10 Easy Rules to Keep Your House Clean and Organized

10 Easy Rules to Keep Your House Clean and Organized

For those of you that know me personally, you know what an organization freak I am. Every now and then, someone asks me how I do it. Instead of spending a couple hours going over every single thing, I decided to make a list of my most important cleaning and organization rules.

When you see something out of place, take the 2 seconds it would take to fix it. For example, each time you put the groceries away is a perfect time to clean out the fridge. Throw away the empty carton of eggs before putting the new one in, pour the last of the ranch dressing into the new bottle you just purchased, wipe the spilled milk crusties off the shelf before replacing the new gallon, throw out the left-overs from last week, etc. Another example: when you’re having the children put their laundry away, teach them how to put the clothes nicely in their drawers in neat piles and fix those clothes that got unfolded in that mornings rush hour!

When ever you buy something new, throw out the old. Simple rule: when you buy a new pair of black pumps, get rid of the old pair. When you buy a new bra, get rid of one old one. When you get new socks, get rid of any with holes.

Never put anything away dirty. This is especially important in the kitchen. Never put your appliances away dirty. After each use wipe off the entire appliance with a clean rag, and don’t forget the cord.

Have a place for your dish rags. There is nothing worse than the smell of a dirty dish rag! Purchase a few hooks for underneath your kitchen sink. After each use: rinse, ring and hang your rag on the hook. This allows you to use the rag for 2-3 days without the stench. Also, keep a set of disinfecting wipes handy for bacteria.

Keep cleaning supplies in every bathroom and your kitchen. Keeping paper towels, disinfecting wipes, window cleaner, toilet cleaner under each sink allows you to clean on the spot. This is why: bathroom mirrors get dirty very easily, yet on the way to get the cleaner from the hall closet, you get side track by another project and the mirrors don’t get done. But if you had the cleaner under the sink, how easy would it be to clean the mirror real quick as soon as you splashed toothpaste all over it? By the way, a clean mirror can fool any one in to thinking your bathroom is clean! (I only keep paper towels & disinfecting wipes under my kitchen sink). Make sure to “child proof” those cabinets if you have little children at home.

squeegee-on-showerUse a squeegee on your shower after each use. If each person who uses the shower would take the time to do this, it would cut down on hard water stains. Which means, much less time scrubbing the shower. Plus, your shower can go a little longer between scrubbings.

Never go to bed in a mess and never leave home in a mess. You get home from work, make dinner, and just want to relax. That’s fine. However, don’t go to bed leaving clutter every where. Then you have to wake up to the mess, and you find your day has already started off on the wrong foot. Take the time after dinner to do the dishes. Make the kids help. Then set the timer for 15 minutes and have all family members help straighten up. You will be amazed at how much gets done in 15 minutes with every family member helping! The same rule applies when you leave the house in the morning (it shouldn’t be that bad if your family did the 15 minutes the night before) and before you leave to go out of town.

Make your bed every day! Every bed in the house should be made every day. Even children as small as 3 can help make their own bed. Make it part of the morning routine. As soon as each member of the family rolls out of bed, the first thing they do is make their bed!

Prepare the night before. Check your calendar, then get lunches made, lay out clothes, load the backpacks, etc. Any thing that can be done the night before—do it! Mornings run so much smoother if things are prepared and there is no reason for panic.

Choose a mop cloth that can be washed. Don’t use the traditional sponge or rag mops. Then you have to find a place for them to hang dry, they are very hard to keep sanitary, and you must replace them often. Plus, you have to have a mop bucket or you use your sink…YUK! By choosing a mop cloth that is detachable, you can machine wash and dry the pad. You don’t have to waste money buying disposable or replacement pads.

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Preventing and Dealing With Kitchen Fires

Preventing and Dealing With Kitchen Fires
Recently, my sister dealt with this very subject. Fortunately, she knew what to do. Fires are very unfortunate. They cause the loss of property and loss of lives. If you make it out with only a few injuries, you are very lucky. The thing is, most people take the subject of house fires for granted and feel that it can never happen to them. Unfortunately, house fires happen everyday. The good news is, they can be prevented.

When it comes to fires, the kitchen is the prime starting point. Cooking, making coffee and other similar activities can quickly accelerate into a disastrous and consuming house fire. Since many fires originate from stove tops, there is a chance of fire every time a meal is prepared.

