In general, vacuums are loud. I mean, really, how can they not be? Most vacuum cleaners are essentially a motor and a bag (or container to hold the stuff you vacuum up). The motor creates suction that draws in air, debris, dirt, then traps the particles while allowing the air to pass back into the home. The problem is that not only does the motor produce noise as it runs, but you also have the suction created by the vacuum - that "giant sucking sound" (anyone remember Ross Perot?).
These two things often combine to make most vacuums so loud that you simply cannot hear the phone ringing, someone knocking on the door, or even someone in the same room trying to talk to you. Ultimately, brand matters little in this regard. From Dyson and Kirby to Eureka and Hoover, and everything in between, most vacuums are loud. But are ALL of them loud enough to rattle your windows? With the help of my family, I've decided to give you a photographic representation of a better way.
Looking for a quieter vacuum, particularly one that offers filtration as good as a HEPA air purifier, suction as powerful as any available, a warranty that surpasses all competitors, and a choice of styles, features, and colors? A Miele is your best bet! And I am fully confident that this completely unscientific photographic representation offers all the proof you need.
Shop Miele Vacuums
Special thanks to my sister, sister-in-law, and nephews. The Miele pictured is the Auto-Eco (formerly the Bolero).
Thanks for messing up the shot!
Author: K. Gilmore
There is not much that I can definitely say about life. It is a truly unique experience that many of us likely take for granted too often (me, again). For some, we're thankful for being in a position of financial security or our jobs/careers. Some of us are thankful for our health and being able to enjoy this life of ours. Others are thankful for being rich with loved ones, children, family and friends. Still others among us are simply thankful for a roof over our heads and food in the pantry. Most basically, every one of us who is reading this right now can be thankful for this day. Each day we draw breathe is a day where our tales are yet unwritten, and with that brings hope, and the opportunity for each of us to author another page in the story that is our book of life.
So between the turkey and football, the fellowship and friendship, I simply wanted to take a couple minutes to let my inner optimist out and offer thanks for all that I have in this life, both large and small.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Author: Kevin Gilmore
The most popular humidifier category is ultrasonic humidifiers. The appeal of ultrasonic humidifiers starts with their ability to put a lot of moisture back in air very quickly and often ends with them being some of the absolute quietest humidifiers available. In between there are a pretty wide variety of features and control options that help to differentiate these models. Most perform best as cool mist humidifiers, and the majority offer digital controls with a built-in hygrostat so that you can not only set your humidity level, but see what current conditions are in the room. Check out our Top Five Ultrasonic Humidifiers.
The deepest offering of any category is cool mist humidifiers. Not only does this encompass all of the ultrasonic models but also evaporative humidifiers and air washers. Cool mist humidifiers do just what the name implies, deliver soothing, cool mist to help relieve symptoms associated with asthma, allergies, eczema and the flu. In this category you will find a variety of styles, but each is effective in combating these winter symptoms. Compare our Top Five Cool Mist Humidifiers list.
The next category is our warm mist humidifier selection. Warm mist humidifiers are a favorite not only for the comforting warm steam they emit but also because many offer the ability to use a medicine cup or essential oils. A traditional problem with warm mist humidifiers is that by boiling the water, they presented a potential safety issue around kids or pets. As the years have passed, some manufacturers have overcome this problem and offer true warm mist without the potential problems. Additionally, a large portion of ultrasonic models offer a "pre-warm" feature, and while the mist that comes out isn't as hot as the old school, boiler-style models, it does help to kill germs and is warmer than the standard cool mist. Heat things up with our Top Five Warm Mist Humidifiers.
Last but not least are compact/child humidifiers. Though this category has a split purpose, child humidifiers vs. travel/portable humidifiers, many of the features that make the models the best are shared by each half. Features like size, ease-of-use, and weight all factor into decided which humidifier will be right for your child's bedroom or which is handy to take along with you on your holiday trip to see family. Go compact or fun with our Top Five Child/Portable Humidifiers.
Author: Kevin Gilmore
There are a few things that set Anton apart from other ultrasonic humidifiers. The first thing you'll likely notice are the colors. Unlike others, this model actually offers you a variety of colors. Even more than that, the color selection goes beyond the standard black, white and grey that typify most humidifiers.
