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Friday, October 21, 2016

Preparing for the Winter Season


Kermit the Frog out on a Cold Winter Day Throwing a Snowball.

Winter is coming and generally wherever you live the days will be colder and the nights longer. Here are a few home tasks to make sure you are ready for the cold and dark no matter the weather outside.

Furnace Check-up

Once a year you should get your furnace checked to make sure it is running efficiently. In addition, vacuum your heating vents inside the house to remove dust that has settled on them during the summer month.

Adjusting thermostat settings should be changed as well. Change them based on your routine, set it to turn on ½ hour before you get up in the morning, lower it while everyone is out of the and then when everyone is sleeping you can lower the thermostat a bit, this type of activity can help save on your energy usage.

Chimney Cleaning

Every fall we should get the chimney inspected; this will insure that your chimney is safe from any blockages that could cause your fireplace not to function properly. Another good thing to do is to clean out the fireplace even if you have a gas fireplace. You want to have a warm, clean and cozy place to sit when the wind starts blowing outside.

Snow Blower Maintenance

If you live in a place that gets lots of snow, you know how handy your snow blower is, so make sure your snow removal machines are ready to go. Check the manual on how you should properly get your snow blower readied and if you are not comfortable doing the tasks, find a certified maintenance provider in your area.

Checking the Pipes

Walk around the house: in the attic, garage, outside and make sure if there are any exposed pipes, they are well insulated and cover the outdoor faucets.

On colder than average nights, leave a trickle of water running in the bathroom and kitchen sinks. Running water can’t freeze.

Cleaning out the Pantry

Although this may not seem like part of the winter cleaning checklist, it has saved me from having to drive to the store when there is snow on the ground.

The pantry can get over cluttered with food which means there’s bound to be expired foods on the shelf. Get ready for the change of seasons by clearing out the old food then think about stocking it with hot cocoa, teas, and warm soups, ingredients for making waffles and cookies, and so on.

In addition if you don’t yet have an emergency supply box of freeze dried foods, batteries and other basic survival items, maybe it’s something to think about just in case there is a power outage.

Be Ready for Festive Holiday Parties

If you have festive events that require some clothing you don’t generally wear every day, make sure they are in good shape and check to see if they need to be taken to the cleaners. You might also want to take your holiday tablecloths and napkins at the same time.

References:

Preparing for Cold Winter Nights
Winter Cleaning Checklist

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Cleaning Dirty Fireplace Bricks

A Nice Clean Red Brick Fireplace.

How to Clean Fireplace Bricks Inside the House


I love having a fire in the fireplace on a chilly night; it’s so cozy and relaxing as you’re snuggled up in a blanket watching a good show or reading a good book.

I also love the look of a brick fireplace, it just adds to the ambiance and comfort but they do need to be maintained if you want to keep them nice looking and free of sooty buildup.

If you still have a wood burning fireplace and can burn wood with little restrictions, consider yourself lucky as some cities are not allowing wood burning devices in new construction due to air pollution.

If you want to know more about burning wise, at the end of this post is a link to the EPA frequently asked questions?

Now onward to cleaning those dirty fireplace bricks.

A Little About Soot? 


Soot is black powder from incomplete burning of wood, coal, or other organic/natural material.

It doesn’t take much burning to cause soot to form and it can be hard to clean if not cleaned occasionally as the black carbon ash easily stains brick.

Bricks 


Bricks are made of clay then baked in a kiln to make them strong and durable and they can be sealed or unsealed. Typically the bricks inside the fireplace are unsealed and will be harder to clean as soot and grime will penetrate more easily.

Cleaning Supplies 


Here is a list of the supplies you’ll need when cleaning your brick fireplace.
• Nylon bristle brush
• Sponge
• Paint brush
• Green scrubby
• Spray bottle
• Cleaning rags
• Vacuum cleaner or broom
• Drop cloth
• Rubber gloves
• Kneeling Mat
• Goggles

Where to Begin? 


If you are actively burning fires, wait at least a full day before cleaning. When you’re ready, lay your drop cloth down, use a broom (be sure to clean this thoroughly later) to loosen dirt then use a shop-vac and vacuum the brick to remove some of the loose soot, cobwebs and dirt. I would also consider using a bag in the shop vac.

