A New Season Means It’s Time to Edit Your Closet

Woman looking at wardrobe, home interior, desperate housewife, cleaning home, rear view sitting, toned vintage style.

Fall is here so it’s time to “edit your closet” With this handy six-step guide you can get it done in just about 30 minutes – give or take a few minutes! 

STEP 1 – Get ready (2 minutes): Prepare a few separate trash bags, boxes or bins for sorting into four piles: things to store, things to donate, hand-me-down items, or items to sell or consign. Resist the temptation to buy extra hangers or bins until after you complete the editing process. You may also need some cleaning supplies for dusting, wiping down and vacuuming.

STEP 2 – Get going (4 minutes): Gather all the clothes from your closet and lay everything on your bed according to garment type: shirts/blouses, jackets, pants, dresses, etc. Pull organizers and bins, too, so the closet is entirely empty.

STEP 3 – Get cleaning (3 minutes): Wipe the shelves, closet rod, walls and baseboards, then vacuum the floor.

STEP 4 – Get thinking (2 minutes): Before you put anything back, consider the space to determine how you can make your closet work more efficiently. Do you struggle to locate and frequently use items? Would certain items be better hung up than folded? Now is a great time to adjust the flow, if needed.

STEP 5 – Get realistic (15 minutes): The first time you edit may take a little longer, but if you make it a seasonal habit it can go faster. Working by pile, look at each item and decide if it goes back into the closet by asking yourself four questions:

  1. Does it fit?
  2. Have I worn it in the last 12 months?
  3. Will I repair it or alter it?
  4. Do I feel confident in it?

Place storage items, donations and hand-me-downs in their respective containers as you go.

STEP 6 – Get organizing (4 minutes): Organize your keep pile by garment type first, color second. A popular color organization tactic among retailers, designers and organizers is to follow the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

This method can help keep you organized all year long if you start today!

Sources: Real Simple, Huffington Post

Ready for Fall Cleaning? Here are Some Ways to Get Your Home Ready for Fall and Winter

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Summer is coming to a brisk end, and fall is almost here. Yes – Fall means crisp days, long walks, the changing leaves and the best autumn vegetables. But it also means we’ll be closing up our homes and spending more time inside. Now is the time to clean your home and make it cozy for family time inside. Here are some fall chores to make your home the space you want it to be. You don’t have to do all of these. Pick a couple to get started. Check them off the list as you go, and you’ll see that getting ready for a new season is not so hard.

Wash all your windows. All you need is a bottle of glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth. Do this on a cloudy day so you can see any streaks.

Clean your window treatments. Dust wooden blinds and use a damp cloth or your microfiber cloth. You can vacuum canvas, cotton or fabric treatments. Use a low setting and an attachment. If your cloth treatments are really dirty, check the cleaning instructions and go from there.

Wash your walls and dust the trim along the walls and the windowsills. Dust, wash, rinse and dry painted or paneled walls. Start in the kitchen and bathroom and go from there.

Dust ceiling lights and ceiling fans. These collect a lot of dust and are often forgotten.

Dust your air vents or vacuum them with an attachment.

Clean your refrigerator coil. Click here for more refrigerator cleaning tips, if you’re really ambitious.

Vacuum and shampoo your carpets or treat yourself to a professional cleaning.

Clean out those closets. What didn’t you wear this past season? Do you need to keep it or can you donate it?

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change the batteries.

Replace your furnace filters.

Clean the chimney or have it professionally cleaned.

This may seem like a lot to do, but you will be glad you did when winter is here and you’re cozy, warm and safe inside!

How to Live with Pets AND Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh

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Whether your new dog or cat is your first pet or your 50th pet, we can all use some reminders about how to clean up after our pets and keep our homes are clean even with our furry friends living with us. Here are a few pointers for new pet owners and seasoned pet owners, alike.

All pet owners need to have these items in their homes (and in their cars).

