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Filtering by Category: Cleaning Hacks

Quick ways to clean for guests

With the holidays approaching some guests might be expected to arrive which means we have to find time in our already busy schedules to get our homes clean for them. Good Housekeeping shared some wonderful tips we can sneak in before they arrive.

1. Sprinkle rugs with baking soda


You don't have time for a deep cleaning, but make sure your carpeting is fresh and odor-free by dusting it with a bit of baking soda. Wait 15 minutes, then vacuum the powder (and the stink) away.

2. Clean your fixtures as you prep dinner

Slicing lemons for your famous chicken? Reserve half of one and run the cut side over chrome to make it shine again. Then, toss a few rinds through the garbage disposal to get rid of any offending smells.


3. De-stink your kitchen

You can erase any lingering cooking odors (yesterday's fish dinner, last night's microwave popcorn) by hardly lifting a finger: Simply fill a saucepan with 3 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 cup of water, and allow to boil for several minutes. Then, if you like, switch it out for a sweet-smelling simmer pot, with aromatics like oranges and cinnamon sticks.

4. Spray trouble spots with this handy solution

Survey your home for any obvious stains, and give them a quick spray with a vinegar and water solution. This impressive cleaner is helpful almost anywhere, like for whisking away spots on a mirror or toothpaste drippings in the bathroom. Just don’t use it on natural stone, like granite; it could etch the surface.

5. Be forgiving about clutter

There's no shame in putting catalogs, mail, and more into a basket and stowing it in a closet until guests depart. If you'd rather not move things, make neat piles out of messy mountains of stuff. Tidiness can step in for "organized" for the time being.


6. Swiffer your kitchen floor

We love this tool for a quick pick-me-up under foot. And all you have to do is toss the disposable cloth when you're done.



7. Scoop up pet hair with a rubber glove

After you're through washing dishes, don't remove your damp gloves. Take a detour through the living room and wipe away any lingering fuzz.

8. Zap dust fast with a lint roller

Take a lap around your house and sweep this sticky, lightweight tool over any spot that's looking a little dusty (like stereo speakers, lamp shades, and stuffed animals). Or, banish debris in awkward spots by wiping them with a sock on your hand.

9. Be sure to clean the toilet

Guests will surely visit this high-traffic spot, so brush with bleach or your favorite cleaner before people arrive.



10. Stick to spots you can see

Our homecare expert Heloise knows her way around any cleaning issue, but also loves a handy shortcut. "My mother liked to do what she called top cleaning," Heloise says. "She'd tackle only the surfaces that were going to be seen or used." So if you have to skip making your bed on party day, so be it.


Best Ways to Maximize Space

No matter what the size of our home is when we start adding guests into it for the holidays it can feel a bit tight.   With some simple tricks and tips you can transform your home into a spacious and clean space ready for any size gathering. Here are 7 simple ways to maximize space in your home.

1. Create Hidden Storage

Is there room beneath your bed that you could add storage underneath? What about up? Do the cabinets in your kitchen extend to the ceiling? If not, store exciting pieces like a cake stand or oversized platter in the space between the cabinet and the ceiling.

2. Separate Living Zones

Set up specific areas for different tasks to make your space feel bigger. When decorating, clearly separate the living and sleeping spaces either with a screen, shelving unit or even with different rugs.






3. Rotate Clothing

Every mid-may and late October, rotate your clothing around.  Pull everything out of your closet and put it back in a different order depending on the season. For winter, winter clothes come to the front of the closet, and summer clothes go to the back.


4. Multipurpose Furniture

Do you have a trunk laying around?  They provide great additional storage as well as a table for gatherings.  Another idea is an ottoman that has a secret storage area.  Finding items that fit better in your space and have multiple purposes make a bigger impact in the space than a whole bunch of furniture with only one use.

5. Seek Out Perfect Pieces

Your place is small—which means that every inch counts and everything is on display. So if you don’t absolutely love a piece, don’t buy it. Keep searching until you find the coffee table that you can’t live without, rather than buying the one you sort of like out of necessity. Ask a friend whose apartment you love to help you search for the perfect piece. Apply the same philosophy for hard-to-find items. When worse comes to worst, have something custom-made.

