How to Reduce Clutter at Home

how-to-reduce-clutter

Life seems to get busier every day and most people do not have enough time to keep up with the major things that need to be done, let alone the smaller ones like reducing clutter in the home. Here are some simple, easy and quick ways to conquer clutter and keep the home organized.

Spending just a few minutes a day will make a dramatic difference and the quick results will make it easier to stick to proper habits and keep the house neat and tidy.

How to Get Rid of Clutter

These tips will work regardless of which room needs to be dealt with, so start off by picking just one space to focus on at a time.

  • Start by putting things away. Most of the clutter in a home is from items that have not been put where they belong. A juice glass left in the living room, a pair of mitts in the kitchen and so on. Gather up everything that does not belong and put it away. This should clear a fair amount of space immediately and make the area look cleaner and tidier.
  • Then focus on what is actual garbage. Old flyers and magazines, stuff that was supposed to be tossed in the recycling bin but did not quite get there. These will be things that are no longer useful to the household and may include damaged or broken items. Dispose of all of them. Hopefully the majority can be donated to local charities or goodwill or be taken to a recycling depot, but even if some items actually go to the landfill, they do not belong in the house and have to be removed.
  • Take a look at what is left. Does anyone in the house still need or want it or use it? Depending on the specific clutter and which room is being worked on, there may be other items that are no longer needed or wanted but are still perfectly good. Grab a box and start tossing these items in for a local or favourite charity.
  • Now look at those odds and ends that are left. The book borrowed from a friend and never returned, the CD that was made for another person and dropped off. Grab another box and put these types of items in it to deal with during the next errand run or shopping trip.
  • To streamline paperwork consider purchasing a small file box or something similar, depending on how much paper is floating around the house. All those ongoing items such as tickets for the play next week, invitations that need RSVP’s, etc should go in there so no one needs to waste any time looking for them.

Finally, take a look at how to maintain this new and organized space. A few small changes in habit will make a massive difference. Take the extra 5 seconds to put things away and ensure that the rest of the household members do the same. This will not happen overnight but by being consistent everyone will begin to form good habits and they will become an automatic response, leading to a tidy and clutter free home.

 

Smart Spring Yard Cleanup

Tackle a little early spring maintenance now to get your yard ready for the growth spurt to come.

It’s Cleanup Season

March is notoriously unpredictable. Shrubs can be crusty with snow on the first of the month, and then, a couple of weeks later, temperatures can warm up enough for flower and leaf buds to show signs of life.

Still, some early spring cleanup tasks are sure things this time of year. So go ahead and remove burlap from trees and shrubs as the weather warms. Prune away winter-killed branches to make room for new growth. Cut back spent perennials and pull up old annuals if you didn’t get around to it last fall. Then look around. “March is a good time to take stock of your yard and see if it’s time to thin out crowded beds and do some transplanting to fill in bare spots,” says This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook.

Here, a checklist to tackle now to give your green patch a clean start.

Trees and Shrubs

1. Prune away dead and damaged branches.

Where tree or shrub branches have been damaged by cold, snow, and wind, prune back to live stems; use a handsaw for any larger than ½ inch in diameter. Shaping hedges with hand pruners, rather than electric shears, prevents a thick outer layer of growth that prohibits sunlight and air from reaching the shrub’s center. At right, Roger neatens up a yew by pruning wayward shoots back to an intersecting branch. Prune summer-flowering shrubs, such as Rose of Sharon, before buds swell, but wait to prune spring bloomers, like forsythia, until after they flower.

Trim overgrown evergreens back to a branch whose direction you want to encourage.

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TOH Pro Tip: Roger Cook, TOH Landscape Contractor says, “Now’s the time to get some basic spring yard maintenance done. Then, as temperatures warm up, you’ll be in better shape for seeding and planting, and for enjoying the outdoors.”

Perennials and Grasses

2. Cut back and divide perennials as needed.

Prune flowering perennials to a height of 4–5 inches and ornamental grasses to 2–3 inches to allow new growth to shoot up. Where soil has thawed, dig up perennials, such as daylilies and hostas, to thin crowded beds; divide them, leaving at least three stems per clump, and transplant them to fill in sparse areas. Cut back winter-damaged rose canes to 1 inch below the blackened area. On climbers, keep younger green canes and remove older woody ones; neaten them up by bending the canes horizontally and tipping the buds downward. Use jute twine or gentle Velcro fasteners to hold the canes in place.

A pair of sharp bypass pruners makes a clean cut on both dead and living foliage.