Kitchen fire prevention

There are many ways to prevent a kitchen fire before it ever starts. They can turn into raging monsters that are hard to tame. If you are careful, you will never have to encounter that monster. A few simple steps are all that is needed to be the safest cook in the kitchen.

  • Never leave the kitchen when cooking. Foods can quickly overflow or burn if you forget that you are cooking. Don’t be surprised; it happens more often than you think. Even though you may have loads of things to do, it pays to stand close by while cooking.
  • Turn off the coffee pot. When you are not using the coffee pot to brew a delicious cup of Joe, you should unplug and turn the machine off.
  • Pay attention to what you are wearing while cooking. Long flowing sleeves or extremely long necklaces can cause complications while preparing the meal. Your clothing can easily catch on fire and cause injury. Garage Tool Advisor recently posted a great article on fire safety in the kitchen mixed in with some of their tool reviews. Be sure to take a look.

Taming the fire

fire extinguisherFires can spread out of control in a very short time. Since something went wrong during your food preparation or when you left the coffee pot on all night, you will may be faced with an accident. If there is a fire in your kitchen, then you need to know what to do.

  • A fire has erupted from a grease spill. Your first instinct may be to douse the fire with water. This is the worst mistake you could make. The best thing to use to put out a grease fire, is salt. Salt actually smothers the flame, taking away oxygen. A fire cannot live without oxygen.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby. This item is one of the best safety tools you can buy and can save your kitchen and leave you with only a burned pan. You must make sure that you know how to use the fire extinguisher before you attempt to put the fire out. If you don’t, you should call the fire department immediately.

Yes, fires can be devastating, but you can prevent them with a little common sense. If you find yourself dealing with a fire and not sure what too do, call the fire department and leave the battle to the experts. After all, the kitchen fire can be fatal and it should never be taken for granted.

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Garage Organization Tips

Garage Organization Tips

Well Winter is technically behind us even though parts of the country still have snow on the ground. Spring is here and along with that comes Spring cleaning. Like others, the garage is one of the first places we begin to clean and organize.

I really believe that the best way to organize your garage is to wait for a couple of sunny days where you can take everything out of your cluttered garage and go through it. It may be a good idea to have a yard sale with the items you can do without. True, there are many items you would like to keep, but you will find out that as you go through things, there will be some items that you really can do without.

It’s not always easy though. My husband recently upgraded some tools including his screwdriver collection. He spent good money on what he thinks is the best screwdriver set out there yet still has about 20 mismatched screwdrivers of various sizes. When I asked him why he wouldn’t consider selling them at our garage sale, I got the typical guy answer: “I might need them”.

Storage

Shelves in your garage are always a good way to store smaller items. I prefer Rubbermaid shelves over any others. Plan ahead and get the right amount of shelving you need to supply the needed space for all of your small items. Don’t keep stuff in boxes where you can’t find it. You want to have access to everything you need. Also, it may help to place the shelving in a rather hidden place, or perhaps a functional area where it is needed. You may want to hang some items from the wall, including skis, fishing rods, and other miscellaneous larger items that you may have.

Make it functional

After you have gone through all of your things, and sorted out what you don’t need, it is time to start placing your possessions in the organizational systems that you have arranged for them. Place things where you can access them easily depending on what you plan to do at any given time in the garage.

This is about the time my husband takes the winter tires off our car and puts them in storage. Since he’s so into cars, as his Christmas gift, I got him the best floor jack under $200 that I could find. Because of the weight, he’s going to keep it right by the garage door. If you have a workbench nearby, place other tools next to it.

Place like items together. For instance, place any gardening tools (like shovels or the Grass Stitcher) together, the gas cans together, the paint all in one place, and so on. Plan ahead, and then your daily uses of the things in the garage will be easier.

Keep it simple

Don’t overdo any stage of the process. If you have any doubts about getting rid of something, just keep it for now, you can always do something with it later. Also, think of friends and acquaintances who could perhaps use some of your unwanted items. A thorough cleaning and organizing is good for every garage occasionally.

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Not Back At It

Not Back At It

I have to apologize for not updating my blog in such a long time. For those of you who know me on a more personal level, you understand my struggle with chronic lower back pain for the past few years. It finally got to the point where Ibuprofen and heating pads simply weren’t cutting it. It was affecting my job, family, and normal day to day stuff.

