Archive for the ‘laundry’ Category

Seasonal allergy treatment? How about prevention?

April 18, 2011

After a windy spring weekend outdoors, I found myself battling itchy eyes and a watery nose yesterday.

Seasonal allergy symptoms are back.

For those who suffer from pollen allergy symptoms, you know how easily the tiny allergens travel…everywhere.

But treatment of seasonal allergies isn’t the only option. I much prefer preventing symptoms altogether, rather than relying on allergy remedies once I’m already dealing with histamines.

Here are the two main ways I prevent allergy symptoms:

  1. Keep windows and doors closed. Pollen travels mostly through the air, so I don’t let it blow into my house.
  2. Wash your hair and clothes soon after returning from the outdoors. Pollen will attach to you outdoors, and you’ll help it set up shop around your house by simply moving around and making contact. (Think about everything you touch: your pillows and sheets, your furniture, your carpet…)

So, because vacuuming your floors and washing your clothes and sheets is such a huge component to prevention, those with terrible allergies have found relief in some  products designed with them in mind:

LG’s Allergiene cycle from its TrueSteam washer and dryer

LG’s Allergiene washer cycle uses steam power to gently remove over 95% of common household allergens, like dust mites and pet dander, from even the most delicate fabrics.

Plus, you can safely sanitize nonwashable items like pillows and toys in LG’s steam dryer, which is what I did with all my throw pillows last night.

AquaFilter system in the Rotho Twin TT 580 canister vacuum

Rotho uses water and a HEPA filter to trap dust and dirt, not a canister or a bag, so it’s no surprise it has a 99.999% retention capacity, making it the ideal vacuum for allergy sufferers. Vacuuming is supposed to get rid of all the stuff that irks you, not kick it up into your airway.

The Rotho vacuum sprays water and cleaning solution on the area, then simultaneously vacuuming up the used water and solution to free embedded soil, dust mites, allergens, and odors — not the stuff sitting on the surface.

The $795 price tag makes it spendier than the also-awesome Dyson DC 23 Animal canister vacuum, but the Rotho’s deep-cleaning features and water filtration make it the ultimate tool for an allergy-free home.

Why HE detergent is a must

February 14, 2011

I’m going to eschew the obligatory Valentine’s-themed blog post for a topic close to my heart: oversudsing.

More laundry detergent does NOT mean more clean, especially in a front-loading high-efficiency washing machine.

High-efficiency washers use far less water by design than traditional washing machines. Less water and more powerful wash action means less dilution of detergent, leading to overproduction of suds.

High-efficiency detergent (or HE detergent) provides the just right amount of suds to ensure the cleanest clothes possible. HE detergent is labeled “concentrated” or “2x” oftentimes, and sports this symbol on its bottle or box.

Make sure to follow the instructions on the label based on load size. And not that tablet laundry detergent isn’t recommended by manufacturers because of issues dissolving in the washer dispenser.

If you don’t use HE detergent,Whirlpool Corp. warns of the following problems:

  • Poor cleaning results.
  • Detergent residue left on clothing.
  • Washer odor due to sudsing residue.
  • Wet clothes at the end of the cycle due to excess suds hindering spinning and draining.
  • Leaking due to excess suds.
  • Extended cycle times or excessive water usage from extra rinsing to remove suds.
  • Error codes.

So remember, less is more.

 

What to do with all that dryer lint?

October 4, 2010

You should clean your dryer lint from the lint trap after every use. A lint-covered lint filter reduces air movement, compromising the dryer’s ability to get to work on your wet clothes.

But what do you do with all that lint, then?

I heard a creative lint reuse idea the other day I found rather timely.

Stuff toilet paper tubes or paper towel tubes with lint for firestarters or kindling.

(This use, of course, speaks to the flammability of dryer lint — another reason to clean your lint trap!)

I’m looking for more ways to reuse the full wastebasket of lint I have in my laundry room. Any ideas?

5 Energy Star washers that almost pay for themselves

September 24, 2010

Appliances aren’t cheap. And Energy Star appliances cost even more than standard, new appliances.

But that’s just the sticker price. I’ve blogged before about how the long-term savings of Energy Star washers will not only end up costing less than regular washers in the end, they’ll pay for a dryer.

An Energy Star washer costs an average of $258 more at purchase time, but saves about $481 in energy and water costs over its lifetime.

