Bacteria, Fungi, Spores, Oh My!

Bacteria, Fungi Spores, Oh My!

When you are in the business of cleaning, questions often arise regarding disinfecting and sanitizing. Recent Flu epidemics and the MRSA strain of bacteria have raised concerns among people regarding how to protect from possible infection. Fortunately,antimicrobials offer protection from unseen germs and bacteria on many surfaces. There are three levels of antimicrobials that kill or limit microbes and the spores that they use to reproduce.

Sterilizer

A sterilizer kills 100% of microbes and spores. In the spectrum of antimicrobial activity, a sterilizer is the strongest. Sterilization is impractical for everyday use because bacterial and fungal spores are
extremely difficult to destroy. Extreme heat is one method of sterilization, but it is not practical outside of a medical environment. Chemical sterilizers are toxic, corrosive irritants that are not safe for use by the
general public.

Sanitizers

To sanitize a surface means to reduce levels of harmful microbes to a safe level. Most chemicals sanitizers have little or no effect on certain bacteria like Tuberculosis, and improper use may create resistant strains of harmful bacteria.

Disinfectants

Disinfectant is an EPA regulated term that can only be used on the label of products that have been tested and proven to kill or destroy at least 99.9% of all microorganisms; this doesn’t mean they destroy spores. There are a variety of disinfectants available to consumers, including common household bleach.
Caution must be exercised when using bleach or any other EPA registered disinfectant to follow label directions carefully as misuse can lead to damage to materials or health risks. Disinfectants are named as to what kind of organisms they kill. The suffix cide, meaning “to kill” is added after the type  of
microorganism it targets. So a bactericide kills bacteria, fungicide kills fungi, and a virucide destroys viruses. Read the label to find out what the product is designed to do.

Making the Choice

What should you use? Since sterilizers are only needed for critical jobs like surgical instruments, we are left with disinfectants and sanitizers. As we have seen, sanitizers do not have the “kill power” that
disinfectants do. So why would you choose to use a sanitizer instead of a disinfectant? You make the decision by weighing the risk presented by the microorganisms against the risks involved with the
chemical itself. For example, there are chemical sanitizers that are used in commercial kitchens which are designed for treating food preparation surfaces. These products control bacteria on relatively clean surfaces but present almost no risk because of low toxicity.

In a hospital things are different with known health issues at stake. People with a variety of sicknesses create the potential for contamination of many surfaces. Also, there are people with compromised immune systems who could become seriously ill from exposure to common microbes. When the risk from infection are greater, the necessity for a high grade disinfectant becomes apparent.

Although these tend to have higher levels of toxicity, the potential risk warrants their use.

Your home is similar. Your kitchen counter is generally clean. Therefore keeping it clean usually means simply maintaining a sanitary condition. If you prepare raw meats on the counter you may consider using a good sanitizer/cleaner. In the bathroom a stronger disinfectant might be appropriate. You could also use a surface disinfectant in sick rooms to kill infectious microbes.

A clean home is important. But, the most important thing to remember is that all cleaning agents, sanitizers and disinfectants should be stored and used according to the label directions. Failure to do so could cause more harm than good.

 

Commuting: You don’t Control Traffic

Commuting: You Don’t Control Traffic

How traffic moves is beyond your control. It doesn’t matter if you are in a hurry, uptight, or anticipating
something at the end of your commute.

So why not relax and go with the flow? The laid-back approach will keep your blood pressure in check and your temper down. Here are some ways to do it:

• Forget paybacks. Reckless drivers you encounter will get theirs. You’ve seen it happen. The speeder gets a ticket. The cutoff champ gets wrapped around a tree. They will reap the rewards of their actions.

• See real people. Stay alert by seeing individuals around you rather than just seeing cars. What kind of people are they? What do they do, and where are they going?

• Be considerate. Good drivers are polite on the road. It calms the occasional driver who may be hostile
or violent.

• Perk up your commute. Even a small change in routine, like taking a different road part of the time, will
make the trip a little more interesting.

How to Take Care of Yourself After a Heart Attack

How to Take Care of Yourself After a Heart Attack

The American Heart Association recommends these five steps to give yourself the best chance at recovery from a heart attack.

Take any prescribed medication.
Follow the instructions of your doctor and take all medication as directed. Depending on the severity of heart damage and the underlying causes, you may be prescribed a range of medication. It is important to know what you are taking, what it does, how and when to take it, and any possible side effects.

