London’s NO2 Readings – What Do the Figures Reveal?

The recently released Mercer 2018 Quality of Living City Rankings listed London only in the 67th place for sanitation. The sanitation rankings are based on multiple criteria including the city’s air pollution, sewage, waste removal, water quality and availability, and infectious disease. Despite that, the Mercer says London is ranked so low mainly due to “persistent air pollution and traffic congestion”. London Cleaning System company therefore decided to investigate whether London’s air is really so bad.

Official Figures for Air Pollution Encouraging but NO2 Remains a Major Concern

Looking at official data on air pollution in London, the company researchers found that air quality in the UK capital has improved significantly over the recent years, with the city authorities reassuring the residents that most of the most dangerous pollutants are not “at levels that affect human health”. On the other hand, the city authorities also admit that some air pollutants remain a concern including nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which, according to the 2015 study by King’s College London, was responsible for an estimated 5,900 premature deaths in London in 2010. The levels of the harmful gas dropped significantly since then but in 2018, the UK capital exceeded the EU yearly maximum for NO2 as early as the end of January.

Monthly NO2 Averages Within “Low” Index but Levels Vary Greatly by Time of Day

To find out more about NO2 pollution, London Cleaning System company decided to further analyse the official data, looking back as far as 2010 when longterm exposure to the harmful gas was blamed for nearly 6,000 premature deaths. The company’s researchers noticed that while NO2 monthly average levels at roadside were considerably higher than in background, they didn’t exceed the “low” index level not even once by January 2018. But time of day charts revealed that NO2 levels vary greatly during the day and most importantly, always peak at the same time of the day.

NO2 Levels Always Highest During Morning and Afternoon Rush Hours

Charts presenting NO2 concentrations in London at different time of day in January 2018 show a very predictable pattern. The levels begin to rise just before the morning and afternoon rush hours, and peak around 8 to 9am and 5 to 6pm. Just like the monthly averages, the NO2 concentrations are higher at roadside than in background at all times of the day. Despite that, they remained within “low” index level, reaching a maximum of 60.3 ug/m3.

This is considerable improvement since January 2016 when NO2 levels reached 75 ug/m3 or more during both morning and afternoon rush hours. Decrease of NO2 levels was also observed in London background, dropping from 50.9 ug/m3 that was a maximum measured in January 2016 to slightly above 40 ug/m3 as much was the maximum mean reading in January 2018.

Why are the Results of NO2 Readings During Rush Hours Important?

Readings of NO2 concentrations during morning and afternoon hours are important for two reasons. First, they provide strong evidence that traffic is the main source of NO2 pollution. This means that cutting the number of dirty vehicles, which is the main strategy of the city authorities to tackle the problem, will bring further improvement in NO2 pollution levels – of course, if successful. And second, it means that Londoners who are living at roadside, especially those living along the most congested roads, should keep their windows closed during the morning and afternoon rush hours to minimise the risk of respiratory diseases and other health problems associated with NO2 pollution.

Simple Ways to Protect Your Carpet and Extend Its Lifespan

Regular vacuuming and cleaning up spillages as soon as possible is all that is necessary to keep your carpet clean and look like new for years to come, right? Not exactly. It is extremely important to vacuum your carpet at least once a week and ideally, deal with those spillages immediately. But unfortunately, it’s not enough. The good news is that you can keep your carpet look and feel like new without spending much time, effort and money. Here is how:

1. Take off your shoes

Dirt is the greatest threat to your carpet. It won’t only make it look uninviting but it will also cause damage to the fibres, leading to a noticeable change of colour and texture. It is therefore of key importance to reduce the amount of dirt that gets on your carpet to minimum. And taking off your shoes when entering your home is one of the easiest ways to do so. If – for any reason – taking off shoes isn’t an option, you are advised to consider buying a large doormat to trap dirt from shoes and keep it off your carpet.

2. Keep those paws clean

If you have pets, you are advised to consider keeping a towel at the door to wipe your dog’s paws when returning from outside. If you own a cat, this obviously isn’t an option. However, a mat at the cat flap or door will make a huge difference. It is also a good idea to trim those claws or at least install a cat tree, scratching post or something similar to discourage your cat from scratching your carpet.

3. Prevent direct sunlight exposure

Believe it or not but direct sunlight exposure can seriously harm your carpet as prolonged exposure to UV light can eventually lead to discolouration, most often in the form of fading. To prevent this from happening, you are recommended to try to limit your carpet’s exposure to direct sunlight by installing blinds, using curtains or some other method to block sunlight.

