• Making You Healthier and Happier Through Allergy Relief

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Learning Center

Allergic Presidents

We turn this month's famous allergy sufferer spotlight onto a few of our presidents who have suffered from severe hay fever. So who were our allergic presidents?

  • Theodore Roosevelt (26th president, 1901-1909)
  • Calvin Coolidge (30th president, 1923-1929)
  • John F. Kennedy (35th president, 1961-1963)
  • Bill Clinton (42nd president, 1993-2001)

Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is among the most general and common types of allergies. In fact, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAI), 10%-30% of adults and 40% of children in the United States suffer from allergic rhinitis. This percentage equals almost 60 million people.

Hay fever is characterized by the following symptoms:

Allergic Presidents

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Itchy nose and throat
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping

Symptoms are caused by exposure to airborne allergens. When an allergy sufferer encounters an allergen such as dust mites, pollen, pet dander, or mold, the immune system produces antibodies against it, even though it is actually harmless. Specifically, the antibody is immunoglobulin E, or IgE. When IgE comes into contact with its corresponding antigen, histamine is released. The histamines effect on organs and cells triggers allergy symptoms.

One of the best ways to combat the allergic response is to avoid offending allergens in the first place. A commitment to minimizing allergen exposure is known as environmental control of allergens. More and more allergy sufferers are implementing an allergen avoidance regimen to find relief from their symptoms.

Some allergens are easier to avoid than others. For instance, it may be reasonable to mostly avoid pet dander by not owning pets and rarely visiting the homes of individuals who do have them (though this might be a less-than-desirable circumstance). When it comes to allergens like dust and pollen, more dedicated efforts must be made.

Here are three basic and crucial steps in beginning your own allergen avoidance routine:

Allergy Bedding
    • Use allergy relief bedding to minimize exposure to dust mites while sleeping. Dust mites thrive in pillows and mattresses, making many allergy sufferers nights miserable. Enjoy allergy-free, restful slumber simply by using pillow encasings, mattress covers, and other allergy relief bedding which drastically minimize dust mite allergen exposure.
    • Invest in a quality HEPA air purifier to capture airborne allergens, odors, and chemical fumes. While some allergens can be vacuumed, dusted away, or trapped through allergy bedding, light allergens like pet dander are often airborne. An air purifier cleans the air of these allergens that are otherwise almost impossible to capture. Your air purifier will fill your home with pure, virtually allergen-free air.
  • Clean with a HEPA vacuum cleaner like a top-of-the-line Miele or a the famous Dyson that never loses suction. Frequent and thorough vacuuming of carpets, upholstery, curtains, and even mattresses, ceiling fans, and mini-blinds goes a long way in reducing your total allergen load.
Air Purifiers
HEPA Vacuum Cleaners

Beginners Guide to Environmental Control of AllergiesIts difficult to know how the above mentioned presidents coped with their allergic rhinitis, but its comforting for allergy sufferers of today to know that not only are there allergy treatment options available, but there are effective and non-invasive options such as environmental control of allergens. To learn more, see the Beginners Guide to Environmental Control of Allergens.

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Bird Care - Caring for Pet Birds

Peacocks - The Pinnacle of Bird Care and Grooming? Or Just Best of Show?Bird care is often left to... the birds! Many may not realize this, but birds usually keep themselves pretty clean. Most will preen or clean their feathers -- even very long tail feathers when present -- thoroughly several times a day by pulling them, one at a time, through their bills. Birds will artfully twist and contort themselves so their bills reach all body parts except their heads, napes and throats. In addition to grooming the plumage, birds also spread oil from their preen gland, located near the base of the tail, onto the feathers to help waterproof them.

Physically and emotionally healthy birds spend a great deal of time preening. After the preening sessions (as well as after sleeping), birds will raise their feathers and shake them vigorously to align their plumage into proper order. Unfortunately for allergy sufferers, the twisting and rubbing movements of the head and bill during preening, and the shaking of the feathers causes a great deal of feather dust to be released into the environment.

All birds molt regularly, gradually replacing their old worn-out feathers with new ones. Molting varies among species; some birds molt continually year-round while others molt once a year. A variety of factors, including time of year, locality, temperature, humidity, diet, sex and egg laying, influence the molting cycle. It's normal to find feathers in the bottom of the cage every now and then, but excessive molting and bare skin patches may be a sign of illness. Check with your veterinarian about this, as well as about any periodic trimming of the nails, beak and wings that is necessary.

Most Important Part of Bird Care - Bathing

Bathing is an extremely satisfying activity for birds and an important part of bird care. They enjoy baths or showers a couple of times a week, and it helps them, especially Cockatoos and Cockatiels, get rid of excessive feather dust. Bathing is also beneficial in keeping the skin and feathers in good condition.

Ducks Are Always Up For Bath Time!The best time to give your bird a bath is immediately before you clean its cage and re-paper the bottom, because the floor covering will undoubtedly get wet and need to be changed. If it is cold outside, be sure the room is warm (at least 75° F. (23.8° C.) and draft-free. It's a good idea to schedule the bath during the morning or afternoon, so that your bird's feathers are totally dry before bedtime.

Canaries, lovebirds, budgerigars, mynas, and other small birds love wriggling around in containers filled with water. Pet stores sell special bathing cups that clip onto the doorway of the cage for them, or you can simply place a shallow dish (to prevent drowning) on the cage bottom. Fill the container with tepid water, then let your bird go in and splash around as much as it wants. Most birds will hop out, shake their feathers, and plunge back in again, chirping with delight.

Medium-sized and large hookbills adore "showers," or a light misting of water from a spray bottle, a couple of times a week especially on warm days. Fill a clean spray bottle or plant mister with fresh tepid water. Set the nozzle for the finest mist possible. Hold the bottle about 12 to 15 inches away from the cage, but don't point it directly at the bird. Instead, spray into the air above the bird, letting the water drizzle down like raindrops. Some birds may be apprehensive of the sprayer to begin with but in time become so enthusiastic about their showers that they vocalize a lot at the sight of the bottle.

After a bath or shower your bird will be soaking wet. It should be confined to a warm place until the feathers are totally dry, particularly if it's cold outside. Some tame birds can be dried by a hand-held hair dryer, but many are frightened by the noise; others may permit you to gently blot the excess moisture from their feathers with a towel.

Another way for allergy sufferers to control the powder that is scattered into the atmosphere instead of a plain water bath, especially for Cockatoos or Cockatiels, is to lightly mist Allerpet onto the bird's feathers every 2 or 3 days, spraying away from the head and towards the tail. Allerpet will help to condition and add gloss to a bird's feathers. Allow the plumage to dry naturally or dry with a hair dryer. Keep the bird away from drafts until completely dry.

A 12 ounce (355 ml) bottle should last 2 to 3 months.

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Top Three Ways to Beat Spring Allergens

Spring is just around the corner. Instead of bracing yourself for allergies, take these steps to be proactive against those allergy symptoms you think are inevitable. Implement the following measures and we promise you'll breathe better this spring.

  1. Austin Air PurifiersBuy an air purifier. If you already have one, buy another.

    Air purifiers cleanse your home's air of all kinds of allergens including pollen spores, mold spores, pet dander, and dust mite allergen. By controlling the allergens in your home's environment, you will decrease your total allergen load and your susceptibility to falling victim to the onslaught of pollen in the spring.

    If you only have one air purifier, we suggest you keep it in your bedroom in order to minimize nighttime allergies. But if you're interested in taking your allergen avoidance routine up a notch - and spring is an ideal time to do this - consider purchasing another one to cover more square footage in your house. For instance, an air purifier in your home office or family room, where you (and possibly your pets) spend a lot of time, can make a significant difference in your everyday quality of life.

    See our Air Purifier Buying Guide for more information.

  2. Allergy BeddingEncase your bedding in allergy relief covers.

    Along with air purifiers, allergy relief bedding is at the top of the list of ways to combat allergies through environmental control. Using dust mite covers protects you from the allergens that lurk in mattresses, pillows, and other bed linens. Basic allergy bedding includes a mattress encasing and an allergy relief pillow cover.

    But to really up the ante, add a duvet cover and box spring cover to your allergy bedding armor. Other products, like allergy friendly pillows covered in Allergy Armor fabric or special allergy blankets that can stand up repeated washing with very little no sign of wear and tear, reduce the allergens present in your bedroom.

  3. HEPA Vacuum CleanersUse a HEPA vacuum cleaner and use it often.

    A HEPA vacuum cleaner is a must for every allergy sufferer. Good vacuums, and good vacuuming techniques make your house clean, and they improve your overall indoor air quality.

    During spring when the influx of pollen threatens to really tip your total allergen load over the top, it's important to strengthen your typical cleaning routine. Do this by investing in a better quality vacuum, like a Dyson that never loses suction, or a Miele canister vacuum. In addition, increase the frequency of your vacuuming routine, possibly doubling it during the spring allergy season.

    For more vacuuming tips, see our blog Vacuuming Tips for Cleaner Indoor Air.

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IQAir Air Purifier Shipping Information

Free Shipping on IQAir Air PurifiersWe work extraordinarily hard to ensure that you get your IQAir Air Purifier as quickly as possible. Orders ship from one of three locations around the country. Some ship direct from the manufacturer while a large quantity ships from our warehouse in Atlanta, GA. We use this network to ensure that your IQAir air purifier ships and arrives to you as quickly as possible.

Free 2nd Day Shipping - IQAir HealthPro Air Purifiers

If placed by 3:00 pm EST, IQAir HealthPro air purifier orders not only ship the same day, but also include Free 2nd Day Shipping. These orders are guaranteed to arrive no later than 2 business days after the order is placed. This excludes custom, bulk, APO, international or any order shipping outside of the 48 contiguous states.

Free Express Shipping on All IQ Air Purifiers

Free ground shipping, 1-2 business day delivery to most locations. By using three separate shipping locations, over 93% of IQAir Air Purifiers shipments arrive within 3 business days from the ship date.

Free Same Day Shipping

Orders for IQ Air Purifiers received before 12 pm EST ship the same day. Orders placed after these times, Monday-Friday, will ship the next business day. IQAir Air Purifiers orders placed on Saturday or Sunday will ship the next business day.

Same Day Tracking Information by Email

If you provided us with an email address when you placed your order, we will provide you with tracking information by 6 p.m. EST the same business day.

Expedited Shipping for IQAir Commercial and GC/GCX Air Purifiers

For faster shipping options on IQAir commercial and GC/GCX air purifiers, such as guaranteed, overnight, 2nd and 3rd day air, and for Saturday delivery, please call us at 1-800-339-7123 for a shipping quote.

Please note that due to the weight and size of IQAir air purifiers, expedited shipping is very expensive. We only charge actual shipping and handling costs.

Because UPS only delivers on weekdays, your expedited order may arrive later than you expect. For example, a 2nd Day order placed before 12 p.m. EST on a Thursday may not arrive until Monday.

Please note that holidays may effect the shipping time and delay the arrival of your order.

Important Information on Returns

Please see our returns policy for more information. As a note, if you notice a problem with your unit or decided you are unhappy with your purchase, contact Customer Service to obtain an RA as soon as possible.

Shipping rates do not include duties, taxes, customs fees, or any other type of customs brokerage charges. Customers outside of the United States will be responsible for any additional fees upon receipt.

Return to the IQAir Air Purifiers main page.

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Fight Common Fall Allergies

Combat Fall Allergies 
While spring seems to get most of the attention in terms of seasonal allergies, fall presents unique challenges for allergy sufferers due to specific allergens that make the autumn months extra special. From pollen to mold spores, this seasonal transition is often the firm reminder that summer is over. So what fall allergies get us down, and how can we fight back until our winter break arrives?

Fall Allergy Triple Threat - Ragweed

Ragweed is the Most Common Fall AllergenThe most common allergen during the late summer/early fall months is ragweed. There is nothing positive about ragweed. Even the name, rag & weed, fails to conjure up anything remotely positive. Ragweed is actually a very broad name. There are 41 different species of plants that are called ragweed. Personally, I have not met each of them, but I have my doubts that any is more savory than another.

Ragweed prefers sunny, dry conditions, and with drought conditions gripping much of the nation, this season is a veritable ragweed festival. When conditions are right, a single ragweed plant will spew out roughly 1,000,000,000 granules of pollen. This is highly problematic for two reasons. First, ragweed is highly allergenic, and of all the allergic pollens, ragweed is the number one contender. Secondly, ragweed is a wind pollinator. Instead of relying on insects and birds to cross pollinate, ragweed has evolved to produce very light grains of pollen that can easily be carried by the wind.

So we have a highly allergic plant spewing out copious amounts of very light pollen that the wind can literally carry for miles and miles. Pleasant.

Mold Loves Fall

Mold Spores in FallMold loves the fall, as all the dead leaves provide them ample food to grow and produce spores. Mold spores are very light and easily carried by the air. Each autumn you will see an increase in mold spores in the mid to late fall (as leaves are falling but before the first frost). Even over the course of a single day mold spore counts in the air will spike during the warmer, daylight hours (warmer air circulates better and thus circulates mold spores).

Juniper and Cedar Allergies

Juniper and Cedar AllergiesAs a regional allergen, Juniper can be troublesome for many allergy sufferers. Ashe Juniper (Mountain or Post Cedar) and Eastern Juniper (Red Cedar) are two of the biggest culprits when it comes to cedar/juniper allergies. Ashe Juniper is generally more potent, in terms of allergies, and starts as fall fades in to winter. Eastern Juniper follows about a month later. So while these allergens affect fewer people and later in the year, they can combine to form several months of misery for some.

Spring brings a wide variety of allergens, but fall only invites a few. Unfortunately, those few are heavy hitters that can even give the champ a run for his money. So how can you fight back and not let the three ruin your fall?

Fight Back Against Fall Allergens

VOGMask Stops AllergensMost people cannot simply arrange their schedule to accommodate staying indoors during the daylight hours. When going out to exercise, mow the yard, rake leaves or just take the dog for a walk, a mask can help to remove most, if not all, of the pollen you would normally breathe in. In a variety of styles and sizes, allergy masks offer an effective way to filter ragweed and juniper pollen as well as mold spores and any other particles in the air. Some are disposable while others are washable and have replaceable filters.


Another simple way to avoid fall pollen is to keep your windows closed. When fall rolls around and the temperatures dip, it can be very tempting to open the windows and let in a brisk, fall breeze. For allergy sufferers this is one of the worst things you can do. If you do keep your windows open, consider a window filter. Although they do cut down on air flow, they filter the vast majority of the pollen and other particles in the air.

Electrostatic Furnace Filters Trap PollenAlso, be sure to replace your furnace/HVAC filter. Electrostatic filters are fantastic at removing particles, but after three months, they generally lose much of their filtering ability. Replace them regularly to keep the air in your home free of allergens.

For those who are particularly sensitive, there are a few additional measures you can take to prevent bringing allergens into your home. Take your shoes off at the door. Though you often can see pollen, it coats everything outdoors and sticks to your shoes as well as your clothing. Depending on your sensitivity, you may even consider changing your clothing and washing the allergens from your hair.


Miele VacuumIn your bedroom there are several steps you can take to improve your indoor air quality. An efficient HEPA air purifier will not only trap pollen and mold spores but also dust mite allergen, dust, and other irritants in your home. A humidifier can also be very handy during cooler, drier fall months. Very dry air allows for allergens to freely disperse through your home. A more normal humidity level (45-50%) can allow for these same allergens to clump and settle to the floor.

Once on the floor, an effective HEPA filtered vacuum can handle the rest. A sealed system model with certified HEPA filtration can remove ultra fine particles that cause allergic reactions. If you already have a suitable vacuum, check and replace worn or old filters and bags.

Lastly, there are always a variety of OTC medications that can help relieve symptoms. While none of these will prevent your reactions, they can help to alleviate the puffy, itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion, and swelling that is often associated with seasonal allergies like hay fever.

By taking a few simple precautions and making small preparations you can knock out this trio of fall allergens before they make this an autumn to forget!

Return to the Allergy Relief Learning Center.

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Spring Cleaning to Avoid Allergens


No, you don't have to start spring cleaning quite yet, but with the vernal equinox just around the corner on March 20, it's not a bad idea to start gearing up for the yearly ritual. Spring cleaning is especially important for allergy sufferers because it's so crucial to make sure that seldom-cleaned areas are free of dust and other allergens.

Traditional cleaning supplies and methods often spell trouble for allergy sufferers because they either stir up dust and other allergens, or the supplies themselves leave behind fumes and residues that trigger allergic reactions. This year, before the scrubbing and mopping and washing rite of passage into spring begins, consider amassing cleaning tools and products that will leave your home sparkling - without wrecking havoc on your allergies.Begley's Best Natural Cleaning Products

Following is a list of spring cleaning essentials for allergy sufferers:

Commit to clean indoor air by using all-natural cleaning products likeBegley's Best Natural Cleaning Products or EcoDiscoveries Natural Cleaning Products. These allergy-safe cleaners will ensure not only a clean house, but a healthy house as well.

Miele Capricorn Vacuum CleanerRid carpets, flooring, upholstery, curtains AND the air of harmful allergens with a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner. Mielesoffer the best of the best with their German-constructed motors, and Dysons feature bagless systems that never lose suction.Make sure your furnace filters have been changed at the proper intervals. Remember that some indoor air conditions such as the presence of pets, a smoker in the house, or heavy pollen concentrations necessitate more frequent changes.
Gonzo Pet Hair LifterGet ready to swipe up pet fur with the Gonzo Pet Hair Lifter. Truly a revolutionary yet simple product, the Pet Hair Lifter allows you to collect pet fur without having to plug in a vacuum. In fact, the sponge probably eliminates visible hairs more thoroughly than most vacuums because it literally lifts them from upholstered surfaces, carpets, or other surfaces. (Don't forget to vacuum those areas as well to remove microscopic pet dander.)
Don't stir dust into the air with feather dusters or regular rags. And don't contaminate your indoor air with dusting sprays. Instead, gather dust with a special electrostatic dust cloth that captures dust without creating other allergy inducing situations.

Aller Air Tub O' CarbonReplace chemical-laced and allergy-producing home fragrance products with odor eliminators that capture odors rather than masking them. Try the AllerAir Tub O' Carbon Odor Buster, the Pet Crystal, or the Pet Odor Eliminator for natural and safe odor control.

Use dust-mite-killing laundry detergents for washing your curtains and other rarely washed linens. Allersearch Allergen Wash and Anti-Allergen Solution Laundry Detergent both work in any water temperature and are dye and fragrance free. De-Mite Laundry Additive allows you to add dust-mite-eliminating power to your favorite detergent.

Ecology Works DustMite and Flea ControlKill dust mites in carpeting and upholstery by using dust mite control powders such as Allersearch X-Mite or the Ecology Works DustMite and Flea Control, which render dust mite allergen ineffective.

Trade in the mop and floor cleaner, most of which contains harmful chemicals, for a steam mop, which uses steam to sterilize naturally.

Vacuum AttachmentsMake life easier - and cleaner - with vacuum attachments to clean mini-blinds, ceiling fans, and hard-to-reach places.

Arm yourself with an allergy relief mask for when you simply can't avoid coming into contact with allergens as you clean.

Once you collect these allergy-friendly cleaning products and tools you'll be ready to embark on a thorough spring cleaning adventure that will help protect against allergy attacks throughout the year.

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Compare Miele Classic C1 Vacuum Cleaners

As the most economical in the Miele line of canister vacuum cleaners, the Miele Classic C1 series vacuums (formerly S2) feature the same quality features for which Miele is know, at a price that will fit nearly any budget. Miele's latest innovations and technology are neatly wrapped around their tradition of excellence in these canister vacuum cleaners. Many features in C1 models are the same found throughout even the top of the line Miele canister vacuums.

Compare Miele Classic C1 vacuum cleaners using the detailed chart below to make the most informed purchase that will meet all of your vacuuming needs.

Compare Miele Classic
C1 Vacuum Cleaners

Miele C1

Miele Titan C1 Vacuum Cleaner
Miele S2

Compare Miele Classic C1 Vacuum Cleaners
Miele C1

Miele C1 Capri Vacuum Cleaner
Miele C1

Miele Classic C1 Olympus Vacuum Comparison
HEPA Filter X Optional Optional Optional
AirClean Filter Optional X X X
Automatic Thermal Shut-Off X X X X
G/N AirClean Filter Bags X X X X
Dust Bag Change Indicator X X X X
Deluxe Ergonomic Handle X X
Ergonomic Handle X X
Suction Control on Handle X X
Auto Cord Rewind X X X X
Rotary Dial Power Controls X X X X
Park System X X X X
Telescopic Wand X X X X
Electric Hose X X
Upholstery, Crevice and Dusting Brush - on VarioClip X X X X
Parquet Floor Tool (SBB3) X Optional X Optional
SBD 350-3 Combo Floor Tool Optional Optional Optional X
STB 205-3 Turbobrush Optional Optional X Optional
SEB 217-3 Mid-Size Powerbrush X X


While the Miele Classic C1 canister vacuum cleaners may appear to be very similar to other canisters, the C1 canister vacuums differentiate themselves in one primary area, cost. Built to replace and combine the durable Miele Plus and S500 series vacuum cleaners, the Miele C1 vacuums retain the core features that have long made Miele vacuums a quality home appliance for over 100 years.

Compare Miele Classic C1 Vacuum Cleaners - Compact DesignLike other Miele vacuum cleaners, the Miele C1 vacuums feature the Miele Vortex Motor and all are HEPA capable. These features help to ensure some of the most powerful suction and filtration available on the market. Each piece is crafted and tested in Germany prior to arrival here in the U.S. Unlike other vacuums churned out in China, Korea or Mexico, Miele retains strict manufacturing and quality control standards.

The body of the C1 canister is made of durable ABS plastic and features the same three, independent, swivel casters. When you more closely compare the Miele Classic C1 vacuum cleaners, the Miele Titan is the only one that comes standard with a HEPA filter. Each of these Miele vacuums features the large capacity, GN AirClean Dust Bag, and each is equipped with a telescopic wand.

Where you begin to see the differences between these units and other Miele vacuum cleaners are with some of the "extras". In places where Miele would traditionally use two components of different colors to accent each other, with a C1 they might use one. Things like raised or embossed logos and heavier dust compartment lids are traded in for a more simplistic logo and lighter, though still ABS lid.

Compare Miele Classic C1 Vacuum Cleaners - Six Suction SettingsEach of the Miele Classic C1 vacuum cleaners come equipped with a six setting, rotary dial control. Other differences include the weight. The canister of a Miele C1 vacuum cleaner is less than 9 lbs., which is less than any other Miele canister available. This is in part because of a simplified design and reduction in some components, like additional sound dampening. So when you compare a Miele Classic C1 vacuum cleaner to a model found in their others lines, it may be a bit louder, but it's important to keep in mind that even with an C1, the sound level is still quieter than comparable canister vacuums of other brands.

Some, like the Miele Titan and the Miele Delphi are equipped with electric hoses and wands, and come with powerbrushes for carpet cleaning. The more reasonably priced Miele Olympus comes standard with the combo floor tool and features straight suction. The next step up from this, the Miele Capri, is equipped with two floor tools, the SBB 3 for smooth flooring and the air-driven STB 205-3 for area rugs and low to medium pile carpet. The handles of these units also differ, with the most economical canister vacs, Miele Olympus and Miele Capri, coming standard with the simple ergonomic handle while the Delphi and Titan feature a deluxe ergonomic handle with push button, suction control.

Regardless of which Miele Classic C1 canister vacuum you select, all Miele attachments and accessories will fit any of these vacuum cleaners. Each is a quality canister vacuum cleaner built for the customer who is seeking Miele quality filtration and cleaning capability but cannot afford a model with more features, at a higher price.

After you have read through this Compare Miele Classic C1 Vacuum Cleaners page, shop all Miele vacuum cleaners, read more about Miele vacuums in our Miele Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide, or visit one on our other Miele vacuum compare pages below.

Compare Miele Complete C3 Canister Vacuum CleanersCompare Miele Complete C3 Vacuum Cleaners Compare Miele Dynamic U1 VacuumsCompare Miele U1 Upright Vacuum Cleaners
Compare Miele Compact C2 Canister Vacuum CleanersCompare Miele C2 Canister Vacuum Cleaners
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Compare Miele Compact C2 Vacuum Cleaners

Sitting in the middle of the Miele vacuum cleaner line, the Miele Compact C2 vacuums showcase the staple features of high end Mieles but in a more compact, lightweight canister design. These midsize canister vacuums are best suited for smooth floors, area rugs, and low to medium pile carpeting. Each are geared towards allergy sufferers with features like 9-ply dust bags, AirClean filters, and pre-motor filters. For those seeking a compact, lightweight canister suited for multiple types of flooring, look no further. Compare Miele Compact C2 vacuum cleaners below to help you make an informed choice that will meet all of your vacuuming needs.

Compare Miele Compact
C2 Vacuum Cleaners

Miele C2
Compare Miele Compact C2 Vacuum Cleaners
Miele C2
Compare Miele Compact C2 Vacuum Cleaners
Miele C2
Miele Compact C2 Quartz Vacuum Cleaners Comparison
AirClean Filter X X X
HEPA Filter Optional Optional Optional
Automatic Thermal Shut-Off X X X
FJM AirClean Dust Bags X X X
Dust Bag Change Indicator X X X
Deluxe Ergonomic Handle X    
Ergonomic Handle   X X
Brushroll Control on Handle X    
One-Touch, Auto Cord Rewind X X X
Rotary Dial Power Controls X X X
Park System X X X
Telescopic Wand X X X
Electric Hose X    
Upholstery, Crevice and Dusting Brush - on VarioClip X X X
Parquet Floor Tool (SBB300-3) X X Optional
SBD 285-3 Combo Floor Tool Optional Optional X
STB 205-3 Turbobrush   X Optional
SEB 217-3 Mid-Size Powerbrush X    


The Miele Compact C2 vacuum cleaners (formerly S6) usher in a wave of innovations in the area of home cleaning. Compact, durable, lightweight and efficient, Miele C2 models are specifically designed for the small to medium size home, larger apartments or condos. By comparing the Miele C2 canister vacuums, you can begin to see which model is best suited for your specific cleaning needs.