Lint Roller: Keep one in the closet, in the bathroom and in your car so you are always ready to roll out the door with fur-free clothes. If you’re in a pinch and have pulled the last piece of sticky goodness off the roller, scotch tape, masking tape or even blue painter’s tape will work. These work like magic on furniture, too.

Dishwashing Gloves: In a hurry to clean some pet hair off furniture, tables or chairs? Put on a pair of dishwashing gloves and sweep your hand over the area your need to remove fur from. It’s quick, inexpensive and works well for small clean ups.

Throw Blankets: You don’t need the fancy, dry clean-only throws. You need the old-fashioned, can-take-a-good-spin-in-the- washer-and-dryer throw blankets. You can put these on Fido’s favorite place on the couch, chair or bed, and quickly toss them aside when company comes. Your furniture is fresh and fur-free, so you can relax with your visitors. When you’re ready to give the house a good cleaning, just take these outside and shake off the loose fur before you put them in the washing machine. And if you’re ready to freshen them up, but you don’t have the time or desire to put them through a full wash, simply pop them in the dryer on “air.”

Throw Rugs: Get some cheap, washable throw rugs for your pets’ favorite places to sleep on the floor, too! Put one where your dogs go in and out to catch some of the paw prints from the floor.

A Shallow Bowl of Water: Keep a towel and shallow container filled one-third of the way with room-temperature water by your door prior to walking out the door. Once the walk is over, dip each of your dog’s paws into the water and dry them off when he comes in the house. This is especially useful during the winter when sidewalks and driveways are often covered with ice-melt.

Place Mats: Place mats slide easily under your pets’ food and water bowls and can be easily removed and wiped down with ease after each mealtime.

Some tips for washing machine washable items

If a pet has an accident on a machine washable item, machine wash as usual, adding a cup of baking soda to your regular detergent. When possible, air dry these items rather than putting them in the dryer. If you can still see the stain or smell the urine, machine wash the item again and add an enzymatic cleaner (available at pet supply stores) that breaks down pet-waste odors. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully.

Clean any stains as soon as you see them – the sooner the better! Blot fresh stains with a clean, white cloth. After absorbing as much moisture as possible, apply a solution of 1/4 teaspoon clear dish washing liquid mixed with one cup tepid water; blot with another clean, dry towel. Rinse by blotting with a towel dampened with tepid water. Continue alternating with a soapy towel and a clean, damp towel until the stain is gone. For stale stains or persistent odor, call a professional carpet cleaner. Keep enzyme-based pet odor neutralizer on hand to help neutralize odor.

Final tips

Dust and vacuum at least once a week. Pet hair and dirty litter that get tracked around your home all hold odors. The sooner you get rid of it and the more often you clean it up, the less likely your house will absorb any of these odors, and the less of it you’ll see!

Brush your pets on a regular basis. Veterinarians recommend brushing and grooming your pets regularly in order to reduce the amount of hair in the air and on the ground. Perhaps brush your pets a few times a week. If the hair is on the brush, then it’s not on the floor. Always check with your vet to see how often you should groom your dog or cat.

We can all live together harmoniously and relatively free of pet odors by following just a few tips. 

Don’t Flush Your Time Away: Tips for Keeping a Clean Bathroom

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Don’t flush another weekend day away in the bathroom. Make cleaning the bathroom easy and make keeping your bathroom clean throughout the week a snap, with these tips.

Start at night. Before you go to bed at night, wipe down your sink, tub, faucets, toilet and other surfaces. Make this task easy by keeping disposable bathroom wipes under your sink or hidden somewhere in your bathroom. Make a quick wipe down the last thing you do before you go to bed. Then when you wake up in the morning, you’re welcomed by a fresh bathroom that rather than one that is covered in toothpaste spatters, dust or hair.

Use your fans. Stop mildew from forming in your bathrooms by increasing your air circulation. Use fans during the shower and for about a half hour after. Other options are to use your air conditioner in the summer, use a dehumidifier and/or open your windows in the bathroom.

