Bathroom Hacks

Cleaning the bathroom is just about nobody‘s idea of an excellent time. it is grimy, it is pungent, it’s downright miserable. For lots of us, it’s a chore we take for granted until, it becomes 1,000 instances worse.

Good thing, I found a great article that motivates me to give enough attention to this special place.

Here are 10 of the best bathroom cleaning hacks that will make the chore a benign part of life rather than a horror show.

Clean Your Bathroom Mirror

Forget Windex. The best way to clean a bathroom mirror is with black tea. Yes, seriously. Apparently the tannic acid is what does it. So brew a pot, use a clean, lint-free cloth, and wipe it over the mirror. The end!

All-Natural Toilet Cleaner

A mix of vinegar and baking soda will do wonders on your toilet without resorting to the use of nasty, gross chemicals that will turn your toilet water blue. Just let it sit 15 minutes and clean toilet water will be yours.

Shining Your Sink Fixtures

A dab of baby oil on a cloth will shine your drab-looking sink fixtures into perfect mirrors. Exciting!

Clean Nail Polish on Cans

Dab some clear nail polish on any can that has the habit of leaving an unsightly rust run on your sink. Goodbye, nastiness.

Clean Your Bathtub

Sprinkle some salt on a grapefruit for a treat that is delicious — and useful! Use it to scrub your bathtub to get rid of all the gross soap scum without harsh chemicals.

Stop A Sticking Shower Curtain

Do your shower curtain rings get stuck on the rod? Use petroleum jelly to make them glide more easily.

Clean Soap Scum

Spray down your shower with non-stick cooking spray. It sounds disgusting, but people swear by it. Let it sit a few minutes and wipe it up. Now nothing will stick to the pan, er, shower. It might be good to have bathmat if you try this trick as slipping seems like it could be a factor.

Another Way to Remove Soap Scum

Take a dryer sheet and rub it over all the soap scum on your glass shower doors or in your bathtub.

Unfog Bathroom Mirror

Who knew soap “scum” could actually be good for something! Take a bar of soap, rub it over the mirror, and kiss your annoying fog-filled mirror days goodbye.

Clean Your Shower Head

This one is odd, but if you get scaly buildup on your shower head that makes the water spray weirdly, then you can appreciate the way this works. Simply fill a plastic bag with vinegar, wrap it around the shower head, secure with a string or some kind of tie, and leave it around the shower head overnight. In the morning, your shower will be that much brighter and better.

LIFE HACKS FOR A CLEAN HOME

 

10 LIFE HACKS FOR A CLEAN + ORGANIZED HOME // MY HABITS FOR A CLEAN HOUSE

1. CLEAR COUNTERS: clear off your counters to make your place look larger + cleaner. This tip is great in rooms like bathrooms, kitchens, etc.

2. DISPLAY STORAGE: For the items you DO leave out, I like to organize in surface storage like trays. Even though the same amount of items are still out, a tray looks more intentional and organized.

3. CLEAR THE WALLS: Keep minimal wall art / decor to maximize the space in your room. Focus on one or two statement pieces. Your eye knows where to focus with one or two pieces and can truly appreciate what it adds to the room. Having a ton of photos + decor looks more messy / cluttered. [I’m sure I’ll get a comment like ‘but wait so you’re telling me to remove any personality from a room’ – no, not true. But, sure- these are tips on how to have the CLEANEST space. Get a photo album, put it on your coffee table].

4. COLOR CODE: Color coding makes maximum impact in a space. It looks so appealing to the eye + organized. This is especially great in small spaces where closets feel more cramped or are out in the open, like a studio or dorm.

5. SET TIME LIMITS + MULTI TASK: Don’t plan a day to clean, give yourself a time limit: 30 minutes, 1 hour. 30 minutes out of 24 hours doesn’t seem that daunting. Play a netflix show, listen to a podcast or an audiobook and enjoy the time.

6. PUT THINGS AWAY ONCE: Develop the habit to put things away immediately, no matter how easy it is to throw something right when you get in the door. You’re doubling the work for yourself by doing that!

7. CLEAN AS YOU GO: I like to clean as I go in situations, especially when I’m cooking. Throw out trash, put utensils in the dish washer and clean your surfaces as you go so your kitchen is mostly clean by the time you’re done.

