Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Your Baby Gear

It’s a universal truth: kids are messy. Whether it’s a juice box jet stream to the white romper five minutes before pictures or an uncapped marker that’s bled straight through her favorite blankie, there is a zero percent chance you won’t spend some portion of your day cleaning when you have kids. But cleaning baby clothes and gear should be treated with a little bit of extra care, and doing what your mom did—dousing toys with bleach, no doubt—isn’t always the best option (don’t tell her we said that). Here are a few of our favorite tricks for cleaning baby apparel and gear in the safest, easiest and most effective ways possible.

     

Laundry: Getting Those Stains Out

Spills, drops, spit-up…it’s all a part of being a parent. Your little one’s clothes take a beating day in and day out and it’s not uncommon for parents to do a handful of loads of laundry each week. Here are a few quick tips on washing your baby’s clothes to bring them back to life after they’ve been put through the wringer, so to speak.

Pick a Gentle, Effective Laundry Detergent—Babies have exceptionally sensitive skin, and the wrong detergent can cause breakouts and rashes. The key is to find a hypoallergenic laundry detergent that also works well. For tough stains, you might need to wash once with a tough detergent and then wash a second time with a gentle version. Use a detergent that’s free of fragrances, dyes and harsh chemicals to prevent allergic reactions.

Give Stains the Individual Treatment—Not all stains are created equal. Some are food. Some are craft supplies. And some are things that should end up in a diaper. Be sure that you treat stains based on what they are. The American Cleaning Institute has a great guide for how to get out specific stains. Just make sure you’re only using baby-safe, non-toxic solutions when stain-fighting.

Wash Everything Before Use—While most new clothing and bedding is safe to use right out of the packaging, it’s important to note that these items may come into contact with chemicals, particles and odors that could be unpleasant for baby. To ensure that your little one doesn’t have a negative reaction, be sure to wash any brand-new baby bedding and clothing before use.

Wash in Hot Water—For those items that get particularly gross, like your burp cloths and bibs, be sure that you’re wiping away any particularly stubborn stains as they happen and then washing them in hot water. For particularly tough stains, consider soaking bibs in a mixture of water and white vinegar.

On-the-Go: Cleaning Car Seats, High Chairs and Strollers

Our baby’s strollers, high chairs and car seats are also likely to be inundated with all sorts of gross things that could lead to stubborn stains. But because they are usually made of a mix of materials, including fabric, metal and plastic, it can be a bit of a chore to get them totally clean. Here are some great tips for cleaning these essentials inside and out so they look like new again.

Cleaning the Cloth Portion—One of the best ways to clean fabric strollers and car seats is to do the occasional sweep out to remove any crumbs or surface stains that could be removed with a quick vacuum. Once you’ve swept away the top layer of dirt, you can use a cloth dampened with an all-purpose non-toxic cleaner. Better yet, if these items have removable covers, simply wash them in the washing machine with a gentle, baby-safe detergent.

Cleaning Plastic and Metal—It’s easier to clean the plastic and metal parts of your baby gear because they can be quickly wiped down and dry faster than fabric. Consumer Reports recommends using a terrycloth towel dipped in a mild dish or laundry soap to clean the plastic parts of your car seat or stroller, working from the top down. You can use the same approach for metal. Just be sure that you completely dry off any water or cleaning solution so that parts don’t rust or corrode.

Let them Dry Fully—Speaking of drying…as a parent, we’re willing to bet you know what happens when things don’t dry all the way. Mold! This is especially true inside those tight, hard-to-reach areas, like underneath the car seat or stroller where airflow is limited. If there are a ton of nooks and crannies where mold is likely to form, use a hair dryer on a cold setting to speed up the drying process. Make sure to take any detachable pieces apart and lay them out to dry.

To Bleach or Not to Bleach

Finally, for the age-old question: Is it safe to bleach baby items? By and large, you should be using baby-safe, non-toxic solutions, but know that bleach is generally safe when used to clean baby’s toys and clothes. If you occasionally use it to zap away stains on those white Onesies or to wipe down your little one’s plastic toys, don’t worry. Just make sure to wash a second time in a gentle cleaner to prevent any irritation to baby’s skin. Remember: Germs may be better for our kids than we think, so don’t go overboard with the bleach.

It’s extremely important that you keep bleach and other potentially hazardous materials locked away someplace where baby can’t get to it. Generally speaking, baby-friendly cleaning supply guidelines are pretty common sense: Don’t use anything that could cause rashes or irritation and always keep all household cleaning supplies locked in a baby-proof cabinet. Finding a good balance between the safe and effective is the most important aspect of cleaning when it comes to kids!

10 Decluttering Tips for the New Year

With the new year in full swing, here’s a resolution that we can all set for ourselves: keeping our house clean. Here are 10 tips for keeping your home as decluttered as possible.

1. Visualize what you want your space to look like

Before you start removing clutter from your home, take a moment to consider your goal for the space. What will you use this room for? How will you organize the items in the space? Do you want it to have a more minimalist feel? By focusing on the outcome of your decluttering efforts, you may be more motivated to get started and maintain the cleanliness of your home.

2. Tidy up your entryway

Even if you don’t have a mudroom or foyer, you can still make your entryway a lot more organized by dedicating a landing station for coats, jackets, keys, and so on. Hang a clothes rack by your front door to store jackets and coats, leave a ceramic dash on an entryway table for keys and mail, and buy a shoe cubby to store your shoes.

3. Create a spot for incoming mail

Paper tends to build up in our homes because we tend to put it in a variety of spots around the house—on the kitchen counter, on the coffee table, in a drawer, etc. Designate an inbox tray on your dining room table or kitchen nook and don’t put papers anywhere but that spot. This will help streamline where important documents, mail statements, and receipts all land.

4. Clear counters at least once a day

Keeping your kitchen counters clean will take you less than five minutes and can be done right before you leave the house for the day. Remove junk mail, empty bottles, and any other trash you find laying around. Relocate any items that belong elsewhere (for example, if you’re cleaning a kitchen counter, remove all mail and put it in your home office or mail drop box).

5. Make your bed

Since the bed is the one object that takes up the most space in the bedroom, simply fluffing the pillows and folding the sheets and blankets can produce a cleaner, tidier look. Not only does this task take less than five minutes in the morning, it also creates a welcoming and inviting space for you to come home to every night.

6. Divide and conquer your bathroom

Remove everything from your medicine cabinet and clear out all drawers and shelves before you get into organization mode. Toss expired makeup and medications and separate products with labeled bins and drawer dividers. Additionally, if you want to store fewer and better products, invest in items you love and will use frequently instead of buying mediocre products that sit unused for months.

7. Purge your closet once every three months

It can be hard to get rid of clothes, especially items that have a personal significance or were extremely expensive at one point in time. To make the task of keeping your closet organized a lot simpler, make three piles: one for keeping, one for donating, and one for throwing away. Assess all of your clothes and pick out the pieces that are frayed, have holes, or are in tatters. Put these items in the “throw away” pile. For all of the clothes that you’ve worn once in the past year, put them in the donate pile. Keep the rest of your clothes that don’t fall into either pile and separate them by color or type of clothing.

8. Pull everything out of your nightside drawer

Once a month, empty the contents of your bedside table drawer and sort the items by junk that needs to be thrown away (this could be receipts, candy wrappers, or old prescriptions) and stuff that could go elsewhere (think: books, snacks, art supplies, etc.). Try to keep the following essentials in your bedside table drawer: a pack of tissues, a TV remote (if you have a TV in your room), some ibuprofen, moisturizer, a notepad, and an emergency-ready flashlight.

9. Get rid of appliances

If you find that you don’t have a use for the second refrigerator in your garage or that broken microwave sitting on your counters, donate it to the Salvation Army or call a junk removal service to safely dispose of the appliance. If you want to try and salvage the appliance, call a service technician to make the necessary repairs or get the appliance replaced under your home warranty.

10. Remember that the decluttering process will take time

It’s more than likely that all of the clutter in your home has collected over the years, meaning it might take some time to clean and organize every room of your house. Don’t get discouraged by this—even baby steps in the right direction are still steps toward making your home cleaner and more organized.

Don’t Miss the Mess: Seven Spaces in Your Home You Might Not Think to Clean

Wouldn’t it be nice if your Roomba could clean every nook and cranny of your home? Unfortunately, Roombas and humans alike often miss some of the dirtiest spots in our living spaces.

From filth under appliances to dirty ceiling fans, you might be surprised at just how unclean your home truly is when you take a closer look. By deep cleaning these spots, you can feel satisfied with your sparkling new space while also reducing potential hazards in your home.

