The 8 Biggest Hiding Places for Dust, Uncovered

Dust is everywhere. It’s a fact of life. No matter how diligently you clean, there will always be a few dust mites lurking in the darkest corners of your home. Knowing where to find them is key to keeping your place as neat and tidy as possible.  

1. Carpeting and Rugs 

Dust mites burrow deep within the fibres of carpeting. In addition to vacuuming regularly, you should steam clean your carpets every few months to help get rid of them. If someone in the home suffers from reoccurring allergies, it may be worth replacing the carpeting with hardwood or tile flooring. 

2. Pillows 

Bed linens are prime real estate to dust mites, contributing to itching, sneezing, and other irritating allergy symptoms. To combat them, it’s recommended that you wash your pillowcase in hot water at least every three weeks and replace the pillowcases twice a year. 

3. Curtains 

You surely take time to wash your clothes, linens, and throw blankets — but when was the last time you gave your curtains a clean? When the windows are open, the curtains act sort of as a filter that catches airborne dust and pollen. It’s no surprise that curtains can fill up with dust by the end of the summer!  

4. Hanging Clothes 

When you bring your summer clothes out of hibernation, be sure to put them through the washing machine before you put them on. Dust often settles in the folds of clothes that linger at the back of the closet. You can prevent this problem by storing your off-season clothes in a plastic bag or storage bin. 

5. Ceiling Fan Blades 

The ceiling fan is a magnet for dust even when in motion. The simplest way to clean it? Use an old pillowcase, sliding it over each fan blade to prevent dust from flying all over. 

While you’re at it, don’t forget to switch the fan rotation from clockwise to counter-clockwise come spring! It will help keep the room cooler. 

6. Baseboards and Moulding 

It’s easy to overlook these tiny surfaces, but baseboards and molding can catch a lot of dust, especially in the corners. Wipe them down seasonally. 

7. Gaps Between Appliances 

That little space between your stove and countertop? You can bet it’s full of dust. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty tough to clean. Unless you have a vacuum attachment that fits into the space, your best bet is to move the appliance away from the wall in order to clean beside and behind it. You can also purchase counter gap covers that minimize the amount of dust and debris that gets there in the first place. 

8. Air Ducts 

Air ducts allow your HVAC system to deliver warm air throughout your home in the winter, and cool air in the summer. All the air that passes through your air conditioner also goes through the ductwork. And those ducts can get surprisingly dusty, even if you change your air filter regularly (as you should). 

It’s not just dust that accumulates in the ducts. Cobwebs, mould, and airborne allergens like pollen can also settle in.  

Not only does dust pollute the air, but it forces your furnace and air conditioner to work harder, bumping up your energy bill. 

Some people try to clean the duct themselves, but there’s simply no way to clear out all that debris with a standard vacuum alone. It takes a specially-designed truck-mounted vacuum system, like the ones our home comfort specialists employ, to really give your ducts a thorough clean. You can learn more about our approach here. 


Image: Dolgachov

5 Laundry Room Tips for Cleaner Clothes

Have you noticed your clothes aren’t getting as clean as they used to? It could have to do with your laundry habits — or, your machine could be due for a dryer vent cleaning. Whatever the cause, these laundry room tips can help you get your clothes looking spotless and smelling fresh again.  

1. Use Less Detergent 

More detergent does not always equal cleaner clothes. Using too much soap or detergent can leave soapy residue behind on the fabric. To make matters worse, the excess detergent can clog up your washing machine and impede water from draining properly, resulting in a pile of wet, smelly clothes.  

So, how much detergent should you use? That depends on the manufacturer’s instructions. The detergent maker often recommends you use more than necessary, so you should follow the machine rather than what it says on the packaging. 


2. Clean Your Washing Machine 

Like the dishwasher, the washing machine is one appliance we often forget to clean. However, you should run a cleaning cycle at least once every six months to get rid of the soap residue that builds up inside. If your washing machine does not have a built-in cycle for cleaning, try adding a cup of white vinegar to hot water cycle (with the machine empty of clothing, of course). 


3. Have Your Dryer Vent Cleaned 

If your clothes are taking longer to dry (or are still damp at the end of the cycle) the problem likely rests in the dryer vent.  

The dryer vent is designed to push moist, hot air out of the machine so your clothes can dry. Over time, this vent gets clogged with lint, which makes it harder for the dryer to expel air as it should. Worse, it raises the temperature inside the machine, which makes the flammable lint a highly serious fire hazard. 

Many people are shocked to see how much lint gets trapped in the dryer vent. Just check out these before and after photos we took while performing a dryer vent cleaning in the Greater Toronto Area! It’s no surprise lint build-up is the number one factor contributing to dryer fires. 


