The POWER of a Campfire

For early humans, fire provided warmth, protection and an opportunity to socialize. Campfires brought people together and created opportunities for cultural development.

Fast-forward to the present day, and people have lost that sense of community and social behavior. According to Fortune, the amount of people describing themselves as lonely has doubled over the past several decades.

Many factors such as technology and more demanding work hours all contribute to more isolation between people despite living in a world that is more technologically connected than ever.

According to the Huffington Post, unplugging from gadgets and going camping can help improve sleep, mood, and inspire creativity. It can create connections. It sounds like the early human ancestors had it right.

Protect Your Home From Allergens

Regular vacuuming is the most effective way to prolong the life of your carpets. By removing dry particles, you help prevent premature wear caused by abrasive soils grinding away at carpet fibers. A good quality vacuum cleaner does more than prevent abrasive damage to your carpet. The right vacuum also helps remove pollutants and contaminants from your home.

All vacuum cleaners use some kind of motor to turn fans that produce airflow. This airflow carries soils into a collection canister or bag. The air must then be filtered before it is exhausted back into your home’s environment. This is the basic function of all vacuum cleaners. But not all vacuums are created equal. Some are better at filtering small particles than others.

Particles are measured in microns. A micron is one millionth of a meter. The smallest particle that the human eye can see is about 25 microns in diameter. Some vacuum cleaners filter particles as small as .3 microns. Many vacuum cleaners allow much larger particles to get through.

This is a problem, especially in homes with sensitive persons with allergies or asthma. The smallest particles are able to be breathed deeply into lung tissue where they cause irritation and inflammation. Coughing, wheezing and sneezing are the result. In some cases, full blown asthma attacks can happen.

What is in the dust that creates such big problems? Pollutants include mold, human and animal dander, dust mite feces, insect parts, air pollution, lead dust, carbon, cooking residues and more.

Pollutants are captured and filtered out by high quality vacuum cleaners featuring “true HEPA” filtration. HEPA, or High Efficiency Particulate Air filters, are tested and certified to trap 99.97% of all particles down to .3 microns.

A true HEPA vacuum cleaner actually cleans the air while it cleans the carpet. But be careful and do your homework. Just because a vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter does not mean it is “true HEPA”.

Less efficient vacuum cleaners do not clean the air. Rather, they have the effect of expelling the smallest pollutant particles into the breathing zone where they can remain suspended for hours.

To get the most out of your vacuum cleaner it is important that it be properly maintained. If it has a replaceable bag, it should be exchanged when about half full.

Check the belts and make sure that the brushes or rollers are in good condition. It is best to take your machine in for an annual tune-up to keep it operating at peak performance.

When you vacuum do not rush over the surface of the carpet. Take your time. Vacuum over high traffic areas in two different directions to remove the most soil. This will help your carpets stay cleaner and last much longer .

Never vacuum up moist soils or damp carpet. This can cause bacterial growth and odors in your machine.

You need to maintain your carpet with regular, professional cleaning, but a good quality vacuum cleaner is your first line of defense in keeping a clean and healthy home. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a vacuum, but don’t skimp on quality either.

Call Hansen Steam Way to learn more or schedule your next cleaning.

Ready, Set GO!

Americans sometimes get a bad rap as travelers because of their inability to speak other languages. But there are many exciting places to visit that are incredibly accessible to those of us who only speak English.

According to Forbes magazine, Europe offers many options. Amsterdam is one of their first recommendations. It’s easy to fly into and small enough to traverse quickly with plenty of beautiful sights along the way. About 90% of Amsterdam’s population can carry on a conversation in English.

If flight time is not an issue, New Zealand also ranks highly. According to Travel and Leisure this unique country offers breathtaking views, untouched wilderness, and a rich history to explore.

Although the accents and local dialect might seem strange, everyone there speaks English and the community is welcoming of foreigners interested in their country. When making plans to visit the island, don’t forget that the seasons are the opposite from North America – winter starts in June!

Love and Money

Connecting with your spouse on a financial level is critical. Planning ahead can build a strong financial foundation for your relationship. Here are some steps to help create a plan:

Step 1: Define success. Talk to your partner to determine exactly what you both want for your financial future. Once you know your goals, it’s easier to budget and prioritize based on your shared vision.

