Posted by kevvyg on Monday, June 30, 2014
Arsenic In Our FoodSo we've touched the issue from a few years ago, of arsenic in apple juice, but what has taken its place in the limelight is rice. Rice is a staple in the diet of people around the world. Towards the end of 2012, Consumer Reports did a large study of arsenic levels in a variety of rice and rice products commonly sold here in the U.S.[5]

Like the testing of apple juice, nearly every form of rice tested had measurable amounts of arsenic, both the organic and more toxic inorganic forms. On the heels of this research, the FDA did a separate evaluation of many of the same products and again, like with apple juice, found lower levels of arsenic than published in previous research. With the finding of levels (of both organic and inorganic arsenic) averaging below the 10 ppb threshold that is now in place for drinking water and juice, the FDA essentially recommends nothing other than eating a balanced diet and thoroughly rinsing white rice.[6]

USDA Food Pyramid Gets a MakeoverIt's interesting to note that both studies found higher levels of arsenic in brown rice. Yes, the same brown rice that many choose as the healthier alternative over more refined white rice, and with regard to white rice, the more it is rinsed prior to being prepared and consumed, the more nutrient value is stripped away. Though the FDA recommendation to "diversify the diet" and to eat a greater variety of foods sounds like a great idea, if you're eating rice, breakfast cereal, rice 'milk', apple juice, snack bars, foods that contain brown rice syrup, grapes, baby formula, pear juice, or any number of things, you will still likely be consuming measurable amounts of arsenic. Talk about a catch-22!

Arsenic in Rice - Why?At this point, you might think that we would finally have stopped using arsenic in food production, but when you considering how relatively recent it was that some of the last arsenicals were banned for agricultural use, you would be wrong. More troubling, even as recently as last year, the FDA still trying to limit the reintroduction of arsenic into the food supply via arsenic-containing poultry feed components by drug makers Pfizer and Alpharma.[7] This was not even a year ago, and by the time the agency did take action, the producers had seen the writing on the wall and ceased production in the U.S. (it was and is still produced for sale and use overseas).

One of these three drugs, Roxarsone, was re-approved for use as recently as 2009, but has been in use since it was first approved in 1944. Though the drug uses the less toxic organic form of arsenic, arsenic can and does change form. An examination of chicken litter from poultry that had been administered this drug showed higher concentrations of organic arsenic as well as levels of inorganic arsenic. As a result, four rice farmers in Arkansas filed a lawsuit against large poultry producers. Chicken litter from poultry producers is sold as fertilizer, and in Arkansas where much of this country's chicken and most of its rice comes from, this fertilizer often ends up in rice fields.

Fertilizers & Pesticides - Continuing Links to the ProblemSo to simplify this, the theory is,
  • Poultry administered arsenic based drugs to increase weight and fight a digestive tract disease.
  • Some of the arsenic changes form to the more toxic inorganic form.
  • Concentrated organic and now the more toxic inorganic arsenic comes out in chicken excrement.
  • Chicken excrement/litter is sold as fertilizer and spread on American rice fields.
Ultimately the lawsuit was dismissed, with the National Chicken Council noting that the findings of the research reflected “very low levels of arsenic,” and were not worrisome. This would likely not be as troubling to consumers if the link, between chickens being purposefully fed arsenic-based drugs and higher concentrations of arsenic being found in rice, didn't appear to be so linear. Still, some damage had already been done to the rice industry. As a result of the FDA and Consumer Reports study done on arsenic in rice, S. Korea suspended bids for U.S. Ironically, though S. Korea imports nearly all of its U.S. rice from California (not Arkansas), they were still concerned enough to suspend bids.[8]

This case highlights one of the big issues facing the food supply and potential problems. The food supply chain is an global one. This is why here in the U.S. we can get blueberries or bananas or mangoes year round. On some Traditional Rice Farming level all countries are dealing with these types of issues. Less than two weeks ago, Iran, the largest importer of basmati rice from India, cut imports due to concerns over arsenic levels.[9] In the Philippines last year, authorities have asked import surveyors to screen for excessive amounts of cadmium in rice imported from China. Last week, WalMart announced it was tripling its food safety budget in that country to nearly $50 million dollars over two years.[10]