8. ORGANIZE BY FUNCTION: I have specific storage based on function. I have one bag where I keep all of my technology- it keeps cords off tables / desks, but I also always know where those items are.

9. USE CONTAINERS: I got organizers at the container store for storage in my bathroom, kitchen etc. I separate my face products from hair products and it keeps everything organized and in place.

10. STORAGE INCEPTION: Use larger items to house smaller items that you use less frequently. I have throw pillows in my purses [also great for displaying- they keep the shape!], winter fuzzy socks in my stand up boots and extra pillows / blankets in my larger suitcases.

Paint Color for your Space

If picking one paint color is tricky, how on earth do you find colors for an entire house? How can you know they will go together? Where do you even begin? Join us as we navigate the process of selecting colors for a whole house, and gather inspiration (and maybe a little courage) to tackle your own walls.

Note which rooms are visible to one another. Walk through your house and note which spaces you can see from each room. Use a floor plan (a rough sketch is fine) to keep track.

Adjoining rooms are part of this, but you may be able to see quite a bit farther — down a hall and into the kitchen, for instance. These notes will form the basis of your whole-house color plan, so keep them close at hand.

Start by picking a color for the biggest, most centrally located room.This will most likely be your living room or kitchen, and it’s a great place to start working on your whole-house palette.

If picking colors has been stressing you out, choosing a soft, neutral hue for the main room will make picking the other colors easier. And you really can’t go wrong with white.

Or start with the room you want to paint the boldest color. If you love color and have a certain hue in mind for a specific room, you can start there instead. Looking out from the bold-hued room, choose a softer, more subdued color for the next rooms. You can, of course, put bold colors next to each other, but that does carry more risk — painter, beware!

Build your palette with shades of the same hue. Once you have a paint color picked for your first room, one simple way to move on is to choose shades of the same hue for adjacent rooms or walls. You can choose a hue from a nearby paint chip, pick the next color up or down on the same paint chip, or even have the same color mixed at the paint store with white added to make a lighter version.

The beauty of this method is that, while it will give your home interest and depth, you also can rest assured that the colors will go well together.

Have a strategy when picking colors for an open space. When much of the house is visible at once, as in the open plan space shown here, picking colors that work together is especially important. Using shades or tints (shades are darker; tints are lighter) of the same hue can work well in this type of space.

Another approach is to use an environment as inspiration for the whole space — we touched on this concept in part two of this series, using the beach as an example. The colors that go well together in nature will also work as paint colors.

Work on upstairs and downstairs spaces separately. If there is a true separation between floors, you can easily create a different mood in the upstairs versus downstairs, rooted in the colors you choose. Plus, focusing on one floor at a time can help keep the task feeling more manageable.

Consider keeping connecting spaces neutral. White, beige, greige and the like are fairly foolproof choices for halls and landings, and they give the eye a place to rest between areas of more saturated color.

On the other hand, if you have decided to stick with white or soft neutrals in your rooms, the halls and landings can be a great place to experiment with a richer hue. It doesn’t need to be a big departure from the other colors you are using — just a shade or two darker is enough to make an impact.

Test your potential palette. As you narrow down your color choices and think you may have some winners, bring home test pots of paint. Sample cards, even the big ones, can be deceptive.

Painting your own swatches will allow you to assess each color in the room it’s meant for and check that the colors in visually linked spaces work together.

Home Remodeling: Tips for Hiring A Contractor

You don’t often buy a car without testing out a few different models. Why would you do anything different when contemplating a major overhaul to your home, or even a room or two.

It does not matter if you’re doing an overhaul of electric, plumbing or adding a new porch to the exterior of your home, when it comes to changing things up in the most important investment of your life, you need to know you’re hiring the right kind of professional(s) to do the job.

The Rule of Three

Get at least three different proposals and estimates, no matter the type of work. Three formal estimates will show you the highest, the lowest, and a “moderator” price—the one that most closely matches one of the other two. Chances are, the one that stands out as the over or under price is the one to avoid, either due to over-inflated pricing or inexperience, either or which could result in poor quality or drawn out work.

