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You’ve probably been there — your dryer completes a cycle, and as you begin pulling the warm garments out, you find that they’re covered in irksome white fluff. To your horror, you realize you didn’t clean out the dryer vent after running that faux fur blanket. Or, maybe you’re just now discovering that your appliance even has a vent that requires cleaning. Don’t be embarrassed; at AT, we revel in the opportunity to share our favorite laundry hacks. From the best stain removers to editor-approved sheet detanglers and portable washing machines, we’re here to help turn one of the most tedious chores into a headache-free function.
With regards to lint buildup, yes, you should be cleaning your dryer vent gap semi-regularly and the outside tubing at least once a year to prevent clogging. Personally, I like to wipe my dryer’s vent every two-to-three cycles, as I’m perpetually wary of damaging the machine or having to subsequently lint-roll my dark clothes for ages. I was never sure exactly how to go about doing so, opting for a wet paper towel and awkwardly brushing the buildup off of the vent filter and into the trash can. But with the Holikme dryer vent cleaning kit from Amazon, this task now has a more streamlined system.
This two-piece kit is really just comprised of two wire brushes that are conveniently bristled and flexible enough to reach that difficult crevice at the front of your dryer. With more than 13,500 five-star reviews from buyers, it’s evident that the set guarantees a quick and straightforward solution. “This is perfect for the price… and you get 2 of them!” one reviewer shared. “The minute it arrived, I tried it and loved it! It got all the lint way down past the screen and scooped it out!” Each brush is 29 inches long and features a 4-inch wooden handle for easy maneuvering.
Not only will the kit help keep freshly washed and dried clothes as clean as possible, but it’ll also improve dryer performance, as not cleaning the vent and exhaust pipe can cause longer cycles, which can in turn increase utility bills. One reviewer can attest to this. “… Recently the dryer hadn’t been drying as well as it should have,” she shared. “I got so much lint out of the dryer where the lint trap goes that I was APPALLED!” Removing lint buildup can also help prevent fires, making this tool potentially life-saving. (No hyperbole here!)
Adding to this product’s many pluses, buyers lauded the kit for being surprisingly sturdy, the brushes’ wooden handles thick enough to withstand even the most severe bending. So it appears that for less than $10, you can be the proud owner of a tool that simultaneously keeps your fits looking fresh and prevents home disasters. Fire safety has never sounded so appealing!
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If the pandemic brought to mind questions about how to properly clean and sanitize your laundry, you’re not alone. Due to an increase in consumer questions related to best laundry practices over the past year, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) recently released a guide about the best laundry care for better overall household health. The guide outlines three “levels” of laundry you can implement — each with a different degree of care depending on the current wellness status of your home.
“There’s routine everyday cleaning and then there are the extra steps and enhanced precautions you should be taking when a family member is sick or has a weakened immune system,” reads ACI’s website. “We relied on laundry safety experts to determine what precautions were recommended when and created a three-level laundry guide for best laundry practices for better health. Know the Levels of Laundry and how to step up your laundry routine, when needed, to help care for you and your family.”
Here are the three levels of laundry that you should know, according to ACI.
This level should be your method when everyone in your household is healthy. At “low” status, you can do laundry as you normally would and wait until a convenient laundry day to wash things. Use detergent and wash and dry at any temperature (and yes, that includes cold). “Most of the time, a healthy household is low risk and can do the laundry as usual and wash in cold water,” says ACI.
Additionally, you can boost this level of laundry by adding laundry sanitizer like Lysol Laundry Sanitizer or any EPA registered laundry sanitizer to your wash load. Laundry sanitizer will combat odor-causing bacteria, and it can be helpful depending on your family’s activity level and how much the clothing is soiled. To find out if a product is EPA registered (meaning it will kill coronavirus when used according to the label directions), you can use List N Tool: COVID-19 Disinfectants on the EPA’s website.
And don’t forget to wash your hands after handling soiled laundry (on any level).