That is just a brief sampling, but you could literally spend days online reading similar articles for other countries and food supply issues around the globe. As the food supply chain becomes more closely linked to other countries and more imported food finds its way onto American tables, the issue of food inspections becomes even more important. So it is extremely troubling to find that the Agriculture Department has seen nearly a 20% drop in its budget, and currently less then 3% of imported food into the United States is ever inspected.[11] Take heart though. If you think we're doing a poor job here in the U.S., just remember that just a few short years ago, 1 of every 2 food inspections in China, failed.[12]

With the global nature of the food supply chain, the issue of inspections is one that affects other countries as well. From the EU, with strict standards of government inspection, to Australia, which relies on producers to inspect their own product, countries are grappling with serious issues of free trade and safe food.

Changing Role of the USDAThough few recognize it, the change in U.S. policy is being done with no input whatsoever from the U.S. consumer. Some would argue that the USDA inspection process is inefficient and use this as a reason to push for the privatization of the process. On the surface, it's a valid argument but fails to show how inspections could be far better and more thorough if more of the USDA budget was actually spent on inspections, as opposed to crop insurance, farm subsidies and S.N.A.P. (food stamps). Regardless of all of this, change is coming. Food safety, much like the increased reports of food recalls and foodborne illness in the news, will undoubtedly be an issue that comes up with greater frequency in the future.

All of this makes me particularly thankful for next weekend. I'll be traveling back to Ohio to visit the family and, as usual, taking my cooler with me. Of the two dozen or so cattle that roam around on the family farm, there's a steer that has recently joined the freezer up there and needs to be "liberated." No shots, no hormones, no antibiotics, and a grass/hay diet - I think I have room in the cooler for that.

Finally, I did want to mention this. As I was finishing this article I happened to come across a piece from the satirical site, The Onion. The coincidental timing of this article is truly uncanny. FDA Recalls Food.

5 Consumer Reports Arsenic in Food
6 FDA - Arsenic in Food
7 New York Times - Arsenic Based Drugs
8 Jakarta Post - Korean Rice Imports
9 Time of India - Iranian Rice Imports
10 Washington Post - WalMart Food Safety in China
11 New York Times - Food Inspections & Illness
12 - Chinese Food Inspections

To read the first part of this food safety blog.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, June 27, 2014
The other morning, as happens many mornings, I spent some time on the back patio, enjoying the relative silence and cooler temperature over coffee and a reading through of some morning news stories. There was an article that I came across that caught my attention, and it dealt with the use of the term "all natural" on food labeling. I have always lumped "all natural" into Arsenic in my rice you say? the same category as "hypoallergenic" - essentially throwaway terms with very little meaning (this is the reason why you don't see that term used too often on the AchooAllergy site - I try to severely limit the use of it here).

As I am often prone to do when I read, one article lead to another, then another and another, and before I knew it, I had to rush to get out the door before Atlanta traffic turned the roads into parking lots. While looking at the use of the term "all natural" I came across another article that mentioned some of the common pollutants found in our everyday foods, and while there are literally tens of things to write about in this regard, the curious case of arsenic in rice was one that stuck out.

Few of us would ever associate eating rice with ingesting arsenic, cadmium, or other heavy metals, but just as eyebrows were raised over research showing elevated levels of arsenic in apple and pear juice a few years ago, there has been growing concern over arsenic and other heavy metals in rice. This poses a variety of problems but is severely complicated by the fact that rice is the grain of choice for much of the world. I admit, it has been difficult to clearly define and limit this topic since it touches on so many things that affect our daily lives, from the foods we eat to the growing holes in the food inspection system, politics, and international trade. That's a lot of ground to cover for a topic that could literally start with a morning bowl of Rice Krispies!

This is going to be a two part post with the first touching on arsenic as a compound, sources of exposure and past problems with arsenic in food and the second dealing with arsenic in rice, the growing holes in food inspection and the international nature of this problem.