Meet the Manager

Before hiring any contracting company, meet personally with the boss, the general contractor; he/she will be the one managing the entire project—the buck truly does stop with them. Get all details in writing; don’t leave it to a verbal agreement. Get drawings; get quotes, down the the brick or flooring strip. And ask how the contract will be affected if the job goes over the projected amount—chances are, there will be unexpected things that crop up once the work has started: unanticipated pipes buried in walls; flooring that is uneven; rooms that are not quite square.

Pick their brain on how they will approach your particular project in relation to similar projects they’ve completed. Don’t neglect taking into account the contractor’s personal dress, personality or demeanor upon entering your home. Oh, and the type of vehicle they drive is another factor to consider. Do they drive a wreck, or is the car/truck/van in good condition, and does it publicize the business?

Get it in Writing

Get a firm timetable, within 5 to 7 days, of when the project will be completed. Confirm start and end times for each day’s work, and ask how workers will clean up after themselves after each day’s work. Ask for several (3 to 5) references who will agree to speaking with you about their satisfaction level with the contractor before starting your work. Any contractor worth their price will agree to this immediately. Ask to see credentials and ensure the contractor will be securing all necessary contracts, both local and/or county. Check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no grievances filed with the contractor.

Final points

Read the contract. Ask questions about any details you do not clearly understand. And if you have special requirements, such as pets that need to be watched so they don’t escape during the remodeling process, or a child or older adult with special needs, make sure this is part of the up-front discussion before signing the dotted line.

Energy Saving Home: Keeping Cool this Summer

Reducing your energy consumption this summer will save you money and conserve our power resources. Suggested ideas to keep the air conditioner turned down or turned off during a hot spell. In time we are able to acclimatize our bodies to the outside temperature; however, we have become accustomed to cooler temperatures in the summer and the warmer temperatures in the winter.

Cooling Down Tips

  • Replace the heavy dark fabrics from windows, beds and sofas with soft light colored fabrics
  • Keep the drapes drawn during the day.
  • Open the windows in the early evening to let the fresh night air flow through the home.
  • Put a small fan near the open windows to help with circulating the air.
  • Install water fountains in the living room or family area. Chose a size suitable for the area. Install more than 1 if you have space. The sound of the water will lower your temperature. You can play tricks on the body to cool yourself.
  • Have a fan circulating the air near the water fountain. It gives a nice breeze.
  • Play music with water in the background. If it is an extremely hot day, play winter music to bring you back to the coldness.
  • Fill spray bottles with distilled water. Periodically mist the room and yourself.
  • Wear light colored clothes made from natural fibers. The synthetic fibers make you sweat more because it blocks the body from sweating freely.
  • Keep the body well hydrated. Increase your water intake from 8 to 10 on those very hot days. Stay away from sugary drinks.
  • Eat light meals such as salad and soups. Limit starch as it makes the body feel heavy and causes you to feel warmer.
  • Embrace the warm weather. Work with it, not against it. Keep chores to a minimal in the summer. The heat makes your body slow down.
  • Imagine yourself sitting on a glacier in Alaska on those very hot days. Jump through the sprinkler.
  • Place a cool facecloth on the back of your neck or mist it with your spray bottle.
    The Art of Keeping Cool Meditation

The key to keeping cool in a home environment with no air conditioner and limited fans is powered by your mind.
Cool Meditation Exercise

Lie on the floor or on the ground with your head supported if desired.

Ceramic floors are ideal if you do this inside the home. Outside of the home, stretch out on a flat surface that provides you with some shade.

Close your eyes and just relax the entire body. If a part of the body feels tense, gently squeeze the muscle and release.

Breathe slowly and softly.

After the body has begun to relax, begin the cool meditation. Do not become anxious, if you are still thinking about your worries; just let it flow through you.
Cool Meditation Visualization

Visualize a waterfall that is deep within a forested region. The falls are cascading down and you are being sprayed by the cool mountain water as you lie on your back in this natural setting. Just experience this feeling and be calm. Try and remember a time when you felt refreshed on a hot sunny day and try and recapture the moment in your mind.

The key is to relax and really experience this moment.

This exercise will cool the body and make the heat less unbearable. As you release the image, be sure to feel the coolness of the mountain water and keep it with you throughout the day.

What Does a House Say About its Owner?

Buying New or Fixing Up? A Home Can Speak Many Languages

If a home could talk, what would it say about the owner? With any dialect, it takes practice to be able to speak the language. Experts say that homes go way beyond “comfy and cozy” these days. Thoughtful designs can incorporate many other important personality traits.