You and your loved ones should follow the medium level laundry instructions whenever a member of the household has a respiratory illness (such as COVID-19, the flu, and colds). “Medium” laundry (along with the high level of laundry) should always be handled and washed as soon as possible. Use a deeper cleaning detergent like Tide Hygienic Clean Power Pods and wash and dry on a warm setting. At this level, it’s OK to wash the laundry of the person who is sick with other people’s items. And of course, you can still add an EPA registered laundry sanitizer or even bleach to your load, as you would at the low level. Make sure, however, to wear gloves when handling the soiled clothing and don’t shake your items too much — it could transfer germs from dirty to clean clothing. After you wash, remember to disinfect any surfaces where dirty laundry has been, and then wash your hands to prevent the spread of the illness.
High: Enhanced Precautions
If there are members of your household with enteric infections (i.e. vomiting and diarrhea), who have weakened immune systems, or have returned from work with potentially contaminated clothes, your laundry should be washed with high-level care. Like the medium level, you should launder with a deeper-cleaning detergent, but using an EPA registered laundry sanitizer or bleach is not optional. The sick person’s clothing should also be separated from those of other family members, washed and dried on hot, and handled with gloves. Again, don’t shake the clothes, and afterwards wash hands and disinfect all surfaces that the soiled items came in contact with. Additionally, check your washing machine for a sanitizing cycle. Some machines have them, and it can help add an extra line of defense.
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The beloved all-purpose cleaner Bar Keepers Friend can work to remove a variety of tough-to-tackle stains, from rust to mineral deposits and baked-on food. And don’t let the name fool you: BKF can be put to work in places other than a kitchen setting, including bathrooms, garages, and backyards.
There are, however, certain surfaces in each of those spaces that the cleaner is not so friendly with. Here are six things that you should never clean with Bar Keepers Friend:
1. Don’t use BKF on polished stone such as marble or granite
Uh-oh! You just noticed food grime lurking on your marble or granite countertops. Before you break out Bar Keepers Friend, make sure it’s the right formula. “You should never use Bar Keepers Friend on your granite or marble countertops, as it will leave corrosive marks that will be impossible to ignore once done,” explained Jessica Randhawa, the head chef, recipe creator, photographer, and writer behind The Forked Spoon. Randhawa uses Bar Keepers Friend regularly on all of her stainless steel pots and pans, for hard water stains in her toilets, and hard water stains on her glass shower doors.
If you do want to harness BKF’s reputation on your stone surfaces, the BKF family of products includes a Granite & Stone Cleaner & Polish, which is made specifically for granite and polished stone such as quartz countertops. It should be noted that BKF Granite & Stone Cleaner & Polish should only be used on polished stone. It is not suitable for butcher blocks, painted or lacquered surfaces, brick, slate, or grout.
2. Don’t use BKF on concrete, wood, or any other porous surface
Bar Keepers Friend is formulated to work on non-porous surfaces like glass, stainless steel, ceramic, porcelain, brass, and aluminum. But when it comes to porous surfaces — like unsealed concrete, fabric, leather, or wood — the manufacturers recommend steering clear. What classifies a porous surface? Think in terms of pores. A porous surface will allow liquids like water, to pass through or become absorbed by it. So you can clean your dutch oven with BKF, but stick with dish soap for your wooden cutting board.
3. Don’t use BKF on appliances with protective layers
To help repel fingerprints, many manufacturers apply a clear protective layer to the appliances they produce — that’s the “stainless” part of your stainless steel fridge. BKF may harm that layer due to its mineral abrasive ingredient. Instead, use Bar Keepers Friend’s specialized Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish.
4. Don’t use BKF on lacquered, painted, mirrored surfaces, or colored grout
5. Don’t use BKF on surfaces that can’t be rinsed well
The process of using Bar Keepers Friend looks like this: wet the surface you intend to clean. Sprinkle the cleanser onto the surface. Gently run with a wet cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry. The thorough rinsing is an important step when using BKF, and therefore it should not be used in areas that cannot be easily rinsed, such as non-drained, enclosed spaces like an oven or microwave interior.
6. Don’t use BKF on gold or silver
Keep Bar Keepers Friend away from your precious metals. “Bar Keepers Friend will ruin other materials that it was not engineered to clean, such as gold or silver jewelry,” says Randhawa. “But it’s perfectly safe to use on sterling silver flatware.”