Arsenic is an element but, as a compound, can be divided into two types, organic and inorganic. When most of us hear the word "arsenic" we're likely thinking of the inorganic type. Inorganic arsenic is what is most toxic to humans. Exposure to high levels of arsenic can cause a variety of health issues and in the most extreme cases, death.

Arsenic is still in wide use today. From semiconductors and use in metals to pesticides and food additives (yes, food additives) arsenic, in its many forms has a wide range of uses.

In the United States, arsenic compounds (arsenicals) were used extensively to spray orchards (as an insecticide) or to treat wood (as a preservative). Even though its use in orchards waned decades ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) still mentions "runoff from orchards" as a source of arsenic contamination of drinking water.[1] It's no small wonder FDA though. Since the early 1900's, arsenic-based insecticides/pesticides have been used across the country to a tune of over one million tons. Over the years, studies have linked brain damage, and other health problems, to the use of these compounds and have lead to bans or conversions to using the organic (less harmful) form of arsenic. It's always worth noting that while we would like to think that using arsenic to spray crops is long a thing of the past, it wasn't until just last year, December 31st, of 2013 that the use of arsenicals was officially banned for agricultural use, EXCEPT for use in cotton production. [2]

Arsenic is naturally occurring, particularly in ground water, but it's elevated levels of arsenic that can cause severe health problems. Exposure, either in intermittent but concentrated levels or consistent but only slightly elevated levels have been linked to diabetes, several types of cancers, compromised immune response, organ failure, and death. There's good reason why it has historically been used as a poison, but it’s important to remember that like other carcinogens, the effects of arsenic on the human body are not just short term and often take years of decades to show themselves.

Apple Juice and Arsenic The EPA sets the permissible level of arsenic at 10 ppb (part per billion) though some countries and even some municipalities here in the U.S. have lowered the permissible level further. With arsenic being so pervasive in everything from soil to drinking and seawater, it is not difficult to see how some amount is getting into the food we eat, but what about elevated levels of arsenic in foods? Which foods and how is this happening?

Many of you may remember the Dr. Oz episode where they tested several brands of apple juice and found alarmingly high levels of arsenic. Shortly afterward, Consumer Reports performed a similar study that showed similar results.[3] At the time, there were no FDA limits on the amount of arsenic in apple juice, but thanks to the exposure of this issue there is now a standard in place, the same 10 ppb limit as is allowed in drinking water.

There are two main takeaways from this. First, while the testing used could, and was, criticized, subsequent testing by Consumer Reports and the FDA did show elevated levels of arsenic in the juice, just not as high was what was presented on the show. Second, if nothing else, it raised awareness of not just the issue of arsenic in this particular type of food but started a conversation about food supply safety as a larger topic.

Though I will touch on this more in the second half, but as it relates to apple juice, it's key to remember where this product is made but more importantly where the ingredients of product originate. Ever notice the language "made from concentrate" on your bottle of juice? Unlike fresh squeezed orange juice, this language means that somewhere, apples were pressed and squeezed, then likely treated with enzymes and clarified (filtered) then dehydrated, packaged and sold to juice producers. Most of us probably think that the countless bottles of apple juice (and other juices too since apple juice is actually the base of most juice cocktails and mixes) Orchard Runoff Is Still Primary Sources of Arsenic Exposure are made from freshly pulverized apples grown right here in the U.S. That would have been true a few decades ago, but not anymore.

Of the 70+ million tons of apples produced every year on this planet, only about 10% are sold as the raw fruit that you see sitting in the produce section of the grocery store. Currently, the largest producer of apples in the world is China, and one of their biggest clients? You guessed it, the United States.[4] The U.S. imports nearly 85% of the apple juice and concentrate it uses for apple juice, with the vast majority of that coming from China.

While apples can be stored commercially, in climate controlled environments for months at a time, it is a curious fact that China mainly exports things like apple concentrate at a far greater rate than whole apples. From Europe to the U.S. there have consistently been concerns over quality, but anyone who's worked in food production can tell you that the quality standards for a whole food vs. those of processed food are not equal.

