Cordless Appliances and Battery Safety

Do you use a cordless vacuum, robotic vacuum or cordless kitchen appliance? Eventually, you will have to replace your appliance’s rechargeable battery. And when that time comes, you’ll likely go online to look for the best deal.

While everyone wants to save money, that “good deal” on a replacement may cost you later. Just as they have with replacement refrigerator water filters, counterfeiters are now pushing fake replacement batteries onto the market.

Branded replacement batteries are made specifically to fit appliances of the same brand. A counterfeit battery may power the appliance at first, but they are not designed with the same circuitry as the genuine appliance replacement. Furthermore, they do not include the same safety features, putting you at risk for fire, injury, or property damage.

Fortunately, you can reduce your chances of ending up with a counterfeit replacement battery by purchasing replacement batteries only from the manufacturer of the appliance or other trusted source.

Safe use of appliance batteries goes beyond where you purchase them. Proper storage, transport and disposal is also important. Follow these tips from the Power Tool Institute’s Take Charge of Your Battery campaign:

  • Store lithium ion batteries away from liquids and metals, such as keys, coins, screws and nails.
  • Do not throw batteries away with the trash. Take them to a recycling center or dispose of them in a receptacle specifically designed for batteries.
  • Don’t use batteries that have been dropped or damaged. Contact the manufacturer to report the damage.

Be Prepared for Wildfire Season with an Air Cleaner

In recent years, people in areas where wildfire smoke hasn’t historically had much of an effect have received a wakeup call about indoor air quality and the importance of planning for smoke events. A room air cleaner is one of your best defenses when wildfire smoke and ash wreak havoc on indoor air.  Don’t wait: Air cleaners can become popular items when wildfire smoke affects indoor air quality, and retailers sometimes report that they are in short supply during smoke events.

The smoke and particulate matter put out by wildfires is a health risk for anyone, but it is particularly dangerous for people with asthma or other conditions that affect breathing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Government of Canada recommend that people in wildfire-prone areas consider purchasing an air cleaner as part of their preparation for fire season, a step also recommended by ASHRAE’s just-released 10 Elements of a Smoke Readiness Plan.

If you are shopping for an air cleaner to improve your indoor air quality during wildfire season, you will likely come across models that use different types of technologies to clear the air. More important than the method the air cleaner uses is whether the air cleaner is appropriate for the size of the room in which it will be used. Look for the AHAM Verifide® seal and the air cleaner’s Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) on the air cleaner packaging. The seal means the air cleaner has been independently tested to ensure that it meets the manufacturer’s claims about its ability to remove tobacco smoke (the smallest particles included in CADR), pollen and dust. The suggested room size for the air cleaner will be noted prominently on the seal.

Under normal circumstances, you should choose an air cleaner with a smoke CADR two-thirds the size of the room in which you will use the air cleaner. However, those in areas heavily affected by wildfire smoke should select an air cleaner with a smoke CADR that matches the room size. For example, an air cleaner with a smoke CADR of 200 would be appropriate for a 200 square-foot room in an area affected by wildfire smoke.

If you are using an air cleaner to improve indoor air quality during wildfire season, take these steps to ensure that your air cleaner continues to operate at a high level:

Change the filter regularly: Your air cleaner’s use and care manual will recommend how often to change your air cleaner’s filter. These recommendations are based on the manufacturer’s testing, but can vary depending on how often you use the filter and the level of pollutants in the air.  Extended operation in an area affected by heavy smoke may require more frequent filter changes. If the filter is changing color or if the level of air coming out of the air cleaner drops, it could mean the filter should be changed. Keep extra filters on hand, especially during wildfire season.  Purchase replacements from reputable sources to ensure they are authentic and not counterfeits.

Clean the outside: Some manufacturers recommend using a vacuum to remove dust from the outside of the air cleaner. Vacuum or gently clean the dust from the outside of the air cleaner when you notice a buildup. An air cleaner that is dirty on the outside is likely dirty on the inside, so make this part of the process when you are replacing or cleaning the filter.