Beds and Borders

3. Clean Up Around Plants.

Rake out fallen leaves and dead foliage (which can smother plants and foster disease), pull up spent annuals, and toss in a wheelbarrow with other organic yard waste. Once the threat of frost has passed, Roger also removes existing mulch to set the stage for a new layer once spring planting is done. Push heaved plants back into flower beds and borders, tamping them down around the base with your foot, or use a shovel to replant them. Now is a good time to spread a pelletized fertilizer tailored to existing plantings on the soil’s surface so that spring rains can carry it to the roots. Add a 5-10-10 fertilizer around bulbs as soon as they flower to maximize bloom time and feed next season’s growth. Use pins to fasten drip irrigation lines that have come loose and a square-head shovel to give beds a clean edge and keep turf grass from growing into them.

Composting

4. Compost Yard Waste.

Dump collected leaves, cuttings, spent foliage, and last season’s mulch into your compost pile, or make a simple corral by joining sections of wire fence (available at home centers) into a 3-by-3-by-3-foot cube like the one above. Shred leaves and chip branches larger than ½ inch in diameter to accelerate decomposition, or add a bagged compost starter to the pile. Keep the pile as moist as a wrung-out sponge, and aerate it with a pitchfork every two weeks. Just don’t add any early spring weeds that have gone to seed—they might not cook completely and could sprout instead.

Lawn Care

5. Prep Damaged Lawn Areas for Spring Seeding.

In colder climates grass starts growing in April, but early spring is a good time to test the soil’s pH so that you can assemble the right amendments. Remove turf damaged by salt, plows, or disease to prepare for the seeding that should follow in a few weeks. Work in a ½-inch layer of compost to keep the new seed moist, increasing the germination rate. Begin seeding once forsythia starts blooming in your area. In warmer climates, March is a good time to add the first dose of fertilizer and crabgrass treatment.

Remove dead turf with a square metal rake, then flip it over to spread compost.

Paths and Patios

6. Neaten Up Hardscape Surfaces.

Rake escaped gravel back into aggregate walkways and patios, and order more gravel to spread in large depressions, which often form near the driveway’s apron. Refill joints between flagstones by sweeping in new sand or stone dust; water with a hose to set it, then repeat. If the freeze-thaw cycle has heaved pavers out of place, remove them and replenish the base material as needed before setting pavers back in. Use a pressure washer with a low pressure tip to remove slippery algae spots or leaf stains from patios and walkways.

Fences and Trellises

7. Patch or replace and paint worn wood.

Remove badly rotted or damaged pickets, boards, or lattice, then scrub wood structures clean with a mix of 2 gallons water, 2 quarts bleach, and 1 cup liquid soap; let dry. Patch rotted sections with wood epoxy; install new wood as needed. Check wobbly fence posts to see if they need replacing (find the how-to at thisoldhouse.com. Scrape off old paint, then sand wood all over with 60 grit to prep for a new finish coat. Once temperatures go above 50° F, brush on a new coat of paint or stain.

 

Clean Out Home Clutter & Donate Household Items to Those in Need

declutter concept on napkin

‘Tis the season to de-clutter and donate. No matter what time of year it is, a good thorough housecleaning lifts the spirit and lightens a dull mood. Double the good feeling by donating items gently used or no longer wanted. Learn how to safely get rid of old medicines. Properly dispose of old paint taking space in the storeroom. Check out the suggestions below for great places to donate eyeglasses, shoes and many other needed goods.

Where to Donate Household Goods and Belongings

There are plenty of places to donate gently used house items and personal belongings. Re-using something rather than throwing it away is just one of the many great ways to go green. Donations may be tax-deductible so be sure to get receipts and put them in a safe place.

Where to donate books, videos, DVDs:

  • Public library
  • School library
  • Nursing home
  • Adult or children’s daycare facility
  • Children’s home or shelter

A used bookstore may pay cash or give store credit for books in good condition. Check out the website Books for Soldiers to get information on how to send books and DVDs to men and women in the military. Boxes are free from the U.S. Post Office and shipping is a flat rate.

Agencies that Benefit from Donated Goods

Thrift stores accept almost anything donated. If there’s a public housing program in the area, there may be a resource office that collects all kinds of useful items – things like tools, sports equipment and computers. Donate to:

  • Homeless shelters
  • Domestic violence shelters
  • Churches that collect for the needy, especially Catholic Charities
  • Thrift stores, the Salvation Army and Goodwill
  • Children’s Home Society or other children’s homes
  • Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies
  • Habitat for Humanity collection center

Some agencies accept working electronics. Send used cell phones that can be recycled to Shelter Alliance. The agency earns up to $30 to benefit domestic violence shelters. Heritage for the Blind accepts vehicle, boat and RV donations. Check their website or call 1-800-Donate-Cars.