After going extended periods of time without a full night’s sleep, I finally decided enough is enough. Trying to figure out how to sleep with lower back pain was a constant struggle. My biggest issue was that most of my life, I’ve been a stomach sleeper. I’ve now learned that is the absolute worst position to sleep in. It hasn’t been easy but I’m gradually turning into a side sleeper after going through some trial and error and finally finding a comfortable pillow (2 words… shredded latex!).

One of the best things I’ve bought is an acupressure mat. I’ve always wanted to try acupuncture for my back pain but we simply can’t afford it since insurance won’t cover it. While the acupressure mat is obviously not the same thing, it’s a similar idea. You literally lay on a mat which has hundreds of sharp plastic spikes on them. It’s such a weird feeling. It’s slightly painful but in a good way. The first time I laid on it, I started picturing the tiny spikes going through my skin and thinking I’d get up covered in blood. Well, the spikes never actually break skin but it causes blood to flow to that part of the body which also releases endorphins. It’s a fantastic way of quick pain relief. Too bad it’s only temporary.

inversion-tableI’ve also been doing a lot of research on inversion therapy. For those that don’t know, inversion therapy is when you lay on special inversion table where you lock your feet into place and literally rotate the table until you are hanging partially (or fully) upside down. It’s mainly used for those with bulging or herniated discs. The idea is that we put so much pressure on our spines during the day (sitting, standing, walking), that by hanging upside down, the pressure on our spine is reversed and can actually “decompress” (add more space between) the joints in the spine. So, do inversion tables work? Well I’ve only been using my table for a couple days but it really feels like it’s helping a bit. I’m not quite to the point of being completely inverted (still need to get used to the feeling) but it’s getting easier each time.

My doctor and I have already discussed the possibility of surgery for my bulging discs but back surgery is not something I want to make a quick decision on. I’m committed to first exhaust other treatment options if I can. If anyone has had any success with a particular treatment for their back, I’d love to hear from you. I hope to make a new post in the near future that my lower back issues are a thing of the past.

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Ugh. We have a leak!

Ugh. We have a leak!

You know how as a homeowner you can sometimes feel like something is about to stop working? Well it happened and it wasn’t pretty. I guess that’s the life of home ownership. Everything is fine one minute and then the next minute you’re freaking out because something’s busted, you don’t have a clue what to do, and all you can think about is what the damage will be at the end.

Ok, so our water heater is older than our teenage daughter but still… when you find your water heater is leaking in your basement, it comes off as a shock. I tried convincing myself it must have been something else like condensation or something but my husband set me straight and we knew our water heater was toast. Fortunately, we have a water shutoff valve within easy reach so at least the damage can be contained.

Turns out that the water heater had been leaking ever so slightly for a few weeks. We couldn’t quite pinpoint where it was leaking from since it was a REALLY slow leak. We checked the usual home improvement forums and a few plumbing related sites. After going through diagnosing the water leak, we narrowed it down to the leak somewhere near the bottom of the tank. The hope was that it would be a simple fix like the drain valve but unfortunately, it appears to be the tank itself. Shouldn’t really come off as a surprise since the water heater is so old but it wasn’t the conclusion we were hoping for.

Now my husband is a pretty handy guy but replacing a gas water heater is not really in his comfort zone. We decided to bite the bullet and let the pros do the install once we found a new water heater. I figure I’ll do some research and find a good deal on a high efficiency water heater and we’ll actually be able to lower our energy bills. We’re not planning on moving anytime soon so I’m not really stressing about the cost since it will end up paying for itself.

We did end up looking into a new tankless model (which we’ve heard good things about) but at about $5k? Ummm… no thanks. We’ll be just fine with another giant tank in the basement. There are actually quite a few different water heater types including these “hybrid” models which weren’t really that much more than a normal unit but it wouldn’t work for our application without a whole lot of modification ($$$). So, standard 50-gallon gas model it is.

Ended up getting a good deal at Lowes even though I tried my best getting a better deal online. Who would have thought that a big, heavy, appliance would be expensive to ship across the country. Right? Instead of using Lowe’s professional services to do the install, we contacted a local plumber who agreed to do the install a couple hundred less that Lowes. The plumber ended up picking up the water heater the next day and installing it in a couple hours. I wouldn’t recommend finding a water heater leak just as the weather is getting colder but going a day and a half without hot water wasn’t the end of the world.

 

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