Features

Easy-to-Clean Products

Check out these kitchen and bath products that make cleaning a breeze
By Ellen Sturm Niz
September 20, 2010

Cleaning is not fun. And as the kitchen and bathroom are potentially the messiest rooms of the house, cleaning them is usually most needed—and most dreaded. Luckily, the advent of antimicrobial surfaces and other “self-cleaning” materials are making these spaces less and less of a hassle to disinfect. Repelling or resisting bacteria, dust, mold, mildew, stains, waterspots or fingerprints, these products are making kitchens and baths easier to keep clean.

“In general, toilets with antimicrobial agents in the coating have fewer stains and odors than untreated bowls,” said Ann Porter, CKD, of Kitchen Studio of Naples, Inc. in Florida. “Faucet aerators enhanced with antimicrobials experience slower growth of bacteria, mold and mildew. Antimicrobial caulks degrade slower and stain less than untreated brands.”

“Antimicrobial” can be a broad term and confusing term, however. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the use of antimicrobials and the types of claims the manufacturers can make. Typically, “antimicrobial” products have been made or treated with a chemical substance approved and registered by the EPA to inhibit growth of bacteria, molds and fungus. Although these agents do not keep items entirely clean, they do aid in colorfastness, reduce staining and odors and decrease the breakdown of the material, increasing its durability.

Manufacturers are only permitted to claim that the product itself is protected from such microbes, not that the antimicrobial properties of the treated article will protect people. The EPA is concerned that if consumers do not understand the benefits of antimicrobials in products, they may alter their basic hygiene practices and place themselves and others at risk.

“The key point to remember is that products treated with antimicrobial agents are not classified the same as a product intended to destroy bacteria, mold or algae,” said Porter. “Those products are registered with the EPA as antimicrobial pesticides.”

Debate has arisen over whether or not antimicrobial products are safe. “The level of risk depends on who you ask,” said Porter. “Think of the pesticide as a topical antibacterial cleaner. Some people believe anything stronger than vinegar or hydrogen peroxide is harmful. Lysol and chlorine bleach are considered pesticides and are regulated by the EPA. Antibacterial cutting boards, towels, sponges and other goods are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission but the EPA must grant permission for the use of an antimicrobial agent in these products.” More studies are underway to assess whether antimicrobial products are potentially harmful.

In the meantime, following is a roundup of some products that promise to ease the pain of keeping a clean kitchen and bathroom.

[1] Silestone Countertops
With its built-in antimicrobial product protection, Silestone quartz countertops are a clean surfacing option in the kitchen and bath. Antimicrobial product protection inhibits the growth of microbes, such as odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew. While antimicrobial product protection does not protect users from food-borne illness and is not a substitute for normal cleaning practices, it does result in countertops that are easier to clean and stay clean. In addition to being a safer surface for areas where food preparation takes place, Silestone has received certifications from the National Sanitation Foundation and the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute for protecting the quality of indoor air because it has low-to-no emission (off gassing) of toxic chemicals. For more information, visit www.SilestoneUSA.com. [2] Nano-tec-USA’s NanoBionics Architectural Products
NanoBionics treatments can make various surfaces in a kitchen or bath virtually self-cleaning. Nanotec-USA has products for treating stainless steel, marble, granite, composite countertops, most solid surfacing countertops, ceramics (including painted ceramic-coated appliances), glass, grout and plastic found in many bath and shower set-ups. The companky’s NanoBionic treatments work by anchoring specially engineered Bionic nanoparticles directly with the molecules of the treated surface to create a permanent protective nanoscopic mesh, similar to the skin of a shark. These tiny new structures provide water- and dirt-repellent features as seen in nature. The treated surfaces will be easy to clean or, in many cases, self-cleaning. For more information, visit www.Nanotec-USA.com. [Editor’s Note: No photo available.]

