Quick and Painless Ways to Clean and De-clutter Your Office Space

We all have an office space somewhere. It might be that table at the side of your bed or an entire room covered with cabinets and fancy doors, and for many, it is the cubicle you’re assigned to at work. No matter where it is, if you are at all like me, it can get disorganized fast. I have definitely had my fair share of days where I stuff everything in the drawer and refuse to open it for a month, but over time, I have learned a few tricks to get my office straightened quickly and without pain. Here are seven tips for cleaning and keeping an office organized and uncluttered.

Use Storage and Organization Containers

The dollar store is seriously my favorite place to go shopping for organization supplies. They have tons of totes, holders, and small storage containers for the entire home. Bring a few bucks and shop to your heart’s desire. Then, bring it all home and quickly sort through the office mess.

Leave Only the Essentials Out

It is tempting to organize everything nicely on your desktop, but in about a week, it will all become one massive mess. Leave the things you use regularly at arm’s reach, but everything else should be shut in the drawer, placed in the file cabinet, or stored in a cupboard.

Use a Filing Cabinet

I don’t know why it took me so long to get a filing cabinet; it makes my life a million times easier. I have two small drawers for my most important documents. It keeps the papers I never use out of the way, but when I need to grab my birth certificate, car title, or Social Security card, using the cabinet makes it fast and easy.

Eliminate the Extra Containers

This might sound like an oxymoron seeing as I just told you to go on a shopping spree at the dollar store, but keep the containers simple. Don’t have a place for blue pens, one for black pens, and a special container for mechanical pencils. Place them together. It makes it easier and quicker to maintain organization; you don’t want to be sorting through containers when all you need to do is put the dang pencil away!

Have Trash and Recycle Bins Handy

When I mess up writing on a paper, I don’t want to get up and walk to the other room. I want to throw it away right then, and if a garbage can isn’t handy, it gets shoved with a bunch of other papers. Have a small garbage or recycle can under the desk, so you can quickly toss papers without thinking.

Sort Papers

I love having a paper-sorter on my desk. It makes it easy to grab a blank sheet, but it also leaves a place for completed work and unfinished work. I will often keep my bills on the very top shelf so I am reminded to pay them every time I sit down.

Keep Cleaning Supplies Nearby

If you have room in a bottom drawer, keep a travel-sized bottle of cleaner and a rag inside. Whenever you spill, smudge the computer screen, or see some dust buildup, grab the cleaner and do a quick wipe of the area. This helps you keep up on cleaning and makes the process a quick and convenient one. After all, when it comes to organizing the office, doing it fast and getting it over with are my two favorite things.

The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Electronics – Clean Them!

Electronics are little devices that make our lives run so much easier. Not only can they tell us when our appointment is, but they give us the location and directions to get there. They make it easy to choose movies to watch, play games anywhere, and connect with friends around the world. It’s mind boggling to think about the power a tiny cell phone has. It is even more shocking to hear the cost of something that can be held in the palm of my hand. Electronics are expensive, and that’s why cleaning them is top priority. If you want your devices to last, then here are some techniques you can use to keep your favorites around a little longer.

Televisions

Televisions need to be cleaned frequently, unless you enjoy watching your favorite shows through a layer of dust. About once a week I take a microfiber rag and dust the entire base, screen, and back. Then for smudges, I either use a damp rag with a dab of vinegar on it or plain old water. I try to avoid any harsh chemicals, knowing they can react with the screen and cause permanent damage. If you want to use a cleaning product, buy something from an office-supply store that is designed for television screens.

Computer Components

I use my computer as often as I use my phone; I am obviously typing on it right now. When I get fingerprints or food on the screen, I usually grab the first soft thing I see and start rubbing. It usually spreads the mark and makes it look worse. Instead of scrubbing away, I should turn my computer off and grab the right tools. Microfiber rags are your best friend, and a rag dampened with water should clean up most smudges just fine. To get between the keys, tilt the keyboard and spray it with a can of compressed air. Most of the dirt should fall out. Wipe the keys, outside of the computer, and the mouse with alcoholic wipes, but don’t use them on the screen.

Speaker Systems

If the grills are removable, take them out and gently rinse them in water. If they are fabric or cannot be removed, use a vacuum to remove dust particles and dirt. Use a rag and a household cleaner to wipe around the outside and plastic areas.