Compared to Other Models, Miele C2 Canister Vacuums are QuietFirst, each model comes with an ABS shell, which is extremely resistant to scratches and damage. Inside the canister, each Compact C2 model features a sealed system and a 9-ply, self-sealing, FJM filter bag. All Miele C2 vacuums are powered by the Miele Vortex motor that produces optimal suction while creating little noise. Factor in enhanced sound insulation, and there is no comparison between Miele Compact C2 vacuums and non-Miele canister vacs. Though the AirClean filter is standard for each of these vacuums, all can be fitted with a Miele HEPA AirClean filter for the best filtration of any vacuum on the market today.

All canisters in this line are lightweight (less than 10 lbs. canister weight) and free rolling (movement by three independent swivel casters). This lighter weight and more compact design is key when space in the home may be at a premium or when you have a condo or townhouse with multiple floors. Compare Standard Features of Miele Compact C2 Canister Vacuum CleanersAdditionally, each C2 is equipped with a VarioClip and three mini accessories for added cleaning versatility.

Of the three current models, the Miele Topaz displays the most features and broadest cleaning range. The primary benefit with the Topaz is the electrically driven powerbrush. While all Miele C2 vacuums have an electrical connection on the body, the Topaz is the only one that comes with an electrified wand and hose. Add in the SEB 217-3 and you have the perfect medium to low pile carpet (and some higher pile)cleaning tool. The Miele Twister is excellent on smooth floors, and no matter which floor attachment you are using, the Topaz is the only model that comes with the deluxe handle.

Second in the line is the Miele Onyx. Compared to the Miele Topaz, the Onyx also comes standard with two floor tools. The STB 205-3 is an air-driven turbobrush, ideal floor tool for low to medium pile carpeting while the included Twister smooth floor tool works well across all types of smooth flooring.

Superior Air Flow, Quiet Operation, and Effective FiltrationAs the most economical model of the line, the Miele Quartz balances affordability with performance. By comparison, this Miele Compact C2 canister vacuum lacks a second floor tool but comes standard with the SBD 285-3 combination tool. This combo floor tool uses retractable bristles to gently loosen and clean smooth flooring while a stainless sole plate glides over low pile carpet and rugs, allowing velvet strips to loosen debris.

If you compare Miele Compact C2 vacuum cleaners, you see that while each is uniquely suited for different flooring and different cleaning circumstances each can be fitted with a variety of Miele attachments and accessories to broaden your cleaning range and expand you cleaning ability.

After you have read through this Compare Miele Compact C2 Vacuum Cleaners page, shop all Miele vacuums, read more about Miele vacuum cleaners in our Miele Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide, or visit one on our other Miele vacuum compare pages below.

Compare Miele Complete C3 Canister Vacuum CleanersCompare Miele Complete C3 Vacuum Cleaners Compare Miele Dynamic U1 VacuumsCompare Miele U1 Upright Vacuum Cleaners
Compare Miele Classic C1 Vacuum CleanersCompare Miele C1 Vacuum Cleaners
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Ragweed Allergies FAQ

Ragweed FAQs & Information

Ragweed Allergies FAQ on AchooAllergy.comRagweeds are a genus of flowering plants, Ambrosia, in the aster family. With dozens of species scattered all across the U.S., its pollen produces some of the most severe and widespread allergies every year.

What Is Ragweed?

Ragweeds are annuals, most commonly found in the eastern and Midwestern states of the U.S. Although ragweeds only live for one season, in that season each plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains. Ragweed pollen is generally at its heaviest after midsummer. The flowers generally mature by this time and begin releasing their pollen. Warmth, humidity and breezes after sunrise help the release. With pollen being so light and easily airborne, breezes can quickly scatter ragweed pollen up to hundreds of miles. As it travels, the pollen fertilizes other ragweed plants for the following year's crop.

In general, ragweed plants prefer drier areas, sunny grassy plains, sandy soils, river banks, and roadsides, though you can find ragweeds growing nearly anywhere. Worldwide, there are 41 different species of ragweed that live in varying climates, from the more temperate regions found in the eastern half of the United States to drier, more desert-like locales.

What Is Ragweed Allergy?

Ragweed allergy, like nearly all other allergies, is the overreaction of the body's immune system to what is essentially a harmless substance. In the case of people with allergies, the human immune system is treating ragweed pollen as a harmful substance instead of ignoring it. In an effort to rid the body of this mistakenly harmful pollen, the body produces a variety of reactions which we commonly refer to as hay fever. Most often symptoms arise after inhaling ragweed's light, airborne pollen, though there are a few insects that cross pollinate ragweed, and contact with them can also cause an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can also be caused by other pollinating plants in the same Family as ragweed (sage, groundsel bush, mugworts, burweed marsh elder, etc.).

Who Gets Ragweed Allergy?

Nearly 75% of all people who are allergic to pollen-producing plants will also be allergic to ragweed. So in general, if your body reacts to ragweed pollen, it is more than likely to also react to other pollens. People with ragweed allergy may also get symptoms when they eat cantaloupe, watermelon, or banana. This link between certain foods and seasonal allergies is referred to as allergen "cross-reactivity". Chamomile tea, sunflower seeds and honey containing pollen from Compositae family members can occasionally cause severe reactions, including shock.

What Are Its Symptoms?

Ragweed Allergy InformationEven if you are not allergic to ragweed, you've most likely heard of the symptoms and have come across many people who struggle with them during the late summer and fall months. More commonly referred to as hay fever, the symptoms range from mild irritation, runny nose, puffy eyes, stuffy nose and sneezing to inflamed sinuses and a sore throat. Some allergy sufferers may experience more severe reactions such as asthma attacks, sinusitis, headaches, and insomnia.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Currently, the most common testing method is a skin sensitivity test. After a standard exam and review of your medical history, this simple procedure can test your body's reaction to a variety of allergens, including ragweed.

For this test, the skin is scratched or pricked with extract of ragweed pollen. In sensitive people, the site will turn red, swollen and itchy. Sometimes blood tests are used to see if an antibody to ragweed is present. Though sometimes necessary, this takes longer for processing by a laboratory, and it is more expensive. In all, proper diagnosis relies upon a combination of information from multiple sources.

What Can I Do About Ragweed Allergies?

There is no cure for ragweed allergy, and eliminating ragweed is essentially impossible. As with most allergies, the best control is to avoid contact with the pollen. This is difficult given the amount of ragweed pollen in the air during pollination time, its proliferation across the globe, and the ease of dispersal. However, by taking control of your indoor environment and limiting your exposure, you drastically reduce your reaction to ragweed pollen.

  • Track the Pollen Count - You can usually catch the pollen count on the radio or morning news before work. Local news channels will often post the pollen count online for easy access. Any of these avenues can provide you with a quick look at how the pollen is shaping up in your specific area.
  • Stay Indoors - Central air conditioning with a high efficiency furnace filter can help to reduce indoor allergens, particularly when the pollen count is high. A HEPA filtered air purifier in addition to your HVAC filter, would be the most efficient when removing pollen from the indoor air in your home. A HEPA air purifier is best placed in the bedroom since you generally spend more time in this room than any other, and it's most conducive to getting a good night's sleep.
  • Get Away When Possible - While moving your home isn't always an option, some folks have taken to vacationing during the worst parts of the seasonal allergy season as a way to not only enjoy a yearly vacation but also not have to deal with pollen counts that can border the absurd in many southern states. If you do travel, be sure to check the pollen count there as well!
  • Take Antihistamines - These can work well to control hay fever symptoms, whatever the cause. The drowsiness caused by older products is less of a problem with antihistamines now on the market. Anti-inflammatory nose sprays or drops also help and have few side effects. Consider trying a natural approach to allergy medication with the capsaicin-based treatments. It is also important to remember with many medications, prior use is key. Allergy treatment isn't limited to treating symptoms after the fact. Most allergist will recommend use of specific allergy meds weeks before the start of your specific allergy season.
  • Rinse Your Sinuses - Though it certainly feels awkward at first, using a neti pot or related sinus rinse system solution can be an effective, non-pharmaceutical approach to cleaning and moisturizing your sinuses and throat. These methods help rinse away reaction causing pollen while soothing inflamed, sore or dry sinuses. If you are stuffy, nasal washing can help you breathe easier by clearing away congestion. With a runny nose, these rinses can help clear out excess mucus. Often used once or twice a day, sinus rinsing is a simple yet effective method for reducing symptoms and feeling better.
  • Take your shoes off! - During heavy pollen season, particular fall and spring, you are likely tracking in pollen every time you enter your home. Whether mowing the lawn or coming back from a run, leaving your shoes at the door can help prevent the spread of pollen throughout your. Some people will take this a step further and change clothes, particularly during severe fall allergy seasons.
  • Allergy Masks are a Simple Yet Effective Way to Block Ragweed PollenWear a Mask - Planning on spending time outdoors? A mask can make a big difference. High quality allergy masks can come in variety of shapes, sizes and styles, but all have one thing in common. They effectively blog particle allergens like ragweed. Consider one that not only suits your personal style and blocks allergens but is also N95 rated. This can come in handy as flu season ramps up, as N95 rated masks are recommended by the CDC to help prevent the spread of the flu.
  • Immunotherapy - If medication and environmental controls still do not provide enough relief, consider immunotherapy ("allergy shots"). This approach reduces the allergic response to specific allergens. For it to work, the allergens must be carefully identified. The allergens are injected over several months or years and work to slowly desensitize you to a specific allergen. If diagnosis and treatment are well directed, you may see major improvements in symptoms.

Return to the Allergy Relief Learning Center.

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Most Popular Miele Vacuum Cleaners

For quite some time, we've kept a list of what our staffers have picked as the most popular Miele vacuum cleaner models. Once again, we surveyed our staffers and weighed customer feedback to give us some insight as to which are the most popular Miele vacuum cleaners and why. Below are our 2015 results.

The Miele Marin reemerged as the most popular Miele canister vacuum. Among consumers and staffers alike, three key factors popped up in comments for this vacuum cleaner. First was choice. Everyone likes choice, and the Achoo Team is no exception. They liked the fact that you can choose with powerhead you get with this vacuum. Plus it allows you to customize your price a bit too. Second was the color. While there can always be some debate, the fact is the color choice for the Marin was perfect. It's appealing to most people regardless of your taste and is something you truly don't see with a run-of-the-mill vacuum. Lastly was the noise level. Granted, the noise goes up a bit with the powerbrush engaged, but in all, the Marin was noted as exceptionally quiet.

In addition to these features, I found that this model represented some of the best balance of features, price and performance. The cleaning ability is consistent, regardless of what type of flooring or even above-the-floor cleaning you are taking on. Indicator lights, push button suction control, a deluxe handle, and the one-touch cord rewind are all value added features that truly do add convenience. The warranty is one of the best in the business and overall craftsmanship and attention to detail is apparent with this model. For those with allergies and asthma, the Marin is a great choice. The AirClean System traps dirt, debris, hair, and even odors with an H13 HEPA filter, 9-ply filterbag and sealed system..

For the first time a Miele upright has made the most popular list. With all but a few of the premium features of the most expensive U1 uprights, the Miele Twist U1 upright vacuum has made a strong showing. The powerful brushroll on carpet yields consistently good performance across different types of flooring while the noise level is something everyone was really pleased with. There are two other factors that were big draws for staffers. First, consistently high marks among customer and professional product review agencies.

The Twist has consistently ranked in the top three (#1 twice), for several years in a row, in the top consumer product testing agency's annual vacuum cleaner rankings. In all, the balance of features, performance, reliability, and cost have made is a sure bet as a top ranked upright. Last is the price. The Twist is the most affordable Miele upright, and though it lacks a HEPA filter, one can be added at any time. It's also worth noting that unlike the canisters, which are limited to either 33 or 36 feet, this upright has a 55 foot cleaning range, and staffers liked being able to clean more without constantly searching for another plug. If you're looking for an upright, you can't go wrong with this most popular Miele vacuum cleaner.

Placing third in our AchooAllergy.com voting was the Miele Brilliant. If price was not a factor, this model would have been chosen higher (though I don't know if it could have knocked off the Marin), but the most commented on features of the Brilliant were the added features/style, exceptional control, and warranty. While no one could note any flaws (with the ONLY possible exception being a lack of powerhead choice), the unique features of the... er, UniQ was the biggest draw. The LED underbody and park lights may seem trivial until you take the UniQ home, put it in the closet after use and think, "hhmm... guess those are pretty handy!" The chrome trim gives this vacuum a real touch of class, as do the felt trim accents. The digital display is only found with the Brilliant, as is the completely streamlined design. There aren't even +/- buttons on the body, which leads me to the second point - exceptional control. The suction and brushroll control is conveniently placed on the handle. This gives complete control when vacuuming to transition across multiple types of flooring on the fly. While the push buttons found on the other C3 models is a step up over the rotary dial, once you've used the handle controls, you find yourself not wanting to go back. Lastly the warranty - The Brilliant features and unprecedented 10 year warranty. This is a full three years longer than comes standard with Miele vacuum cleaners. While we know that Miele stands behind their products, for a manufacturer to warranty a vacuum for a full decade says something good about the product.

In addition to these features, the Brilliant comes decked out with all the bells and whistles Miele has to offer, from the Air Clean System (ideal for anyone concerned with indoor air quality) and one-touch cord rewind to a raised bumper and super quiet operation. In all, there is almost nothing this vacuum lacks.

Most Popular Miele Vacuum Cleaners - Honorable Mention

This year's honorable mention goes out to the Miele Alize canister vacuum. While the Titan didn't make the cut, the Alize edged it out with quieter operation, easier to use suction controls and a sleeker design. While it's best of smooth floors, this canister has consistently gained attention as more people shift away from carpet in favor of hard floors.

Shop Miele Vacuum Cleaners or learn more!

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Genetically Modified Food: Hypoallergenic Milk?

Genetically Modified Food - GMOs

The Struggle with Genetically Modified Food

Recently there have been several stories highlighting the FDA and its struggle with genetically altered animals. This subject reaches into a variety of areas including health, environmental, and ethical. For allergy sufferers, there are a few interesting prospects, with the most written about being reduced-allergen milk. No matter how you feel about this subject, there are many sides to the very complicated issues of genetically modified food, GMOs, and labeling.

Though it's not as widely publicized as genetically modified crops, there is a wide range of projects that have begun in the last two decades. From cows with hypoallergenic milk and salmon that are three times the size of the natural counterpart to hogs that digest plants more efficiently and other pigs that are bred to develop muscular diseases so effective treatments can be tested, there are genetically modified (GM) animals being created across the globe. For many the most basic question is, just because we can, should we?

The Risk/Reward with GMOs

In addition to regulations, which are almost non-existent at this point, there are many concerns with genetically modified animals. The long term impact of genetically modified animals is not fully known. There has simply not been enough time and research devoted to potential, long term environmental implications. Their interaction and impact on the ecosystem are not fully understood. The same argument can be made for much their impact on human health. Studies have shown no adverse effects from consuming genetically modified food, but even these are contentious as many have been funded by the producers of GMOs or those vested in the promotion of genetically modified food. While in the short term, the idea of allergen-free milk sounds wonderful, only time and research will show any long term effects of consuming that product.

Beyond this, there are moral and ethical implications that many struggle with. While few would argue against testing new treatments to fight Already In Your Pantry, Genetically Modified Food!catastrophic diseases, genetically modified animals complicate this issue. Is it ethical to produce and raise an animal that has been modified to develop muscular dystrophy, solely for the purpose of testing treatments of that disease on it? Would it be ethical to genetically alter the make up on an animal so that it more closely resembles that of a human and would thus provide a better idea of how successful this treatment might be? These are just two examples, but questions like these raise serious concerns, blurring moral and ethical lines. Even these examples are somewhat benign given the possibilities that techniques like CRISPR - a groundbreaking genome editing tool that can literally bring the science fiction idea of genetically modified humans to life.

Walking this idea back, genetically modified organisms in the food supply is not necessarily new. Corn and soybeans that are genetically modified to produce higher yields and to be resistant to pests have been in use for many years and are commonly found in most processed foods. One advantage of these crops is that they are surprisingly "eco-friendly". Because a seed is genetically modified to naturally produce an insecticide, growers spend less money and time on spraying their crops. This means, at least theoretically, that there is less pesticide or insecticide residue and runoff leaching into the soil and water table. That's a win for the environment right? Possibly. However, since the level of this natural pesticide would be elevated, what is the long term effect on consuming higher quantities of it? A negative human health impact? No impact at all? We simply do not know. Questions like this linger. As we circle back to what was mentioned earlier about genetically modified food being used for many years, likely one of the most frightening aspects is that at this point more than 3/4 of all the corn grown in the U.S. has been modified. Cotton and canola are also two crops where the vast majority that is grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. Other crops like wheat are also seeing a larger and larger share of the total portion grown being genetically modified.

Genetically Modified to be Allergen Free!

Can Genetically Modified Food Be Allergen Free?In the case of the "hypoallergenic" milk, the benefit of producing an allergen-free diary product could be enormous. The study, done in New Zealand (a leader in genetic modification), showed a complete absence of beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), a protein found in milk that can trigger an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, that same milk showed elevated levels of casein, another common culprit in diary allergies. Casein is important in the production of cheese, so while this discovery may be good in that regard, there is still much to learn. On a side note, Daisy, the cow which produced this milk, was born with no tail!

It is relatively unknown how the different protein compounds found in diary milk interact and what role each plays, but this is another important step in drilling down on how the complex elements in something as simple as milk interact with each other and with the human body. Though the milk is ultimately not "hypoallergenic", this is promising for those who suffer from food allergies. Could you imagine, an allergy free peanut or shellfish? With an increasing number of parents across the U.S. struggling with potentially life-threatening food allergic children, is this endeavor not worth the time and effort?

To Label or Not to Label, That Is the Question with GMOs

The FDA has been slow to approve genetically modified animals. The best known example of this is a salmon produced by AquaBounty Technologies. Initially approved a couple years ago, they are still awaiting final FDA approval. In a new area, regulations and rules can be difficult to create. There is a balance that regulatory agencies, like the FDA, try to strike between protecting the well being of the public and not stifling innovation and growth or preventing helpful products from reaching market. The delay in final approval of these salmon is not out of the ordinary though. Though GM crops have been in use in the American food supply for years, there is yet to be any consensus of whether or not the products even need to be labeled as GM.

Against Genetically Modified Food LabelingIn California a battle was waged over the labeling of food that has GM ingredients. Major food producers and companies like Monsanto, Kellog's, PepsiCo and Dupont poured tens of millions into fighting, and ultimately defeating, the labeling initiative, Proposition 37. They argued that the expense is burdensome and that this type of regulation was not necessary. On the other side were consumer groups and independent organic food producers that favored the "right to know". It is worth noting that dozens of countries that do use genetically modified food have regulations in place that require labeling of products that contain these ingredients. Other countries still, like Scotland, have outright banned growing genetically modified food. With a U.S. food market that surpasses $1 trillion spent annually, there was a lot at stake, both for food producers and for the consuming public. And while the debate over GM animals is receiving attention, why have GM crops largely been ignored, particularly when many of the same pros and cons that spring from the animal debate also hold true for plants?

One possible reason why plants have largely been ignored is because quite simply, they are plants. The perception of genetically altering a plant is much different than doing the same for an animal. We fundamentally think of plants differently than we do animals, and for many, the leap from genetically altering a plant vs. human is a bigger stretch than the gap between genetically modifying an animal vs. a human. Lastly, GM plants are processed and turned into food that is largely unrecognizable. It's not often that someone opens a box of cereal and thinks of wheat. This helps to keep the thought of genetically modified ingredients, particularly when coupled with a lack of labeling, out of mind.

And none of this touches on legal battles that have been waged over genetically modified seeds. Large corporations like Monsanto and Dupont have sued farmers holding over seeds of genetically modified crops for the following year's planting. The corporations patent the seed, then require farmers to sign an agreement that they will not replant seeds produced from seed they purchased. Traditionally, farmers could retain a portion of seed from the previous year to plant for the next, but doing so with modified seed is technically patent infringement and theft. The fact that these corporations HAVE sued farmers for this leaves a bad taste in many people's mouth.

Regardless of where you stand on this very complex issue, there are countless factors to consider. The health effects can be far reaching, but both immensely positive and negative. For those who suffer from disease or severe allergies, the upside of genetically modified food can be transformative - a possible cure to debilitating or degenerative conditions. On the other side is unknown negative consequences, severe damage to the environment or rise in new health problems to replace those that might be solved. The debate will continue, and while many of these issues may never be resolved, traditional methods of allergy relief remains an effective alternative.

For more information on how diet and food can play a role in allergies, asthma, and other allergic disease,

Probiotics and Allergies
The Atopic March & Probiotics
Foods That Fight Allergies or Aggravate Them
Treat Eczema With Omega 3s
Nutrition for Allergy Sufferers
Treat Food Allergies with Supplements

Author: K. Gilmore

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Allergy-Proof Your Bedroom for Winter

Prepare your bedroom for winter with allergy relief products from achooallergy.com
Making sure your bedroom is armed against dust mites is the number one step you can take in alleviating allergy symptoms. Dust mites love to live in bedding, mattresses, and pillows where they can enjoy a constant feast of the dead skin cells you shed as you sleep. But this doesn't have to be the case! Using allergy relief bedding that's impenetrable to dust mite allergen, pet dander, and other allergens will provide substantial relief from nighttime allergy attacks.As lower temperatures prompt you to add down comforters and blankets to your beds, it's a good time to re-think the way your bedding is working for or against allergy-relief. And what better time to make sure your bedroom is allergy-proof than when you're changing out seasonal linens? Get cozy for winter and fight allergies at same time.

Back to the Basics: Allergy Relief Covers

The first barrier against dust mite allergen should be the layer that touches your mattresses and pillows. Achoo! ALLERGY's exclusive Allergy Armor mattress covers and pillow encasingsprovide superior protection against dust mite and other allergens - and they are arguably the most comfortable ones you can purchase.

Allergy Armor allergy relief bedding comes in five different lines:

Allergy Armor Ultra Allergy Armor Ultra: The best of the best, Allergy Armor Ultra features the smallest pore size and is made of membrane-free, breathable fabric. Be sure to use Allergy Armor Ultra if you suffer from allergies to pet dander. Lifetime warranty.
Allergy Armor Cotton Blend Allergy Armor Cotton Blend: More breathable than the 100% polyester Ultra, Allergy Armor Cotton Blend also has a slightly larger pore size, but is still effective against dust mite allergen, pollen, and other allergens. Comes with a 5-year warranty.
Allergy Armor Advanced Allergy Armor Advanced: The original Allergy Armor � line, Allergy Armor Advanced provides excellent protection against dust mites and other allergens at a budget-friendly cost; however, with its larger pore size, the protection AA Advanced provides is not as superior as that of AA Ultra or Cotton Blend.
Allergy Armor Classic Membrane Allergy Armor Classic: Our only allergy relief bedding that is not membrane-free, Allergy Armor Classic is the perfect choice for those who require a waterproof encasing.
Allergy Armor Organic Allergy Armor Organic: Ideal for those with chemical sensitivities and skin sensitivities, Allergy Armor Organic is made from organic cotton. Truly a luxurious choice, there are no finer, more comfortable allergy relief covers to be found.

Allergy Relief Bedding Packages, which come with everything you need to begin fully allergy-proofing your bed, are an excellent way to ensure that your sleeping zone is protected against dust mite allergen. Packages come with a box spring cover, a mattress cover, and pillow covers.

Allergy-Proof Your Comforter

Allergy Armor Duvet and Comforter CoversIf you slept with nothing but a covered mattress and pillows and sheets (that you would wash with dust-mite killing solution such as de-mite Laundry Additive), your allergy-relief regimen could stop with mattress and pillow encasings. But, especially in the colder months when bedding tends to pile on, how can you protect yourself from the dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens that slowly fill your bedding and trigger allergy attacks?

For comforters, Allergy Armor also makes duvet covers, which keep dust mite allergen from penetrating through the comforter itself and triggering allergy attacks. If you or members of your family are allergic to the down itself, however, there are also alternatives. PrimaLoft synthetic comforters replicate the softness of down, without the allergens. Hypodown comforters and pillows combine the finest, cleanest down in the world with naturally hypoallergenic plant fibers that trap allergens.

Allergy-Friendly Blankets

Allergy Armor Microfiber Fleece BlanketsAnd what about blankets? The best way to ensure that your blankets aren't harboring allergens is to wash them frequently, preferably with anti-allergen laundry soaps like Allersearch Allergy Wash or de-mite Laundry Additive. But it's important to make sure that your blankets can stand up to such frequent washing.

Allergy Armor's new Microfiber Fleece Blankets are the perfect solution. They are made of Polartec microfiber fleece that won't lose any of its cashmere softness with wash after wash. They also dry quickly, warding off the possibility of moisture buildup and mold.

For those with tighter budgets, Vellux Blankets are a good alternative. They are hypoallergenic and lightweight, and will also stand up to frequent washings.

Allergy-Proof Bedding Extras

In addition, other down bedding extras, such as mattress pads also come in hypoallergenic varieties.PrimaLoft Mattress Pads PrimaLoft mattress pads are made of synthetic down that won't trigger allergies. And similar to the way in which Hypodown comforters are constructed of hypoallergenic down, Royal Pedic Pillowtop Mattress Pads are made from natural latex and untreated New Zealand wool, covered by Belgian cotton ticking, providing you with the ultimate choice in allergen-free, eco-friendly bedding. TheDeluxe Natural Latex Mattress Pad is also made of naturally dust mite-resistant latex.