Backpacks gently used and unopened school supplies can go to shelters, a children’s home or public housing resource center. If autumn is near, then see if your community participates in Cram-the-Van or a similar program that collects school items for children in need.

  • Re-gifting items is another way to de-clutter a home space. Wrap up and pass along figurines, flower vases, jewelry, wall hangings and items in excellent condition.
  • Bring old glasses to Lenscrafters or Pearle Vision where they will be donated to Onesight, which recycles them for the needy.
  • Too many shoes cluttering the closet? Soles4souls will take them.
  • A soup kitchen is a great place to donate dishes, drinking glasses, cups, and silverware. The staff might also appreciate kitchen appliances.

Clean Out the Medicine Cabinet

Medications are hazardous waste and require proper disposal. Tossed into the trash, medications can eventually make their way into the soil, contaminating the environment. Flushing medicines down the toilet may pollute the local water filtration system with chemicals that could end up in the community water supply. What’s the best way to discard old and expired medications?

  • Bring the drugs to a pharmacy that disposes of unwanted medicines.
  • A number of states in the U.S. have started programs that recycle old and expired drugs for the poor and uninsured in America. Contact a pharmacist or doctor to see what the law allows in your state.
  • Some communities have hazardous waste disposal programs that will also accept medicines.

What’s the Best Way to Dispose of Paint and Hazardous Home Chemicals?

Properly dispose of old paint, insecticides, and other harmful materials at a hazardous waste facility. Some towns have amnesty days where residents can go to a nearby designated location and unload used motor oil, paint, and other products hazardous to the environment. Is paint really that harmful? Yes.

The website lowes.com offers detailed disposal information in the article by C. Jeanne Heida, “Safe Paint Disposal: How to Get Rid of Old Paint”. Heida writes, “The metal in the pigments and the petroleum based solvents are what make paint so harmful to the environment. Latex and oil based paint can harm wildlife and pollute food sources if dumped onto the ground or into a storm drain.”

Pouring paint down the toilet or sink is not an option. Paint can cause problems for the local sewage treatment plants where water is filtered. It can damage microbes in septic systems. Why not just throw the cans in the trash? Heida gives two good reasons: “… the solvent in oil paint is highly flammable and can be toxic if inhaled.”

De-cluttering a home is a great weekend project. Donating items no longer used and giving them to others is a fantastic way to teach children about the joy of sharing. Want to make an even bigger difference for others? Spread the word: Pass along to friends, neighbors and co-workers the list of sources and agencies that take donated items.

gutter cleaning wand

A gutter cleaning wand will make your Gutter cleaning a breeze

gutter cleaning wand

There is nothing worse than cleaning the gutter as far as cleaning tour home is concerned. Many homeowners have been known to prefer any type of cleaning than gutter cleaning since it takes a lot of time, effort and not to mention the risks involved. You may opt for professional gutter cleaning services but it will cost you depending on the type of services you have requested. In the end DIY is the best option if you can half the time you use in the process. This is where a gutter cleaning wand comes in. Though there are many sceptics when it cokes to the functionality a cleaning wand, it has proven to be useful over time.

gutter wand

A gutter cleaning wand does most of the work for you meaning that the time spent on the cleaning job is more than just reduced. You get to enjoy not just less time and effort but less risks as well. Going up a ladder to cleaning the gutter can cause accidents. Gutter cleaning wand is best suited for you since you will spend less money especially if you are the type to hire professional services.

But you must first understand how the tool is used when it comes to gutter cleaning. Learn how you can use it to remove leaves and other debris found on the gutters.

There are many stores that sell these wands but you have to be careful not to buy defective ones. You will need to do some research on the best cleaning wand before you spend your hard earned money. As for the DIY addicts its best to buy professionally made wands since you want the best in terms of functionality.

You may get all the wrong information from the skeptics but nothing will beat you tying the product yourself. So spare your roof all the potential damage by investing in a product that will keep your gutters clean in less the time you spend on cleaning it manually.

 

energy efficient home

Ideas On How To Achieve Energy Efficient Homes

energy efficient home

Climate change is not just an issue for environmentalists. Home owners should take their own initiatives to make their humble abodes as earth –friendly as possible. One of the most possible ways of being more considerate with Mother Nature is by simply practicing energy efficiency methods at home.  No matter how we argue and discuss climate change, we still need to take part on this pressing global issue.

