Preventing Mold in High Efficiency Washers

Mold and mildew can be a problem for washing machines, especially high-efficiency washers. Such appliances use less water and require special care to prevent conditions that promote bacterial growth and the consequent accompanying odor. Mold and mildew can be easily prevented or eliminated by following a simple routine and sticking with it.  After the washing cycle is completed, the tub, soap dispenser, door gasket, tub strainer (the visible section of the tub with drain holes) and drain hose remain damp and can promote bacterial growth. While the drain hose and tub interior are not accessible, the door gasket and strainer are. After each wash, dry the strainer, door gasket, door interior and soap dispenser with a towel and leave the door open. If you have repeated problems with mold and mildew due to damp conditions, place a pedestal fan aimed toward the open washer door.

Because high-efficiency washing machines use less water, they require special high-efficiency detergent for thorough rinsing. If standard detergent is used, residual soap can be left behind and promote the growth of bacteria. While special detergent may cost more than bargain soap, it will pay for itself over time through the water and energy savings you’ll achieve with a high-efficiency machine. Follow instructions on the detergent package, and don’t use more than recommended. Your washer manufacturer may also have specific instructions and recommendations on detergent use that can be found in your washer manual or manufacturer website.

Running a preventive maintenance wash cycle will help take care of bacterial growth and residual soap. Once each month — or more frequently if desired — run a hot water wash with no clothes and use bleach or white vinegar instead of detergent. Both liquids rinse clean, so you need not worry about lingering bleach or vinegar smells. Alternatively, you may use a commercial washing machine cleaning product during the maintenance wash.

Wet clothes can cause mold and mildew to grow rapidly, so always remove clothes from the washer and transfer them to the clothes drier as soon as they are finished. If you’ve forgotten to remove them, wash the clothes again and add white vinegar or color-safe bleach for colors, vinegar or standard bleach for whites. This second washing will eliminate bacteria and odor from the clothing and washer.

When the Power Goes Out

With powerful thunderstorms becoming more frequent, here’s a list of things to do when the power goes out

  • UNLESS there is an emergency, do not call 9-1-1. That number should ONLY be used if there is an emergency, or if someone is injured or in danger.
  • If there are downed power lines in your neighborhood, do not go near them. Call 9-1-1 first to report the emergency. Then call your electricity company. Check to make sure that no children or animals go near the wires – they could still be electrictrified and are lethal.
  • A rolling blackout during warm weather will most likely occur during the evening peak hours of 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Because it may be dark in rooms with no lights, keep flashlights handy. To avoid a power surge when the electricity returns, turn off computers, TVs, stereos and other unnecessary electronic equipment at the power strip.
  • Drink plenty of water. You will perspire and lose water, so stay hydrated.
  • Dress to stay cool – wear layers that can be removed if you get hot.
  • Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer as much as possible. Food inside should stay cold for hours if the door is left closed.
  • If you’re hot, take a cool shower to reduce your body temperature.If you have a pool or a neighbor with a pool, it’s s good time to take a dip. The cooler water will bring your body temperature down and help you to stay cool.
  • Check on your elderly neighbors or those who may have medical conditions or use medical machinery that operates on electricity. Make sure they are dressed appropriately and are staying cool.
  • Drive carefully. Remember that traffic signals may be out in a rolling blackout. Consider each intersection to be a four-way stop and drive defensively.

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Weed Pollen Allergies

Late summer and fall is the season for weed allergies, with pollen levels usually peaking in mid-September. Pollen counts for weeds are at their highest in the morning, usually between 5 and 10 a.m. Weed pollens are the most prolific allergens of all. A single ragweed plant, for instance, can produce a billion pollen grains in a single season. Not only that, but wind-carried grains may travel for hundreds of miles. Weeds responsible for the most allergies include:

  • English plantain
  • Lamb’s Quarters,
  • Ragweed (which affects nearly one in five Americans)
  • Redroot Pigweed
  • Sagebrush
  • Tumbleweed (Russian thistle)

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Grass Pollen Allergies

Late spring and summer is when grass allergy season kicks in. There are more than 1,000 species of grass in North America, but only a handful cause serious allergic reactions in humans. Grass allergy sufferers must take extra care when doing yard work—especially when mowing the lawn. If possible, finding someone else to do that particular job or wearing a mask is the best preventative measure.

Grass should be cut short as well or, ideally, replaced with a ground cover such as bunch, dichondra, or Irish moss that doesn’t produce much pollen. Grass is easily tracked indoors as well, so vacuuming frequently may also help relieve symptoms. The most common grass allergens include:

  • Bermuda grass
  • Johnson grass
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • orchard grass
  • rye grass
  • sweet vernal grass
  • Timothy grass

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Bee Stings – Part 1

Bee stings are a common outdoor nuisance. In most cases, bee stings are just annoying, and home treatment is all that’s necessary to ease the pain of bee stings. But if you’re allergic to bee stings or you get stung numerous times, you may have a more serious reaction that requires emergency treatment. You can take several steps to avoid bee stings — as well as hornet and wasp stings — and find out how to treat them if you do get stung.


Bee stings can produce different reactions, ranging from temporary pain and discomfort to a severe allergic reaction. Having one type of reaction doesn’t mean you’ll always have the same reaction every time you’re stung.

Mild Reaction

Most of the time, bee sting symptoms are minor and include:

  • Instant, sharp burning pain at the sting site
  • A red welt at the sting area
  • A small, white spot where the stinger punctured the skin
  • Slight swelling around the sting area

In most people, swelling and pain go away within a few hours.

Moderate Reaction

Some people who get stung by a bee or other insect have a bit stronger reaction, with signs and symptoms such as:

  • Extreme redness
  • Swelling at the site of the sting that gradually enlarges over the next day or two

Moderate reactions tend to resolve over five to 10 days. Having a moderate reaction doesn’t mean you’ll have a severe allergic reaction the next time you’re stung. But some people develop similar moderate reactions each time they’re stung. If this happens to you, talk to your doctor about treatment and prevention, especially if the reaction becomes more severe each time.

Severe Allergic Reaction

A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to bee stings is potentially life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. A small percentage of people who are stung by a bee or other insect quickly develop anaphylaxis. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the throat and tongue
  • A weak, rapid pulse
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Loss of consciousness

People who have a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting have a 30 to 60 percent chance of anaphylaxis the next time they’re stung. Talk to your doctor or an allergy specialist about prevention measures such as immunotherapy to avoid a similar reaction in case you get stung again.