Even here in the U.S. you see this distinction with milk. Grade A milk is what you see in the plastic jug at your grocery store. A lesser grade milk is produced, but it's not discarded. Where do you think cheese often comes from? Grade B milk. This is similar to what you see with apples. If the quality is high, it's more likely that it will be sold as a whole apple, but if the quality is lower it's not discarded. It is often turned into concentrate or juice.

This is just one example, but as the food supply chain becomes increasingly globalized, the case of arsenic in apple juice highlights not only the global nature of what we're putting on the dinner table but exposes the shortcomings of food inspections, research and the lack of standards from one country to the next. It's a topic I've mentioned before, and one that won't be going away anytime soon.

Check back in a few days for the second half of this post where I will go into the issue of arsenic in rice, problems surrounding food inspections on an international level and ultimately what's being done nationally to address this and future problems.


1 EPA Arsenic in Water
2 EPA Arsenical Registration
3 Consumer Reports
4 USDA Apple Export/Imports

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, June 26, 2014
Discount Reliable Steam CleanersA Reliable steam cleaner is safe and effective way to deep clean and sanitize your floors, kitchen and bathroom surfaces without using harsh chemicals like ammonia and bleach. As a healthier way to clean, steam cleaners can kill bacteria and germs while unlocking trapped odors in even the hardest of surfaces, and now for a limited time, Reliable is offering $100 off three of their best vapor steam cleaners!

Reliable E20 GO Steam Cleaner On SaleIf you're looking for a consistent way to sanitize, then the Reliable E20 GO steam cleaner might be the right fit. This canister-style steam cleaner heats ordinary tap water to over 320° to produce low moisture steam, ideal for deep cleaning without leaving behind a lot of moisture residue. An array of included accessories gives you the tools to clean surfaces like your countertops, appliances, stove, and floors with ease and efficiency.

Reliable E40 VIVA Steam Cleaner On SaleFor those looking to step up from E20 and wanting continuous steam, a faster heat up time, and longer run time, the E40 VIVA premium steam cleaner might be the model for you. With dual tanks, this steamer features Reliable's Continuous Steam System that cuts down on cleaning and extends run times by using two internal water tanks. One holds a cold water reserve while the other is the boiler that generates continuous, sanitizing steam vapor. This allows you to refill without having to wait for the boiler to reheat the steam. Dual heating coils decrease heat up time, and an additional 7 piece accessory kit complements the included cleaning attachments and broadens your ability to clean throughout the home.

Reliable EV1 Tandem Steam Cleaner/Vacuum On SaleSitting at the top of the Reliable premium steam cleaner series in the EV1 Tandem. What makes this steam cleaner so special? I'm glad you asked! It's not only a steam cleaner but also a HEPA vacuum cleaner, all in one convenient package. So not only can you sanitize your floors and surfaces, but cleaning your carpet has never been easier. Unlike hot water extractors (or as they're commonly known, carpet cleaners), the Reliable Tandem won't flood your carpet with water and leave behind excess amounts of water that will invariably collect dirt and provide the perfect breeding ground for dust mites and mold. Instead, the low moisture steam will kill dust mites while the HEPA vacuum feature removes loosened soil and allergens. Best of all it leaves behind no excess moisture and dries in minutes instead of days or hours. The Tandem HEPA steam cleaner is packed with accessories to give you the most options and widest cleaning ability of any premium steam cleaner.

Reliable Premium Steam Cleaners Are Made in ItalyA couple final points to remember. Unlike cheap steam cleaners, these three Reliable premium steam cleaners are made in Italy, the birthplace of steam cleaning. These models also each carry a lifetime warranty on the boiler and, unlike steam mops, are designed for use on nearly any surface in your home.

Have questions about steam cleaning? Visit our Steam Cleaners FAQ page. Of if you're unsure of how a steam cleaner can help you, check out our Top Five Reasons to Buy a Steam Cleaner.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, June 24, 2014
It is definitely that time of year again. You know, the time of year when getting into your car feels like you've just stepped into a blast furnace; the time of year when, you know it's at least 105% relative humidity out because of the deep regret you have for not putting deodorant on every inch of your body; the time of year when sunscreen just seems to melt, along with all motivation to do anything outdoors. Though it is somewhat early, it certainly feels like THAT time of year again.

