Clever Uses for Common Household Items
It can’t be beat for firing up the outdoor grill, but did you know that charcoal is also a great do-it-yourself odor eater? Place a few pieces in a bowl of perforated plastic bag, and put it by the cat litter box or in any musty room to absorb odors. It’s also a great moisture absorber—put it in your toolbox to prevent tools from rusting.
White vinegar can be used to bring sticky old nylon paintbrushes back to life. Heat up some vinegar and soak a dirty brush for a half hour to soften the bristles, then rinse in hot soapy water. A soak in vinegar can also help remove corrosion and rust from metal—just the ticket for loosening frozen nuts and bolts.
Don’t throw out those foam packing peanuts! They’re great to use in potted plants as filler beneath the soil. They improve drainage and reduce weight. You can also cut them in pieces and attach them to the back of framed pictures as padding to protect walls.
The next time you replace an old or broken vertical blind, save a few of the old slats. They come in handy when painting around corners and trim to help keep paint lines clean, in places where painter’s tape won’t fit.
How to Remove Candle Wax From Upholstery,
Wood or Carpet
To remove the wax from carpet or upholstery, you will need a plain brown paper bag and a steam iron. Paper grocery bags work well.
1. Cut open the brown paper bag so it lies flat.
2. Lay the brown paper bag on the affected carpet, with any printing away from the carpet.
3. Set the steam iron on a moderate setting and plug it in. Allow it to warm up.
4. Once warmed up, place the steam iron on top of the brown paper bag over the wax spot. Move the iron back and forth over the wax spot. The iron should never come in direct contact with the carpet, only the paper bag. As the wax warms up it will begin to absorb into the paper bag.
5. When a dark spot appears on the bag, move a dry area of the bag over the wax spot and continue to move the steam iron over the area.
6. When no further wax absorbs into the bag, you have removed the wax. To remove candle wax from wood, apply a plastic bag filled with ice to the spot, until the wax is brittle enough to crumble off. If some candle wax remains, place an ink blotter on the area and apply a hot pressing iron to the top of the blotter
Timesaving Household Cleaning Tips
Don’t let little things pile up
By doing a little bit at a time you stop the small stuff from becoming a big time job. Start by shredding unwanted mail and tossing newspapers and magazines after you’ve read them. Keep dirty clothes and used towels off the floor and in the hamper where they belong. And don’t go weeks at a time without doing a wash, wiping down the stovetop or cleaning the toilet.
Do more than one chore at a time
Gang up on your chores and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get them done. Why just sit there once you’ve put your laundry in, when you can mop the kitchen, vacuum the bedroom or scrub the shower? Put the clothes in the dryer and you can do some dusting or wipe down the appliances. You can even fold the laundry while you watch your favorite show.
Cut the clutter
The less stuff you have lying around, the easier and quicker it is to keep your house clean. Don’t let things pile up on the dining room table. Make sure you have a convenient place for your monthly bills and multiple remotes. Keep your house keys and hats on hooks by the door, and every year, clean out your closets of clothes that don’t fit or umbrellas that don’t work. Clean the kitchen while you cook. You don’t have to wait until the meal is finished to start cleaning up the mess. While the food is cooking, wash any used pots and pans, cutting boards, measuring cups and greasy countertops. By getting a jump on your cleaning now, you won’t have a huge stack of stuff in the sink waiting to be scrubbed after the meal.
Six Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Home
Humming This Spring
Spring has sprung, and the evidence is blooming all around us. After you take it all in, it’s time to get busy. Now is the perfect time to take care of some routine home maintenance to get your household organized for spring and keep it running smoothly and efficiently right through summer.
Winter weather can wreck your home's exterior, potentially causing an assortment of damage. Now that it's getting warmer, get outside and take a look around:
1. Clean all gutters
Poor or improper drainage can cause water damage to your home. Check for loose and leaky gutters and ensure downspouts are positioned to drain away from your home's foundation. Clear debris from all gutters and downspouts.
2. Inspect the roof
Your roof is your home's primary defense against the elements. Visually inspect the roof, looking for signs of warping, cracking and loose shingle or tiles. Examine flashing around chimneys, skylights and vents. Damaged covering and flashing should be replaced. For roof areas too high to inspect from the ground, hire a licensed roofer to perform the inspection and make necessary repairs.
3. Check seals around windows and doors
Cold weather can cause seals around windows and doors to loosen, harden and crack. Inspect these areas for damage and make repairs as needed. This will help reduce summer cooling costs and keep water out of your home. While you’re at it, don't forget to take a look around inside. Just because you have been indoors most of the winter doesn't mean your home's interior isn't in need of a seasonal once-over. Here are a few areas that merit your attention:
4. Service your home's cooling system
No one wants to be caught in the dog days of summer without air conditioning. It's a good idea to have your home's cooling system checked yearly, about one month prior to regular summer usage.
5. Check smoke detector batteries.
This is an easy and potentially lifesaving task. Take time now to change the batteries in all your home's smoke detectors. Better safe than sorry.
6. Spring cleaning for the disposal
When you think about everything that goes down the kitchen sink, a good yearly cleaning for the disposal is definitely in order. Simply feed a tray of ice cubes through it while running cold water.
Take the Sneeze Out of Spring
Pollen season is officially upon us. And if you’re like many people, you or someone you live with is feeling the effects. Just in time for spring, here are five ways you can make your home a bit more comfortable for allergy sufferers.
Change that air filter
If you haven’t changed your home’s heating and cooling system filter since winter—or longer—then now is the time. You may even want to upgrade to a higher-rated filter capable of trapping finer particulates like pollen
Upgrade your vacuum cleaner. A thorough spring vacuuming is a great way to get rid of dust and other allergens that may have accumulated in your home over the winter. If you have an older vacuum cleaner, however, consider upgrading to a new model with a HEPA filter that will help remove more particulates from the air. Some models also accept HEPA replacement bags.
Check allergens at the door
To prevent pollen from entering your home by hitching a ride on your shoes, have everyone take their shoes off when they come in. Your floors will stay cleaner too.
Vent to the outside
Check your kitchen and bathroom ventilation fans. If they vent into your attic instead of sending air outside, that can lead to mold growth. Upgrade the vents so they vent moist air—and allergens—to the outdoors.
Replace your shower curtain.
If you have a vinyl shower curtain, inspect it for mold growth. If you see any discoloration or if it’s developed an odor, it’s time to replace it.