Whether you’re in the process of moving and need to deep clean your house or you’ve just moved in to a previously-owned home, be sure to tackle these seven often-missed spots:

1. Ceiling Fans

When deep cleaning your home, it’s best to start with high-up spaces. This way, you can work from the top to the bottom without wiping dust down on top of freshly cleaned areas.

Start by looking up at your ceiling fans. If they’re extremely dirty, you’ll probably see the dust creeping over the blades.

Be careful when cleaning your ceiling fan. Always turn your ceiling fan off before cleaning and wait for it to make a full stop. Wipe the blades down with an all-purpose cleaner, starting from the inside of the blade and working outward.

2. Kitchen and Bathroom Exhaust Fans

Exhaust fans are essential for removing excess moisture from your bathroom after you take a shower or making the kitchen smell nicer after cooking a meal. Unfortunately, they are commonly left ignored until they begin to malfunction.

The good news is that kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans only need to be cleaned once a year. To clean them properly, here is what you need to do:

Shut off the fan through your circuit breaker before using a step stool to remove the cover.

Using a vacuum dust attachment, vacuum as much dust as you can from the cover and follow up with a microfiber dusting cloth.

fan-cleaning.png

Use the vacuum attachment to clean around the fan motor.

Replace the cover and remember to turn the power back on at the circuit breaker.

3. Curtains and Blinds

When was the last time you cleaned your curtains and blinds? If the answer is never, don’t feel too bad. Most people forget this chore!

First, vacuum your curtains with the upholstery attachment. If your curtains have stains, spot treat the area by dipping a sponge in a mixture of mild detergent and warm water. Gently sponge the area and let it sit for a while before finishing with a damp sponge.

You can usually wash sheer curtains on a delicate cycle in cold water. However, always read the care label first to be sure!

For blinds, dust them first using a lamb’s wool duster and brushing downward. Spray an all-purpose cleaner onto a microfiber cloth to wipe stains and spots off your blinds.

4. Walls

If you’re moving into an apartment or a home that was once lived in by kids, chances are good that the walls will have a few stains. If you’re planning on painting your walls, it’s important that they are clean first.

To wipe these down properly, fill a bucket with warm water and a teaspoon of dish soap. Dip a sponge mop into the bucket, wring it out thoroughly and apply it to the wall in a gentle upward then downward motion — similar to how you would paint a wall with a roller.

To dry the wall, simply place a microfiber cloth on a flathead mop and make the same motion.

5. Baseboards

As with any horizontal surface, baseboards can quickly become dusty and need regular cleaning. The good news is that they are easy to clean!

baseboard-cleaning.png

Just attach the bristle attachment to your vacuum and run it along the baseboards. You can also use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe the baseboards, followed by a damp microfiber cloth.


6. Refrigerator Coils

Dust, dirt and pet hair can become trapped in your refrigerator coils, causing it to run much less efficiently than it should. Before you clean this area, make sure to unplug your refrigerator or turn the power off completely.

Remove the grill from the bottom of the refrigerator and shine a flashlight underneath to see where you need to clean. Next, take a condenser coil cleaning brush and gently sweep the area to clean out dirt and dust.

If you want your refrigerator to run in peak condition, you can also pull the refrigerator out and clean the fan in the back using a vacuum attachment. Use caution when pulling your refrigerator out from the wall!

7. Washing Machine

A lot of people believe that their washing machine doesn’t need to be cleaned because it’s self-cleaning. But if you’ve noticed a strange smell from your machine, it could be sneaking its way into your clothes as well.

Fortunately, cleaning your washing machine is easy. All you need to do is to fill your machine, pour in vinegar in place of detergent and run it on a hot cycle. Then, scrub the inside with a vinegar and hot water mixture, making sure to get the rubber seal.

Finally, run one more hot cycle without any vinegar. Repeat this twice a year to keep your washing machine free of bacteria and grime.

A Clean Home is a Happy Home

Giving your home a deep clean may seem daunting. But think of it this way: You’re making things much easier on yourself in the future. A thorough cleaning now will help make routine maintenance fast and simple.

Besides, you’ll feel immensely satisfied knowing that your house is polished and sanitized from room to room.


How to Organize and Maintain Your Laundry Room

It’s not unusual to completely neglect your laundry room. Seeing as how our guests almost never go there, we don’t pay a lot of attention to it. While it doesn’t have to be the most stylish room of the house, it is essential to keep it clean and functional. Here are some tips for doing just that.

Use the Space Cleverly

It doesn’t matter whether you have a whole room for this or just a small nook, the important thing is to make the most of the space you have. For instance, adding a shelf over the washer and dryer will provide you with a storage surface or a folding area. If your space allows, get several shelves and utilize the vertical space.

Designate a Space for Supplies

Think about adding a cabinet where you can keep all the supplies. That will make organizing the whole room much easier. You will always know what is where and it will also keep these harmful products out of your kids’ reach.

Minimize the Supplies

You should go through all the cleaning supplies you have and determine what you actually use. Focus on the products everyone should have. Those that you don’t use should be tossed out and not replaced. That can save you both money and space.

Separate the Loads

An amazing way to save time when washing your clothes is to pre-sort them. Designate different containers for different loads. Mark each hamper with a label, for example, whites, delicates, light colours, dark colours, etc. Additionally, you can also divide them by wash days. This is great for streamlining the whole process.

Create a Drip-Dry Zone

Seeing as how some clothes need to be drip-dried, you should consider adding a zone strictly for this. In case you do not have enough space, you can install a basic rod on which you can put hangers. Also, consider making DIY drying boards or a pull-down rack.

Have an Ironing Station

It is also a good idea to group all supplies for ironing in one corner. You can hang your ironing board on the wall so that it does not take up a lot of space when it’s not being used. Add shelves where you can put your iron and other supplies such as spray starch. To make this process more efficient, sort the clothes by a family member as you iron. That way, each member will have their stack of clothes and you will not have to go through everything again.

Take Care of Your Appliances

here would be no laundry room without the appliances, so it is vital that you keep them in great condition. If you notice any problems, you should check the instruction manual. Some issues are minor and you can probably fix them yourself. Thankfully, you can find various washing machine parts online and they can arrive at your address in no time. For a more serious problem, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

Implement a lost-and-found system

In case your family members always forget to check their pockets before throwing clothes into the hamper, putting an extra basket in the room is quite useful as it can serve for keeping all misplaced items. It will be like a little lost-and-found section of your home, and people can go there to look for keys, coins, pens, etc. Moreover, all those socks that lost their pair can wait here until you find their match.

Introduce Your Family To the Room

Every family member should know what is placed where in the laundry room. They should be taught where to put their dirty clothes, where they can iron a piece of clothing and which product is used for what. Moreover, you can put up a handy chart with washing instructions. That way, the household members can wash their own clothes when the need arises.

Clean regularly

The best way to keep this room clean is, as with most things, regular maintenance. Throw away all trash that you find. Remove all things that should not be there. Get rid of all products that have expired and the empty detergent containers. Wipe the floor when you clean the rest of your home.

As you can see, keeping the laundry room clean is not at all difficult. Keep an eye on your appliances, tidy up regularly and encourage your family to stay organized. Piece of cake!

Bio: Patrick Adams is a freelance writer and rock-blues fan. When he is not writing about home improvement, he loves to play chess, watch basketball, and play his guitar. More than anything, he loves to spend his time in his garage, repairing appliances and creating stuff from wood.

6 Household Items That Make Great Gifts

As the holidays roll around and the time to shop is upon us, many of us find ourselves struggling with the best gift to buy our loved ones. Should we opt for something fun, or should we go with something useful? Luckily enough, you don’t have to settle! You can actually improve your home while increasing its safety and its comfort this holiday season with one of our gift ideas.

A Vacuum Cleaner

One of the best items you can gift a busy professional is a new vacuum cleaner. These are items that are generally direly needed to keep our homes clean but we hesitate to buy them ourselves. It’s not fun to spend our own money on an expensive machine, after all, no matter how useful it might be. Receiving one as a gift, however, is always welcomed.


A Steam Cleaner

A good steam cleaner is worth its weight in gold. They can make quick work of wrinkles and stains alike, leaving both our homes and our clothes in great shape. They also actually increase the longevity of clothing and rugs, meaning that they pay for themselves over time.


A Mattress

I know, it might seem a bit much to recommend a mattress as a holiday gift, right? But it’s actually one of the best gifts you can give! What else can improve your loved one’s sleep quality, increase their mood, and help them stay inspired? Holiday sales for mattresses abound, too, making them affordable options.


