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Some Miscellaneous Tips and Tricks

November 8, 2017 / Posted by in Hints & Tips

Rubber bands:
To get a better grip on a stripped screw, use a wide rubber band between the screwdriver and the screw head.

Keep slippery tops and strappy dresses from sliding into a heap on your closet floor by looping wide rubber bands over the ends of their hangers.

Place a heavy duty rubber band across an open paint can to wipe your brush on, and keep paint off the side of the can.

Eyeglasses Case – Hard side

Snag a spare one to stow jewelry when traveling.  Other great uses?  For your MP3 player and earbuds, contact lense kit, small sewing kit, small first aid kit, etc.

Laundry Pre-treater

Not only does it help with stains, use it to loosen and get rid of sticky labels on washable hard surfaces.

Sticky Note

Before you toss one of these paper reminders, run the sticky side between the keys of your computer’s keyboard to collect crumbs, dust and other grime.  Run with sticky side against the top of the keys, then turn note around to get the bottom of the keys.

Plastic Lid

Create a “coaster” for a metal cans that will rust with the top of a small sour cream, potato chip, or other food container — and end rusty rings on surfaces.

Flowerpot Saucer

Use one of these trays in the bathroom for storing the toilet plunger.  Looks good and it collects drips.  Or, use the entire flower pot, just be sure it is big enough around for the plunger.

Pillowcase

When storing coats or special-occasion clothes, cover each item with an old pillowcase (cut a hole in the closed end to slip over a hanger).  It won’t hold in mildew-causing moisture and your clothes can breathe.  Turn your pillow case inside out and put your folded sheets inside.  Now all your bedding is in one spot.

Mesh Produce Bag

Use the plastic mesh bag that your onions or oranges came in as a no-scratch scrubber for a gunky pot or pan. Wad up the bag, scour, then throw the bag away.

Toothbrush Holder with Makeup Brushes

Keep your makeup brushes neat and gunk-free by stashing them, bristles up, in a clean toothbrush stand, old mason jar, or other cute container.

Coins in Pill Jar

Once the meds are gone, this tube-shaped container is ideal for stashing quarters in the car for tolls parking meters, or car washes.

Folded Shower Curtain

Stash an old shower curtain in your car’s trunk to line it when carting messy plants, picnic coolers, or beach gear.

Rubber Gloves

Get fur off the furniture faster: Use slightly dampened rubber gloves and run them over upholstery to quickly collect pet hair.

Old Soda-Can Tab

Make more closet space!  Expand your clothing capacity by slipping one end over a hanger’s hook, then suspend a second hanger from the tab’s other end.

Bread tags

Use bread tags to label the cords at your desk or entertainment center – It makes it so much easier to determine what cord go to what.

Seven Tips for Keeping a Healthy Home (Dept. of Housing and Urban Development)

September 14, 2017 / Posted by in Uncategorized

Keep it Dry:   Prevent water from entering your home through leaks in roofing systems, rain water from entering the home due to poor drainage, and check your interior plumbing for any leaking.

Keep it Clean:   Control the source of dust and contaminates, creating smooth and cleanable surfaces, reducing clutter, and using effective wet-cleaning methods.

Keep it Safe:   Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label.  Secure loose rugs and keep children’s play area free from hard or sharp surfaces.  Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep fire extinguishers on hand.

Keep it Well-Ventilated:   Ventilate bathrooms and kitchen and use whole house ventilation for supplying fresh air to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the home.

Keep it Pest-free:   All pests look for food, water, and shelter.  Seal cracks and openings throughout the home; store food in pest-resistant containers.  If needed, use sticky-traps and baits in closed containers, along with least toxic pesticides such as boric acid powder.

Keep it Contaminant-free:   Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint, and keeping floors and window areas clean using a wet-cleaning approach.  Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring dangerous gas that enters homes through soil, crawlspaces, and foundation cracks.  Install a radon removal system if levels above the EPS action-level are detected.

Keep it Well-Maintained:   Inspect, clean, and repair your home routinely.  Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large repairs and problems

Indoor Air Quality Part 1

August 24, 2017 / Posted by in Hints & Tips

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that people spend 90% of their time indoors, but that indoor air quality can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Indoor air pollution can threaten the health — and the lives — of everyone in your family.

