How to Stop Pet Stains from Straining Your Family Events

carpet(BPT) – While there is no doubt that pet owners love their furry friends, it’s fair to say that dogs and cats can easily take over the home. Whether you’re dealing with a sick cat or attempting puppy potty training, you can quickly find yourself in a bacteria breeding ground.

Eighty percent of pet owners admit to masking stains instead of remedying them, according to a new survey from Woolite(R) Carpet & Upholstery. This includes flipping cushions, rearranging furniture, covering furniture, entertaining guests and visitors in other parts of the home and dimming the lights.

But you don’t have to hide stains. With a few easy steps, you can provide a clean and healthier home for the entire family:

* Set boundaries: Pets function best when they have consistent access to specific rooms. Rather than changing the “allowed” areas from day to day, determine which rooms are “pet-friendly” and stick to them. Close doors and set up pet gates to make sure boundaries are clear. It’s wise to have at least one pet-free room in case guests are affected by pet allergies.

* Wipe paws: For pets that go outside, it’s handy to have a towel by the door to wipe paws all year round. Not only does this cut down on tracking outside dirt and debris in the home, but it’s also important to reduce the amount of moisture sitting in a dog or cat’s paw.

* Sanitize pet messes: While many household cleaners reduce the visible signs of pet messes (including vomit, feces, urine and blood), they don’t always sanitize the affected area. Woolite(R) Advanced Pet Stain & Odor Remover + Sanitize kills 99.9 percent of Enterobacter aerogenes (ATCC 13408) and Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 6538) (Staph) on carpets (not for use on Polypropylene/olefin or wood fibers) and soft surfaces, and eliminates tough pet odors for a cleaner, fresher home.

* Brush pets regularly: To reduce the amount of pet hair on your floors and furniture, it’s important to brush pets regularly. Try to make it a daily chore and do it outside if possible.

* Use specific linens: Assign linens for cleaning up pet messes and then only use them for that purpose. The same goes for towels and linens that are used in pet kennels or to shield furniture from pet hair.

* Clean with frequency: While it seems like common sense, it’s easy to push off cleaning tasks that don’t seem urgent. Include the entire family by assigning pet cleanup duties to everyone. One person can even take the pet for a walk or distract him while the others are completing chores. Items that should be cleaned on a weekly or biweekly basis include food dishes, pet beds and toys.

* Don’t neglect the yard: Make a habit of picking up after your dog on a daily basis and guests won’t have to tip toe around your yard. Dog owners who dread yard pickup can pay for a service that will do so on a weekly basis.

Owning a pet doesn’t mean the clean state of a home needs to be sacrificed. By keeping up with these tips, you will be able to spend more quality time playing with your pet.

Turn Kitchen Time into Quality Time: Three Upgrades

kitchen(BPT) – The average American spends an hour a day in the kitchen preparing food and cleaning up afterward, according to the American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Add in the time it takes to put groceries away, load and unload dishwashers, organize cabinets and pantries or just hang out, and you spend a whole lot of time in your kitchen.

But do you really enjoy that time? Whether cooking is your favorite activity or you would rather clean the bathroom, the livability and usability of your kitchen can directly affect how you feel about the time you spend there.

If you’re considering a kitchen renovation – among the most popular and profitable of all home improvements – keep in mind the value of upgrades that will enhance the efficiency, practicality and beauty of the space. This type of improvement will not only pay off at the time of resale, but can improve the time you spend in your kitchen.

Here are three key kitchen upgrades that can elevate the appeal and usability of your kitchen:

Improved Natural Lighting and Ventilation

The positive effects of natural lighting on mood are well documented. If your kitchen is small and dark, it can feel dingy and tired, no matter how new your appliances or shiny your granite countertops. Consider adding natural light sources such as skylights and roof windows. Not only can these natural light sources improve the feel of your kitchen, they can decrease the need for artificial lighting.

What’s more, if you opt for an Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered fresh air skylight, like those made by Velux, you can improve your kitchen’sbath ventilation as well. These skylights create a chimney effect that passively vents fumes, odor, humidity and cooking smoke from the kitchen without the need for a noisy, less efficient exhaust fan. Adding energy efficient solar blinds can allow you to control the amount of sunlight that enters your kitchen, closing the blinds to keep the room cooler in summer and opening them to admit more warming light in winter. Operated by remote control, solar skylights and blinds, as well as the installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. Visit to learn more.