Get rid of mildew easily. If you have grout in your bathroom – and many of us do – mildew can form in it easily. The grout absorbs oils from shampoo, conditioners an soaps and spread on the tiles it surrounds. Mix 10 parts of water with 1 part bleach and scrub with a soft-bristled brush. Then clean with a pH-neutral cleaner like Simply Green or Meyers Multisurface to remove the bleach.

Give your tub a scrub. Combine equal amounts of cream of tartar and baking soda with enough lemon juice to make a paste. Rub the mixture into the stain with your fingers or a soft cloth. Let sit for a half hour, then rinse well with water. Your tub stains will go down the drain!

Give your cleaning products a chance to work for you. Let your cleaning products do the hard labor. Sometimes they need to be on the surfaces they are going to clean for a bit before you start to scrub. For example, bleach will do the hard work if you pour a cup into the toilet bowl, brush around the sides and under the rim and then let it set for five or more minutes before flushing and rinsing. You can move onto your next job as the toilet seems to clean itself.

Keep drains from clogging. Once every month give your pipes a good preventative cleaning to keep them clear of grease, oil and hair clogs. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup white vinegar. The mixture will foam up. Let stand for a few minutes to dissolve fatty acids, then pour boiling water down the drain to wash out any clogs.

Get your cabinets and drawers in order. Clean out your drawers, medicine cabinet and other storage spaces and then use the space! You’ll see your bathroom is clutter-free and instantly more clean looking when the things that were on your counter are put neatly away.

Don’t reserve dryer sheets just for the laundry room. You can use them to quickly and easily nab hair and dust bunnies from the floor without dragging out the vacuum cleaner.

Don’t swear by the bar of soap. Replace bar soap with liquid soap with a pump at the sink. Eliminating the grimy soap dish with help your sink and counter top stay cleaner.

Let your showers rain down. If a shower head becomes clogged with mineral deposits, fill a plastic bag with undiluted white vinegar and place the bag over the head so it is submerged and seal the bag with a rubber band. Soak overnight and then scrub the face with a toothbrush.

No one likes to clean the bathroom, but everyone likes a clean bathroom! Share these tips with your friends and make house cleaning less of a chore.

Easy Weekend Chores to Prepare Yourself for Autumn

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You may not be ready for fall yet, but it’s coming soon. Why not take advantage of the last weekends of summer to tackle a few simple jobs that will make easing into autumn and winter a little easier. These won’t take long, and they won’t take too much effort!

Get winter equipment ready now. Don’t let an early fall storm catch you off guard. Get your snow blower ready to throw snow now.

Clean the garage. Did you accumulate new tools this summer but you didn’t get rid of any of your old ones? Now’s a good time to purge old equipment and tools you no longer need and do a quick sweep of the garage floor.

And when you are done in your garage, it may be time to organize the shed. Move summer items to the back and winter stuff up front for better access. Also, remove any liquids that will freeze.

Check for drafts. Feel for drafts around the edges of windows and doors. A good tip is to use a lighted candle and if the flame flickers, there’s most likely a draft. Replace seals and repair caulking around window and door frames now so you are warm later.

Buy a programmable thermostat, if you don’t have one. Setting your thermostat to lower the temperature automatically at night and when you’re not home, can result in substantial cost savings.

Test home safety devices. Replace the batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices and test to make sure they’re working properly. If you don’t do this in the fall, it’s a good idea to have a day set aside every year to check these out – Halloween, Fourth of July, your birthday – any day you’ll remember.

Check the chimney and fireplace. If you have a wood fireplace and use it often, have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional. And if you have a woodburner, now’s a good time to stock up on firewoood before it costs more.

Clean the gutters. A quick cleaning of the gutters will help to ensure they are ready when the leaves start to drop. Pull out leaves, sticks and other debris that landed in them and stayed in them this summer. Hire a service to clear your gutters or do it yourself. Remove leaves, nests, and debris from gutters and check for leaks.

Ready or not, fall – followed by winter – is on its way. Be ready! 