Vacuum regularly: Air cleaners are only part of the equation if you are seeking cleaner indoor air. Do a thorough cleaning of the area and vacuum regularly to remove particles so they are not kicked back into the air you breathe.

Change your furnace filter: If you change your furnace filter regularly, you might not have to change the filter in your air cleaner as often. However, a furnace filter is not a substitute for an air cleaner because it is designed to trap large particles. In addition, it is common for particles to miss the furnace filter and end up inside the home.

Give your air cleaner room to breathe: It might be more convenient to place an air cleaner against a wall and in a corner, but that will restrict airflow and reduce performance. Move the air cleaner toward the center of the room and operate it on high in an area free of obstructions. The more air that goes through the air cleaner, the more pollutants it will remove.

Make Food Safety Part of the Plan During Summer Celebrations

Cooking and sharing meals is a time-honored summertime tradition, especially on holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. While you may be thinking more about serving your guests, you should take steps to ensure food safety during your summertime gathering, especially if you are cooking, eating or serving outdoors. Cases of food poisoning, which affects about 48 million people in the U.S. each year, tend to increase in the summer.

Food safety starts with your refrigerator and freezer. You can start by making sure they are in good working order. Freezers, particularly in hot, humid weather, can be prone to frost buildup, which can be a drag on performance. Fortunately, it is easy to prevent. Your refrigerator may have to work a bit harder to keep food cool in the summer, so make it as efficient as possible by keeping the coils free of dirt and dust and properly arranging the food inside. Keep your refrigerator between 37 and 40 degrees.

From storing to cooking to serving, food temperature matters. A digital thermometer is a valuable tool to ensure you are cooking foods thoroughly, regardless of whether you’re cooking with an indoor grill, cooktop, oven or outdoor grill.

The U.S. Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) suggests these safe cooking temperatures for popular summertime foods:

Ground meat: 160 degrees for beef, pork, veal and lamb, 165 for turkey and chicken.

Fresh beef, veal and lamb: 145 degrees. Allow to rest three minutes before serving.

Fish: 145 degrees or until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.

Shrimp, lobster, crab: Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque

Clams, oysters, mussels: Cook until shells open

Both hot and cold foods can quickly creep into what the FSIS calls “the danger zone,” (between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit), when bacteria are most likely to grow. Keep hot foods above 140 until they’re ready to serve, and keep cold foods refrigerated until they’re ready to serve. Serve cold dishes on ice when possible. Don’t leave foods out for more than two hours. Are you serving food outside in hot weather? Cut that time to one hour, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends.

If you’re doing your summer party potluck style, keep track of who is bringing what so you can plan for safe storage and serving. Make sure there is enough space in your refrigerator so you can put the dishes in there when your guests arrive if you aren’t planning to cook or serve the dishes they bring immediately. Are you out of space? Keep a cooler of ice on hand with a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature. Store your drinks in a separate cooler to avoid opening it frequently and raising the temperature.

Don’t reuse the dishes you used to transport raw food outside to the grill. Put them in the dishwasher as soon as possible to avoid reusing them accidentally.

Whether you are cooking indoors or outdoors, paying careful attention to food safety while planning and celebrating will help you worry less and focus more on what’s important: giving your guests great memories.

How do you like your toast? Take our one-question personality quiz.

You probably have a go-to setting for your toaster, and anything lighter or darker can have a deep and lasting impact on the quality of your breakfast.

You probably haven’t given much thought to how appliance manufacturers make sure that toasters toast at the proper level. This guide—developed by AHAM and still used by appliance manufacturers as part of AHAM’s T-1 performance standard for toasters—shows just how toasted your toast should be, depending on where you set your toaster. It’s how manufacturers make sure your toast will turn out looking like “5” if you set the toaster to that level.

We bet you also didn’t realize that how you take your toast is a window into your personality. Take our one-question personality quiz to find out what your preferred level of toast says about you.

Of course, there’s no science behind these traits. But there’s plenty that goes into the development of T-1 and the numerous standards that appliance manufacturers use to develop and design all home appliances so they’re safe, efficient and functional.

Now, back to the most important question you will answer today: How do you like your toast?