Another thing to consider is wearing an old pair of clothes as you are more than likely going to get splattered with dirty soot and other messy particles of dirt and debris.

Now it’s time to don the gloves and goggles!

Cleaning Methods 


It will require a bit of work to clean the soot from the bricks. If the brick happens to be painted, try cleaning a few bricks in an out of the way spot to make sure it doesn’t lift the paint.

For all cleaning methods listed, have a separate spray bottle or bowl of plain water to completely rinse the surface after using a cleaning solution.

Using Dawn Dishwashing Detergent 


I use Dawn for a lot of dirty jobs where I don’t need strong chemicals, it’s a great degreaser. Using Dawn dish soap is one of the less aggressive cleaning methods for your brick and will work well on brick that does not have decades of buildup on them.

You can either use a spray bottle or just dip the brush directly in the solution. If you opt to just dip, make sure you have plenty of cloths covering the floor as water will get sloshed around.

Mix 1/2 cup dish detergent to 4 cups hot water and start cleaning; working in small sections. Rinse well with plain water when finished.

Using Borax and Dawn Dishwashing Detergent 


Borax is a natural disinfectant and will help increase the cleaning power of detergents. Borax is odorless and alkaline which gives it its cleaning power. Borax produces a small amount of hydrogen peroxide when mixed with water so it acts a little bit like an oxy type cleaner.

Mix together 2 Tablespoons Borax and 1 Tablespoon dishwashing liquid with 4 cups hot water. Hot water is necessary to dissolve the Borax.

I would mix this in a bowl until the Borax is dissolved then transfer to a spray bottle so you can shake it periodically.

Spray a section of brick with the cleaning solution and scrub the bricks. If you run into a hard spot to clean, use a bit more pressure or use a stiffer brush. Rinse with clean water after cleaning.

These are just a couple of methods you can use to clean the fireplace brick in your home. For more brick cleaning methods, click HERE.

And here is the link to the EPAs FAQs:
https://www.epa.gov/burnwise/burn-wise-frequently-asked-questions

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How to Reduce the Odors Associated with Raising Your Own Rodents

Three White Mice with Pink Eyes.

Tips for Reducing Ammonia Odor When Raising your Own Mice and Rats 


We were asked the question on how to remove strong ammonia smells associated with raising rodents and the answer got quite long that I decided to do a post.

It seems many people are now raising their own rodents to feed their hungry little or not so little reptiles as quality feeder mice or rats can be hard to come by and it helps save a little money. I also suppose if you are into raising reptiles you want to know what you are feeding them is a well fed and bred rodent. Seriously!

I’m sure there are plenty of you who know more about keeping and breeding rodents than I do and I’m equally as sure that you know there is always going to be the ammonia smell regardless of what you do, but I do have some suggestions.

You are probably already aware it’s the cage and the rodents creating the smell so taking the time to spend on cleaning them is what will ultimately help the most with the odor.

Make Sure Cages are not Overcrowded 


Make sure the cages are not overcrowded and there is enough bedding. The more mice or rats in a cage the more urine and the more little feet are tromping through the urine. I’m guessing if the cages are large enough there is adequate room to move and more bedding to absorb the urine and the smell.

Plus it’s just more humane to offer these critters a little happiness without infection that can come from overcrowding and a lack of cleanliness.

Can you Potty Train Your Mice, Rats, Other Rodents? 


I know some, maybe even a lot of you, are raising these little creatures for food but I have read some rodents can be potty trained; wouldn’t it be nice to just empty a potty box every day to help cut back on the smell, especially if you have a male in every cage.

Spot Clean in between Regular Cleanings 


I’m sure raising your own food source for your reptiles is time consuming, but if necessary, spot cleaning before regular cleanings to remove large wet spots will go a long way to eliminating odors?

Is One Bedding Better Than Another? 


What kind of bedding are you using? Is one bedding better than another? Try switching to another type to see how that works?

For example, I would think paper shreds would need to be changed more often and will hold on to the odor much more readily than hay or pine and I’ve read that some people think maple bedding stinks.

Cleaning the Tank or Cage 


When you do your regular weekly clean and change the bedding, do you clean the inside of the tank as well? Or at least wipe down the sides of the cage? Not only will this help reduce odor, it will help keep your pets a little healthier. I know this adds time to everything you’re already doing but it will help with the odors.