Smart Phones

Smart phones should be cleaned for more than one reason; they need to be taken care of, but they are also exposed to countless germs. Wiping your phone’s plastic case and keyboard daily with rubbing alcohol or antibacterial wipe will keep germs from making their way to your face and hands. When cleaning your screen, use a soft cloth dampened with distilled water. To reach dirtier spots, use a Q-tip and rub it around the corners and crevices.

Cameras

One of the best purchases I ever made was buying a DSLR camera. It takes amazing pictures that I simply couldn’t capture without it. Keeping my lenses clean guarantees great pictures without scratches or particles gumming up the photos. To clean your camera, begin by dusting and blowing off dirt gently. Don’t wipe anything until the dirt has been removed; you might scratch the lens by rubbing dirt across it. Then grab a soft tissue or microfiber cloth and place a small amount of cleaner on it. Begin by wiping the lens first and slowly clean the others areas of the camera. Don’t forget to brush out the SD card and battery areas.

Game Systems

Remember the days when your original Nintendo would freeze? You might have smacked the top a few times before blowing large gusts of air inside. It seemed to work, but I wouldn’t recommend beating your game systems anymore — even if it is tempting. While it is safe to blow air inside, I would use a can of compressed air with it tilted to the side. Continually dust inside and out to keep dust particles from gumming up your system. I have found that a little cleaning goes a long way, and expensive electronics can work and last for more than just the warranty covers.

7 Things All Cats Do that We Hate

When I was little, I begged my mom for a pet cat. She would shake her head “no” before explaining how much work a pet was. I didn’t understand how a cat could be hard to take care of; they practically came potty-trained. It wasn’t until I got my own cat as an adult that I learned exactly what my mom was talking about. Cats are cute little fur balls that are downright gross at times. We sure do love them, but these seven things cats do make us want to call a personal maid for help.

Urinating on the Carpet

Cats typically use the litter box for their bathroom, but there are reasons why they might choose to go on the carpet instead. Cleaning the stain and smell out of the carpet is a must for a clean home, but it will also prevent a cat from returning to the same place to pee. Before scrubbing, grab a towel and soak up the urine. When it is mostly dry, make a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to clean the spot and deodorize the smell. Add a large amount of baking soda on top and then pour hydrogen peroxide on top of it. Let it sit for a few hours, and then vacuum it up.

Getting Litter Everywhere

Cats like to dig holes before using the bathroom, and that can mean kitty litter flying out of the box and all over the floor. Purchasing a large box and filling it only halfway will help the litter stay inside. Keep the box on a hard surface like wood, laminate, or tile to prevent spills from getting on the carpet. I like to keep our litterbox in the bathroom with a towel under it. This helps prevent litter pieces from bouncing across the floor.

Climbing on the Counters

We have had cats that keep all four paws on the ground at all times, and then we have had cats that can’t seem to get enough of climbing on the counters. When cats get on your counters and furniture, the last thing they care about is knocking over lamps, frames, and papers. Keeping surfaces clean of clutter will leave the cat nothing to knock over. I also keep chairs away from the counters so climbing is a lot harder to do.

Vomiting

I have a strong gag reflex, and cat vomit is the one thing my stomach can’t handle. Cats typically vomit when chunks of hair form a hairball and get caught in their throat or stomach. In response, they throw up wherever they are standing. To clean up the vomit, grab a towel and wipe it up. Then, flush the area with vinegar and water. Grab a rag and scrub the spot before vacuuming.

Scratching Things

Cats love to scratch, and if you care about your furniture, preventing scratching habits is something that has to begin on day one. Purchasing a cat post designed for scratching will give cats an area where they can freely play, climb, and, of course, scratch. Every time you see your cat ready to tear up your furniture, grab the cat and set them near the post. It will quickly learn where and what it can scratch. Another thing you can do is protect your furniture with plastic or blankets. We had one cat that wanted to scratch the back of our leather couch, and after trying everything to get him to stop, I finally draped a blanket across the back, and he never touched it again.