With all these allergy-relieving options right at your fingertips, there's no reason your bedroom can't be an allergen-free haven for solid and refreshing nighttime rest. Take advantage of the changing season and your winter bedding swapping to make sure your bed is allergy-proof.

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A Year in the Life of a Steam Cleaner

Vapamore Primo Steam CleanerHi, I'm the Vapamore Primo Steam Cleaner. My family loves me so much that they use me all the time for a wide range of cleaning needs. I use steam that's heated to over 200 degrees to loosen dirt and kill allergens that trigger my family's allergy attacks.

They got me because they knew I'd keep their home healthier and cleaner without having to use harmful chemicals (another allergy and asthma trigger). I've also streamlined my family's cleaning routine because they can use me for so many different tasks!

Here's how I've helped through the seasons:

Spring Cleaning with a Steam Cleaner

Spring cleaning is what actually prompted my purchase. My family realized I could be used to loosen dirt from hard-to-clean household items that rarely get cleaned like upholstery,drapes, and ceiling fans.

Instead of using wet upholstery cleaners that leave chemical residues, as well as dampness that often leads to mold and mildew on their sofa, my family used my super hot and quick evaporating steam to loosen years of dirt and grime from cushions. In addition, my steam killed dust mites on contact and denatured dust mite allergen on contact.

With a sweep of their HEPA vacuum cleaner, the dust, dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens that I helped bring to the surface were removed from the couch. A hotbed of allergens became an allergy friendly place of relaxation.

Drapery, especially of the formal, heavy variety, is another dust and allergen magnet - one that often requires dry cleaning. This means that drapery rarely gets cleaned, and when it does, it brings toxic chemical fumes from the dry cleaning process into the home.

Putting attachments like the clothes / fabric tool on me and adjusting steam pressure controls for the job make cleaning even delicate drapery easy, safe, and, most importantly, effective.

And ceiling fans, often overlooked and consequently often very dirty, are places where dust, pollen, and dander settle. And being closer to the ceiling, the warmer temperatures can mean a greater chance of mold or mildew. I can quickly blast away years of filth and allergens in seconds.

Steam Cleaners Make Easy Work of Difficult Summer Tasks

My family loves to cook outdoors during the summer. But Dad doesn't like to clean the grill. Who can blame him? After years of accumulated food debris that just refused to come off, the task became formidable indeed. But by tackling the job with a combination of my steam gun, the heavy duty brass metal brush, and the detail scraper tool, we got the grill clean as new!

Steam Cleaners at Home

Fall means the beginning of seasons spent indoors because of cold weather. During the fall, my family eats a lot of comfort food; Mom starts using the oven a lot, and especially after Thanksgiving, the inside of the oven and the stovetop could both use a thorough cleaning.

Sure, the oven self-cleaning setting helps burn off cooked on food debris, but this takes a lot of time and a lot of energy. Using steam to loosen difficult-to-remove oven gunk is much more efficient - and no harsh chemicals are necessary either. Now, I get used in the oven, on the stovetop, in the microwave, toaster oven, and even to clean up grubby kitchen appliance surfaces - not to mention the kitchen floor!

Mom loves to clean the floor with me, because she knows steam is a powerful yet completely safe disinfectant to clean up one of the germiest rooms in the house.

Steam Cleaning During Winter Time

Winter means frigid temperatures, and sometimes my family can't ventilate bathrooms by opening windows. This often leads to mold formation on grout in the shower. By using me right away when mold starts to form, my family prevents the propagation of mold spores--a potent allergen and asthma trigger. I was made for such things; I even come with a grout brush.

Winter break also means lots of travel, and with the resurgence ofbed bugs, my family is concerned about infestations whenever they stay at a hotel, no matter how nice it is. It's become standard practice to put their clothes straight into the washing machine and leave luggage in the garage for a comprehensive steam bath from me. This kills any bed bugs - and even any bed bug eggs - that might have tried to hitch a ride into the house on suitcases or bags.

As you can see, during this past year, my family has discovered new ways to use me, and they are enjoying the sparkling home, clean air, and reduced allergens I've helped give them.

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Whole House Air Purifiers

Whole House Air Purifiers
Indoor air quality has a big impact on those with allergies and asthma. Since indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), taking steps to keep indoor air clean is imperative.

One of the first things recommended by allergists prescribing an allergen avoidance regimen is an air purifier. Air purifiers directly tackle the problem of indoor air polluted by a host of irritants, including dust mite allergen, mold spores, pollen, pet dander, VOCs, smoke, and other toxic fumes.

Whole house air purifiers can address the issue of polluted indoor air on a whole-house as opposed to a room-by-room basis. The idea is extremely appealing because air doesn't stay only in one room, but it flows throughout the entire house.

While whole house air purifiers have been around for a while, it's important to note that not all of them are effective. In fact, some can even produce dangerous by-products. As always, it's important to be as educated as possible when it comes to your family's health. Below is a general introduction to whole house air purification.

How Do Whole House Air Purifiers Work?

How Whole House Air Cleaners WorkWhole house air purifiers are integrated with your home's heating and cooling system. Using the same system to control both your home's temperature and the quality of its air makes perfect sense. While your air is being heated or cooled, it can also be forced through a filter system that cleanses the air of allergens and other harmful particles or fumes (depending on the type of filters in the unit).

However, although whole house units sound great in theory, there are several factors to consider in order to make sure your choice of a whole house air purifying unit is a good one. We outline these below.

Whole House Air Purifier Advantages

When an efficient, effective, safe unit is selected, whole house air purifiers:

  • Offer air purification without "boundaries" - they clean the air in your entire home.
  • Eliminate the need for multiple air purifiers around the house.
  • Provide air purification without taking up space in the living area of the house.
  • Provide air purification with little to no extra noise.
  • Offer the benefits of clean air without the effort of having to camouflage unsightly units.
  • Supply your entire family with clean air everywhere in the house, all the time.
  • Save you the expense of having to purchase both air purifier filters and HVAC filters.

What Kind of Filters Do Whole House Air Purifiers Use?

When it comes to whole house air purifiers, several different types of filters come into play. Many times units feature a combination of filters. Note that some of these filter types can produce undesirable by-products, such as ozone (see the section below called "Concerns About Whole House Air Purifiers").

  • Media filters capture larger particles.
  • Electrostatic filters use charged particles to capture smaller particles.
  • Electronic filters operate on the same principle as electrostatic filters, but feature a mesh of wires that produces a constant electrostatic field. These can capture the smallest particles.
  • UV filters use ultraviolet light to destroy bacteria and mold.

Concerns About Whole House Air Purifiers

Concerns about whole house air purifiers fall into two categories: safety and effectiveness.

Ozone by-product being released into the home is the main safety concern when it comes to whole house air filtration. This is specifically of concern when it comes to electronic filters. As the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America puts it:

"Electronic filters (ion-type cleaners, for example) use electrical charges to attract and deposit allergens and irritants. If the device contains collecting plates, the particles are captured within the system. The ion-chargers in these types of filters produce ozone byproduct, more than fans in mechanical filters but may still be within the acceptable level. Make sure to ask for proof from the manufacturer that their product is within the acceptable level of ozone byproduct."

In addition to the possibility of ozone being released due to the use of electronic filters, ozone may also be produced as a byproduct of UV sterilization systems.

The primary concern regarding the effectiveness of whole house air purification is the question of whether enough "dirty" air actually gets pulled into the system to provide effective air cleaning. When you choose a whole house unit, be sure to understand how it works so you can be certain of its effectiveness.

Comparing Whole House Air Purifiers

To be able to compare the performance of whole house air purifiers, you must understand the measurements used to calculate their effectiveness, in this case CADR and MERV.

CADR - Clean Air Delivery Rate CertificationCADR, or clean air delivery rate, was developed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) and is the "measure of a portable air cleaner's delivery of contaminant-free air, expressed in cubic feet per minute," according to the EPA.

MERV is a rating system developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) specifically for filters. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value, and it rates the filter's efficiency at removing small particles from the air that passes through it.

While you must take your home's context and the contaminants you need removed from your home's air into consideration when choosing a specific unit, CADR and MERV ratings are useful in comparing air purification systems and air filters to one another.

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Keep Winter Allergies Under Control

New Miele S7 Upright Vacuum CleanersFor those who suffer from pollen allergies in the spring and ragweed allergies in the fall, winter can seem like a welcome relief from potent allergy triggers. But while it's true that winter may mean a respite from many outdoor allergens, your indoor environment may be worse than at any other time of year. This is because you are spending more time indoors. In addition, because your home is closed off from the cold weather, and receives minimal air circulation, indoor pollutants and allergens gather in the home in concentrations higher than at other time of the year. One of these most potent allergy triggers is dust.

Vacuuming Away Those Winter Allergens

Although winter allergens can include an increase in mold and other environmental allergens vacuuming regularly to keep dust and pet dander at a minimum will have a profound effect on your winter allergy symptoms. Following are some important tips for vacuuming thoroughly:


    • Start out with a clean vacuum. In order to maximize suction and therefore the effectiveness of your vacuum cleaner, start each major vacuuming session with a cleaned out vacuum. If you have a bagless vacuum cleaner, such as a Dyson, make sure to wear a dust mask when you empty your unit so you don't inhale dust and debris. In the case of a vacuum cleaner that uses bags, such as Miele, Sebo, orElectrolux vacuum cleaners, make sure that bags aren't full and check them periodically. Also make sure to maintain vacuum filters - check them regularly and replace according to manufacturers recommendations.

Mini Blind Vacuum Attachment

    • Vacuum everything that can be vacuumed. Vacuum cleaners arent just for carpets . Just about anything that can collect dust can be vacuumed. For instance, window blinds or shutters are virtual dust magnets; make sure to vacuum them, too. Use your vacuum cleaners brush attachment, or for mini-blinds, attachments like theMiniblind Vacuum Attachment, make this task a breeze.

    Ceileing Fan Vacuum AttachmentCeiling fans are another dust collector. Although you could get up on a chair and use an electrostatic dust cloth to clean the blades (dont ever use a feather duster or plain rag, as they will simply stir more dust into the air), why not incorporate this chore into your vacuuming routine? TheCeiling Fan Vacuum Attachment makes the task quick and easy.

    Pet Brush Vacuum Attachment

    But thats not all: Even your pets can be vacuumed! The Pet Brush Vacuum Attachment lets you groom loose hairs off your pet before they collect on upholstery or in carpeting.

      Vacuum your draperies clean with a HEPA vacuumDrapery is another big dust collector that can often be vacuumed. And dont forget your mattress and upholstered furniture favorite spots for dust mites and pet dander. Vacuuming them regularly can help keep allergen levels under control.

      • Vacuum top to bottom. Start with the highest surfaces in the room like the tops of bookshelves and ceiling fan blades. This way, dust that is stirred into the air inadvertently will get picked up when you move to vacuuming the floor and carpeting.
      • The dust is in the details. Dont overlook small surfaces like door frames, window frames, and molding. These surfaces may not receive much regular cleaning, and they may be layered with dust. Once a first-time cleaning is performed, make sure to go over these surfaces regularly to keep dust from collecting.
      • Practice good technique. In addition to making sure to vacuum everything that can be vacuumed and not forgetting any of the details, the way you vacuum impacts your vacuuming routines effectiveness. Moving the vacuum cleaner slowly over surfaces maximizes the amount of dust and debris the vacuum cleaner picks up. In addition, its a good idea to pass the vacuum cleaner over each area about four times, especially when vacuuming carpeting and upholstery. Vacuuming in a few different directions also enables the vacuum to pick up more dirt. Take care not to press the vacuum cleaner down onto the carpet, as this will mat the fibers and make the carpet harder to clean in the future.
      • Dust collects fast; vacuum frequently. Although it may not be necessary to do a completely thorough vacuuming routine this often, we recommend that allergy sufferers vacuum their entire homes at least twice a week. At least, high traffic areas and bedrooms should be vacuumed this frequently. All carpets and rugs should be vacuumed at least once a week. Mattresses, upholstery, and drapery should be vacuumed regularly. And if pets are present, its a good idea to be especially frequent and regular with your vacuuming routine.

      Vacuum Cleaners: Our Top Picks

      Following are top picks in two general categories: an upright bagless unit, and a canister bag system vacuum cleaner.

      Miele Luna Canister Vacuum Cleaner The Miele Luna Vacuum Cleaner offers the best of the best with a more affordable price tag. Running at about half the price of its most luxurious cousin, the Miele Capricorn, the Miele Luna features a HEPA filter to trap microscopic allergens and a completely sealed system to ensure that dust and debris stay trapped within the vacuum cleaner. This Miele also boasts an activated carbon filter to clean chemicals and odors from your indoor air. A special floor brush allows for gentle yet effective cleaning of wood and tile floors. On-board tools include a Crevice Tool, a Dust Brush, and an Upholstery Tool. Built to last for 20 years, the Miele is durable yet lightweight. At under 11 pounds, you wont have to think twice about hauling this vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs. Regardless of the Miele you choose all are HEPA capable and now come with free expedited shipping.
      Dyson DC17 Animal Vacuum Cleaner The Dyson DC17 Animal Vacuum Cleaner, with its superior cyclone technology, is ideal for pet owners who suffer from allergies. Level 3 Root Cyclone Technology sucks up pet dander, dust, and other allergens while a lifetime HEPA filter keeps microscopic allergens from re-entering the air. In addition, the Dyson Animal comes with a host of tools to make your vacuuming routine easy and thorough at the same time. The tools, such as the Mini Turbine for cleaning stairs and the Low Reach Floor Tool for cleaning easily under beds and other hard-to-reach areas, are stored directly on the unit for easy access. The Dyson Animal is certified Asthma Friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

      Additional resources:

      Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide Vacuum Cleaner Comparison Chart

      Indoor Air Quality: Worse During Winter

      So why is indoor air so bad during the winter time? A combination of more time spent indoors by both people and pets as well as the lack of ventilation is mostly to blame. Common household pollutants such as fragrances, cleaning products, and off-gassing from various materials from upholstery to dry-cleaned clothing, are trapped inside the home, which is tightly sealed to keep the cold out and the warmth in. Smoke from a fireplace is also a potential cold weather indoor air pollutant. Furthermore, factors such as humidity from showers or the kitchen may not ventilate properly and could lead to mold and mildew production. Dust mites, too, thrive in increased humidity. (This is why it is important to monitor humidity, especially if you are counteracting dry air problems, with a humidity gauge or with your humidifying units built-in hygrometer.)

      In addition to loving the excess humidity that may be present in your home during the winter, dust mites also love the increased amount of time you are spending indoors (especially if youre spending more time snuggled up in bed, where dust mites congregate, waiting to feast on your shed skin cells) their food supply is abundant. To add to the trouble, furnaces stir up the dust that has settled on surfaces, and may even introduce dust from dirty air ducts into the air that you breathe.

      Winter allergies are in large part a product of this elevated population of dust mite allergen combined with your increased exposure time due to the longer hours spent indoors. Many times, people assume that the sniffling, headaches, itchy eyes, and sneezing they experience during the winter are extended or recurring colds. Actually, many times these are allergic reactions to the dust that accumulates during the winter. Maintaining a dust-free indoor environment can go a long way in keeping you and your family from feeling like you have a perpetual cold. The key to keeping excess levels of dust mite allergen under control during the winter months is frequent and thorough vacuuming.

      For more information about effective vacuum cleaning, see How to Vacuum Your Home to Reduce Allergens.

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      What is Allergen Load?

      Total Allergen LoadThis time of year, articles about seasonal allergies abound in newspapers and magazines. Most of them give great advice on how to avoid pollen exposure. But these articles rarely explain the crucial concept of total allergen load.

      What is Total Allergen Load, or Total Allergy Load?

      Sometimes people experience allergy symptoms in the presence of a certain allergens, and sometimes they don't. Why is that?

      Allergy symptoms appear only after you have reached your Allergic Threshold. A previous article about total allergen load explains the concept using the analogy of a bucket: Allergens, toxic chemicals, and other stressors fill up the bucket, and you experience allergy symptoms only when the bucket begins to overflow - when you reach your allergic threshold.

      In this article, let's look at another analogy: building blocks.

      AllergensSeveral different factors can contribute to your total allergen load, and each factor adds another block to the stack. Factors include not only exposure to inhalant allergens like pollen and mold, but also exposure to food allergens, chemical toxins, hormonal stressors, emotional stressors, nutritional stressors, and infectious stressors. When the stack of blocks grows higher than the allergic threshold, symptoms appear.

      As the allergy epidemic gains momentum in our modern society, more people are becoming sensitive to multiple allergens and toxins, and they experience fluctuations in their total allergy load. Sometimes pollen bothers them; sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes dairy causes indigestion; sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a cleaning chemical triggers an asthma attack; sometimes it doesn't. It all depends on how many blocks are stacked up in the individual's total allergen load.

      Dust Mite CoversHere's the key to reducing your total allergen load and eliminating symptoms: You must treat all of the different contributing factors - not just one. For example, if you experience uncharacteristically severe reactions to pollen this year, of course you should try to reduce your exposure to pollen, but you should also take a look at the other blocks in your stack. Place an Allergy Armor cover on your pillow to reduce inhaled dust mite allergen, and you may find that your seasonal allergies fade. Likewise, you should reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals, find ways to reduce stress, and eat healthy and exercise to strengthen your immune system.

      On his personal blog, Dr. George F. Kroker, MD FACAAI, illustrates total allergy load treatment with the tale of a man who has three splinters in his foot. The man finds one splinter and removes it, but he's still in pain, so he puts the splinter back in place. Then the man finds another splinter, removes it - and he's still in pain. The man in this parable is missing the big picture: It's the combination of all three splinters that's causing his pain.

      All too often during allergy season, people focus on avoiding pollen but lose sight of other treatment options that would make them feel better.

      To learn more, see How to Decrease Your Total Allergen Load.

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      Top Three Fall Allergy Relief Products

      Top 3 Fall Allergy Relief Products at AchooAllergy.com

      With the start of the month of September, summer allergy concerns, like stinging insect allergies, are largely behind us. Hopefully by now, we have made all our preparations for staying safe in school and for dealing with food allergies. Next up on the calendar is gearing up for the inevitable fall allergies that for many people are as bad as spring allergies.

      Thankfully, an environmental control regimen, especially one implemented before pollen counts begin to climb, can make the difference between a miserable battle with allergy symptoms and a relatively easy-breathing allergy season.

      Here are our top recommendations and product picks to help you prepare for fall allergies:

      Narial Nasal Cup - Neti PotNasal irrigation - To begin a symptom avalanche, pollen and other allergens first enter the body through your nose. Products like neti potsand the SinuPulse Nasal Irrigation System wash this pollen and other allergens from your nasal passages. Make it a habit to rinse our your sinuses first thing in the morning, after a stint outdoors, or any time your eyes, nose, or throat start to feel itchy or watery.

      Replace Air Purifier FiltersAir purification - When one allergen is prolific, it's important to minimize the presence of all allergens in order to keep your total allergen load in check. HEPA air purifiers capture fall's most prevalent allergens, like pollen and mold spores, but they also tackle year round allergens like dust mites and pet dander. Keep in mind that increased allergens dirty filters faster, so remember to change your air purifier's filters for top performance.

      Window filters - Opening windows for air circulation is not only a welcome change from having your house shut up against the summer heat, but also it's healthy for indoor air circulation. However, letting in pollen along with this fresh air is obviously counterproductive. Using window filters gives you the best of both worlds. You reap the benefits of fresh air without the introduction of additional allergens into your home.

      For more fall allergy tips, see our Fall Allergy Survival Guide.

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      Top Five Steam Cleaner Myths

      5 Steam Cleaner Myths Busted
      As a way to truly deep clean your home, kill germs, sanitize and remove allergens, steam cleaners are a cleaning tool that can replace many of the items you already have in your closet. Despite their increased popularity and the utter glut of Shark steam cleaner infomercials, steam cleaners and steam cleaning your home is still misunderstood by many people. Here are some of the most common steam cleaner myths.

      1. Steam Cleaners Aren't Good for Hardwood Floors

        This is a partial myth. There are a variety of variables that need to be hammered out to answer that question for any given situation. What type of hardwoods do you have? How are they finished? What type of steam cleaner are you using on them?

        Excessive heat or water can damage your flooring, but for durable finishes, steam mops and even most steam cleaners will work fine. As with anything, ALWAYS test in an inconspicuous area, and one of the best things you can do is keep an even relative humidity level in the room. This limits the expansion and contraction of the wood. It's not recommended to use a steam cleaner frequently on this type of flooring but occasional use with a model that has a very low percentage of moisture content in the steam won't likely cause any problems.

      2. All Steam Cleaners Are the Same

        Ladybug 2350XL Steam CleanersThis is a common misconception about steam cleaners. There are three distinct styles of steam cleaners - mops, handhelds, and canister style steam cleaners. Each are uniquely suited for different tasks. Beyond this, real differences can be found between the different brands of steam cleaners. Some steam cleaners, likeLadybug steam cleaners have patented systems that are EPA certified to actually disinfect your home. Commonly, these differences revolve around price, durability, where they were manufactured, water heating method, and features.

      3. A Cheap Steam Cleaner Is Just as Good as a More Expensive Model

        Not All Steam Cleaners Are EqualAgain, this is another very common myth about steam cleaners. Steam cleaners are like any other home appliance and 9 times out of 10, you get what you pay for. Inexpensive models are often constructed of inferior materials, have a higher percentage of moisture in their steam, and typically do not hold up well beyond a year or two. Internal components, though impossible to see, largely determine the longevity of steam cleaner. So things like heating elements, boiler construction, and internal circuitry are more likely to fail sooner in less expensive models.

      4. Steam Cleaner, Carpet Cleaner... Same Thing, Right?

        Steam Cleaner ≠ Carpet CleanerNot even close. The confusion here often lies with people conflating two terms, steam cleaner and hot water extractor, commonly referred to as a carpet cleaner.

        A steam cleaner heats water to the point of boiling, where it changes from a liquid to a gas. The actual water content of the steam produced by a quality steam cleaner is less than 10% and usually evaporates in minutes. Lastly, steam cleaners are not like vacuums. So, unless they have a special vacuum feature built into them, like theReliable EV1 Tandem, a steam cleaner does NOT suck up debris or moisture.

        A hot water extractor heats water but never changes the water to pure steam. Hot water extractors are commonly used to clean carpets, and while this method does remove a great deal of debris that is embedded in carpet, it typically leaves behind a great deal of moisture takes hours and even days to dry. This can lead to possible mold issues in places where moisture becomes trapped, the humidity level is high or where the water does not dry fast enough. The easiest way to remember this is to think of a hot water extractor as a giant wet vac.

      5. Steam Cleaners Are Great for Carpet

        Reliable Steam MopSteam cleaners are great, so that part is true. However, if you intend to use a steam cleaner on carpeted areas, you have to have some sort of carpet specific attachment (a carpet "sole") attachment. This is a smooth plastic tool that attaches to the floor attachment of the steam cleaner. This allows the steam cleaner to glide across carpeted flooring (instead of catching like the cloth towel or bristles floor tool alone would). Some steam cleaners still do not come with this attachment, and while a steam cleaner on carpet will sanitize and release odors, you still must vacuum right afterwards to remove any debris.

      Steam cleaners are a wonderful green cleaning method that eliminates germs, bacteria, allergens, dirt and grime without the use of harsh chemical cleaners. Hopefully by dispelling a few of the common steam cleaner myths, we can help you make a better decision when you decide to begin cleaning for more than just appearances - but start cleaning for your health.

      Steam Cleaner Buying Guide Steam Cleaner Buying Guide Steam Cleaner Comparison Chart Compare Steam Cleaners Steam Cleaners FAQ Steam Cleaner FAQ
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      Three Ways to Combat the Effects of Dry Air

      Enviracaire EWM-211DHome Humidity
      As temperatures drop and heaters all over the country are being cranked up, it's important to be aware of an insidious trigger of allergy symptoms-- dry air inside the home. Heating systems can have the unwanted and detrimental effect of reducing the moisture present in the air. The resulting dry indoor air can lead to many problems including dry skin, itchy throats, and irritated nasal membranes. If you've ever seen the effects of dry air on wooden furniture, for example, it should come as no surprise that such air is harmful to your own much more delicate tissues.

      Allergy sufferers are particularly prone to the discomfort caused by dry indoor air. And individuals suffering from sinusitis must be especially careful to maintain a comfortable level of moisture in the air during the colder months since dry, irritated nasal passages lead to inflammation and flare-ups. Here are some ways to fight the problems associated with dry indoor air.

      Monitor Your Home's Humidity with a Humidity Gauge

      The first step in maintaining a healthy level of humidity in the home is knowing how much moisture is in fact in your air. A humidity gauge, also called a hygrometer, like the Acu-Rite Digital Humidity Gauge is an indispensable tool in monitoring your home's humidity.

      Just exactly how humid should your home be? Experts recommend that indoor humidity levels for allergy and asthma sufferers be kept between 40% and 50%. If the humidity level isn't high enough, you will still suffer the effects of dry indoor air; but humidity levels that are too high encourage mold growth and dust mite propagation. Because of this, we recommend leaning toward the lower side of this range and adjust your humidity up until you reach a comfortable level. Some humidifiers, like the Air-O-Swiss 7135 Ultrasonic Humidifier, contain their own built-in humidity gauges.