  1. You can use 1 capful of white vinegar to 1 gallon of water for those that may need a deep cleaning, rinse and dry when you’re done washing the cage. 
  2. For regular cleanings just use a drop or two of dish soap to a gallon of water. Again wipe down, rinse and dry. 

Make sure the tank is completely dry before putting your rodents back in.

Good Ventilation is Very Important for Odor Removal 


Ventilation is so important at keeping the air circulating out. If there is no ventilation all those strong smells are just getting trapped and hanging in the air and wafting upwards.

If there are windows in the room, keep them open when you can. When the weather is bad and it’s not ideally possible to keep the windows open, look into using purchasing a quality air purifier, a good one that uses a HEPA filter.

Natural Minerals to Absorb Odors 


A great product you can try using is called Zeolite. This is a natural mineral that absorbs odors, not just masking odors. Depending on how bad the odor is you are trying to remove will depend on how much to purchase. If the smell is horrendous, you may want to place these bags around the room, especially around the cages.

If you keep your rodents in the basement of the house, try placing these on the steps leading up as well. Zeolite can help reduce and absorb odors for up to six months.

Zeolite can work at removing odors but depending how strong the smell is, it will take time and you will need to keep up with replacing the Zeolite when needed, which may be more frequent until you get the smell under control.

Zeolite could possibly be used in conjunction with an air purifier as well? 

Washing the Walls of the Room where you Have the Rodents 


If the odor you are trying to remove is a serious bad smell, you should consider washing the walls, it’s possible the odor has permeated them and a good cleaning can help. If the surface of the walls can be washed, start with a vinegar and water wash.

White Vinegar and Water Recipe 


  • 1 part White Vinegar 
  • 1 part Water 

Mix these together and allow this to sit a few minutes then wash the walls down, rinse and dry. This can be repeated.

If you are still noticing the smell but it’s better, mix the following together for further odor reduction:

Baking Soda and Water Recipe


  • 1 cup Baking Soda 
  • 10 cups Water 

Make sure you mix the baking soda completely before washing the walls as baking soda is abrasive and you probably don’t want to scrub the paint of the walls. Again wash the walls, let sit a few minutes, rinse with clean water and dry.

Note: Don’t use white vinegar and baking soda together as the two will cancel each other out and you pretty much end up with salty water.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Dirty Truth about the Kitchen Sink Garbage Disposal and Drain

A Clean and Sanitized Kitchen Sink Drain and Disposal

 Cleaning the Kitchen Sinks Drain and Disposal


The kitchen sink drain and garbage disposal are loaded with germs, more than most bathrooms. They are brimming with hundreds of thousands of bacteria and pathogens like salmonella, campylobacter and E. coli.

And how often do you actually think about putting a brush inside the disposal to clean it. It’s one of those areas that don’t get the cleaning it needs.

This is a two step process. First we’ll clean the drain then sanitize it.

Cleaning the Inside of the Drain/Disposal 


If you haven’t cleaned the inside of the drain and disposal before, chances are you’re going to see quite a bit of black gunk and stuff. And let me warn you, don’t take the brush out too fast or it will fling gunk on you.

To help stop bacteria I’ll typically clean and sanitize on a Sunday evening after all the dishes have been rinsed and put in the dishwasher. 

I use a long handled scrub brush that I get at the dollar store for this step as it’s inexpensive and I can throw it away when I’m done and I’m not out much.

  1. Take your brush and put it in the disposal area and clean all around the sides, bottom and underside of the rubber splash guard. 
  2. Carefully lift the brush out through the rubber splash guard (so it doesn’t flick dirty gunk on you) and tap it against the side of the sink to loosen the debris that’s stuck on the brush. 
  3. Turn on the cold water and rinse all the debris down the drain and turn the disposal on. 
  4. Repeat the above steps until the gunk is pretty much gone. 
  5. Now I add a liquid cleanser to the brush and clean the sides, bottom and under the splash guard. You’ll probably want to repeat this step a couple of times. 

When you’ve finished, rinse the sides of the sink and drain with cold water then turn on the disposal for a few seconds then you can move on to sanitizing. 

