Natural Cleaning Tips For Healthy Living - October 2016

Create and maintain a clean environment of your very own.

Fall Porch Ideas Halloween Halloween Decorations

4 Halloween Stoops We Love

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Soon little ghouls and goblins will be making their appearance on our doorsteps. Are you ready? While candy is a must (no one wants to be on the receiving end of a trick-or-treater scorned), we also love how some—especially New Yorkers—are prepping their stoops for Halloween fun. Here are our favorite stoop decorating ideas along with ways you can create a similar feel even if you are pressed for time and money:

 

gec_pumpkinsPacked with Pumpkins
We are wondering how long it took this homeowner to carve all those pumpkins! This stoop is just the right amount of scary for the littlest of visitors—cobwebs with fake spiders mixed with the more friendly pumpkins makes this a great Halloween sight.

Quick Idea: If it’s hard to find fresh pumpkins this late in the Halloween season, pick up some “craftable” ones from stores such as Target or Michaels. They are easy to carve, making them an ideal activity for families. Plus, you can save them to use again next year.

 

 

gec_yardGoing beyond the Stoop
If you are lucky enough to have some yard or garden space, don’t be afraid (no pun intended) to fill up the space with Halloween scariness. Notice the ghosts, ghouls and skeletons are not only in the tree, but up into the windows. We can only imagine how much fun this is at night.

Quick Idea: Yes, this is definitely a “go big or go home” display. However, you can achieve the same level of scariness in a big space by creating some DIY ghosts. You will need white balloons, black string, cheesecloth, and black duct tape. You will find complete instructions here. Want the ghosts to glow? Look for balloons that are glow-in-the-dark.

 

 

gec_spidersThe Cure for Arachnophobia
If you have even the slightest fear of spiders you will want to steer clear of this NYC porch. Dangling from their “webs” high above the doorway, these creatures are even scary during daylight hours. What we love about this is the use of space—we often forget to decorate “up”, especially if our porch space is tiny.

Quick Idea: If your weekend leaves little time to create gigantic spiders, create a gigantic spider web. Using clothesline style rope and some ceiling hooks (depending on your space), you can create a web big for the whole block to see. Click here for directions.

 

 

gec_gourdsReady for Thanksgiving
There really isn’t a lot of time between passing out treats and picking up turkeys. With its mixture of gourds, pumpkins and fall foliage, this porch works for Halloween and also looks good for Thanksgiving guests. You will want to make sure your gourds/pumpkins stay fresh for the whole season—click here for ideas on how to make that happen.

Quick Idea: You don’t need to decorate the entire stoop. Grab a couple of mums and a handful of gourds to decorate a planter or two by the door.

 

As always, a pumpkin or two–or even a skeleton wearing a hat (see our top photo)–is all you really need to make your stoop inviting to trick-or-treaters and Halloween guests.  Happy Halloween!

Talk to us:  Share a picture of your stoop with us on social media–Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

Top image courtesy of flickr CC/Bill Benzon

DIY stain removers Eco-friendly stain removers Halloween

Eco-Clean 8 Scary Halloween Stains

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While Halloween festivities are often filled with fright, cleaning up after the fall holiday fun shouldn’t be. Here is a list of some of the scariest Halloween stains you may encounter along with quick DIY eco-friendly fixes that will help you get your clothing, furniture and floors back to their pre-Halloween cleanliness.

Pumpkin
Before you even start carving, place pumpkins on newspapers for an easier cleanup. If your little pumpkin carvers get some of the jack-o-lantern parts on your table or floor, put white vinegar on the stain and wait a few hours before you vacuum or wipe. When Halloween is over checkout 5 ways to reuse your old pumpkins.

Sticky Candy
Lollipops and taffy are the delight of kids young and old, but when you lay sticky candy down on your carpet or couch, the stain isn’t so sweet. Scrape as much of the candy off as possible and then blot with a mixture of vinegar and warm water. Continue to blot until the stain is completely removed—rinsing well with water to remove all the sugar.

Chocolate
Who doesn’t love to indulge in chocolate during a Halloween outing? If chocolate lands on your furniture of clothing, rub the stain in a circular motion with warm, soapy water or a borax solution. Rinse with cold water.