Step 2: Align your priorities. If one person is concerned with living in-the-now, it might not match with a partner that thinks more long-term and desires to plan for the future. You likely share some ideals like saving for education or retirement. Find those values you both share and work together.

Step 3: Agree on how to accomplish your goals. Be flexible and be committed. You might try a separate bank account to accommodate your savings.

Step 4: Make it fun. Plan some milestones into your financial relationship and when you reach them, have a celebration. Remember to enjoy the process. Success is a journey.

Life Is Sweet

Chocolate is good for you, but not a lot of it at once. It’s hard to believe that what was once considered to be a guilty indulgence has now proved to be good for your heart, your lungs, and your brain.

There’s even more good news. The flavonoids liberally found in dark chocolate appear to produce the greatest health benefits, but researchers now say milk chocolate is also a rich source. It contains about 75 milligrams per 100 grams, or more than found in red wine.

If you love chocolate, remember that it also contains calories. So choose chocolate instead of indulgences like donuts and other treats. It’s still best to choose dark chocolate that’s higher in flavonoids, say researchers at Tufts University.

To maximize flavonoids, Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, of Tufts, recommends dark, bittersweet or baking chocolate. Milk chocolate is processed to make it smoother and less bitter, which also decreases natural flavonoid levels, adds fat and increases sugar.

Love Your Clean Carpet

On the surface, carpet cleaning seems pretty simple. Rent a machine. Fill the tank. Pour in some detergent. Flip a switch and start cleaning. Before long, your carpet is clean and fresh. However, as anyone who has actually cleaned carpet knows, there’s more to it than that. Here are some interesting facts about carpet that affect cleaning results.

Some of the most common questions asked about carpet cleaning are, “Will the spots come back?”, “Will the dents from the furniture come out?”, “Will the traffic areas look better after it’s done?”, and “Will these stains come out?”

The answers depend on several factors that we consider when we clean your carpet.

Carpet can be made with a variety of fibers, each having its own cleaning characteristics. Every fiber responds to traffic differently. Spills that are easy to remove from one fiber may permanently stain another.

Various styles such as loop pile, friezé, shag, Saxony and velvet plush all respond to traffic in different ways. The quality and density of the cushion is another factor that determines how well a carpet performs in traffic areas.

Even the way the pile yarns are twisted and how tightly packed they are in the carpet backing makes a difference in durability and cleanability.

An experienced cleaner will assess the condition of your carpet, asking questions such as, “How old is the carpet?”, “How was it cleaned in the past, and how often?”, “Was protector applied during the last cleaning?”, “How old are the spots, spills and stains, and have you tried anything to clean them?”

With all of these variables, it’s not an exact science. BUT there are some things we know about carpet, fibers, soil and stains that give us a clue as to what we can anticipate from the cleaning process. The most important consideration is the type of fiber.

Wool carpet has excellent resilience, so those crushed traffic areas and furniture indentations have a good chance of coming out. Wool is more easily stained by proteins than other fibers, so some foods, pet urine and other protein sources like blood will be difficult to remove.

Olefin carpets don’t have the resiliency of wool, so high traffic areas tend to pack down and lose that fluffy texture over time. Olefin has excellent stain-resistance and color-fastness.

Stain-resist nylon has excellent resilience and good stain and soil repellency, so carpets made with nylon tend to be the best overall performers. However, depending on how the fiber was dyed, Nylon may be bleached by some household chemicals or sunlight.

Polyester fibers have an affinity for oily soils, so food or petroleum grease spots will be more difficult to remove. But Polyester, like Olefin, is very resistant to stains and bleaching.

The bottom line is that how the carpet looks after cleaning will depend on some factors that are out of our control. But with an experienced cleaner you can be assured of the best results possible for your carpet.

Call Hansen Steam Way to learn more or schedule your next cleaning.

Forgive and Remember

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday that marks the contributions of a private American citizen.

Many government agencies and private businesses remain closed on this day in remembrance of Dr. King. His philosophy of nonviolence and use of peaceful demonstrations changed minds, changed laws and changed hearts.