Sanitizing the Drain and Disposal 


Before plugging the drain make sure you have rinsed the sink. For this step you’ll be using a lot of hot water and liquid bleach.

  1. Plug the drain. 
  2. Fill the sink, as much as you safely can without it sloshing out, with the hottest water you can. Remember to leave room for the bleach you’ll be adding. 
  3. Add in 1/2 cups bleach for every gallon of water your sink holds. My sink holds about 9 1/2 gallons of water so I add in 5 cups bleach. 
  4. Swish this around carefully with a utensil; don’t use your hand as the water is Hot! Let this sit in the sink for 5 minutes then let the water drain. The water may still be too hot to put your hand in so use a pair of tongs to unstop the drain. 
  5. Don’t rinse the drain after this; let it sit overnight before turning the water on. 

Now that you have cleaned and sanitized the kitchen sink drain and disposal, you've also made it smell better.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What is that Smell Coming from Your Refrigerator?

A Refrigerator Full of Food that can Turn into a Stinky Mess in not Cleaned.

Don't Let Your Leftovers, Take Over!


There is plenty of leftover food that gets stored in our refrigerators or food items we just never got around to using (or couldn't find) that can cause some really bad smells and that – can be just a bit disturbing.

I don’t know about you but I’ve opened some refrigerators and the smell can just knock my socks off and completely make me lose my appetite.

So if you go poking your head in someone’s refrigerator and it smells a bit putrefied, whether it’s yours or not, it’s time to tell someone that now is a good time to clean the refrigerator. I mean mold, bacteria and mildew growing within the fridge is not a place I want to be grabbing my food from.

If the fridge is stinking, your option is to give it a good cleaning. Completely go through it and toss old foods and condiments. Clean the inside, take out the drawers (clean them out and underneath). Wipe everything dry when you’re done and put only the good stuff back in.

Related Articles:

Refrigerator and Freezer Cleaning Tips

Tips for Keeping Your Refrigerator Smelling Odor Free


These are probably no brainer tips but I’m going to list them anyway.

  1. Clean up spills as soon as they happen and adopt a policy where whoever spills, cleans it up, no waiting until Mom gets home. Unless someone really needs your help because a drawer needs to come out.
  2. Store your food in covered containers and be sure to put the lid on all the way. If you’re covering a plate of food, make sure the saran wrap covers the dish (which usually means using two pieces of saran wrap). I have also found some stretch to fit food covers that work very nicely. (these pretty much look like a shower cap and they can be reused)
  3. Monitor your leftovers. Really only a couple of days should go by before you toss them out and if you’re just not the kind of family that eats leftovers then don’t keep them. I know people that never eat leftovers but hate to waste, so the food gets stored and forgotten about.
  4. Monitor the temperature. Most refrigerators are pretty good at keeping a consistent temperature but if yours is being opened and closed all day or if someone doesn’t close the door, it could change the temperature settings and spoil food.
  5. Keep an open box of baking soda in the back of the refrigerator to help keep it fresh and replace it every 3 months.

Cleaning the fridge doesn’t have to be a hard task nor a long task but it really should be done at least a couple of times throughout the year, more if you’re a large family.

Friday, May 27, 2016

How Your Home can look like a Model Home

A Clean and Tidy Living Room just like a Model Home.

How You can get Your Home looking like a Model Home 


Model homes are staged to look – well - not so lived in. They’re just too perfect. Don’t get me wrong I try and many of us do try to have our homes look like a model home but the reality is we have kids and pets.

Now that being said, there are still things we can do to make our homes look like a model home that we can oogle over.

Decluttering Rooms

One thing you don’t see in the magazine pictures is clutter; everything is placed carefully to showcase the house. That’s where we can start. The more that’s tossed around hither and thither, the messier things look.
Pick up rooms, not just you but the kids can be responsible for the areas they play and sleep in. Toss out the old and find easy storage options.

Family Memorabilia

Family items come with an emotional attachment; if you don’t want something, even if it is an heirloom or an item that holds special memories, ask yourself a few questions: Do you like it? Do you really need to keep it? Can you pass it on to another family member?
 If you’re like me and have piles of kids projects, take pictures of the big projects and keep some smaller ones to put in a scrapbook or have your kids pick a favorite to put in a frame.