4. Move furniture or/and use furniture coaters

Furniture can cause a serious damage to your carpet in the form of indentations which can become permanent, especially if furniture is left on the same place for years. For that reason it is highly important to move your furniture from time to time – just an inch or two to the left or right every few months is all that is necessary to prevent those dents from becoming permanent. It is also a good idea to consider furniture coaters which help minimise furniture dents by distributing the weight more evenly.

5. Have your carpet professionally cleaned on a yearly basis

Just because you vacuum your carpet on a regular basis, that doesn’t mean it’s clean. Unfortunately, even the most powerful vacuum cleaners cannot remove the dirt and dust that over time accumulate at the base of carpet. Besides making the carpet to look and smell dirty, the accumulated dirt and dust can eventually also become a potential health hazard, triggering allergies, asthma attacks and other health problems. To keep your carpet clean to the base and prevent it from jeopardising your health, you should have it professionally cleaned once a year or more frequently if you have pets.

Sharing With Friends – What Are The Pros/Cons? Things You Should Know Before Moving in With A Friend

As the number of tenants increases, so too does the cost of living in rented accommodation. According to research by Hometrack, rental costs in London have soared 45% since 2007, forcing more and more people to share accommodation. The trend is strongest among 18-34 years olds with 70% of flat sharers in the capital falling into the age bracket. However, it’s not just young people who are sharing their homes. In the past five years the number of 55-64 year olds living in flatshares has gone up 343%, while the number of over 65s sharing their homes has increased by a staggering 65%.

A result of this growing trend is that more and more people are having to select a housemate to share their property with. Although not everyone gets a say in who they live with, those who do are often tempted to move in with a friend in the hope that existing familiarity will lead to a happy, harmonious home. But is this really the case? And what are the pros and cons of moving in with a mate?

Pro: You Already Know Each Other

If you’ve ever moved in with strangers, you’ll know how awkward those first few days and weeks can be. If you move in with a friend, you won’t have to walk on eggshells and can dive straight into having fun. You should also have a reasonably good idea of whether or not you’ll get on well together as housemates, something that’s pretty much impossible to tell from a 20-minute interview with a stranger.

Con: Confronting A Friend Can Be Difficult

Although you may already have an idea of the challenges living with a specific friend can present, it doesn’t make confronting them any easier. If the person you choose to cohabit with turns out to be messy, loud or inconsiderate, confronting them could put a strain on your friendship as well as your living situation.

Ideally, you should try to set the ground rules before you move in, that way you both know exactly where you stand if disagreements do arise. Discuss how you both feel about cleanliness, having people to stay, food sharing and other common issues that can cause conflict in shared houses. The more open and honest you can be at this point, the more chance you have of flatshare success.

Pros: You Get To Hang Out With A Friend Everyday

If your house share works out well, you’ll get to hang out with a friend every day. Nights in will suddenly be nights spent with mates and your home may well become the centre of your social circle. If you’re the sort of person who enjoys having people around and prefers to spend time with others than alone, living with a friend could be the perfect solution.

As one of the most common reasons housemates fall out is cleanliness, a good way to avoid disputes is to hire a cleaner. Increasingly affordable, reliable cleaners can be found by taking a look at the London Cleaning System site or by getting in touch with a member of our team.

How Green Is Your London Borough?

In June last year, London mayor Sidiq Khan, triggered the capital’s emergency air quality alert ahead of the soaring temperatures combining with the deadly air pollution in the city. London has one of the worst air pollution records in the EU, which isn’t surprising with 4/5 major airports in and around the city along with the large number of vehicles on the road.

Pollution, is one thing, recycling and general waste is another. Recycling in the UK fell for the first time ever in 2015, which is a worrying stat and will likely mean that the UK will miss the EU targets of 50% recycling rates by 2020. A trend which is also reflected in London.

All of which does make you question, just how green is your London borough?