What Does a Floor Plan Communicate?

A home’s floor plan can be likened to a road map of how homeowners live. Kitchens are a great example. People who want more than one cook in the kitchen will choose open kitchen floor plans with areas for people to gather, such as hearth rooms and seating near an island.

open kitchen floorplan

For busy families who need to be organized, mud rooms with built-in cubbies for kids’ backpacks and sports supplies make living at home easier and more comfortable. Today’s homeowners are demanding a home that works with their lifestyle and complements their daily living.

The Conversation Starts Outside

beautiful home exterior

In addition to floor plans, a home’s exterior appearance has become a revealing characteristic of a homeowner’s personality. In addition to landscaping, driveways, sidewalks and even garage doors have their own abilities to communicate. Backyards have become popular venues for homeowners to interpret their lifestyle priorities. Outdoor living spaces offer extended areas to relax or take the party outside. Fire pits, outdoor kitchens, fountains, screened porches, patios and courtyards contribute to a homeowner’s ability to entertain or just enjoy the natural surroundings.

What’s Being Said Behind Closed Doors?

How a home functions is revealing as well. Energy efficiency is a top priority for homeowners right now. Green is “in”, and not just Crayola’s version. Green building offers many opportunities for homeowners who want to live in a home with environmentally friendly products and utilize techniques that help the home function more efficiently. Homeowners who choose green building and energy efficiency more than likely are environmentally conscious in other aspects of their lives as well.

If a home could talk, what would it say about the owner? With any dialect, it takes practice to be able to speak the language. Experts say that homes go way beyond “comfy and cozy” these days. Thoughtful designs can incorporate many other important personality traits.

If a home hasn’t quite found its voice yet, don’t worry. In many cases, all it takes is a fresh coat of paint, some new landscaping and updated design elements. However, for buyers considering learning a whole new language of homeownership, there are some incredible new homes on the market that offer creative floor plans and unique extras that make them stand out from the rest.

Finding a Home That Speaks in Today’s Housing Market

Currently, homebuyers have a large selection of existing homes on the market in a variety of neighborhoods across the country. The increased supply of homes available offers plenty of options, and low interest rates make it affordable.

Asbestos Testing

How to Test for Asbestos in the Home

While asbestos has been banned from building materials for decades, and manufacturers have voluntarily stopped producing it, it remains in the tiles, insulation, paint and shingles of many older homes. People exposed to asbestos fibers are at risk of developing health problems such as lung cancer, mesothelioma (cancer of the chest lining), and asbestosis (scarred lung tissue).

If asbestos is present, but won’t be disturbed, it’s fine to leave it as is: it’s only dangerous when the fibers become loose and are inhaled. If a remodeling project is about to begin, though, it’s best to test for asbestos if it’s suspected to be part of the structure. The US Environment Protection Agency also recommends that any area suspected to be asbestos be treated with caution as though it is confirmed asbestos.

It’s best to call in a professional for asbestos testing, as accredited and trained individuals can ensure that the tests are conducted safely, without any risk for the homeowners. However, a homeowner can take a sample and then send it away to the EPA for testing. Here’s how to test for asbestos.

Asbestos Testing at Home

asbestos testing

The key to remember is that any asbestos fibers released into the air are hazardous, so precautions must be taken to ensure as few fibers are released as possible.

Before the asbestos sampling is done, look into local and state requirements for cleaning up and disposing of asbestos. These rules are necessary to follow for any of the equipment used to do the asbestos test.

Here are the recommendations to follow for asbestos testing according to the American Lung Association.

  • Have only one person do the asbestos sampling so that fewer people are at risk. Other inhabitants should not be at home.
  • Wear disposable gloves and a mask, and wash hands thoroughly when finished.
  • Ensure all heating and cooling systems are turned off, as are any fans, so that any released fibers won’t be blown around.
  • Take a very small sample so that as few fibers are disturbed as possible.
  • To prepare the area, place a plastic sheet on the floor, and spray a mist of water and detergent on the material to be cut. The mist will also prevent fibers from blowing around.
  • Use a very sharp knife to cut the sample, and work very carefully. Place the sample into a clean container that can be tightly sealed.
  • Clean up the area by washing it with paper towels, and then dispose of the towels and the plastic sheet according to the local regulations.
  • Patch the hole created in the material using duct tape.
  • Label the container with the location and date, and send to an EPA testing laboratory.