Clean Your Home with Household Items You Already Have on Hand

Dogs work is never done

Getting ready to do an annual fall cleaning and purge? You may have some items in your house that can do double duty – a lid may be a coaster; a sponge may be a furniture cleaner. Here are some household items that may have a second or third use, and they may just make your life a little easier.

No scrub pad? Use aluminum foil. Crumple a handful and scour to polish stainless steel pots – don’t use this on non-stick pots and pans, of course!

Use Pam or another cooking spray to dissolve soap scum. Spray your shower glass with cooking spray and leave for 30 minutes. The oil slides between the glass and the soap scum, making it easy to wash. Wipe off with soapy water (use a wet sponge with a drop of dish washing liquid).

Dog and cat hair on your furniture? Lightly dampen a sponge, and rub it across upholstery. It will easily lift pet hair.

Use baking soda to clean greasy dishes. Add two tablespoons of baking soda to the usual amount of dish washing liquid you use. It will give your detergent a powerful boost and easily clean greasy dishes.

Coffee can lids can keep your pantry and refrigerator clean. Use a plastic lid from a coffee can as a coaster. Slip it under containers that might drip – honey, jams/jellies, salad dressings. You’ve saved yourself from cleaning a sticky mess.

Dryer sheets can keep dust off your television and PC screens, which are electrically charged and attract dust. Dryer sheets remove dust and prevent it from resettling for several days. Polish glass screens with the sheets after they’ve been in the dryer, for a softer texture.

Feed your plants with water you’ve used to cook. If your water doesn’t have salt in it, it’s perfect for your plants after it’s cooled.

Freshen almost anything in your house with a cotton ball saturated with one of your favorite fragrances. Use an essential oil such as lavender, or use lemon juice or lemon, orange or cinnamon extract or vanilla. Try placing one in your vacuum cleaner to have the scent pushed throughout the room while you clean. You can also put a wet cotton ball on a shelf in your fridge to act as a deodorizer.

The good news about all of these tips is that they are easy to do and you most likely already have everything you need! They are sure to put the spring in your step when you’re spring cleaning.

Want more ideas? Check out 43 Truly Extraordinary Uses for Household Staples You Already Own.

Make More Room in Your Kitchen

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There are some ways to make even the smallest kitchen seem bigger and gain some awesome storage space you weren’t expecting. Try these tips as you start thinking about ways to make the kitchen you have the dream kitchen you want.

Before doing anything else….PURGE!

Grab a garbage bag and start throwing things away.
Clean out your pantry, cabinets, freezer and refrigerator. Anything outdated including cereals, spices, canned goods and more can go. Old sponges, storage containers with no lids, expired meats, freezer burned soups and vegetables, and old leftovers all can be discarded. You’ll feel good about starting from scratch, and you will know what you have and what you need when you go to the store.

When you do go to the store, only buy what you need. If you’re a bulk shopper, store extra items in the garage or basement, but keep them out of the kitchen.

Hide your chairs. If you have an island or counter seating in your kitchen, buy a couple of low stools that you can push underneath and out of the way.

Put small appliances away. Toasters, mixers and other kitchen appliances are tools, not decorations. Put them in one of the larger cabinets until they are used again for meal prep.

Buy some cabinet shelving and dividers. You can purchase some inexpensive cabinet shelving for stackable pots and pans, serving dishes, vases and pitchers. It’s an easy fix to get some quick storage space back.

Get a smaller table. If you have a small dining nook, then you need a small table. You may even find one with folding parts so you can make it larger and smaller as needed.

Attach a sanitation rack to cabinet below the sink. These are inexpensive and easy to affix to the wall of the cabinet. Put your dish soap, sponges, and other frequently used cleaning products in it. They are easy to get to and off the sink.

Hang your plants. Get your houseplants off the counter by hanging them up or putting them on upper shelves.

Do you want some more ideas about how to free up your kitchen space? Read Tips to Maximize Kitchen Storage Space.