So as the mercury does less creeping and more racing to the top of the thermometer, this is also a good time to point out something else that has been popping up in recent days - air quality warnings. Summer has just officially arrived, and it seemed to coincide neatly with consecutive 90° days here in Atlanta as well as code orange Air Quality Index readings.

While much of the country has shrugged off the spring allergy season, it is now officially time to start keeping an eye on air quality. During the summer months, there is one key driver of poor air quality - ground level ozone. But what does ground level ozone do, who does it affect, and why do we only see much of it during the summer?

'Fun Times with Ground Level Ozone' - Said No One... Ever.As temperatures rise, heat combines with pollutants from emissions like nitrogen dioxide and VOCs (generally from vehicles, power plants, industrial pollutants and others) to create a powerful lung irritant, ground level ozone. For those with respiratory conditions, ozone can cause a range of reactions from shortness of breath and coughing, to wheezing and general discomfort. Those who are affected most by ozone are those with respiratory conditions, like severe asthma, COPD or lung disease, but children and the elderly often feels the effects more pointedly too. Even for those who are healthy, higher levels of ozone can cause problems, particularly when working or exercising outdoors. Decreased lung function and inflammation of the airways are two of the first symptoms that may be noticeable even in healthy adults.

Last year, many parts of the country were fortunate, with regard to ground level ozone. While heat is critical in the formation of ozone, wet conditions subdued the production of ozone. Precipitation and wind can lower levels by stunting the formation of ozone or dispersing and lowering concentrations, respectively. As also a bit of good news, the trend over the last three decades has been a slow but steady decline in ozone. This decline is welcomed but in coming years could be offset some by rising overall temperatures.

Your local weather station (particularly if you live in an urban area) will often mention air quality warnings on bad days. Masks to help filter some of the pollutants, and a dual media (carbon & particle filter) mask, when properly fitted, can reduce exposure. The best advice is to try to accomplish your outdoor activities in the morning or evening, when temperatures have cooled and air quality has improved.

Perhaps it's just Atlanta that is sweltering? I suppose it got the nickname, "Hotlanta" for a reason, right? With consecutive days in the 90's on what were the final days of "spring," it's hard not to think the rest of the country is dealing with the same sauna-like conditions that we affectionately call "weather." Unfortunately, a quick look at the national weather reveals that this isn't exactly the case, but to those of you who are still avoiding the Duo of Doom (heat and ground level ozone) I can definitively say, "It's coming..."


For more information on the effects of ground level ozone or to check the Air Quality Index for you location, visit

For a better explanation of the Air Quality Index Chart.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A couple weeks ago, we introduced you to the Miele RX1 Scout robotic vacuum cleaner. Due to some technical difficulities, I was having problems getting the video to properly load for some people's browsers. That's been fixed, so now you can see the Scout in action!

We expect the Scout to be available very shortly, but if you'd like to read more visit our Miele Scout page or view additional images of the RX1 in our first Miele Scout blog post.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, June 16, 2014

As part of our Electrolux HEPA vacuum cleaner update, there are two more HEPA canister vacuums we've just added, and both have specific qualities and features that can make them ideal for your home. So what's new and how are these different?

New Electrolux JetMaxx Green HEPA Vacuum Cleaner

Let's first take a look at the Electrolux JetMaxx Green vacuum cleaner. Several years ago, Electrolux began creating a series of vacuum cleaners that placed special emphasis on one key feature - the use of recycled materials. With millions of tons of plastic headed to landfills across the world each year, Electrolux has adopted a platform to create some canister vacuum cleaners that try to combat this, and the JetMaxx is the latest iteration of this initiative. Using 55% recycled plastics, the JetMaxx earns the name "Green" with this and a couple other notable features. The packing material is made from 100% recycled paper products, and the S-bag dust bag is actually derived from cornstarch. A long life belt (for the powerhead) and washable HEPA filter round out the green features of this vac. In terms of performance, the JetMaxx has a wide, electrically driven powerhead, a separate smooth floor tool and enough suction to clean any type of floor in your home. The sealed system, HEPA New Electrolux Ergospace Canister Vacuum Cleaners filter, and self-sealing dust bags make this unit a good one for those with allergies or asthma.