A Coffee Machine

Speaking of improved moods and inspiration, why not consider buying a coffee machine as a gift? This is another item that we tend to avoid spending money on ourselves but that is genuinely appreciated every day.


Quality Bedding

If you know the giftee’s tastes pretty well, you might consider buying them quality bedding. Make their mattress extra cozy for the holidays! You could even go the extra step and look into matching curtains and rugs, too, and give them a mini room makeover.


Holiday Decorations

This is an especially nice gift if your loved one enjoys decorating for the holidays. It can be difficult to find the time and money to buy nice holiday decorations for ourselves during the season, which makes this gift particularly thoughtful.


Keep safe this holiday season and enjoy your friends, your family, and (hopefully) some of the


3 Tips for Prepping your Home for the Holidays

As the holiday season is upon us, your home will be filled with friends and family to celebrate this special time of year. Hospitality is so important in this fast-paced world, and there are some super easy ways to take your home to the next level of comfort for your guests.

Plan ahead

If you you want until the last minute to prep your home for the holidays, you’ll be pulling your hair out in no time. Cleaning an entire house is no easy task. A couple weeks before your guests arrival, make your game plan. Chipping away at the task little by little is much more manageable than tackling it all at once. Each week set a goal to get one thing done—cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming and dusting the whole house, getting decorations up. And if the task at hand is still too much to take on alone, call in the pros for help.


Give the guest room a facelift

If there is one room that needs your full attention, it’s the guest room. It’s very likely your guest bedroom has become a dumping ground for all the unwanted items in your home. But considering you’ll have plenty of guests coming through over the holidays, this space is deserving of a little TLC.

In order to make friends and family feel at home, take a note from hotels. Think: clean, crisp sheets, and folded towels on the bed. A bowl of mints on the dresser and candles in the bathroom add extra special touches for your guests to know you are thinking about their comfort. Cosmetic touch-ups are important, but your guests will spend most of their time in your guest bed. Let’s face it: no one likes sleeping on a lumpy 20-year old mattress, especially because sleep deprivation and in-laws don’t mix well! The best way to ensure fun holiday memories with guests in your home is to make sure they get a good night’s sleep. There are tons of holiday mattress sales going on right now. Feeling overwhelmed? Read reviews from real customers and side-by-side comparisons of different brands to see which suits your space the best.

Remember the best home is a welcoming home

When hosting for the holidays, taking a few small steps to create a welcoming environment goes a long way. Stocking the house with snacks and placing candles around is a great way to create a cozy ambiance fast. Take time to transform even the smallest spaces into hangout rooms for family and friends. Don’t be afraid to move around some larger pieces of furniture to make room for some extra seating. One way to create more than one hangout space is by placing extra chairs in different rooms so people will naturally congregate in those areas. It’s amazing how putting a


9 Small Ways to Spruce Up Your Home This Weekend

9 Small Ways to Spruce Up Your Home This Weekend

By Matilda Davies

 

Short on time but not on imagination? There are plenty of ways to spruce up your home in just a single weekend. Here are nine of them that can be tackled with just a little bit of time and little to no money.

 

1. PUT ON A FRESH COAT OF PAINT

A new coat of paint is perhaps the greatest impact you can make in a single weekend. It’s cost-effective and depending on the size of the room, can be handled in as little as an afternoon.

 

2. DECLUTTER YOUR HOME

Decluttering your home is a great way to freshen up your home and put your mind at ease. A clean home is a happy home!

 

3. REARRANGE YOUR FURNITURE

Rearranging your furniture is an easy and completely free way to freshen up a room. Try a feng-shui approach to promote balance and serenity in your home.

 

4. PLANT A GARDEN

Planting a garden is a great way to break a sweat, soak in some sun, and spruce up your curb appeal. If you don’t have space for a garden outside, try an indoor garden. A small windowsill herb garden is perfect for the beginning gardener.

 

5. MAKE A LOCALLY SOURCED FLOWER ARRANGEMENT

Take a walk in your own backyard or in a local park and pick wildflowers and greenery to create a beautiful and locally grown centerpiece for your dining table or mantel.

 

6. REARRANGE YOUR BOOKCASE

Rearrange your bookcase for maximum visual impact. Try grouping books by spine color and accenting shelves with artwork, brightly colored bowls, photographs, and flowers.

 

7. UPDATE YOUR HOUSE NUMBERS

Improve curb appeal and impress guests before they even walk in the door. Update traditional house numbers with modern brass numbers. If you want something really different, try stenciling your numbers with a bold font and loud pair color.

 

8. FRAME SOME ORIGINAL ARTWORK

Add new life to your walls by framing an original work of art by your kids—or even by you! If you’re not exactly a da Vinci, try something abstract, inspired by Jackson Pollock or Wassily Kandinsky. Frame a favorite photo, a beautiful greeting card, or even cut out illustrations from or your favorite book.

9. REPLACE YOUR SHOWER CURTAIN

Don’t forget about the bathroom. Add life and color with a fun and playful shower curtain, which can be found for less than $20 at most home stores. For extra credit, update your shower curtain rings with bold hardware as well. 

Matilda lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she writes about great homes, health, and wellness. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, and walking her dogs.

Going Away for the Holidays? 12 Tips for Preparing Your Home Before Vacation

Going Away for the Holidays? 12 Tips for Preparing Your Home Before Vacation

Got your travel booked and your presents purchased? There’s just one thing left to do before you roll out for the holidays: Ensure that your home is prepared and protected while you’re on vacation.

The tips we’re sharing below will put money back in your bank account, save energy all year round and safeguard your possessions from wannabe robbers. With this advice, there’s no reason to leave anything up to chance this holiday season. Read on for 12 must-do tasks to button up your home anytime you travel.

Put a few lights on a timer.

The holiday season is a prime time for break-ins and robberies. When you travel, a dark, quiet house can become an easy target. There are different ways to turn your lights on when you’re away from home. The easiest is to purchase an inexpensive wall timer that you can plug a floor or table lamp into. Aim to program a variety of lighting fixtures in multiple rooms during the evening so that it really looks like you’re home, even when you’re a world away.

Have the post office hold your mail.

If your mailbox overflows after a few days of bills and catalog pile-up, imagine what it’ll look like when you’re gone for a week! Instead of frustrating your letter carrier, fill out a hold mail form online. You can tell your post office when you’ll return, and your mail will be delivered the next day. Seriously, it doesn’t get any easier than that.

Water your plants.

Indoor heating sucks the humidity out of the air. This can dry out skin—and plants, too. Tweak your watering schedule so that you top up your greenies the day you leave home. This should tide them over for about a week. If you’ll be gone longer, consider investing in self-watering systems or hire a housesitter to swing by.

Prep for the weather ahead.

Pull up the 10-day forecast for your hometown. If the temps are dropping significantly or you’re due for heavy precipitation, prepare accordingly. You might need to clear gutters, drip faucets, insulate exposed pipes or open under-sink cabinets.

If you’re away for longer or you’re expecting a big weather event, it might make more sense to turn off and drain your water, disconnect car batteries and ask a neighbor if they’re willing to pop in if necessary. And if snow is on the forecast and your town requires you to shovel the sidewalk in front of your house, you’ll have to make provisions for that, too.

cleaning up for holidays.png

Install a smart security system.

Looking for a little peace of mind? A smart home security system that you can access from anywhere is perfect for that. Since they’ve become more common over the last few years, they’re also much more affordable now than they were when they first hit the market. Some installations are even speedy DIYs. That means you can upgrade your home to the latest smart tech in a single afternoon—and check in on things while you’re away.

Switch off your ceiling fans.

Ceiling fans don’t make your home warmer or cooler. They just move warm or cool air around. There’s no reason to leave them on when you’re out of the room, much less when you’re on vacation. Switch ’em off and save energy.

Unplug small electronics and put them out of sight.

Devices that are plugged into outlets continually drain small amounts of energy, and that energy adds up on your monthly bill. Before you pack your bags, take a walk from room to room and unplug what you can. While you’re at it, make sure nothing expensive or tempting to potential thieves is in sight of windows or doors.

Ask neighbors to pick up any packages.

The easiest way to lose or damage a long-awaited package is to leave it out in the elements for days on end. Most neighbors will be happy to bring boxes inside your house, or to hold onto them for you. If this isn’t possible, add delivery directions for package carriers instructing them to stow items in a more protected area, like a back porch.

safety holiday preparation.png

Double-check your fireplace.

Fireplace chimneys are energy thieves. If you leave the damper open, the heat in your home will disappear into the great outdoors. To make your house more energy efficient (and keep your heating costs down, whether you’re in residence or not), consider investing in airtight fireplace doors.