The single most effective way to keep the air in your home healthy is to keep things out of your home that cause air pollution, including cigarette smoke, excess moisture and chemicals.

The second most important strategy is to ventilate to pull dangerous pollutants out of the house. Run the exhaust fans in your bathroom and kitchen. Open your windows. Make sure you have a good exhaust system in place for appliances and stoves.

Some indoor air pollutants can kill. Among the most dangerous are these three:

  • Carbon monoxide: 400 die and thousands are sickened annually.
  • Secondhand smoke: 7,500-15,000 children are hospitalized or sickened with respiratory tract infections, and older adults with cardiovascular or lung illness are at higher risk of health problems.
  • Radon gas: It’s silent. It’s odorless. It’s found in many American homes, and it is the second biggest cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoke.

Each year, second hand smoke sends 7,500-15,000 children aged 18 months or younger to the hospital. Hundreds of thousands of children will develop respiratory tract infections from second hand smoke this year. Older adults and people with lung and cardiovascular diseases are also at higher risks of respiratory problems from cigarette smoke exposure.

Never let anyone smoke inside your home. The Surgeon General states that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke. Ask smokers to take it outside to protect the health of you and your family.

Carbon monoxide poisoning claims the lives of over 400 people each year and thousands of others become ill or seek medical attention after exposure to the odorless gas. Sometimes the early symptoms resemble the flu, but look for these differences: if more than one family member has symptoms — even your pets — and you feel better away from home, you may have a carbon monoxide problem. Carbon monoxide levels can rise very quickly in unventilated areas without anyone noticing the colorless, odorless, toxic gas.

Protect yourself by installing a carbon monoxide detector near your sleeping rooms. Also have all fuel burning appliances inspected by a qualified technician once a year to keep the deadly gas away from your home.

Carbon monoxide exposure can cause weakness, nausea, disorientation, unconsciousness and even death. Each year, hundreds of people become ill and die after carbon monoxide poisoning at home. Some 15,000 must go to the emergency room after exposure to the toxic gas.

Burning gas or other fuels indoors can produce dangerous levels of indoor air pollution and deadly carbon monoxide. Protect your health by turning off carbon-monoxide emitting motors in garages and sheds. Fumes from cars or lawnmowers left running in enclosed spaces, like attached garages, can endanger the health of you and your family. Malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances that emit carbon monoxide can cause life-threatening problems. Use only gas stoves and heaters indoors that vent directly to the outside air. Never use charcoal grills indoors. Never let anyone smoke indoors—cigarette smoke is another major source of carbon monoxide.

Paints release trace amounts of gases for months after application — even though they appear to be fully dried and the smell is gone. These gases are called VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, and can include highly toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.

Use “low-VOC” paints, varnishes, waxes and other chemicals.  If painting indoors, open windows and use exhaust fans to remove gases. Do not store open paint containers indoors.

Rain and high humidity can bring moisture indoors, creating dampness, mold and mildew — big problems for healthy indoor air. Dampness alone — not just mold — is associated with higher risk of wheezing, coughing and asthma symptoms.

Check your roof, foundation and basement or crawlspace once a year to catch leaks or moisture problems and route water away from your home’s foundation. Fix problems as quickly as possible to prevent unhealthy dampness from entering your home.

Asthma is the leading serious chronic illness of children in the U.S. Help keep asthma triggers away from your house by fixing leaks and drips as soon as they start. Standing water and high humidity encourage the growth of dust mites, mold and mildew — some of the most common triggers that can worsen asthma. Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner when needed, and clean both regularly.

Pet allergies can come from an animal’s saliva, urine, feces and dead skin cells, so no pet is “hypoallergenic.” If someone in your family has pet allergies, keep your pet outdoors. Moving your pet from indoors to out can help reduce exposure to these allergens. However, cat allergens can stay in place for 20 weeks or more.

If you must keep your pet indoors, keep it away from sleeping rooms. Clean floors and upholstered furniture frequently (two or more times a week) to reduce exposure to pet allergens indoors. Unfortunately, two often-recommended actions do not seem to work: neither washing pets nor using indoor air cleaning devices helps.

