Get Your Spring Cleaning Checklist

March 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Home How To 

Spring Cleaning ChecklistThe calendar has turned March in Mason and warmer weather is around the corner. Get ready for Spring Cleaning Season.

For households in which Spring Cleaning is an annual ritual, this helpful checklist from MarthaStewart.com makes sure no job gets left behind.

From the smallest of chores to the biggest of projects, many common tasks are covered, including:

  • Vacuuming and shampooing rugs
  • Waxing wooden furniture and non-wood floors
  • Dusting books and shelves
  • Resealing grout lines in kitchens and bathrooms
  • Clean and/or launder window treatments

Then, you’ll want to remember to flip your mattresses, change your air filters, and test your home’s smoke alarm batteries.

Most of the cleaning can be handled with household items like rags and cleansers, but for a few of the items, you may want to rent a machine from a local hardware store or supermarket. Carpet shampooers are a noteworthy example. Rental costs are nominal and the potential time savings are big.

For some households Spring Cleaning is a one-day affair. For others, it’s a weekend project that lasts a month. However you choose do it, keep this checklist handy and you’ll have an easier time.

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Practical Advice : How To Help Your Home Sell Faster

February 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Home How To 

In December, home sales reached an 8-month high, recovering from the losses of last summer. Market momentum is positive across Kentucky , but that doesn’t mean every home is selling quickly — only some of them are.

So, if you’re a home seller and want (or need) to get your home sold quickly, take a listen to this 3-minute interview from NBC’s The Today Show. It’s loaded with practical sales advice for sellers.

As examples:

  • How to price your home relative to comparable homes for sale
  • Using home inspections to keep your contract on-track for closing
  • How much should be spent on your “home photos” that are shown online

The interview also covers about the 3 key places of a home on which to spend money — the kitchen, the living area, and the front facade. And for good reason — they’re emotional hooks for buyers that help sell homes.

In any market, selling a home can be a challenge. It can be easier by applying common sense.

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How To Keep Your Granite Countertops From Getting “Cloudy”

January 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Home How To 

Cleaning granite countertopsGranite is a popular “finishing choice” for homeowners in Madeira because of its good-looks and its strength. A well-maintained granite counter-top boasts natural beauty and outlasts most other finishes.

But granite is also natural rock, mined from the earth. It’s porous and highly absorbent.

Therefore, if your home features granite in its kitchen, its bathrooms, or other living spaces, you’ll want to make sure the counter-tops are cared for to prevent staining and/or clouding over time. 

The first step is to seal your countertops every 12 months — 6 months in areas of heavy use.

Sealing a counter-top is akin to applying polyurethane to hardwood flooring; it protects the material’s natural traits, while keeping out “the elements”. Specifically, sealing granite creates a non-porous layer on the surface that is impenetrable to juice and grease, as examples.

Sealant can be purchased at a local hardware store, or on Amazon.com. Prices start around $10. Just make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s application instructions. Sealant won’t work if applied improperly.

Then, once sealed, avoid harsh cleansers. Instead, opt for a warm sponge and mild detergent. Cleaning with soap will help leave a reflective finish on the surface that will not strip the seal. Using soap also prevents the “cloudy counterspy” condition that’s so common with granite.

And, lastly, every day, take preventative measures to keep your granite shining. Just because a countertop is sealed, that doesn’t mean it’s immune to damage. Use coasters under beverages, put hot plates under dishes, and clean up spills as they happen. 

A granite counter-top will last years will proper care.

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How To Repair A Scratched CD, DVD, Or Game Disc

January 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Home How To 

Repair your discs before you replace themWhen your CDs, DVDs and game discs are “skipping”, most times, a simple cleaning will set them right.

Make sure you clean your discs properly, though. Clean them the wrong way and you could damage your discs forever. You might also cause your electronic devices permanent damage.

There’s lots of remedies for skipping CDs, DVDs, and game discs, but the following method is known to be reliable for all but the toughest scratches and dings.  First, you’ll need some tools:

  1. A flat surface
  2. A soft, lint-free cloth
  3. Specialized cleaning solution, or plain rubbing alcohol

Take the cloth and, holding the disc between your thumb and forefinger, wipe from the center to the edge in a straight line. Repeat this step until you’ve removed all of the surface dust from the disc.  Next, apply the cleaning solution (or rubbing alcohol) to the cloth directly and wipe the disc in the same manner — from center to edge.

Lastly, lay the disc flat and allow it to dry.

If the above method does not repair your disc(s), consider an off-the-shelf, disc repair system for more heavy-duty scratches. Disc repair products can look expensive with prices tags as high as $60, but as compared to the cost of buying new music, movies, or games, the investment could make sense. Just make sure to read product labels for their limitations before purchasing.

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Would Your Kitchen Pass A Health Inspection?

December 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Home How To 

Americans spend a lot of time cooking and eating in their kitchens. What are you doing to keep yours germ- and bacteria-free?