Here at LCS, we’ve explored this very question by creating an infographic that looks into exactly what makes London green. We’ve calculated a weighted index of multiple factors such as recycling, air pollution and much more. We’ve sourced the most up-to-date datasets from the likes of government resources such as London Datastore and independent bodies such as Green Alliance. Each factor, for each borough, was given a score and a total score then attributed to every London borough. Find out the results below:

How green is your borough LCS Med-res V3

Five Of The Most Expensive Properties In London

One of the most expensive cities in the world, London is home to some of the priciest properties on the planet. Over the past few years, prices have risen dramatically, pushing some luxurious homes well over the £100m mark. To give you an idea of what your millions could get you on the London property market, we took a look at the five most expensive properties ever sold in the capital.

  1. One Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, £140m

In 2010, a six-bedroom apartment in Knightsbridge development One Hyde Park became the most expensive residential property ever sold in the capital when it was snapped up for a jaw-dropping £140m. The property is set over two-floors and boasts bullet-proof windows, a panic room and panoramic views across London. The monthly service charge, which runs into the tens of thousands, gives residents access to an expansive gym, an exclusive spa and even a private cinema.

  1. One Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, £136m

The One Hyde Park development was always aimed at the super wealthy so it’s no real surprise the address occupies the top two spots on our list. Sold for just £4m less than its neighbour, this three-story penthouse was purchased in 2011 for £136m. The property comes complete with a wine cellar, access to room service from the neighbouring Mandarin Oriental and a host of other luxurious amenities.

  1. 8 St James Square, City of Westminster, £115m

Until One Hyde Park shattered the capital’s property ceiling, the priciest property sold in London was 8 St James Square which was purchased off plan for a staggering £115m in 2008. Just a stone’s throw from Green Park, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly and Buckingham Palace, the penthouse apartment occupies one of the most exclusive addresses in the capital.

  1. Doughty House, Richmond, £100m

Although the price of the final sale is unconfirmed, Doughty House in Richmond could well be the capital’s fourth most expensive residential property. Originally built in 1796, the eight-bedroom house comes with an 18-seater cinema, a dining room with space for 200 guests and 48 chandeliers. It went on the market earlier this year for an impressive £100m.

  1. Four-Bed Flat, Knightsbridge, £90m

According to the UK Land Registry, one of the most expensive residential sales ever recorded was for a four-bed flat in London’s exclusive Knightsbridge. The penthouse property was purchased by Capital FM owner Ashley Tabor for a cool £90m. Tabor plans to knock through to the neighbouring flat in order to create a 10-bed super home for his family to enjoy. To give you an even better idea of just how pricey this purchase was, the stamp duty alone would have come to £13.5m, enough to buy around 60 average UK homes.

To make your home fit for a millionaire, or even a billionaire, take a look at the fantastic range of high-quality cleaning services available on our site.

Do I Need To Do End Of Tenancy Cleaning?

When you’re moving out of one home and into another, the ‘to do’ list can grow quickly. From arranging for your post to be forwarded and sorting out rent payments to buying new furniture and organising your housewarming party, the list of things that need to be taken care of can seem endless.

Spending hours cleaning every corner of your old home can, therefore, feel like time wasted. After all, why scrub that oven until it’s sparkling if you’re never going to use it again? However, if you don’t put in a bit of time and money to restore your property to its former glory, you may not get your full deposit back from your landlord. This makes the end of tenancy clean one task you can’t strike from your ‘to do’ list.

How Can I Ensure I Get My Deposit Back?

The main reason tenants invest in a professional end of tenancy clean – or do the work themselves – is so that they get their deposits back. Before you moved into your rented property, your landlord or agent would have carried out an inventory. This will list the items in the home and the condition of the furnishings, walls, carpets, windows, and anything else in the property. When you move out, they’ll compare the inventory with the current state of the property to see if any damage has been done over the course of your tenancy.

If the property is dusty, dirty or grimy, your landlord may well take money out of your deposit to pay for a professional end of tenancy clean. You might also be charged extra for damage and wear and tear. If you take care of the clean yourself before you move, or arrange for professionals to come in and do the work, you’ll be much more likely to get your full deposit back and save money in the long run.

Do I Need To Leave My Rented Property In Good Condition?

Although the main motivation for doing an end of tenancy clean in most cases is getting the deposit back, a lot of renters also take pride in their home and want to see it passed onto the next tenant in good condition. Giving every room in the property a once over and removing any dust or dirt that’s built up over the years will help to ensure the home is as good as new for the next inhabitants.

Is A Reference From My Landlord Important?

Another important thing to consider when moving out of a rented property is that a lot of letting agents ask for references from past landlords. If you’ve previously left a rented property in poor condition, this could come up in future checks and may harm your chances of securing a new home in the future.

