Thursday, February 7, 2019

Avoid These Toxins in Common Household Cleaning Products

While it does feel good to scrub down your house until it’s squeaky clean, just the smell of your cleaning products might make you wonder exactly what it is they’re made of… and if those ingredients include anything dangerous. After all, if you've ever accidentally inhaled too soon after spritzing your shower with a tile cleaner, you probably had a good coughing fit before you were able to continue cleaning.
It’s unpleasant to contemplate, but unless your household cleaning products are solely made of ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils, they probably contain chemicals that could be quite hazardous to your health.
The FDA Does Not Regulate Cleaning Products
You might be surprised to learn that unlike drugs, food, and beverages, there is actually no federal regulation of chemicals in household cleaning products. Because they are not meant to be ingested, chemical cleaners don’t fall under the FDA’s regulations. At best, the EPA requires cleaning product makers to list potentially harmful ingredients, but that doesn’t stop those makers from including the ingredients in the first place. Consumers must use the products at their own risk or find alternatives.
Toxins in Household Cleaning Products
A majority of the toxins in household cleaning products fall into three major categories: neurotoxins, carcinogens, and endocrine disruptors. Neurotoxins are responsible for affecting brain activity. What they can do ranges in severity from headaches to actual memory loss. Carcinogens are harmful agents that cause or promote various forms of cancer.
Endocrine disruptors have a wide range of possible bad effects on the body because they mimic hormones. In doing so, they cause false signals inside your body, confusing its inner workings. Endocrine disruptors have been known to cause issues including ADHD, premature puberty, menstrual issues, infertility, miscarriage, and cancer.
Many cleaning supplies also carry volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, toluene, and benzene. VOCs can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as cancer and damage to internal organs, including the central nervous system.
Avoid These Home Products to Avoid Toxins
  • Air fresheners
  • Products with artificial fragrances
  • Dryer sheets
  • Fabric Softeners
  • Ammonia
  • Bleach
  • Chemical drain cleaners
  • Corrosive kitchen and bathroom cleaners
Alternatives to Conventional Cleaning Products
If you’re ready to say farewell to your current cleaning products in favor of healthier alternatives, begin by making friends with white vinegar, baking soda, olive oil, and essential oils. These are often used in combination with each other or with other all-natural ingredients (like lemon juice and kosher salt) to make homemade cleaning products.

To the professionals at GreenPro Cleaning & Restoration, your health is an integral part of your quality of life. Our HVAC, attic, and crawl space cleaning services use products that are bio-safe, and all of our methods are bio-friendly. We do not use any toxic chemicals, and our cleaning systems produce superior results.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Air Purifying Plants for Your Home

Enjoying “the great indoors” with the windows and doors shut can be a welcome relief on a cold or hot day. However, enclosed spaces can suffer from a lack of airflow, which can cause an accumulation of indoor air pollution. Luckily, NASA made the wonderful discovery back in 1989 that houseplants have the ability to absorb airborne chemicals and toxins, particularly in enclosed spaces with stagnant air, like many rooms in energy-efficient households.
Not only do plants have this miraculous ability, but they also have been known to reduce fatigue and stress while also boosting mood and productivity. Some studies have revealed that indoor plants even enhance concentration and memory. It’s no wonder that houseplants have become a staple in contemporary decor!
To help your hunt for the perfect, air-purifying houseplant (or plants) for your home, we’ve compiled some lovely and diverse options to spruce up any room. Keep in mind, not all of these plants are safe for pets, so if you do have pets, be sure to choose pet-friendly options or to put the plants well out of reach of your animals.
Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
This plant is perfect for those who’ve had trouble keeping plants alive in the past. Your pothos will require very little tending, and in return, it will help eliminate carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and even more toxins from your indoor air. As far as care, it requires watering when its soil gets dry, and because it can grow several feet long, you’ll want to trim it every so often to keep it under control. Just a warning: this plant is toxic for both dogs and cats.
Bamboo Palms (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
This is a great option if you’d like a plant with some height but without a wide girth, which makes it a good alternative to other indoor palms. It will do best in a bright room without direct sunlight and will require consistently moist soil. Not only will a bamboo palm help rid your air of chemicals like chloroform, benzene, xylene, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide, but it also has a subtle humidifying effect on the air, which is great for normally dry environments or cold weather. The bamboo palm is non-poisonous for cats and dogs.
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
Once it gets going, the Boston fern drapes beautifully and helps remove xylene and formaldehyde from the air. The catch: it’s going to require a special location with both indirect light and high humidity. A bathroom with a window where the shower or tub is used frequently would be an ideal location. In terms of watering, this fern will require one soak monthly, and you’ll have to check its soil on a daily basis to make sure it's moist.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Like the Boston fern, the spider plant is another great option for hanging containers, and they help eliminate xylene and formaldehyde from indoor air. Unlike the Boston fern, they are quite hardy and can survive with little tending. They’ll need to be watered about a couple times a week, and they are also non-toxic, making them a great choice to have around kids and pets. Just a word of caution: this plant tends to grow rapidly, so keep an eye on it.
This plant is known commonly as the dragon tree, which in and of itself might be enough reason to purchase it. Perfect for contemporary or exotic decor, they come in a variety of colors, including variations with red, cream, or white lines along their leaves. While dracaenas do eliminate trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and toluene, they are toxic to cats and dogs, so pet owners will want to steer clear of this option.