Gum
If you find yourself with gum on carpet, furniture or clothing, press ice to the sticky area until it hardens and then scrape it off (a piece of clothing can actually be placed in the freezer until the spot hardens). Gum in your hair? Gently rub the strands with olive oil or peanut butter to get out the wadded-up mess before shampooing.

Glitter
Although the princesses and rock stars have left the building, they’ve left a trail of glitter behind them. Once you vacuum up as much glitter as you can, try this tip from AllYou.com: Roll some Play-Doh over the mess to pick up the remaining sparkles.

Makeup
Halloween makeup is often used for dramatic effect, and tends to be heavier than everyday makeup. Use all-natural oil (i.e. coconut oil) to gently remove Halloween makeup from your (or your child’s) face. For makeup on clothing put a few drops of glycerin on the stain and scrape off or gently rub with hydrogen peroxide.

Candle Wax
Nothing casts a scary glow on your home better than some well-placed candles (and it saves on electricity), but don’t let candle wax sit on your table for long. Once the wax has cooled and hardened, use a dull knife or paint scraper to remove it from the surface. For carpet and fabrics, cover remaining spot with several layers of paper towels and press with a warm iron. Follow up by blotting with rubbing alcohol.

Toilet Paper
If you wake up to find your trees and bushes covered in toilet paper, don’t waste any time getting out there to clean it up—it’s much easier to remove when dry than when wet. Use double-sided tape attached to a long stick (like a broom handle) to grab the strands hanging from trees and bushes. If you were unable to get the cleanup completed before it rains, use a hose and clean the residue with diluted vinegar.

Talk to us: What is your scariest Halloween stain?

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Karol Franks

Cleaning Tips Laundry Tips

4 Things You Don’t Know about Cleaning Your Dryer

washingmachine

 

Your dryer is probably one of the most neglected appliances in your home; yet, forgoing cleaning and maintenance, your dryer will have to be replaced frequently and can cause great danger to your household. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, over 15,000 dryer fires occurred in the U.S. in 2010.

We found some great dryer cleaning tips from Today.com, which included four things we think people often forget about when cleaning their dryer.

 

Test Your Dryer Filter
Yes, we all know that you should clean your dryer filter after each use, but sometimes the filter may still be clogged—especially if you are using fabric softener sheets. Test your filter by cleaning it of lint and then pouring a small amount of water onto the screen. If the water pools up, wash the screen in warm, soapy water and rinse. Repeat this step until water no longer pools on top of the screen.

Wipe Down the Drum
Wiping down the drum of your dryer is not a necessity, but if you have dried a load of “hairy pet items or gritty play clothes”, wipe down the drum with a damp cloth to remove excess hair and grit from getting on other loads. Did lipstick or crayons accidentally get tossed into the dryer? Warm the dryer for a few minutes and scrap off the excess with a hard rubber spatula.

Number of Kids=Increase in Dryer Vent Inspections
The rule of thumb is to inspect and clean your dryer vent every year; however, if you have a large number of family members, you will want to inspect and clean your vent at least two to three times a year. The more family members in a household the more loads of laundry that will be done, thus, creating more lint build-up in your vents.

Look for Places Lint Likes to Hide
We often think of removing lint from our dryer filters and vents, but you also need to clean the lint from the floor behind the dryer, underneath the dryer and even the back of the cabinet. Lint can be pulled into the dryer and cause further build-up in the vent.

 

Live in an apartment with a shared laundry area? Always clean the dryer filter before using (and also clean it after you are finished) as well as wipe down the drum in order to get rid of any unwanted items getting onto your clothes. Check with your landlord about regular dryer vent inspections and cleanings.

 

Talk to us: How often do you inspect & clean your dryer?

DIY Fall Projects Fall Decorating Tips Fall Smells

How to Get Your Home to Smell Like Fall

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Ahh…the beauty of fall.  There is really nothing about this season that we don’t love–including the smells.  Crisp apples, touches of cinnamon and, of course, all things pumpkin spice.  With just a few simple tricks, you can get those delicious smells of fall into your home all season long.  Here are five tricks we like to use:

 

Simmer a Pot
Fill a saucepan with water, bring to a boil and add your favorite fall-scented ingredients such as sliced oranges and cranberries or apple peels and cinnamon. Allow the mixture to gently simmer on the stove top, remembering to continually add water as needed. Click here for 5 fall simmer pot recipes.