Pooping

All animals poop, but the wonderful thing about cats is that they are easy to potty-train when you use a litter box. This means cleaning it out and keeping it fresh. Exactly how do you do this? Clean out the bathroom waste every morning and night. I stick mine in a brown paper bag before taking it out to the garbage. Then, every two weeks, replace all of the litter with a fresh batch. Use this time to scrub the box and dry it with a rag. The biggest thing I have learned with keeping the litter smelling fresh is to purchase a brand that works well. I made the mistake once and bought the cheapest litter I could find. Once the cat went to the bathroom, it smelled horrible! We had to throw out the entire 20-pound bag without even using it.

Getting Hair on Furniture, Clothing, and Beds

Cats love snuggling up to anything soft, and this means hair getting on your blankets, clothes, and couches. There isn’t a lot you can do to prevent a cuddling cat, but frequently changing your bedding will keep you and it clean. Vacuuming the couches and carpet daily or at least weekly will prevent floating hair from spreading to the rest of the house. Don’t let a little hair keep you from cozying up to your favorite little pet. Yes, cats do plenty of annoying things, but all of the work is worth it when you get to see that adorable face every day.

Mythbusting: Weird Housekeeping Advice from your Parents

Parents have an answer to everything. It doesn’t matter how bizarre it is: They have a solution to every problem we throw at them. It’s great when you have a stain that isn’t leaving or a smelly room that needs deodorizing, but sometimes parents are wrong: Sorry, Mom! It’s not their fault, though; this false information was passed on from their parents. Basically, we can blame Grandma. But before you toss the butter and lemon slices, some of those strange cleaning tricks do work! Here are some cleaning tricks that I have put to the test; some are myths, while others are truths.

Cold Water Kills the Active Ingredient in Bleach: MYTH

My mom washed all of her clothes in hot water. When I asked her why she didn’t use cold to wash her whites, she replied, “Cold water kills bleach, silly. Why do you think they use chlorine in warm pool water?” It made sense, but after a little research, I found that hot water actually kills the active ingredient in bleach, and bleach should never get warmer than room temperature.

Use Lemons to Remove Coffee Stains: TRUTH

Coffee stains in the cup are quite the eyesore, but my mom had a solution, of course. While handing my mom a glass to drink out of, I tried to explain that the cup was not dirty but stained. She nodded her head once, went to the fridge, and pulled out my bag of lemons. Within seconds, the coffee line was wiped away with a lemon slice.

Clean Tile Grout With Toothpaste: TRUTH

Toothpaste is awesome! Just think about how clean and white it makes your teeth. Toothpaste has tiny abrasive particles that work great at scrubbing plaque and food residue from your teeth. It also scrubs tile grout like a pro. Our bathrooms have white grout that gets dirty quickly, and having our toothpaste handy makes shining it up an easy task.

Use Bleach to Remove Rust: MYTH

I’ve mentioned that in my earlier years, bleach was my best friend when cleaning. I definitely inherited the “bleach love” from my mom. So it didn’t surprise me when my mom suggested bleach when I had rust stains on my clothes. Unfortunately, bleach does not work. In fact, it helps the rust absorb into the clothing easier.

Clean the Walls With Bread: TRUTH

This might be the weirdest tip I have ever read, and the fact that it works makes it even stranger. There is something about rubbing fresh bread on the walls to clean handprints, dirt, and marks off that will make you feel safely rebellious, especially when Mom tells you to. Bread works like a sponge and can safely remove dirt and dust from areas around the home.

Let the Whites Dry in the Sunshine: MYTH

This might have been true years ago, but chemicals in fabrics have changed drastically. The sunshine can cause the material to react to the sun and turn it a yellowish color in response.

Use Butter to Polish Stainless Steel: TRUTH

This is one of those tricks that makes you raise an eyebrow, but butter works wonders at polishing stainless steel. The only problem with butter is that it is messy. Getting the butter off takes twice the work! To prevent a mess, use olive oil instead.

Keep Matches Near the Toilet: TRUTH

I remember going to a friend’s house and seeing a box of matches and a bowl on the back of the toilet. I wondered if they enjoyed smoking while using the bathroom, but I soon realized that it was a way to deodorize a room. It definitely sparked my interest, and I put the matches to the test. To my surprise, it worked great!

Everybody has their own special way of cleaning, and I am always open to new ideas to try and test. What weird ways do you get your home clean? Do they really work, or are they myths passed on down the years?