[3] Miele Chef Microwave with Clean Touch Steel
Miele’s Chef Series microwave oven features Clean Touch Steel technology, a specially treated steel that virtually eliminates fingerprints and scratches while letting the natural stainless steel shine through. The oven also wipes clean with a damp cloth, reducing the need for special polishes or potentially toxic chemicals in the home. The complete Miele oven collection comprises convection, speed, steam and microwave ovens. Matching lift doors with Clean Touch Steel are also offered to hide small appliances such as mixers and toasters. For more information, visit www.MieleUSA.com. [4] Blanco’s Silgranit II Sink
Blanco’s Silgranit II sink, now available in a warm biscotti color, is made of a patented formula of 80 percent granite and 20 percent acrylic resin. This combination is stronger than granite alone and is completely nonporous and scratch- and stain-resistant. Silgranit II is resistant to temperatures over 536 degrees Fahrenheit and stands up to acid, chips and impact from dropped plates, pots and more. It also defies the effects of hard water deposits and wipes or rinses clean. Extremely hygienic and safe for preparing food, its indelible colors will never fade. Featuring the look and feel of natural stone, Silgranit II comes in six colors and 21 shapes, including double bowl, super single bowl, bar and prep sink styles. For more information, visit www.BlancoAmerica.com. [5] Top Knobs
Top Knobs unique sealed finish gives its product an even look that will never age or show wear. The oils from one’s hands can change the color of a finish over time, causing heavily used knobs and pulls to look different from others in a kitchen or bath as their finish is rubbed off. A proprietary sealed finish protects the light patina and natural distressed look so every knob maintains its color and finish—and is backed by a lifetime warranty. One of Top Knob’s latest collections is the Aspen Collection, which is handcrafted from art-grade bronze ingots, with 180 elements ranging from $8 to over $200 per piece. For more information, visit www.TopKnobsUSA.com. [6] DuPont Corian Solid Surfaces
Low-maintenance DuPont Corian solid surfaces are nonporous, do not require sealing and—with proper, easy cleaning—do not promote the growth of mold, mildew or bacteria. Corian solid surfaces can also be renewed—stains and scratches can be easily removed to restore it to its original appearance. They can be used for numerous applications throughout the home, including countertops, backsplashes, vanity tops, interior wall surfaces and tub and shower surrounds. Designing coved backsplashes and integrated sinks with Corian makes for seamless surfaces in the kitchen and bath, eliminating hard-to-clean joints. The material is available in more than 100 colors, including tranquil (shown). For more information, visit www.Countertops.DuPont.com. [7] LG Induction Cooktop
LG’s cooktops with induction technology deliver efficient cooking times and fast speed-to-boil performance that are not only more energy efficient, but also offer a cleaner, safer cooking environment. Because only the pan is heated and not the ceramic cooktop surface, spillovers do not “cook” or burn onto the cooktops. With just a quick glance of the centralized Intuitive SmoothTouch Controls, users can see which heating elements are activated and easily wipe off spills or spots on the cooktop that are not in direct contact with pans while the cooktop is in use. For more information, visit www.LG.com/us/appliances.
[8] Whirlpool Resource Saver Double Oven Range