Cutting down in energy waste is a brilliant idea regardless how opinions and point of views vary on the significance of climate change and energy efficiency practices in our daily lives. It is important that energy efficient methods are used within your household to lessen the expenses as well as lowering the environmental impacts that our energy sources would have.

If you have not personally checked your home for energy usage and waste, you should ponder on some tips below on how to achieve an energy efficient home:

Tip #1: Re-assess your laundry habits at home. You can consolidate your laundry for the entire household. Full loads are more energy efficient. Sun-dry your clothes or try line-drying them. You will save a lot from not using dryers.

full load laundry

Tip #2: Keep in mind that home appliances which are more than 10 years old are huge electricity hogs. You must invest on new ones to keep your energy consumption low.

new home appliances

Tip #3: Heating and cooling for your home should be in full gear high efficiency mode. You must get rid of older models of furnaces and air-conditioning systems. You will be delighted that you can cut down approximately 20 to 30 percent off from your electricity bill.

heating and cooling system

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3 Amazing Ways Insect Exterminators Help You

As homeowners, we are tempted to try and deal with pest problems by ourselves. This may initially seem like a good idea, but you cannot beat the expertise of an expert. Remember you do not know the threat you are dealing with, so you end up making the situation worse. Exterminators play a major role in making sure that the pest is dealt with effectively. Here are three ways exterminators help you:

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1. Time savers

If you have ever tried dealing with pest as a DIY project, then you will understand what I am talking about. Pests are tricky and know where to stay out of site. You have to look for the place they are hiding before you start the extermination process. A good example is ants. They build nests outside your home, and you have to follow them to determine where it is. An exterminator will spare you from all this, and you can spend your time doing something else.

2. Save costs

This may sound like it doesn’t make sense, but it is true. Buying pesticides in a trial and error frenzy as you try to get rid of those insects that are troubling you will make you lose lots of money. The many products you buy are not guaranteed to work on the bugs. Even if you choose a more natural way to exterminate the insects, you will end up wasting money on products that are probably a scam. An exterminator will save you from spending extra on ineffective pesticides as they are more experienced in the field of extermination.

3. You are assured of success

Exterminators have years of experience and will make sure that the insect is exterminated from your home or premises. This is something you cannot assure yourself as you do not know what to the different insects that may have intruded into your home. Insects require different treatment and not all of them need to be killed or sprayed with lots of pesticides some just need to be moved to ensure total extermination. A qualified and experienced exterminator will know this.

These are but some of the major ways we benefit from exterminators. The list is endless so to say just as long as you choose an exterminator who is qualified to handle the situation you are facing. Do you research and pick from the best?

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Best Way to Install Half-round Seamless Copper Gutters

A lot goes into the installation of Copper Gutters. You have to get the math right to avoid any complications. Be precise and strive to get the right bracket spacing on the radius installation to get the best results.

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Summary on Installing Copper Half-Round Gutters

• First you need to set the pitch
• Next, Attach the brackets using copper screws
• You then cut downspout holes
• Now its time to hang the gutter
• Ensure you solder elbows, outlets and downspouts
• Lastly, you can now install the downspouts

As you have seen above, you ought to follow the procedures to get the right results. Setting the pitch of the gutter should come first. You should then put up a line on both ends where the gutter will be installed to assist you. This line will be used to test the leveling and the gutters height from the ground.

Recommended Measurements

• 24 – 26” for hanger spacing
• For the inside corner average between 10 – 12”
• For the end cap from the end of the shingle, work within 5 – 8”
• 5 – 7” for the outside corner
• 3 – 5”for the entire house and should be maintained for homes with a hip roof for the difference in hanger spacing between sides

Note that the measurements are recommendations and based on the site the measurements hangers will generally never be spaced at exactly 24”.

Nowadays, there are gutter machines that can be used to fabricate seamless gutters. Once the custom measures are determined, the machine can then be used to bend rolls of copper to form the seamless rain gutters.

Cutting holes for downspouts should come before you hang your gutters. You can get the measurements of the holes by measuring the distance from the end of the roof to the exact spot where you will install the downspout.

When hanging the seamless half-round gutter, you should press down the front edge using spring hooks as you put the gutter into place on the brackets. Ensure that you hook the back edge to the bracket.

From here, you can now install the downspouts. Solder the cleats to hold the brackets onto the back of the downspout. Finish by screwing them into the wood part of your roof.

Should you clean your own gutters?

gutter cleaning

Gutter cleaning is not a complicated task and it can be done by an amateur provided that the gutter is not very high. You should only clean your own gutters if your roof is not very high and your house does not have multiple stories. Gutter cleaning should be done several times a year, especially before the rainy season.