Adjust your thermostat.

You can save money and conserve energy by lowering your thermostat 10 degrees lower than normal while you’re away during the holidays. The ideal winter setting is 68 degrees while you’re awake and seven to 10 degrees cooler at night, while you’re asleep.

Before you drop it further, consider any plants that might not flourish in the chill or any items that need to be stored within a certain temperature range. If you have pets, you need to keep their comfort and health in mind, too.

Cancel any in-home services.

Is a clean home a happy home if you’re not there to enjoy it? We’re not so sure. You’ll probably want to cancel housekeeping services along with meal plan deliveries, co-op box deliveries and personal training and wellness appointments.

If you’ll be away for longer than two weeks, consider rescheduling your usual home cleaning service for a day or two before you return home.

Change your sheets.

The best part of coming home isn’t walking through the door or unpacking your suitcase. The best part of coming home is nestling into your own bed at the end of a long travel day. A hot shower, comfy pajamas and your favorite pillow? Now that’s perfection. Make it even more luxurious with freshly laundered sheets.

Now, who says you can’t go back? Not us! We’re looking forward to hitting the road this holiday season to see family and friends. Still, there really is nothing like a home of your own. Use these vacation-friendly tips to keep it safe and sound no matter where your plans take you.

4 Steps to Removing Toxic Chemicals From Your Home

Did you know there are 500 to 1,000 toxic chemicals lurking in your home?

That’s right. Toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, asbestos, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), flame retardants and BPA are found in a number of common household items including, paper products, paints, bathroom cleaners, water bottles and many more.

Although exposure to small doses of these chemicals may not be harmful, in combination or in large amounts, these toxins can cause a number of irritations to our body. This includes impacts to our respiratory, circulatory, reproductive, cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems. 

In fact, chemical off-gassing from household products, cigarette smoke, air-borne allergens and viruses can promote “sick-building syndrome,” which causes symptoms such as headaches, Eye, nose, and throat irritations, dry cough, irritated skin, and nausea to name a few. 

Just as we detox our bodies from sugar or caffeine every once in a while, it is beneficial to detox your home on occasion.

Here are four quick ways to minimize the amount of toxic chemicals in your home:

 

Add Plants to Improve Indoor Quality

Not only are plants the perfect touch to any interior, they can actually improve indoor air quality. 

Plants improve air quality by removing toxins from the atmosphere. A study by NASA found that indoor plants absorb harmful toxins lingering in the air through their leaves and roots and act as a sort of air filter removing carbon and increasing oxygen levels. 

Some of the best plants to add to your living space are ferns, golden pothos and aloe vera.

Consider the products you bring into your home

Although “going organic” is a hot trend these days, it’s not a bad idea.

Be picky about the brands you use. Check what is used to make the product and where they are made. You should only purchase from brands that clearly disclose what materials are in the products. 

Many brands are catching wind of how important ethically sourced, organic materials are to customers. One example of an environmentally sound and transparent brand is Leesa Sleep

Leesa Sleep is a Certified-B corporation which means they meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Their product is made in the U.S. (which holds the highest standards for product development) and built with Certi-PUR foams. This is just one example of many brands joining the fight to become green.

As a rule of thumb, here are a few tips when it comes to shopping for non-toxic household items: 

  • Shop for biodegradable household cleaning products that disclose all ingredients used and don’t use fragrance

  • Avoid aerosol spray cans

  • Avoid spraying pesticides - address the root of the problem instead, (i.e., not leaving food out)

  • Buy non-PVC paint

  • Shop for BPA-free plastics

  • Cut back on cans

Vacuum the house regularly

One of the most common places for toxins and allergens to lurk is in dust. This makes it important that you dust and vacuum the house regularly.

One study conducted by the NRDC, found that 90% of dust samples collected contained toxic chemicals. In fact, the study found roughly 45 different types of chemicals across five main chemical classes. Some of these chemicals include phthalates, flame retardants, fragrances and environmental phenols.

All this to say, when detoxing your home, one crucial step is to clean.

 

Install the proper protection

There is no way to 100% detox your home. In order to stay safe from potential pollutants in your home, take these precautionary measures.

  • Install CO detectors to notify you when this harmful gas is present in your home

  • Have your water tested for lead

  • Always ventilate while painting or refurbishing to let toxic gases escape

  • Get a shower filter. This will filter out any impurities in your tap water that could turn to gas at room temperature.

 The average American spends 90% of their time in their home. It’s time we take care of it and the things we bring into it.

 

Tips For Using A Robot Vacuum To Keep Your Home Extra Clean

robot vacuum cleaning.png

As technology marches forward, we find ourselves with more and more new ways to clean our home. Take robot vacuum cleaners, for instance, They are one of the latest high-tech devices that are designed to make our lives easier. And while they aren't perfect, and won't replace your upright completely, if used properly, they can keep your home cleaner and ease your workload.


Use this technology to your advantage and up your cleaning game like a pro. Here are a few tips to use your robot vacuum cleaner and get the most out of it.

Know your home before buying

Before you buy a little robot friend, take a good look at your home. Check out all of the nooks and crannies. Think about your home from the robot's point of view. If your sofa has a low clearance on the bottom, you'll need a thinner robot to get under there? Does dust collect in the corner of your room? If so, you may want a model that is designed to get into corners and clean them. These models usually have one right-angled edge. Can it fit between chair legs?


Is your home very large? Then you'll want a robot vacuum cleaner with a larger battery capacity so it doesn't run out of steam in the middle of the job. Smaller homes will be compatible with a smaller battery capacity. Are your floors mostly hardwood or carpet? You'll want a robot that specializes in your floor type. Some are good for both, while others excel at one or the other. There are even models that can clean and mop like these from Gadgetreview. As you can see, it pays to know your home before you buy.

Do a brief cleanup ahead of your robot

As I said, these robots haven't completely eliminated cleaning for us entirely. Not yet. So they work best with a floor that is cleared of the obstacles that our family tends to throw around. Clothes, bags, and other obstacles should be cleaned up so that your little worker bee can roam freely and do its job.

Keep your robot clean

Keep your robot in tip-top shape by giving it a thorough cleaning every so often to make sure that dust sensors and other electronics are clear and everything is working properly. This will make sure that it serves you in your home for a long time.

Empty it often

Empty your robot's dust bin often so that it can always pick up more. Because as you know there is always more to suck up. If you let it run with a full container of dirt, it is just moving around and doing nothing.

Give it a good place to charge

You'll want to place the charging dock in a flat and easily accessible area, preferably somewhere in the area that requires the most cleaning so that it can always get to it and charge up. And keep the charging dock clean and free of dust.

Allergies

If you can, get a model that is AAFA certified or otherwise helps remove allergens. This will life life very nice if you are an allergy sufferer.

Be patient & Relax

Sometimes it might seem like it is not hitting the area that you want it to clean the most, but just relax, it will get there. There is a method to the way it roams about your home. It really does know what it is doing.

Sure, your robot vacuum cleaner doesn't do all of the work in your home but take advantage of the job that it does do and make sure that you find some time to kick back and chill as you watch it do it's duty nearby. You’ll love it and may even find that it has a personality.


Cleaning Tools Needed for Keeping Your Home Clean and Fresh

When it comes to keeping your home clean fresh, it can definitely be a challenge. How do you know if you’re cleaning things correctly? Is the time you’re putting into the clean worthwhile? What about all that money? These are common questions and are good to ask. Many often end up wasting time and effort into making sure their home is clean when, in fact, it’s surprisingly not.

If you’re looking for some ways to ensure your home stays clean and fresh, you’ll want to check out this article. You’ll find some of the top cleaning tools you can invest in to help you. To find out what they are and how they can keep your home clean, keeping reading.

Best Cleaning Tools to Keep Your Home Clean and Fresh

Vacuum Cleaners

Vacuum cleaners are one of the most important cleaning tools to have in your home. They aren’t only versatile, but can be hypoallergenic as well. This means if someone in your household has severe allergies, you can help prevent them from happening with these helpful tools. Vacuums also tend to come with accessories, like furniture dusters and stair cleaners, which you can use to clean off difficult surfaces. If you’re looking for cheap vacuum cleaners you can check out shark vacuum models.

Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber cloths are the perfect way to help clean up messes. They can absorb many particles so you don’t have to worry about anything being left behind. This is unlike popular paper towels which often leave behind some things so you need to use a lot of them. You can also reuse microfiber cloths without problems. When you’re done cleaning, simply throw them into the washer.

Brooms

A broom is always handy to have. It can sweep up many messes and prevent them from spreading around in your home. This tool also doesn’t require electricity to run which means you can use it anytime and anywhere without issues. Brooms also tend to come with dustpans. You can use these pans to help clean up any messes you sweep up quickly.