6 Ways to Reduce Spring Allergens in Your Home

The warm spring weather is usually a welcome change. The allergies that come with it? Not so much. Seasonal allergens like pollen and other triggers like dust and mites are unwanted guests that can take up residence in the air and on your furniture and floors, and even on your clothing. But the threat of seasonal sneezes shouldn’t cool your springtime enthusiasm. Here are six ways you can use your appliances to reduce allergens in your home:

Wash it out: Pollen isn’t just spread by air. It also attaches to your clothing, and your clothes washer can remove it before it becomes airborne again. Washing your bed linens regularly in hot water can also kill dust mites, another common source of allergies. Also, don’t underestimate the build-up of allergens in your hair from spending time outdoors. Wash your hair frequently during allergy season.

Dry your laundry indoors: Now that you have washed the pollen out of your clothes. Using a clothes dryer instead of an outdoor clothesline will help keep it off. Line-dried laundry and linens can pick up pollen or other allergens while outdoors and bring them back into your home.

Vacuum everything: Pollen and allergens can end up just about everywhere—carpets, rugs, hard surfaces, furniture, drapes, and mattresses. Vacuum all of them to remove as much of the allergens as possible. A vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter has the capability to remove more than 99 percent of allergens with particles larger than .3 microns. That includes pollen and dust mites. If you are using a portable vacuum that requires a bag, use micro-lined, two-ply vacuum bags to stop the allergens from being kicked back into the air while vacuuming. Central vacuums capture dirt and pollutants that are carried through a home’s exhaust system to a central container. In most cases, they are installed in a garage or basement and don’t require a HEPA filter to remove allergens.

Clear the air: Like vacuums, many models of room air cleaners also use HEPA filters to filter allergens and other pollutants from the air. In fact, a HEPA filter can help reduce pollutants in the air by up to 50 percent, though that depends on  how the unit operates. Look for the unit’s Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), which notes the suggested room size for an air cleaner and is the most helpful metric for comparing air cleaner performance. CADR provides ratings for the air cleaner’s ability to remove smoke, dust and pollen. And CADR is evolving. Soon, consumers will also be able to compare air cleaners for their ability to remove microbiological pollutants like viruses, bacteria and mold, and household chemicals. Not sure where to start?  Visit AHAMVerifide.org for more about how to choose the proper air cleaner for your room. Change the air cleaner’s filter regularly and position your air cleaner near the center of the room, away from walls, to maximize airflow and performance.

Cool the air: When the temperatures warm up, keep the windows closed and the AC on. Air conditioners don’t just cool the air, they contain filters that can help remove allergens.

Keep the indoor humidity in check: Dust mites tend to thrive in humidity. A dehumidifier may make it tougher for the mites to survive.

Get the Most Out of Your Freezer

 

Freezers have long been a cornerstone of food storage, and a second freezer is an easy way to expand your storage capacity. All freezers will keep your food frozen. However, they are not all alike. The most obvious difference in models is size, but both chest and upright freezers also distinguish themselves through a number of features. Depending on the model and type of freezer, those might include:

  • Auto defrost
  • Temperature control
  • Interior LED lighting
  • Adjustable shelves, baskets and dividers
  • Compartments for specific types of foods
  • Safety lock
  • Power-on indicator
  • Defrost drain with hose adapter
  • Alarm to signal when the door is open
  • Ice maker
  • ENERGY STAR designation
  • Quick-freeze
  • Reversible doors
  • Adjustable leveling legs

Freezer organization

Organizing your freezer lets you maximize the use of your freezer space, cut down on wasted food and reduce stress during meal times. These organization tips will help you keep your kitchen functioning smoothly and help you get the most out of your freezer:

Label everything you put in the freezer with both the name of the food or ingredient and the date that you put in the freezer.

Create “zones” that reserve parts of the freezer for certain types of foods (Meat, bread, fruit, vegetables, desserts, etc.)

If you are using freezer bags, freeze foods as flat as possible for easy storage.

Cool any hot foods before freezing.

Freeze serving-sized portions for easy defrosting and serving.

