You Can Do It! Keep Up Your Cleaning Motivation When It’s Hot Outside


Jump in after you clean!
Photo by Mathew Ingram (Flickr)

You Can Do It! Keep Up Your Cleaning Motivation When It’s Hot Outside

Summer vacation has many good and not-so-good aspects. The kids are home, it’s family vacation time, and you get to soak up some much-needed rays. Those are the good aspects. Summer is also hot and humid, especially if you live in New York City, and nothing can zap your motivation more quickly than a 90-degree day coupled with high humidity. That’s not so good. Even I don’t want to clean on those days, and I own a cleaning business. You don’t want your house to become a pigsty during the summer months, but it’s sure hard to stay motivated. Don’t worry; you can do it. Here’s how.

Be an Early or Late Bird

Even on the hottest of days, the weather cools off some after the sun goes down. If you’re an early riser, take advantage of the cooler weather prior to mid-morning and noon and get your chores done early. For those of you who like to sleep in, you no doubt stay up later, so schedule your house cleaning in the evening, as long as it’s not so late that you disturb your neighbors.

Motivate Yourself

You’ll still need additional motivation to tackle the household chores in the morning or evening. Some things that I find always help me are grabbing my favorite coffee beverage and cranking up the volume. If you have a favorite mocha or latte, go get it, and then come back and put on some tunes that are sure to make you want to move. Who says you can’t dance while you’re cleaning?

Motivate the Kids

It is summer vacation, and yes, your kids have definite plans to sit in front of the television and conquer the latest video-game villain, but this doesn’t mean they can’t help. One of the best motivating factors to get the cleaning done is to turn it into a game. Assign chores and then see who can get their jobs done first. You’ll be surprised how quickly the housework will be done, and you can all do something for fun as a reward afterward.

Don’t Have Kids? No Problem

Turn cleaning into a game for yourself. Write down your chores and assign a certain number of points to each one depending on its difficulty. Write down a list of rewards and assign the total points you must earn for each reward. Tackle your housework, with your beverage close by and the music blaring, and keep track of the points you earn. When you’re done, reward yourself accordingly.

Understand What Not Cleaning Does

If you are finding that none of the above are helping to motivate you or your kids to clean, keep in mind one simple thing: A dirty house is a dangerous house. Dust, pollen, and pollutants all make their way into your home daily, whether through open windows or doors or tracked in from outside. These irritants can harm anyone with allergies and respiratory problems, not to mention give your home an overall dirty look and feel.

Bacteria and mold grow on moist, unclean surfaces, and your raw meats can contaminate your kitchen’s counter space. All of these things are extremely dangerous and in some cases deadly. You don’t want to turn your home into a giant petri dish; it will harm your family. For that reason alone, you can do it. You can keep up your cleaning motivation even when it’s hot outside.

The Cliche NYC Landmarks That You Really Should See To Believe


The famous New York City skyline is a landmark in and of itself. Photo by Anthony Quintano (Flickr)

The Cliché NYC Landmarks That You Really Should See To Believe

Frank Sinatra sang it best in his famous “New York, New York”: Few cities rival New York City for history and excitement. Where else can you see the world’s most recognizable skyline, enjoy food and entertainment second to none, and see where your ancestors likely stepped off a boat and onto American soil? New York City has landmarks as famous as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Rome’s Colosseum, and yes, some are admittedly cliché, but you really should see them anyway.

NYC’s Top 10

In honor of one of the most famous late-night shows filmed in New York City, I’m going to give you my top 10 must-see cliché NYC landmarks. I’ll put them in alphabetical order; it doesn’t matter in what order you visit them.