6. Remember, Less Is More

Knickknacks and tchotchkes are cute, but they make a small space feel cluttered. The less stuff you have, the bigger your space will feel. Don’t overcrowd it with furniture pieces that are too big. If there isn’t room for a traditional coffee table, turn a small side table or two into a coffee table. In essence, channel the principles of a hotel room: Only keep the bare essentials; pick pieces you love and keep surfaces bare.

7. Clean Regularly

A clean house is a happy house. Your space will naturally feel bigger when it is clean and removed of clutter. Put away clothes, wipe down counters, and vacuum the rugs at least once every couple of weeks. While you clean, have a mini de-cluttering session, re-organize drawers, and purge excess clutter. Soon enough your space will be entirely clutter-free.



Shake the smell out of our Four Legged Friends

We all love our four legged friends, but sometimes during these rainy months the smell of a dog can be a bit hard to shake from your home.  These are some great tips from A Typical English Home you can implement to help remove the smell before your guests notice.

1. Bathe Your Dog

If you never washed then you would, frankly, stink.  The same is true of your dog! How often you bathe your dog depends on things like what type of coat they have, and whether they have any underlying skin conditions.  You can ask your vet for advice, if necessary.

2. Brush Your Dog

Bathing your dog doesn’t just help them smell better because you are washing away dirt.  Washing them removes some of the loose hairs- and dead fur is actually the biggest contributor to dog stink! Ideally, you need to be giving your dog a thorough brush every day.

3. Look At Their Diet

Some breeds smell more than others and you can’t completely eliminate their natural doggy odor, but you can lessen it by feeding them a high quality diet. Their diet effects their health, and in particular things like their coat – and a shiny coat and healthy skin gives off a much more pleasant odor. There is lots of information about optimizing your dog’s diet online, but steer clear of tinned dog food and corn based products as a start.

4. The Vacuum Cleaner Is Your Best Friend

Dead dog hair is actually what you can smell if your home (or pet) is a bit whiffy. So naturally, you need to be removing that from your home as much as possible too. Vacuuming once a day should do the job. Don’t forget to empty your vacuum cleaner and wash the filter often, or after a while you might find that your vacuum cleaner is the biggest culprit for spreading pet smells in your home!

5. Deodorize Your Floors

Steam cleaning helps to lift the pet smell.  If you don’t have a steam cleaner, add a little white vinegar to your bucket before you mop. White vinegar has disinfectant properties, and it deodorizes. If you have carpet and rugs then keeping the dog smell at bay is a little trickier. Once a week, sprinkle carpet deodorizer over your floors before you vacuum, or for a natural alternative, use baking soda.

6. De-Fur The Furniture

Don’t forget to make sure your furniture (i.e. your sofa) is free of fur. Most vacuum cleaners have an upholstery attachment, but you can also just use a lint roller.

7. Clean Their Bedding Regularly

Nothing retains the smell of dog more than their favorite sleeping place. Ideally, you should plan ahead and buy them a coupe of washing machine friendly beds. This means that you can have one in the wash and one for use, and neither should have time to develop a strong odor. If you ever use something like a crate, regularly spray the tray with white vinegar, or sprinkle it with baking soda, to deodorize the smell. Don’t forget their toys too, if they are getting a bit stinky and can handle a trip through the washing machine!

8. Clean With Vinegar

White vinegar is a deodorizer, which is important if you want to get rid of pet smells! Plus, vinegar is an amazingly effective cleaning agent. You can add it into a spray bottle and spritz it into the air – as the vinegar smell fades, so will the smell of dog.

9. Air Your Home

Most of us probably don’t live in areas where you can throw your windows open all year round. But when the weather is warm enough, open your windows and let in some fresh air. It isn’t just good for pet smells; it is great for freshening the air in general.

10. Mask the Scent

None of these extra cleaning measures should take up much of your time, and if you make a habit of them then your home shouldn’t smell of pets. But if you do want to make sure your home smells lovely when guests come round, there is no shame in masking the scent with things like air fresheners, scented candles, etc if you want to make sure your house smells pleasant and welcoming.