As the last canister in the new line, the Electrolux Ergospace is the most economical of the group. Best suited for smooth flooring and some low pile carpeting, the Ergospace comes with two floor tools - a turbobrush for low pile carpet and a combo tool for all of your smooth flooring. Like the other Electrolux canister vacuums, the ErgoSpace does feature a sealed system, HEPA filter and self-sealing S-Bag, but it is also very lightweight and comes with an Ergoschock Flexible Bumper Cord Wrap. This is a handy way to wrap up the hose for storage in tight spaces and small closets.

With either of these canisters, as well as the UltraSilencer, you have options when it comes to the filter and dust bags. Washable filters are available for each of these, as are a range of dust bags that focus on specific problems in the home, like odors or allergens. Each of these canisters also comes with automatic cord rewind and bag change indicator features, as well as a five year warranty.

Regardless of your specific needs, there are a variety of Electrolux vacuums to choose from. Each offers a unique set of features specially suited for different types of home, flooring and filtration needs. To check out our current line of Electrolux vacuums cleaners.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, June 13, 2014
New Addition to the FamilyWith Father's Day just a few days away, this is going to be a very fitting post. Yesterday evening my two good friends welcomed the birth of their second child (first daughter). Luckily for everyone, labor went very quickly, and everything turned out fine, and in a couple days, they will all be heading home. And, I will be a godfather for the second time! Part of my duties in that role include, spoiling the godchild and teaching him/her bad habits like taking off shoes and socks or putting Playdoh in the dishwasher. Obviously, I get to cherry pick a bit, but I do try to help mom and dad, and just a couple weeks ago, my friends had me a get a couple of the things we offer here to help get their home ready for the new arrival.

Since the birth of their first child, they have had an air purifier. Not only does it filter out dust, but it also removes allergens. This is important since their son has had asthma-like symptoms off and on during his toddler years. The Honeywell they use has also been great for white noise, which has helped him sleep more soundly over the years. It had been a while since the filters were replaced, so the carbon prefilters were due to be changed.

The Last of the New Flooring in the Bedroom - Out With the CarpetThe next thing I picked up for them was one of the lightweight Reliable T3 steam mops. In the past they had used a cheaper Black & Decker, which worked fine on their laminate. After two years though, it died on them. Wanting something that was a little better built, they went with the T3. This model is a decided step up on cheaper steam mops if for no other reason than the integrated scrub brush, which works great on bathroom tile and grout. Just a few short weeks ago, I had helped him finish removing the last of the carpet on first floor of their home and replaced it with laminate, so the T3 will certainly get a work out! As a matter of personal preference, if you're considering a steam mop like the T3, pick up some of the microfiber drawstring cloths. These were originally designed for the T1 Steamboy, but they fit the T3 as well, and in my opinion, they clean and absorb moisture and mess much better than the microfiber pads that comes Reliable T3 Steam Mop - Great for Smooth Floors standard with the T3. I've never understood why so many of the steam cleaner manufacturers have been switching to the microfiber pads recently (unless it's purely a cost-based decision) since it has always been my experience that the clothes absorb much better.

Relieve Congestion with a Crane Duck Humidifier Lastly, I picked up a Crane child humidifier. Yeah, I know, it sounds counterintuitive considering it feels like we're living in the tropics here in Atlanta. Likely, it won't get much use early on, but as the air dries and humidity drops, it can cause problems for infants and newborns. Air with little moisture can cause mucus to thicken, which means it can also become more difficult for the baby's airways to expel. This can lead to a higher risk of infection as one of the body's most basic defense mechanism is the use of mucus to expel trapping germs and particles. Secondly, if infants and newborns become congested, there is little you can do for them. Medication is almost always out unless the situation becomes severe, but a humidifier can help to loosen congestion just by increasing the moisture content in the air they breathe.