  1. Broadway: Let me quote some more song lyrics about NYC: “They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway. They say there’s always magic in the air,” and indeed, there is. When visiting NYC, you must visit the city’s famous theater district and wander down its equally famous street. Broadway shows are considered the best of the best in American theater, and for those looking for a cheaper ticket, off-Broadway productions make quite a splash as well.
  2. Brooklyn Bridge: I’m uncertain how the expression of having a bridge to sell you got its start, but I do know that most of the time, people are referring to the Brooklyn Bridge when they cynically offer the sales transaction. Aside from this reference, the Brooklyn Bridge got its claim to fame from being the longest suspension bridge the world had seen when it opened in 1883. This bridge was groundbreaking not only in its construction but also in its ability to join the NYC boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
  3. Carnegie Hall: While you are visiting the Big Apple, you should visit its most famous music hall (aside from Radio City Music Hall, where the Rockettes perform). It’s named after steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, and New York had not seen a concert hall of Carnegie Hall’s magnificence until it was opened in 1891. Famous performers have run the gamut from Tchaikovsky, who was the first performer to conduct an orchestra in the hall, to the Beatles’ “invasion” on Feb. 12, 1964.
  4. Central Park: New York City is an asphalt jungle; there are buildings everywhere you turn. Nestled between Manhattan’s Upper West and East Side is the park to end all parks. Central Park offers tired New Yorkers and throngs of tourists a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of NYC within its 50 blocks of green space. There is a lake, a conservatory, Belvedere Castle, and even a zoo nestled among the greenery and walking paths.
  5. Chrysler Building: I like to think that the Chrysler Building is NYC’s second most recognizable building; we’ll get to the most recognizable next. This world-famous building takes Art Deco architecture to great heights, and so it should considering that it is currently New York City’s third-tallest building. The Chrysler Building’s shape is the epitome of Art Deco, with the embellished metal lattice and windows giving it its classic arches. The eagles jutting out of the 61st-floor corners are also amazing.
  6. Empire State Building: The most famous NYC skyscraper award goes to the Empire State Building. Featured in countless films, photos, and other media, this amazing structure was built in 1931. The Empire State Building is also a classic example of the Art Deco architecture style, and it is NYC’s second-tallest skyscraper. The cliché but must-do thing to do when visiting the Empire State Building is to take a ride up to its famous observation deck, where you can see NYC as you’ve never seen it before.
  7. Grand Central Station: Residents and tourists rely on New York City’s amazing public transit daily, and one of the most famous transit stations in the world is the Grand Central Terminal, more commonly known as Grand Central Station. This landmark has also made it into several Hollywood productions, and you’ve definitely seen it in photographs. When you visit it in person, stand with a friend at opposite ends of the “Whispering Gallery,” where despite the fact that you are far apart and talking toward the walls, you can hear each other.
  8. Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island: New York City is one of America’s most famous melting pots, and one reason why is because immigrants have historically come to our country by sailing into New York Harbor past the Statue of Liberty and registering at Ellis Island. While visiting New York City, head down to Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park and catch a ferry out to see Lady Liberty herself. While there, visit Ellis Island and track your family history if your relatives immigrated to the U.S. through New York prior to 1954.
  9. Times Square: You see it every New Year’s Eve while watching the famous ball drop to usher in the new year. Times Square is one of the world’s busiest intersections, with neon signs, restaurants, and shops sure to please everyone visiting NYC with you. “See” the stars at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, check out the ABC and MTV studios, and shop until you drop at many designer stores. The most important thing to do when wandering Times Square? Take a photo of its famous neon billboards.
  10. National September 11 Memorial & Museum: This New York City landmark is definitely not cliché, but it is a necessary sight to see when you are visiting the Big Apple. Nothing has affected our modern history quite like the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks upon America. We watched in horror as the famous twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed to the ground. Yes, there are tons of cliché NYC landmarks, but you will never regret taking a moment off the “cliché” path to pay your respects to the victims of 9/11 while visiting New York City.

How To Keep Your Outdoor Living Space As Clean As Your Indoor One


Summer’s here: Time to get the grill cleaned and ready to go. Photo by goodmami (Flickr)

We keep our indoors clean, but what about our outdoors? Outside often falls by the wayside, until we holler at the kids to quit tracking dirt inside. Summertime is outdoor fun time, so you want to keep your backyard and patio areas clean and accessible, not only for the times when you have family and friends over but also to prevent everyone from tracking dirt inside the house. Let’s talk about how to keep your outdoor living space as clean as your indoor one.

Clean the Glass

Let’s begin by cleaning the outsides of your windows and all glass accents in your yard decor and patio furniture. Mix a solution of water, white vinegar (a cup should be more than enough), and 1/2 teaspoon of liquid dish soap or baby shampoo in a bucket. Using a soft cloth or sponge, wipe down all windows, outdoor table glass, lantern glass, patio light glass, and so on until clean. Rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.

Furniture’s Next

Now it’s time to clean the patio furniture. A general cleaning recipe that is safe for all types of patio furniture is 1 teaspoon of biodegradable dish-washing detergent and 1 tablespoon of borax mixed in 1 quart of warm water. Using a soft sponge (not a scrubber sponge, as that will scratch aluminum and plastic furniture), gently wipe down all furniture surfaces until clean. If your patio seats and umbrella are made of canvas, you might be able to remove the material and machine-wash it. If not, wipe that down, too, and rinse everything with fresh water when done.

Don’t Forget the Grill and Fire Pit

Summer means barbecues and evenings around the fire pit, or at least, it does for me. Make sure these important components of the perfect backyard party are clean and in working order for warmer weather. Clean your grill with baking soda and lemon juice, clean your barbecue’s working components per the manufacturer’s directions, and make sure your propane tank is full and ready to go. The same goes for your fire pit; it’s best to clean it per the manufacturer’s instructions if it’s fueled by natural gas or propane. If it’s wood-burning, clean out the ashes and wipe down the safety grill.