Prepare for going out of town

Tis the season for holiday travel to start to appear on everyone’s mind. Thanksgiving is around the corner and that means people from far and near will be traveling to see their families. This is the perfect time to review some of the most basic things you can do to make sure your home is vacation safe so you can sit back and enjoy your time away.

1. Place Mail & Deliveries on Hold

USPS has a very easy to use online mail hold form that is available for most addresses.  If you don’t have the online option, you can fill out a form at your post office or ask your postal carrier for a form.  If you’re expecting a UPS or FedEx delivery, contact them with your tracking number and they should be able to hold your packages for a limited time at one of their facilities.  Also place other deliveries like newspapers, water, or food on hold.

2. Outside Your Home 

Do a cleanup of the outside of your home.  You want it to look lived in, not abandoned.  See if you can set up your exterior lights on timers.  Especially if you have holiday lights.  If you might get snow while you’re gone, ask a neighbor to walk around your door and property so they leave footprints.  You can even ask a neighbor to park in your driveway while you’re gone.



3. Tell a Trusted Neighbor 

If you have a neighbor who you know and trust, let them know when you’ll be gone and ask them to keep an eye on your property.  Leave your contact information so they can reach you if there are any problems.

4. Interior Lighting 

Place light timers on some lamps.  I like the ones that have a random setting so that it’s more realistic when you’re gone.  There are some that will use a set time and then vary it by a random 1-30 minutes so it’s not coming on at the same time every day/night.  These can be found at your local home improvement store or even online.

5. Dishes 

Don’t leave any dirty dishes sitting around while you’re gone.  You don’t want to come home to any mold or stink!


6. Food & Garbage 

Empty out your fridge of any perishables that could rot while you’re gone.  Also get rid of any fruits or vegetables that may be on your counter.  It’s a good idea to take your garbage out just before you leave too.

7. Unplug Electronics

Go ahead and unplug most of your basic electronics and appliances (tv, toaster, computer, etc).



8. Thermostat 

Adjust your thermostat so you can save money on heating or cooling when you’re gone.  Take into account that you don’t want to go too extreme on your settings.  We like to set our heater to 50-55 degrees when we’re gone.  We don’t have air conditioning, but I would suppose you could set it to 90 degrees in the summer.  Keep in mind that if you have any pets, you’ll have to keep your thermostat at a more moderate temperature for them.

9. Check All Your Windows 

Make sure they’re all locked and close the blinds/curtains.




Do you have any other tips you do each time?  Let us know in the comments below.

Refreshing Cleaning Hacks!

While most of us are creatures of habit when it comes to cleaning, it’s true that we could all stand to mix it up every once in a while. Today, we’re bringing you a few new cleaning tips to refresh your space and give it an extra special feel. If you’ve been stuck in a cleaning rut for some time, it might be time to transform your old habits and shake things up. Our tips will have your home taking back that just-moved-in clean feeling, and you can thank us later!

1.     Clean your mattress!

If you (like most people) haven’t taken some time to clean your mattress lately, it’s definitely time! This article walks you through a step-by-step tutorial and explains the importance of mattress maintenance!

2.     Clean your microwave — easily!

We’re big fans of this simple and natural microwave cleaning tutorial. All you’ll need is some water and a bit of citrus to make your microwave look and smell like new again!

3.     Maintain your toilet!

This idea from One Good Thing By Jillee is nothing short of genius. Why not maintain the cleanliness of your toilet so that it lasts longer between cleanings? Her homemade cleaning cocktail is full of freshness that will keep dirt and grime at bay!

4.     Clean your walls!

I think we could all use a little reminder that walls need cleaning too… sometimes, the dirt isn’t as obvious, which makes us feel like it’s a step we can skip. Truth be told, walls can accumulate nearly as much dirt as the floor over time… yikes! So, here’s a little cleaning hack that might make reaching up and down your walls a little easier!

What are your best cleaning tips and tricks? Tell us all about them in the comments below!