These things may seem not quite as usual as what you'd see on a typical baby shower registry, but they can be just as important and are often useful for more than just your newborn. With that, I'd like to welcome the new addition to their family, and issue a reminder to my friends that they'll have to brush up on their burrito-baby-wrapping skills. To my friend, all the dads in my family, and all the dads out there, I wish you a Happy Father's Day!

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by R. Power on Thursday, June 12, 2014
Summer Means Warm Weather, Flowering Plants, Vacations and Lots of Rain!Summer time is one of the best times of the year (along with spring, fall and winter)! It's the time when we often take trips to the lake, the pool, and anywhere where the sun is warm and worries are few. In many places, the warmth also brings pop up thunderstorms, heavy rain, and high humidity. And no matter if you have a home at the beach, in the woods, or on the lake these things can create problems for your summer stay. Don't worry though, because I listed a few products that are going to be great for your boat, cabin, lake/summer house, or wherever you may be spending time this summer.

When out on a friend's boat the other day, I noticed that the bottoms of a few seats were starting to freckle with mold. Right away I thought "they need some Vital Oxide spray". This mold remover and disinfectant spray will not only kill the mold with plant-based ingredients, but it will keep the sprayed surface mold free for several months. In this case it should at least get through the summer, but beyond seat cushions, Vital Oxide disinfectant has a wide variety of uses in and around the house. For those backpackers and hikers, this stuff is also safe for hiking boots, sleeping bags, packs, hammocks and tents.

While Vital Oxide takes care of mold once it's already there, a better idea is to try to prevent it before it happens. Your best option for this is a heavy duty dehumidifier. Depending on the local climate, a more permanent installation, like a dehumidifier that ties into the HVAC or a large crawlspace/basement dehumidifier may be your best option, but if you find yourself mainly dealing with excess humidity during the summer months, a room dehumidifier might be a better option.

I have three good options for you. All are effective, but each has something that makes it stand out.

We Know He's Got a Funny Name - Albert Dehumidifier by Stadler FormA winner for the 2013 Red Dot Design Award, the Stadler Form Albert dehumidifier places a great deal of emphasis on not looking like your average dehumidifier. From a sleek look and modern design, to a variety of little features and added touches, the Albert is extremely quiet. Noise is often a big problem with many dehumidifiers, but part of fitting in well in any room, the Albert doesn't look or sound like your typical dehumidifier. An LED screen gives you accurate humidity readings in the room, allows you to set a timer, adjust the desired humidity, set your fan speed, and even dim the display at night, while fold-flat, oscillating louvers keep air circulating around the room more efficiently. Expect the Albert to remove about 40-45 pints of moisture per day, depending on conditions. If I had to give star ratings for style and substance on the Albert,
Style -
Substance -

High Capacity - Soleus 95 Pint DehumidifierIf the performance of the Albert is a little less than what you were looking for, take a look at the Soleus 95 dehumidifier. With the most powerful fan of any residential dehumidifier we carry, it's suitable for drying spaces as large as 1500 sq. ft., and can remove up to 95 pints a day. With a coverage area this large, you could use it in a large, open floor plan cabin or basement. Complete with digital controls to adjust to your unique HomeComfort settings and an automatic shut off with a "Bucket Full" indicator, the Soleus is a lot of power and convenience in one appliance.
Style -
Substance -

Danby Premiere DehumidifiersSo we've covered quiet & stylish as well as large & powerful, and what we have left fits right in between the other two. Danby Premiere dehumidifiers are some of the most dependable and popular home dehumidifiers available. They're basically the dehumidifier equivalent of Baby Bear - just right. The Danby 70 pint has been a huge help in my parent's home, where it is prone to mold in the summers. It's a very low maintenance machine, easy to move around the house, and has auto restart and auto de-icing features. It is also Energy Star rated, and offers coverage good enough for even very large rooms.
Style -
Substance -

These products will give you complete coverage of your home, boat or camping gear, making sure you enjoy your summer, inside or out. Now you can focus more on tan lines and your grilling skills and less on worrying about mold.