Patio and Deck Time

Now that everything else on your patio is clean, it’s time to clean the patio itself. Carefully move all of your outdoor furniture and decor to a safe place. This includes potted and hanging plants and any other types of decor. Do not turn on the hose and wash down your patios and decks. Rather, sweep everything clean to avoid dirt and grime being stuck onto the patio and deck by moisture. Once you’ve swept your patio and deck, clean them according to their material. In other words:

  • Wood: Wooden decks and patios are a tough bird when it comes to cleaning them naturally. You want to clean them, but you don’t want to use a power washer or acidic cleaners, as they might damage the wood. For this, I recommend going to your home improvement store and selecting an eco-friendly wooden deck cleaner and protectant.
  • Concrete: You can usually clean your concrete patios with a simple solution of dish soap and hot water. Take a stiff broom and work on the areas that are particularly dirty, and then rinse lightly with a hose. You don’t want to waste too much water, so rinse as sparingly as possible. For tough stains, try adding baking soda or borax to your cleaning solution.
  • Stone or Brick: Here’s another patio surface you do not want to power-wash; it’s certain you’ll ruin your stone. Rather, clean your stone or brick patio with warm water and dish soap (about a tablespoon will do). Try cleaning dirtier areas with a soft cloth or sponge first to avoid damaging the stone. If that doesn’t work, use a soft-bristled nylon push broom and then rinse everything clean sparingly with fresh water, and replace your furniture and décor when dry.

That’s it! You’re done and ready for some summer fun in the sun and cool relaxation in the evenings. A sparkling clean patio and backyard area invites your friends and neighbors to stop by for a wonderful visit, and it makes family time outdoors even more special as well!

Vinegar Is Sour, But It’s Cleaning Properties Are So Sweet

If Spider-Man isn’t available to wash your windows, white vinegar makes the task quick and easy.

Vinegar Is Sour, But Its Cleaning Properties Are So Sweet

Many people don’t like the taste or smell of vinegar; I don’t mind the smell so much when it comes to cleaning. Not only is vinegar’s odor non-toxic, as opposed to cleaning solutions made with bleach or other harmful chemicals, but the smell dissipates quickly and leaves the area deodorized. Alongside providing a safe way to freshen your home, vinegar also sanitizes effectively, removes scale and lime, and even softens your laundry without using flammable fabric softener. Vinegar is sour, but its cleaning properties are very, very sweet indeed.

How it Works

Vinegar contains acetic acid, and it is this acid that makes it such an effective cleaner. In fact, distilled white vinegar in particular helps prevent bacteria, mildew, and mold from growing on your clean surfaces. I recommend using white vinegar when cleaning. It’s pure, doesn’t contain any additives, has anywhere from 5 percent to 8 percent acetic acid, and works wonders throughout your home. Many call white vinegar “virgin” vinegar because of its purity.

Vinegar Uses

If I listed all of the ways you can use vinegar to clean your house, you’d eventually give up reading, and I don’t want that, so I’ll list some of the main things this natural wonder can do to make your home cleaner and fresher without harmful chemicals.

  • Cleans Kitchen Appliances: Vinegar safely cleans your most important kitchen appliances. To keep your dishwasher running like new, run 1/2 cup white vinegar through a normal cycle in your empty dishwasher. Clean out your refrigerator with an equal solution of vinegar and water: You don’t want to use harsh cleaning chemicals in a place where you store food. Fill your coffeemaker halfway with white vinegar and the rest of the way with water and brew the solution to clean and sanitize the inner workings of the machine.
  • Cleans Drains: White vinegar is the best “liquid plumber” you can find. Drain cleaners are poisonous, so it’s never a good idea to have them around the house. Rather, clean your drains monthly and unclog when necessary with white vinegar. How it works is Science 101, and here’s what you need to do: Take a cup of baking soda and pour it down each drain. Then, take a cup of white vinegar and do the same, slowly, allowing the mixture to react and foam. Leave your drains alone for 30 minutes. Then, take boiling salt water and pour it down all of your drains to rinse them clean. Repeat as necessary for stubborn clogs.
  • Remove Mineral Deposits: If you live in an area where the water is hard, you fight mineral deposits on a daily basis. To remove them from your shower heads and faucets, simply remove the plumbing fixtures and soak them in white vinegar overnight. If you cannot remove them, pour vinegar into a sturdy plastic bag and rubber-band it to the fixture. Vinegar also works well in removing the mineral deposits that settle on the bottom of your steam iron. Just as you do with your coffeemaker, pour equal parts vinegar and water into the steam reservoir and press the steam button to clean it. Be careful not to burn yourself, and be sure to dilute the vinegar; otherwise, you might ruin the inner workings of your iron.
  • Glass: Whether it’s for your windows or your glassware, vinegar comes to the rescue. White vinegar has been used to clean windows for years, and it’s much safer than inhaling dangerous ammonia fumes. You’ll find many differing opinions when it comes to mixing your window cleaner, but I find that 1/4 cup of white vinegar to two cups of water usually does the trick. You can also add a cup of vinegar to your rinse water when you’re hand-washing your fine glass and crystal ware for that special occasion. Just wait and see how much your glasses sparkle.
  • Laundry: Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to your washing machine’s rinse cycle to not only soften your clothes but also disinfect them. As I mentioned above, vinegar is a fantastic sanitizer and works well against all kinds of mold and mildew (and not just on your clothing). Instead of using bleach and gassing everyone out of your home, toss vinegar in with the loads and enjoy fresh, clean, soft clothing that doesn’t smell of chlorine.