For those interested, "Azurro" is not only the Italian word for light blue, but it's also an old Italian pop song from 1968, though the spelling is a little different. Trivia aside, the colors range from the regular to the vibrant.
The next thing that makes Anton unique is its size. Empty, it weighs about 4lbs. and stands less than a foot high. This makes Anton a great fit in smaller bedrooms, dorm rooms and nurseries. Despite the small stature, Anton is stable. Like the Oskar, it has a steel base that keeps it firmly in place regardless of what surface you place it on. Anton is literally small enough to fit in the palm of my hand!
At this point you've probably guessed what particular group of people the Anton is perfect for - kids and teens! Not only do the colors make it a better fit, but the size does as well. These two things are the only reasons why it's an excellent model kids, teens and young adults. As an ultrasonic humidifier, Anton is extremely quiet, so the low hum wouldn't even disturb a sleeping baby, but since there's not boiling mechanism it's also very safe. Lastly, the Anton humidifier is very easy to use. Granted, it lacks some of the features of more expensive models, but in its simplicity, it is ideal for those who just need a humidifier to keep their indoor air more comfortable and helps relieve things like dry skin, chapped lips, night time coughing, sore throats and dry sinus passages. There are basically three controls - a power button, a slide to set your humidity output and a button to dim/turn off the small indicator light for use at night.
All of these things combine to make Anton a great humidifier for kids, teens or even your college age, young adults. Size, colors and ease of use set it apart, and not matter which color you select, each Anton can provide soothing cool mist moisture during the harsh winter months.
What's next? Choose your color and shop Anton humidifiers by Stadler Form, of course!
Using a group of 15,000 twins, Danish researchers looked at things like time to pregnancy, the outcomes of those pregnancies in wide range of the participants, including those with asthma, allergies and people that lacked both of these. Even when researchers adjusted for differences in things like socioeconomic status, body mass index, and other factors, an association between asthma, how well the asthma was being treated and time to pregnancy emerged.
The shortest time to pregnancy, TTP, was demonstrated in women without asthma. The longest TTP was for women over 30, with asthma that wasn't being treated. These two variables, treatment of asthma and age, also played a role in the association. Asthmatic women who were over 30 generally tended to see a longer TTP than those who were under the age of 30. And, women who's asthma was untreated, also tended to see longer TTP than those who were treating their condition.
While not definitive, this study highlights a few things. First, if you're a woman with asthma, treat it. Not only can effectively treating your asthma improve your quality of life, but it make lessen the effect that asthma has on fertility. Second, age matters. The older you get, the greater impact allergic disease, like asthma, can have. Lastly, the study broadly indicates that a systematic disease that can create systematic inflammation (like asthma) can have an effect on a seemingly unrelated process like reproduction.
To read the abstract of this study.
Author: K. Gilmore
House dust mites are tiny arachnids (kin to spiders and scabies), commonly found in carpets, mattresses and upholstered furniture. At about 0.25-.3 mm in length, dust mites are not really visible to the naked eye. If you can see dust mites, you've either got bionic eyeballs or godzilla-like dust mites. The Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, of the University of Virginia explains their diet consisting of human skin scales and the moisture of "human shavings", which we naturally shed, all day, every day. Sometimes they diversify their diets with fungi, cereals, crumbs and fish food.
"Well, Rachel this is pretty gross. How is this relevant to my asthma and allergies?"
Well, digestive enzymes found in dust mite excretions trigger allergic reactions such as wheezing, airway hyper responsiveness (AHR), nasal congestion, cough, hay fever, etc. Most of us breathe in this allergen to no effect, but for people with allergies, asthma, COPD or other respiratory problems they can trigger reactions. Where, specifically is the allergen found? Considering the ubiquitous nature of dust mites, it is found everywhere! If there are people, there are dust mites, but specifically, the allergen is found in their their dead, decaying body parts as well as their feces. You read that correctly, dust mite poo.
Young children and senior citizens are the most vulnerable to these allergens, but as the most common household allergen, dust mite allergies affect a wide variety of people. However, there are a few limiting factors to these cosmopolites' survival, and controlling these is something we'll discuss below.