Author: R. Power

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, June 06, 2014
Miele has officially entered the robot market! If you're thinking Rosie, the live-in robot from the old Jetson's cartoon, you're on the right track, but probably getting ahead of yourself a little. No, I'm talking about a Miele robot vacuum cleaner. As the first of its kind, the Miele RX1 Scout robotic vacuum is packed with the innovation, advanced features and cleaning ability that has made Miele a popular name in both the luxury appliance and healthy cleaning markets.

The All New Miele RX1 Scout Robotic Vacuum CleanerBefore I get into the specifics of the Miele Scout, it's worth taking a few moments to take a look at other robot vacuum cleaners on the market. Everyone remembers the Roomba, right? These little guys were popular gifts that would bounce around the house cleaning as they went. This type of robot vacuum is not, however, very efficient at actually cleaning. With any robovac, there has always been a disparity between the cleaning ability of it and a traditional upright or canister. Beyond this, most robotic vacuums use a "chaos" navigation system. This means, the will head off it some direction until they bump into something, then reorient themselves and go bumbling off in some other random direct. The entirely random or chaotic nature of their movement IS their cleaning pattern. This often leaves spots uncleaned or areas where the vacuum may clean multiple times.

Run time has also been a concern with automatic vacuums. Rechargeable battery technology has advanced quite a bit since their commercial inception in 2002. In turn, so has the run time of these vacs and the lifespan of the batteries.

The Miele Scout Uses Advanced Navigation Technology to Ensure the Entire Floor is CleanedThe Miele RX1 Scout displays advances in both of these trouble areas and showcases a few additional features that make it a unique addition to any home. First, instead of the "chaos navigation" or using ultrasound, the Scout uses an array of seven sensors and an integrated ceiling camera to determine its exact position. So while it cleans, this Smart Navigation allows it to map out where it's been and where it still needs to clean. This dramatically improves upon older navigation systems and ensures that your entire floor is cleaned. And as far as the ceiling came goes, no, it's not spying on you! I uses the cam for positioning only, and mapping data is not stored after the Scout is finished cleaning.

In addition to the advanced navigation, the gyro and other sensors keep the Miele RX1 from actually hitting objects in your home. It can sense furniture, walls and even steps to avoid collisions and unexpected falls. If only toddlers were this well trained.... A soft rubber bumper surrounds the Scout, so should something unexpected happen, there won't be any scuffs or marks as a reminder.

Even Delicate Items Are SafeThe way the Scout cleans is by combining suction, a turbobrush, and two soft brushes that looks like little arms spinning out in front of the machine, pulling in dirt, pet hair and debris. Debris and mess is picked up and stored in an easy-to-empty bin, and while the Scout does lack the power of a traditional Miele vacuum, it does come equipped with a Miele AirClean filter to trap microparticles and allergens. The RX1 offers up around two hours of continuous service (or 1600 sq. ft.) before it will quietly return to its charging dock. After another two hours, the Scout and its lithium ion battery are ready to go again!

In addition to automatic cleaning, the Miele Scout also has Corners, Spot and Turbo modes. A well-lit LCD display on the top lets you know what mode the Scout is operating in as well as the time, and an included remote gives you complete control of the Scout.

Steps?  No Problem!It's good to keep in mind that the Scout is NOT a replacement for your regular vacuum cleaner. A weekly deep cleaning with your standard Miele is still a good idea, but the Scout makes for a great everyday, maintenance vacuum. For someone like me, who has all smooth floors and a dog, the Scout is the ideal way to clean up dog hair and dirt while I'm at work. It keeps me from having to use a dust mop each day, and at the end of the week, I still use my regular Miele canister to give the house a good, thorough cleaning. The Scout also makes a neat gift for that hard to buy for person in your life or for the "gadget" person who is always looking for the latest and greatest. Overall, the Miele RX1 Scout robotic vacuum has a lot to offer, and don't worry about carpet. It does clean carpet and rugs too!

The Scout should be hitting shelves in just a couple weeks (expect them to start shipping by the last week in June), so until then you can visit our Miele RX1 Scout vacuum cleaner page to view a video of the Scout and to see more images.

Author: K. Gilmore

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