      Maintain Proper Humidity Levels with a Humidifier

      Humidifiers, as their name suggests, add moisture to the air, thereby alleviating the effects of dry air. There are four main types of humidifiers:Air-O-Swiss Humidifiers

      • True steam or warm mist humidifiers boil water and release steam into the air like the AirOSwiss S450 Steam Humidifier. This model is unique in that though it boils the water, the steam that is released won't burn.
      • Ultrasonic humidifiers, which create water droplets through an ultrasonic frequency and then send them into the air in the form of a cool mist. The Air-O-Swiss 7142 Humidifier, which provides both warm and cool mist and easy-to-use manual controls along with anti-microbial components, is an excellent choice in this category.
      • Impeller/Air Washer humidifiers, which also create a cool fog using a rotating disc. For superior humidity control at whisper-quiet sound levels, the Air-O-Swiss Air Washer and Humidifier is a great choice. It also features an antimicrobial Hydro Stick to keep your water cleaner.
      • Wick or evaporative humidifiers, which draw water from a reservoir and use a fan to cause the surrounding air to absorb the water. We carry several brands of evaporative humidifiers.

      Deciding which humidifier is right for your family's needs depends on a number of factors, such as whether warm or cool mist is better for you, whether you desire the option of adding medicine to the humidifier, how quiet you need the unit to be, how often you're able to refill your unit, operating costs, and how much germ protection you want your unit to have.

      HumidifiersOur Humidifier Buying Guide can help you choose the unit that's right for you and keep you and your family from the effects of dry air during the cold winter months.

      Note: It is extremely important that you follow manufacturer's instructions regarding the maintenance of your unit, especially when it comes to cleaning your humidifier. Improperly maintained humidifiers can introduce mold, bacteria, and other microorganisms into the air that you breathe.

      Stop Sinus Problems Before they Start with the SinuPulse Nasal Irrigation System

      SinuPulse Elite Advanced Nasal Irrigation SystemDry air is especially problematic for individuals who are prone to sinus infections. Breathing dry indoor air can irritate nasal passages, causing them to become inflamed, ultimately leading to flare-ups of sinusitis.

      Sinus rinsing and moisturizing is a simple and efficient way to both prevent sinusitis symptoms and to eliminate sinus infections if they do occur. The SinuPulse Elite Advantage Nasal Irrigation System is a comfortable way to keep sinuses properly moisturized and rinsed. Designed by Swiss engineers, the SinuPulse Elite washes away offending allergens and dirt in the nasal passages, gently moisturizes, clears congestion, and increases healthy blood flow in the sinuses. The SinuPulse may also be used with a throat irrigator tip and a throat mist irrigator tip, an added benefit for treating dry, itchy throats that often result from dry indoor air.

      To read more about sinus problems and the benefits of nasal irrigation, see the article,
      Dr. Robert Ivker: 'Love Your Nose' - A Holistic Approach to Sinusitis Treatment.Sinus Relief from Dry Air

      Knowing about the harmful effects of over-dry air in the home is the first step in taking action. Making sure that you add the right amount of moisture into the air with a humidifying unit and monitoring moisture levels in the air with a humidity gauge can counteract the problems caused by dry indoor air. And for those with particular sensitivities, a nasal irrigation program is a great way to keep sinus problems at bay.

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      Surviving Pet Allergies

      The first step in taking control of pet allergies is understanding what causes an allergic reaction to pets in the first place. Many people mistakenly believe that it is the pet's fur that causes allergies. While this is partially true, the main culprit in inciting allergic reactions is pet dander, which is the animal's skin. Pet dander, particularly cat dander, is extremely small and light (down to approximately 2.5 microns), making it easily airborne and hard to capture. In addition to remaining in the air where it's easily inhaled, pet dander can penetrate fabric and upholstery. Additional pet allergens include animals' urine, and saliva residue, and their fur.

      Specifically and here we get down to the mechanics of an allergic reaction to pets, allergic individuals react to certain proteins found in the animals: skin cells, urine, fur, or saliva. The bodies of those with pet allergies, mistakenly identifying these proteins as harmful, produce allergy-inducing antibodies to combat them. When these proteins are encountered, through physical contact or inhalation, the immune system generates an inflammatory response, leading to allergy symptoms.

      So in a nutshell, a person with pet allergies has a hypersensitive immune system that reacts to proteins that are not actually harmful, but which make an allergic person miserable.

      While it's obvious that the presence of pets can lead to allergic reactions, even if you don't own any pets, you could be reacting to pet allergens. This is because pet dander is extremely light and sticky  it can stay in the air, in carpets, upholstery, and fabric, and on surfaces long after pets are removed from a home. Sensitive individuals may even react to pet dander that's on the clothing or in the car of a person who owns pets.

      Signs of Pet Allergies While pet allergy symptoms resemble other common allergy symptoms, it's helpful to know the common allergic reactions to pets. Following are some signs of pet allergies, as detailed by the Mayo Clinic:

      According to the et allergies. This is especially true with cats — people who are allergic to animals are twice as likely to be allergic to cats as to dogs.

      While standard advice and the common sense approach dictate either avoiding dogs or cats at others' homes or getting rid of any pets that are owned by allergic individuals, life itself isn't always that simple. For instance, what about the man who dates the girl whose cats are her �babies�? How can he spend time with her at her house? And what happens when one thing leads to another and they get married? Will she really want to banish her pets from her household and life? For many of us, pets are family, and being allergic to them is almost like being allergic to a human loved one.

      Situations like this are all too common. Thankfully, with some education and dedication, allergen avoidance through environmental control can be applied to pet allergies as effectively as to other types of allergies.

      What Causes Pet Allergies?

      Pet Allergy solutions
      • Sneezing
      • Runny nose
      • Itchy, red or watery eyes
      • Nasal congestion
      • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat Postnasal drip
      • Cough Facial pressure and pain
      • Frequent awakening
      • Swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
      • In a child, frequent upward rubbing of the nose

      pet allergies and asthma Pet allergies leading to asthma may also include the following symptoms:

      • Difficulty breathing
      • Chest tightness or pain
      • Audible whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
      • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
      • Bouts of coughing or wheezing that are worsened by a respiratory virus such as a cold or the flu

      If you or someone in your household experiences any of these symptoms, pet allergies may be to blame. Keep reading to discover ways to combat pet allergens in your environment.

      pet allergies and asthma Inflammation caused by allergic reactions to pets may also lead to skin irritation, including the following signs of allergic dermatitis:

      • Raised, red patches of skin (hives)
      • Itchy skin




      Medical Treatment for Pet Allergies

      Common treatment for pet allergies is similar to that used for dealing with any allergy. Allergy medications including antihistamines, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, and decongestants are all available, as are asthma medications for both long-term and short-term control of the condition. Some people also choose to undergo immunotherapy, which involves a series of shots that can help the body "learn" not to react to particular allergens. This is usually a last resort, as maintenance shots are necessary about every month for about five years.

      Pet Allergy Relief

      While the above-mentioned solutions may provide temporary suppression of pet allergy symptoms, what we here at achoo! ALLERGY are interested in and what you are presumably seeking as well is actual pet allergy relief, which can be achieved through environmental control. Following are some pet allergy solutions that, in combination with one another, are sure to make living with your pets (or visiting your home) much more bearable:

      1. Create an allergy-free zone. Designate one area of the house that will remain off-limits to pets. If you or one of your family members is the allergic individual, keep pets out of the bedrooms occupied by the allergy sufferers. Absolutely keep pets off the bed. You spend about one-third of your life sleeping, and it's crucial to get good sleep that's uninterrupted by allergy attacks. Mattresses, bedding, and pillows are particularly susceptible to infestation by allergens, especially pet dander with its super-tiny size. An additional problem is that dust mites love to feed on pet dander (in addition to your own shed skin cells); pet dander in the bedroom may increase dust mite populations.Clearly, a critical component of creating an allergy-free zone in the bedroom is making sure to protect your immediate sleeping area from allergens by usingallergy relief bedding. When combating the effects of pet dander, Allergy Armor ULTRA is the way to go. With the smallest average pore size in the industry, Allergy Armor ULTRA bedding guards against pet dander as well as dust mites, pollen, mold, and other allergens. Also consider an Allergy Armor Pillow, which is constructed with allergen barrier fabric to keep allergens from entering your pillow in the first place. Considering that the average pillow increases by 10% of its weight in a year due to the accumulation of allergens, might it be time to replace your pillows anyway?

        If space allows, consider assigning a living room, family room, or parlor as a no-pet zone where allergic guests can congregate. Train dogs and cats to stay out of that room in order to minimize pet dander and fur from gathering in that room's carpeting and upholstered furniture.

      2. Anti Allergen Pet ShampooWash your pets regularly. While it's significantly less popular with cats than with many dogs, washing pets to clean them of pet dander, urine and saliva residue, and loose fur keeps these allergens from collecting in your home. The Ecology Works Pet Allergy Shampoodenatures the protein that causes pet allergies and also helps control fleas and ticks. Allerpet/C for cats and Allepet/D for dogs are made to use with a washcloth following grooming. For even less fuss, and great for quick cleansing before allergic guests arrive, use Quick Bath Cleansing Wipes for Cats and Quick Bath Cleansing Wipes for Dogs. All these products non-toxic and gentle, making them safe for both you and your pet.As an adjunct to washing your pets, try using the Pet Brush Vacuum Attachmentto remove loose fur and dander before it collects in your home. The vacuum cleaner's roar may send cats scurrying, but many dogs actually enjoy the process.
      3. Clean your home with extra care. When pet allergies are a problem, cleaning frequently and thoroughly is a must. Using machines and products specifically designed to alleviate pet allergies makes your cleaning routine particularly effective. For instance, the Dyson DC17 Animal Vacuum Cleaner, hailed as the �ultimate cleaning tool for allergic pet owners,� excels at picking up microscopic allergens such as pet dander from carpeting, floors, and upholstery. Furthermore, as with all Dyson machines, its patented root cyclone technology makes for a vacuum that never clogs or loses suction.Eureka Power Paw Universal Vacuum AttachmentThe Eureka Power Paw Turbo Attachment also makes cleaning up pet hair and its accompanying allergens a snap. This universal turbo attachment helps you vacuum those hard-to-reach areas like the vertical rises of carpeted stairs or upholstery backs where allergens collect. It's also great for vacuuming the car and for cleaning dust, pet dander, and other allergens out of crevices in your home, car, or office.

        Pet hair seems to collect everywhere. For quick and hassle-free cleanups, try Gonzo's amazing Pet Hair Lifter Sponge. Simply wipe in short strokes on upholstery, throw rugs - and don't forget those lampshades! This sponge can be used over and over again and uses no residue-leaving chemicals.

        Austin Air Pet Machine Air Purifier

      4. Filter the air. Any complete allergy treatment regimen calls for air purification and dealing with pet allergies is no exception. Austin Air's Pet Machine is specifically designed for allergic pet owners and will trap pet dander, dust mite allergen, mold, dirt, pollen, and other allergens while simultaneously removing pet odors with its carbon blend filter.
      5. Have nasal irrigation products on hand. When you or a guest does experience a flare-up  from pet allergies, a nasal rinse can work wonders by removing the offending allergens from nasal passages. Neti pots like the Narial Nasal Cup or the NeilMed NasaFlo SalineNarial Nasal Cup Rinse Kit allow users to safely and effectively clear their nasal passages from allergens using warm water and an all-natural saline solution. For less adventurous allergy sufferers, you can go with more traditional nasal irrigation products such as the NeilMed Bottle Kit or the Breathe-ease Nasal Wash System, which offer relief in the form of more familiar nasal sprays.
      6. Feed your pets quality food. My-Pet-Medicine.com offers this advice: �Feeding your cat a healthy diet specific to his needs as determined by your veterinarian will enhance your cat's skin, and coat, and allow your cat to more successfully fend off disease. In general, since cats are carnivores, they need a meat-based diet to stay healthy. Healthy skin and coat go a long way towards reducing cat dander and shedding.� The same may be applied to dogs.
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      Steam Cleaners and Allergy Relief

      Steam Cleaners and Allergy ReleifThere's no practical way to eliminate all allergens from your environment. But, eliminating as many as possible can make enough of a difference to cut down on allergy symptoms drastically, if not eliminate them. The more environmental control strategies you implement is often directly proportional to the amount of relief you feel.

      Using a steam cleaner supplements fundamental allergy relief products, such as air purifiers andallergy relief bedding, to get those deep down allergens other tools can't tackle. Here's what we mean: Suppose you vacuum every day, have air purifiers running to cover every square inch of the house, change your furnace filters regularly, and take shoes off at the door. Yet when you sit on your favorite comfy couch, you erupt in sneezes, your eyes gets itchy and watery, and your nose starts to run.

      Enter steam cleaners which can clean deep down into upholstery with steam so hot that it dries almost instantaneously. Dust mites, pollen grains, pet dander, and mold spores are killed or neutralized and brought to the surface, where they are accessible to a quick sweep with the vacuum cleaner.

      Steam cleaners are also fantastic for loosening dirt and grime from notoriously difficult to cleanSteam Cleaners and Allergy Releif places like grout between bathroom tiles, grills, or the oven - without the use of harsh chemicals that may aggravate allergies, asthma, or multiple chemical sensitivities. Eliminating the need for such chemicals is another way steam cleaners provide allergy relief. When allergy sufferers don't have to use powerful chemicals to clean, they don't have to breathe in their fumes or touch. Respiratory and skin irritation are less of a concern when you're simply using water and heat.

      Steam cleaners can also be used to clean drapery, which is another rarely cleaned hotspot for allergens to collect. In addition, many drapery fabrics require dry cleaning which uses chemicals that could irritate sensitive airways and respiratory systems. Steam cleaning drapery solves both the cleaning issue and the dry cleaning chemicals issue by providing an overall clean without the harmful substances.

      Steam Cleaners and Allergy ReleifAside from helping to eliminate harmful chemicals from your home, steam cleaning can also release trapped odors. For anyone with pets, you may notice a slight odor after steam cleaning your hard flooring. Usually, it will smell a little like your pet does after a bath. This is because steam cleaners use heat transfer to unlock odor particles and release them into the air. After the floors are dry, and the room airs, there is a noticeable difference in how the room smells.

      And while many people may think steam cleaners are expensive, there are a variety of styles and models available to fit nearly anyone's budget or cleaning needs. So whether it's cleaning allergens that other allergy relief solutions simply cannot get to or providing a safe and vastly more effective solution to harsh cleaning chemicals, steam cleaners are a powerful addition to any plan for environmental control of allergens. Indeed, steam cleaners and allergy relief go hand in hand.

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      Window Treatments and Allergy Sufferers

      Chemicals are present in dry cleaning.

      Spring cleaning is the perfect time to tackle those cleaning tasks that seem especially difficult. One of these chores is cleaning window treatments which are dust hotbeds. Allergy sufferers must pay attention to their cleanliness, but they also must pay attention to how they clean. Below are some tips and alternatives that will help you clean and help you breathe better all
      year long.

      Chemicals are present in dry cleaning.

      Chemicals are present in dry cleaning.

        • Don't dry clean. Traditional drapery poses two problems for allergy sufferers.  First, the fabric is a dust magnet, especially if the treatment involves outer curtains and linings. These drapes are rarely, if ever cleaned. Secondly, when drapery is cleaned, it often requires dry cleaning. Dry cleaning chemicals can pollute indoor air and aggravate multiple chemical sensitivity and asthma. They even might trigger allergy attacks. Avoid these chemicals when possible, and air out dry cleaned items before bringing them into the home.

      Reliable Pronto Handheld Steam Cleaner

        • Steam clean your drapes.  Steam mops and steam cleaners are allergy-friendly alternatives to dry cleaning. They use only heat and water to clean and sanitize nearly any surface in your home. Some options, like the combined Gruene Steam Cleaner and Mop,clean floors, furniture, drapes, and more. Or choose an exclusively portable unit like the Reliable Pronto Steam Cleaner. As a whole home cleaning solution, try a Ladybug steam cleaner. Especially when equipped with TANCS, they are a versatile, durable, and extremely effective tool to deep clean and sanitize the home.
        • Allergen WashUse washable curtains. If you want to use curtains, consider more allergy-friendly options like less heavy curtains that you can wash in the washing machine at home. For delicate fabrics that might get ruined with hot water, be sure to use a dust mite killing additive likeAllersearch Allergen Wash, De-mite Laundry Additive, or Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent. These are effective in all temperatures of water.
      • Don't use curtains at all. A final option is to dispense with curtains altogether. Consider leaving windows undressed, especially if privacy is not an issue or if the windows themselves are decorative. Or, use shutters or blinds that can be easily vacuumed or dusted. The mini-blind vacuum attachment helps with this chore, as do dust cloths.

      This spring, consider ditching allergy causing window treatments altogether in favor of more allergy-friendly options and make your cleaning routine - and your allergies - a little more manageable.

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      Enviracaire Humidifiers Maintenance

      Enviracaire and Slant Fin Maintenance

      The following instructions, maintenance tips, and trouble shooting techniques apply to the following Enviracaire warm mist humidifiers: the EWM-211D, the EWM-300W, and the EWM 350.

      Slant Fin Humidifier Operating Instructions

      Enviracaire EWM 300

      1. Place the base of the unit on a firm, flat, level and water resistant surface.
      2. Fill the water tanks according to the instructions below and place on Enviracaire humidifier base.
      3. Plug the power cord firmly and completely into the wall outlet.
      4. Turn the power switch to either the LO or HI position (Lights may flicker momentarily). Then turn the relative humidity knob clockwise until you hear a faint click and the power light comes on. It will be normal for the humidifier to take a few minutes to warm up and begin to mist.
      5. When the water tanks are empty, (approximately 36 hours running time), the "Refill When Lit" lamp will go on, and the unit will stop heating. Refer to the "Filling the Water Tank" section below.
      6. Whenever the water falls below the level of the probes during operation, the heating element will shut off and stop heating, and the Refill indicator will light.
      7. The unit will operate as long as there is water in either tank and unit will operate with either one or both tanks.

      Slant Fin Humidifier Mineral Absorption Pad Instructions

      Mineral Absorbtion PadsWarm mist humidifiers do not spread fine mineral dust into the air that you breathe nor on your furniture, the way that other type Enviracaire humidifiers do. The mineral dust remains trapped in the humidifier hot water reservoir. Use of mineral absorption pads will play a major role in capturing and removing minerals from hot water reservoir, and preventing a stubborn mineral buildup. The unit can run without pads, but more frequent cleaning will be required.

      1. Before starting humidifier, place mineral absorption pad in the hot water reservoir. After the humidifier has been operating, the water will become Hot, and caution should be exercised when handling mineral absorption pad. It is best to allow humidifier water to cool down, and to use tongs or long tweezers when handling pad.
      2. The useful life of the mineral absorption pad will vary, depending on the mineral content of the water used. In areas of moderate mineral content water supply, themineral absorption pad should be changed after approximately (3) weeks of continuous use. If the water is "Hard Water", the pad should be changed more frequently.

        The best way to tell when the pad should be changed is to examine it after the water has cooled down, to see if it is still soft and pliable. When the pad is near the end of its life, it becomes stiff and hard and should be replaced with a new pad. Another sign to change pad is when scale begins to buildup on interior of hot water reservoir. If pad appears to disintegrate (normally due to use of softened water), discontinue use of pads.

      Filling the Water Tank on the Slant Fin Humidifier

      1. Before filling the water tanks, turn the Power switch to the "Off" position and unplug unit.
      2. Remove water tanks from base, turn each tank upside down and remove tank cap by turning counterclockwise. Fill tank with clean cold tap water. If using distilled water, add a few grains of table salt to each tank. Replace the tank cap by turning clockwise. Tighten firmly.
      3. Carefully pick up tank, since it will be heavy when full, and slippery if wet.
      4. Place water tanks on base. Make sure tanks are properly placed, otherwise, theEnviracaire humidifier will not work correctly.

      Using the Slant Fin Humidifier Medication Cup

      1. In order to add a medicated vapor to the "mist" output:
      2. Turn the Power switch to the "Off" position and allow the steam diffuser to cool.
      3. Carefully add liquid medication to medicine cup. Do not fill the cup more than half full.
      4. Carefully place medicine cup on top of steam diffuser.
      5. Turn the Power switch to either the LO or HI position.
      6. After use, remove the cup from the unit and clean any residue from the cup with warm water.

      *Warning - Do not use any liquid medication other than those specifically recommended for use with a steam vaporizer or warm mist humidifier. Do not pour medication directly into the steam diffuser openings nor add it to the water in the tank or tray.

      Changing the Slant Fin Humidifier UV Germicidal Bulb

      Humidifier Replacement UV Bulb

      1. If the "REPLACE UV BULB" indicator illuminates during normal use, it is time to change the UV germicidal bulb, which is a special 3.5 W bulb.
      2. turn the POWER switch to the "OFF" position, unplug it and allow it to cool.
      3. Remove the water tanks from the base of the Enviracaire humidifier. Remove steam diffuser and steam dome by rotating them counterclockwise and lift up.
      4. Place the base of the humidifier over the sink and tilt the unit to remove any remaining water.
      5. Carefully turn the base of the humidifier over and place it upside down on a flat level surface. You will see a door at front of unit that is closed with two Phillips head screws.
      6. Using a Phillips head screwdriver, carefully turn the screws counterclockwise until the screws separate from the door.
      7. Open the door, by pulling forward. The UV germicidal light bulb will be visible. Pull the door out the minimum amount to have access to unscrew bulb from socket.
      8. Take a 3.5W UV germicidal replacement bulb that you purchased from Slant/Fin Corporation or another supplier and change the bulb. To prolong the life of the bulb, limit your direct contact with the glass of the bulb by using a cloth or tissue to screw it into place.
      9. When the new bulb is in place, close the door and replace the screws by using your Phillips head screwdriver and rotating them clockwise until they are just tight. Do not over tighten.
      10. Do not turn power on, while UV lamp door is open, and Do not view illuminated bulb directly because eye damage may occur.
      11. Turn the unit upright, place the water tanks on top of the base of the humidifier, plug the unit in, and turn the Power switch to either the LO or HI position. The "Replace UV Bulb" indicator should no longer be lit.

      *Important Note - Even though you will not receive maximum germicidal effects, you can still use your humidifier until the replacement bulb arrives.

      Slant Fin Humidifier Storage Tips

      If you do not plan to use your Enviracaire humidifier for an extended period of time, such as during the summer months, it is important that you follow these instructions to help prevent problems from developing in the unit.

      Clean your humidifier

      1. Clean your humidifier as instructed.
      2. Make sure all water is emptied from the tanks and the hot and cold water reservoirs.
      3. Dry your unit thoroughly.
      4. Leave the tank caps off to expose the tanks to air.
      5. Pack your humidifier in its original carton and store it in a cool, dry place.

      Slant Fin Humidifier Troubleshooting

      Unit does not mist Unit is not plugged in
      Power failure
      Water tanks empty
      Power switch not turned on
      Unit not reset after refilling tanks
      Water tank not property
      located on base unit
      Humidity level set is achieved

      Using distilled or treated water
      which does not contain enough
      Only one tank empties

      Plug in unit
      Check circuit breaker
      Remove and refill
      Turn on switch to LO or HI
      Reposition water tanks
      Reposition water tanks

      Turn Relative Humidity
      Control to higher setting
      Add "pinch" of table salt

      Move unit to level surface.
      Raise end with full tank.

      Water leaks from unit Tank cap or tank cap
      gasket is missing or improperly positioned
      Tighten cap.
      Replace tank cap
      or reposition cap
      Moist air output low Mineral buildup in hot water
      Clean unit per instructions
      Refill indicator light on Water level is below water
      level probes
      Water level probes
      are covered with film
      Mineral buildup in hot water
      Refill water tanks
      and mount tanks on base
      Clean probes per
      cleaning instructions
      Clean unit per
      cleaning instructions
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      The Science of a Sneeze

      Also known as a sternutation, a sneeze dispels irritating particles from the nose. Dr. Pamela Georgeson describes a sneeze as "a sudden violent spasmodic audible expiration of breath through the nose and mouth, especially as a reflex act."
      A sneeze begins with the release of signal chemicals like histamine or leukotrienes, which are manufactured by inflammatory cells. Several substances can cause the release of these chemicals, including allergens, viruses, smoke, pollution, perfumes, and other particles.In the case of an allergy-induced sneeze, IgE antibodies must be present; they cause blood vessels in the nose to leak fluid, which in turn causes an itching sensation and stimulates nerve endings. This nerve stimulation triggers a reflex response in the brain.

      The "sneeze center" is located in the brainstem, the lower part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord and regulates several automatic activities like breathing, pain sensitivity - and sneezing! Damage to the brain stem can result in the inability to sneeze.

      Sanitary Sneezing

      A sneeze can expel 40,000 droplets into the air at speeds well over 100 mph; some have been estimated to travel at over 600 mph! A sneeze is the perfect vehicle for the wide transmission of diseases from Viruses, bacteria, and other microbes in the nose.

      When you feel a sneeze coming, try to avoid sneezing onto your hands; grab a tissue instead! After your sternutation, dispose of the tissue properly and wash your hands. This will greatly reduce the transmission of germs.

      How to Prevent Sneezing Fits

      Medications can help prevent sneezes. Antihistamines, for example, block the action of histamine, and decongestants loosen congestion in the nose; both of these drugs can mute the sneeze reflex.

      You can also prevent sneezing by keeping your environment free of allergens and other irritants. For instance, allergy sufferers should use only HEPA-filtered vacuum cleanersto trap allergens; otherwise, the act of vacuuming simply stirs up allergens and sets the stage for a sneezing fit. Also see A Beginner's Guide to Environmental Control of Allergens.

      Facts about Sneezes

        • Your eyes are always closed when you sneeze. (Note: Adam Savage of Discovery Channel'sMythbusters recently proved that it is possible to sneeze with your eyes open - by holding them open. No, his eyes did not pop out of his head - but don't try this at home; it could cause serious injury.)
        • If you try to stop a sneeze by pinching your nose, you could rupture an eardrum by forcing the sternutation into the eustachian tube (which connects the throat and inner ear).
        • Thomas Edison used his early movie camera (kinetoscope) to film and study sneezes. "Fred Ott's Sneeze" by Thomas Edison was the first motion picture to be copyrighted in the United States.
        • Pepper is known for making people sneeze; it contains the irritating chemical piperine.
        • Some people have a "photic sneeze reflex" and are stimulated to sneeze by bright light.
        • "Snatiation" is a medical disorder in which a full stomach causes uncontrollable sneezing.
      • The human nose produces an estimated one to two pints of mucus per day.