You’ll also find that brooms are very affordable, so you can easily invest in a few for your home without fear of breaking the bank.

Toothbrushes

You might be surprised to learn that a toothbrush is not only a great way to clean your teeth, but your home as well. Toothbrushes can get into small crevices which can help to clean sections in your home better. This means they can scrub off hard-to-remove mold, dirt, and other grime that could end up collecting in certain areas.

Steam Cleaners

Steam cleaners are helpful as they can sanitize areas, like hardwood floors and carpets, well. This way, you can be sure that harmful germs and other particles aren’t lingering around in your home. To learn more about these home-cleaning tools you can check this guide.

Keeping your home tidy and fresh can be a challenge. Dust can easily collect and messes can occur, even after you just cleaned up an area. Because of this, it can end up being overwhelming and daunting to clean your home up. However, there’s no need to feel this way anymore thanks to the cleaning tools mentioned above. These tools are versatile, affordable, and come in many different options. This way, you have a variety of choices to select from so you find something that matches your preferences perfectly.

If you’re looking for cleaning tools to help keep your home clean and fresh, be sure to keep the ones mentioned above in mind. They are not only helpful to have on hand, but get the job done right.

A Minimalist’s Essentials to a Clutter-Free Home

If the thought of a perfectly uniform, well-organized pantry or a completely bare countertop gets you excited, then you might be a part of the minimalist revolution. According to Dr. Andrea Umbach, author of the book The Decline of Stuff: Millennials are Going Minimalist, younger people have found great value in less, and we’ve tossed out (or never even considered) the second car, the holiday decorations and the general clutter in favor of experiences, travel and entertainment. For minimalist millennials or anyone else who values total order, it’s best to have as little stuff as possible. But you still have to live, right? Here are the bare essentials for living in a minimalistic, clutter-free space without sacrificing style or convenience.

 

1.     The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up—The No. 1 New York Times best-seller is all about learning how to use the Japanese KonMari method to simplify, organize and store. Author Marie Kondo (inventor of the KonMari method) explains how categorizing your belongings and keeping only the things that “spark joy” can help revolutionize the way you shop for and keep your things. The step-by-step guide promises to help you organize your home once and then keep it organized forever so you never have to do it again. If you’re getting anxious just thinking about adding another book to the pile—we feel your pain—borrow a copy from the library or a friend so it’s out of your hair as soon as you’re done.

2.     A Cordless Vacuum Cleaner—Clutter and cleanliness go hand-in-hand, and there are few scenarios where you can outright eliminate the vacuum cleaner from the rotation. With that being said, you can certainly minimize its effects on your space and stress levels by selling or donating your old sweeper and upgrading to a cordless vacuum cleaner. These products eliminate the dreaded cord knot that seems to inevitably form in the closet in between uses. They’re also amazingly sleek, good-looking and minimalist in their own way, and prevent trips and falls while sweeping.

source

 

3.     A Cable Management System—Cables…they’re unruly, ugly and sometimes impossible to manage. Not to mention, with minimalism comes a wide variety of cordless products, but all of those products have to charge. So, the one place in your home—probably next to the bed—is often teeming with messy, tangled cords that never seem to stay neat, no matter how much you untwist, untangle and uncoil. A bedside cable organizer is the perfect way to get rid of that nightstand cable clutter that nags at you and keeps you up at night! We’re crazy about the Glow Lighted Cord Organizer from Cord Buddy.

 

4.     Magnetic Drawer Strips—Did you know that you can buy handy little magnetic strips that you can use to line the sides of your drawers? Stick them in the junk drawer to catch rogue nails, razor blades, screws and pins or place them in the drawer of your vanity to neatly house your nail clippers, tweezers, small scissors and safety pins. We love this approach to drawer organization because it takes clutter out of the main drawer compartment up onto the sides, allowing you to take full advantage of the primary space and keep it permanently organized. Strip magnets are also great for the office, craft room and bathroom.

5.     Bins, Canisters and Tubs Galore—Some of the most important things to have on hand when you’re trying to get a particularly messy or cluttered space under control are a wide variety of containers. Try baskets for the kids’ toys, designated canisters for all your dried foods in the pantry, extra fridge bins that help you segment and organize food and drinks and small bins to hold all of your extra odds and ends in the office or craft room. What’s so great about having a never-ending supply of containers is that they can store each other and they can help you sort through things for your keep, donate and sell piles. Perfect for when you’re going through your home using the KonMari method.

6.     Shelf Dividers—Have you ever noticed that your dresser drawers or the linen closet tend to transform into one big pile of stuff over a couple of weeks if you’re not constantly tending to them? Shelf dividers are specifically designed to help maintain your perfectly folded piles of towels, sheets, tablecloths, clothes and whatever else you want to keep in a neatly stacked pile. If you love the look of beautifully stacked clothing and linens and are a sucker for a neat, tidy drawer situation, then you’ll definitely want to pick up some of these essentials.

7.     Closet Organizers—Even the most diehard organizers know that the closet is one of the places in the home that tends to get out of control, partially because it’s just so easy to slack, let messes accumulate and then (quite literally) close the door on the problem. You can use an over-the-door organizer to make great use of the often-ignored space on the back of your closet door. Choose one that works for whatever things you need to organize, like your shoes, sweaters, jewelry or handbags. There are styles available for just about any storage need and design motif. For a versatile option that can handle a range of different jobs, check out this one from The Container Store.

 

Don’t Let Organization Add to Clutter

 

When you’re looking for products to eliminate clutter and help organize your things, it can be stressful if you aren’t sure if you’re going to use the things you buy. The last thing you want is to purchase something with the intention of it helping you clear away junk, only for it to add to the ever-accumulating unused pile. Remember that minimalism is an effort of trial and error, so give yourself patience in understanding what you need and what you don’t. If possible, buy from stores with flexible return policies so that you can take something back if you don’t think it will get used.



Tips on How to Keep Your Children and Pets From Damaging Household Furniture

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 2.22.31 PM.png

When you have kids and pets, keeping your furniture clean and damage-free can be a full-time job. From spots and spills to scratches, scuffs and tears, there are a lot of ways to ruin a sofa, loveseat, recliner or even your dining room furniture.

You can do your best to train your pets and teach your kids to be careful, but let’s face it: Accidents happen. The good news? There are several ways to protect your household furniture from accidental damage. Whether you need to save your sofa from an over-active pup or you want to protect your favorite chair from a precocious toddler, here are a few tips on how to keep your children and pets from damaging household furniture.

Pet and Child-Proof Your Furniture With Covers

Using furniture covers is the best way to stop spots, spills and stains in their tracks. While this idea may bring back memories of those sticky plastic covers your grandmother used to protect her furniture, there are several modern options that are more stylish, convenient and comfortable. Slipcovers work well for busy families, as they are easy to put on and stay in place. And when they get dirty, you can just take them off and throw them in the washing machine.

Blankets and throws work well, too, especially if you just need to cover certain spots. If your cat’s favorite place to nap is on the back of your recliner, for example, putting a throw there will prevent scratches and help your chair stay fur-free.

Reconsider Bare Wood

While you may love the look of bare wood, it may not be the best furniture option if you have pets or small kids. Teaching your dog not to chew sounds great in theory, but sometimes, even well-trained dogs mess up. And no matter how many scratching posts you have in your home, your cats may still decide that the legs of your chairs are way better.

Bare wood furniture can easily be damaged by kids, too. Whether they decide to color on it or manage to scratch it when playing with their toy cars, there is a lot that can go wrong. If you do choose wood furniture for your home, make sure it is finished, as to make it a bit easier to clean. You may also want to look for hardwoods that are less susceptible to damage than lower-quality wood.

Choose the Right Upholstery Fabric for Your Furniture

Color and style may be your primary concerns when shopping for new furniture, but if you have kids or pets, you also need to consider how well the upholstery will stand up to abuse. For many families, microfiber works well.

It comes in a wide range of colors and styles, and it is made from 100 percent polyester. This makes it extremely durable and resistant to damage. It’s easy to keep clean and doesn’t hold odors like some other fabrics. If you are a cat owner, your favorite feline may be less inclined to scratch microfiber than other fabrics, because it doesn’t make that satisfying ripping sound.

If you are in the market for something a bit more luxurious, leather furniture is a good choice as well. A top grain leather sofa is exceptionally soft and breathes well, making it suitable for all climates. It’s also durable and, when a protective layer is applied during the tanning process, resistant to stains. Most spills can just be wiped away with a damp cloth, and you can maintain your leather furniture simply by applying conditioner twice per year. The one downside to leather is that it can be scratched by pet claws. Keeping their claws neatly trimmed helps, though, and many minor scratches can be buffed away.