Plan your meals in advance and keep what you will be eating next in an easily accessible part of the freezer.

Keep a running inventory to make sure you are using what is in your freezer.

Freezer safety

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the temperature inside your freezer should be kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure the food remains safe. Keep a thermometer in an easily accessible area of the freezer and check it periodically. Allow foods to cool before freezing them.

If your home loses electricity, avoid opening the freezer when possible. The temperature inside a full freezer should remain safe for up to 48 hours, even without electricity.

Check the door gaskets on your freezer periodically to confirm a tight seal is keeping the cold air in and the warm air out. This will also help prevent frost from forming inside the freezer.

Why you should stop pre-rinsing your dishes today

Are you looking for ways to make your home more sustainable? Here’s one: Stop pre-rinsing your dishes before you load your dishwasher.

It may sound too simple, but if you consider the number of dishes and utensils that go into an average-sized dishwasher load, those quick rinses can add up to serious water savings, even gallons a day.

But habits can be hard to break, and a few questions might be running through the minds of habitual pre-rinsers right now, like…

Is my dish too dirty for the dishwasher?

Scrape the excess food off your dishes, ideally into a food waste disposer. A dish is rarely “too dirty” for a dishwasher. When dishwashers are tested under AHAM’s test procedure, testers apply a mixture of egg yolk, creamed corn, oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes, ground beef, coffee, raspberry preserves, peanut butter and tomato juice. That’s almost certainly a bigger mess than anything served at your holiday party. Trust that your dishwasher to do the job for which it was designed.

Doesn’t hand-washing save water?

In the vast majority of cases, no. Washing a full load of dishes in the sink can use 10 or more gallons of water, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A kitchen faucet runs at a rate of about 2.2 gallons a minute. Compare that to newer ENERGY STAR dishwashers, which use a maximum of only 3.5 gallons of water per cycle. Even newer non-ENERGY STAR models max out at 5 gallons of water per cycle.

Should I still run my dishwasher if it isn’t full?

Yes. Some models include “half-rack” or “half-load” settings for smaller loads of dishes. The dishwasher will still save water, even if it isn’t full.

Do I have to hand-wash pots and pans?

No. Place them face down on the bottom rack, where they are close to the full force of the water. Just make sure they are not blocking the spray arms.

I have four dishes left over and my dishwasher is full. Should I try to cram them in?

Put them aside until your next load of dishes. Overloading your dishwasher can interfere with the cleaning cycle. Remember, any water you use by hand-washing dishes will be in addition to the water used during the dishwasher cycle. Save yourself the water and the work.

I heard you can cook in a dishwasher. Since I’m saving water, should I try that to save energy?

No. It’s unsafe and is a bad idea for a number of reasons.

AHAM’s Top Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring is here, and prime cleaning season for many households. According to a survey by the American Cleaning Institute, 80% or Americans spring clean every year! Whether you’re doing a deep clean of the house or just tackling a few projects, these spring cleaning tips are sure to make your job a little bit easier.

Easy oven and range-cleaning tips: A dirty range can affect your oven and range performance and even how food tastes. Follow AHAM’s tips to make it quick and easy.

Expert tips on refrigerator organization: Experience the benefits of a clean fridge – including keeping healthy foods front and center and maximizing space.

Give the air in your home a spring cleaning: Your room air cleaner, vacuum and clothes washer can all play a role in reducing allergens and other indoor pollutants.

A deeper dive into floor care: Do you know the difference between a deep cleaner and a vacuum? Brush up on your floor care knowledge to ensure you’re using the right tools for the cleaning job.

Your appliance cleaning checklist: When is the last time you cleaned your refrigerator coils? How about your dryer vent? Follow AHAM’s appliance cleaning checklist to keep your appliances performing at their best and looking great.

Give the air in your home a spring cleaning

IStock_000024640362_Small
With memories of massive snowfalls still fresh in the minds of many, it’s easy to forget that spring allergy season is just about here. When the first sniffles of spring strike, allergy sufferers may be tempted to hole up and avoid the outdoors. But the air inside may be just as bad or even worse, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA estimates that indoor air may contain double to five times as many pollutants as the air outside.