Love it or hate it, end of tenancy cleaning is an integral part of living in rented property. Check our end of tenancy cleaning offering and book it online.

The world’s most valuable carpets

The world’s most valuable carpets

Now, we all know that laying a new carpet can be expensive, especially if you want a quality weave and a luxurious finish. But if you thought your new flooring was pricey, spare a thought for the owners of these five costly carpets, any one of which would bust the budget for your home renovation.

 

  1. Clark Sickle-Leaf Kerman Carpet – $33.8m

If you know anything at all about carpets, it will come as no surprise at all that the most expensive rug ever sold originated in Persia. Auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York in 2013, the Clark Sickle-Leaf Kerman Carpet is thought to have been made in Kerman, southeast Iran, in the first half of the 17th century. Previously owned by wealthy industrialist and US Senator William Clark, the carpet was bequeathed to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1926.

When it went under the hammer at Sotheby’s, the exquisite carpet attracted a huge amount of attention from collectors around the world. Following a bidding war, it finally sold for $33.8m, three times the previous auction record for a carpet.

The Clark Sickle-Leaf Kerman Carpet

Picture credit: Sotheby’s

  1. Kirman “vase” carpet – $9.6m

Prior to the record-breaking sale of the Clark Sickle-Leaf Kerman Carpet, the top spot was held by the Kirman “vase” carpet. Sold at Christie’s in London in 2010, the mid-17th century rug is the earliest known example of the iconic ‘herati’ pattern, a design that went on to become incredibly popular among Persian carpet makers. Before the auction, the carpet was estimated at $307,600 to $461,400, however the rug’s quality and history caught the imagination of buyers and it ended up selling for a staggering $9.6m.

  1. Mughal Millefleurs “Star Lattice” carpet – $7.7m

Made in northern India in the late 17th or early 18th century, the Mughal Millefleurs “Star Lattice” carpet was once owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II and displayed at the family’s West 57th Street residence in New York. Estimated at $2.4m to $3.2m before the auction, bidding had reached a whopping $7.7m when the hammer finally came down at Christie’s in 2013.

The Mughal Millefleurs “Star Lattice” carpet

Picture credit: Christie’s/Wikimedia Commons

  1. Louis XV Savonnerie carpet – $5.7m

At number four we find our first European entry on the list. Sold by Christie’s Monaco on behalf of Karl Largerfeld, the carpet was made in mid-18th century France and designed by Pierre-Josse Perrot. Its fascinating history, intricate design and excellent condition helped the carpet to achieve an impressive $5.7m when it went under the hammer in 2000.

  1. Pearl Carpet of Baroda – $5.548m

Last but by definitely no means least, the Pearl Carpet of Baroda carpet was just beaten into fifth place with a value of $5.548m. Made from silk and fine deer hide, the rug is intricately embroidered with strings of natural pearls and coloured glass beads. If that weren’t enough, the eye-catching design also features approximately 2,500 table-cut and occasional rose-cut diamonds set in silver, as well as rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, all set in gold.

Even if your carpet doesn’t have a million dollar price tag, it’s still well worth looking after. With regular cleaning and careful care, your carpet may just become an antique as well one day.

How safe are your average household cleaning products?

Cleaning Products 2

Cleaning the home is a job most people don’t want to do, and when it comes to the products we use we assume they must be safe. We know there are toxins in there but is it right to be concerned? Well, yes.

In fact, in many reduce your risk to cancer pages, including this one from Breast Cancer UK, they advise using ‘safer cleaning products’ as a way of reducing the exposure to some of the hazardous chemicals found in household cleaners.

FDA statement on antimicrobial chemicals

Worryingly, the FDA released a statement earlier this year about how many household products do in fact contain antimicrobial chemicals, such as triclosan, that are banned.

There are 19 banned in total, however, it is difficult to know which products contain these chemicals because manufacturers are not required by law to tell us. Personal care products do fall under the jurisdiction but not all household products.

Here are a few tips to help with prevention of over-exposure to some of the bad chemicals:

  • Use non-toxic products – Sounds obvious but by checking labels you can see which toxins are in the products and how environmentally friendly they are. Or, you can make your own.
  • Get fragrance free products – Products with fragrances often contain dangerous chemicals that you don’t want in the house.
  • Find an alternative to bleach

Eight toxins you want to avoid in the home

So, with a few ideas in mind, what are some of the toxins you should be looking out for to keep the family as safe as possible?