      Sneeze Onomatopoeia from Around the World

      In the U.S. "achoo!" represents a sneeze. Here's a look at sneeze onomatopoeia from around the world, which suggest that a sneeze sounds like a sneeze no matter where you go:

      • Finland - "atsiuh!"
      • France - "atchoum!"
      • Germany - "hatschie"
      • Italy - "etciu!"
      • Japan - "hakushon!"
      • Poland - "apsik!"
      • Portugal - "atchim!"
      • Romania - "hapciu!"
      • Spain - "achu!" or "hachis!"
      • Sweden - "atjo!"
      • Turkey - "hapsu!"
      Read More

      Royal-Pedic Owner Tony Kelemen

      Royal-Pedic MattressesIn honor of the re-structuring of the Royal-Pedic section of our site, we talked with owner Tony Kelemen a little bit about his insider experience with the best mattresses in the world.

      I understand that your family purchased Royal-Pedic in 1984 from the founding family, the Kaplans. How did your family, the Kelemens, develop an interest in mattress-making?

      Previously, our family business was high end pottery manufacturing. When Royal-Pedic became available for sale, and we learned about its fine reputation for uncompromising quality, as well as a celebrity clientele including a vast list of movie stars and even U.S. Presidents, we made the transition into mattress manufacturing.

      Can you describe the step-by-step process of making a Royal-Pedic mattress?

      Royal-Pedic MattressesEach Royal-Pedic mattress is hand crafted using the finest materials available from around the world. Our factory craftsmen are paid hourly, rather than per piece. This results in high standards of quality, rather than rushing to get the order done. Each Royal-Pedic mattress is constructed somewhat differently than the other, so it's not easy to generalize a step-by-step process of making a Royal-Pedic mattress.

      What is the most rewarding part of your job?

      The most rewarding part of my job is when customers are happy with their new mattresses and they are sleeping better than ever, which can improve all aspects of their lives.

      What type of customers make up the majority of your clientele? Do you see many customers with allergies, asthma, or multiple chemical sensitivities?

      Royal-Pedic MattressesOur customers are value-oriented. They want quality, healthy ingredients, and a of course a good night's sleep. And yes, we do have many customers with allergies, or other sensitivities that need mattresses without all the bad chemicals.

      Purchasing a Royal-Pedic mattress is a significant investment. In your estimation, what's the most compelling reason to purchase a Royal-Pedic mattress?

      Handmade high quality construction backed by over six decades of master craftsmanship producing absolutely the best mattresses available.

      How long are your mattresses expected to last?Royal-Pedic Mattresses

      Hygienically speaking, it's good to change out a mattress approximately every ten years. Even though we have customers that have had our mattresses for much longer, we try not to over-inflate the expected life of the mattress, so we say give or take ten years.

      Royal-Pedic Buying Guide Royal-Pedic Buying Guide Royal-Pedic Achoo! Staff Review Royal-Pedic Achoo! Staff Review
      Royal-Pedic Craftsmanship and Delivery Royal-Pedic Craftsmanship & Delivery Royal-Pedic Company History Royal-Pedic Company History
      Royal-Pedic FAQ Royal-Pedic FAQ Why buy a Royal-Pedic Mattress from AchooAllergy.com? Why buy a Royal-Pedic Mattress from AchooAllergy.com?
      Royal-Pedic Premium, Natural Materials Royal-Pedic Natural Materials
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      Similarities Between Psoriasis and Eczema

      Psoriasis and Eczema: Causes, Triggers & TreatmentsLast month, we looked at the distinguishing characteristics between psoriasis and eczema in the first of this two part series, Differences Between Psoriasis and Eczema. These differences are important to recognize. However, in addition to often similar physical presentation, psoriasis and eczema may share some of the same underlying causes and triggers. Furthermore, many of the same treatment methods may be used to manage the symptoms of both conditions. Here are some takeaway points regarding treatments and products that can help alleviate the symptoms of both conditions.

      Allergies as a Cause of Psoriasis and Eczema

      As we know, eczema and allergies are often closely intertwined. Although psoriasis is not linked to any particular allergens, the immune system plays a key role in both allergies and psoriasis, as this WebMD.com slideshow 10 Psoriasis Triggers points out.

      Specifically, the link between allergies and psoriasis is related to the cells responsible for allergic reactions, such as swelling and itching. These cells are inflammatory mast cells, which researchers have found in greater numbers in psoriasis patients. Hence, although psoriasis is not proven to be an allergic reaction, the cells responsible for allergic reactions are at play.

      Food Allergies as a Cause of PsoriasisFood allergies are also thought by some to be a root cause of some cases of psoriasis. NutraMed.com discusses this:

      "The process [of immune activity in psoriatic skin] begins with the presence of food antigens in the skin. Food proteins that enter the body through a leaky digestive tract can make their way into the skin and invite immune cells to attack. This is a delayed pattern immune response that occurs slowly and is usually not noticed by psoriasis patients and is not detected by any office or laboratory test."

      Further corroborating this link between food allergies and psoriasis is the fact that many psoriasis patients often respond to food changes such changes in the diet. There are a variety of programs like these available online (most with dubious claims), but the idea behind them can be helpful, mainly, attempt to remove "problem foods" in order to treat various diseases.

      Cold, Dry Weather Triggers Psoriasis and Eczema

      Cold Weather Can Aggravate EczemaEczema flare-ups increase as cold, dry weather sets in — and not just from the dry air outside. Forced air heating dries indoor air as well. Any eczema patient (or parent of a child with eczema) knows that staying moisturized is key to keeping eczema symptoms at bay.

      The same is true of psoriasis. WebMD puts it this way: "Winter can be especially hard on those who live with psoriasis. Cold, dry weather can worsen psoriasis, while warm, sunny climates may help alleviate it."

      Treating Psoriasis and Eczema with Moisturizing, Humidifying, and More

      The Psoriasis Triggers slideshow advises, "Keep your skin well moisturized. Use thick, creamy lotions after showers and baths and throughout the day. Look for lotions and soaps that are fragrance-free and designed for sensitive skin to help reduce irritation." Sound familiar? These are the same precautions that eczema-prone individuals should take.

      Warm Mist HumidifiersHumidifying during cold, dry conditions, such as during the winter, can also go a long way in preventing psoriasis and eczema flare-ups. Keep ambient air properly moisturized with humidifiers.

      As mentioned above when discussing food allergies, psoriasis and eczema may both be addressed by either including particular nutrients in the diet — such as fish oil, other omega 3-rich foods, and vitamin D — or by excluding foods that a patient is sensitive or allergic to. Diet seems to play a key, if often underlying, role in both conditions.

      Paying attention to some basic matters that can help either prevent or alleviate symptoms of psoriasis and eczema can drastically improve these conditions. As always, education is paramount, and having the tools to implement what's learned through education can provide improved quality of life.

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      Protect Against Bed Bugs

      Bed Bugs = Tiny Vampires
      As children most of us heard the phrase, "sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite," but for nearly all of us under the age of 50, we likely never saw a bed bug, let alone had one bite us while we slept. In recent years, this has all changed. Across the U.S., there are increasing reports of bed bug infestations, and from hotels to homes many are dealing with removing or avoiding these pests. Once bed bugs have taken up residence in your home, they can be very difficult to completely remove. So for most, the best advice is to try to avoid bringing them home in the first place! We have a variety of tips you can follow to help keep bed bugs out of your home and out of your bedding.
      First, bed bugs are different kind of pest. Unlike roaches, ants, dust mites or termites, bed bugs actually target you, so it's ok to refer to these critters as tiny vampires. Much like the vampires in movies, they feed on blood. Also like vampires, bed bugs are nocturnal, and both of these factors can make spotting and eradicating them more bit more difficult. In general, bed bugs love clutter and really enjoy hanging out in your bedroom. Mattresses, box springs, dressers and even carpeting make ideal hiding places for bed bugs, and by taking up residence in your bedroom, they stay closer to their source of food - namely you. At this point, if you feel a little creeped out by the thought of tiny little vampires sucking your blood while you sleep, you're not alone. At least it's not Bela Lugosi, right?
      Bed Bug BeddingSince it can be expensive and tedious to rid your home of bed bugs, you need to place more emphasis on ensuring they don't have the chance to get a foothold in your home. Since for most people, the bedroom is where bed bugs most often set up shop, we suggest paying particular attention in making your bedroom as unfriendly to bed bugs as possible. A great first step in this is encasing your bedding with Allergy Armor Bed Beg encasings. The mattress encasings are a bed bug proof, which means, even if a bed bug comes home with you, he'll find a giant "No Vacancy" sign on your mattress. Keep Bed Bugs Out of Your BeddingFor complete bedding protection you should consider an Allergy Armor Bed Bug Bedding Package. This bed bug bedding kit includes two pillow covers, one mattress encasing and one box spring encasing. These stretch-knit mattress and pillow encasings are easy to install and require only a few washes a year. The mattress cover has a special sew pattern that eliminates any gaps or holes for bed bugs to crawl through and all three pieces offer bite-proof and waterproof protection for your bedding. As an added bonus for allergy sufferers, these bedding covers also keep pet dander, dust mites, and other allergens out of your bedding too. Bed bug bed covers are a cost effective and simple solution to ensuring bed bugs find no home in your bedding.
      Bed bugs are basically mini hitchhikers, and when you travel, they can easily travel with you. So when you travel, you need to take extra care to ensure you are not bringing home some unwanted dinner guests.Bed Bug Bedding Kit

      • Pack all items in resealable bags. Large bags are available at most grocery stores.
      • Carry a resealable bag large enough for your luggage itself to use in the hotel or hospital room. There are some bags which are designed for this purpose and are available online.
      • Alternately, you can use a �disposable� bag such as an inexpensive one or a second hand one that you can dispose of outside of your home before going in and keep all items inside sealed at all times.
      • While staying away from home, keep your luggage away from the bed and try to keep it elevated (on a stand).
      • Take a little time to inspect the area for evidence of bed bugs - tiny blood stains or brown stains.
      • Once home, if you suspect any bed bugs were in the room, wash all clothes in water that is hotter than 120� F immediately upon arrival. (Keep items at that heat setting for 60 minutes if possible).
      • Freeze anything that cannot be heated for two weeks.
      • Dispose of anything that was not sealed before entering the house.

      By taking care when you travel, you are doing yourself a big favor in helping to avoid picking up these little drifters. From traveling to making your bedroom as uninviting to bed bugs as possible you can take these simple steps to avoid ever having to call an exterminator about a bed bug problem. Bed bugs make that old saying, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," an unfortunate truth.

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      AchooAllergy.com in Women's Health Magazine

      Women's Health magazine
      June 2007 issue of Women's Health magazineAllergy Armor Ultra was the first recommended exciting, new allergy relief product in the article "Nothing to Sneeze At" in the June 2007 issue of Women's Health magazine:

      "No matter what your relationship status, you're definitely not snoozing alone. Every night, thousands of dust mites settle into your linens to feed on dead skin cells. Try Allergy Armor Ultra Bedding ($10 to $214, achooallergy.com), breathable microfiber alternatives to your traditional Egyptian cotton sheets and pillowcases. The fabric's super-teeny "pore size" (the gap between threads) prevents microscopic critters from burrowing into your bed and skin. These sheets feel smooth, not stiff and they're better than anything else on the market at keeping mites out."(Note: Allergy Armor Ultra mattress & pillow covers are designed to work underneath your normal decorative sheets and pillowcases - so you can actually use your traditional Egyptian cotton sheets and pillowcases while receiving the protection of Allergy Armor Ultra.)

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      Reducing Pet Dander During Winter

      Winter Allergy Tips: Reducing Pet Dander Indoors During Winter
      All year long, allergen concentrations in the home are higher than they are outdoors. But during wintertime, when our pets spend an increased amount of time indoors, we see an even higher allergen load in the home. Even if you're following your typical allergen avoidance routine, this combination of more allergens and more time indoors can tip your total allergen load over the edge. Thus, winter often necessitates that you amp up your environmental control measures.

      If your family has dogs or cats, one area to focus your energy is dealing with the extra pet hair that accumulates inside during winter. Our furry friends are spending more time indoors when it's cold, and they usually have heavier coats of fur during the winter season. To keep this added fur and its accompanying pet dander under control, take the following steps:

      • Allerpet For Cats and DogsBathe your pets regularly using specialty products like the safe and naturalEcology Works Anti-Allergen Pet Shampoo, which denatures protein allergens on contact. Or, you can try using Allerpet/C (for cats) or Allerpet/D (for dogs) in between baths to help control pet dander.
      • Since excessive bathing can often dry out your pets skin, use cleansing wipessuch as Quick Bath Cleansing Wipes for Cats or Quick Bath Cleansing Wipes for Dogs between baths. These wipes quickly and easily remove loose fur and pet dander, keeping it off your furniture, out of your carpets, and ultimately, away from your breathing zone. These wipes are great for getting outdoor allergens, like pollen, off your pet's coat after outdoor romps.
      • Brush your pets regularly with a fur reducing tool like the FURminator Pet Deshedding Brush. This extremely effective tool removes loose hair before it ends up in your house. In fact, it can decrease shedding by 60 to 80 percent. It can even reduce shedding for up to four to six weeks.
      • No matter what you do to reduce the amount your pet sheds, pet fur and dander will still end up in your home. This is where environmental control products specifically designed to reduce pet dander come in.

        Austin Air Pet MachineThe Austin Air Pet Machine features true HEPA filtration and can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns with 99.97% efficiency. Vacuum cleaners like the Dyson DC25 Animal Vacuum Cleaner or the Miele Cat and Dog Upright Vacuum Cleaner are constructed to remove pet fur from upholstery and carpeting while trapping odors and dander.

        Even if you're not in the market for a new vacuum, theEureka Power Paw Universal Turbo Attachment can be used on any vacuum topick up a maximum amount of pet fur while you clean.

      • Dyson Groom Pet BrushThe Dyson Groom Pet Brush is the newest item in our lineup of pet allergen reduction solutions. This ingenious tool features retractable slicker bristles that can be adjusted to your pet's specific fur length. Once you've used the bristles to remove loose fur, you can easily retract the bristles and Dyson's suction power will pull the fur off the brush. This means not only less dog hair in your house, but also no extra cleaning!

        If your pet is afraid of being brushed with the vacuum cleaner on, you can use the brush with the power off - and then turn it on when you're ready to get rid of the fur you've collected. Truly in a class of its own, the Dyson Groom Pet Brush makes keeping your pets as allergen-free as possible easier than ever.

      By taking these few extra steps during the colder winter months, you ensure that extra time indoors with your pets doesn't mean a flare up with your allergies.

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      Miele Vacuum Shipping Information

      We work hard to ensure that you get your Miele Vacuum as quickly as possible. All orders placed for in-stock Miele vacuums are shipped from our Atlanta warehouse. In fact, if your order is placed by 3 pm EST Monday - Friday, we will ship your order out the same day unless otherwise noted.

      Orders placed after 3 pm EST Monday - Friday will ship the next business day. All Miele vacuum orders placed on Saturday or Sunday will ship the next business day.

      Except for orders being delivered to Hawaii, Alaska, and Canada, we provide free delivery on Miele vacuums purchased at the full retail price. No matter which Miele vacuum you purchase we ship using a guaranteed service level that will deliver your vacuum usually just a few days, with many people receiving their Miele in two days or less.

      For faster or specific shipping options like Saturday delivery, or for shipping outside the contiguous 48 states, please call us at 1-800-339-7123.

      We will ship your order using UPS. UPS does not deliver to P.O. Boxes. All Miele vacuums priced under $1,000 are shipped without a signature requirement. For models over $1000 in price, there will be a signature required to receive the item. You can request a signature requirement for your Miele vacuum delivery by calling our Customer Service department at 1-800-339-7123.

      Because UPS only delivers on weekdays, your order may arrive later than you expect. For example, a 2nd Day order placed before 3 pm on a Thursday will not arrive until Monday. Orders placed after 3 pm EST on Friday will not ship until Monday. Holidays, or events beyond our control, like inclement weather, may also delay your order.

      Important Information on Returning Miele Vacuums

      We offer a 60 Day Return Policy. Miele vacuums returned to us must be in "like new" condition and include the original packaging. Items not in like new condition will incur a 15% restocking fee or be returned to you at our discretion. You are responsible for shipping the vacuum back to us and you are also responsible for the free promotional shipping. Therefore, if you decide to return your vacuum, your refund will be the cost of the vacuum minus the cost of the promotional shipping

      Shipping rates do not include duties, taxes, customs fees, or any other type of customs brokerage charges. Customers outside of the United States will be responsible for any additional fees upon receipt.

      Shop All Miele Vacuum Cleaners. Or, visit one of these helpful Miele pages.

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      Miele Vacuum Cleaners Color Options

      When we talk about vibrant colors, we usually think of the natural beauty in our world, a deep blue sky, a pink carnation, or a breathtaking sunset spreading across the clouds. Sometimes, you see a beautiful car that catches your eye. Car makers have known for years that people love style and that an individual's personal taste is important when making an investment. You certainly take colors into account when decorating your home--from the walls and carpet to even a decision between a white, black, or stainless steel refrigerator. In keeping with the importance of color in your decor, Miele infuses it's vacuum cleaners with an array of vibrant colors.

      Miele Vacuum Cleaner ColorsWith a vibrant color palette, these vacuum cleaners blend in well with the decor in your home. The color you choose for your Miele vacuum might say something about your personality and taste. For parties, you might even want to pull the vacuum out and park the Miele in view as a conversation piece for your guests!

      Miele C3 Brilliant Vacuum Cleaner The Miele Brilliant Vacuum Cleaner is a stunning mahogany brown metallic color. This color makes a powerful statement on cars and in many home design elements. This darker brown color is mainly used as an accent color and it represents a smart, clean look when paired with the different color schemes in carpet and wood flooring.
      Miele Marin Vacuum Cleaner The Miele Marin Vacuum Cleaner is a beautiful navy blue metallic color. Normally seen on sports cars and speed boats, this powerful color will stop you in your tracks. This vacuum shimmers in the light like your favorite prom dress!
      Miele Swing Vacuum Cleaner The Miele Swing Upright Vacuum Cleaner is a stunning steel blue metallic color. This color is often used to convey an elegant, rich experience. Additionally, this lighter metallic color and variations of are often used as colors to display strength and style.
      Miele Kona Vacuum Cleaner The Miele AutoEco Upright, Kona canister, and the Miele Onyx Vacuum are all Deep Black. Black is a major player in fashion design and the defining color of sleek artistic flair. The most noted quality of black is that it goes with everything!
      Miele Cat & Dog Canister The Miele Cat & Dog Canister Vacuum is a bright koi orange color. This color was inspired by the intensity and brilliance of the Orange Koi Angelfish, one of the most beautiful animals in the natural world. This is a vibrant color that will pop against any flooring background!
      Miele Alize Vacuum Cleaner The Miele Alize Vacuum Cleaner is a stunning ivory white color. This color makes a calming, relaxed statement in many home design elements. It is a soft, neutral color that gives the vacuum a luxurious shine and earthiness.
      Miele Titan Vacuum Cleaner One of our more popular vacuums, the Miele Titan as well as the Miele Swing Stick Vacuum Cleaner, come in Mango red. The color red can signify a person that is full of energy and who vacuums quickly, with a purpose. Red also can symbolize love.
      Miele Olympus Vacuum Cleaner The Miele Delphi Canister, the Miele Olympus Canister, Miele Cat & Dog Upright Vacuum, and the Miele Quartz Vacuum Cleaner are lotus white in color. This vibrant shade of white might suggest a person who is engaging and personable with others. It can also represent the clean look of untarnished snow and ice.
      Miele Topaz Vacuum Cleaner The Miele Topaz Vacuum Cleaner comes in a beautiful Tayberry Red color. This delightful, summer color comes from a berry that is a blend of both raspberry and blackberry. Named after the river Tay in Scotland, Tayberry Red is a vibrant, earthy tone.
      Miele Capri Vacuum Cleaner The Miele Capri Vacuum Cleaner comes in a luxurious Lava Gray color that is usually reserved for top of the line automobiles like Audi or BMW. You might also find this mysterious, deep color in winter skies and athletic shoes.
      Miele Jazz Upright Vacuum Cleaner The Miele Jazz Vacuum Cleaner and the new Miele Calima come in a Canary Yellow color. This updated color is brighter and more vibrant than the previous Jazz color. It describes someone who is patient, stable, and a team player. Yellow is a soothing color that matches with any home decor.
      Miele Twist Upright Vacuum Cleaner The Miele Twist Vacuum Cleaner comes in a vibrant Sprint Blue color. This beautiful, rich blue makes you picture a powerful German sports sedan driving on the autobahn. This color is sometimes referred to as Cerulean Blue.
      Choose any of these great vacuums for excellent cleaning ability, durability, and longevity. Make a statement and choose your Miele vacuum today! See the entire family of Miele Vacuum Cleaners.
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      Combat Allergens With HVAC Maintanence

      maintaining your HVAC system
      As temperatures begin to drop and the air conditioning is turned off, it's the perfect time to make sure your HVAC system is in good condition. A neglected system will not only function ineffectively, but it can also introduce allergens into the air: pollen, dust, pest waste, and other contaminants can settle in your unused heating system during the summer months and then be circulated throughout your home when you finally crank up the heat. However, a well-maintained HVAC system will not only operate at its full capacity - saving you heating costs - but will even help reduce allergen concentrations in the home.

      As fall approaches, here are several measures you can take to ensure that your HVAC system is working together with you to reduce your exposure to allergens.

      Have Your Ducts Cleaned to Eliminate Hidden Allergens

      The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, �If not properly installed, maintained, and operated, [HVAC components] may become contaminated with particles of dust, pollen or other debris. If moisture is present, the potential for microbiological growth (e.g., mold) is increased and spores from such growth may be released into the home's living space. Some of these contaminants may cause allergic reactions or other symptoms in people if they are exposed to them.�

      The EPA goes on to state the importance of having your duct system professionally examined. While they do not recommend routine duct cleaning without evidence of accumulated debris, there are some circumstances that indicate you should consider having your ducts serviced. These include:

      • Substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface ducts or other components of your system. Wet or moldy insulation on insulated air ducts cannot be effectively cleaned and should be replaced. Note that not everything that looks like mold is necessarily mold and you may need to have samples professionally evaluated at a laboratory. Also, make sure to correct conditions that caused mold growth in the first place; otherwise, the problem will recur.
      • Pests living inside ducts. Insects living inside air ducts can deposit unhealthy debris that may circulate throughout your system.
      • Ducts clogged with excessive dust or debris that is released into the home through supply registers.

      Replace Furnace Filters Regularly

      Remove the old filter See how dirty the old filter is? Replace the panel, and you're done!

      A dirty furnace filter poses several problems: it will prevent your heating system from running effectively, thereby raising heating costs; it will cause your system to be less effective in achieving and maintaining your desired temperature; it will prohibit the capturing of particulate debris and allergens that the filters are supposed to provide.

      3M filtrete Furnace Filters SafeHome Furnace Filters Replace the panel, and you're done!

      With normal use, furnace filters should be replaced at least every three months. Keep in mind, however, that in conditions where indoor air quality may be particularly compromised, such as during pollen season, during a remodeling of a home, or if there is a smoker living in the house, filters may need to be replaced more frequently. We offer several kinds of furnace filters that are specifically selected for allergy sufferers. Filtrete's line of filters, with their superior performance ratings, offers excellent protection from indoor allergens. Choose from Filtrete's most economical filter, theMicro Allergen Furnace Filter, the Ultra Allergen Reduction Furnace Filter, or the most effective Advanced Allergen Furnace Filter.

      SafeHome Furnace Filters, available as either the SafeHome Duo Furnace Filter or theSafeHome System Air Return Filter, perform double duty: they not only capture particles such as dust mite allergen and pollen, but they also absorb harmful chemicals, such as VOCs and formaldehyde, that exacerbate symptoms in chemically sensitive individuals.

      Another cost-effective and system-enhancing furnace filter option is to use a permanent filter such as Newtron's Contractor's Choice Permanent Filter or the Newtron Original Permanent Air Filter. Both these filters help to maintain even temperatures throughout the home, enable faster heating and cooling, and prolong the life of your HVAC system. Furthermore, they capture 96% of allergen particles before they circulate through your home.

      For additional information, see our Furnace Filter Buying Guide.

      Supplement a Clean Indoor Air Routine with Vent and Window Filters

      Web vent filters
      fit easily into your web vents and provide additional protection against dust and other particles that could make their way into your home. Self- charging electrostatic material traps allergens, acting like a last line of defense before offending material makes its way into your indoor air.

      window filter protects against pollen and other pollutants that enter your home when you open the windows. This is an especially important step in fall, when ragweed pollen is prevalent.

      Taking the time to maintain your home's HVAC system, especially when it comes to the proper use and replacement of furnace filters, goes a long way in protecting your family from preventable allergy attacks.

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      IQAir New Edition Air Purifiers

      IQAir New Edition Air PurifiersAs a leader in home air filtration, IQAir has a long history of developing air cleaning technologies that provide you with the tools needed to effectively clean the air in your home or office. After years of development, IQAir has made some significant changes to their residential air purifiers while continuing to lead the way in improving indoor air quality. With improvements to core components of their systems, the New Edition IQAir air purifiers offer more efficient filtration, quieter operation and longer filter life. To see how they did this, we have to examine the changes they made as well as answer a few questions that those considering an IQAir or those who already own an IQ Air purifier may have.