In this two-part, 6-minute video from NBC’s The Today Show, you’ll first ride alongside a county health inspector as he visits a home and inspects its kitchen. The tested areas include the refrigerator, the cutting boards, the sponges, the utensils, the ovens, and more. Ultimately, the home “passes”, but not before the inspector points out some problems from which we all can learn.

Then, in the video’s second part, you’ll learn how to keep your own kitchen clean and healthy.

  • How much bleach to dilute to clean sinks, and how often to clean them
  • Why “time-to-evaporate” is an important metric when shopping for disinfectants
  • Comparing wood vs. glass vs. plastic cutting boards, and how to sanitize them, respectively

Keeping a germ-free kitchen requires constant attention and a routine cleaning schedule. Thankfully, it’s a simple process. Follow the basic steps as outlined by The Today Show, and your home would pass inspection.

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How To Erase Furniture Scratches With A Walnut

December 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Home How To 

Over time, wooden furniture shows signs of age. Wear-and-tear from everyday use can lead to dings and scratches that are both distressing, and unsightly. But before you bring your piece to a specialist for repair, you can try the much-less-expensive, do-it-yourself route.

In this 50-second video from HowCast, you’ll learn how to use a walnut and a soft cloth to “erase” scratches from furniture:

  1. Remove the nut from its shell
  2. Rub the nut on the scratch
  3. Wait 3 minutes
  4. Buff the area with a soft cloth

The repair works by allowing the nut’s natural oils to soak into the wood, which reduces the “white” appearance of a scratch. Other nutes work, too, including almonds and pecans. Or, you can opt for a professional product like what’s offered at Amazon.com.

Anything deeper than a surface scratch, however, and you’ll want a specialist involved.

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How To Install Motion-Detector Lighting On Your Home

December 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Home How To 

 Activated by infrared waves, motion-detector lighting can illuminate a dark driveway, a dark sidewalk, and a dark yard, thwarting would-be thieves while also giving homeowners a lit, safe path to their own front or back door.

If your home is not already equipped with such lighting, this video from Lowe’s will be helpful. It’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to install motion-detector lighting on your home.

The basic steps are as follows:

  1. Cut the power at the circuit breaker
  2. If applicable, remove the existing light fixture
  3. Install the mounting strap
  4. Connect the junction box wires to the light fixture wires
  5. Mount the fixture to the mounting strap

Lowe’s marks the the skill level to complete the job as “intermediate”. So, if you don’t want to tackle the job yourself, or if the idea of working with electricity frightens you, reach out to a handyman.

Motion-detector lights sell for as little as $25.

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How To Find Air-Leaking Windows And Seal Them

November 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Home How To 

Preventative care will minimize your home repair costs and, at this time of year, it’s a good idea to sweep your home’s exterior for sign of air leaks and drafts around windows.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafty windows can account for 30% of a home’s heat loss in winter so it’s best to find them, and seal them.

In this 4-minute video from the DIY Network, you’ll learn how to identify your home’s leaky windows, and how to seal them with caulk. The job requires a little bit of elbow grease, but it’s manageable for even the notice handyman.

Some of the tips include:

  • How to use a lit candle to find windows that leak air
  • How to remove existing caulk using caulk softener
  • How to “push the bead” of caulk for proper application

The video concludes with a brief tutorial on setting your home’s programmable thermostat so, when taken with the window caulking exercise, homeowners in Cincinnati could stand to save a bundle on their winter heating bills.

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How To Protect Your Home From The Influenza Virus

November 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Home How To 

The 2010-2011 Flu Season has started and the Center for Disease Control expects that the H1N1 influenza virus (i.e “Swine Flu“) will play a large role in Cincinnati and worldwide, as in 2009-2010. Last year, the virus reached pandemic status — the first time that’s happened in 40 years.

In public places, avoiding “germy” places can be difficult. But within your home, you can easily create germ-free spaces.  This 4-minute interview from NBC’s The Today Show teaches about the flu virus, and how to protect yourself.

A few of the cleanliness tips shared include:

  • Flu virus can live for up to 8 hours on a household surface
  • Computer keyboards carry 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat
  • Make sure your cleaning tools (i.e. sponges, mops) are, themselves, clean

The video also shares tips for keeping a cleaner, safer home, plus facts on the influenza virus.

Stay clean, stay healthy, and consider vaccinations. The flu virus hospitalizes 200,000 people each year.

 

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How To Clean Window Blinds

October 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Home How To 

31 percent of homeowners say “cleaning window blinds” is their least favorite household chore. Perhaps that’s because they haven’t seen how simple blind-cleaning can be.

In this 2-minute video from HowCast, you’ll learn the basics of blind-cleaning with nothing more than a dust cloth and towel, a sponge and all-purpose cleaner, and ordinary dryer sheets.

The steps are basic:

  1. Get the dust off with the dryer sheet
  2. Remove the blinds from the window
  3. Go outside, or find a bathtub
  4. Wash, rinse, and dry with the towel
  5. Re-attach the blinds

Cleaning window blinds is a monthly activity, but with regular dusting, you could push that schedule to quarterly, depending on your home’s airborne particles and overall cleanliness.  The trick is that when you do wash your blinds, you wash them properly.

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