After a long, dark winter, spring's bright sun and warm winds are a breath of fresh air! The only downside? All that sunshine spotlights your leaf-filled gutters, cracked patio and the dead plants in last year's flower beds.
Here’s a checklist to help you target the areas that need updated so you can get your maintenance completed quickly, leaving you time to go outside and play in the sunshine.
- 1) Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundations and are clear and free of gunk.
- 2) Low areas in the garden should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage. Also, when water pools in these low areas in summer, it creates a breeding ground for insects.
- 3) Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood.
- 4) From the ground, examine roof tiles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage your roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced.
- 5) Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.
- 6) Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. Fill cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. When weather permits, power hose and then seal the concrete.
- 7) Check outside hose tops for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you're at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.
- 8) Check your lawn equipment to make sure it is ready for summer use. Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make gardening easier.
We can all help to create a greener environment by reducing, reusing and recycling. Greener living is more than an investment in a cleaner, greener future – we can also work together to make a positive impact right now.
Roll up a couple of these and stick one into each of your calf- or knee-high boots so the footwear will keep its shape
2. Empty paper-towel roll
Flatten and use it to sheathe a knife kept in a drawer.
3. Small glass food jars
These make perfect see-through storage vessels for nails, screws, nuts, and bolts.
4. Old shower curtain
Stash one in your car's boot to line it when carting potentially messy paints or picnic and beach gear.
5. Used coffee grounds
Spread them over flower beds of acid-craving plants such as azaleas or rhododendrons.
6. Plastic tub
Get the largest-size container of yoghurt, sour cream, or margarine. When done with the tub, rinse and reuse it as a travel dish for pets or for craft-supply storage.
- 7. Foam packing peanuts
Put some in the bases of potted plants to help drainage.
8. Plastic mesh produce bag
Turn it into a no-scratch scrubber for a gunky pot or pan. Ball up the bag, scour, then throw the whole mess away.
- 1. Make a tote bag
- Take an old tank top and sew the bottom of the tank top closed. For extra sturdiness you can cut out a rectangular piece of cardboard and place it at the bottom of the tank if you plan to carry heavier items
- 2. Make Cleaning Cloths
- Take your old t-shirts, tops, and socks and turn them into cleaning cloths. Socks make great dusters, and old t-shirts are perfect for wiping down tough surfaces and for cleaning wooden furniture. Just cut them up into medium size pieces
- 3. Frame It
- Sometimes when we love an article of clothing so much we literally wear it to death. Why not resurrect those pieces by framing it. Your old school 70’s rocker tees, your baby’s first outfit, or even old scarves.
- 4. Make a quilt
- Sew pieces of your old duds into a quilt. People do this all the time, especially if you’re one of those people who likes memorabilia. Taking pieces of soft and smooth fabrics makes a great quilt.
- 5. Make a fabric headband
- If you watched the 2012 Oscars red carpet, then you know that headbands are making a comeback. Take your old silk pieces and cut a wide strip that will be long enough to fit around your entire head. Leave a little extra room so you can tie it comfortably.
- 6. Here’s another penny saver.
- Use your cotton or chiffon fabric pieces to make a belt or sash. You can cut a wide strip of fabric from the bottom of a solid colored skirt or dress. Make sure it’s long enough to fit around the narrowest part of your waist. Sew the ends so you will not be able to see the loose thread and instantly you created a belt.
- 7. If you have old clothes that look faded to the point where they look like a completely different color than when you bought it, we say dye it. You know when the LBD starts to look grey or your brown shirt is looking tan. All you need to revive it is to change the color.
- 8. Turn them into new pieces
- Another great use of old clothes is to make them new again by turning a dress into a top or a top into a skirt. Turn a pair of long pants into capris or shorts. This is the ultimate way of getting the most of your wardrobe.
- 9. Make a book cover or bookmark
- Mask a personal journal with your printed pieces. All you need to do is cut out a large square piece of cotton printed fabric from an old top. Place the book in the middle of the square, trim the extra fabric you don’t need and then use glue or double sided tape to cover the book. Take the excess fabric and drape it over a piece of cardboard; seal the fabric over the cardboard with glue or tape and you have your very own personalized bookmark.
- 10. Make a fun pillow
- Another super easy way to reuse old clothes is to cut the sleeves off of an old cotton shirt or sweater. Sew the sleeves and neck of the shirt together to close them. Stuff the shirt with cotton balls or feathers and sew the bottom of the shirt closed.
- You love a spotless house—but you don’t want to spend the bulk of your time actually cleaning. Well, fret no more. Check out some of our cleaning tips, to make life easier below!
- In The Kitchen
- Always begin on the right side of your stove, then move clockwise around the room. The stove is typically the dirtiest part of the kitchen, so ending with it keeps you from spreading dirt and grease. (First, soak drip pans and knobs in warm soapy water. By the time you’ve worked your way around, they’ll be easier to clean.)
- Sanitize the Sink: It’s hard to believe, but your dirty kitchen sink has more bacteria than your toilet seat. Use a product labeled as an EPA-registered disinfectant, or make your own. To disinfect, clean your sink with soap and water first, then spray a mist of vinegar followed by a mist of hydrogen peroxide, and let air-dry.