But Don’t Use Vinegar Here…

Yes, vinegar is the wonder cleaner, and its acid content is the reason why. This acid also makes it undesirable on some household surfaces, so I want to caution you on where not to use it. In most cases, vinegar is a safe and effective cleaner, but don’t use it on any granite, hardwood, or marble surfaces, as the acid will definitely damage and strip these types of countertops and floors. It’s also wise to avoid using vinegar on natural stone, as this will damage the porous surface. If you’re uncertain whether vinegar will do harm on a surface in your home, test a small, inconspicuous area to see if you notice any damage; if not, you’re good to go on using this very safe and wonderfully effective household cleaner.

The Best Ways for New Yorkers to Celebrate the 4th of July


It just doesn’t get any better than Fourth of July fireworks in NYC. Photo by Anthony Quintano (Flickr)

The Best Ways for New Yorkers to Celebrate the Fourth of July

It’s almost America’s birthday again, and if there is one thing that the Big Apple does better than anyone else, it’s celebrating the Fourth of July. What could possibly be more breathtaking on the Fourth than watching the annual fireworks extravaganza? Well, not much, but there are other July 4 traditions that equal the fireworks’ grandeur and fun, so you’ll want to check those out, too. What is the best way for New Yorkers to celebrate the Fourth of July? I have some suggestions that I think you’ll want on top of your list.

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular

Let’s begin with the granddaddy of fireworks shows, not to mention NYC’s most popular July 4 celebration, and that is the Macy’s annual 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular. The show is held on the East River, and if you are in Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Queens, you can see the amazing fireworks flying off of the barges anywhere your view of the river is not obstructed by buildings. Some good places to watch the fireworks include the sections of FDR Drive that are elevated, Vietnam Memorial Park in Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, and Center Boulevard between 48th and 49th avenues in Queens.

World-Famous Nathan’s International Hot Dot Eating Contest

This annual July 4 celebration is not for the weak of heart or stomach. Every year, hundreds of people make their way to Coney Island and many more watch on television as gustatory competitors line up to see who can eat the most Nathan’s Famous hot dogs. You might not believe this, but this is one serious sporting event, with male and female competitors and qualifying rounds leading up to the final hot dog frenzy. New Yorkers take pride in their dogs, and it’s quite a battle over international competitors in an effort to ensure that a New Yorker is donning the champion belt and collecting the prize purse.

Liberty Belle Extravaganza

If watching tons of people shovel massive amounts of hot dogs into their mouths isn’t your cup of tea, another Fourth of July tradition in New York City is the annual Liberty Belle Extravaganza. This “vintage” celebration takes place at Hudson Terrace at 621 West 46th St., and you’ll be propelled back in time as you watch dancers and listen to orchestras and bands play patriotic music appropriate for the celebration. What are not so appropriate are the burlesque dancers, sure to bring a new twist on any July 4 celebration you’ve ever been to, and you can enjoy delicious barbecue at this event while overlooking the Hudson River.

Revolutionary War New York Nighttime Walking Tour

This is one of my favorite events. If you’re a history buff, you’ll love the Fraunces Tavern Museum’s annual Revolutionary War walking tour, held on July 4 from 3 to 7 a.m. Many people don’t realize the critical role New York played in our nation’s fight for independence. We often associate the Revolutionary War with more famous people and events, such as Paul Revere and the Battle of Bunker Hill. But New York City has its revolutionary heroes as well, including Marinus Willett, and you can learn all about him and NYC’s involvement in the war by walking through history on this guided tour. What a fantastic way to celebrate our nation’s birthday: walking in the footsteps of the men and women who fought for our nation’s independence and gave us a reason to celebrate.