Upgraded Fixtures

Sinks and faucets are functional essentials for a kitchen, but they can – and should – also make a design statement. Replacing a basic, dated faucet and swapping out an older sink can have a significant impact on the overall look and utility of a kitchen – for a fraction of the cost of grander renovations.

It’s possible to find new sinks that fit virtually any design taste. Stainless steel provides a sleek, modern look while delivering outstanding durability. Apron sinks, which come in a variety of materials, blend well with a rustic design theme. Undermount and integrated sinks eliminate unsightly edges on countertops. You can also find a variety of basin styles in virtually every material, from single to double basins and prep sinks.

Whatever sink you choose, be sure to accent it with a high-tech faucet. Pull-down faucets make cleaning and filling pots a breeze, while touch-free faucets allow you to turn the flow of water off and on without ever touching the faucet itself – thereby avoiding the spread of germs. A vast array of colors, styles and handle types ensure you can find an upscale faucet that improves usability and looks great in your kitchen.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

Appliances are a kitchen element well worth a little extra investment. Considering how much the average American family uses their refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and stove, improving the usability and efficiency of these appliances can both elevate your enjoyment of the kitchen and save you some money in the long run.

In the typical American home, appliances represent 13 percent of the household’s total energy consumption, according to the Department of Energy. Replacing older appliances with newer, more energy-efficient models can reduce your energy costs. For example, replacing an older refrigerator with an Energy Star certified appliance could reduce your energy costs as much as $300 over the lifetime of the refrigerator, according to the Department of Energy.

What’s more, newer appliances offer many of the high-tech features that make life in the kitchen easier, from touchscreen interfaces and temperature controls on dishwashers to Wi-Fi enabled refrigerators. For more kitchen ideas visit

Simple Steps Can Keep You and Your Family Healthy

20811762(BPT) – Pay attention to the news headlines and you may be wondering if you and your loved ones are safe from unseen perils like germs, bacteria and viruses – even in your home. There are things you can do to protect your health but it’s also good to know where germs linger. Some of their hangouts may surprise you.

According to WebMD, there are likely more germs in your kitchen sink than in your toilet. You’re probably using a bowl cleaner to disinfect your toilets, but is the kitchen sink getting equal treatment?

Your salt and pepper shakers dispense salt and pepper, but they also dispense cold viruses and other nastiness. A University of Virginia study tested the salt and pepper shakers of 30 adults who were showing signs of a cold, and every one of those shakers tested positive for the cold virus.

Now add your TV remote (also the dirtiest thing in your hotel room), your toothbrush, your computer keyboard and mouse, and your bathtub, and you have a good list of the dirtiest places in your home. And your floors? According to University of Arizona researcher Charles P. Gerba, PhD, they can have up to 4,000 times more germs than a toilet seat.

So, what can you do to reduce your risk of exposure to germs? Here are a few ideas to help reduce the risks and keep everyone healthy.

* Wash your hands. Your hands come into contact with each of the surfaces mentioned above and they can move viruses and bacteria to your nose, eyes and mouth. This means it’s important to keep them clean. It may seem like a long time to be washing them, but the 20-second rule is for real. Hand sanitizers are useful but not a substitute for good hand washing.

* Sanitize commonly used items. Remember the germs on that salt and pepper shaker? Wiping them off is very beneficial, as is more frequent cleaning of the kitchen sink. And for a deeper clean, consider using products that use UV-C light to kill germs, bacteria and viruses on surfaces. Verilux offers several sanitization tools that use UV-C light to kill up to 99.9 percent of these undesirables – quickly and easily – without chemicals. The 21-inch CleanWave Sanitizing Wand, for example, can be passed an inch above the area you wish to sanitize, be it the keyboard, the remote or those salt and pepper shakers.

“UV-C is a type of ultra-violet light with a shorter wavelength than visible light,” says Verilux President Nicholas Harmon. “The light penetrates a microorganism’s cell membrane and damages its DNA. This prevents growth and kills the organism. These products are the ideal chemical-free cleaning solutions for people who are concerned about their environment, particularly in light of recent headlines.”