Hang Some Garland
A dried fruit garland will not only make your home smell like fall, but is a great fall visual in your home. There are numerous DIY recipes for using fruits such as apples and pears, but we are in love with this dried orange garland that includes bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Get the full recipe here.

Get Out the Slow Cooker
Yes, the slow cooker saves you time, but it also makes your home smell wonderful. Fill your cooker with great autumn-themed soups (like squash) or desserts (apple cobbler, anyone?). This recipe for baked apples not only makes for a sweet after dinner treat, but it can also be used for breakfast.

Add Some Coffee Beans
Fill votive candles with dark roasted coffee beans before adding your candle. In addition to instantly turning your candles into fall-inspired home décor, the beans will give off a wonderful “coffeehouse aroma.” Click here for details.

Spice Up Your Pinecones
While adding pinecones to a vase or bowl is a great way to bring the beauty of nature inside, they can also add to your fall-inspired scents. Place pinecones in a bag with 3-4 drops of cinnamon essential oil—the scent will last for weeks. Click here for complete directions.

 

Talk to us:  What is your favorite fall-inspired scent?

 

image courtesy of flickr cc/Suzanne Long

Grouting Tips Home Improvement Tips Installing Tile

Glitter Grout Ideas: How To Use, Mix and Apply Glitter Grout

Discover How to Use, Mix and Apply Glitter Grout

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If you think your home could use a little sparkle, you’re in luck—glitter grout is now on the market. Yes, glitter grout. You might have noticed Facebook feed posts with pictures of glittery backsplashes and tiles or perhaps you read this article from TODAY.com. Staffordshire Silicones is the UK-based company primarily behind the trend, offering consumers two different glitter grout options: ready-made glitter grout or grout glitter additive, which can be added to existing grout. This fully waterproof, anti-mold grout can be used on wall and floor tiles.

Before you go and glitter up your entire space, keep these grout tips in mind:

 

Don’t Forget to Slake
Slaking is the process of leaving the grout undisturbed so the water can completely penetrate the dry ingredients. This step is often left out of the grouting process and is incredibly important—after the initial mix let the grout “slake” for about 5 minutes before re-mixing.

Apply in Small Batches
Grout can harden quickly (especially in high temperatures) and you really have to work fast in order to get it cleaned off of tile before it’s too late. Avoid this issue by applying your grout to one small area at a time. Familyhandyman.com suggests spreading grout onto a 3 x 3-ft area—shaping the joints and cleaning each section before moving on to the next area.

Pay Attention to the Joints
Make sure all the joints are completely filled with grout. Using a grout float push the grout at a 45-degree angle, starting in one corner and working your way through the entire tile. Once they are completely filled, remove any excess from the tiles by holding the float at 90-degrees to the tile and scraping it off. Using the rounded corner of your grout float, shape the joints by dragging the tool across every joint.

Test the Grout
Before cleaning off the excess grout with a sponge, make sure the grout has hardened. Do this by pressing on it with your finger—when it no longer dents, you can start cleaning the excess grout from the tile.

Don’t Scrub
Scrubbing doesn’t remove grout, it just moves it around. Instead, wipe tiles with a clean, damp sponge, dragging the sponge in a continuous stroke up the wall. Be sure your sponge is DAMP, not wet. Too much water will not only weaken the tile, but it will make the grout color uneven when it dries.

 

Talk to us:  Will you be using glitter grout in your home?

 

image courtesy of Staffordshire Silicones

 

Source:
Familyhandyman.com

 

Home Improvement Home Improvement Tips Painter's Tape

5 Ways to Use Painter’s Tape

 

 

gec_bluepainterstapeIf you’ve just painted a room, you might find yourself with an entire roll of leftover blue painter’s tape. What in the world are you going to do with blue painter’s tape?! Unlike it’s sister duct tape, blue painter’s tape doesn’t really come in fancy designs and colors—it’s blue, and not even a very stylish color of blue.

Before you toss the excess tape in the back of your closet waiting for the next interior color change, consider keeping it close by and use it in one these handy everyday ways:

Food Saver
Those plastic chip clips never seem to last and trying to re-close a bag of frozen vegetables never works. Use your painter’s tape to create a disposable seal for your packages—everything from chips to cereal to frozen veggies. And, especially with packages for dried goods, one tape strip can be used more than one time—saving your food as well as some dollars. Extra tip: Write on the tape the date the food was opened—with just a quick look, you’ll be able to see what might need to be tossed out of the pantry or fridge.

