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CRI (Carpet & Rug Institute)

Made up of carpet manufacturers, the Carpet and Rug Institute, among other responsibilities, tests and certifies cleaning materials and vacuum cleaners for safety and effectiveness (see Green Label).   Their Web site is


Chlorine is a natural element, a yellow-green gas at room temperature.  It is found in the earth and can also be found in the sea.  It is essential to the life of animals and plants.  Under pressure it can be turned into a liquid.

It is used as a bleaching agent in the manufacturing process of paper and cloth.  Household cleaners such as laundry bleach, scouring powders, dishwasher liquids, and tub/tile cleaners may contain chlorine.

As with many chemicals and elements, chlorine is not harmful in small concentrations.  You probably have been exposed to chlorine as a disinfectant in swimming pools or in public drinking water. It is also found in household bleach.

Even in small amounts, chlorine can cause discomfort for some people in the form of a sore throat, eye and skin irritation, and coughing. 

Interesting fact:  Over 25,000 people worldwide die each day as a result of waterborne diseases. Water chlorination is one of the most widely used safeguards for drinking water supplies. In 1991, a Peruvian government decided to remove the chlorine in its country's water supply. The results were devastating and led to a cholera epidemic that spread across South America and claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people.

Clean, Best Practice for Homeowners to Keep Their Home

If you haven't taken our CQ (Cleaning Quotient) quiz, please do so before reading this article because this topic is covered in the first question.

Imagine what's on your shoes at the end of the day. Bringing that oil, antifreeze, animal waste, particulate pollution, pollen, bacteria, viruses, and who knows what else into the house is not good news, especially for kids and other critters that spend time on floor level. In fact, our shoe soles are so soiled that most experts agree that removing our shoes before entering our homes is the single most effective way to keep our homes clean!

Keep the sidewalks and walkways clean outside of your home.   If you don't have a shoeless house policy, at least put down a good doormat. Many green buildings now include entryway sole-cleaning systems as a means of maintaining a healthy interior environment. Less dirt also means less sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming, which means less work, water, energy, and fewer chemicals.

Citrus Oil

The citrus oil of lemons, and other citrus fruits, is one of the strongest food acids, marked by a sour taste.  Used alone, the oil can serve as a solvent or degreaser, or it can be formulated into cleaning products to add efficacy and fragrance.  Because the pH is so low, citrus oil can kill most household bacteria, too. Since citrus oil contains a number of compounds, including limonene and linalool, it is useful in insecticides.  It frequently can be found in flea sprays and shampoos.

Cockroaches or "Roaches"

One of the most common household bugs, the fifty different species of cockroaches found in the U.S. are a reason for real concern for homeowners and their families. These bugs are bad because they can carry up to 50 known pathogens, including pneumonia, food poisoning, salmonella, E-coli and typhoid. 

Roaches come into even the neatest and tidiest homes looking for food and moisture.  While most people believe that they only like crumbs or trash, they will, in fact, nest anywhere they find warmth, food, and water.  Kitchens, bathrooms, utility rooms, and anywhere there are sweating pipes, warmth and food is a potential cockroach haven. 

Cockroaches also eat paint, wallpaper paste and book bindings. They can fit through cracks the width of a quarter, and once inside, they'll hide in crevices, cardboard boxes, newspapers and grocery bags.

A protein in their droppings can be a troublesome allergen.  One in five children in the U.S. is allergic to cockroaches. Experts believe exposure to those allergens can cause childhood asthma and trigger attacks, which, in addition to causing wheezing, can contribute to sleepless nights, missed school, and increased doctor visits and hospitalizations.

Cockroaches or "Roaches," How to Protect a Home from

To make your home less inviting to cockroaches, keep food in sealed containers and always clean up spills and crumbs. Don't let clutter pile up on shelves or in drawers or closets, especially newspapers or shopping bags. Fill in cracks around your house, seal openings near pipes and remove chipped paint and loose wallpaper and plaster. Fix water leaks inside your home and minimize condensation on pipes or toilet tanks.


