Of the three R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle), reducing waste is by far the most important. The average American produces around 4.8 pounds of waste each day and while some of this will eventually degrade back into the earth, most trash will just sit in landfills for hundreds of thousands of years. Here are five ways you can take better care of the environment and reduce waste around the home.
1. Replace chemical cleaners with homemade ones
Instead of stocking up on multiple home cleaners for the bathroom, kitchen, and living room, make your own natural cleaners from ingredients you have at home. Try these three solutions for all-around home cleaning:
Baking soda—Mix four tablespoons of baking soda with one quart of warm water. Pour the solution on a clean sponge and wipe down stainless steel sinks and appliances.
Dishwashing liquid—Combine a drop or two of mild dishwashing soap with two cups of warm water for cleaning natural stone countertops. Avoid using citrus-scented dish soap as the acidity of the soap could eat into the stone.
White vinegar—Add one part white vinegar, one part water, and a lemon rind into a spray bottle and shake the solution. Let it sit for a few minutes before using it to freshen laundry and remove stubborn carpet stains.
2. Cut down on plastic use
On average, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour and produce nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year. You can reduce plastic use in the home by considering these eco-friendly alternatives:
Take a reusable shopping bag with you to the grocery store or farmer’s market.
Stop buying plastic water bottles and use a stainless steel water bottle.
Buy a set of reusable napkins instead of using paper towels that come wrapped in plastic.
Use a bamboo toothbrush—these brushes need to be replaced about every three months and can biodegrade back into the soil.
3. Repair your appliances instead of replacing them
If you have an appliance that’s starting to break down, try to make repairs before throwing the appliance away and getting a replacement. Making repairs may be more time-consuming, but electronic waste can have negative impacts on the environment and your health when improperly disposed in regular landfills or illegally dumped.
If you really need to get rid of your appliance, check to see if it’s covered by a home warranty or a product insurance plan. Most warranties will cover repairs for appliances that have broken down due to normal wear and tear—if this is the situation you find yourself in, you’ll be able to fix your appliance, prevent material waste, and save hundreds of dollars in the process.
4. Switch to paperless subscriptions
If you have piles of magazines and newspapers that just sit by your door once you’re done reading them, consider canceling your subscription. If you still want to keep your favorite editorials, opt for an online subscription—this will reduce the amount of paper waste you create and still allow you to enjoy your news. You can also go paperless by signing up for electronic bill statements.
5. Learn to compost at home
Compost enriches the soil, increases water retention, decreases erosion, suppresses plant diseases, deters pests, and reduces the need for pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Use food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic waste to create a compost pile in your backyard. Add your materials to a plastic bin. When the material at the bottom of the bin gets dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use.
Seniors often develop difficulties in keeping their homes clean, tidy, and well organized. Excessive clutter can make an elderly person feel mentally and physically drained, especially when they think about de-junking and trying to maintain a cleaner home.
Consider these 5 tips for helping a senior face their mess and create a safer, more peaceful, home environment.
1. Make a Prioritized & Detailed Cleaning List Beforehand
Involve the senior in the planning stage. By making a prioritized, detailed list an insurmountable task turns into smaller chores that feel manageable. Schedule short cleaning sessions that everyone involved can easily handle physically and in time the house will be clean and tidy.
2. Set Aside Time to Organize or Get Rid of Household Clutter
Some seniors are completely unaware of how many things they have accumulated over the years and have clutter blocking the hallways or doorways inside their home. This can be a risk factor for falls so it's important to clear all walkways in and around the home.
Set aside a time to organize and/or get rid of household clutter. A caregiver can plan on using a whole day, or weekend, to make a significant dent in the amount of clutter throughout an entire house.
Some ideas for removing household clutter include:
Start in the Room that is Most Used
Do Room by Room Clutter Control
Use Bags or Baskets to Sort Items in Each Room
Involve the Senior in Deciding Which Items Stay and Which are Donated or Thrown Away
Include Closet & Cabinet Organizing and Cleaning
Safely Dispose of Old Medicines, Household Cleaning Supplies, & Expired Food
3. Involve the Senior & Ask for Help from Other Family Members
It is always better to involve a senior in any type of organization or cleaning of their home. What might seem like junk to a caregiver could be something cherished or sentimental for the elderly person.
If you are taking care of an elderly parent or other family member, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the chores necessary to keep their home in order. Call a family meeting to discuss ways other family members can help with large cleaning efforts.
An alternative is to hire either a cleaning service or enlist the help of friends and neighbors. In-home care services are another way to get help caring for a loved one and keeping their space clean as many home care providers will perform light housekeeping.
4. Give Seniors Smaller Cleaning/Organizing Tasks that They Are Able to Perform
Even if your senior has limited mobility, he/she can still be involved with cleaning and organization tasks. Give your senior small knickknacks to dust, silverware to polish, or clothes to sort while sitting down. Encourage the senior to sort through piles of accumulated papers.
5. Plan, Schedule & Implement Deep Cleaning & Organization Sessions
If a senior is still living in their own home it likely is not being thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis. Family members or caregivers can assist with deep cleaning the house by taking the time to plan, schedule, and implement deep cleaning and organization sessions.
Helping an elderly person live in a clean home takes patience and planning but by thoughtfully involving the senior in the cleaning process, asking for help, and staying organized it’s possible for the home to receive the attention it needs to remain a comfortable, safe environment.
Emily Smith is a professional freelance writer with a passion for elder care born from a close relationship with her grandmother. She’s a frequent contributor and can often be found trail hiking in her native Utah.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
As with any horizontal surface, baseboards can quickly become dusty and need regular cleaning. The good news is that they are easy to clean!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.