Keeper of Small Objects
You’re working on a small home improvement project that requires a lot of small items such as screws and nails. Instead of continually digging for what you need, cut off a strip of blue painter’s tape and place the items on the sticky side. You can move the entire strip and all of its contents with you as you work. Extra tip: If you are working on a ladder, place the sticky side down creating a blanket of sorts over your objects. This will prevent the tape from falling to the ground.

Picture Frame Hanger
Wondering what your beautiful pieces of art (or photos) will look like once they are all on the wall? After tracing your frames on paper (we recommend craft paper) and cutting them out, hang them in their soon-to-be positions with your painter’s tape. The tape is not only easy to move, but it won’t take off the paint on your wall. Extra tip: From Bob Vila: “Once you commit to a final configuration and nail the arrangement to the wall, ball up a little extra painter’s tape to place behind the bottom of each frame—you won’t see any shifting.”

Keep Caulking Straight
Just as you use it for painting, you can also use it to get a more precise line with caulking. Tape off both sides of where you want to caulk in order to get a clean line. Once all the caulk has been squeezed, smooth with your finger—you don’t have to worry about smearing because you will just take it off with the tape. Extra Tip: Again, from our friend Bob Vila: “Stick to using long pieces of tape rather than short strips so that you don’t run the risk of changing your line’s angle in the slightest.”

Woodshop Tool
Painter’s tape can be a woodworker’s best friend. After marking your cut with a pencil, place a strip of tape along the line on the side of the wood you will not see. The tape will hold the wood together when you make your cut, allowing you to be free of splintered edges. Extra Tip: You know the rule of measure twice, cut once? Use your blue painter’s tape to write down the exact measurements of what you are cutting—it will be like a sticky note on the side of your saw.

 

Sources:
BobVila.com
Household-Tips.com

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Wil C. Fry

 

All Natural Cleaning Cleaning Tips Cleaning with Vodka

5 Ways to Clean with Vodka

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In celebration of National Vodka Day (yes, it’s an actual celebrated holiday), we are pouring ourselves a glass of…cleaning power! While best-known for being an ingredient for great alcoholic beverages, the properties of vodka actually make it a wonderful cleaner—and air freshener. Here are 5 ways to clean with vodka:

 

Freshen Your Linen and Your Air
According to Apartment Therapy, mixing vodka with distilled water and your favorite essential oils in a spray bottle is all you need to create the perfect all-natural linen spray. Click here to get the full recipe. Add some mineral oil to a similar mixture, place the mixture in a fancy container, throw in some reeds or paper straws and you have an affordable room diffuser. Click here for full instructions.

Get Rid of Mildew
According to Reader’s Digest, you can stop mildew from growing between your bathroom tiles by spraying them with vodka. Let it soak for 15 minutes before scrubbing with a toothbrush and rinsing. If your towels have the smell of mildew, just add ½ cup of vodka to your wash—it will take the mildew and musty smell right out.

Clean Your Windows
A trick professional window washers often use to eliminate streaks is to add alcohol to their cleaning solutions. You can create your own powerhouse window cleaner by simply combining vodka, white vinegar and water. Use the solution to spray on windows, mirrors, glass tables or even countertops. Click here for the full recipe.

Remove Goo
Vodka is excellent as a degreaser and can be used to clean grease off of kitchen surfaces as well as the residue left behind on glass surfaces (like picture frames) from price tags and stickers. Liverenewed.com also suggests using it to get rid of “gooey residue” on clothing—just toss ½ cup in your laundry or soak clothing in vodka and rinse with cool water before throwing it in the wash.

Prevent Germs
As we head into cold & flu season, keeping your home free from germs becomes a top priority. Rich in disinfecting qualities, vodka mixed with water becomes an instant antibacterial agent. Spray all those “germ attracting” areas such as doorknobs, fridge handles, remote controls and light switches, recommends bhg.com. You can also use it to disinfect your cutting boards and countertops after they have come in contact with raw meat or eggs.

 

Talk to us: How do you use vodka for cleaning and disinfecting your home? Cheers!

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/marc falardeau