Invest in Furniture for Your Two- and Four-Legged Kids

There isn’t much you can do to keep your kids and pets off your nice furniture all the time, but you can buy pieces just for them to help minimize the amount of time they spend on yours. Pick up a high-quality dog bed for Fido, and buy kid-sized furniture for the little ones. When you give your dog a nice orthopedic bed, he will be less likely to spend all of his time curled up on your couch. And what kid wouldn’t love having their very own recliner or kid-sized sofa?

When choosing furniture pieces for your kids and pets, buy products that offer good quality to ensure that they will actually be used and stand up to some abuse. You may also want to look for features like stain-resistant coatings and removable, machine-washable covers.

Set Boundaries

If you have an heirloom piece that has been passed down for generations or another prized piece of furniture, there is nothing wrong with making it a kid-free and pet-free zone. If you don’t want your kids and pets messing up the bed in the guest room, keep the door closed and make it clear that the area is off limits.

Teach your kids to behave appropriately on furniture. Don’t allow food or drinks on the sofa. Designate one specific chair that the dog is allowed on, and keep the others pet-free. Establish rules and boundaries that work for your family. It may be hard at first, but with firmness and consistency, it is possible to create rules to protect your furniture.

Conclusion

Kids and pets can take a serious toll on household furniture. From spills and stains to scratches, holes and more, they can cause several types of damage. Fortunately, there are several ways to protect your household furniture and help extend its life. By following the tips listed above, you can keep your furniture a bit safer no matter how crazy your household may be.

7 Awesome tips to keep your home clean and organized every day

Cleaning and organizing your house can be a dreaded task sometimes, especially if you have a full-time job. However, coming home to a clean place can do wonders to your mood. That Is why you should take a bit of your time each day to put things away or dust off certain areas. It is true that a clean house equals clear mindset, so you’ll be able to relax and peacefully enjoy your free time at home.Here are some great tips that’ll help you start off on the right foot.

·      Start by making the bed

·      Daily dusting is easy

·      Keep the kitchen counters clean

·      Put items in boxes to control clutter

·      Tidy up bedrooms in the morning and in the evening

·      Clean up the living room before going to bed each night

·      No shoe rule in the home

 

Start By Making The Bed

 

Try to make your bed as soon as you wake up in the morning. This small task will make you feel productive and you’ll be coming home to a tidy room after a long day at work. Even if you don’t have a lot of plans for the day, by making the bed you’ll be left with a clean-looking and organized space. With this habit, you’ll make every day a fresh start.

 

Daily Dusting Is Easy

 

Try to pick a room or a certain area in your house to quickly dust off every day. This won’t take you more than 10 minutes, and by doing it every day, you are maintaining the cleanliness in your house. It is better to do this every day then wait for all the dirt and dust to accumulate. In the contrary, it can become frustrating to deal with all at once.

 

Keep The Kitchen Counters Clean

 

Clean your kitchen as you go, or wipe the counters quickly after you finish dinner so that you are left with a nice-looking kitchen in the morning. Keep it clean and free of unnecessary clutter so you won’t have to deal with it when you are hungry and in a hurry to make a meal.

 

Put Items In Boxes To Control Clutter

 

Whenever you catch a glimpse of random items scattered around your home, pick them up and put them where they actually belong. If you see a dirty coffee cup from the morning, put it in the sink. If your dirty clothes are laying on the floor or thrown over the chair, put them in a hamper. Small things like this can make a drastic change to the overall look of your house.

 

Tidy Up Bedrooms In The Morning And In The Evening

 

Try to free the nightstand from anything you put there the night before, and fold and place your pajamas where they belong. Before you go to sleep, don’t throw the clothes on the floor or In some random place. Put them on a hanger or throw the dirty ones in the hamper. You won’t wake up grumpy when you have a clean and organized space around you.

 

Clean Up The Living Room Before Going To Bed Each Night

 

Living rooms can get pretty messy, especially with big families or when guests come. You are left with cups, bowls with snacks and pillows everywhere. Try to start by arranging the pillows, picking up things from the floor and then putting the dishes in the sink. After that, quickly wipe your coffee table and you’re done!

 

No Shoe Rule In The Home

 

You have probably noticed how much dust can be accumulated on the floor or even on the couch by walking around the house in dirty shoes. Try to avoid this by enforcing a no shoe policy inside. This will prevent different kinds of germs and dirt from spreading around your home and you’ll do less sweeping and wiping on daily bases.

 

Enjoy The Daily Routine Of Cleaning And Organizing

 

If you try to keep all of these tips in mind, your house is surely going to look clean and organized every day. It is easy once you get a hang of it and make it a daily routine. You’ll be able to enjoy your home much more without having to worry about the mess. You can save these tips and incorporate them in your home once you buy your own place.

 

Author Bio:

As the Founder of New Street , Robert is passionate about optimizing the customer experience. He is a stickler for real-world business results. Rob has developed deep insights into the market and an insider perspective of what homebuyers are looking for these days. When he’s not helping New Street clients, he’s probably catching a run while purposefully ignoring the stop signs. Follow robertj.ca on Instagram.

7 Tips To Maximize Garage Storage

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 2.46.14 PM.png

Keeping your home and garage tidy can be challenging and the number one reason for this comes down to one simple thing. Stuff. We live our lives and we accumulate stuff. So it's no wonder we are always running out of space. Some of this "stuff" is important, some of it just makes us happy so we keep it around. We accumulate things and they add up. Especially in our garage, it seems.

In one journal called “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors,” researchers from UCLA studied 32 middle-class, dual-income families from Los Angeles over a four-year period. Their findings showed that the more cluttered a home, the more likely people are to be depressed. So garage or home, many of us have some de-cluttering to do.

No matter how much garage space you have it is never enough. But we can help you maximize your space and reclaim some square footage with a few simple tips. Get ready to say goodbye to the clutter and hello to some organization.

1- Look Up.

There's usually one place that is overlooked when it comes to garage storage. Look up. That's right, your ceiling can be used for storage to free up some much needed space. In fact, ceiling storage systems are very popular right now. There are many DIY tutorials online to help you do it yourself or you can buy a system and have it installed. If it's on the ceiling, it is out of your way and that is an amazing space-saver.


2- Use the walls to your advantage.

If you aren't using your garage walls to store things like shovels, garden rakes, lawn chairs, bicycles and the like, you are really missing out. With just a few wood boards you can make simple tool racks that will hold all of your large yard tools and accessories. Believe it or not, you can even hang really large items like wheelbarrows. Some people also use peg boards to hang up many other tools on their walls. Take a look around your garage. If you have these sorts of things strewn about the floor, you NEED this.

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 2.50.35 PM.png




3- The more shelves the better.

This goes with using your walls smartly, but it can't be overstated. The more shelf space you have on your walls, the more space you free up in your garage. Better still, make them deep cabinets so that they can hold more. Corner shelves are a great addition as well. That way you can use the reclaimed space for cool things like workbenches and more.

4- Get that big ladder out of your way

Yes, you can even hang your ladder from either the ceiling or on the wall. Ladders take up valuable real estate in your garage when they aren't in use. Then when you do need it, it is always at arm's length.

5- Buy the right tools.

Half of the battle with keeping your space organized is buying the right kinds of tools and hardware. Look for a lawn mower that folds down for more compact storage or a telescoping ladder that collapses down to nothing. Buying smartly designed items helps stop a storage problem before it begins.

6- Keep those tools in one place.

The larger the toolbox, the more tools you can keep in one place, rather than having them take up room all around your garage. You will want to get one with wheels so that you can move it easily.

7- Label Bins

If you are using bins to store your various odds and ends, make a clear and easy to read label that you can read from the outside so that you know which one contains the "Christmas Decorations", "Winter Clothes" etc. This will save you a lot of time sorting through bins.

These are just a few examples of how you can maximize your space and we all need to because let's face it, the stuff just keeps on coming. A more organized and clean home just makes us feel better.

A Pet Parent’s Guide to Removing Household Pet Odors and Stains

Pet Odor Cleaning

As any pet parent knows, accidents happen. And all too often, those accidents result in nasty odors and unpleasant stains. Whether your favorite pup didn’t make it outside in time or your cat brought home a “present” and left it on the couch for you to find, it is important to know how to deal with disgusting messes to keep your home looking and smelling great.

While there isn’t a whole lot you can do to prevent your fur babies from making messes, there is a lot you can do to keep your home from looking and smelling like a zoo. Check out these helpful tips for removing household pet odors and stains.