Now, unless you get it at heavy discount or as part of a government stimulus/utility rebate program, $481 won’t pay for an Energy Star washer. But it comes close.

Here’s a roundup of the least-expensive Energy Star washing machines to prove that energy efficient appliances can be accessible to all.

GE 4.1 Cu. Ft. Energy Star Washer (EWA5600KWW)

Frigidaire Front-Load Washer (FTF530FS)

Maytag 4.0 cu. ft. Energy Star Washer (MVWC6ESWW)

Whirlpool 4.3 Cu. Ft Energy Star Washer (WTW5500XW)

MY PICK: Fisher & Paykel EcoSmart 4.2 cu.ft washer (WA42T26GW1)

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September 8, 2010

I’ve written about our pink trucks benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure® MN Affiliate, but have you seen our teal trucks? (I caught one parked in my neighborhood this weekend, and it pretty much made my life.)

All year long, Warners’ Stellian partners with Electrolux to make a donation to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund for each delivery made by our two teal-colored delivery trucks. (“Every delivery closer to a cure.”)

In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Warners’ Stellian-Rochester will host a “Ladies Night” event tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 9) from 5-7 p.m. to benefit the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance.

Obviously free food will be aplenty — as will fun women — but attendees also have the chance to win an Electrolux Turquoise Sky Perfect Steam washer/dryer pair (which loyal blog readers know is my appliance fantasy), a Dacor cookware set and a Holland Grill Companion Gas Grill (perfect for tailgating!). There will be also be silent auction.

Can’t make it Rochester? This whole month, Electrolux will donate $200 to OCRF for every new Turquoise Sky Perfect Steam washer/dryer pair purchased.

Not in the market for a new washer/dryer? Visit Electrolux’s Kelly Confidential online and press the Perfect Steam button “to take your garments from rumpled to runway-ready” (their words, I swear) and  Electrolux will donate $1 to OCRF. Plus you’ll be entered for a chance to win a shopping spree between $50 and $250 and a washer and dryer from Electrolux.

>>See full details

Top-load washing machines replacing front load washing machines?

July 28, 2010

The buzz in laundry appliance circles (trust me, they exist) these days for washers is all front load, front load, front load.

Or is it?

Whirlpool Cabrio front-load washer and dryer in black

The Whirlpool appliance crew came in last week to show our sales staff its new line and argued that many of today’s customers want top load laundry again. But these customers aren’t replacing a top-loading washer with a top-loading washer; They’re replacing front-loading washers with top-loading washers.

True, some of the earliest front-loading washing machines came fraught with mold issues and vibration and noise problems. Those early kinks have pretty much, ahem, come out in the wash. But apparently, not everyone’s convinced.

Without an agitator, Whirlpool's new top-load washer has tons of capacity -- up to 5.2 cu. ft.

Plus, Whirlpool’s high-efficiency top-load washer offers many of the same features front-loaders became popular for:

  • extra-large capacity
  • high spin speeds
  • less water and detergent used

Also available are features such as steam cleaning and drying, allergen-eliminating cycles and precision detergent/bleach/fabric softener dispense.

All Whirlpool’s new washers are rated are at the peak of energy efficiency ratings — Tier 3 — by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (see “Energy Star not sole guide for energy-efficiency”). The Cabrios sense the size of the load and only use as little as 14 gallons per wash, as much as 31 gallons fewer than a traditional top-load washing machine.

I’m a huge front loader snob, but I have to admit that the features are pretty darn similar and who wouldn’t rather reach down than bend down. I think they’re definitely a good machine for the customer who wants quality but not another front loading washing machine.

What to replace first in a new home

April 26, 2010

This is the stuff nightmares are made of.

When moving into a house, you inherit the appliances of the previous owner (or maybe from the owner before the previous owner).

One of my main priorities when I move into my first house in June will be to begin replacing the appliances — starting with the washing machine.

Why?

1) Because I work at an appliance store, of course.

2) Replacing an existing washer on average yields bigger savings than any other major home appliance.

And 3) Just because the existing washer works, per se, doesn’t mean it’s working in my favor.

It amazed me that a house with so many energy-efficient upgrades (windows, lights, HVAC, ceiling fans) still had an old, top-loader washer. I swear I saw a black hole hovering near the water hoses and electrical cord because those things waste a MASSIVE amount of water and energy. (Don’t get me started on the 40-year-old beer refrigerator.)

