Clear Out the Clutter Before You Put Away Your Holiday Decorations

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The best way to stay organized in the new year is to head into the year ready to go! Cleaning up holiday clutter (and clutter from the rest of the year) can be easy and fun. Here are some tips to cut clutter and get organized.

For every one new item you bring in, get rid of two. If you get a new holiday ornament, pick two that have no sentimental value that you really don’t love to get rid of. If you get a new DVD as a gift, find two that you never watch and get rid or them. Did kids get new clothes? It’s a sure bet that they have clothing they don’t wear or have outgrown. The same is true for toys. In with the new, out with the old. Many of these items will be welcome at Goodwill or another recycling store, and you can get a tax write off to boot.

Fill boxes that packages came in with items to discard. Instead of recycling or throwing away shipping boxes, pack them with items you can recycle or discard. It’s a fun game and a challenge for the family. How many toys, outgrown clothes, old decorations or things you just don’t love, can you fit into a box? You’re not using these items anymore but they still have a lot of life left in them. You have the boxes, now it’s time to fill them.

Celebrate a Japanese tradition. Who knew that when you de-clutter, you could also be teaching about a different culture? In Japan, clearing clutter and cleaning at the end of the year is a big part of the Japanese New Year tradition. Because each year is separate and distinct, the Japanese observe Ousouji by cleaning the home from top to bottom to ring the new year in with a clean state of mind and to invite prosperity.

Do you really want the white elephant gift? By definition, the white elephant gift is one that you have no use for and would never pick for yourself. The gift exchanges are worth a laugh, but decide now if you are going to be glad you kept that moose paper towel holder or the dribble coffee mug in May.

Take an extra step when storing holiday decorations. Don’t just toss holiday decorations in crates and shove them in the closet with the intention of going through them next year. Now is the time to get rid of the lights that don’t work and the snowman whose corncob pipe and button nose fell off years ago. Keep the decorations that mean a lot to you and that still work when you plug them in. Get rid of the items that are broken, missing parts, or just squished. Get more holiday storage tips by clicking here.

There are lots of fun, creative and easy ways to de-clutter at the end of the year to start off the new year in style.

Avoid Plumbing Problems at the Holidays and All Year Long!

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The day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days for plumbers. Why? We put a lot more down our kitchen sink… That, coupled with holiday guests who flush, bathe and do laundry, adds extra stress to the usually quiet plumbing. Here are tips to keep your home’s drain clog free.

Do a drain check before the holidays. Houses often have partially clogged drains that you may have ignored because they are no big deal. But when a house full of guests becomes part of the picture, partially clogged turn into fully clogged quickly. Unclog all drains ahead of time.


And then, after every drain is free of debris, follow some simple tips to keep them that way throughout the season.

In the Kitchen

Don’t pour fats or cooking oil down the drain. They can solidify even if you are running water and the disposal. Save a can and pour grease, fat, oil in the can and then let it harden in the refrigerator before you throw it away.

Watch out for items that should not go in the disposal at any time of the year, but especially when it’s extra busy. Stringy and fibrous items do more harm than good. Turkey or chicken skin, celery, and fruit and potato peels are examples of items that cannot be broken down well and are no match for the garbage disposal.

Make sure you have the disposal running when you add food. Don’t wait until it is full to turn it on.

In the Bathroom

Unless it’s septic system safe toilet paper or a spider, it has no business being flushed down the toilet. Don’t put cotton, tissues, hair, makeup remover pads or anything else down the toilet. They will not dissolve and they will cause problems.

Let a few minutes pass between showers so drains can drain. This may also give the hot water heater a chance to heat up.

Before the Holidays

Fix any problems you know you have bubbling up before the holidays, if you can. If you’re hot water heater isn’t doing its job the way it should, you’d rather be safe than sorry. But if you do get in hot water with a plumbing issue, find out BEFORE you hire a plumber what their holiday fees are. There are plumbers who don’t charge extra but you will have to do some research.

There’s enough going on that the holidays; plumbing problems don’t need to be a part of the activity! With a few precautions, you won’t have to worry about draining your bank account! 

 

Make Your Holiday Home, Holiday Guest-Ready

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Welcome your holiday visitors with a home that is guest-ready. It’s easy to feel ready for anything when the doorbell rings by taking a few simple steps today.

Clear the clutter. For a lot of us our guest room was once our “spare room” or it is still our office. Clear the clutter from the guest room when you know you are going to have visitors. If the guest room doubles your office, put away your files and move your laptop. If you store items in the guest closet, buy some storage bins and put things in the bins to keep the closet organized and welcoming. Clear out at least half of the closet, and leave plenty of open hangers so your guests can hang their clothes and jackets right away. Make sure some of the dresser drawers are available, too. Guests are more comfortable when they have a place to store their clothes and other items so they aren’t tossed around in their room or stacked on top of their suitcase.

Have a luggage rack ready. If you simply cannot empty any drawers or make room in the closet, get a couple of inexpensive luggage racks so your guests can put their luggage on those and pull their clothes from there, without having to work from a suitcase on the floor. Put an inexpensive hook on the outside of the closet and dangle a few coat hangers on that, so your guests have a place to hang up jackets and nice clothes.

Make a guest basket. Fill up a basket with everything from travel-sized soaps to snacks to munch on after you’ve gone to bed. Include a few travel essentials: lip balm, lotion, sunscreen, a lint roller and little essentials they may not have remembered or thought to bring. If you are feeling extra welcoming, put in some fun snacks, such as granola, bite-sized candy bars or fig newtons. Include some bottles of water or a reusable water bottle or glasses in the basket or next to the basket so your guests can get water during the night without having to fumble around in the dark kitchen.

Create an online cheat sheet. Make their stay easy by creating a packet ahead of time with all of the information they’ll need, like your WiFi network name and password, so they can log on whenever they want.

  • Add soft, low-key lighting. Make sure your guest room has a lamp with soft lighting or a 3-way bulb so they can adjust the lighting. Soft lighting makes it easier to read before dozing off and makes the room feel more cozy.Use good sheets. Put nice sheets on your bed. Splurge a little on sheets and a soft blanket. If the mattress is your old one from your youth, it may be time to buy an inexpensive but new mattress that is a little less used. Make the bed look lovely with a throw blanket or pillows, but don’t go overboard on the decorations. Too many throw pillows and guests get flustered trying to make the bed the way you like it.
  • Put extra pillows and blankets in the closet or on a small table or chair in the corner so your guests can be as comfy as they want.

    Provide a fan if the room gets warm, or make sure your guests know how to work the ceiling fan if there is one.

    Clear some space on top of the dresser. Don’t clutter the space with family photos or knick-knacks. Leave the space clear so your guests can put their jewelry, books, phone, etc. in a place that’s easy to see. If you do want to put something on the dresser, nothing says “welcome” more than some fresh flowers.

    Prep the bathroom, too!

  • Put out fresh towels, shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, cotton balls, cotton swabs. If your guests forget something, they’ll be glad you thought of it.
  • Make sure you leave extra toilet paper where they can see it or in the obvious cabinet. No one wants to ask for toilet paper.
  • Put out a box of tissues, as well, if you did not put one in the guest bedroom.

Early Risers?

  • Put coffee by the coffee maker or prep the coffee maker and set the timer so your guests can start their day early (or late if you’re up and out before them). Put out some fruit and muffins so guests aren’t forced to root through your cabinets if they are hungry.

It’s all about your guests. Make them feel welcome and comfortable. By following a few simple tips, you’ll be able to make sure your guest and you have the visit of a lifetime.

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.

Clean Your Home with Household Items You Already Have on Hand

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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.