These parasitic six-legged creatures are flat rusty colored insects that are about the size of an apple seed, which means they are visible to the naked eye if you are unfortunate enough to spot these elusive creatures of the night. Cimex lectularius comes from the the insect genus Cimex, which are known to be hematophagous (bloodsucking insects). So to recap, they're tiny vampires.
A bed bug infestation can happen anywhere, but usually happen in love messy households or apartments and hotel/motel rooms. Mess affords them better opportunity to hide, and areas where there are frequently visitors provides greater opportunity to travel and spread. They can and do travel anywhere, usually by hitching a ride in suitcases, pillows, or any travel items really. So, they're also hitchhikers (except these ones simple hide in your trunk without thumbing for a ride!).
Bed bugs are most active at night, and tend to hide in crevices, mattresses, behind headboards, base boards, nightstands etc. Their activity mainly consists of coming out from their hiding spots and doing their best Count Dracula impression, feeding directly off of us, and leaving small itchy bites all over your skin. The one small upside is they do not create allergic reactions (they lack the enzymes that we react to). The bites can be itchy and physically painful, and knowing you have a hidden infestation of tiny, hitchhiking, blood sucking vampires can be psychologically disturbing.
During World War II bedbugs were a huge problem in the U.S. military, and in response, they used cyanide-based pesticide, Zyklon B to exterminate them. As a "safer alternative" DDT was later used to fumigate these pests. Both of these toxic treatments are not longer in use. Oh the good ole days.
Limiting or Eliminating These Pests
Bed bugs are repulsive but more importantly, very difficult to get rid of without professional help. If you rent, call your landlord or property manager. If you own, this is something you'll be paying for out of your own pocket, but despite some websites and people offering cheap advice on how to rid yourself of bedbugs, most are simply looking to make a quick buck at your expense or worse, offer dangerous or banned substances. When you travel, check your luggage and personal belongings. Bag luggage and clothing and store it outside or in the garage until you can wash and inspect it. When staying at a hotel or motel, report any bites to management ASAP, and keep your bags elevated. Avoiding them is your best bet, and in that vein, you can use bed bug proof mattress covers to seal up your mattress and box spring. In the event you do find bed bugs, you often have to discard a lot of things, and covering your mattress like this can avoid the pain and cost of potentially having to purchase a new one.
Dust mites are easier to rid of with the help of dust mite bedding covers, cleaning products that denature the dust mite allergen or kill dust mites, and general cleaning methods to reduce house dust (the primary component of which is dust mites). Hot can be very useful when it comes to dust mites. Wash your bedding in hot water of at least 113° F but ideally warmer (140°). It will work wonders for killing not only dust mites but also bed bugs. For dust mite allergen that might linger, the use of an anti-allergen detergent or a dust mite laundry additive to denature the actual protein allergen in the bedding.
When it comes to bedding, bedding that is simply labeled "hypoallergenic" is probably a complete waste of money. What actually helps though, are bedding covers. Quality mattress, pillow and box spring covers actually create a physical barrier between you and the dust mites that are most certainly in your mattress and pillows. These specially woven covers block the allergen and keep it out of the air you breathe. This, as part of an overall environment control regimen (washing regular bedding in hot water, dusting and vacuuming more frequently) can help to reduce allergic reactions without the use of medication.
All of these things can help you not only determine what type of pest you're dealing with but how to best to rid yourself of it or reduce its impact. Remember, if you can see the critter, it's not a dust mite, and there are other bugs and pests that can move in besides dust mites and bed bugs.
Good night, sleep tight, and don't let the bed bugs bite!
Author: Rachel P.
For the last several years advocates within the food allergy community have pushed not only this federal initiative but also laws and measures passed at the state and local levels, to address this issue. And now, they have a federal law to aid in this push.
The new law incentivizes states to adopt laws requiring schools to stock auto-injectors by tying these moves to preferential access to federal asthma education grant funds. Currently, only four states require auto-injectors to be stocked in schools, while another 26 states allow schools to voluntarily stock these life saving devices. The hope is that this law will push all states to adopt epinephrine stocking requirements and end school tragedies that could likely be avoided.