Corrosive is a substance, or a term given to a substance, that causes visible destruction of, or irreversible alterations in living tissue by chemical action wherever applied.


Dander is the material finely shed from the body of animals and humans.  It consists generally of scales of dried skin and hair (from the scalp in humans). It is a frequent cause of allergies in humans. While it is normal for skin cells to die and flake off, "Dandruff" is the excessive shedding of such cells from the scalp.


A disinfectant is an agent designed to kill microbes, and is applied to non-living objects to destroy such microorganisms, the process of which is known as disinfection.

Disinfectants, Homemade

Mix-at-home recipes for disinfectants generally are ineffective.  Studies have shown that most mix-at-home recipes have no disinfectant properties at all. Particularly when there are health-related reasons for using an antibacterial household cleaning product, such as on a cutting board that might be contaminated with Salmonella or on a surface that has been in contact with someone who is sick.  It is important to remember that only EPA-registered disinfectants have been tested for their ability to kill germs.


Forty pounds or more of dust accumulate in the average home in just one year. That's nearly a pound a week!

What we commonly refer to as household dust is composed a large number of things that are so small and light that they are easily airborne, and can settle on flat surfaces.  Dust consists of:

  • Dead skin (Dander); people shed .05 oz of dead skin cells a day; that's one ounce every 20 days.  Eighty percent (80%) of things you see floating through a sunbeam are skin flakes from humans and animals.

  • Dust Mites, are eight-legged arachnids (related to the spider). More than 40,000 dust mites can be found in an ounce of dust. Dust mite skin cells and fecal matter are allergenic, not the dust mites themselves.

  • Hair, both human and pet; a human being loses an average of 40 to 100 strands of hair a day (of an average of 100,000 hairs on a typical scalp)

  • Pollen, Pollen is not just an outdoor issue--it gets carried inside on clothing and by pets and can also blow in through open doors and windows. The microscopic pollen grains can settle in your home and become a part of house dust.

  • Ash from cigarettes and incinerators;

  • Plant material; dust is full of leaf parts, mold spores and other plant material.

  • Bacteria. A study in Europe found approximately 500 species of bacteria in house dust along with fungi.

  • Fungi

  • Lichen

  • Fibers from fabrics such as wool, nylon, rayon, acrylic, etc. A major component of dust is fabric fibers from your clothes, carpets and upholstery. Dust bunnies are typically made up of large amounts of fabric fibers

  • Foam rubber (polymer).

  • Insect fragments.

  • Auto and industrial emissions.

  • Hydrocarbon waste from oil or gas heaters.

  • Food waste.

  • Paper fiber.

  • Metal debris from door hinges or any place where metal and friction meet.

  • Fingernail filings.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are one of several species of organisms that are found in household dust. These microscopic bugs also can be found throughout our homes, but mainly on our mattresses and pillows where they live on the dead skin cells we humans and our animal pets continuously shed. A typical double bed is the home to about 100,000 to 10,000,000 mites. An unprotected mattress will double its weight in 10 years as a result of being filled with dust mites!  Ten percent of the weight of a two-year-old pillow is dust mites!

They also can be found in high concentrations in carpets where at least 100,000 can be found in just one square yard. Other common habitats include drapes, upholstered furniture, towels, clothing, and stuffed animals.

Since we shed a great deal of skin every day (see Skin, Shedding of Human), dust mites are always eating during their 170-day-lifetime. In fact, one tiny mite produces about 20 waste droppings each day, or 200 times its body weight in excrement during their normal 170-day-lifespan.

While dust mites don't carry diseases and are harmless to most people, they are second only to pollen in causing allergic reactions! Actually, what causes problems are their feces or waste droppings. There have been seventeen separate allergens identified in the feces of the common Dust Mite. 

These demons can cause flare ups of asthma, eczema, hay fever, bronchitis, inflammation of the mucous membranes, rhinitis, and dermatitis with symptoms that include itchy red eyes, headaches, sinus pain, and fatigue.

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