Living Areas

In living areas, toss old magazines, you can easily find the information online if you need it later. Neatly stack your newest magazines or book you’re currently reading on the coffee table or hide them in an ottoman until you can sit and enjoy them.

Minimize your knickknacks and pictures. Rotate a few of your favorites throughout the year or have one feature wall where you display them.

Get a cute basket or decorative box to corral the remote and fold any throw blankets before you head up to bed.

To make your living space more cozy and inviting, try moving your furniture towards the center of the room.

Bedrooms

It only takes a few minutes to tidy up your bedroom by putting dirty clothes in the hamper, and putting toys away in the toy box. Make this a part of your kid’s bedtime routine. Only keep what is necessary on your bedside table such as an alarm clock and a table lamp. Decorative baskets can be used to keep your glasses, reading book, remote and other small items you may need regularly.

Office

If you are fortunate enough to have an office in your home, just keep the essentials on top of the desk. If your kitchen table doubles as your work desk, find a drawer or cabinet nearby that you can keep your office supplies in, ready to stash when it is time for dinner. A file cabinet can fit in a coat closet to keep your important papers filed and organized.

Home Entrance

Whether you enter through the garage, mud room or straight into your living space, make sure you have space where each member of the household can put their coat, shoes, backpack and work bag. You can get a stand-alone bench with hooks above or create your own storage area with some cubby shelves lined up against the wall.

To read the full article, click HERE.

Image courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rubbermaid/6895583094/

Thursday, April 28, 2016

How to Get Pet Hair off Your Furniture

Family Pet Dog Outside on the Grass.


Dog or cat, short hair or long, getting pet hair off your furniture is not a fun chore. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel as there are many products for you to try. You probably have one or more of these already, if not, they can easily be purchased online from a place like Amazon.

Vacuuming


Vacuum the furniture every time you vacuum the floors, just attach the upholstery tool and vacuum the cushions, under the cushions, back, sides and arms. Use the crevice tool to get in the crevices and nooks and even under the couch.

Household Sponge


I‘ve used an ordinary household sponge to lift pet hair from pillows and cushions on my couch. This method actually works quite well either wet or dry, when necessary, just rinse the hair from the sponge.  Make sure your sponge isn’t too wet; a slightly damp sponge is all you need. Store this sponge somewhere where it won’t get used when cleaning the counters.

Damp Rubber Gloves


Similar to the household sponge, a damp rubber glove also works pretty good at picking up pet hair but the main drawback - when the rubber dried (which happens fairly quick) the pet hair starts falling off the glove back onto the furniture I just cleaned.

Petmate Pet Hair Magnet


This tool resembles a squeegee and works in the same way. I simply “squeegeed” my couch and was able to easily grab the piles of hair, no mess, not bad.

This might also be something you can use to remove pet hair from a comforter or clothing items.

Gonzo Pet Hair Lifter


I have a short haired dog and this product didn’t seem to work as well as some of the other things I’ve tried, so I gave it to a friend who has a few long-haired pets, and she really liked it.  Maybe it’s a product better suited for heavy duty jobs or for pets that shed more than my dog does?

I felt there were a few downsides:

  1. This would not be the tool for a quick fix; it took time to remove the hair.
  2. If it gets dirty while you’re using it – you will need to rinse it and then wait until it is fully dry before using again.

Lint Roller


The lint roller is good to pick up some last remaining bits of pet hair after trying some of these other methods.

I hope you find one of the above products useful to you. 

Here is another article you might find helpful:
Removing pet stains and odors.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Kitchen Storage Ideas for Small Spaces

Kitchen Storage Ideas for Small Spaces.

Ideas for Storing Pots and Pans in Small Spaces


If you live in a small space and are limited on kitchen storage, how about looking to your vertical space for additional storage and how you can utilize wall space to store your pots and pans?
If this is something you might be interested in, here are a few ideas, depending on your style, maybe one of these solutions can work for you:

Reclaimed Steel Scaffolding Pipe


These old pipes may be found in a salvage yard and would look great hanging on the wall to store pots and pans that hang from S-hooks.