      IQAir New Edition Air Purifiers - A Three Pronged Approach

      Introducing IQAir New Edition Air PurifiersWhen comparing IQAir purifiers to other brands in the price range, a common complaint used to be that the filter changes for IQ was more frequent and thus cost people more money to maintain each year. To address this, IQAir made a few changes. First, they increased the filter media used in each filter. For example, the HyperHEPA filter in the HealthPro used to be 30 sq. ft. The New Edition filter now features 53 sq. ft. of filter media. In addition to simply increasing the HEPA media used, they also made slight changes to the design of the filter that increased the amount of particles they can hold while maintaining their extremely high levels of efficiency. The end result are filters that last up to 38% longer. In the past you would change your HyperHEPA filter once every two to four years, but with these improved filters, the AVERAGE filter life is now four years!

      In addition to improved filter life, the changes in the pleat patterns have increased the particle retention of the same amounts of filter media by 20% in prefilters and 38% in HEPA filters. This leads to the second improvement - more clean air.

      More clean air can really only come about from two changes. While the changes described above made the filters more efficient and longer lasting, it was also improvements to the motor design that brought more clean air.

      When an air purifier is broken down to its most basic components, it is essentially a fan and a filter. Sure, there are plenty of other parts, but the core of any air purifier is this pair. The fan is largely responsible for determining what volume of air your unit can clean and how fast it can do it. So for IQAir to increase the amount of filter media it would also have to address the fan. What they managed to do was recreate their traditional "red label" fan to move more air through the filters with less noise. With an aerodynamic, 3-D design, the new IQAir fans depart from traditional models in creating more power and higher CFM rates DESPITE having to push air through even more filter media than in the past.

      A couple other minor changes include the materials they use as spacers (between the pleats of the filter media). This change should reduce that "new" smell that you sometimes experience when you replace a filter.

      IQAir New Edition Air Purifier SpecsWhen you combine all of these things, a few IQAir New Edition air purifiers statistics stand out.

      • Up to 38% Longer Filter Life - PreMax Filter goes from 4500 to 5400 hours; HyperHEPA goes from 11,000 to 15,200 hours; and the V-5 Cell from 7000 to 7100 hours (minor adjustment in design).
      • Average of 32% Quieter - Measured noise levels have dropped nearly 30% across all fan settings.
      • 25% More Clean Air - The increased efficiency coupled with higher CFM's than ever before means greater coverage area and more clean air throughout your home or office.

      New Edition FAQ's

      If I have an old model, can I use the new filters?
      Yes. Any replacement filter order will be filled with the upgraded filters.

      Since the filter life is different will my filter life monitor be accurate?
      It will be slightly off. The changes have required a change to the monitor as well. So if you have an older machine, you will be alerted sooner than needed to replace the filter. As a good rule of thumb, replace the new filters when the red light BLINKS. This will accommodate the increased filter life, saving you money in filters all while maintaining the performance you have come to expect from IQAir.

      IQAir Multi Gas Air PurifierWhich residential models are IQAir New Edition air purifiers?
      The IQAir HealthPro, HealthPro Plus, HealthPro Compact and MultiGas GC will all feature the improved filters and fan design. These were the first to upgraded.

      How much are these improved filters really going to save me?
      For someone who owns an IQAir HealthPro Plus, if you run your model 24 hours per day on setting 3, you should see an average annual savings of $68.

      IQAir New Edition FiltrationHow do I know if I have a New Edition IQAir?
      Check the box the unit arrived in. If it has "NE" on the outer serial label, then you have a New Edition model.

      What about commercial IQAir purifiers, like the GCX and Cleanroom?
      ALL IQAir air purifiers are now New Edition models. From popular residential air purifiers to commercial grade air cleaners, each IQ Air purifier now boasts an improved fan, better airflow, quieter operation, more filter media, and longer filter life.

      Will this affect my warranty if I have an older model?
      Not one bit.

      View all IQAir New Addition Air Purifiers.

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      Indoor Air Quality and Radon

      Indoor Air Quality: Radon
      Allergy sufferers are particularly affected by what is in their indoor air. Allergens like dust mites, pollen, mold spores, pet dander, along with other allergy triggers like artificial fragrances, fumes from chemical cleaners, and off-gassing from carpet adhesives, can combine to make indoor air in the home very unhealthy.

      Whether or not one suffers from allergies, however, it's important to know that what's found in indoor air does in fact affect on our health - even if we can't smell it, see it, or taste it. This is the case with radon, and its effects can be deadly.

      Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Radon gas is colorless and odorless; the only way to detect it is to specifically test for it. Because it comes mostly from the soil beneath the house and it exists in pockets, there's no way to predict whether it could be polluting your indoor air until you test for it.

      The good news is that if excess radon concentrations are present in your home, the problem can be fixed, and at not too great a cost. Below we explore what radon is, how to test for it, and how to prevent it from polluting your indoor air and endangering your family.

      What is Radon?

      Radon is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas that comes from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water. It is found in outdoor air and in buildings of all kinds. Radon is a form of ionizing radiation, and "a proven carcinogen," as described by theEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA).

      As mentioned, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, even among those who have never smoked. Smokers who are exposed to radon are particularly at risk for lung cancer because of the synergistic effects of radon and smoking.

      Radon is everywhere. The average American home contains radon at a concentration of 1.3 pCi/L (pico Curies per Liter). It's important to note that this measurement is the source of the estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year attributable to radon exposure. Therefore, although the "must-fix-it" concentration of radon is 4 pCi/L or higher, the EPA still recommends that Americans consider fixing their homes if concentrations range between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. Compare this to the outdoors, which has a an average concentration of 0.4 pCi/L.

      Consider this statement, from the EPA's page on radon:

      "Unfortunately, many Americans presume that because the action level is 4 pCi/L, a radon level of less than 4 pCi/L is 'safe.' This perception is altogether too common in the residential real estate market. In managing any risk, we should be concerned with the greatest risk. For most Americans, their greatest exposure to radon is in their homes; especially in rooms that are below grade (e.g., basements), rooms that are in contact with the ground and those rooms immediately above them."

      How Does Radon Get Inside My House?

      Radon in the homeRadon is produced by the breakdown of uranium that's present in rock, soil, and water. Radon gas gets into your home either through the soil beneath the home or through drinking water, and in some instances through rock likegranite that's inside your home.

      The soil beneath the house is the main source of radon in people's homes. Because the air pressure in the home is less than that of the soil around the home's foundation, homes actually act like vacuum cleaners and "suck" radon gas into indoor air through foundation cracks and other openings. This is by far the most common and biggest source of radon exposure.

      Well water may also release radon gas into the home, however. When water is used for showers, washing dishes, or other household purposes, radon can be released into your indoor environment.

      How to Test for Radon

      EPA Radon Protocal Guidebook"While basic types of tests and methods will be outlined below, consult the EPA's Protocols for Radon and Radon Decay Product Measurements in Homes for thorough details.

      Short-Term Radon TestYou can purchase inexpensive kits that will test radon levels in your home. The Kansas State University's National Radon Program Services is one online source for various types of radon test kits.

      There are two main types of radon tests, short-term tests and long-term tests. Short-terms tests are the fastest way to see if your home contains high radon levels, and are recommended by the EPA for initial assessment of radon levels. Testing with a short-term radon test kit takes at least 48 hours, but sometimes longer.

      To use a short-term radon test kit:

      • Place the test in the lowest lived-in level of the home.
      • Close windows and outside doors, and leave them closed as much as possible during the testing period.
      • If testing for two or three days, keep windows and doors closed for 12 hours before beginning the test.
      • Don't conduct the test during severe storms or unusually high winds.

      Although short-term tests can identify a radon problem, radon levels in a home vary widely, even from day to day, due to fluctuations in weather conditions and the operation of fireplaces and furnaces, as well as the amount of outside air that's circulating indoors. Thus, a short-term test lacks accuracy when it comes to determining your year-round radon exposure average.

      Long-Term Radon TestLong-term radon tests give homeowners a better idea of their year-long average radon exposure. Long-term tests remain in the home for 90 days. Again, because radon levels vary by season, the longer a long-term tests is used, the more accurate its measure of average radon concentrations in the home. If long-term tests show an average higher than 4 pCi/L, the EPA recommends that action definitely be taken to correct the problem.

      Radon Test DevicesEPA Radon TestsIn addition to short-term or long-term tests, radon testing devices fall into two categories: active devices and passive devices.

      Active devices need power to function, and are quite sophisticated in how they measure. For instance, some active devices can provide data on the range of variation within the testing period or can detect and minimize interference in the test. These types of devices usually require a trained professional to operate them.

      Passive devices, on the other hand, are designed for use by homeowners themselves, who send the device to a laboratory after the testing period. The lab analyzes and reports radon levels. Passive devices do not need power to function. Types include charcoal canisters, alpha track detectors, and charcoal liquid scintillation detectors. Note that charcoal kits are prone to interference by humid conditions.

      How to Fix a Radon Problem in Your Home

      If tests and follow-up tests confirm high radon levels in your home, there are ways to remediate the problem. The Consumer's Guide to Radon Reduction offers comprehensive information about how high radon levels may be mediated. Below is some basic information:

      • Radon mediation methods are effective, often able to reduce radon levels by 99 percent.
      • The EPA recommends using a qualified radon mitigation contractor fix your home. Fixing radon problems requires particular technical knowledge and specialized skills. Your state radon office is a good place to find certified radon contractors.
      • Radon reduction techniques include both systems that prevent radon from entering the home and systems that reduce radon levels after it has entered the home.
      • The type of foundation your home has affects which type of radon mediation method will be best for your home.
      • In addition to whole-house systems, other measures to reduce radon levels and make mediation methods most efficient include sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation.

      Air Purifiers and Radon

      HEPA Air Purifiers and RadonThe function of air purifiers is to make your home's air cleaner, ultimately to give you and your family better air to breathe. While air purifiers are routinely recommended to allergy sufferers for filtering the air of particles like pollen, pet dander, mold spores, dust mite allergen, and the like, air purifiers can also help purify your indoor air of toxic chemicals and gases, including radon.

      But while air purifiers fitted with activated carbon filters are able to trap some ambient radon, it's important to note that, as stated on their own site, the "EPA does not recommend air cleaning to reduce the health risks associated with radon and the decay products of radon gas, which are called 'radon progeny.'"


      "The Agency recommends the use of source control technologies to prevent radon from entering residential structures. The most effective radon control technique is active soil depressurization (ASD). An ASD system uses an electric fan to minimize radon entry by drawing air from under the slab/floor and venting it to the outside above the building's roofline. Another, less effective technique installed during construction is a passive radon reduction system, also known as radon-resistant new construction (RRNC). RRNC systems are 'dual-purpose' systems. They typically do not have a fan, but if subsequent testing indicates an elevated radon level, a fan can be installed and the RRNC system will become, in effect, an ASD system."

      Additional Resources on Indoor Air Quality and Radon

      EPA Map of Radon Zones
      Radon Resistant New Construction
      Radon Hotlines and Information Sources
      Indoor Air Quality
      Indoor Air Quality and Indoor Air Pollution
      Five Steps to Cleaner, Healthier Indoor Air

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      Humidity Glossary

      Humidity GlossaryAs summer months approach and Americans across the country are gearing up for warmer weather, humidity is also on the mind. In climates that experience hot, humid weather, humidity can make temperatures feel and behave as if they were several degrees higher. Additionally, too much humidity can have detrimental effects on allergy sufferers. As with most things, education and information are the first steps in arming yourself against a health threat. For many of us, the terminology about humidity can be unfamiliar, particularly if we've not taken a science class in a few years. With our Humidity Glossary, we want to help reacquaint you a short list of terms and their meanings to give you a better understanding of how humidity can have a big impact on your health and your home.

      Humidity Glossary - Common Terms

      Humidity - A general term that refers to moistness or dampness in the air. More specifically, it refers to the amount of water vapor in the air.

      Humidity Glossary - Relative HumidityRelative Humidity - A ratio of the amount of water that's actually in the air compared to the greatest amount of water that could be in the air at the same temperature, usually expressed as a percentage. Put another way, it is the percentage of water in the mixture of water and air that composes the air.

      Absolute Humidity - The amount of water in a particular volume of air, usually expressed as grams per cubic meter. It changes as pressure changes.

      Specific Humidity - The ratio of water vapor to air in a particular volume.

      Mixing Ratio - Also known as the humidity ratio, or colloquially as the moisture content, the mixing ratio is the ratio of the mass of water vapor in the air to the mass of dry air.

      Dew Point - Simply put, the dew point is the temperature at which dew drops begin to form from water vapor. It is affected by pressure and water vapor content, which determine the temperature to which the air must be cooled in order for dew to form. The dew point is a saturation point, meaning that the air cannot receive any more water vapor. If the dew point temperature is below freezing, it is called the frost point.

      Humidity Glossary - Heat IndexHeat Index - A combination of air temperature and relative humidity, the heat index number is an attempt to express what the temperature feels like to a human, given a certain relative humidity. Since humidity makes the temperature feel hotter, this is valuable information.

      Humidex - This is Canada's version of the American heat index. It differs from the heat index because it uses dew point rather than relative humidity to calculate the humidex number.

      Acu-Rite Digital Humidity GaugeTo accurately monitor the humidity in your home, we suggest the Acu-Rite Digital Humidity Guage. This simple, yet effective device allows you to keep a constant measure on the humidity to ensure your home remains healthy and comfortable.

      In conjunction with a humidity gauge, a home dehumidifier are an effective solution to excess humidity in your home, crawlspace or other areas where environmental control is important. Dehumidifiers not only reduce the humidity levels but also help to keep temperatures cooler.

      Once you've ready through the humidity glossary and your terminology is up to par, learn more about humidity, how to control it, and how it can play a major role throughout your home.

      Dehumidifier Buying Guide
      Effects of Humidity on the Body
      Mold Information
      Excess Moisture and Mold
      Humidifiers for Allergy Relief
      Top Five Reasons to Avoid Excess Humidity in Your Home
      Control Moisture & Humidity

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      Humidifier Maintenance Guide

      Home humidifiers are an essential component of any allergy sufferer's environmental control regimen. Proper humidification can provide significant relief from dry and irritated sinuses, stuffy noses, dry skin, and itchy eyes. Humidifying your home can prevent the exacerbation of eczema, help to lower heating costs, and protect furniture and wood floors from the effects of over-drying. With all of these benefits, a humidifier is a sound investment in the health of your family, your budget, and your home, but once you have your humidifier, how do you get the most from it? What needs to be replaced? How often? What type of humidifier maintenance do you have to perform and how often?

      Without proper humidifier maintenance, they not only don't run efficiently, but they pose a health risk. Bacteria and mold that can easily breed in an unmaintained humidifier are propelled into the air and inhaled - obviously a terrible situation for those with allergies, who are already more sensitive than others.

      While many units feature built-in germicidal measures, such as using silver, heat, or activated carbon to sanitize water or zapping microbes with UV light, it's important to know that these are NOT a substitute for regular cleaning. Furthermore, paying attention to what you clean your units with is also important. Using bleach may seem instinctive, in order to cleanse your humidifier of any mold or bacteria; however, in addition to the fact that bleach's harsh fumes are never good to inhale, if the humidifier isn't cleaned properly, vaporized bleach will be impelled into ambient air and inhaled each time the unit is running. Consider using white vinegar to clean instead.

      Aside from keeping your humidifier free of microbes and germs, minerals can also build up in the tank and in the machine itself. One handy product that works to remove mineral build up in almost all humidifiers is EZ Cal Cleaner and Descaler by Air-O-Swiss. This simple, dissolvable packet removes mineral build up and other contaminants from your humidifier. EZ Cal also comes in a liquid, premixed form, EZ Cal Pro. When finished, rinse and you're ready to use the humidifier again. Each box comes with three packets, and it's recommended to use EZCal every two weeks. That will vary though, depending on the mineral content of your water.

      Following is a basic checklist of areas you need to consider when it comes to maintaining your humidifier. Be sure to consult the owner's manual and specific humidifier maintenance guide pertinent to your particular unit.

      Humidifier Maintenance Guide

      Air O Swiss Demineralization CartridgesReplacement Parts - Know what parts of your humidifying unit will need regular replacing. For instance, does your unit feature UV bulbs? These typically require annual replacement. Does it use some type of silver ion technology, like the ionic silver cube, or, in the case of some Air-O-Swiss humidifiers,Mineral Pads, Hydro Cell or demineralization cartridge? Other possible parts that may need replacement are evaporator wicks, discs, and filters. Again, make sure to familiarize yourself with your unit's unique features. It's a good idea to always have replacement parts on hand so your unit is ready to use when you need it.

      Home Humidifier Maintenance - How to Clean your Humidifier with VinegarCleaning - It's a good rule of thumb to thoroughly clean your humidifier at least once a week. There are two basic ways to accomplish this. You can either go with mild detergent and hot water or vinegar solution. With mild detergent, less is more, and be sure you thoroughly rinse the unit so there is no residue. For a more natural type of clean, opt for vinegar. Empty your unit, fill it with a mix of water and white vinegar in a 4:1 ratio, let it stand for about half an hour, and rinse completely. Vinegar can a great way to "green" clean since the acidity not only sanitizes but also helps to remove scale or mineral buildup.

      Uses of Leftover Humidifier WaterWater Type - Ideally, your unit should be filled with fresh water daily. Repurpose old water by watering plants with it. In addition, using distilled water will minimize mineral deposits that may form around your unit or produce buildup within it. With certain types of humidifiers, specific types of water work better. For instance, if you have softened water, consider and evaporative humidifier, as the sodium in softened water can damage the components of an ultrasonic humidifier.

      Clean Your Humidifier Before StorageStorage - Before putting your unit away when humidifying season (usually the winter time) is over, be sure to thoroughly clean your unit and dry it completely. You should also do this at the beginning of the season before you use your humidifier.

      Proper and regular maintenance will keep your humidifier running at peak performance year after year, giving you, your family, and your household all the benefits of humidification.

      If you found these humidifier maintenance tips helpful, check out a few of these more in-depth articles.

      Humidifier Buying Guide
      Humidifier FAQs
      Five Things to Consider Before you Buy a Humidifier
      Eczema FAQs
      Effects of Humidity on the Body
      Humidity Glossary

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      Allergy and Asthma Home Renovations Might Be Tax Deductible

      Is Your Home Renovation Tax Deductible?Recently, a local customer stopped by our showroom to purchase an Austin air purifier to help with her asthma and allergies. While she was here, she mentioned that she recently replaced the flooring in her home. Like many people coping with asthma and allergies, she was asked by her doctor to remove carpet and replace it with more allergy-friendly smooth flooring. After discussing the matter with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), she discovered this renovation was actually tax deductible. Here's the skinny on how a doctor recommended home renovation might help lower your tax bill.

      How This Could Apply to Those Coping With Allergies or Asthma

      What Might Be Tax Deductible? Replacing Carpet with Hard Flooring for Starters!Many doctors often recommend that you remove carpet from your home. Carpet is notorious for trapping the most common household allergen - dust mites. Pollen mold, and pet dander are also often deeply embedded in the carpet fiber or padding. Even powerful vacuum cleaners like Mieles cannot extract these allergens once they have made their way into the carpet pad, and all of these can be persistent irritants for those struggling with allergies and asthma.

      How Would I Deduct a Home Renovation?

      George Baker - Visit Your Local CPA for DetailsFor many people replacing carpet isn't an option. Either you are renting or perhaps it is too expensive. However, after speaking with local CPA George Baker of Tucker, GA, I discovered that you may be able to deduct the expense of a project like this from your taxes. As Mr. Baker explains, if you can show that the renovation was done due to a doctor recommendation (it is best to have you doctor write a prescription for the renovation), it is likely tax deductible. Replacing carpet with hardwoods, laminate or another type of smooth flooring? More than likely, it's tax deductible. Ultimately, this type of expenditure would be filed under Schedule A (medical expenses), an attachment to the standard 1040 tax form.

      A more traditional example of this would be for those who now find themselves having to use a wheelchair. If you became wheelchair-bound and had to make home renovations to lower things in your home, putting them in reach while in the chair, or build a ramp to get into your home, both would be examples of tax deductible renovations that would be covered by the medical exemption clause.

      Are There Exceptions to This, and How Do I Go About Finding Out?

      IRS Tax Form Schedule A - Attachment to 1040There is at least one caveat to this. The tax exemption clause applies to changes you would make to your home, like a renovation project. This does NOT apply to appliance purchases like HEPA air purifiers or vacuum cleaners... mostly. I do pause after I say this, and the main reason is because some systems, particularly a whole home system like theIQAir Perfect 16, mightqualify. This type of whole-home filtration isn't like a traditional room air purifier. Instead, it is built right into your existing HVAC structure, and if a doctor were to prescribe this to improve a medical condition, it actually might qualify as tax deductible.

      The key with any change like this is your doctor suggests it and signs off on it. I would highly recommend you contact your local CPA or tax professional before you start any project and for further advice. And, with tax time just around the corner, now might be as good a time as any to take advantage of this potential key deduction on your 2014 tax return.

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      Chinese Herbal Cure for Allergies and Asthma

      Chinese Herbal Cure
      We are always on the lookout for emerging allergy treatments, especially alternative, natural allergy cures. In a past article called BPA, Allergies, and Asthma, we explored the issues of possible contributors to allergic disease. In addition, we have highlighted practices, like supplementing with probiotics, that may help prevent the onset of allergies.

      However, once an allergy exists, especially a life-threatening food allergy, a cure is the only way to achieve actual safety and the peace of mind that comes with it. When possibilities of cures come along, such as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), this makes us, and allergy sufferers the world over, very hopeful.

      One such allergy cure is a Chinese herbal remedy called Food Allergy Herbal Formula-2 (FAHF-2). This herbal drug is currently being studied in human clinical trials. Here is some information about the history of this herbal allergy treatment.

      FAFH-2 as a Peanut Allergy Cure

      FAFH-2 as a Peanut Allergy Cure"According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), food allergic reactions are responsible for 30 to 50 percent of anaphylaxis cases in emergency rooms in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Approximately 80 percent of fatal or near-fatal cases are due to peanut allergy. And the rise in cases of peanut allergy is alarming.

      In the last few years, herbal formula FAHF-2 has entered the arena as a leading contender for future allergy cures. The formula consists of a combination of nine different herbs that work together to have an overall effect on peanut allergies. A study that tested the herbs that make up FAHF-2 individually showed only partial efficacy of each herb alone.

      A February 2009 article in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported that FAHF-2 protects peanut allergic mice against anaphylactic reactions for up to four weeks after treatment. An additional study set out to see if this protection could be prolonged. Results showed that mice who received FAHF-2 daily for seven weeks, and then were tested for 36 weeks for reactions to peanuts, were protected for more than six months.

      Though herbal remedies are not known for receiving attention from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), after these successful trials, FAHF-2 received approval from the FDA for testing on humans.

      FAFH-2 Human Clinical Trials and FDA Approval

      The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given FAHF-2 investigational new drug approval, allowing the drug to be tested on humans. The drug is currently in human clinical trials. See Therapeutic Effect of Chinese Herbal Medicine on Food Allergy (FAHF-2) for more details about the study, which is currently recruiting participants.

      Studies on FAHF-2 have been and continue to be conducted by Xiu-Min Li, MD, director of the Center for Chinese Herbal Therapy for Allergy and Asthma at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and Dr. Li's team of researchers.

      The mouse trials involved testing FAHF-2 on mice who were allergic to peanuts. They were given FAHF-2 every day for seven weeks and then underwent seven oral peanut "challenges" over the subsequent 36 weeks. All of the control group mice developed anaphylaxis, but not a single one of the mice in the treated group did.

      The same researchers are now conducting research on humans. Early findings of the human trial show that the herbal remedy is safe and tolerated well. Patients take the remedy in pill form twice a day. Dr. Li says of the human trials, "We're starting to see a good immune response. We will finish the safety trial and begin the efficacy trial soon."

      Traditional Chinese Medicine and Asthma

      Traditional Chinese Medicine and Asthma
      As we know, allergies, asthma, multiple chemical sensitivity, and eczema are all related, and often present in various combinations in the same individuals. It's no surprise, then, that effective treatments for one allergy-related condition show promise in treating additional allergy-related conditions.

      For example, between 2005 and 2007, four trials of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) published in the February 2009 edition of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunologysuggested that herbal remedies could help treat asthma symptoms. According to an article entitled Chinese Herbal Remedy Can Cure Asthma, in center for natural health Align Life, TCM reduced asthma symptoms by reducing inflammation of the airways, inhibiting smooth airway muscle contraction, and stimulating the body's immune system.

      While research in the area of herbal remedies is still ongoing, early trials have shown this new avenue as a good reason for hope among allergy sufferers everywhere.

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      Improve Your Health and the Environment with Organic Cotton Bedding

      Cotton provides half the world's fiber needs, and it is the most heavily sprayed crop on Earth. Conventional cotton farming uses a quarter of the world's pesticides! It takes nearly a pound of chemicals to produce a pair of jeans from conventional cotton. The US Department of Agriculture reports that 55 million pounds of pesticides were sprayed on US cotton in 2003. The US Environmental Protection Agency considers seven different pesticides used on cotton to be likely, probable, or known carcinogens. According to the World Health Organization, of the 20,000+ people who die each year from pesticide poisoning, many are cotton farmers.

      Conventional cotton farming not only poisons people, but it also poisons the land with chemicals that eventually end up in our food, water, and bodies. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers, or any other synthetic chemicals. In fact, to be certified organic, the soil in which the crop is grown must be free of chemicals for three years prior to planting. Organic cotton farmers nurture the soil and use natural methods of pest and weed control - and they don't have to worry about being exposed to toxic chemicals while in the field. Organic agriculture promotes and enhances biodiversity, soil fertility, and ecological harmony.