Cleaning your own gutter helps you save some money that you can use for more technical tasks like gutter maintenance and replacement. To clean your gutters on your own you need to know ladder safety and have access to the necessary tools.

Importance of cleaning gutters

  • Clogged gutters cause water to overflow and compromise the state of your house. The overflowing water might find its way on the wall; this affects the state of the paint and even weakens the wall and might lead to cracks on the wall.
  • Stagnant water in the gutters leads to ice damming when the water freezes. This causes stress on the gutters forcing it against the wood leading to more leakages and breakages.
  • Rotten debris is a breeding ground for mosquitos and ants. Debris is the major cause of clogged gutters.
  • When the debris gets wet it becomes heavy and causes the gutters to become loose. They might fall off in this case, which calls for an expensive replacement.

Must Read: How Naturally Freshen the Air in your Home

What you need

Your priority when cleaning gutters apart from getting them clean should be your safety, because most of the time you will be on a ladder or on your roof. You should learn ladder safety before contemplating cleaning your gutter on your own. Most accidents that happen at home are caused by ladders.

Apart from ladder safety you need gloves to protect your hands. You need safety goggles to protect your eyes from debris that flies as you clean. You will also need a dust mask to protect yourself from dust. Lastly, you will need a garden trowel for scooping out debris from the gutter.

How to clean

There are different ways of cleaning gutters, provided you remove all the solid particles and clear all the water outlets that drain water from the gutters. Scoop all the debris and other particles from the gutter, then scrub it and rinse it with clean water. Open all the outlets and clean them as well. As you clean, you should be keen to mark leaks so that you can fill them later.

Cleaning gutters is not complicated; what makes it difficult is your safety. Your safety comes before anything; if you are not confident with your ladder safety techniques, you should leave the task to experts.

Never Miss: How to Make Your Own Raised Bed Garden

Apart from cleaning, gutters should be checked regularly for maintenance purposes so as to abate any damages that are not noticed during cleaning. Whether you should hire a professional or do it yourself solely depends on you, but the major factor to consider is the height of the gutter. If your gutters are placed very high there is no need to risk the task; leave it to professionals.

References

http://www.bobvila.com/articles/19-quick-tip-cleaning-your-gutters/#.Vxf7htIrLIU

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2010/10/05/clean-gutters-clean-wallet/

 

 

How Naturally Freshen the Air in your Home

fresh airIf your house has been shut up all winter, it might be starting to feel a bit stale. Commercial air fresheners often contain toxic chemicals and are really the last thing you want to be spraying inside you home. The good news is that there are several natural ways to freshen the air in your home, without risking your health.

Pick up an essential oil diffuser

Essential oils not only smell great, they also boast a lot of health benefits. You can use essential oils to keep your home smelling fresh by using a diffuser like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Essential-EVELTEK-Aromatherapy-Humidifier-Waterless/dp/B01CDXUZVU/ref=zg_bs_16250381_4. Just fill the base with water, and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, and enjoy the soothing effects. Some favorites include lavender for a calming effect, or orange for a just-cleaned feel.

Treat your garbage disposal

Stinky smells are often lurking in the kitchen sink. An easy way to freshen up your garbage disposal and keep your kitchen smelling great is to put lemon or lime peels into the disposal and run it normally. This helps rid your sink of odor, and clean the disposal. You can also throw a handful of ice into the disposal to help diminish food buildup and bad smells.

Deodorize carpets

Carpet can hang onto bad smells and prevent your home from smelling fresh, even if you’ve just cleaned it! Commercial carpet cleaners are hiding all sorts of harsh chemicals, but you can easily create your own natural solution. Baking Soda and Borax are idea to use as a base for your carpet cleaner, and you can follow a specific recipe here: http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2013/11/make-your-own-natural-carpet-freshener.html.

Also Read: How to Make Your Own Raised Bed Garden

Adopt some houseplants

Not only do they add to the overall atmosphere of your house, but indoor plants are also great air purifiers. Some of the best include spider plants, peace lilies, and bamboo. Some are lower maintenance than others, so read up on different types before you decide.

Create some potpourri on your stovetop

An easy way to make your home smell great is to create your own potpourri mixture right on your stovetop. Add some water to a pot, throw in some lemon or lime slices and any of your favorite herbs. Then let the water come to a light boil and reduce the heat. It’s inexpensive and effective.

Tend to your closet and dresser

Closets without a lot of air circulation can start to smell closed up. Especially as you pack away clothes to transition between seasons, it is important to give those unused items some freshening up. Place a dryer sheet in dresser drawers or on closet shelves to draw out bad smells and freshen your clothes and other items.