Maintaining your home’s indoor air quality is a vital aspect of keeping you and your family healthy. If you are looking for even more ways to increase your indoor air quality, consider a professional air duct cleaning or an attic and crawl space cleaning to eliminate bacteria, mold spores, dust, and allergens that may be infiltrating your air supply.

Friday, January 25, 2019

4 Ingenious Baking Soda Hacks

If you’re looking for some homemade cleaning solutions that can take on grease, grime, and odors just as well as harsh, chemical cleaners, baking soda will be your ingredient of choice. The best part is that you’ll probably have it and any other components that you’ll need in your house already. Check out these brilliant baking soda hacks to help tidy up your humble abode.
Dirty Grout
If dirty grout is taking your tile down a notch, try cleaning it with a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
What To Do:
  • Combine baking soda with hydrogen peroxide to make a paste.
  • Using a toothbrush, scrub the grout with the paste.
  • Wipe the remaining paste away with white vinegar on a rag or paper towel.
Grimy Ovens
Few people look forward to cleaning their oven, and the less often you clean it, the more you probably dread it. Don’t worry--a baking soda mixture can soften the food and grime that has burned onto your oven’s interior, making the gunk easier to scrub away afterward.
What To Do
  1. Combine baking soda, salt, and white vinegar until it creates a paste.
  2. Wearing rubber gloves, coat the walls, floor, and door of the oven with the paste using a brush.
  3. Here’s the tricky part: you’ll need to keep this coating moist for about 24 hours. You can do this by spraying it with more vinegar every so often.
  4. Wipe off the paste as best you can.
  5. Turn on your oven to 100 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour, then turn it back off and let it cool.
  6. Here’s the fun part: once the oven is cool enough for you to comfortably touch it, spray it with more white vinegar, wipe away the last of the residue, and enjoy your spotless oven.
Slow, Smelly Drains
If you notice that your sink seems to be draining more slowly than it used to, you can try a solution of baking soda and vinegar to freshen it up and help it flow freely. (Note: this tip is only for slow drains, not clogged drains.)
What To Do
  1. Pour 1 cup of baking soda into the slow drain.
  2. Pour hot vinegar over the baking soda. Wait 10 minutes before the next step.
  3. Pour boiling water over the baking soda and vinegar to flush everything down the drain.
Odors in the Air
If your kitchen garbage or cat litter box is starting to accumulate odors, baking soda can help freshen the air. Sprinkle baking soda periodically into your kitchen garbage can as you add more waste. For litter boxes, sprinkle and mix baking soda directly into the litter.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Where to Look for Mold In Your House

Mold can have a mild to a tremendously negative effect on your quality of life, so it’s important to look for it on a regular basis. The problem is that mold can grow in unexpected places and, therefore, can go undetected and grow undeterred for long periods of time. If you’ve ever wondered where mold might be growing in your home, the possibilities may surprise you.

Mold Comes from the Air

What most people don’t know about mold is that even though we can see it growing on surfaces, mold technically begins from tiny, floating spores in the air. When those spores start to collect on a surface, they begin reproducing, resulting in the musty-smelling fungus that we can actually see.

Mold and Indoor Air Quality

Mold and mold spores alike can have noticeably negative effects on your home’s air quality. The people most susceptible to mold’s associated health risks are children, the elderly, individuals with asthma or other respiratory conditions, and the allergy-prone. Even mold spores can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks if inhaled.

