The Best Pet Hair Vacuums for People with Allergies

If you have one or more pets, vacuuming is probably a big part of your cleaning routine.  If you have allergies, there’s no question about it.  Keeping your pet well groomed certainly helps, but a good vacuum cleaner is definitely a must.  While many think that pet hair itself is behind allergy symptoms, the actual trigger is a pet’s dander, or dead skin, rather than the hair itself.  Pet hair does carry dander, but (just like with people) shedded skin in the environment isn’t limited to shedded hair.  Rather, it simply becomes part of the general household dust we all strive to control.  There are lots of companies out there claiming they make the best vacuum cleaner for people with pet allergies.  Sorting through the hype and understanding the truly important qualities in a good vacuum cleaner can help steer you in the right direction.

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The biggest feature of any vacuum cleaner that contributes to its ability to help control allergies is the filtration system.  Good filters help trap more particles than machines with lesser filters.  The best pick-up power doesn’t do much for allergen reduction if the allergens are just re-released into the air, free to settle right back down on various surfaces.  The best filters have multiple layers or levels and are accompanied by a system designed to trap a high percentage of lifted particles.  There are even vacuum cleaners that use water to trap dust.  The water weighs the dust down enough to keep it from being recirculated.

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to models with the best filtration systems, take a look at airflow and suction ratings.  Some mistakenly think that the best vacuum cleaners are the ones with the most powerful motors.  Truthfully, though, motor power is only a part of the equation.  Since a machine’s airflow is directly related to its suction power, you need to look for machines with the most efficient airflow.  A powerful motor combined with great airflow certainly leads to an effective and efficient vacuum cleaner, but the best motor on the market is a waste of money if airflow is compromised by air leakage along pathways or at joints, which, in turn, compromises suction.  A machine with excellent filtration and airflow can mean you’ll be able to get away with vacuuming a little less often without sacrificing allergen control.

Since pet dander behaves like regular “dust,” it can certainly make its way into crevices and crannies and find a way to settle under furniture.  Finding a machine with attachments that let you readily tackle blinds, baseboards, and tight spaces is a must.  If you don’t want to move furniture every time you clean, be sure to look at the profile of any models you consider.  If you can’t find one that suits you and has a low enough profile to go under furniture, make sure you choose one with attachments that can reach all the floor space under your sofa or bed.  Historically, canister vacs with hoses were more likely to come with more attachments designed to reach into and under tight spaces when compared to uprights.  Today, though, many uprights are being manufactured with more attachments than ever before, bridging that historical gap.  There are even models that convert from upright to canister with very little effort.  This feature can be handy since it combines the easier maneuverability of an upright with the farther-reaching ability of a canister.

Another feature of many newer vacuum cleaner models is the ability to go from carpet to bare floors.  Making sure whatever machine you choose is designed for your floor types is critical.  The roller brushes designed to brush the dirt up from below a carpet’s surface aren’t always effective when it comes to getting into the fine lines of tile or other hard floors with any texturing or seams.  Likewise, heads designed to work on bare floors generally won’t be able to get dirt trapped deep down in your carpet.

Taking a few minutes to better identify your needs and establish preferences can make choosing a new vacuum cleaner a little less tedious and can even help you save money by helping you separate hype from practicality.


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How to Save Money on Food

These days, saving money however we can is more important than ever.  Since so much of our budget is allocated to food, it makes sense to look at ways to spend less on meals.  Obviously, eating in more often than out is a great start.  When eating in, cooking from scratch is usually cheaper than going with pre-packaged meals.  Real home cooking can also be much healthier and tastier, too.  Below are a few tips to help shave precious dollars off of your food bill.

Shop for sale items and use coupons


Looking through the weekly ads of multiple grocery stores can be time consuming, but can help you save money.  It might not be efficient to visit several stores for groceries each week, but figuring out who’s got the best deals on the items you need most can be a cost saver.  It might mean visiting a different store each week, but that gives you the opportunity to compare regular prices and learn what in-store savings programs are available.  Taking a half hour or less each week to look for coupons in the Sunday paper is also still a great way to save a few bucks, especially if you use those coupons on items that are on sale.  There are more and more apps these days that can help you find the best deals in town, and many of these apps are free.

Buy in bulk


It might not always be practical to buy all of your food in bulk, but items that freeze easily and that you’ll use in a reasonable amount of time might be worth buying in larger quantities.  If chicken is a staple in your house, buying the whole chicken is definitely cheaper provided you actually use the whole chicken.  Many supermarkets offer ready-to-eat rotisserie chickens for well under $10.  A whole chicken can provide several meals, especially if you pick the bones clean–consider chicken salad for lunch.  If you ever buy chicken stock, you’ll probably be surprised at how easily and cheaply you can turn that rotisserie chicken carcass into super tasty homemade stock.

If you do a lot of home cooking, you probably go through a bunch of onions, bell peppers, celery, etc.  Instead of buying just one or two of each for a recipe, think about buying larger, more cost effective bags.  You can then chop and freeze them in bulk.  You’ve saved money on the front end and a little time on the back end.

Items like rice, pasta, and even spices are also much less expensive if you buy them in larger quantities.

Make a list–and stick to it

Making a list can be a big money and time saver in the supermarket.  Plan your meals for the week based on what you have on hand and what’s on sale.  Use this meal plan to make your list.  Shopping less often also helps save you money.  If you try to limit shopping trips to once a week, you’ll have a longer list, which will fill up your cart faster.  Since a fuller cart costs more money, you’ll be less likely to further drive up your bill by making impulse purchases.  And, of course, never go shopping on an empty stomach.

Use the internet

The internet is full of so many recipes for making your own salad dressings, sauces, marinades, and condiments that you’re sure to find some money saving do-it-yourself versions of your favorites. You can also find any number of meal plans designed to let you make more meals for less money and with less effort.

Consider adding more eggs and beans

If money is so tight that even buying meat can seem like a luxury, consider adding more eggs and beans (dry, not canned) to your menu.  Eggs and beans are still relatively inexpensive, super versatile, and great sources of lean protein.

With these tips as a starting point, you’re well on your way to making your food budget go farther without feeling like you’re sacrificing anything.