Asbestos testing is important to ensure health risks are reduced or eliminated during a remodeling project, or even a task as simple as drilling a hole in a wall to hang a picture.

Asbestos Testing and Removal

If the asbestos test results come back positive, a professional should be called in to evaluate the material. Trained professionals can make recommendations on how to remove or deal with the asbestos, and will make sure it’s done safely.

There are three main options offered: sealing, covering, and removing asbestos. Sealing it binds the fibers together so that they can’t be released. Covering it can also be an option that prevents asbestos from being disturbed. Finally, removal gets rid of asbestos for good, but the process involves increased health risks, so it should only be undertaken by a professional. Because of the health risks, asbestos removal is expensive, but it may be the only option if the asbestos is in an area that will be remodeled or otherwise majorly changed.

Asbestos testing is a serious endeavor; while the asbestos itself is dangerous, the sampling process has its own risks, too. A professional is the best person to deal with the job, but whether a professional does it or the homeowner, all precautions should be followed to reduce the possible health consequences.

A Heated Floor and a Warm Home

Radiant Heat and Floor Heating Systems

Having a warm floor on a cold winter morning is an attractive idea. So is having an effective way of warming the whole house from the floor up. Whether the goal is to have a warm bathroom floor, or to warm the entire home, learning the difference between radiant heat and floor heating systems can help ensure that the right choice is made.

What is Radiant Heat?

There are different types of radiant heat; air, electric and hydronic. As the first two are not extremely cost effective in residential settings, and are therefore less used, this article will focus on hydronic radiant heat.

Hydronic, or liquid, radiant heat systems pump hot water through tubing laid in the floor. Water is heated in a tank, and sent through tubing to continually circulate and warm the area above it through convection. More efficient than baseboard heating, radiant heat uses heat transfer to warm people and objects in the room, rather than heating the air, and therefore uses less energy, allowing the homeowner to set the temperature lower than with conventional heating methods, while still maintaining comfort.

Radiant heat can be installed under any floor covering, and will make the floor, the room, and the people in it feel warm. The cost of installation will vary depending on the size of the house, the cost of labor and the type of subflooring used.

What is a Floor Heating System?

floor heating system

A floor heating system, such as NuHeat, is a mat inlaid with wires which is laid over the subfloor, but under the final floor covering such as tile. Used primarily to warm a bathroom floor, it uses approximately the same amount of energy as a light bulb. This system will only warm the floor, not the people or other objects in the room.

Many electric floor heating systems are available with a timer which will turn the system on and off during hours of peak use. For instance, if the homeowner typically uses the bathroom at 6:00am and departs the house at 8:00am, the timer can be programmed to turn on the floor heating system at 5:45am and shut itself off at 8:15am. Multiple times of day can be programmed, as the bathroom is used by different people.

The cost of installation is usually lower, as the mat is installed at the same time as the tile floor, and the tile installer will work together with an electrician to wire the system.

When to Choose One System vs Another

It may make more sense to install radiant heating, if a total home renovation or new home construction is underway. Because the subflooring and final floor covering is involved, it makes more sense to undertake this installation if both are already in the process of being replaced or laid. If the home is undergoing an overhaul of the heating system, this may be another instance in which radiant heat should be considered.

Electric floor heating system are easier to install, and therefore can be put in during a bathroom renovation just prior to the laying of the bathroom floor tile, or even just during a floor installation, if a mudroom floor is the desired choice to heat.

Whichever system chosen be sure to use certified installers that have worked with this material before. Many electric floor heating system retailers will have a certification course for installers to take before working with the product. Always ask to see credentials and examples of previous work if unsure.

How To Prepare For A Wet Weather Season

As a home owner you need to prepare yourself for all weather season especially the wet season. This is because during this season your house can incur massive damage due to the harsh cold and rain and it will be hard to go out in the cold and try to make repairs while it is raining. Therefore you are advised to take your time during the dry season and try to make repairs because you can easily access areas that are vulnerable to the elements without disturbance. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for this season.