- Do Dishwasher Duty: Once a week, shake baking soda on a damp sponge and wipe around the machine’s edges to remove stuck-on food or stains. To clean the inside, run an empty cycle with Dishwasher Magic, a product designed to kill bacteria like E.coli.
- Love Your Oven: nKeep the heart of your kitchen clean by lining the bottom with a nonstick ovenliner. It can be wiped with a paper towel, put in the dishwasher, and reused over and over.
- Disinfect the Disposal: To get rid of odors, drop in a cut-up lemon, some salt and a few ice cubes. The lemon deodorizes, and the ice and salt clean away residue.
- Crumple Paper Towels…Forever: Use microfiber cloths instead. When wet, they sanitize and clean floors, counters, glass and tile, and eliminate the need for other cleaning products.
- Clean as You Go: Linda Cobb suggests filling your sink with hot soapy water as you start dinner.
- Zap the Sponge: We all know that sponges can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Disinfect yours every night by squeezing it out and microwaving it on high for a minute. When it’s shredded and smelly, replace it.
- Bathroom Boosters
- Make Doors Shine: Rubbing a teaspoon of lemon oil on glass shower doors twice a month causes water to bead up and roll off.
- Get a Cleaner Liner: Mold and mildew attacking your shower curtain liner? Throw it in the wash with a few towels, which will help scrub it clean, then hang it back up to dry.
- Tame the Toilet: Drop a teaspoon of Tang Drink Mix in the bowl. The citric acid acts like a scrubber…and it’s nontoxic, in case the dog takes a sip. Let it sit for a few minutes, then swish and flush.
- Corral Strays: Keep drains free of hair and clogs by using a product like Drano or Liquid-Plumr to make sure potential clogs are gone, then pour boiling water down drains once a week to keep problem-free. Get rid of those annoying stray hairs on the floor by sweeping them up with a damp wad of toilet paper every morning.
- Use Bedtime as Clean Time: While the kids are washing up at night, wipe down the tub, toilet and mirrors, and toss out clutter. When they’re finished, quickly wipe down the sink and floor.
- Sweeping Solutions
- Cleaning should always be done top to bottom. That way, any crumbs or dust that fall to the floor while you’re working get picked up last. And believe it or not, there’s a right way to sweep.
- Pick the Right Broom: For indoors, choose one with finer bristles to pick up smaller dirt particles. For outdoors, go for stronger, stiffer bristles, which work better to clear porous surfaces.
- Get Swept Away: To sweep, hold the broom like a canoe paddle, with one hand on top of the handle and the other toward the middle. Push your hands in opposite directions to get the most out of every sweeping stroke. Sweep from the outside in so that you don’t miss any spots, and move the dirt to the center of the room, where it will be easy to pick up.
- Banish Dust Bunnies: Pick the proper dustpan. Minimize that annoying line of dust by choosing a dustpan with a rubber edge.
- Bedroom Secrets
- Start with the Bed: If your bed is made, your bedroom looks neat, says Marla Cilley. When you wake up, pull the covers up to your chin, then scissor-kick your way out of bed so it’ll be half made. Finish the job before you walk away.
- Keep Just the Essentials: Have a “pamper basket” next to your bed with a book, some moisturizer, your knitting or something else you like to do in bed. Then keep your clock, a lamp and a box of tissues on your nightstand. That’s it.
- Conquer Laundry
- Stave Off Static: Since fabric softener and dryer sheets can strip towels of their absorbency, add ¼ cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle or throw two (new, clean) tennis balls in your dryer to get rid of static electricity, soften fabrics and eliminate the need for dryer sheets.
- Switch on the Cold: Most everything can be washed in cold water (better for your bills and the environment). But use the hottest water possible for sheets, towels and underwear.
- Mess-a-LaneousTime It: If you actually time how long it takes to do certain chores, you won’t mind them as much, says Cilley. Believe it or not, most chores only take 10 minutes.
- Multitask: Sarah Aguirre makes tasks go faster by doing two things at once. While on the phone, she folds laundry, fluffs pillows, picks up stray magazines and books, does dishes, sweeps or dusts.
- Know the Hot Spots: Papers, odd toys and other things usually pile up on the dining room table or kitchen counter.
- Go Corner to Corner: When you’re vacuuming, begin in the farthest corner and work toward the door, using slow, repetitive front-to-back motions in an overlapping sequence.
- Velcro Away Clutter: Label the bottom of each electronic game controller (Xbox, for example), and then Velcro it to the console.
- Make a Lost-and-Found: Every house needs one. Use a cute vintage lunch box or lidded storage container to stash lost game pieces, stray screws and buttons, and similar small items. When you need the item, you’ll know where to look first.
- Do Quick Rescues: Do a 5-minute sweep through each room, taking a laundry basket with you. Place in it anything that doesn’t belong in that room, then put away the stuff that does belong there.
- Stop Clutter at the Front Door: Mount a plastic or cloth shoe rack inside your front entry closet door, and use it to stash all kinds of living room and family room miscellany—toys, hats, gloves, magazines. You can even designate one of the pockets for mail you’re not sure whether to save or toss.