* Cough smart. Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze is just a good habit. But doing so with your hands is a bad health habit. Next time you feel the urge to cough or sneeze, use the bend of your elbow instead. This will keep germs from transferring to your hands.

* Keep the carpets clean. Millions of allergens and germs camp in the carpets and floors of your home. Evict them with the CleanWave Bagless Vacuum and its portable version, the CleanWave Portable Vacuum. These devices use UV-C light to kill germs, viruses and bacteria, as well as microscopic pests like dust mites and flea eggs. You can use the portable vacuum to kill bed bugs before they hatch on mattresses.

* Avoid close contact. You don’t want to be anti-social but a little separation this time of year can be beneficial to your health. Avoid sharing items such as water bottles, glasses or food with others, and don’t be afraid to sit a seat apart whenever you can. You’ll be healthier in the long run for doing so.

Germs and allergens are part of everyday life, but that doesn’t mean they should be able to dominate yours. Keeping your home clean and practicing good health habits can reduce your risk of getting ill and keep you and your family healthy and happy. To learn more about the products available from Verilux, visit

The Beauty of Wood Turns Homes into Architectural Masterpieces


fire(BPT) – Ever since humans stopped dwelling in caves and started living in huts made of tree branches, wood has been an indispensible structural and decorative residential material. Man’s house-building relationship with wood – historically, culturally and experientially – is deep, long and universal. In part that’s because wood is abundant, economical, durable and flexible. But our enduring love affair with wood is also due to the fact that, like us, each piece of timber is unique – its color, texture and grain are as individual as a human personality, so we keep discovering new aspects of its beauty and versatility to delight in.

Architects, designers and homeowners are creatively using wood’s inimitable qualities to bring character, warmth and distinction to different parts of the modern home. In Denver, Colorado, Sun Mountain, Inc., a manufacturer of custom doors and flooring, used select-grade alder – a hardwood with a tight grain and few knotholes – for a traditional-style double front door. The elegantly rustic design, which combines solid alder with glass panels and metal hardware, is set off by the house’s dry-stacked limestone walls.

“The double-pane glass doorlites are hermetically sealed for insulation against the Colorado winters,” says Ed Wright, Sun Mountain’s vice president of marketing. “And the door handles are bronze with a rubbed oil finish.”

The total effect is at once substantial and low-key – country style that’s sophisticated but with a sense of welcome that is so essential for a front entrance.

An entry hall is an equally suitable space for the beguiling charms of hardwood. Behind the custom poplar front door of a new residence in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania – a collaboration between Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Ltd., and E.B. Mahoney Builders, Inc. – the hall is a fine example of traditional, millwork-intensive style. Featuring a beautifully proportioned staircase, painted poplar paneling and wide-plank flooring, it was inspired by the work of architect, R. Brognard Okie, who designed many fine Colonial Revival houses in Philadelphia area between 1900 and 1945. The hall’s sense of Old World graciousness is further enhanced by the use of locally sourced red oak for the floors and stair treads.

“The 24-inches to 32-inches wide planks come from a Bucks County, Pennsylvania, mill run by two brothers in their seventies,” says builder Edfront door Mahoney. “The workshop was surrounded by huge old-growth oak trees from which the planks were cut – they had to be ordered months in advance. The boards are plain – not tongue and groove – and stained with a satin finish. We left them in the house for a month to stabilize before installing them.”

Wood can be used to create a sense of intimacy and ease and is demonstrated in the library of a very large retreat in Lake Keowee, South Carolina. Not only is the fireplace surrounded by quarter-sawn oak mantle and trim, the whole room is paneled in the same hardwood, which is also used for the coffered ceiling and floors. The library’s intimate scale and traditional detailing were inspired by a ship captain’s quarters – a subtle reference to both the home’s lakeside location and the style in which the house is built.

Designed by Atlanta-based architect Stephen Fuller and constructed by Gabriel Builders, Inc., the imposing house is a playful take on the grand Shingle Style made famous by New England’s “summer cottages.” But Fuller made sure to include a number of smaller, cozier rooms where the family would feel snug and comfortable, and he often used wood to achieve this. Such is the case in the library, where the wonderful familiarity of the oak makes the room a tranquil, reassuring haven.