School’s Out! Keep Your Kids Busy in NYC This Summer


Get your kids outdoors and into some summer fun! Photo by Ian D. Keating (Flickr)

School’s Out! Keep Your Kids Busy in NYC This Summer

As Alice Cooper sings in his raspy voice, “School’s out for summer!” This is your kids’ favorite time of the year: no more school, homework, or teachers. As the Staples commercial humorously depicts, the end of summer is parents’ “most wonderful time of the year!” There’s a precious span of time in between when your children have a lot of free time and you don’t, and there’s nothing worse than allowing them to while away the hot summer days in front of the television set. There are plenty of things to do in New York City during your kids’ summer vacation, so here are some suggestions for keeping your munchkins busy.

Fun at the Park

Many of the New York City parks offer summer recreation designed to educate, enlighten, and enrich your children, and the best part is that they’ll be having so much fun that they won’t realize that they’re learning something! These activities are sure to beat romping on the jungle gym or kicking a soccer ball around.

  • Mad. Sq. Kids: Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday throughout the summer and into October, the Madison Square Park Conservatory hosts a program that will put a smile on your little ones’ faces. In the “Explore!” program, kids are encouraged to explore many different things through fun activities. Whether it’s learning what animals eat, going on a scavenger hunt, or identifying all of the Madison Square Park monuments, your kids are sure to enjoy getting out of the house and into the summer sun for this exploration activity. Please note that an adult must accompany your kidsYou can learn more about the program on the Madison Square Park Conservancy website.
  • Pop-Up Audubon: New York City is a concrete jungle, but that doesn’t mean your kids can’t learn about nature during summer vacation. The Prospect Park Alliance and Audubon New York have partnered to bring NYC residents and visitors the Prospect Park Audubon Center. Here, your kids will be immersed in an urban setting full of plants and animals sure to please even the whiniest of summer vacationers. A majority of the habitat has been restored to its natural condition, and a trip to the historic Boathouse is definitely worthwhile. Visit the Prospect Park Audubon Center website for a list of summer activities.

Summer Camp

For most parents, summer presents the conundrum of what to do with the kids during the day while you are at work. Fortunately, NYC has plenty of summer day camps sure to capture your little one’s interest no matter what they’re into. Whether your child is a future engineer or the next Taylor Swift, your kids are sure to have fun at these summer day camps.

  • Brooklyn Design Lab Summer Lab: For kids in kindergarten through sixth grade, Brooklyn Design Lab’s Summer Lab gives your children the chance to play with just about every art medium imaginable under the sun. Each week, kids will learn how to design and create their next masterpiece using paint, collage, clay, fabric, print, wood, and even 3-D construction with LEGOs. As you can imagine, these summer labs fill quickly, so you’ll want to plan ahead and get your kids in the lab or on the waiting list. Please see Brooklyn Design Lab’s website for more information.
  • Brooklyn Music Factory Camp: Brooklyn Music Factory lets your children ages 5 to 15 get their inner rock star on with three separate summer camps. Whether your little one wants to jam with a band or learn how to write and record music, they will have an absolute blast performing on stage in this summer camp. Alongside playing music, you kids will have fun with other art-inspired activities such as designing logos and posters for their bands, and there is a playground where they can blow off steam when suffering from songwriter’s block. Check out Brooklyn Music Factory for all of the details.

These are just four of the many activities that New York City offers you and your children during the hot summer vacation months. One of the best things about living in NYC is there is always something to do, and if you check out the city’s Parks and Recreation page, you’ll find that plenty of the fun is free. Instead of listening to the incessant “I’m bored” whines, get your kids outdoors and into some summer fun!

Keep Your Home Clean All Summer Without Breaking a Sweat

pool gear

Don’t forget to keep the pool gear clean! Photo by EvelynGiggles (Flickr)

Keep Your Home Clean All Summer Without Breaking a Sweat

The last thing you want to do during the hot and humid summer months is clean your house. Even if you have air conditioning and aren’t afraid to use it (some people’s electric bills skyrocket during warmer weather), the thought of working up a sweat when it’s already 100 degrees outside isn’t appealing to anyone. My solution to keeping your home clean once the mercury begins to rise is simple: Prevention! Use these tips to help prevent dirt in the first place and you’ll be left with an already-clean house without breaking a sweat.

Keep Humidity Under Control

When you combine the steam from your morning shower and the warmer summer months, you get the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Your laundry room can also become warm and sticky when it’s hot outside. Utilize the exhaust fans throughout your home to dehumidify these rooms after use, and use oscillating and ceiling fans in other rooms where air needs to circulate. In extremely humid environments, purchase a dehumidifier.

Stop the Dirt-Trackers

The kids are outside playing, and you and your partner are outside getting the garden warm-weather-ready. When it’s time to come inside, disaster may very well ensue on your floors and carpets. Purchase quality doormats that are designed to catch all of the dirt when people wipe their mucky shoes or bare feet on them and spare yourself having to clean the grime that inevitably is tracked into your home after a day in the summer sun.