4. Don’t Over-stuff the Machine 

Doing laundry only when you have a full load of clothes to clean is a tried-and-true way to save energy. But there is a catch: if you try to wash and dry too much at once, your appliances will not do the job properly. 

You have to leave enough room inside the washing machine for soap and water to circulate through the clothes to loosen and rinse away dirt. Otherwise, you will end up with a less-than-clean load of laundry that will require a second rinse. 

The same is true for the dryer. Dryers tend to use a lot of energy, so it is wise to dry a single big load instead of a several smaller ones. However, a single cycle may not be enough to get your clothes dry if you overdo it, negating the energy you might have saved. 


5. Sort By Fabric Type 

You know not to wash your best white shirt with your lucky red cap. But what about fleece sweaters and yoga pants? Stretchy fabrics like spandex are prone to attract and cling to dryer lint, so it’s best not to wash them with garments that shed. While you’re in the process of sorting your lights and darks, it pays to separate clothes by fabric type as well. 


Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning in the Greater Toronto Area 

Having your dryer vent cleaned has the dual benefits of helping your clothes dry faster and protecting your family from a hidden fire hazard. If your machine needs a clean, AtlasCare provides professional dryer vent cleaning services in the Greater Toronto Area.  

Request a quote or call us toll-free at 647-952-2012. 


Image: Vadim Guzhva

7 Unique Ways to Deal With Spring Allergies

If you’re one of the 3 million Canadians who suffers from seasonal allergies, you might feel like you have tried everything to make your symptoms manageable. Unfortunately, dust and pollen don’t give up easily. It might be time to try one of the more unconventional ways to deal with spring allergies.

From pet baths to duct cleaning, we’ve gathered a few unique allergy solutions you may not have tried.

1. Use a Hygrometer

One of the best ways to deal with spring allergies is to make your home a haven from allergens. That means dealing with one of an allergy sufferer’s worst enemies: the dust mite. Not only are many of those allergic to pollen also sensitive to dust, but the presence of dust mites can make spring allergy symptoms even worse.

There is a direct relationship between the prevalence of dust mites and the humidity inside your home. Dust mites thrive when the humidity is 50% or higher; the lower it goes, the lower the dust mite population.

Try measuring the humidity with a hygrometer. If it is above 50%, it may be worth investing in a dehumidifier.

Smart thermostats like the ecobee4 and the iComfort can also monitor the humidity inside your home.

2. Bathe Your Pets More Often

Pollen has a knack for clinging to hair and fabric. If your pets spend lots of time outdoors (or a brief time in a forested area), those irritating pollen particles can enter your home via your pet’s fur.

Short of keeping them indoors, there is no easy way to prevent your pets from picking up pollen. What you can do is wash your pet’s feet and brush their fur before they re-enter your home. Giving your pets more frequent baths can also help.

3. Give Your Walls a VOC-Free Makeover

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemical particles that can originate from a variety of household products. While not harmful when the products are used as intended, VOCs can aggravate seasonal allergies and other environmental sensitivities. One of the most common sources of household VOCs is latex paint, which emits potentially harmful fumes into the air as it dries. If a home makeover is one of the things on your spring to-do list, consider using a low-VOC or non-VOC paint. Many of the big-brand paint companies market these alternatives under an eco-friendly banner.

4. Wash Your Pillows

Fair warning: you might want to skip this point if you’re on lunch break.

Seasonal allergies are made worse by the presence of household allergens like dust mites. These microscopic pests thrive in warm places with a steady supply of their favourite food: skin flakes. Thus, pillowcases are common habitats for dust mites. No wonder you wake up with a headache!

One expert recommends washing your pillowcase every three weeks and cleaning the pillow itself every three months. Replacing the pillowcase every six months is another smart allergy solution. Plus, you may sleep sounder knowing your pillow is not crawling with dust mites.

5. Upgrade Your Air Filters

If you have central air or heating, your HVAC equipment will come with air filters that help to prevent airborne allergens from re-circulating through the air ducts. It is important to clean (or replace, if they are single-use) these filters at least once every three months to maintain energy efficiency. Those who suffer from seasonal allergies may also benefit from an air filter upgrade.

All air filters have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or MERV rating, which gauges how effectively it stops contaminants. The higher the rating, the fewer dust and other particles can pass through it.

Upgrading to a higher-MERV air filter can be an excellent way to deal with spring allergies – if your HVAC system can handle the air flow, that is. We recommend consulting the manufacturer’s guidelines before making the switch.

6. Put Stuffed Toys in the Freezer

Plush animals and other fuzzy toys are other places dust mites can hide. If the toys are not washing machine-friendly, there’s another way to deal with this spring allergy irritant: freezing them.

Place the toy in a freezer bag, then freeze it for 24 hours to eliminate any dust mites living on its plush surface. You can do the same for other fabrics that are not machine-washable.