Where to Look for Mold

Where should one look for mold? Unfortunately, the answer is “Every room in the house.” This is because each room potentially has the right conditions to support mold growth. In order for mold spores to grow into mold, they require heat, oxygen, a surface to which they can attach, and some absence of sunlight. Excess water from high humidity or leaks in these conditions can pretty much guarantee that a mold problem will occur.
Here are some guidelines on where you can look for mold in your home.
The Kitchen
Mold can spread from old food in the refrigerator and pantry, along with food spills or splatters on the stove or in the microwave. Mold can also grow in your refrigerator’s water dispenser or drip tray. Even a Keurig or other coffee makers can foster mold growth in its water tank or the place where you put the pods or coffee grounds.
Checking the sink is especially vital. Mold and bacteria can get a jumping-off point from wet sponges, dirty dishes, and food remnants. Leaks underneath the sink can result in mold growth down there as well.
The Bathroom
Many people know to check their bathroom walls, floors, shower tiles, and bathtub for mold since those surfaces experience an abundance of heat and moisture. However, there are other important places to check as well, particularly if your bathroom lacks a window or fan to help with ventilation.
As in the kitchen, you’ll want to check in and under the sink. It’s also critical to check your toilet, including its tank and where you keep its cleaning supplies. Towels and bathroom rugs can also be “mold culprits” if not regularly washed. Even your toothbrush caddy can start to accumulate mold over time!
The Living Room
You’ll want to inspect anything upholstered or made of fabric, particularly your curtains, couch, and armchairs. Mold spores attach easily to fabric, and if something causes the fabric to then become moist, some nasty growth may occur. Also, remember to check your houseplants (especially if you are prone to overwatering them) and your chimney and fireplace (particularly if they’re made with brick).
The Bedrooms
It’s not at all comforting to think about, but mold spores find their way into bedrooms too. Check your HVAC vents (this goes for any room), the edges of your windows, your curtains, and your mattress. If you cannot see mold on your mattress, its smell might be an indicator that some growth has occurred.
Don’t Forget the Attic, Garage, and Basement!
Mold can grow in these spaces from leaks as well as excess humidity that results in condensation. This can be especially problematic when these spaces house components of your home’s heating and air conditioning system. Once mold spores enter your HVAC system, they’ll be spread throughout the entire house, which can lead to larger mold problems in even more places. Check for mold growth near vents, pipes, windows, and by the foundation.
To help prevent the growth of mold in your home, it’s important to 1) have a clean attic, crawlspace, and air ducts, and 2) clean up any water damage immediately. For those places you can’t get to, contact GreenPro Cleaning & Restoration for professional, bio-friendly attic, crawlspace, and air duct cleaning services.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Is Your Home Prepared for the Rainy Season?

Alright, weekend warrior. It’s time to prepare your house for rainy weather--and lots of it. You can begin from the top down, starting with the roof, one of your home’s most important safeguards against the elements.

The Roof

First, inspect your roof from the ground (using a pair of binoculars if necessary) to look for warping or shrinking shingles, as well as shingles that appear to be loose or slipping. If you can see it from the ground, also check your flashing for oxidizing or any other deterioration. Flashing is frequently made of galvanized steel or aluminum that’s installed in your roof’s joints to prevent water damage. (Hint: look for flashing around the chimney or skylights, as well as in your roof’s valleys. 

If you can safely access your roof by ladder, it can help you get a better look at your roof’s condition. Just make sure that your ladder is properly secured. If you have a steep roof or a fear of heights, there’s no shame in calling a professional at this point if you suspect there might be damage.

The Gutters and Downspouts

Your gutters prevent water damage to your house by redirecting rain and hail away from the house’s sides and foundation. It’s vital for your gutters and downspouts to remain clear of leaves and other debris that could clog them and keep them from functioning properly. Keep in mind, inspecting the gutters will be a little trickier if you aren’t able to use a ladder, so if this step is a no-can-do for you, just call a professional.

The Siding

If your house has siding, take a moment to see how worn out it has gotten from fending off previous rains. When winds are especially strong and create that bothersome horizontal rain, sometimes water actually ends up underneath your siding, damaging it over time.

The Backyard/Patio

A flood or pool of rainwater in your backyard or patio has the potential to drown your grass and other plants or--worse--give your house water damage. Check the drains to make sure nothing is clogging them. You can also buy sandbags if you suspect there might be flooding because they can be used to redirect water. Just be careful about where the water gets redirected!

Many times, despite our best efforts, our homes can still end up with water damage after heavy rains. If you suspect you have water damage in your home or building, GreenPro Cleaning & Restoration can help, starting with a non-destructive visual survey to check the fungal ecology or problems in a specific area as directed.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Dangers of Water Damage

The effects of water damage can jeopardize your health as well as your home’s health, and the longer water damage goes untreated, the worse its results are likely to be. This article will touch on some of the common types of water damage and what can happen as a result of untreated water damage.

Water Damage from Flooding

Damage from floods can be considered the most drastic and hazardous to health. Floodwater can carry any number of contaminants into your home, including infectious microbes, chemical waste, and sewage.

Neglected water damage from a flood can lead to various forms of mold, which can aggravate asthma, allergies and other respiratory conditions and cause throat, nose, and eye irritation. Some mold spore varieties can also result in fungal infections that cause spores to multiply inside a person’s body. The worst type of mold to avoid is toxic mold (also called black mold), which at its worst can even cause death.