  • Phthalates – This is a classic toxin to find in fragranced household products. Sometimes the companies don’t even have to disclose that this is in it because it’s part of a fragrance but it can be found in air fresheners, dish soap and even toilet paper.
  • Perchloroethylene (PERC) – A neurotoxin, this is commonly found in dry-cleaning along with spot removers or carpet cleaning. If you do use a dry-cleaning service, see if there’s a wet cleaner who can do this with non-chemical solvents.
  • Triclosan – One of the named FDA chemicals, this is common in dishwashing detergents and hand soaps.
  • Quarternary Amoonium Compounds (QUATS) – Common in fabric softener and most cleaners labelled ‘antibacterial’.
  • 2-Butoxyethanol – This is usually found in your multipurpose cleaners for things like the kitchen or window cleaning.
  • Ammonia – One that everyone knows, it doesn’t leave streaks once used so is perfect for the ideal finish when polishing bathrooms, jewellery and glass. But it is dangerous.
  • Chlorine – Not really one that you can stay away from due to modern life but in the home it’s found in toilet bowl cleaners and things like mildew remover.
  • Sodium Hydroxide – Found in oven and drain cleaners, it’s corrosive and can cause burns if it gets in contact with your skin.

How to stay safe with household cleaning products

The easiest way to do this is through buying cleaning products that have been developed to be safe and eco-friendly. By doing this you know that they are free from chemicals and safe for both your health and the environment. Here are 10 of the best natural cleaning products to look at.

What Is A Smart Meter And Should I Get One?

Introduced in 2009, the idea of a smart meter in the home was to remove utility meters than need manual reading and replace them with smart meters. They were supposed to remove any element of doubt, ensure readings were up to date and simplify billing that would save people time and money – and they were to be a property requirement.

There have been problems with the rollout, and while the idea was that every home would have one by 2020, only seven million have been installed so far. Not only that but you will also have the option to reject it, something that one in five households seemingly intend to do according to a recent comparethemarket.com survey.

So what is a smart meter and how do they work?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HpNsqKG0wY

Why is the government getting involved?

The Government sets overall energy policy. This means that the idea for smart meters was not made by the suppliers, and the implementation of it all, along with the growth of renewable and nuclear power, is done at the cost of the consumer.

Do you need one?

Ultimately, you don’t need one. The traditional method of meter readings is writing them down, and these are then submitted online. The difference now is that this will all be done automatically for you, ensuring accurate bills and potentially getting some free ideas to monitor or lower energy usage throughout the home.

We seem to be using more and more technology by the year, let alone the decade, and as our energy use changes we need to ensure everything is up to date. This should help everyone reduce their energy bills over time.

The case against smart meters

The Telegraph recently published an article on six reasons to say no to a smart meter that covered some key objections to the meter. These included:

  • They make it harder to switch providers
  • Estimated bills and billing errors still happen
  • You need good mobile signal in your area
  • The interface is “difficult to understand”
  • No evidence so far that it saves time or money
  • They could pose a security risk

We are in the early stage of using smart meters in households up and down the country so we can’t expect everything to be working to capacity but some of the evidence for these early considerations is concerning.

Should I get a smart meter?

We’ve looked at a few pros and cons, and it is now going to be a choice rather than a requirement for households to have a smart meter. It would seem that there are amendments that need to be made but they are useful in showing you in real terms, your live energy costs throughout the home.

For more interesting articles like this one, check out our blog here.

How Much Do Cleaners Get Paid In The EU?

Cleaners are a huge part of our service industry here in the UK and are a massive part of our economy. Interestingly, cleaners apparently earn more in 10 other European countries than they do in the United Kingdom, according to the latest research. A study from London Cleaning System showed that the average wage of a cleaner is £7.27 an hour, significantly less than the top players across the continent – and even the rest of the world.

With a large proportion of the workers in the British cleaning industry being from an EU country, it begs an interesting question as to why pick the UK with lucrative offers elsewhere like in Luxembourg and Belgium? Moreover, with Brexit looming, the disparity in pay in the UK with some European countries as well as political uncertainty makes it an even more interesting question.

Our infographic not only looks into the averages of the cleaners but also national minimum wages as well as the unemployment rates of EU countries. See for yourself, find out how much cleaners get paid and more, right here.

Cleaning Infographic