Keep the Damp Outside

Whether you have a pool or live near a body of water, wet swimsuits and towels are sure to wreak havoc in your clean home. Set up drying racks outside on your back porch, and if privacy allows, have the kids change out of their wet gear, dry off, and put dry clothes on before coming inside. If privacy doesn’t allow, have them change in the laundry room to limit the mess, and put the suits and towels outside on the racks to dry prior to washing.

Don’t Stop With the Suits

Pool toys, floaters, ice chests, and all of those other summer accessories that make fun in the sun even more fun also get dirty and should not be dragged into your clean home. Have your kids line up their pool toys and floaters on your patio or lawn once they’re done using them. Empty any ice chests you’ve used outside as well. Grab a bucket of vinegar and water for a safe cleaning solution and wash everything, rinse, and then let it finish drying in the sun before putting it all away.

Close it Up

You holler it all day long: “Close the door! The air conditioner is on!” But leaving doors and windows open during summer months causes more problems than just a higher electric bill. As I mentioned earlier, the best way to avoid having to break out into a sweat cleaning your house during hot and humid weather is to prevent dirt in the first place, and keeping everything closed leaves dirt, dust, and pollen outside and your home clean inside.

These are just a few things you can do to limit the need for housecleaning when the weather heats up. Besides, when it’s warm outside, who wants to be trapped inside? It’s much better to dive into the pool with your kids than dust and vacuum, so heed these tips, put on your swimsuit and sunscreen, and break a sweat by relaxing and having fun in the warm summer sun instead.


Naturally Repel The Critters That Are Making Your Home Their Own

Once scout ants find a way in…

Naturally Repel the Critters that Are Making Your Home Their Own

Warmer weather ushers in beautiful days filled with blue skies, sunshine, and fun outdoor activities. While you’re enjoying spring and summer, critters are coming out of hibernation and searching for food and water. You see, there’s another thing warmer weather ushers in: pests. You work hard to keep your home clean, but this doesn’t deter determined insects and rodents that are ready to call your home their home. What’s worse, an exterminator is expensive and over-the-counter pesticides can be dangerous. What can you do? Naturally repel them.

Dangers of Pesticides

It’s no surprise that OTC pesticides are dangerous; after all, they are poison. What’s worse, there are three different ways in which you can be exposed to the poison, and each way can cause harm or even death. Whether you inhale it, get it on your skin, or ingest it, pesticide chemicals are designed to kill bugs; and they will harm you, your family, and your pets, too.

Naturally Repel

Thankfully, there are numerous natural ways repel insects and rodents, and these pest-control measures won’t harm you, your family, or your pets. Not only are these methods risk-free, they’re also less expensive than OTC pesticides or hiring a professional. You clean your home naturally; here’s how to repel the most common pests in the same manner:

Ants: Ants are without a doubt one of the most tenacious insects out there. It only takes a scout ant to find a way into your home before you have your floors and countertops covered with the creepy crawlers. It doesn’t matter if they are looking for food or water; ants become a huge problem very quickly. Fortunately, cinnamon naturally repels ants and has the added benefit of smelling nice. Sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon alongside your baseboards and at all openings and leave the ants outside.

Bats: Prevention is the name of the game when it comes to repelling bats. Simply put, if you don’t give them entrance, they won’t find a way in. To avoid an attic full of bats, check around your house frequently for any openings; this includes vents and your fireplace chimney. Cover all openings with screening material. This prevents not only bats, but also birds, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, possums, and other critters that are better left outside from gaining entry into your home.

Mice: If you’ve seen those plug-in mice repellents at your hardware store and thought cynically, “Yeah, sure, sound isn’t going to drive away mice,” think again. These ultrasonic noisemakers are quite effective in repelling mice, rats, bats, and other rodents. It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or a rural area, ultrasonic rodent repellers are designed to cover anything from small apartments to wide spaces. Just purchase the right ones for your needs and plug them in.

Mosquitos: Mosquito bites can be extremely harmful to your health, and these nasty insects will munch on your pets, as well. Mosquitos are drawn to water, because that is where they breed and lay their eggs, so rule number one in repelling mosquitos is to keep your home and the land around it dry. Get rid of that decorative fountain and birdbath, keep your lawn mown, and don’t let water puddle outside. Inside, use drain screens and keep your doors and windows closed.

Beneficial “Pests”

This might seem like an odd section to add to this post, but there are actually beneficial pests that help keep other pests away from your home. One of them is spiders. If you have spiders, you will want to call in an expert to ensure that they are not harmful. If they aren’t poisonous, it behooves you to consider keeping a few of them around, even if you don’t like them. You don’t want an overpopulation of the creepy critters, so natural prevention is beneficial. Still, allowing a few of them to call your home their home will reduce other annoying pests, including flies. To prevent too many spiders, keep your home clean and free of clutter, and do the same in your garage and storage areas. Keep your yard trimmed and maintained to avoid overpopulation outside and then simply leave them alone. Spiders keep to themselves and aren’t interested in bothering you, so don’t bother them.