The existing top-load washer comes “free” with the house, but really, it will cost me.

A 10-year-old clothes washer wastes $135 in water and energy costs each year versus a new, Energy Star-qualified washer. It uses tens of gallons of water more to wash a much smaller load with noticeably reduced clean-ability. Does that sound like it works? No.

But just buying any new washer won’t deliver the same savings. Though more expensive at first, Energy Star washers save an average of $55 per year, which means the upgrade pays for itself in less than five years.

Replacing a refrigerator can save $100 per year, and replacing a dishwasher can save $40 per year, but if I had to pick one, a new Energy Star washer offers the best return on investment.

Washer vibration leaving your laundry room all shook up?

April 21, 2010

Asko, whose latest designer series is pictured, designed its front-load laundry for main-floor applications from the start. Other manufacturers took a while, but most problems have been worked out.

Front-loading washers have been available long enough now that we’re replacing more and more first generation units of the now ubiquitous style of washing machines.

Front-loader washers clean better, use less water and (my favorite feature) spin more water out of the clothes with spin speeds around 1200 RPMs. But all those rotations made some customers’ experience with the earliest models a bit, well, shaky.

The washer would vibrate. It would move. Customers would call and say, “My washer is walking across the floor!” Things would fall off the walls. I heard of an extreme case in which a customer’s sheetrock shook loose.

Of course, it wasn’t solely the washers’ fault. People pulled washers and dryers out of the basements they were designed for, reinforced with their sturdy concrete block, and put them where they were never supposed to go: upstairs. Empty nesters converted their children’s former closets on the second floor and ended up chasing runaway machines. Families tucked laundry units into main floor kitchens without reinforcing the floors.

The problems were real for some. Fortunately, those problems came out in the wash (rimshot, please?) as most manufacturers since beefed up the suspensions of front-load washers.

So your friends’ warnings about front-load washers likely are moot dangers. You should still reinforce the floors if you’re converting a space for laundry, and if so, pedestals might not be the best bet*, but several manufacturers now guarantee that you’ll be happy putting their front-loader on your main floor.

If your existing washer is on the move, pick up a vibration isolation pad, like ShakeAway, at your local appliance parts dealer. I like Dey Appliance Parts, because I’ve had the number to its Snelling Avenue outfit memorized for about eight years now: (651)647-0171.

*Miele’s pedestals attach to the laundry units with bolts, making it the safest bet for elevated laundry on uncertain surfaces


Money-saving laundry tips

March 18, 2010

This is among posts I pre-wrote to be published in my absence while I’m on vacation. I will respond to all comments when I return. Thank you!

By now thousands in Minnesota have begun using the new clothes washers they bought as part of the state’s Trade-In & Save program.

But that $200 check isn’t the only sign of money savings hitting your mail box.

Just wait until you see your utility bill. New Energy Star washers save an average $135 in water and energy costs.

Don’t stop there, though. These guidelines will help you save energy, water and money:

DON’T use too much detergent
You’re only helping Proctor & Gamble when you pour in those heaping cups of laundry soap. The owners’ manual provides instructions on the proper amount of soap to use. Using too much soap also can shorten the life your clothing, which could get expensive.

DO keep venting dry and clear.
We recommend cleaning your dryer vent a few times a year (see Dryer not drying? Check the vent). Otherwise, it could get blocked up, causing your dryer to take longer to do its job. And remember to clean your lint filter after every use.

DO switch to cold-water washes
About 90 percent of the energy used for washing clothes in an average washer is for heating the water. Need I say more? If you have tough, oily stains, even switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load’s energy use in half. Otherwise, you’d be surprised how well cold water cycles clean these days.

DON’T over-dry your clothes
Instead, use a moisture sensor (if you have one) to automatically stop the dryer once it’s finished. Note: Dry towels and heavier cottons separate from lighter weight clothes to ensure proper drying when using a sensor. If you don’t have a moisture sensor, use the cool-down cycle to finish drying clothes using the residual heat.

DO put full loads in the washer and dryer.
Full loads of laundry mean fewer loads of laundry, which mean less energy, water and money used, too. If you must wash a small load, remember to set the water-level to match.

What are your tips for saving money on laundry?


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