

How Often do You Change Your Vacuum’s Bag?

So, how often do you change your vacuum’s bag? If you’re like me, and millions of other housekeepers who mean well, the answer is probably not often enough. Vacuum bags fill up much quicker than most people realize. Once the bag is full your vacuum is unable to perform to it’s full potential and is left struggling to pick up. You’re left angry with your vacuum for not working right, and let’s face it, your vacuum is probably not too happy with you either.

But this is a problem that is easily avoided; you simply need to know when to change your vacuum’s bag. I bet a quick check of most people’s vacuum bags would uncover a bag that is too full. I can’t promise that my own vacuum’s bag isn’t ready to be changed again. But how full is too full? How do you know?

When we bought our house we didn’t have much carpet. I vacuumed only occasionally. But hardwoods turned to a large area rug when we brought home our first baby. I began vacuuming regularly but honestly, I didn’t give the vacuum’s bag much thought. When our baby started crawling I talked my husband into wall-to-wall carpet. I loved my new carpet and became a huge fan of vacuuming. I loved the lines that the vacuum left in the carpet, I felt like they made me look like a good housekeeper. I didn’t even pay any attention to whether or not my vacuum was actually picking anything up, oops.

But one day, as I was vacuuming the rug in our entranceway, I realized that my vacuum was actually spitting stuff back out at me. It was a fairly new vacuum so I was not happy that it wasn’t working properly. For the first time since I had bought the vacuum, I opened it up and discovered a bag that was practically bursting at the seams. Hmmm, so that was the problem. Upon further investigation, I realized my vacuum even has a handy little light that indicates when the bag needs changed. Who knew?

I know I should be embarrassed to share that story but 1) I have no shame and 2) I am trying to help others learn from my mistakes. Oh, and it helps that a certain head-honcho at Crucial Vacuum, whose name I am not at liberty to disclose, shared a similar experience with me the other day. He was recently vacuuming his office and couldn’t figure out why his vacuum wasn’t picking up. Sure enough, a quick check of the vacuum’s bag revealed a bag in desperate need of changing. So if even he forgets to change his vacuum’s bag sometimes, it’s ok for the rest of us to do it!

A good rule of thumb for when to change your vacuum’s bag is to change it before it’s completely full. Once the bag is full it won’t be able to pick up anything else. We both know your time is way too valuable to waste running a vacuum that isn’t picking up. If your vacuum has an indicator that tells you when the bag is full, learn from my mistake and don’t ignore it.

Oh and one more thing, make sure you actually have extra vacuum bags. Crucial Vacuum offers the best selection of vacuum bags on the internet. From Bissell to Oreck, we carry bags for all brands and offer free shipping. Now that you will be changing bags regularly you will need to stock up, it’s crucial!

 

Dec 19 2011

Cleaning for Baby: A Job That Never Ends

Here’s the understatement of the year; having a baby changes everything. I knew prior to having my son that my whole world was going to change, and it has. My priorities, my interests, even my career has changed since becoming a mom.

But by far, the biggest difference that being a mom has made in me; I’m a better housekeeper. It’s funny because I have no time for housework with an ornery little baby chasing me around. But it’s because of that sweet little guy that I have become a stickler for keeping my house clean. There are enough bad things that can happen when we are out and about. Our home should be a place where we are comfortable and safe.
So, because my little guy is fascinated with putting anything that he finds on the floor directly into his mouth, I try to vacuum every day. Between dirt being tracked in from outside, our dog chewing his bones and leaving little pieces all over, and the random carpet fuzz there is always a mess to clean up. Hearing my vacuum suck up all the tiny little choking hazards is like music to my ears.
And then there’s the dust. I have a confession; I once caught the baby playing in dust. His dad and I both have terrible allergies, and because allergies are often inherited, the chances of our little guy getting them are high. I can’t clean a dusty room without feeling like my throat is closing and I desperately want to do all that I can to keep my baby from feeling that way. If I told you there was never dust in my house I would be lying, but I try my best to keep up for his sake.
When I have time, which I admit isn’t often enough, I love to steam clean. I use the broom on the kitchen and bathroom floors regularly. But it is such a great feeling to be able to kill germs and leave my floors shiny and clean without using harsh chemicals. As much as I hate to admit it, my little one has been known to eat off the kitchen floor and much to my horror, he is obsessed with the toilet. So I am forever grateful for my steam cleaner when it comes to killing germs the safe way.
I’m not going to lie, before I had a baby I wasn’t the world’s greatest housekeeper. Ok, I was awful. So now that I am cleaning on a regular basis to keep my baby healthy and safe I am learning as I go. I can’t believe how quickly my vacuum’s bags fill up. Until I started blogging for Crucial Vacuum, I wasn’t even aware that my vacuum had a filter, let alone that I needed to change it regularly.
Crucial Vacuum honestly came into my life at the perfect time. It is my one stop shop to stock up on vacuum bags, filters, dusters, and other cleaning supplies. I am so excited to share the convenience and great deals with everyone I know, especially fellow mommies.  With free shipping and the best prices on the Internet, Crucial Vacuum just can’t be beat. Tell your friends!