Author: K. Gilmore
Balloons make it difficult for me to breathe. If natural rubber is latex, and I have latex sensitivities are latex-free products safe for me to use? - submitted by Latex Allergic
Latex allergy is one of the most severe allergies that can affect people. Some people have allergies to only the latex gloves that used to be very common in medical practices. Unfortunately there are a few people with severe latex allergies that can react to hardened, or cured/ammoniated latex. People with this severe of an allergy have a difficult time with all forms of latex, even the thick processed gloves used for cleaning. If balloons make it difficult for you to breathe, I highly recommend formal evaluation from a local Allergy or Pulmonary specialist to determine if you have brochospasm. I cannot provide more specific recommendations, given the complexity of the issue.
- Dr. Frank
I've smoked for several years now, and have never really thought that I had allergies, but recently I've noticed a little congestion in the morning that goes away pretty quickly. Additionally, I notice that ever since I can remember, I get up and during the first hour, I sneeze like 3-6 times. It's one after another after another, then it's gone. Could that allergies? Or something else? - submitted by Sneezy
First thing, and above all else, you must quit smoking.
Paroxysms of sneezing (the rapid-fire sneezing you are describing) tend to come from a short circuit in the nerves that go to the nose/pharynx. When there is inflammation (yes, it could be from allergies) these nerves are highly excited and can go into a repeat fire process that can last up to several hours. I have seen some people that have even developed neck pain from these. So, to answer your question, many things can cause nasal inflammation, allergies, viruses, particulates......smoke....., and finding out what is causing your inflammation will help you stop sneezing.
- Dr. Frank
Check out All Allergy FAQ's or read up on Dr. Frank's Bio.
Author: Kevin Gilmore
First, I want to start with the bedding. Our Allergy Armor dust mite covers are now almost entirely made here in the U.S. In fact, most of these covers are cut, sewn, and packed right here at our Atlanta location. In addition to covers, things like blankets, pillows, and comforters are also made right here. These include,
- Allergy Armor Ultra, Advanced, Organic and Basic Dust Mite Covers
- Allergy Armor Organic Cotton Blankets
- Allergy Armor Comforters
- Allergy Armor Pillows
- Allergy Armor Microfleece Blankets
Aside from the products we make ourselves, many of our vendors manufacture right here in the United States, and a few products are made by local companies for our brand.
- Austin Air Purifiers
- NQ Air Purifiers
- AprilAire Dehumidifiers
- Hartell Condensate Pumps
- Vanicream and Free & Clear Personal Care Products
- Royal Pedic Mattresses, Mattress Pads and Foundations/Box Springs
- Moonlight Slumber Bedding
- I Can Breathe Masks
- 3M Masks and Respirators
- Permatron Original and Contractors Choice Filters
- SafeHome HVAC Filters
- AllergyZone HVAC Filters
- Safe Guard Window Filters
- All Ecology Works and Allersearch Cleaning Products
- All Gonzo, AllerPet, DeMite, and Pet Wipes Products
- EcoDiscoveries Cleaners(made in Atlanta)
- Allergy Armor Sure Coat (made locally for us)
- Allergy Armor All Purpose Cleaner (made locally for us)
- Food Allergy Cards (made locally for us)
As you can see, a wide variety of the products you'll find on our site and in our catalog are sourced right here in the United States. This is important to us for a few reasons. First, it helps to keep American manufacturing alive. American manufacturing was the backbone of a growing middle class during the middle of the 20th century. However, as manufacturing traditionally follows cheap labor markets, we've seen a steady outflow of these jobs and industries overseas. Secondly, we want to manufacture here in the U.S. as it gives us better control over the product and allows us to make custom products for those who request it. Quality control of imported products can be nightmare. Why do you think so many brick and mortar retailers have opened the proverbial flood gates when it comes to returns? Aside from being competitive, when quality is hit or miss a generous return policy is key to not alienating people who are getting "duds" or "lemons". Many times, if something goes out of stock, we will specially make your bedding that day and avoid the delay of waiting until our next scheduled production run of your items. Finally, this is also a response to you - our reader, our customer. Demand for U.S. made products has increased, and we try our best to source American to meet your needs.