Old Picket Fencing


If you’ve got a little country charm going on in your house an old piece of reclaimed picket fencing can be used to hang your pots and pans. Look for fun coat and hat hangers to attach to the fencing for pans and accessories.

Pegboard


Pegboard can be found in wood or metal. If industrial is your style, one of these options might work for you. There are accessories for pegboards like hooks and baskets that can be used to hold pots, pans, and cooking utensils.

Are you the creative type? Do you have a small space and have a unique piece to save you space? Let us know.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

7 Steps to Cleaning Your Vacuum

How to Clean the Vacuum.

 

Cleaning the Vacuum Cleaner

We try to clean our home and keep up with the housework on a regular basis. Maybe it’s every few days, once a week, or less often? But how often do we think to clean the vacuum cleaner?

No matter what kind of vacuum you use, I’m pretty sure it’s a veritable work horse with all the dirt, debris, hair and who knows what else we have it suck up. Sometimes it truly amazes me mine runs as long as it does, especially when my younger kids are vacuuming.

So treating your vacuum and the accessories that came with it, to a good cleaning on a somewhat regular basis can’t hurt. It’s not a time consuming job and something that can be done when the weather’s keeping you indoors.

Step 1: Be sure the vacuum is unplugged. I’m sure this bit of instruction isn’t necessary but you never know.

Step 2: If parts need to be removed, make sure you know how to put it back together by taking pictures or labeling.

Step 3: Use mild soap and water to clean the accessories and the body of the vacuum including the handle, canister area, outside of the hoses, wheels, etc.

Step 4: Clean the filters. This is something that should be done on a more regular basis than cleaning the vacuum itself. Filters can get very dirty quickly and there is only so many times you can clean the dirt, dust and muck off before they need to be replaced.

If you do clean the filter occasionally before replacing, use an old toothbrush to gently remove the stuck on dirt and grime. You can also use a shop vac to get this off. If necessary, wash with a mild soap and warm water.

Step 5: Clean the hoses. Some hoses can be removed. For these you can add a little soap to warm water in the sink, submerge and rinse. Let completely dry before putting them back.

For hoses that cannot be removed, you can wrap something like a Clorox wipe to the end of a mop handle and secure it with strong tape or rubber bands. Gently and carefully clean the inside of the hose. Again, let dry completely before using.

Step 6: Carefully clean the brush by removing as much hair and other debris as possible. Then use scissors or a seam ripper to cut away any remaining hair, carpet fibers, etc. Wipe down the brush and the compartment when you’ve finished.

Step 7: To keep the air fresh when vacuuming you can either put a scented clip in the bag, add a dryer sheet or baking soda to the bag, or place a scented sample perfume strip (like the samples you get in the mail) or a cotton ball with your favorite essential oil under the bag in the compartment area.

That’s it, not so hard or time consuming.

Image courtesy of sarahluv

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Plumbing Updates You Should Make When Winterizing Your Home



Did you get around to winterizing your plumbing? If not, it’s not too late to avoid unpleasant plumbing surprises. Cold weather is notoriously rough on plumbing systems. There are sure to be more days when the mercury dips and water freezes. Here are a few ways to make sure your home is ready for cold weather.

Outdoor Precautions


First of all, head outside. Disconnect all hoses, drain them and put them away; any leftover water trapped in them can freeze, expand, and ruin your equipment. Check your faucets to make sure they are not dripping, leaking or cracking. Frozen pipes and expanding ice turn minor cracks into major leaks. If your home is equipped with a shut-off valve for your exterior faucets, close it. It’s also a good idea to get a foam faucet insulation kit and use it to cover your outdoor faucets.

The Water Heater


Cooler temperatures force your water heater to work harder. Giving it an annual checkup and maintenance is a good idea. You should flush out your heater to remove sediment buildup. You can do this yourself or consult a professional plumber for help. Ensure the temperature setting is at 120 degrees for optimal performance.

You should also test your water heater’s pressure relief valve; lift up on the lever and let it snap back into place. If it is working correctly, a burst of hot water should flow into the drainpipe. If not, have a new valve installed. Be careful because the water will be extremely hot. If the heater is older than five years and the valve has never been tested, you can cause a leak by testing it.

You may want to consult a plumber to test the valve.