7. Get an Air Duct Cleaning

Central air conditioning systems distribute cool air throughout your home via the air ducts. If those ducts are full of dust mites, that refreshing breeze will be bad news for your allergies.

You would be surprised just how much dust those passages can hold. When our technicians are out duct cleaning in Toronto and the surrounding region, they remove an average of six pounds of dust per home!

Duct cleaning is only necessary every few years, but it can make a world of difference for those who suffer from spring allergies. Feel free to contact us for a quote for duct cleaning in Toronto, Oakville, Mississauga, and other parts of the GTA. We use a NADCA-certified, truck-mounted vacuum and compression system to get the job done right.



Image: Daria Minaeva

We are 85 Years Young!

You wouldn’t know it from our youthful energy, but 2017 is the 85th anniversary of AtlasCare.

This is a big milestone for our company. Over the coming year we will be offering some 85th anniversary specials so keep an eye out for them. We have had one employee, Dick Thomas, our vice president of the installation division, who has now been with the company over 40 years. (And he’s only 42!) He has worked in almost every role in the company from parts driver to executive and everything in between. I know many of you know Dick as he has been in your homes. Join me in recognizing special people like Dick Thomas who have made AtlasCare the special company that it has been since 1932.

Wait! 5 Steps to Take Before Switching on the Air Conditioner

Signs of spring abound in the city. The temperature’s rising, the days are growing longer, and the snow has finally melted away.

Know what that means? Soon, it will be time again to fire up the air conditioner! But before you do that, you should ensure the unit is ready to operate efficiently.

Take these steps before switching on the air conditioner for the first time this spring.

Before You Begin

As a safety precaution, you should always shut the power to the air conditioner off before you inspect it. Turn off the condenser at the main panel or pull the outdoor disconnect for the unit on the outside wall.

Step 1: Inspect the Air Vents

The system must be able to draw and expel air unobstructed to run at peak efficiency. Anything blocking the air vents inside or outside the home will force the air conditioner to work harder and consume more energy.

Before switching on the air conditioner, give the air vents around your home a once-over inspection. Make sure all are opened.  Remove any blockages, open any dampers that are closed or move any furniture over grilles to make way for air to flow freely.

Step 2: Change or Clean the Air Filter

Once you’ve dealt with obstructions for the unit, it’s time to inspect the air conditioner’s filter.

Like a furnace, your air conditioner uses the same air filter to keep dust, debris, and airborne allergens (like pollen) from entering the unit. The air conditioner filter gets dirty fast, especially if you share your home with a few furry friends!

Most manufacturers recommend replacing the filter (or cleaning it, in the case of a reusable filter) at least once every three months. The top of the season is a great time to do this. Starting the year with a clean filter will help ensure the air conditioner performs at its best from the beginning.

Step 3: Check the Condenser

Next stop: the condenser unit. Pull on your rubber boots and head outside to assess the situation.

Located along one of the exterior walls is the air conditioner condenser unit, which resembles a fan in a large, metal box. Leaves and branches often accumulate in the condenser over the winter. Some unlucky homeowners have even found squirrels or rodents taking up residence there!

In any case, this debris will have to come out before you turn on the air conditioner. Debris around or inside the condenser can clog the coils, and anything that obstructs the flow of air will cut down on efficiency.

Once you’re sure the unit is off, you may detach the grilles to carefully remove debris and clean the coils. Be careful not to bend the delicate fins and coils. You can also wash the condenser with a hose and nozzle but do not use a pressure sprayer. Any stubborn debris that remains after a gentle cleaning is best left to a professional.

If there are trees and shrubs around the condenser unit, it’s worth investing in a protective cover that will keep it clean and tidy over the winter.

Step 4: Spot Wear on Pipes or Wiring

While you’re outside, take a moment to inspect the lines that run from the house to the air conditioner condenser. Are there any areas where insulation appears to be worn or missing? Are any frayed or damaged wires?

If it’s just the coolant line missing insulation, you may be able to repair it yourself with insulation tape or insulated pipe sleeves. However, any issues beyond that are worth a service call. Leave the air conditioner off until you’ve had it inspected.

Step 5: Test It Out!

Vents? Check. Filter? Check. Condenser? Check. If you don’t spot any issues, it’s time to turn on the breaker and set the thermostat to cool.

To test whether your air conditioner is working, go outside to check the condenser again. You should see the fan spinning and hear the compressor humming, and there should be warm air coming out of the unit.

Within 10 to 15 minutes, you should begin to feel the air inside your home drop to a comfortable temperature.

The Easier Route: Book a Tune-Up

It’s never too soon to book an air conditioner tune-up ahead of the cooling season. We’ll check each component of your cooling system to ensure it’s ready to perform when the weather gets hot.


Image: geographica