One of the hallmarks of his message is the attitude of forgiveness.

Dr. King said, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.”

He also said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”

Forgiveness is an act of kindness and wisdom that we can apply every day.

Be Your Own Boss

Be your own boss

Recent data from the Institute of Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) revealed that about 29% of all business owners in America are women. This figure is up from 26% as recently as 1997.

In the last decade, there has been a growth of 68% in women-owned firms compared to only 47% growth for all businesses on record.

One aspect of women-owned businesses that stands out is the 265% increase in the number of minority women who have stepped up to be their own boss.

According to Fortune Magazine, women interested in starting their own small business should pursue certifications in their field to increase credibility.

Women entrepreneurs should seek out other women to partner with and learn from. They should strive to build their customer base by actively marketing and emphasizing their unique talents and abilities.

Understanding Your Carpet and How to Solve Problems

Understanding Your Carpet and How to Solve Problems

When selecting carpet, choosing the right color is often the most difficult part of the process. Most people make relatively neutral choices, picking colors such as beige, taupe, gray and even off white because they blend well with just about any decor. Yet, carpets in bold colors like burgundy, deep, rich browns, regal blues and purples, soothing greens and even multi-colored patterns are not uncommon either. The interesting thing is that the color itself is not what protects a carpet from stains. Rather, it’s how the color is dyed that matters. When you know how your carpet was colored you can make more informed cleaning and spot treatment choices.

Extrusion and Coloration

Many carpets, such as polyester and Olefin, are created through extrusion. This is the process of melting plastic balls of certain colors, then extruding the liquid through small holes to create strands. In this way the color goes all through the thread; it’s called “solution dyeing.” This creates the most colorfast carpets, fibers which are highly resistant to fading and bleaching because the color goes all the way through. These carpets are most often found in commercial applications, but they can be in private homes as well. One such extruded fiber, Olefin, is common in Berber style carpets. Olefin fibers are not very absorbent, so they are highly stain resistant.

Fiber & Yarn Dyeing

Sometimes, the material is extruded or otherwise turned into rough fibers before color is applied. Then, various methods are used to apply dye to these fibers before they are spun into yarn. This type of dyeing provides great color penetration, but it is expensive and rarely used on carpets; it’s more common on wool and other high end fabrics. If the fiber is spun into yarn, then dyed, this is yarn dyeing, a common way that multiple colors of fibers are then woven into the carpet to make a variety of patterns, as is common in hotels and office buildings.

Print Dyeing

In print dyeing the carpet is made without color variety. Then, dyes are sprayed or painted on the carpet using stencils. This is common on novelty carpets such as playrooms, daycare centers and movie theaters.

Continuous Dye

The most common dyeing technique is the continuous dye method. After the yarns have been stitched into the backing material, the carpet passes through jets that spray hot dye into the face yarns. This is the fastest and most cost-effective way to dye carpet. Chances are, if you have a light to medium solid-color carpet, it was dyed in this way.

Keeping Carpet Looking Good

The dyeing process of a carpet determines how it resists color loss, fading and bleaching. An experienced cleaning company will know what chemicals and processes to use in order to get the best cleaning and maintenance results from a particular carpet. Using the wrong cleaning agents or processes could result in fading, loss of luster and other issues, so be sure to have your carpets cleaned at least semi-annually by Hansen Steam Way.

Get More Energy

Forget the energy drinks. A growing body of scientific evidence shows that energy drinks can have serious health effects, particularly in children, teenagers, and young adults.

If you want a steady stream of energy without the ups and downs, dieticians recommend whole foods, grains, fruits and vegetables.

The key to sustaining energy throughout the day is balance. Start the day with a portion of whole grain and fresh fruit.

Throughout the day, eat fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, beans and non-starchy vegetables in small portions.

For a pick-me-up, research dietitian Aubrey Jarman recommends a slice of apple or one whole wheat cracker with peanut butter.

Drink plenty of water. Chronic dehydration is one of the primary causes of tiredness and lack of energy.

Meat and fish are part of a balance diet, when eating in moderation.

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