Continue to see your doctor
Attend any follow-up appointments scheduled with your doctor so they can monitor your progress. Your doctor will continue to assess the effectiveness of your treatment.

Complete cardiac rehabilitation
Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program aimed at making your recovery successful.

Get support
Getting support from loved ones, health professionals and support groups can help reduce the emotional burden.

Change your lifestyle
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are major risk factors of having a heart attack. Quit smoking. Eat a healthy diet. Stay active.

Follow-up appointments after a heart attack are an important part of the recovery process.

The Power of a Campfire

The Power of a Campfire

Consider the power of fire to early humans: It provided heat for food and warmth and protection against
predators.

What is less obvious is that the fire provided a setting where people could talk and socialize.

A study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that it is the less-oftencited
social activities that may be responsible for humanity’s dramatic evolution we see today. The study,
quoted in The Wall Street Journal, shows that campfires allowed humans to extend the day past sunset for the first time and gave people an opportunity to perform singing,dancing, religious ceremonies, and
storytelling.

All of these activities played a significant role in how humans learned to consider broader social networks, cooperation, big picture thinking and allowed social behavior, in general, to act as a life-extending activity. Campfires brought people together and created a nexus 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 cell phones, the internet, no longer living in the same area for
extended periods of time, 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 all along.

The Truth About Spots and Stains

The Truth About Spots and Stains

You may have seen some of the commercials on television that show a bottle of spot remover that can quickly and easily remove stains from carpet and upholstery like magic. Red wine, ketchup, coffee, fruit punch, spaghetti sauce, grass stains and more are removed in seconds with no rubbing or scrubbing. Just spray and blot!

If only it were that easy!

The truth is that advertisers are not being completely honest with you. The spots are usually on new carpet that is most likely olefin or polyester–two fibers that are difficult to stain. They choose spots that
are easily removed by the chemistry of their spotter. The same cleaner on dried mustard on a three-year-old nylon carpet would produce less than stellar results.

In reality, the ease or difficulty of spot removal will vary depending on fiber type, age and condition of the carpet, age of the spot, the type of stain, and even the cleaning agents and methods previously used on the carpet.

The first step is to identify the spot. Sometimes you can’t be sure what it is, so with unknown spots, we play “detective.” Using clues like the color, location, texture, odor and shape we figure out what it might be.

The next step is to categorize the spot.
There are four categories of spots:

Category 1: Water-soluble

Water-soluble spots respond to waterbased solutions. There are several spotting agents that fit into this category. Acid spotters work best on alkaline soils. Alkaline spotters work on common acid-based soils.
Enzyme spotters break down protein spots like blood, milk, eggs and grass.

Category 2: Solvent-soluble

Solvent-soluble spots are best treated with solvent-based spotters. This category includes tar, petroleum grease, lipstick, ink, dried paint, gum and adhesives.

Category 3: Insoluble spots

Insoluble spots include substances that cannot be dissolved with water or solvent spotters. Some examples are graphite, carbon, fireplace ash and powdered copier toner.

Category 4: Specialty treatments

Specialty treatments include strong acids, oxidizers, reducing agents and specialized chemical reactions. Rust, food dyes, urine stains and mustard fall into this category.

First things first. Before applying any spotting agent we determine the fiber type. It is important to be sure that the spotting agents and cleaning method will not harm the fiber.

Once we have selected the correct spotter and qualified the fiber content, spot removal will follow 5 basic steps:

1. Remove excess material with scraping or blotting.

2. Apply the appropriate spotter to the spot. Do not oversaturate the carpet.

3. Agitate gently. Never scrub or rub the carpet.

4. Rinse.

5. Blot with a clean white towel.

These are the basic steps. Our techniques, tools and processes will vary depending on your unique situation. Any remaining discoloration after the spot removal is a stain, and will require more expertise and specialized methods.

Hansen Steam Way technicians are experts at identifying, categorizing and treating the spots and stains that other companies can’t. Call us today if you have questions or need help removing spots, odors and stains from your carpet.

Dealing with the Flu

Dealing with the Flu

 

It’s that time of year again–flu season is here. Each year as many as 30 million people contract the flu in the United States, leading to 20,000 deaths a year. At most risk are the  elderly, those with chronic disease like diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, and infants.

The flu is like a cold in many ways. Both are respiratory infections, but the symptoms can vary. A fever, general aches and pains, and fatigue usually accompany the flu. You may also experience a sore throat,
coughing or sneezing. If a cold is misdiagnosed as the flu, there is usually no problem.But the flu misdiagnosed as a cold can possibly lead to serious complications like pneumonia being overlooked. If you have any symptoms of the flu, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.