  • Gutter cleaning

Rain gutters are essential part of the roofing system that help to get rid of water that can damage the system. If they are not regularly cleaned they will get clogged and will not carry out their functions as expected. Try and make sure that you clean your gutters a few weeks before the rainy season or else you will incur a lot of expenses for something that could have been prevented easily.

Gutter cleaning isn’t a task that can be completed by just anyone. You need someone who understands what should be done when it comes to gutter cleaning. Perhaps a gutter cleaning professional is the best option. He will first inspect the gutters, estimate the extend of cleanliness required, get the right cleaning equipment, and get the task done.

After cleaning, the professional must inspect the gutters again for any faults that need to be corrected. For example, holes, and cracks must be fixed as early as possible to avoid further damage.

  • Seal holes in your roof

If you don’t inspect your roof regularly you will fail to realize that the shingles get loose and even fall off. Before the rains start to fall you should check that the shingles are tight in place and if there are some missing replace them or use appropriate material to seal the hole to avoid leakage when it rains. Rainwater greatly damage the ceiling because water can spread and lot the ceiling creating a big hole on your ceiling which will be very expensive to fix or even replace if the damage is extensive.

Preparing your home for a rainy season is a simple task which should not be overlooked. This will greatly help you to avoid serious home damage.

How to Get Rid of Household Mold

get rid of household mold

Tips for Preventing and Eradicating Mold in Your Home

There’s nothing worse to you as a homeowner than discovering you have a household mold problem. Because its ugly presence can be a nightmare, it’s important to both recognize a mold problem before it grows worse, and take preventative measures so you won’t have household mold in the future.

Not only is household mold ugly and destructive to your house, it’s also bad for your health. You could be suffering from a household mold problem and not even realize it. Symptoms may range from anything from breathing difficulties to sinus congestion, watery eyes, and throat irritations to nausea, vomiting, fatigue and rashes.

How Molds Enter Your Home

Although mold growing outdoors is the natural result of breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves, it’s detrimental to both your home and family when growing indoors. Mold spores, which are invisible to the naked eye, circulate through the air, looking for a wet surface to land in your home. Once they find it, they begin to grow. Therefore, to prevent molds growing in your home, you have to check for moisture.

household mold

Hidden Mold

Although molds usually grow on fibers, woods, and damp paper, sometimes it’s not easy to know if you have a mold problem, as it could be lurking in your house without your even seeing it.

Even black mold isn’t visible at first. However, a few warning signs may include musty smells (although you can’t see it growing.) This is the result of widespread water damage, such as a burst pipe within a wall.

Too often mold is mistaken for common mildew. If you try to remove what appears to be mildew with bleach and water and it still comes back, chances you may have black mold, which is a bigger problem. If you suspect your home has this kind of toxic mold, call a trained professional because you don’t want to agitate mold spores, creating more damage.

Preventative Measures – The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) recommends a number of preventative measures to keep mold from growing.

Repair all leaks – Immediately repair and dry any water leaks within 24 hours.

Clean hard surfaces – Regularly clean hard surfaces with bleach-based products that not only kill mold but also destroy and neutralize any allergy-inducing spores. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, then have someone who isn’t sensitive do the cleaning.

Aerate all crawlspaces – Besides making sure all household crawlspaces (such as in attics and basements) are well ventilated, also place plastic over dirt in outside crawlspaces to keep out moisture.

Use exhaust fans – To guard against moisture in rooms such as your kitchen and bathrooms, install and use exhaust fans.

Use caution with humidifiers – Although humidifiers are needed, especially during the dry winter months, be sure to turn them off if you see condensation on your windows as that’s a sign of moisture.

Use dehumidifiers – Be sure to use a dehumidifiers in your basement, especially during hot humid weather.

Don’t carpet bathrooms and basements – If you already have carpeting installed over concrete, regular check for any signs of mold. Rather than carpeting your basement, it’s best to install flooring with area rugs that be taken up and washed. Installing a vapor barrier over concrete is also advisable.

Although finding mold growing in your home is not good news, at least you can feel good that you discovered it before it grew worse. Just take a deep breath (not literally) and do what you now know to do to get rid of it. If the problem reaches beyond your expertise, then find some dependable professionals who can take care of the problem. Most of all, take steps to prevent it from happening again.