Ammonia – One of the Toxic Agents in Your Home

AmmoniaPeople are exposed to all sorts of toxins and chemicals on a daily basis, some of them are quite harmless, and others can wreak havoc through the human body. Ammonia is one of the chemicals which are considered to be harmless in small doses, but highly poisonous and dangerous in concentrated or large amounts. Some ammonia occurs naturally, during decomposition of organic matter. Ammonia though is also manufactured industrially, in order to produce fertilisers, synthetic fibres, plastics, explosives etc.

Ammonia is also one of the key ingredients in many cleaning products. Cleaning manufacturers frequently put ammonia in their products as indeed this chemical betters their cleaning properties. A problem with ammonia is that it becomes highly toxic when mixed with chlorine bleach – a case with most heavy duty cleaning products. On the same note, many cleaning product companies will not indicate the presence of ammonia, or the exact amount of ammonia present in the product as the formula itself is considered to be a trade secret.

In large amounts, ammonia is bad for both the human body and the environment. The chemical irritates and damages mucous membranes of the body, plus it causes instant, extensive poisoning when swallowed. Ammonia fumes react with nitrates found naturally in the environment, forming toxic ammonium nitrate particles which tend to linger to fabrics, especially interior ones.

In the average household, mostly children are at risk of being affected by ammonia, especially children suffering from respiratory or skin conditions. Adequate aeration of the premises should alleviate some of the risks after indoor cleaning sessions. Ammonia in cleaning products cannot be avoided, but its use can be limited. When choosing cleaning products or cleaning systems, keep in mind that ammonia will be present, though likely unlisted.

The cleaning products which are likely to contain the most ammonia are glass and window cleaners, metal and oven cleaners and wax removers. It is advisable to use ecofriendly alternatives of these solvents, although they do cost more. Alternatively, you can search for cleaning product brands which do list the exact amount of ammonia and chlorine in their product formulas. Usually, household ammonia contains between five and ten percent of actual ammonia diluted in water. This might not seem like much, but it is plenty enough to cause severe respiratory irritation.

Having said all this, you can learn to detect ammonia, this shouldn’t be a problem at all as most people are quite familiar with that sharp, irritating odour which cannot be mistaken or missed. Ammonia is even more easily detected (as in fumes) when mixed with chlorine. The result is chloramine gas – a highly toxic gas, causing almost instant lung damage through excessive exposure.

Being able to detect ammonia using your nose will help you choose better cleaning products for the home and office, plus you will be able to tell when a room or other indoor space needs proper aeration. Detecting cleaning chemical residue around you will help you stay healthier and limit the exposure of growing children to harsh chemicals.

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Dry Cleaning – The Healthy Alternative

Dry cleaning alternativeWithout a doubt, dry cleaning is an effective cleaning method which works fine in removing spots, stains and blemishes from many different fabrics and materials. The delicate structure of many garments makes dry cleaning the only suitable way to keep them looking clean and feeling fresh, however there is more to dry cleaning than meets the eye.

Dry cleaning is a chemical cleaning process i.e. cleaning is done using a specific set of chemicals. The most widely used substance in dry cleaning is commonly known as ‘perc’ which stands for perchlorethylene. Although effective in stain removal, perc is quite toxic and known to cause cancers in lab animals. Perc is also proven to be bad for human kidneys, liver, brain function etc. The chemical, being a toxin is quite bad does no favours to the environment either. Eighty five percent of all dry cleaners in North America use perc as their main dry cleaning agent.

One of the other problems with the perc chemical is that it tends to seep into and stick to fabrics. At the end of each dry cleaning service, the cleaners wrap garments and fabric items in plastic coatings in order to keep them clean, which is great for customers. Problem is that perc cannot evaporate through the plastic thus people take it back home and put it right in their closet. The chemical residue inside ‘clean’ fabrics evaporates and spreads through the room.

A good way to banish some of the perc residue after dry cleaning is to leave the clothes hanging outside overnight as this should air some of the chemical out. Obviously, this is not too practical or hygienic, but somewhat necessary. If you want to limit child exposure to such toxic agents, don’t dry clean their clothing, and bedroom fabrics like sheets, towels, curtains etc.

An alternative to conventional dry cleaning, though not the best one, is to look for and use an ecofriendly dry cleaner. Ecofriendly dry cleaning options are becoming more popular and are available in more and more places. In this case, the cleaning is done using a different set of chemicals, usually these are hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are petroleum based solvents and they are not too healthy or environmentally friendly but do less damage than perchlorerthylene.

Another way to deal with the situation is to find a ‘wet’ cleaner who works with biodegradable or natural formula cleaning solvents, though there aren’t too many of those around. Perhaps the best option is to use CO2 cleaning services. This is not a popular cleaning method, though it is highly effective and ecofriendly. It is still unpopular because very few cleaning businesses can afford to buy the expensive CO2 cleaning equipment required for the service.

It is advisable to hand wash delicate garments which are otherwise marked ‘dry-cleaning-only’ using warm water and mild detergents or ecofriendly cleaning solvents. Hand washing is quite sparing on sensitive fabrics and proves to be a good (although inefficient) alternative to conventional dry cleaning. Using gentle cleaning products and lukewarm water will protect colour fastness and dimensions.

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End of Tenancy Cleaning Guide

End of Tenancy CleaningAt the end of a rental contract or lease, vacating tenants are required to arrange for a specialised end of tenancy cleaning of the rental property. The level and quality of cleaning results usually determines whether or not tenants can receive their rental deposit back in full, provided of course the rental premises have not suffered any other damage.

Usually, the rental deposit amount equals a month’s full rent, so it is worth getting that money back – in most instances, professional tenancy cleaning services cost less than the amount owed to tenants. As the old saying goes you need to spend money to make money and end of tenancy cleaning makes no exception – for best results you need to secure professional cleaning services. Not that you can’t do the clean-up on your own, but that would mean investing days on end in tedious, time consuming and tricky cleaning chores, not to mention you need to spend a decent amount of money on high-end cleaning products and materials.

One of the essential aspects of good quality tenancy cleaning solutions is their coverage or comprehensiveness. In all cases, you need to secure the most comprehensive tenancy cleaning available. Landlords can be quite picky and demanding in terms of cleaning results so choose a service solution which gives you the most coverage – it will be worth it.

Good quality end of tenancy cleaning services not only cover the essentials of the house, but also focus on those hard-to-clean, problematic zones and areas like wet rooms, kitchen, high traffic areas etc. Such spots will be under lots of scrutiny during the final property inspection so the cleaners should have spick and span. On the same note, out of sight and hard to reach areas of the property will also be part of the final check-up so those need  to be included in the cleaning process too. It’s quite silly and unnecessary to cop an earful from the landlord about the dust in some forsaken nook or cranny.

Along with all the ‘basic’ or standard cleaning you get as part of your tenancy clean-up package, you can also secure additional options like specialised upholstery or carpet cleaning. Many good companies that deal with end of tenancy cleaning, will offer specialised steam cleaning solutions as part of the default service. Landlords often require professional steam cleaning for carpets, upholsteries or mattresses as part of the end of tenancy cleaning so check with your cleaners.

It is not uncommon for the landlord to leave tenants with an end of tenancy cleaning checklist outlining all the requirements to be covered. If you have one such list, provide it to the cleaning team when they arrive. Working through the cleaning checklist means the landlord will be happy with the coverage of the service you organised.

For best results, it is recommended to have the tenancy cleaning done shortly before the property inspection as this will present the landlord (or inspecting parties acting on their behalf) with a perfectly clean and sanitised, fresh interior.

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