Pumps and Gutters


Keeping your gutters clear and clean can prevent drainage problems. Debris-free gutters will drain properly even as it freezes and thaws throughout the winter and spring. Also, if you have a sump pump, inspect and clean it.

Travel Tips


If you will be leaving home for an extended period, leave the heat on. Set the thermostat for at least 55 degrees. This protects pipes and keeps your home from becoming damp and musty. You may also want to drain your home’s entire pipe system by shutting off the main valve and leaving your faucets open.

Prepare your home for the next freeze. Set aside a weekend afternoon to complete your chores, or contact a plumber to help you out.

About the Author:

Brad Simpson is an expert on everything plumbing related. He heads up Simpson Plumbing, a family-owned business that has been serving the Portland, OR area for more than 30 years.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cleaning Around the House with White Vinegar

Mrs. Clean Logo.


I know you see posts all the time about the using white vinegar to clean around the house and I as well post about the many uses. These are some of the questions we get asked often by our clients.

You may not realize it, but white vinegar is environmentally friendly, it’s a germ fighter and you probably have it on a kitchen shelf already as you may use it to cook with time and again for tenderizing meats, pickling your garden veggies and bringing out the flavor of some foods.

I have to say, I think my bottle of white vinegar is used more for cleaning around the house than for using in my recipes. You can use it to sanitize the washing machine, make your own window cleaner and so much more.

Vinegar can be used all around the house, from the kitchen to the bathrooms and even used to clean certain types of floors.  Vinegar is quite effective for killing household germs, bacteria, and killing most molds due to its acidic nature.

However, because of its acidic nature it will damage stone. So, DON'T use it on stone surfaces like marble, travertine or granite as it can permanently damage the surface.

Hate the Smell of Vinegar, Don’t Worry it Dissipates Quickly


You might be hesitant to use vinegar because of the smell, but don’t worry because that vinegary smell will dissipate quickly. The plus side of using white vinegar is it’s a "green product", which as I stated above, it’s environmentally friendly, which is especially nice if you have kids or pets in your home.

So, ask yourself which you’d rather smell, some vinegar while cleaning or the harsh heavy smell of commercial cleaners?

Scented White Vinegar?


I have been reading a lot of posts about masking the smell of white vinegar using essential oils or scenting vinegar with herbs and citrus peels. While this might help, it does not completely mask the vinegar smell but it does reduce that vinegary smell a tiny bit.

If this is something you’d like to try, here’s an easy recipe for you to put together:

In a large spray bottle, fill it 50/50 with water and white vinegar. Then add in 15 to 20 drops of lemon essential oil and shake. I’d start with 15 drops and work your way up. Shake before each use thereafter.

Now one thing I noticed with this recipe is after all ingredients were added to the spray bottle I took the sniff test. It did smell more like lemon than I thought it would. When I sprayed the mixture was when I noticed that the essential oils had only masked the vinegar smell just a teeny bit – but some – so some of you may want to try this.

Cleaning your Garbage Disposal


To clean your garbage disposal simply fill an ice cube tray with white vinegar, then pop that in the freezer for a couple of hours. When fully frozen, pop 1 or 2 frozen vinegar ice cubes in the disposal and turn it on. This will deodorize your garbage disposal and help remove the grime.

Be sure to keep cold water running while using your disposal.

Cleaning the Shower


To clean the shower, fill a spray bottle with a mixture of 50/50 white vinegar and water, spray the shower and let it sit for 15 minutes, then wipe with a damp cloth.

This can help prevent mold and mildew and you can also use white vinegar full strength to clean soap scum from shower tiles.  Again spray on the shower, wait 15 minutes, then scrub with a rubber scrubber.  Rinse with water and wipe down with a clean cloth.

Only use this cleaning mixture if your shower is constructed of porcelain tile, glass, fiberglass or other man-made materials. See our caution statement above.

Using a squeegee to wipe down shower walls after each shower will help prevent the build up of soap scum.

Cleaning Swedish Finish Hardwood Floors


To clean your hardwood floors first vacuum or dry mop to remove any dirt. Then add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a gallon of water and mop as usual.  Just remember that you don’t want a very wet mop on your hardwood floors and always use a towel to dry after moping.

Click HERE to read more on hardwood floors.

I hope you have found these cleaning tips on using white vinegar helpful.

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