In order to thoroughly extract the dampness and disinfect the area, professionals with the proper equipment and protective gear are going to be the best solution. You’ll want to call them as soon as possible to avoid any of the dangerous aforementioned problems with mold spores.

Water Damage from Plumbing Problems

Your home can experience plumbing-related water damage from things like overflowing toilets, burst pipes, or malfunctioning sump pumps. Unfortunately, this water can be quite dirty and terrible-smelling.

When cleaning up water from a plumbing problem, it’s important to protect yourself by wearing goggles, a respirator mask, gloves, and other clothing that will keep your skin from coming in direct contact with the dirty water. It’s also vitally important to disinfect the area once it’s dry in order to get rid of any contaminants the water left behind.

Water Damage from Appliance Leaks

This type of water damage comes from appliances like your washing machine, refrigerator, dishwasher, water heater, etc., so the damage can typically be found in places like the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room. The good news is that this water is “clean”, as opposed to dirty water that comes from a plumbing leak. The important thing is to act quickly because mold will start growing within one to two days:

  1. Shut off the source of the water.
  2. Wash the soaked area.
  3. Dry the soaked area to the best of your ability to keep mold from growing.

In some cases, an extractor may need to be used to get the water completely out of the carpet so that the carpet pad won’t need to be replaced.

Water Damage from Humidity

Some water damage doesn’t even come from a leak--it can result from high indoor humidity levels, often found in areas like crawlspaces, basements, and bathrooms. The problems arise when that humid air condenses, especially where you can’t see it, such as above the ceiling or behind walls. This can result in structural damage to your home, as well as mold growth.

Your first clue that this kind of water damage is taking place might be a foul, musty odor, or you might literally see mold growth or water stains on walls, tile, underneath your sink, or on the back of your toilet. An appropriately sized dehumidifier can help prevent and combat problems with high humidity, but if you're already seeing or smelling the signs of water damage, it’s best to call a professional to keep the problem from persisting or worsening.

If you know or even suspect that you have water damage in your home or building, it’s a good idea to call a professional to make sure that no damage or health hazards are accumulating. Contact GreenPro Cleaning & Restoration for a non-destructive visual survey and indoor evaluation.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

How Your Crawl Space Affects Your Home’s Air Quality

The old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind”, could apply quite well to many people’s crawl spaces. What they don’t imagine or realize is just how much of an impact a crawl space has on the air in their main living space.

What’s Happening Inside Too Many Crawl Spaces

What happens inside a crawl space is directly affected by the weather and temperatures outside of it. The most ventilation your crawl space receives probably comes from a conveniently-directed gust of wind or pressure changes. Even so, nearly all crawl spaces are not well-ventilated, and this causes stagnant air to gather inside.
Moisture is also drawn into the crawl space due to a few different factors:
  • The dryness of the dirt inside it compared to the dirt around the foundation
  • Your house drawing moisture up from the ground
  • Warm, humid air on hot days entering the cooler environment of the crawl space through foundation vents, thereby increasing the humidity
When that moisture evaporates, the water vapor will rise and settle in various areas, such as the floor insulation or ductwork. In the warmer months, the increased humidity caused by warm air entering the crawl space results in condensation that can also settle on the ductwork and floor insulation, as well as the subfloor and floor joists.

What You Didn’t Want to Know About Your Crawl Space

If you have a crawl space, it’s probably not well-ventilated because most crawl spaces aren’t. This lack of ventilation results in stagnant air.
Now, remember that moisture and condensation we were just mentioning? Here’s the bad news: not only does the condensation lead to mold or even radon growth--the damp, musty environment being created down below along with all of that stagnant air becomes a habitat for unwanted pests, namely rodents and termites. In other words, your crawl space becomes an ideal environment for things far less than ideal.

How Crawl Space Air Gets into Your Home

You’ve probably experienced how upstairs rooms during summertime are a lot hotter than the rooms downstairs. This is because cooler air is drawn up from below as the warm air in your house rises. This is how that cooler air from your crawl space enters your house, which can be quite problematic if that air is smelly or of poor quality.
Using the exhaust fans in your bathroom or kitchen might worsen the problem. Running those fans creates negative pressure in your house, which will then pull in air from the outdoors and from your crawl space. If your HVAC system is located in the crawl space, even more of that dirty air might be finding its way into your house. Dank air can creep into leaks in your ductwork or air filter and then be circulated by your HVAC throughout the entire house.

In Need of a Clean Crawl Space?

If you’re noticing poor air quality, moisture issues, or bad odors in your home, a dirty crawl space might be the culprit. GreenPro offers professional, bio-friendly cleaning services, including an EPA-registered, non-toxic, chemical-free, botanical fungistat/disinfectant that kills 99.99% of harmful odor-causing bacteria.
Schedule your free inspection today!