Keeping your home free of pests is very important. Your home is your castle, not an insect’s or rodent’s castle, and you want to ensure that you and your family are safe from any pest or the traditionally harmful way of disposing of them. Thankfully, natural pest control is just as effective as chemically-laden pest control, and you can usher in the beautiful spring and summer weather without ushering in all the spring and summer critters.

The Most Overlooked And Under-Cleaned Areas Of Your Home

No matter how clean your kitchen is, there’s dirt and grime hiding underneath and behind your appliances.

The Most Overlooked and Under-Cleaned Areas of Your Home

You clean your house once a week… or do you? Sure, you dust, vacuum, and scrub the kitchen and bathrooms, but you still aren’t getting your home as clean as it can be. This is a problem if you or a family member suffers from allergies or respiratory illness. This isn’t your fault, however, so don’t beat yourself up. There are nooks and crannies in every home that hide dirt, and there are household items you might not even realize need cleaning. I’m here to help you avoid these hidden traps. Let’s talk about nine of the most overlooked and under-cleaned areas of your home.

  1. Under and Behind Major Appliances: You can see the dust bunnies under your couch; you cannot see them under your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, washer, and dryer… and you likely don’t want to. These areas become a breeding ground for dust, grease, and grunge. Even if it’s only twice a year (spring and fall), pull these appliances out and scrub underneath and behind them. A solution of white vinegar and water works well, and you can use baking soda to scour away any tough stains.
  2. The Appliances Themselves: Before you slide your appliances back into place, clean the backsides and sides of each, paying special attention to anything that needs cleaning on the unit, such as your refrigerator coils, which you can dry brush or vacuum clean. Empty and clean the insides of your appliances using a water and baking soda solution, and then scoot them carefully back into place. Make sure to disconnect and unplug everything before you clean.
  3. Drains: Drains collect a ton of grime. Whether it’s your kitchen drain filled with food residue or shower drains filled with hair, it’s important to regularly clean these areas in order to maintain function. Once a month, take 1/2 cup of baking soda and sprinkle it down each drain. Next, take 1/2 cup of white vinegar and pour that down so the mixture foams. Leave the drains alone for 30 minutes. After a half-hour, boil a large pot of salt water and carefully pour that down each drain to rinse everything clean.
  4. Faucets: Your drains aren’t the only things in your sinks, showers, and tubs that need attention. You also need to clean your faucets. Unscrew the faucet heads on those that are removable and soak them in white vinegar for 30 minutes. Grab an old toothbrush and gently scrub away any lime and residue, rinse clean, and then replace. Note: Some of your faucets will have multiple parts as you unscrew them, so make certain you remember how to reassemble them properly.
  5. Ceiling Fan Blades: Ceiling fans are wonderful appliances for keeping the temperature in your home even and controlled throughout the year, but as those blades are gently circulating your indoor air, they are collecting a tremendous amount of dust. If you don’t include your ceiling fan blades in your weekly dusting, make sure to dust and clean them at least once a month. You can either dust with an extended-reach duster or carefully use a stepladder to reach the blades.
  6. Lighting Globes, Panels, and Lampshades: If your home is older, you may have ceiling lights that are covered by globes. You may also have kitchen ceiling fluorescent lighting and lamps throughout your home. It’s wise to remove your ceiling lighting globes and panels at least every couple of months and clean out the dead bugs and grime that collects. Simply sponging them down with warm, sudsy water will do the trick. Don’t forget to dust your lampshades, too.
  7. Baseboards: This is one of the most forgotten areas of your home. Many people don’t think about cleaning their baseboards until the grunge is already caked on; this holds especially true in humid environments such as your bathrooms. Don’t forget to clean around the base of your walls monthly to ensure your baseboards are not gathering irritating dust. You can dust them with a feather duster or damp sponge, depending upon how dirty they are.
  8. Kitchen Cabinet Tops: In most cases, there is a space between your kitchen cabinets and your ceiling and that area is dust bunny heaven. Once a month, take a damp sponge or cloth and wipe clean the tops of your kitchen cabinets. If your home isn’t prone to collecting too much dust, a feather duster might do the trick. Don’t stand on your kitchen counters to do this; that’s dangerous. Use a sturdy stepladder and work slowly and carefully.
  9. Remote Controls: Surprise! You didn’t see that one coming, did you? Believe it or not, the one thing that you cannot pry out of your husband or kid’s hand is one of the dirtiest and germ-riddled items in your home. Dirty, grimy, sticky fingers spend all afternoon and evening pressing the buttons channel surfing, so wipe down your remote controls weekly with a cotton ball doused in rubbing alcohol, and get in between the buttons with cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol. Remove the batteries first.