      When you buy organic cotton products, you don't have to worry about exposing yourself to toxic chemicals. As a contaminated plant grows, pesticide residues build up in the cotton, and they can pass directly through your skin if you sleep on contaminated cotton bedding. Pesticide exposure can cause headaches, fatigue, nausea, and more serious effects like cancer and neurological disorders. Hot sleepers should be especially concerned about sleeping on contaminated cotton because moisture makes it easier for the chemicals to cross the skin barrier. Organic cotton bedding is safe and soft on the skin, it absorbs moisture extremely well, and it will never expose you to dangerous chemicals.

      Organic Dust Mite CoversWhen compared to polyester bedding, organic cotton bedding is softer and cooler. Also, many people are sensitive to polyester. Polyester is made from petrochemicals which can sometimes off-gas into the air and cause reactions among sensitive individuals. Polyester lasts longer than organic cotton, and it's less expensive, but if you are chemically sensitive to polyester, then the higher cost of organic cotton bedding is well worth it.

      Most dust mite bedding is made from polyester because of its durability. However, Allergy Armor Organic, exclusive to achooallergy.com, is made from the only fabric in the US that's certified 100% organic, non-treated, non-dyed, and clinically-proven to be an effective dust mite barrier.

      If you are allergic to dust mites and also sensitive to chemicals, you should place Allergy Armor Organic covers on your pillows and mattress. Since you spend a third of your life in bed, you should make sure that it's not making you sick! These specially woven and pressed zippered covers will block dust mites and other allergens from your bed and your breathing zone.

      Once you cover your mattress and pillows with Allergy Armor Organic, add organic cotton sheets and an organic cotton blanket for a totally natural, rejuvenating sleep experience.

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      Friedrich Company History

      Friedrich Air Conditioning has roots as a longhorn furniture store opened by Ed Friedrich in San Antonio, TX in 1883. The San Antonio Museum of Art still houses some of the original furniture. Ed Friedrich developed many innovative products including store fixtures, wood billiard tables, fine-carved cabinetry, and eventually salt brine freezer cases, which were the forerunners of modern refrigeration systems.

      Friedrich's sons, George and Richard, joined the family business and helped develop a new type of mechanical refrigeration. The company also began to create food display cases to keep food fresher and more nutritious. In 1950, although Ed Friedrich had passed on, his sons continued his legacy as the company entered the field of room air conditioning, already a leading manufacturer of commercial refrigeration equipment.

      "We are proud of our heritage and of the reputation we have built over our 123 year history," says Charles M. Marino, President and CEO of Friedrich Air Conditioning.

      Friedrich grew substantially, building a two-story, 600,000 square-foot facility in 1971. Ed Friedrich's dream to conserve energy by building quality products had become a reality 100 years later, and Friedrich continues that legacy by conserving energy through close attention to detail and craftsmanship.

      "Friedrich introduced its first electronic air cleaner in 1990 in response to customer requests for a superior quality air cleaner. Friedrich's engineering department capitalized on the wealth of air movement technology it had accumulated over the years perfecting air conditioning products. And, the air cleaner was designed around a highly effective electronic cell which worked in tandem with other filtering media," says Brian Campbell, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Friedrich Air Conditioning.

      Not only has the Friedrich C90B electronic air cleaner been tested and certified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), but it has also achieved one of the highest Clean Air Delivery Rates (CADR) in independent laboratory tests. Additionally, the Friedrich C90B electronic air cleaner has been Energy Star qualified, demonstrating Friedrich's commitment to protecting the environment. Friedrich received the prestigious Environment Excellence Award from the San Antonio Manufacturer's Association and the San Antonio Water System in 2006 for its focus on protecting the environment.

      Safe and effective, Friedrich air cleaners feature a three-speed fan which quickly eliminates tobacco smoke, dust, pollen, odors, and other airborne pollutants through an efficient four-step process. First, air enters through the rear grille, sending airborne contaminants to an air pre-filter which catches the larger particles. From there, the air moves to the electronic cell where billions of microscopic particles are charged as they pass through a powerful electrical field. The collector plate immediately attracts the charged particles. The activated carbon filter then removes odors and fumes as the air circulates back into the room, leaving you with fresh, clean air.

      Exceptionally easy to maintain, the Friedrich air purifier's pre-filter can be rinsed with water and the carbon filter requires replacement every three to six months, making the Friedrich air purifier effective and affordable. Ideal for any home, office, store, restaurant, hospital, hotel, or employee lounge, Friedrich C90B air cleaners are quiet and inconspicuous. In just minutes, you will notice improvements in your indoor air quality as your Friedrich electrostatic air cleaner begins removing billions of irritating microscopic particles from your home or office to provide healthy and clean air for you and your family.

      "Our strategy has never been to make the cheapest products on the market. To do that we would have had to compromise our core values of commercial grade quality, durability and reliability somewhere along the way. Your business is only as good as your reputation. We are proud of the C-90B air cleaner which has been repeatedly top-rated and proven safe and effective by AHAM and leading product review publications," adds Marino. Find the Friedrich air purifier that's right for you and enjoy fresh, clean air today.

      Return to Friedrich C90B Product Details.

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      A Mother and Daughter on Food Allergy Awareness


      Peanut Allergies are Life Threatening From Mother Betsy Wiens:
      Our family has been dealing with food allergies for 12 years, since my daughter was diagnosed with a life threatening peanut allergy at the age of one. The change in knowledge and awareness of this condition has increased greatly thanks to organizations such as the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).

      To give you a couple of examples of what things were like back in 1994:

      1. When we were enrolling my daughter in preschool, the preschool said their lawyer advised them against administering the Epi-pen in the case of an emergency.
      2. When I voiced concern to an airline reservationist that it might not be safe for my daughter to be in an airplane with everyone around her eating peanuts, he suggested we walk to our destination!

      As with any problem, we felt better when we were armed with more knowledge. We read about FAAN in a newspaper article and signed up for their newsletter immediately. The newsletter keeps us up to date on research and legislation, gives in depth information on food allergies and anaphylaxis, shares other members' experiences, etc.

      It's difficult to have a young child with a food allergy because you quickly learn that all social gatherings include food. People would frequently tell me not to worry because my daughter was so smart and she knew what she could not eat. Those comments would depress me because I had to face the fact of how many people still didn't "get it." As if a five year old could understand cross-contamination and know how to read ingredients!

      Now my daughter is a teenager. She's handled school, camp, and we've even traveled out of the country with her. Although we have a better comfort level because she does assume most of the responsibility, she has now entered the highest risk group: teenagers. So we still talk about it all the time. We try and set a good example when we take her to restaurants by discussing things with the food server or manager. We've instructed her friends on how to use the Epi-pen. Our approach is extremely low risk and she seems to find comfort in that.

      My daughter and I attended a FAAN conference last spring. We learned a great deal, but it is scary how few answers there are to this dilemma. No one is sure why it's happening (the rate of children with food allergies has doubled the past 10 years!), how to stop it, or if one may "outgrow" it. The only real answer we got is that the food allergy epidemic cannot be simply genetic due to the rapid increase in incidence.

      So we are very thankful for the focus on food allergies that builds awareness and hopefully will help find a cure.

      From Daughter Avery, Age 13

      Growing up with a food allergy has changed my life in many ways. Even in preschool, I remember having to bring my own snack to school while all the other kids ate the same thing. While I was starting elementary school, my parents didn't want me to go to the neighborhood school because there wasn't a nurse. I was too young for my parents to trust me, so it was a very scary time for them. Everywhere I ate we had to ask about the food. Most of the time they'd just look at us funny and say, "There's no peanut butter in chicken fingers!" We would try to ask about peanut oil or if my food had come in contact with nuts, but we rarely got through to them. Flying on an airline, they were going to serve the stranger next to me peanuts whether I was allergic or not. They didn't care.

      Since no one knew anything about food allergies, and neither did we, my mom subscribed to the newsletter from FAAN. It is a wonderful organization that helps people with food allergies learn how to be safe. I owe my life to them, and so does my dad. He got stung by a wasp in the middle of nowhere and went into anaphylactic shock. My Epi-pen saved his life. Without FAAN, we probably wouldn't always carry an Epi-pen, or warn my teachers at school every year, or know which foods to avoid. Thanks to FAAN and an increase in food allergies, awareness is increasing as well. When I go to a restaurant, most waiters know what to tell me when I say I'm allergic to peanuts. If we call ahead on airline flights, they won't serve nuts near me. Although awareness is more common now, there are still no answers or cures for food allergies. FAAN works hard to get closer to those things every day. The FAAN Walk for Food Allergy is a great way to support them and raise money toward what will someday be a cure.

      Visit the FAAN website to learn more about the organization and sign up for a FAAN Walk for Food Allergy in your area.

      If you cannot participate in the Food Allergy Walk but would like to make a donation, please visit the secure donation page set up by the achoo! ALLERGY team.

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      Five Things to Consider When Buying a Humidifier

      For many, having a humidifier in your home is essential in order to maintain comfort and better control allergies during the drier fall and winter months. Dry air may bring on or exacerbate eczema, may lead to itchy or inflamed mucous membranes, and can dry out allergens which makes them more easily airborne and more readily inhaled. Before choosing a humidifier to help you this season, take a moment to look over these five things to consider when buying a humidifier. Considering each before investing in a humidifier can help ensure that your purchase is not only suited to your specific needs, but that it will run as efficiently and safely as possible.

      Should I get a warm mist or cool mist humidifier?


      In terms of humidifying the air in your home, there is really little difference between warm mist humidifier and cool mist humidifier. However, there are specific differences that may make either a warm mist or a cool mist unit ideal for you:

      • Warm mist humidifiers may be especially soothing for those who have a cold or the flu.
      • Most warm mist humidifiers offer germicidal protection by boiling the water before it is released into the air.
      • Some warm mist humidifiers can be used in conjunction with medication.
      • The boiling water and steam emitted by older warm mist humidifiers could potentially be dangerous if young children are around.
      • Warm mist can help make the cold air in your home feel warmer (although humidification in general, whether through warm mist or cool mist, will help make your home feel warmer).
      • Cool mist humidifiers are often easier to keep clean.
      • Cool mist humidifiers, particularly ultrasonic models, can have much higher moisture outputs.

      Air O Swiss 7135 HumidifierIf you cannot decide between warm mist and cool mist humidification, there are a few units that allow you the option, including most Air O Swiss/Boneco and PureGuardian humidifier models. Enjoy the best of both worlds with these units that enable you to select either warm mist or cool mist humidification. Just note that often dual mist models only preheat the water, so the warm mist feature is often nowhere near as warm as the a warm mist only humidifier.

      What type of humidifier should I get?

      There are a few different ways that humidifiers propel moist air into your home environment. These various functions translate to different maintenance requirements for you. Before purchasing a unit, it's good to know how your unit works so that you understand how best to care for it and keep it working at peak performance. Here's a brief breakdown of humidifier types:

      Air-O-Swiss 2055 Air Washer/HumidifierImpeller humidifiers - Constantly rotating discs break water into ultra fine droplets. Impeller humidifiers release cool mist into the air. The Air-O-Swiss Air Washer and Humidifier turns its rotating discs into "air washing" feature, allow particulate to "stick" to the damp discs. As the discs rotate back into the water pool/reservoir, the particulate remains in the humidifier, out of the air you breathe. The output of these models generally isn't as high as an ultrasonic or warm mist humidifier, but air washers can be a good way with the benefit of some particulate removal.

      Stadler Form Oskar HumidifierEvaporative humidifiers - These use a fan to draw air over a wet wick to release moisture into the air. Lightweight and low on power usage, evaporative humidifiers are effective but tend to have one drawback. They can't warm the water like an ultrasonic or boiler-style warm mist humidifier. As a positive though, as humidity levels increase, they tend to be less effective. So they can be somewhat self regulating. Overall, most people enjoy them because most have a convenient top-fill feature.

      Air O Swiss S450 Steam HumidifierWarm mist humidifiers - As mentioned above, warm mist humidifiers boil the water which is then emitted as steam. Not only is this warm mist very soothing, but many have optional medicine cups that can be used to vaporize some medications. On the downside, older models could cause problems if spilled by pets or children, but most newer models reduce or eliminate the chance of burns associated with spilling the very hot/boiling water. Power consumption is a little slightly higher since the water is boiled/heated. Note: the "warm mist" features of a dual mist humidifier, is NOT as warm as a traditional warm mist humidifier.

      Germ Guardian Ultrasonic HumidifierUltrasonic humidifiers - High frequency vibrations in ultrasonic humidifiers turn liquid water into a fine mist. This cool mist fog is then dispersed into the room via a small, integrated fan inside the unit. This type of humidifier offers the highest moisture output of all, very low power usage, and operates in near silence. Conveniently, the vibrations used by ultrasonic humidifiers kill most microbes. Due to the high output, low noise level, and an array of optional features, ultrasonic humidifiers generally offer a very wide variety of models in terms of price, moisture output, and hygienic features.

      What germicidal measures should my humidifier have?

      If not properly maintained, humidifiers can actually cause more problems than they solve. Standing water can breed bacteria and mold which is then spewed into the air and inhaled. Thus, humidifiers need to be emptied and cleaned consistently. But improper cleaning in itself can also pose health hazards. When harsh chemicals such as bleach are used to clean the unit, the chemicals can become airborne and inhaled.

      Due to the possible risk and the high-maintenance nature of humidifiers, manufacturers have taken measures to provide germicidal protection. (Note: These measures do not replace the need for regular maintenance.)

      Some germ fighting options include:

      • Ionic Silver or Carbon Filters - Air-O-Swiss humidifiers now use their included Hydro Cell (a carbon filter) to help keep water clean. While Pure Guardian used integrated silver ions in the tank, and Stadler Form opt for the more traditional Silver Ion Cube.
      • UV light - Kills microbes safely and effectively, but requires the replacement of bulbs. This method has become less common, in favor of carbon or ionic silver.
      • Ultrasonic vibration - Kills germs at the same time as water is "shaken" into tiny droplets.
      • Boiling/Heat - Warm mist (boiler-style) humidifiers kill germs by boiling water before it is released into the air as steam. Dual mist units prewarm the water in warm mist mode, but often not warm enough to kill microbes.
      • Combination - Several units include more than one germicidal feature to provide you with a more well rounded effort to keep the water clean and hygienic as well as some added peace of mind.

      How many humidifying units will you purchase?

      Five Things to Consider When Buying a Humidifier - Where to Place Your HumidifierGiven the many benefits of home humidification - keeping your home's paint, wood, and furniture from drying out; offering natural relief from cold and flu symptoms; soothing irritated sinuses; and lowering heating costs by making the air feel warmer - you may decide to purchase multiple units. Most humidifiers are single room humidifiers, whose effects are often slow to be felt in other rooms, if at all. Unless you opt for a whole home humidifier (tied into the existing HVAC system), most opt for 1-3 units for better coverage throughout the home.

      For instance, if you have young children, you know first-hand how many colds they pick up during the colder months - and you know how miserable it is for them (and you) to get up in the middle of the night to tend to stuffy noses. Furthermore, given the FDA's recommendation not to give children under two years of age cough medicine or other over-the-counter cold medication, natural relief is more important than ever. Humidifiers placed in children's rooms offer significant nap-time and night-time relief.

      The same goes for sick adults. Enjoy the benefits of night-time relief and the good night's sleep you require through humidification in the bedroom. Some units even feature a medicine cup for adding vaporizing cold medications.

      If you're interested in cutting down on heating bills, you may consider humidifying units for other areas of your home as well. Adding moisture to the air - up to a certain level - helps the air feel warmer and lessens the need to turn that thermostat up.

      Ultimately, a humidifier falls under the same advice as many allergy relief products - start in the room you use the most, namely, the bedroom.

      What capacity should my humidifier have?

      Deciding what type of capacity you want your unit to have is not as daunting as, say, deciding the same for an air purifier. Basically, the larger the capacity of your humidifier, the less often you will have to refill it. However, this must be balanced against considerations such as how easy or hard the unit is to refill, how much space you have for your unit, and how heavy the unit will be if you have to carry it to the bathroom or kitchen to refill. Many of our largest capacity humidifiers hold almost two gallons of water and can literally run for days without needing to be refilled. Our smallest unit, the portable Germ Guardian Table Top Humidifier holds slightly less than a quarter of a gallon. Other models like the Stadler Form Oskar are top-fill models that hold a large amount of water. While there is a fairly wide range of humidifier capacities to choose from, this choice largely boils down to how much convenience do you want.

      Once you answered these five things to consider when buying a humidifier, you may find that you've effectively narrowed your options down, and now have a much easier decision than when you started. While there are certainly other factors to consider before you buy, these five questions are a great place to start.

      For more help choosing the right humidifier, see our Humidifier Buying Guide or call one of our experienced and friendly customer service representatives at 1-800-339-7123.

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      Five Reasons to Avoid Excess Humidity in the Home

      There is moisture in the air all around us. Without, we, and much of the plant and animal life around us, would have a very hard time surviving. There is, however, such a thing as "too much of a good thing," and humidity falls into this category. Here are the top five reasons to avoid excess humidity in your home.

      Top Five Reasons to Avoid Excess Humidity in Your Home - Humidity is Uncomfortable

      Top Five Reasons to Avoid Excess Humidity in Your Home - Mold Growth

      Top Five Reasons to Avoid Excess Humidity in Your Home - Dust Mites

      Top Five Reasons to Avoid Excess Humidity in Your Home - Save Energy

      Top Five Reasons to Avoid Excess Humidity in Your Home - Damage to Wood

      1. Humidity is uncomfortable. No one likes to step out of a shower only to feel sticky again a few minutes later. Humidity not only makes you feel icky, but it also actually makes you feel warmer. Because of the amount of moisture in the air, a humid environment slows evaporation of sweat, reducing your body's natural way to cool itself. This is why a dry 90° feels so much more tolerable than the same temperature in more humid conditions.

      2. Humidity creates mold. When moisture levels are above optimum levels, mold and mildew grow and propagate. Mold is notoriously difficult to remove once it begins to spread, especially in porous materials like cinder blocks or wood in basements. Mold spores are potent allergy triggers, and the mycotoxins produced by actively growing mold can also cause various other health issues, even in non-allergy sufferers. When humidity levels drop and forced air heating create a particularly dry environment, mold spores dry out and become light and airborne - making them an allergy hazard all year long. Hence, prevention of mold formation and growth is ideal. Using a home dehumidifier, especially in mold and mildew hot spots of the home, is the perfect way to combat the excess humidity that leads to mold.

      3. Dust mites love humidity. Dust mites don't drink water. Like many other insects, they absorb the moisture they need through their body from the environment around them. When humidity levels are above 50%, dust mite populations skyrocket. They thrive and multiply which means much more dust mite allergen exposure for you. Keep dust mite populations in check during humid summer months by using a dehumidifiers. And also make sure to use allergy relief bedding to seal away dust mites already in your pillows, mattress, or comforter.

      4. Humidity costs you money. As stated in our first point above, humidity makes you feel hotter than you would if humidity were lower. In an attempt to feel more comfortable, you may lower the thermostat. It's important to remember that while air conditioners work on the same principles of refrigerant-style dehumidifiers, they are not designed to focus on moisture removal. Supplementing air conditioning with a dehumidifier (particularly an Energy Star rated model) will can actually allow you to save on cooling costs, by letting you keep that thermostat a few degrees higher without sacrificing on comfort.

      5. Humidity ruins wood. It may take a year or two to notice a difference, but fluctuations in humidity levels can damage the wood in your home, including wood furniture and flooring. Every notice that your doors "stick" or that the top or bottom rubs against the floor or door frame during the spring and summer? That's swelling from humidity. Humidity causes expansion in the wood which contracts again when humidity levels drop (especially if the home environment gets overly dry). Expanding and contracting is stressful for the wood, and over time, it can warp or crack. Dehumidification when humidity is too high, as well as proper humidification when humidity is too low help, extend the life of the wood in your home.

      Excess moisture can cause a variety of problems, and once you've eliminated or reduced the source of excess humidity and moisture in your home, you can often keep what remains in check with a dehumidifier. For your crawlspace consider one of the Top Five Crawlspace Dehumidifiers, or for most other rooms in your home, a Top Five Room Dehumidifier will likely take care of your needs.

      Want more than these five reasons to avoid excess humidity in your home? Read on to learn more about humidity, your health, and controlling humidity in any of the resources below.

      Effects of Humidity on the Body
      Mold Information
      Excess Moisture and Mold
      Types of Common Household Mold
      Control Moisture & Humidity
      Dehumidifier Buying Guide

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      Five Tips About Mold

      Mold is an omnipresent fact of life. This basic organism does a lot of good, from breaking down and decomposing organic matter to helping provide us with antibiotics and an array of foods. As with anything though, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Mold can also have serious health consequences, particularly when it flourishes indoors. Here are the top five tips about mold, how to deal with it, and how to prevent it from becoming a problem in the first place.

      Top Five Tips About Mold

      Five Tips About Mold - #1 Cleaning Mold Can Be Dangerous

      Cleaning Mold Can Be Dangerous

      When it comes to cleaning mold, most people reach right for the bleach. But using bleach to clean mold is not only sometimes ineffective, but it can also cause additional problems for allergy sufferers. Bleach may be used on non-porous surfaces - but it doesn't always kill mold; in fact, it may simply whiten it, causing you to think the mold is gone even while it's still there, continuing to propagate. Bleach used on wood or other porous surfaces is ineffective because it cannot penetrate deep into to material to kill the mold spores within it. In addition, bleach creates harsh fumes and a caustic residue that are harmful, especially for allergy sufferers who are more susceptible to respiratory and dermatological reactions.

      So how do you clean mold? The first thing to keep in mind is how to protect yourself: EcoDiscoveries MoldZyme - Non-toxic Mold Cleaner cleaning any allergen - whether it's dust, mold, pollen, or anything else - stirs it into the air, making it airborne, and making it more likely that you will inhale it. An Austin Air air purifier equipped with HEPA filters goes a long way in reducing the amount of mold spores circulating in your indoor air. Wear gloves and an allergy mask like the 3M 8293 Mask or the 3M HEPA Mask, both of which feature HEPA filtration to keep you from breathing in mold spores.

      Secondly, use a cleaner that is specifically designed to eliminate mold, such as Vital Oxide Mold Remover and Disinfectant, Allersearch AllerMold, or MoldZyme Mold and Mildew Remover. Follow up with a sealant that prevents mold formation. We recommend M-1 Sure Cote Mold and Mildew Resistant Sealant.

      Top Five Tips About Mold - Dehumidifiers Can Prevent Mold Growth

      Dehumidifiers Prevent Mold Problems From Occurring.

      As we all know, mold requires moisture to survive - and environments that are too humid provide ideal conditions for mold growth. During the winter, even as forced air heating systems generally make the air dry, mold thrives in areas of the home that experience excess moisture levels. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that ventilation is rare because of cold temperatures. Watch for mold in places like closets that are near a bathroom (such as in a master bedroom suite), bathrooms, shower stalls, and in the kitchen near the stove where steam gathers, or by windows that collect steam.

      Room DehumidifiersUsing dehumidifiers in areas that are prone to concentrated moisture levels is an excellent way to prevent the formation of mold. For most rooms or when moisture levels rise throughout the home environment - such as during the summer in humid climates - invest in a full-size dehumidifier like a Danby dehumidifier or a Soleus dehumidifier.

      In order to lessen the chance of mold formation, humidity levels should be kept between 40 to 50 percent. Many dehumidifiers have built in humidity gauges, or you can use a high quality hygrometer to measure humidity levels yourself.

      Top Five Tips About Mold - Mold Allergies and Asthma Are a Bad Combination

      Mold Allergies + Asthma = Bad Combination.

      Mold is a potent allergy trigger that is also known to induce asthma attacks. Mold can even lead to the development of asthma: a Mayo Clinic article states, Kids' asthma risk more than doubles if their homes smell of mold. Conversely, when mold is removed from the indoor environment, asthma symptoms are likely to improve, as this Science Daily article discusses.

      Top Five Tips About Mold - HEPA Air Purifiers Trap Mold Spores

      HEPA Air Purifiers Trap Mold Spores.

      Purifying your air is another effective way to protect yourself from inhaling mold. HEPA filters capture mold spores before they reach the air that you breathe. Air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters go a long way in reducing the amount of mold spores circulating in your indoor air. Blueair Air Purifiers offer HEPASilent technology, which allows for ultra quiet air purification; Austin Air Air Purifiers offer medical-grade HEPA filtration in an assortment of sizes and colors; AirPura Air Purifiers boast the highest carbon levels in the industry for added protection from chemical fumes and absorption of offensive odors; andHoneywell Air Purifiers offer HEPA air purification at very affordable price points.

      Austin Air HEPA Air PurifiersBut air purifiers are not the only appliances that use HEPA filtration to clean the air of offending allergens. HEPA vacuum cleaners not only pick up mold spores from the areas that are vacuumed, but they also clean the air that circulates through the vacuum, trapping mold spores and other allergens in its internal HEPA filter.

      It's also crucial that allergy sufferers change their furnace filters regularly in order to keep a handle on ambient mold. The 3M Ultra Furnace Filter is over 93% effective at capturing airborne particles, including mold.

      Top Five Tips About Mold - What You Don't See Can Hurt You

      What You Don't See Can Hurt You

      Total Allergen LoadJust because you don't see any visible mold in your household doesn't mean it isn't there - and doesn't mean it's not contributing to your total allergen load. Mold often lurks in places that aren't often seen, such as under sinks or in old basement ceiling tiles. Many times you can smell mold before you can see it. This is why it's important to look for clues about where mold might form. For instance, if your dish-washing routine leaves an over-the-sink window steamy, check any wooden molding around the window for signs of deterioration. Better yet, try to ventilate by opening the window a crack while you're doing dishes. Using bleach to clean mold may also lead to invisible mold problems; bleach may whiten mold, causing it to apparently disappear while spores still linger and make their way into your indoor air.

      Outdoor mold is also insidious, especially during wintertime. The Mayo Clinic advises those with mold sensitivities to sleep with windows closed to keep out outdoor mold, to wear an allergy relief mask while raking leaves, and to stay indoors altogether after a rainstorm or in foggy or otherwise damp weather.