13 of the Worst Cleaning Mistakes You Can Make

Cleaning is something I am pretty darned good at. At least, that is how I feel most of the time, but there are days when I question my methods. The online world is wonderful at sharing information that you probably wouldn’t have known otherwise. It is also great at opening your eyes to things you are doing wrong. Cleaning is one of those things. Many of my cleaning tricks I learned from my parents, but I have slowly realized that some of those ideas aren’t working. Here are 13 of the worst cleaning mistakes you could make; you might be guilty of doing some of them.

1. Cleaning Glass Windows When It Is Sunny

I always notice the streaks and handprints on the windows when it is the sunniest part of the day. Naturally, I get out my cleaner and begin wiping down the glass, but this is a mistake. The sun causes the cleaner to dry too quickly, and while the handprints are gone, there are plenty of streaks left behind.

2. Overusing Vinegar

I talk a lot about cleaning with natural cleaners to prevent chemicals from harming your lungs and eyes, but vinegar can’t clean everything. It is not a great disinfectant, so put it away when you are cleaning the toilets or a countertop that has chicken juice on it.

3. Using Too Much Cleaner

When you see a stain, it is tempting to pile on the cleaner. More is better, right? Wrong! Take advantage of water and use it to soak areas, then use cleaners to help disinfect and wipe it up.

4. Not Letting the Toilet Brush Dry

My mother spent her entire life hating the toilet brush; she never owned a single one. She used a rag and her hand to clean the dirtiest parts of the toilet. Why would she allow her hand to enter such dark places? She saw the toilet brush for what it was: a breeding ground for germs. Allowing the brush to dry across the toilet before placing it in the holder will prevent bacteria from growing wildly on the brush.

5. Putting Things In the Garbage Disposal That Shouldn’t Go In It

People are constantly telling me about wonderful deodorizers to put in the kitchen drain, and I can’t help but raise an eyebrow or two. Coffee beans are one of these tricks I have both heard and read about, but they should never be placed in the garbage disposal. They will get stuck and could slowly clog your drain. Instead, use lemon ice cubes; they will sharpen the disposal and then melt away.

6. Scrubbing Carpet Stains Out

When a glass of juice is splashed onto the carpet, it is human instinct to grab a wet rag and begin scrubbing hard. This will fray the carpet strands, spread the stain, and force the stain deeper into the carpet. Instead of scrubbing, try using a spoon to remove most of liquid. Then, dab gently at the area to get the remainder of the juice. Once most of it is removed, use carpet cleaner to get the rest of the stain out.

7. Using Furniture Polish to Dust

Furniture polish is an interesting cleaner. Most people don’t realize that polish is used best on natural wood as a way to protect it. Most furniture today already has protective coats, is laminated, or is painted. When you use polish on furniture that isn’t natural wood, you are only making it oily and gross. Instead, use a damp rag to dust and shine up areas.

8. Using the Wrong Tools to Clean

Many years ago, I didn’t own a sponge. I washed all of the dishes with a rag, and boy, did it take forever. Instead of scrubbing away burnt food, I would have to let it soak for an entire night before I could wipe it away. It was ridiculous, and it was a lesson in using the right tools for cleaning. Don’t use a scratch pad to wipe down cabinets, but don’t use a soft sponge to clean a dirty pot.

9. Vacuuming Occasionally to Avoid Hurting the Carpet

I don’t know where this myth came from, but vacuuming will not harm your carpet. It doesn’t wear it out, but it protects dirt from permanently sticking to the carpet. You should vacuum the busiest rooms every other day to keep carpet looking and feeling fresh.

10. Forgetting to Clean the Shower Curtain

People never forget to scrub the toilet, shower, and sink, but the curtain is somehow shoved aside, literally. Every time you clean the shower, the curtain should be disinfected and wiped dry to prevent bacteria and mold from happily growing.

11. Bleaching Everything

There was a time in my life when bleach was my best friend. I used it to wash the counters, the refrigerator, the bathrooms, the doors, and the laundry. After every cleaning day, I would have to take a break to breathe fresh outside air. Bleach is a great disinfectant, but it is a terrible cleaner. It doesn’t break down food or buildup and is awful on the lungs.

12. Not Using the Exhaust Fan

It took many years for me to realize that the exhaust fan was for more than just airing out a smelly bathroom. Turning it on during and after a shower will prevent humidity and moisture from harming a room. Humidity makes it easy for mold to grow and rags and towels to smell like mildew.