Whirlpool’s Resource Saver Double Oven Range fits in the same cutout space as a regular-sized range and provides the benefits of a double oven without the built-in cost. In addition, the double oven is equipped with an eco-friendly SteamClean option, which spot cleans either oven in 20 minutes and is recommended for cleaning light spills on the bottom of the oven cavity. Simply pour 1 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the oven cavity, close the oven door and push the SteamClean button. At the end of the cycle, wipe the bottom of the oven, easily removing oven soils. When used routinely, it reduces the need for frequent self-clean cycle use, which can create a strong odor. In addition, the range’s eco-friendly Schott Ceran cooktop minimizes cleanup with a smooth glass surface that withstands intense heat without cracking or chipping. www.Whirlpool.com. [9] Kohler Flipside Showerhead
In addition to four distinct showering sprays in one, Kohler’s four-sided Flipside Showerhead features a MasterClean sprayface. This type of faucet sprayface has silicone nozzles that withstand mineral buildup and can be cleaned simply by rubbing the sprayface with your fingers. For more information, visit www.kohler.com. [10] Sterling Plumbing’s Shower Doors
Sterling has developed CleanCoat technology, a factory-installed special surface treatment that prevents dirt and water minerals from collecting on surfaces. Included on all Sterling Frameless shower doors, CleanCoat prevents droplets from streaking and keeps the glass doors looking cleaner longer. The company’s door tracks also take the sweat out of cleaning. Traditional shower doors run on a “W”-shaped track with grooves and channels that tend to collect water and soap scum buildup, making them difficult to keep clean. By contrast, Sterling bypass shower doors—both framed and frameless—feature smooth or semi-smooth tracks that are devoid of these crevices, therefore reducing buildup and debris. In addition, the doors offer maximum access to the bottom tracks, making the latter easy to wipe clean. For more information, visit www.SterlingPlumbing.com. [11] Sherwin-Williams Duration Home Interior Acrylic Latex Paint
Duration Home Interior Acrylic Latex Paint from Sherwin-Williams is ideal for high-activity and high-moisture areas like the kitchen and bath. The washable latex coating allows most stains to wipe clean with water, and its antimicrobial formula resists mildew growth. Available in a variety of finishes and colors, the paint is also low in VOCs and odors for better indoor air quality. For more information, visit www.Sherwin-Williams.com. [12] Native Trails Copper Sinks
The natural ability of copper to reduce the risk of spreading bacteria makes sinks and tubs, like those handcrafted of recycled copper by Native Trails, perfect for helping to disinfect a kitchen or bath. Scientific evidence now shows that copper kills 99 percent of bacteria, including super bugs like MRSA, within two hours of contact. Research also has shown that H1N1, commonly referred to as the swine flu virus, likewise does not survive on copper. Based on a review of the studies and its own independent lab tests, the EPA earlier this year announced that copper has antimicrobial properties, capable of killing bacteria as well as viruses. For more information, visit www.NativeTrails.net. [13] American Standard’s EverClean Systems and Surfaces
American Standard offers the EverClean surface on sinks, toilets and toilet seats, as well as the EverClean system in its whirlpool and airbath systems. EverClean is a silver-based, permanent surface that inhibits the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew. On the toilets and sinks, it makes the surface super-smooth, repelling dirt and toiletries from accumulating, so the products stay cleaner longer, even after years of use. The EverClean finish comes standard with the Champion 4 series, Cadet 3 series and FloWise toilets. The EverClean whirlpool system is unique to American Standard whirlpools and airbaths. It is molded directly into the water circulation components to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on the pipes. For more information, visit www.AmericanStandard-US.com. [14] Delta’s Addison Kitchen Faucet
Delta’s Addison kitchen faucet has several features that make life easier on the cleaning front. If hands are dirty, Touch2O Technology lets you turn the water on with a tap of the wrist or elbow anywhere on the spout or handle. The Touch-Clean system features spray holes made of soft rubber, allowing the user to easily wipe away mineral buildup with a wipe of the finger. The Addison also features DIAMOND Seal Technology, which uses InnoFlex waterways as well as the DIAMOND valve. This lead-free waterway system ensures that water entering the faucet does not come in contact with metal contaminants. It also provides protection from leaks and drips by reducing the number of potential leak points and is easier to install. Harnessing the durability of diamonds, the leak-free valve lasts up to 10 times longer than the industry standard. For more information, visit www.DeltaFaucet.com.

[15] Bemis Toilet Seat
Bemis Manufacturing Co.’s redesign of its popular plastic toilet seat is now available in a premium version that incorporates the Easy•Clean & Change system and DuraGuard, an antimicrobial agent integrated into the seat. The Easy•Clean & Change system allows the seat to be lifted off with a simple twist of the hinge cap for easy cleaning (or replacement) while the mounting bolts stay in place. By inhibiting the growth of bacteria that cause stain and odors on seats, DuraGuard not only promotes better hygiene but also delivers a cleaner, fresher feeling. For more information, visit www.BemisMfg.com.

[16] Lasertron Tuxedo Cabinets
Lasertron’s new Tuxedo collection of etched stainless-steel cabinets and doors are rustproof and virtually maintenance-free. A fingerprint-resistant brushed finish option makes cleaning even easier. The etched patterns of linen, leather grain and all-over diamonds or swirls can be enhanced with glass inserts and LED lighting. For more information, visit www.LasertronDirect.com.
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