This might seem like a lot, but it really doesn’t take that much additional time to clean these hidden and grimy areas of your home. If you keep it up as you do the rest of your house, you’ll forget you’ve even added them to your cleaning routine. The bottom line is that your home is your castle! You’ve worked hard for it and you’re proud of it, so make sure you’re not overlooking and under-cleaning parts of it.

Baking Soda, The Best Remedy To All Your Spring Ailments

Take the “ouch” out of bee stings with baking soda.

Baking Soda, the Best Remedy to All Your Spring Ailments

If there is one natural miracle cure, it’s baking soda. It doesn’t matter if you use it for personal health or cleaning purposes; baking soda is nature’s remedy to just about everything. As we move forward with greater concerns over our health and environment, the one thing we should always keep in mind is that our 20th-century solutions to first aid and cleaning are not as safe as we thought they were. We’re living in the 21st century, and it’s time to adopt an advanced mindset by taking things back to basics. One way to do that is to add good old-fashioned baking soda to your healthcare and cleaning arsenal, because it really is the best remedy for all your spring ailments.

15 Amazing Uses

Don’t believe me? That’s okay. I meet people daily who are afraid to let go of their chemically laden first aid kit and cleaning supplies. They still believe that bleach is the best solution for that grimy bathroom and grungy laundry, unaware of how dangerous the chemical actually is.

Rather than try to convince you by pointing out all of the chemical products’ dangers and downfalls, I’m going to give you 15 positive reasons why you should make the switch to baking soda. If these reasons don’t convince you, nothing will!

  1. Whiten Your Teeth: Skip the harsh whitening toothpastes and strips and brush your teeth with baking soda instead. It naturally and safely whitens your teeth and freshens your breath.
  2. Soak Your Kids’ Retainers or Your Dentures: Baking soda works just as well as manufactured cleaners in getting your dental appliances clean and fresh between wearing.
  3. Exfoliate Your Skin: Exfoliate your face, hands, elbows, and feet! If you make a paste of baking soda and water, you have a fantastic, natural way to remove rough, dead skin.
  4. Insect Bites and Bee Stings: With spring comes insect bites and bee stings, and baking soda takes the “sting” out of both. Just make a thick paste with water and apply to the wound.
  5. Relax: If you’re exhausted and have been on your feet all day, add 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of baking soda to warm bath water, immerse yourself, and soak the day’s troubles away.
  6. Scrub-a-dub the Tub: After you’ve soaked your stress away, clean your tub with baking soda. This amazing powder will clean all of your bathroom and kitchen tile surfaces.
  7. Clean Your Shower Curtain: Baking soda also works beautifully on your vinyl shower curtain. Sprinkle baking soda on the damp curtain, scrub it, and rinse; it’s already hanging to dry!
  8. Disinfect Your Sponges: Refresh your cleaning tools, too. Add baking soda to hot water, soak the mold and mildew out of your sponges, and allow them to air dry.
  9. Polish Your Silver: Using your silver for that special graduation dinner? A paste of baking soda and water is a safe way to polish away tarnish without the nasty cleaner fumes.
  10. Clean Your Appliances: To get your microwave and conventional ovens clean, moisten your sponge, sprinkle it with baking soda, and scour away. It even scrubs away caked-on foods.
  11. Remove Coffee Pot Stains: Coffee stains our teeth and our coffee pots. Fill your coffee pot with warm water and 1/4 cup baking soda and soak away the stains; it works on your mugs, too.
  12. Safely Scrub Walls: Don’t flip out if you come home to your three-year-old’s crayon “graffiti.” Scrub the crayon off with baking soda on a damp sponge and wipe clean.
  13. Skip the Bleach and Fabric Softener: Adding 1/2 cup of baking soda to each wash load safely whitens and softens your laundry without the dangers of bleach and fabric softener.
  14. Deodorize Your Carpets: Perfumes are brutal to spring allergies, so skip the flowery carpet powders and sprinkle baking soda on your carpet instead to deodorize it.
  15. For the Pets, Too: Baking soda works wonders in neutralizing cat box and pet bedding odors. Sprinkle it in your cat’s litter box and on the dog’s bed. Vacuum the bed clean.

I could go on; you can use baking soda for so many things! The best part is it’s safe. When using baking soda, you don’t have to fret about chemicals that are dangerous to you and your home. This natural wonder has been used for centuries for personal hygiene, healthcare, and cleaning, and it’s time you added it to your routine to enjoy the best remedy for all your spring ailments.

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