There are four main sources of indoor air pollution: pollen tracked in or blown in from outside; animal dander; mold and mildew; and tobacco smoke. All of those can make your allergies worse. Fortunately, your appliances can help you get the upper hand on allergens:

Invest in a room air cleaner: If you decide to buy a room air cleaner, look on the packaging for the AHAM Verifide Label, which will list Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) numbers for tobacco smoke, dust and pollen. The higher the numbers, the faster the air cleaner will clean the air. Buy a room air cleaner appropriate for the size of the room in which it will be used.

Suck it up: Your vacuum is one of your best tools in the quest to rid your home of allergens. Vacuum your carpet and rugs at least once a week, and twice a week in high-traffic areas. Vacuum your upholstered furniture, mattresses and drapes regularly. Consider doing a deep clean with solutions made to loosen and extract allergens.

Wash it away: Wash your bedding in hot water—at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit—to remove allergens from sheets and blankets and the kids’ stuffed animals.

Learn more about how AHAM’s Clean Air Delivery Rate program for room air cleaners, and how you can find AHAM Verifide room air cleaners.

Storm Prep: How to keep frozen and refrigerated food safe

If you’re preparing for a major storm, stocking up on enough food and water should be part of your plan. You also need to have a plan to keep your food safe to eat during and in the wake of the storm, especially if you lose power.

Eating food that hasn’t been stored properly can lead to a number of foodborne illnesses. Those can be serious under normal circumstances, but the potential lack of access to medical care during a severe storm makes avoiding illness even more important. Additionally, many foodborne illnesses can cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration. The condition can quickly become life threatening if you don’t have access to sufficient water.

Be prepared to keep your food safe during any serious storm with these important safety tips from the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Use a thermometer: Monitor the temperatures in your refrigerator and freezer. Refrigerators should be kept at between 34 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, freezers at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature in the freezer is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, the food is safe to eat or refreeze. Any perishable foods that have been refrigerated and kept at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours should be thrown away. Tip: Look for a thermometer that sends the temperature directly to your mobile device or can be monitored remotely. Otherwise, don’t open the door to check the temperature until the power is back on.
  • Make and store ice: If your freezer can make ice, make as much as you can starting days before the storm is set to arrive if you have advance warning. You can use the ice to help keep the food cool if you lose power, or use it in a cooler. You may also freeze containers of water. The ice will help keep food in the freezer cold, and you can also drink the water when it melts if your water supply is cut off. Tip: Buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator cold for extended periods. Fifty pounds of dry ice keeps an 18-cubic-foot, fully stocked freezer cold for two days, according to FDA.
  • Move food to the freezer: If you know the storm is coming, move leftovers, milk, fresh meat and other foods that can be frozen to the freezer. They’ll last longer if the power goes out.
  • Keep coolers handy (and the ice to fill them): Food will stay safe in refrigerators for about four hours after a power outage. Move them to ice-filled coolers if the power is off or is expected to be off for longer.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed: Only open them when necessary when a power outage is a possibility, even if you haven’t lost power. This will help keep the temperatures in both down.
  • Keep the freezer full: A full freezer will keep food frozen for about 48 hours if it isn’t opened. That time is cut in half, to 24 hours, if the freezer is only half-full.

What to keep, what to toss

The CDC offers these tips to help you decide what is safe to eat and what should be discarded:

  • Any food that has come into contact with flood or storm water should be thrown away. This includes containers with screw caps, snap lids, crimped caps, twist caps, flip tops, snap-open, and home canned foods.
  • Throw away any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
  • Thawed food that still contains ice crystals may be eaten or refrozen.
  • Throw away any canned foods that are bulging, opened or damaged. Cans that have come into contact with flood or storm water should be washed in a solution of 1 cup bleach and 5 gallons of water.
  • Never use potentially contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash your hands, wash or prepare food or prepare baby formula.

Never rely on a food’s smell or taste to determine whether it’s safe to eat. When in doubt, throw it out.

About This Blog

HOME for cooking, cleanliness, comfort and care

Categories