There is no cure for the flu, but there are things you can do to make yourself more comfortable during the duration. The best course of action in dealing with the flu is to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Fever can be treated with acetaminophen. Be sure to talk to your doctor to get advice about using a decongestant/antihistamine to treat nasal congestion. Antibiotics have no effect on the flu because it is caused by a virus.

And what about chicken soup? Well, it can’t hurt! Although it doesn’t cure anything, it can soothe a sore throat, clear clogged passageways, and hydrate you. It is good TLC at a difficult time.

If you do find that you are suffering from the flu, consider getting the flu shot next year. These are generally given in the fall and must be received each year, as the strains of flu vary from year to year. In the meantime, remember that time and rest are the best cures of all for flu sufferers.

Three Questions to Identify Fake Debt Collectors

Three Questions to Identify Fake
Debt Collectors

Debt collection scammers abound and can cause massive problems once they get you to pay them or reveal personal information.

But you can identify an actual debt collector with three simple questions, according to thesimpledollar.com:

 

1. What is the name, address, and phone number of the company you are calling from?

-They ought to be able to tell you that, after all. Once answered, tell them to send you a validation notice. Don’t discuss the bill.

2. What is the name and address of the debtor you are trying to reach?

-Legitimate debt collectors will know if the information they give is wrong. Do not correct them. Tell them
to send a validation notice to the address on file. Then hang up.

3. What are the last four digits of the debtor’s social security number?

-Trick question. Legitimate debt collectors won’t ask this because it violates the law.

 

 

 

 

Guard Your Health in Cold Weather

Guard Your Health in Cold Weather

Did you know that in cold weather, 60 percent of your body fuel is used to maintain body temperature?

That means you must count on tiring more easily, and you will be more likely to suffer hypothermia or even frostbite outdoors.

A windy day is even worse. At 20 degrees, for example, a 15 mph wind creates an effective temperature of -6 degrees. A 30 mph wind means -11 and a 40 mph wind dumps the the effective outdoor temperature to -22.

Cold weather puts extra strain on your heart, so it’s important to avoid exertion. Shoveling snow, pushing a car, or even a fast walk might be a problem if it is very cold.

Decrease your chance of getting frostbite or hypothermia by dressing in layers for outdoor activities. Ideally coats should be water repellent. Wear a heavy knit or microfiber hat and face protection. Cover your mouth to keep cold air out of your lungs. Wear mittens instead of gloves for more warmth.

Stay dry. Change socks and other wet clothing to prevent loss of body heat. Wet clothes lose all insulating value and lose heat rapidly.

Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities like fingers, toes, nose and ears. Although frostbite is unusual with today’s excellent winter fabrics, if it does occur, warm the victim with blankets. Place the frostbitten area in warm (not hot) water. Do not rub the area. Give warm, not hot, nonalcoholic drinks.

If the feet are involved, the Red Cross cautions the victim should not walk until he or she receives medical attention.

Making Your Resolutions Successful

Making Your Resolutions Successful

Two words sum up New Year’s Resolutions: Faith and Gym.

According to LifeWay Research, a 2015 study shows that 57 percent of Americans made a health resolution while 52 percent made a faith resolution.

Those top two topics lead five categories of New Year’s resolutions.

About 43 percent of respondents in the telephone survey, cited use of time as an important resolution. That was followed closely by improving relationships with family (42 percent) and working on finances (37 percent). One third of respondents wanted to improve a relationship with a friend.

If you are one of the 75 percent of people who have failed to follow a resolution, you might want to reframe and re-adjust your new year vow.

According to Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest, authors of Edit Your Life podcast, try using a different word for resolution. Try thinking of your resolutions as intentions or directions about where you will take the year. If you think of them that way, then you may find yourself broadening your aims. Instead of vowing ‘run one mile a day,’ maybe what you really want to do is spend 30 minutes in dedicated exercise.

No matter what your goals, sometimes the hardest become much easier when you whittle down a resolution to the barest bones.

If you want to exercise, but you never have actually done it, maybe your resolution should be to just put on your exercise clothes at a specific time every day. Or just exercise for five minutes. That easy vow will get you started.

Dornfest recommends you get a confidant to talk with about pursuing your resolutions. The same person might not be perfect for all your resolutions, though.

Koh advises building failure into resolutions. Hey, you are never going to be perfect. If or when you slip up, how will you address the problem? Build in a ‘start again’ plan.

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.

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