Find the Source

Stains are usually easy to detect, but sometimes, determining the source of an unpleasant odor is a bit trickier. Follow your nose or use a blacklight to detect urine stains. When using a blacklight, turn off the rest of the lights in your home and shine it in all areas of the room. Because urine contains fluorescent molecules that glow under blacklight, you’ll be able to detect even old, dried stains. Once you have identified all of the stains and messes, outline them using chalk. This will help you remember where everything is — even those invisible dried urine stains.

Cleaning Washable Items

Start with washable items — like throw pillows, blankets and sofa cushion covers. Soak soiled items in an enzymatic cleaner. There are several types of enzymatic cleaners on the market, and they are formulated to eliminate unpleasant odors at the source rather than covering them up. If you have never used the product before, do a spot test in a conspicuous area first. Carefully read the instructions on the bottle and follow them closely to avoid damaging the item.

After soaking, wash the item in your washing machine as usual. For best results, air dry. If the stain is still visible or there is still an odor after the item is dry, repeat the process. Once the item has been washed, keep it away from your pet, if possible.

Tackle Your Carpets and Upholstery

If you are dealing with a fresh, wet mess, soak up as much as you can using paper towels and newspaper. Don’t scrub, as this could push the stain further into the fiber. Instead, use a blotting motion or put down a thick layer of paper towels and newspaper and stand on it. Repeat until the spot is barely damp.

Use clean, cool distilled water to rinse the area, then remove as much of the water as possible either by blotting or with a wet-dry vacuum. Next, apply an enzymatic cleaner. Read and follow the instructions to ensure the best possible results and to prevent damage to your carpet or upholstery. Once dry, use a blacklight to verify that the area has been thoroughly cleaned. If it still glows, repeat the process. If it doesn’t glow but there is still a visible stain, try a high-quality carpet or upholstery cleaner.

Eliminate Messes on Walls and Bare Floors

When you are dealing with a urine or another type of pet mess on your bare floor or a wall, start by soaking up fresh stains right away, then clean using an enzymatic cleaner. If the wood on your floor, baseboard, wall or furniture is discolored, the paint or varnish has been damaged. In this situation, you may need to remove and replace the damaged layer of paint or varnish. Talk to someone at your local hardware store to find the right products and learn how to tackle the project.

What Not to Do

When it comes to dealing with pet odors and stains, knowing what not to do can be just as important as knowing what to do. For starters, avoid using steam cleaners to treat urine odors on upholstery or carpet. The heat can set in the stain and odor by bonding the proteins to the man-made fibers. It’s also best to avoid strong cleaning chemicals, like ammonia. In addition to potentially causing damage, these products typically fail to eliminate or mask odors, and they can actually make your pet more likely to return to the scene of the crime.

If you are dealing with a stain or an accident on your tufted leather sofa, you need to be especially careful during the cleanup process. In most cases, it’s best to not use anything more than distilled water and a soft cloth to clean leather furniture. If you do need to use something a bit stronger, use a cleaner that is designed specifically for use on leather. Be sure to test it in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that it won’t cause any damage. Don’t ignore messes and accidents. No one ever wants to clean up a hairball or puddle that their pet left behind, but the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to eliminate the odor. Dealing with messes right away also helps prevent stains.

Making Pet Stains and Odors a Thing of the Past

With a little know-how and the right products, getting rid of pet stains and odors is a breeze. Whether your pet has had an accident on your favorite chair or has decided that a corner in your bedroom is the perfect spot to urinate, the tips and tricks listed above will help you get rid of the stains and smells.

Once you’ve cleaned up, train your pets to stay away from certain areas. If your pet is soiling indoors or is getting sick more frequently than usual, it could be a sign of an underlying medical issue. Cats commonly urinate outside of the litter box, for example, when suffering from things like urinary tract infections. If your pet seems to be having more accidents or getting sick more often than usual, you may need to consult with your veterinarian to get to root of the problem.

7 Tips To Making Space In Your Garage

Introduction

It happens to the DIYer, the craftsmen, the survivalist, the soccer dad (or mom). Your tools begin piling up, scrap parts stacked to the rafters and your garage is cluttered to say the least (2 cars??). The garage is still a special place in every home. We have focused on reclaiming space in your garage. Here are several tips on making space in your garage.

1. Pass On Valuables To Family Members

In general your stored items are there either because they have monetary value or a cherished memory. If you’re ready to clear up some room but not interested in selling items that is understandable. You’re not alone. With that in mind giving cherished items or valuable items to close family is always a great option to allow a family heirloom to be properly displayed or provide income to a family member that sells items online. You can open space at home while helping those close to you.

With a cherished memory you may consider passing them down to close relatives. If the item means something special to a brother for example, giving the item to a child of theirs may be a great option. If the gift is more personal you may want to consider getting it professionally restored prior to gifting it. This will ensure the gift last for generations to come. 

2. Utilize Tool Cabinets

If you’re creating projects in the garage and tools are being lost or left around then a tool cabinet becomes a must. If you are able to find a cabinet specific to your tool set brand or style that is great. Otherwise, we strongly recommend a more open tool cabinet and some shelving rather than specialized as it will be better at storing general items.

Your tool cabinet itself will ideally be organized but it doesn’t always have tool. Just having the ability to clean the garage by piling in tools into the cabinet is a huge benefit. It would be ideal to store each tool in a specific spot of the cabinet to be able to find it easily, however, it is still easier to find than somewhere in the entire garage. Many have special drawer inserts or hangers for specific hand and power tools.

garage-hanging-mechanic-162553-min (1).jpg

 3. Have A Yard Sale

The classic solution to making space with the bonus of earning cash is a yard-garage-parking lot sale. Yard sales are still popular and a great way to engage with the community. If you are more introverted you may also consider a virtual garage sale by selling items on online marketplaces as long as they are able to be shipped or you are comfortable with a local pickup (stay safe!). In the end you may be surprised to find out how valuable your old items are.

boxes-britain-city-461830-min.jpg

4. Install A Ceiling Storage Unit

This recommendation may require the most resources to implement but also offers an incredible return. If you’re able to store items from the ceiling or a loft above you have nearly doubled your space. This space is great for sporting equipment such as skis, kayaks and more. If your garage is high enough you may also consider implementing ceiling shelving to hang things from. This will allow you to store other items that may need to dry after use such as outdoor sleeping bags.

5. Adjustable Wall Shelving Or Storage Cabinets

Utilizing wall space to store items will allow you to have so much more in so much of a smaller area. While heavy items will have to remain below, other items such as tools, boxes, electronics and more can be stored. Storage Cabinets with doors will discourage insects and dust from affecting finer items (and keep prying eyes out). This will also make finding items easier when a project or task comes up.

6. Remove Old Items

We have covered items with monetary value, items with cherished value but some items simply have no value and need to be removed. This can be extremely difficult for many. You should first ask, “Does it work?” If the answer is no, is it worth being repaired? If the answer is no again, then this is an item to remove. Will this item ever be used in the future or have monetary value? If not, we have more room to clear out some usable space. If you’re ever wondering about possible monetary value, then we recommend looking up similar or exact items selling on the internet.

7. Organize Remaining Items

You’ve come to the home stretch. You have used the best possible means to remove material from your garage. You have added storage space using cabinets and more. You only have to organize the remaining items to finish clearing that garage. This final step will allow you to access things easily and quickly.

If you have any questions or comments on how to make space in your garage, please let us know. Every project and consideration is different, and we would love to hear about yours!

 

Author Bio

Edward Flanagan is the founder of Edward’s Enterprises, a licensed general contractor that has been improving homes and providing retail maintenance in Southern California since 1996. Their services include junk removal, packing help, light demolition and hauling. Edward currently divides his time between Camarillo and West Los Angeles and loves the 405.

9 Things in Your Home You're Forgetting to Clean

9 Things in Your Home You're Forgetting to Clean

Cleaning can be time-consuming and tiring, and few people among us enjoy all that scrubbing and scouring. It can be tempting to simply walk the vacuum cleaner around, wipe down some surfaces, straighten a few pillows, and call it a day. However, there are many benefits to performing a full and thorough clean at least once a month. Getting into those nooks and crannies you usually ignore and spending a few hours cleaning out those forgotten crevices can be incredibly satisfying. It can also prevent the buildup of dust and mold, which can harbor bacteria and viruses if left for long periods of time, and release allergens into the air.

Here are nine often overlooked items in your house that could benefit from a good cleaning, to maintain their functionality and keep your household healthy.