This doesn't mean that American manufacturing "is back" or that this isn't done without challenges. It has been difficult to find some of the materials we need. With the ability to produce raw textiles nearly completely gutted from the States, it has been a challenge to find a U.S. source for some of the materials we need in the specific raw sizes. Fortunately, there are a few producers still based here in the States who are not only hanging on but seeing a bit of a resurgence.
In addition to the flag, you can also check in the Product Features or the Customer Questions sections. I'm pretty sure that even from this list, I've missed at least a handful. If you don't see the country of origin listed on the page, submit a question, and I, or one of our staffers, generally answer within 12-24 hours. Happy Hunting!
Author: Kevin Gilmore
Before we start, let's go over a couple unique things about microbes. First, we're literally immersed in them. As the planet's oldest and most basic form of life, bacteria and microbes are actually big part of who we are today. There are literally hundreds of species fungi and bacteria that inhabit different regions of our skin, under our nails and throughout our digestive system. I can hear some people groaning about this, but we have largely symbiotic relationships with these guests. They aid in digestion and are a dynamic part of what makes the human body as resilient as it is. One very interesting thing about microbes though, they are highly adaptable, and when it comes to the flu and harmful bacteria, they quickly evolve to counter what we throw their way.
Wash your hands already! Sounds simple right? Surprisingly many people sell themselves short at this most basic task. Where do we go wrong? Let's start with the soap. Antimicrobial soaps flood the store shelves. Everywhere you look it's antimicrobial this and antimicrobial that. The problem is many of the antimicrobial agents are chemical based, and people forget that when it comes to fighting the cold and flu virus, you're combating the most versatile and quickly adapting organisms on the planet. The more exposure germs have to these substances, the more quickly the develop resistance to them. The same is true for antibiotics, and recent stories about drug resistant bacteria only highlight this very real and growing problem. It is a tit for tat sort of game, and the more we use our antimicrobial agents, the more quickly microbes adapt to them. What is the alternative? Good ole soap and water.
Soap is a surfactant which primarily works to break down surface tension between water and other solids or liquids. Think of soap as a lubricant that when used, allows dirt, grime and microbes to lose their grip on your skin. Soap doesn't have to be laced with special chemicals or fragrances. It simple needs to do its most basic job, which is to loosen things attached to your skin, allow them to attach to water molecules and flow merrily down the drain.
In addition to the soap, there are two other things that make washing your hands effective - heat and agitation. Heat and agitation (rubbing your hands together, working up a soapy lather) aid the process of dislodging debris, and though simple, both are necessary. Heat transfer is the process by which dirt, debris, and microbes are lifted from a surface. This is the same concept that is behind the sanitizing power of steam cleaners. Agitation effectively combines the soap, water and warmth so, When you combine all three things, ta-da! You've effectively washed your hands, and it didn't take any special antimicrobial soap.
The last two things to keep in mind when it comes to washing your hands are length of time and frequency. A good rule is sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself twice. If you do it aloud you may either get unexpected birthday gifts or some coworkers may question your sanity. It's really a 50-50 shot here. The reason you sing Happy Birthday twice is that this amount of time is generally long enough to effectively remove germs, dirt and debris from your hands and nails.
Finally, like a Chicago voter, early and often is the best time to wash. Most people don't think about it but we literally touch our faces hundreds of times each day. Throw in the hundreds or thousands or other things you touch each day, and you have the potential to come in contact with a lot of nasty bugs.
And what if you're not close to a sink, soap and water? This is what hand sanitizers were originally designed for. I've seen hand sanitizer often placed by the bathroom or kitchen sink, but if you're there, just wash your hands already! The best types of hand sanitizers to stick with are those that use simple alcohol to disinfect. Alcohol is effective, quickly evaporates and doesn't pose any potential risks that seem to be popping up regarding the use of triclosan (endocrine function disruption in frogs, the possible weakening of muscle contraction, or the association with the diagnosis of allergies and hay fever). You don't need a great deal of it, and if my past experience is any indicator, using a lot right before a staff meeting might get a coworker or two wondering if you spent way too much time carousing last night.
So remember, it doesn't take anything special to build a great first line of defense against the flu virus. To borrow from a childhood movie, wash Daniel-san, and wash well.
Author: Kevin Gilmore