Dust allergies are actually allergies to dust mites — microscopic pests that need moisture to survive. Scientists have also concluded that breathing dust mite allergens can cause asthma in children. Dust mites feed on human skin and live in bedding, pillows, mattresses, stuffed toys, upholstery and carpets.

To fight dust mites in your home:

  • Keep humidity levels below 50% indoors. Use a dehumidifier if necessary.
  • Intensive vacuuming and steam cleaning of upholstered furniture may help.
  • Remove carpets.
  • Using dust-mite-resistant covers and washing your bedding in very hot water may help as part of a comprehensive approach, but don’t rely on those steps by themselves.

Uses for car wax, who knew?

July 21, 2017 / Posted by in Hints & Tips

Repel Dirt & Dust

Polishing your dustpan causes dirt and dust to slide right off.  Do the same for ceiling fan blades and air vents.

Fog-Free Mirrors

Prevent your bathroom mirror from fogging up after a hot shower by applying a small amount of car wax, letting it dry, and buffing with a soft dry cloth.

Shine Your Bathtub and Shower

Shower doors, shower walls, and bathtubs are notoriously difficult to get clean, and even harder to keep that way.  There’s no getting around cleaning them, but polishing them with car wax will make them shiny and help to repel mineral deposits and grime, so your cleanings will be easier and less frequent.   When the water stops beading up it’s time to reapply.  Do not apply was to the floor of the bathtub, it will be too slippery

Shiny, Spot-Free Fixtures

Rubbing car wax onto your bathroom and kitchen metal fixtures will help keep them shiny and help prevent water spots.

Tile Backsplash

If you wax the backsplash tiles behind your stove and sink, grease will wipe right off

 Lubricate and Protect Your Tools

Apply a coat of car wax to your tools to stop them from rusting.  Rubbing a little paste on the hinge of scissors will help to keep them from jamming so they’ll cut cleaner and function better.

Keep Snow From Sticking

When it’s time to clear the driveway and sidewalks after a snowstorm, apply two coats of car wax to your shovel before you begin.  This will stop snow from sticking to it.  If you use a snow blower, wax the inside of the chute.

 Prevent Metal Corrosion

Mailboxes, doorknockers, and outdoor light fixtures are all subject to tarnishing and/or corrosion

 Clean Window Frames

After cleaning the frames of your aluminum windows, polish them with car wax.  This will keep them cleaner much longer.

 Cure For Sticky Drawers, Windows, and Closet Doors

Rub a small dab of car wax onto the tracks of sliding closet doors, drawers, and windows to help them open and close more smoothly.

 Patio Furniture Protection

Apply to metal, plastic, or molded furniture to protect and add shine.

 Shine Table Tops

Car wax is good for shining your plastic and Formica tabletops.

 Gas Grills

Apply to the outside of the grill to make it easier to clean.  Be sure not to do in the hot sun.  This will protect from fingerprints, rust, and the elements.

Tips for keeping your home cool

June 20, 2017 / Posted by in Hints & Tips

Be sure your weather-stripping and caulk around all entrance doors and windows is in good condition.

Attics must be ventilated properly.  Determine whether your attic ventilation is adequate.  Reduce air conditioning needs by installing an attic fan.

Set the cooling thermostat as high as comfortable.  The higher the setting, the more energy you will save.  Install an automatic setback or programmable thermostat that starts your air conditioner shortly before you get home.

Draw blinds, shades, or drapes to block the sunlight during the hottest part of the day, espe­cially on the south and west side.

You could save up to 25 percent by upgrading your air conditioner.  Make sure your central air conditioning system is the right size for the area you want to cool.

If you have central air conditioning, clean leaves and debris from around the unit.  Install your air conditioner in the shade.  Clean/replace the filter regularly.

A ceiling fan cools fast and costs less than air conditioning.

Operate your stove, oven, dishwasher and clothes dryer in the morning or evening when it’s cooler outside.  Instead of using your oven, consider cooking in a frying pan, grill, crockpot, or toaster oven.  I have a small counter top oven that I really like.  Because it is smaller, it heats faster and cooks faster.  You do have to adjust your recipes baking times.  It beats heating the large oven, especially to cook a meal for two.

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