  1. Dishwasher

You wouldn’t think that dishwashers could get that dirty - after all, they’re self-cleaning, aren’t they? Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true, as food debris can collect around the filter over time, creating a scum that’s just perfect for growing bacteria and mold. Removing and cleaning out the dishwasher filter, before running a cycle on hot with a good dishwasher cleaner, will leave everything looking and smelling fresh in no time. The great thing about this is that it takes minimal effort, and you’ll quickly see a difference in how well your dishwasher performs once it is clean.

  1. Ceiling Fans

If your house has a ceiling fan, you probably don’t think much about cleaning the top of it. After all, it’s out of sight up there, so who cares if it’s a little grimy? Ceiling fans are, however, a dust trap, and can collect a thick layer in no time at all. These dust particles are then dislodged every time the fan is in motion, showering you and your family in allergens and settling on other surfaces in the room. This fan inevitably makes the rest of the room dirtier, and creates more cleaning work for you to do! Grab a step ladder and give your ceilings fans a wipe down at least once every few weeks, to decrease your workload and reduce the number of airborne allergens in your home.

  1. TV Remote

You may not think it, but your household TV remote control is a hotspot for bacteria, and it is commonly overlooked when it comes to cleaning. Germs can easily build up in the crevices of remote controls, which are then transferred to your hands every time you change the channel. Giving all remotes a wipe down with disinfectant or an antibacterial wipe once a week can significantly reduce the number of harmful bacteria lurking between the buttons, preventing you or anyone else in your family from getting sick.

  1. Light Switches and Door Handles

Also, often handled, but rarely cleaned, light switches and door handles can become filthy over time. You may not think it to look at them, but these are often coated with a layer of microscopic germs that are invisible to the naked eye. When these are transferred to the hands, they have the potential to make their way into the mouth if you eat without washing first, and you may not think to if you’ve touched nothing more than the kitchen door handle. Giving all switches and handles a once-over with an antibacterial wipe every week can help to keep your household germ-free, which can improve the overall health of your family members.

  1. Pillows

You may be on top of changing your sheets regularly, but have you ever thought to wash your actual pillows? Over time, pillows can become full of dust, dead skin cells, and dust mites, which is bad news for anyone with allergies. Putting them on a hot cycle in the washing machine twice a year, and drying them out on a low heat, can help to keep dust mites and germs at bay.

  1. Toothbrush Holder

Whether you have a wall mounted toothbrush holder, or you simply keep your brushes in a glass by the sink, you probably don’t think too much about cleaning it regularly. However, toothbrush holders are often damp, and in the humid environment of your bathroom, it can be easy for bacteria and mold to take hold. Considering how often you put your toothbrush in your mouth, this is the last place you want to have a buildup of germs! Washing your toothbrush container with hot water and disinfectant when you clean the rest of your bathroom can reduce your chances of picking up any illnesses from your brush.

  1. Washing Machine

Another frequently neglected item is the washing machine, as you probably assume all that hot water and laundry detergent does the job for you. What you may not realize is that laundry can accumulate germs fast when left in the machine, even if it’s only for short periods of time. Remembering to quickly transfer damp laundry to the dryer can reduce bacteria buildup, and cleaning your washing machine once a month or so can prevent germs from taking hold inside the drum. Running a hot cycle with a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda is a quick, easy and effective way of keeping your washing machine clean.

  1. Shower Curtain

Your shower curtain is the ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew, as all that humidity creates the perfect environment in which to grow. Fortunately, keeping your shower curtain clean is as simple as putting it in the washing machine every few weeks, where the detergent will kill off any germs or spores that may be living in the folds.

  1. Under Appliances

If you are in the habit of simply giving your kitchen countertops a quick wipe down after use, you may be neglecting to clean beneath your appliances. Crumbs can quickly accumulate underneath appliances where they can become moldy. This mold is not ideal in an environment in which you routinely prepare food, so moving everything out of the way for a thorough clean once a week is advisable. It may seem like a hassle, but it’s worth it to keep stomach bugs at bay.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning these often-overlooked household items may seem like a lot of extra work, but many can be dusted and disinfected within a few minutes without adding significantly to your workload. This cleaning can improve the overall health of your family members, and increase the longevity of your household appliances, saving you plenty of money in the long run.

 

 

 

 

 

7 Habits to Keep the House Clean with Kids and Pets

Habits to Keep the House Clean with Kids and Pets 2.jpg

We all wish to have a squeaky clean house that smells good and shines throughout the day, but keeping a perfectly neat home that too with kids and pets isn’t an easy task. Of course, you can’t spend the entire day organizing things, but you can always develop certain healthy habits that can help prevent messes and eventually reduce the time and effort that goes into cleaning. So for those who are fed up with the tiring chore, here are seven habits that can make cleaning effortless and even fun for you and your family:

Put Things Away After Use

Stacking things in every corner of the house makes the task of de-cluttering and organizing strenuous and challenging. Developing the habit of putting things in the allocated spaces can help cut down the amount of time needed to clean.  So instead of throwing your coat on the chair, make the effort of placing it in the closet or the laundry basket. Similarly, put your shoes in the organizers set up near the entrance- these small habits will make the difference between a messy and a tidy house.

Use a Timer

To stay on top of your cleaning keep track of time using a handy tool such as a stopwatch or a timer. Decide a 10 or 15-minute slot during the day when you can consistently clean without any disturbance then set the timer and get working. Continue cleaning until the timer beeps; this will help you develop the habit of fast-paced cleaning. If you have extra time choose as many slots as you can without stressing yourself. Remember the goal is to get things done on time so don’t set targets that you won’t be able to follow or longer durations that might slow you down.

Follow a Cleaning Routine

In a house with kids and pets, there are multiple cleaning chores, and we can’t handle all of them at once. Instead of panicking (which I understand can be difficult) set your priorities; pen down the most crucial task that can be done in the available time and schedule the others for a later time. I have never been a fan of making lists, but once I started listing and prioritizing; I felt focused and had better control over things.

Fix specific times for particular tasks, for instance, load the clothes into the washer first thing in the morning to avoid the dirty laundry from piling up. Similarly, don’t leave the dishes after dinner for the next day, run the dishwasher after everyone is done and you will have a clean kitchen. You can

No Dirty Paws or Shoes Allowed Inside the House

Whether it’s your kid’s shoes or your furry companion’s paws, both can be a means of tracking dirt and mud inside the house, and in turn, your floor will require frequent cleanup. The best way to prevent it from getting messy is by assigning a dedicated spot at the entrance to take off the shoes. As for the dogs that keep coming in and out, keep a towel to wipe their paws or a paw mat at the doorstep. You can even dip their feet in water after returning from a walk outside to ensure that all dirt is removed from your pup’s paws.

Clean Up “Accidents” Quickly

Cleaning up messes made by your kids or pets immediately can help save a lot of effort and time. Keep the require supplies and cleaners handy and get in action when you spot an accident. For pet messes on carpets blot the area using paper towels and use a vinegar & water solution followed by baking soda to get rid of the smell.

This prompt cleaning approach works with all tasks, so keep organizing and putting things away as you go and you will notice that your house appears a lot less messy at the end of the day.

Look For Easy and Smarter Ways to Clean

Instead of working harder, look for smarter ways of cleaning up. Invest in the correct tools and supplies, for instance, get a vacuum with powerful suction to get rid of pet fur from your house. You can create some powerful cleaning agents yourself using ingredients from the kitchen. However, if you want to buy commercially available cleaners then get a few and see what works best for your house. Stick with these specific ones only as using ineffective techniques or products can significantly increase the time required for cleaning up.

Assign Responsibilities to Every Member of the House

Approaching cleaning as a practice where each member of the household participates can have multiple benefits. When everyone else around you is working, it acts as a source of motivation, and you somehow don’t feel upset about working anymore. Set aside an hour each day when you decide to bless the home by handling one major chore. Assign age-appropriate responsibilities to your kids as well; this can play a significant role in teaching them life-skills such as self-efficacy and boost their self-esteem. Begin by asking them to clean up their toys or make the bed. If you feel your children are old enough then assign them pet-related chores such as helping with bathing the dog, cleaning the parrot’s roomy cage, putting the cat’s toys away, etc.  Reward your kids after they complete the allocated tasks.

As much as these habits can help, the most important thing is to relax and tell yourself that you can't be perfect all the time. Focus on the problems that cause 80% of the mess, and hopefully, you will be able to stay on top of these chores.

 

Author Byline:

Danica Boyd is a bird enthusiast and nature lover. She has been keeping pet birds for several years and now has tons of practical experience in caring for birds. She writes for the team behind https://www.birdcagesnow.com/.