      These tips will both help prevent mold problems from happening and help remedy them when they do occur. Obviously, those with known allergies to mold must take precautions against exposure to mold spores; however, those with any kind of allergies should be cautious as well - one never knows when a new allergen will trigger an allergy attack.

      If you found these top five tips about mold useful, you can find more in-depth information from any one of these resources.

      All About Mold
      Common Household Molds
      Moisture and Humidity Control
      Dehumidifier Buying Guide
      Air Purifier Buying Guide
      Home Humidity's Link to Allergies

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      Prepare the House for the Holidays and Allergies

      Avoid Sneezy, Scratchy Holidays with the Family

      Holiday Preparation for Allergic Family
      With Halloween now in the books, the holiday season is nearly upon us, and for the next couple months, many of us are likely to have a veritable parade of family through our homes. So while family, and some of us ourselves, visit for the holidays, there can be a variety of needs to accommodate. From Aunt Rita's dog allergy to cousin Jimmy's peanut allergy, visiting family members' needs can be a chore to negotiate. Here is how we handle the situation in our home during this fun-filled time of the year. In addition to these tips, we have put together some fun allergy-related games for kids!
      Download Kid's Allergy Games

      Rita is Coming

      My Aunt Rita is flying in for five days, and no visit by her would be complete without her story about her mailman or "the most amazing matzo ball soup in Boca". One thing that always comes with Aunt Rita though, is her pet allergies, and that is not lost on Pickles, our four-year-old Schnauzer.

      Trying to reduce dog dander can be difficult for pet owners, but with many family members in and out every few months we had made a decision a long time ago that made this task much easier. First, Pickles is only free to roam throughout the first floor of the house. While this does mean he can make his way into the kitchen (he loves to keep a watchful on whatever is cooking), it also means he rarely makes his way into any of the bedrooms on the second floor. This is key for anyone who loves pets but has to negotiate pet allergies. By limiting where the pet can roam, you can dramatically reduce the allergens in certain parts of the house.

      Encase Your Bedding with Allergy ArmorWe also made a decision to encase our mattress and pillows. This has helped in two very big ways. First, the covers block allergens. So Pickles' dander and pollen stay out of the mattress and pillows. On top of this, they protect the mattress from spills and dust. So even if the bedroom sits empty for a couple months, we can easily wash the bedding and covers to bring things back as good as new!

      As for Pickles, he gets a bath right before Rita arrives. An anti-allergy shampoo removes the dander and keeps him smelling fresh for several days. While one of us bathes Pickles, the other vacuums and dusts throughout the house. Here, using a sealed HEPA vacuum cleanerwe can remove any dander that settles on the tables, chairs, floors or just about anywhere in our home.

      With those things in place, the last thing we try to have is plenty of coffee. When Aunt Rita gets on a roll with one of her stories, we could be there a while!

      And Then There's My Cousin Jimmy

      In our family, our cousin Jimmy is the only other person we really need to prepare for. Unlike Rita, Jimmy has a peanut allergy and mild eczema. While the same approach we take with preparing the house for Rita won' t hurt in this case, it does leave a few other things to be adjusted.

      Organic Cotton BeddingWe keep a few articles of organic bedding in the closet for Jimmy, so even if he decides to bunk on the couch, he can throw an organic cotton sheet down and curl up with the blanket. The only reason we do this is because in the past he seems to have enjoyed his stay more when we began using organic bedding that lacks chemicals, dyes, or finishers.

      No matter where he sleeps, we put a small humidifier near him. Our house gets fairly dry during the winter months and that lack of moisture in the air can cause eczema to flare up.

      Lastly, in terms of his allergies, we take particular care in the kitchen. This means substituting some ingredients or even dishes and properly rinsing and cleaning all. While most of our holiday dishes do not have peanuts in them, you might be surprised how many prepackage and processed foods do have trace amounts of peanuts. For potlucks, it's actually easy to get an idea of ingredients of someone's covered dish - just ask for the recipe!

      Though none of the steps we take are a cure, and none mean everything will go smoothly (holidays, families... always some friction), they do help to make everyone comfortable and not as worrisome as they might normally be. Doing what you can is also a great way to let family know that you care, and that peace of mind can go a long ways in making for a happier holiday.

      A Few Good Tips - Cleaning Up for Holiday Allergy Sufferers

      Though none of the steps we take are a cure, and none mean everything will go smoothly (holidays, families... always some friction), they do help to make everyone comfortable and not as worrisome as they might normally be. Doing what you can is also a great way to let family know that you care, and that peace of mind can go a long ways in making for a happier holiday.

      As a few additional tips:

      • Dump the Furniture Polish - A microfiber or electrostatic dust cloth works great in collecting dust and dirt and doesn't leave behind chemicals residue or fragrance.
      • Shoes Off - Not only does it help keep kids from tracking dirt and mud through the house, but it prevents allergens that are on everyone's shoes from being spread all through the house.
      • Vacuum Regularly - As Martha Stewart says, "It's a good thing" and in more ways than one. Not only does regular vacuuming keep pet hair, dust, dirt and debris out of your carpet, but during winter months, dust that normally settles on floor can easily become airborne in drier-than-normal indoor conditions.
      • Don't Forget the Detergent - If you do have family or friends staying who have allergies, it can help to use a high quality anti-allergy detergent. Most denature allergens regardless of whether you wash in hot or cold water, and many are great for people with eczema or those who are sensitive to the heavy fragrances used in modern detergents.Ladybug Steam Cleaners
      • Some Like it Steamy - A steam cleaner can be extremely handy when cleaning and removing allergens. The heat and steam both sanitizes, which can kill even Boca-tough germs, and it safely destroys allergens on any surface.

      There are a variety of other ways to help make your home accommodating and welcoming to allergic guests, and while it may sometimes seem like a chore, seeing loved ones during the holiday season is something we can all enjoy.

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      Why Dehumidification Is So Important For Allergy Sufferers

      The Importance of Dehumidification for Controlling Allergies

      Dehumidifiers are unique allergy relief products because instead of just filtering allergens from the air, they actually help keep allergens from forming or multiplying in the first place.

      Endeavoring to achieve environmental control of allergens is largely a matter of keeping the air in your home clean. Allergens that become airborne are the most potent and pervasive allergy triggers because they can't be seen, they're inhaled, and they kick off the immune system's inflammatory response before they can be curbed.

      Allergy relief products like quality furnace filters and HEPA air purifiers are invaluable tools in helping to clear the air of dust mite allergen, pollen, mold spores, and other allergy triggers; but dehumidifiers create conditions that make it hard for certain allergens to thrive, thereby keeping them from ever entering your indoor air in the first place.

      Dehumidifiers and Mold

      Dehumidifiers and Avoiding Mold GrowthThe main benefit of dehumidifiers is that they keep moisture levels low enough to make it difficult for mold and mildew to form. During summer, in humid climates, this is imperative; we all know what a southeast summer can do to a basement that's too humid. (An added perk of low-enough humidity levels in the summer is that they keep you feeling cool.) During wintertime, when ventilation is scarce because of cold temperatures, moisture that builds up in certain areas of the home is also of concern.

      As the Public Health Department of North Carolina puts it, "All of the conditions needed for mold growth (food sources and appropriate temperatures) are present in the indoor environment with the exception of adequate moisture. Prevention of mold growth indoors cannot be achieved without proper moisture control."

      So we see that, as the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) states: "The key to mold control is moisture control." In addition to acting quickly when acute moisture problems (things like leaks or spills) present themselves, the EPA recommends "keep[ing] indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent) relative humidity. Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture orhumidity meter."

      While a humidity gauge, or hygrometer will tell you exactly how humid your home is, you can also look for visible signs. For instance, if you notice that condensation forms on your windows, this indicates that your home environment is too humid and that mold is likely to be a problem. Dehumidifiers address this issue by removing excess moisture from your indoor air.

      Dust Mites and Dehumidification

      Allergy Relief BeddingMold and mildew are not the only allergens to be reduced when proper dehumidification measures are taken. Dust mites also thrive in humid environments. They receive the water they need through the air, and when moisture levels are high, their populations explode. These pests love temperatures in the 70s and 80s and humidity levels around 70 to 80 percent; but they do not do well in humidity levels below 50 percent. Hence, when humidity levels are kept in check with dehumidifiers, not only are mold and mildew problems kept at bay, but dust mite populations are kept in check as well. (Dust mites' love of warm, humid environments is another reason they love to live in beds. Be sure to protect yourself against their effects by using pillow and mattress covers.)

      Dehumidification Improves Overall Indoor Air Quality

      Using a dehumidifier improves indoor air quality in several ways, not all of which are immediately obvious. Firstly, making sure that moisture levels are within the proper range assures that mold and mildew is not given the opportunity to form and propagate. Secondly, dust mite populations are also kept under control when humidity levels are below 50 percent.

      Maintaining control over the amount of both mold and dust mites in your home has a huge effect on the quality of air that you and your family breathe. Mold spores are very light, and therefore easily airborne and very likely to be inhaled, as is dust mite allergen. Making sure that less of these allergens are present in the first place ensures that less of them will make their way into the air and into your body to incite an allergy attack.

      HEPA Allergy MasksKeeping humidity levels properly balanced also improves the air in another way. When mold and mildew become evident, everybody's first instinct is to get rid of it - but popular methods of cleaning mold are themselves dangerous for allergy sufferers. Cleaning stirs mold spores into the air, making indoor air quality worse (and necessitating the use of an allergy relief mask). Furthermore, many cleaning products, especially bleach, produce fumes and residues that are harmful to allergy sufferers and those with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Making sure that mold doesn't form in the first place alleviates the need for such cleaning techniques. And when cleaning mold is necessary, be sure to use allergy-safe cleaning products.

      Choosing the Best Dehumidifier

      Dehumidifier Buying GuideNow that you're convinced dehumidification is a must-have for allergy sufferers who are serious about environmental control of allergens, how do you go about picking a dehumidifier?

      The first thing you need to consider is where the moisture is a problem. Is it a small space like under a sink or in an enclosed bathroom? Out-of-control humidity is probably lurking in these areas during the winter when there isn't much air circulation. If this is the case, small dehumidifying units like the Eva-Dry Mini Dehumidifiers are an excellent choice. They contain specialized silica gel that adsorbs ambient moisture and include an indicator to show you when they have reached maximum capacity. Then you can simply plug them in (in a well-ventilated area) to release the collected moisture and reuse them over and over.

      The Eva-Dry Petite Dehumidifier is excellent for slightly larger areas, such as a laundry room or bathroom. It holds up to 16 ounces of water and features a spill-proof reservoir and automatic shut-off. This dehumidifier is quieter, less expensive, and more affordable than regular-sized dehumidifiers for small to mid-sized rooms that have moisture problems.

      Ebac Office DehumidifierOn the opposite end of the spectrum, an Ebac or DriEaz dehumidifier is excellent for use in larger areas and commercial sites, such as an office, restaurant, manufacturing site or spa room that require dependable and powerful dehumidification. In fact, there is a whole range of industrial strength Ebac dehumidifiers to choose from for these types of heavy-duty dehumidification needs.

      Home dehumidifiers occupy the middle of the dehumidifier spectrum, and there are several reliable brands to choose from. For basements and crawlspaces, there are only two solid choices, Santa Fe dehumidifiers and AprilAire home dehumidifiers. Both are American made brands with all steel construction and powerful, yet energy efficient moisture removal capacities. Both can be built right into existing HVAC systems or used as stand alone dehumidifiers in basements or crawlspaces. For use in living spaces, models like the Albert dehumidifier by Stadler Form are a better option. The Albert is sleek and modern in design and is energy efficient as well. As the most powerful room dehumidifier available, theSoleus 95 pint dehumidifier is in a class of its own. Built for the most severe indoor humidity problems, this durable dehumidifier has a range of features and advanced controls.

      And no talk of dehumidifiers would be complete without mentioning Danby dehumidifiers, which offer electronically controlled, energy-star compliant, dependable dehumidification from a brand you can trust. Choose from the popular Danby 70-Pint or the more affordable Danby 50-Pint dehumidifier. For more help choosing a Danby dehumidifier, see Compare Danby Dehumidifiers.

      This year, take control of your home environment and invest in a dehumidifier. You will find that all year long it will reduce the amount of allergens in your home - a true boon to your efforts in achieving environmental allergen control success.

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      Five Easy Ways to Combat Cold Weather Dry Skin

      Vanicream Lite LotionSeveral factors combine to cause problems for skin in the cold winter months. First of all, colder temperatures and low humidity levels lead to dry skin. Humidity levels indoors are further compromised by forced air heating systems, which leave your home environment drier than ever. Then, the hot showers or baths you may take to restore warmth to your chilled bones dries out your skin even more. To top it off, clothing that makes your skin itchy (wool sweaters come to mind) only make matters worse, irritating skin that is already susceptible to problems.

      Allergy sufferers may be particularly affected by the environmental factors that contribute to dry skin in the wintertime. Frequently, allergy sufferers are more likely to have problems with eczema, a condition in which the immune system overreacts to allergens, causing inflammation. The condition is characterized by dry, red, itchy skin, and in severe manifestations, may also cause the skin to flake, blister, ooze, and bleed. Its no surprise that skin irritation resulting from cold weather conditions often leads to eczema flare-ups.

      Following are five simple tactics to help you keep the itch out of winter:

      1. Use warm, not hot, water to shower and bathe.

      Water thats too hot in your shower or bath, especially if you wash frequently, breaks down the lipid barriers in your skin, leading to dry skin. Do your best to limit the amount of time you spend in the shower or tub, and keep water as close to lukewarm as possible. This applies to hand-washing as well.

      2. Moisturize after showers or hand-washing.

      Anyone thats ever had even mildly dry skin is familiar with moisturizing, and maybe has even tried an array of moisturizing products that either dont work well, or worse yet, seem to exacerbate the problem. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, the key to proper moisturizing is to moisturize when the skin is still damp a time when you may not think about it because your skin feels temporarily relieved from its contact with water. However, moisturizing dry skin is simply not as effective as applying lotions when your skin is still damp from a shower or bath. This is because moisturizer works by behaving like a seal over your skin that helps keep moisture from escaping. Applying while skin is damp, after a gentle pat-down with a towel, helps trap water in surface cells.

      Secondly, it is very important, especially for individuals with sensitive skin, to stay away from moisturizers that contain harsh fragrances and other chemicals that can actually further irritate the skin. Use fragrance-free formulas such as Vanicream Skin Cream, a dermatologist recommended hypoallergenic moisturizing cream specially formulated for people with sensitive skin. For those who prefer a lighter lotion,Vanicream Lite Lotion provides the same moisturizing power without chemicals and fragrances with a thinner application that can be used all over the body and on the face, too.

      3. Ditch the harsh soaps.

      In order to avoid irritating skin that may already be prone to dryness, make sure that your soaps are not contributing to the problem. The Mayo Clinic recommends, If you have dry skin, it's best to use cleansing creams or gentle skin cleansers and bath or shower gels with added moisturizers and offers a good way to tell if your soap is alright: A good rule of thumb is that your skin should feel soft and smooth after cleansing, never tight or dry. Dermatologist favorite, Vanicream, offers some excellent choices in soap that will never leave your skin tight or dry: Free and Clear Liquid Cleanser contains no chemicals, fragrances, or oils that can irritate the skin of sensitive individuals, and it can be used all over the body and face. For those who prefer a more traditional bar soap, the Vanicream Cleansing Bar soothes skin with its moisturizing formula, equally free of dyes, chemicals, and other irritants.

      4. Humidify your home.

      One of the biggest factors leading to dry skin is dry indoor air. As Barney Kenet, MD, a dermatologist from New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center, puts it, "Dry air is probably the most common cause of dry skin, especially during the winter. It draws the moisture right out of the skin." WebMD, inWhats Causing Your Dry Skin Problem, enumerates, While cold, harsh weather does dry your skin, the biggest problem in the winter lies indoors the dry heat churned out by your furnace.While turning down the thermostat can help a little bit, this solution only goes so far. The best bet is to add some moisture back to your indoor air through the use of ahumidifier. Choose from a table top humidifier like the Germ Guardian Ultrasonic Table Top Humidifier, which is perfect for personal zones of humidification like near your bedside or at the office, or from more sophisticated models like the Enviracaire EWM-350 Warm Mist Humidifier with UV Light, which features an exclusive germicidal process, automatic shut-off when desired humidity levels are reached, up to a 32-hour run time, and more.

      5. Don't use fabrics that irritate your skin.

      Contact irritation from clothing, such as an itchy wool sweater, can also contribute to dry skin problems. Dont wear clothes that make you itchy or uncomfortable, especially if they are directly against your skin. And dont forget about your bedding! Organic bedding can go a long way in relieving some nighttime skin irritation that you may not even be aware is occurring. Especially for those who suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, organic bedding, such as Organic Cotton Blankets, Coyuchi Organic Cotton Sheets, and Allergy Armor Organic dust mite encasings, keeps skin from reacting to the dyes and other chemicals frequently found in bedding and other fabrics.

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      Dichlorophenols, Drinking Water and Allergies: Too Clean For Your Own Good?

      Chemicals, Drinking Water and the Link to Allergies
      Researchers have been struggling to pinpoint the cause of the rise in food allergies in the U.S. and Western society as a whole. In around a decade the number of people diagnosed with food allergies has risen by almost 20%, but theories as to why range from not enough exposure to germs or certain foods, increased diet of highly processed foods, overexposure to certain chemicals, and any number of lesser known theories that range from the odd to the outright absurd. The fact remains that food allergies are on the rise, and there may be multiple factors in determining the cause.

      Many have theorized that chemicals are playing an ever-increasing role in health issues, and a most recent study of pesticides and drinking water seems to affirm that. While the evidence is only preliminary, this study does begin to make a more solid connection between chemicals in our daily lives and how they are potentially impacting our health and allergies.

      Researchers studied data collected by the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2006. In particular, they looked at the urine concentrations of a particular compound - dichlorophenols and cross-referenced that with blood test results for common food allergens (peanuts, eggs, milk and shrimp). What they found was that people with higher concentrations of dichlorophenols were more likely to have food allergies. While the results are really only preliminary, they do seem to fit with some of the current theories about the rise in food allergies.

      There are five basic types of Chlorophenols with a total of just under 20 that are in use today. Chlorophenols are the product of combining chlorine to phenol (a benzene derivative) with the resulting compounds having a variety of uses. From antiseptics and disinfectants to pesticides and bleaching agents, chlorophenols have a variety of uses in modern life. With sources ranging from drinking water to produce with pesticide residue, pinpointing their exact source can be difficult. Regardless of how chlorophenols end up in the human body, they can, as in this study, be measured through urine tests.

      Overall, an examination of the data shows a correlation between higher dichlorophenol levels and an increased chances of also having food allergies. Those tested who had the highest levels were approximately 80% more likely to have food allergies than those who had the lowest concentrations of the compound. What this means is that while there is not enough evidence to show a causal relationship, there is some correlation.

      Food Allergies on the RiseAgain, this still may only be one factor of many that is contributing to an increase in the number of food allergy sufferers diagnosed each year. And, this link between dichlorophenols and food allergies does relate a larger theory as to why allergies are on the rise. Whether used as a pesticide or used as a disinfecting agent in water, chlorophenols kill microbes and germs. The "hygiene hypothesis" theorizes that through a variety of chemicals, disinfectants, and other compounds, environments that are kept too clean increase the risk that the human body develops an allergy - a reaction to an otherwise innocuous substance.

      Though one study is hardly reason to stop drinking chlorinated water or eating fruit and vegetables that may have been treated with pesticides, it does begin to shed a little light on the connection between our ever-increasing chemical environment and the rise in allergies.

      For more information about Chlorophenols visit the CDC.

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      Melissa Korenblat-Hanin on the Psychological and Social Impact of Childhood Asthma

      Lincensed Social Worker Melissa T. Korenblat-Hanin, ACSW, LCSW, was a featured presenter at the 2008AAAAI meeting in Philadelphia, and we recently interviewd her about how asthma can affect children on psychological and social levels.

      Korenblat-Hanin worked at the Asthma Center at the Washington University School of Medicine for just under a decade. "That's what sparked my interest in working with patients with asthma and allergic disease," she says.

      Through her work, Korenblat-Hanin saw that there was a gap between what patients were experiencing and what physicians knew about their patients. Asthma not only affects kids physically, but it also affects them psychologically and socially.

      Korenblat-Hanin and other social workers help children explore and express their feelings about living with a chronic health condition.

      "The first issue facing kids with asthma is simply processing all of the new information," she says. "It can be overwhelming to try and learn all the different things you need to do to control your asthma so that it does not control you.

      "The second issue is dealing with a loss of health. This can also be a major stressor."

      Many children feel a great sense of loss when they're told that they can no longer participate in their favorite sport or pet their favorite animal. It's important to recognize and address that sense of loss.

      Asthma: A Family Matter

      Research shows that children who have supportive families are more successful at controlling their asthma. However, if the family is already unorganized, the stress of dealing with a chronic disease can be overwhelming.

      Korenblat-Hanin offers the following advice to families facing an asthma diagnosis:

      "The best advice is to listen to one another and find out how everyone's feeling - and realize that people's feelings are always changing. Since asthma is an ongoing chronic disease, there will be new obstacles, new pitfalls, and new hurdles that you'll have to leap over. On this path to asthma control, you have to always find out how they're feeling, and let them know that they're not alone."

      "Get organized, and explain why you do the things you do," advises Korenblat-Hanin. "For example, tell them that you're checking their peak flow because you want to see what's happening inside their body so they can keep their asthma under control.

      "Often, children feel like they don't have control, so do whatever you can to bring control to the situation and make them feel like they're in charge."

      "Medication is the number one way to control asthma," stresses Korenblat-Hanin, "so make sure that medication fits into their schedules and into their lives."

      Asthma Camps & The Asthma Explorers Club

      "Asthma is hidden inside," says Korenblat-Hanin. "You can't see it. So these camps help bring it out in the open and allow kids communicate and learn about it in fun ways."

      Korenblat-Hanin helped the Consortium on Children's Asthma Camps develop curriculum and activities. Camp activities integrate art, music, movement, and drama to help kids learn. Activities might include fun games such as Pulmonary Putt-Putt and Mucus Monster Toss.

      Korenblat-Hanin also helped start the Asthma Explorers Club, a mailhouse organization founded in the early 1990s to help educate hundreds of thousands of children and their families. The mailed materials not only teach kids how to control asthma, but they also help them explore and express their thoughts and feelings about living with the disease. The goal of the Asthma Explorers Club is to empower children; to let them know that asthma doesn't have to take over their lives; to address the physical, emotional, and social implications of asthma; and to increase their adherence asthma treatment.

      Childhood Asthma: A Long Journey

      Korenblat-Hanin offers the following advice to children with asthma:

      "It's a long journey. It's not something you learn all at once, because things are constantly changing, like new medications. Don't hide anything from your doctor; communicate very clearly with your physician about how often you're taking your medication because it determines how they treat you, so you have to educate your doctor about your asthma. You have to be the leader and the guide for your physician."

      To learn more about asthma, see our Asthma Solution Guide.

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      The Hidden Trigger: Could Chemicals Be Aggravating Your Allergies or Asthma?

      Chemicals in home cleaning suppliesMany people seeking relief for allergic conditions such as asthma, allergies and sinusitis have a general idea of their prime triggers. The usual suspects include dust, pets, mold and pollen, but a growing number of doctors and scientists believe that airborne chemicals may also aggravate allergic diseases.The Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends that those with allergic conditions try to avoid harsh chemicals that may aggravate or even trigger asthma or allergy symptoms - unfortunately that may be a daunting task.

      Many of the thousands of products used in our homes and workplaces everyday are either made from or packaged with synthetic chemicals. Surprisingly, only 10% of the 100,000 registered synthetic chemicals in commercial use in the U.S. have been thoroughly screened for their toxicity. Scientists have only begun to uncover the possible links between chemical exposure and human health, but there are number of ways to reduce your chemical exposure:

      Change the way you clean

      Enzyme CleanersCleaning products are a major source of indoor air pollution and can easily irritate already sensitive airways. Fortunately, there are now numerous plant-based or enzyme cleanersavailable, many of which are just as effective as their chemical counterparts in removing germs, stains and freshening fabrics and surfaces.

      Make your Bedroom a Sanctuary

      We spend a third of our lives sleeping, but few of us know what we're sleeping with. People are often surprised to learn that many mattresses are made with petroleum-based polyurethane foam and are routinely treated with chemical flame retardants (now detectable in the bodies of most Americans).

      To reduce the chemical load in your bedroom choose organic bedding or avoid sheets sets labeled �wrinkle-free�, which are often treated with formaldehyde. When washing your bedding choose �green� or fragrance-free detergents and skip the fabric-softener, which not only coats your sheets with chemicals, but prevents the cotton from breathing as it should.

      When considering a new mattress look for organic cotton or those made from natural latex, which are not only chemical-free but are naturally resistant to dust mites.

      Protect the Air Your Breathe

      AllerAir AirMedic MCS Air PurifiersJust like the well-known triggers such as dust and pollen, many chemical irritants enter the body through the air. Unfortunately, due to the wide-ranging sources of chemical air pollution, these synthetic triggers are not as easy to avoid. When planning your prevention strategy, consider an air cleaner which offers an extra stage of filtration to remove airborne chemicals, gases and odors. The most effective is activated carbon, recognized by the EPA as a safe and effective method for removing pollutants. In the case of a carbon filter, the most important factor is the depth of the filter. The deeper the filter, the more effective it will be at trapping airborne chemicals. This type of carbon filter coupled with a good quality, medical-grade HEPA filter, will offer the most comprehensive protection against airborne chemicals and allergens.

      This article was contributed by Stephanie MacGillis an Air Quality Specialist with AllerAir industries.

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