13. Forgetting to Clean the Cleaning Tools

Once you have scrubbed down the counters with that sponge, toss the sponge in the laundry or cook it in the microwave for a few seconds. Wash your toilet brush, your rags, and the gloves on your hands when the job is over. There is no reason to let germs find a home after an entire day of battling them. Cleaning is something that you continually get better and faster at, and now that you know these 13 mistakes to avoid, you can also get smarter at cleaning.

5 Easy Ways to Control Pests Naturally

I have a confession to make: I hate bugs. They give me the goosebumps and shudders like everyone else, but they also make me crazy. I don’t necessarily scream when I see a spider dropping from the ceiling or cry at the sight of ants marching across my floor, but I do start performing karate moves that I have never actually learned. The other day, a spider found its way onto my lap, and I lost consciousness for several minutes, but I am told that I beat the spider repeatedly, even after it was obviously dead; my bruised leg is my only memory of the event. Again, bugs make me crazy. So when it comes to controlling pests in the city, I want to do it efficiently and naturally. I want them out of my place without exposing my family to harsh chemicals. A small part of me even wants the creepy things to live a long, happy life elsewhere. If you are in need of some serious pest control, here are five healthy concoctions you can make right at home that won’t harm you or the bugs.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are one of the key ingredients in many natural cleaning solutions. They add a fresh scent that aids the body in breathing, healing, and calming the nerves while deodorizing a home and getting rid of bugs. Strong smells make bugs scatter, and essential oils offer a potent smell that will have the little critters running away. Keep scents around the home and open in the kitchen cupboard to keep bugs out of the food.

Garlic and Pepper Powder

While you aren’t warding off vampires, sprinkling garlic and pepper powder by the doors is an excellent natural way to ward off almost all insects. I like to add it by the cracks outside the door in a very thin line that is barely visible to the eye.

Cucumber

I love cucumbers, so it doesn’t surprise me that ants detest them. We are enemies, after all. Slice a large one and place the pieces by the cracks and openings to repel the buggers away. You will have to clean them up, but it is a great method to deter bugs that have already made their way inside.

Hot Sauce

Tabasco sauce is one pest control tool that seems to work on almost all insects. Shake up a mixture of your strongest stuff and spray it outside the home around the door. The moment insects get a whiff or taste, they will be looking at your neighbors’ places to stay instead.

Lemon Peels

Moths have a way of finding your favorite winter jacket and destroying it. To keep them away, frequently place lemon peels in the closets. This excellent method serves two purposes; the moths will fly away, and you will be left with a fresh lemon smell.

Once you get the critters on the run, you can develop a preventative plan to keep them out. Many pests enter the home looking for a food source. Make sure you store food off of the floor and keep any crumbs swept up. Have essential oils and lemon peels in the cabinets and pantry. If pests can’t find food, they will look elsewhere. Continually spray natural mixtures around doors and windows throughout the year, and keep the inside of the home clean. It does take work to beat pests, but it can be done without resorting to harsh chemicals.

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Doing the Impossible: How to Make Housework Fun

I need to tell you a secret, but you have to promise not to laugh, OK? Alright, here it goes: Cleaning is fun. Don’t roll your eyes at the screen or throw your hands up in confusion. I am being serious! Some of my best childhood memories involve cleaning a family room filled with toys or organizing a dresser cluttered with trinkets and wrinkled clothes. Cleaning can be fun if you make it a game, and kids might even request to play the game another day. Here are eight creative ways to get your family involved in the chores so your home can shine like new.

The Race is On

I might not be in my teens anymore, but I still play this racing game with my wife. A little competition can get the slowest cleaners moving faster. To start the game, pick a room and race each other to see who can finish first. I usually can finish a chore in half the time it typically takes me when the prize is bragging rights.

Music Time

Sometimes, all I need is a little inspiration to get me off the couch and scrubbing the house. Music does just that, and I am not afraid of breaking out my best dance moves (for the sake of the cleaning, of course).

Treats In Between

I have already talked about my love of food before, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I will clean almost anything for food. I break out the chocolate or gummy bears, and every time I complete a task, I reward myself with one small, tasty treat.

Don’t Let the Timer Sound

When I was little, my siblings and I would set a timer as we cleaned. When it got close to the last few seconds, we would run like crazy to the couch, the obvious safety zone, and when the timer sounded, we pretended it was a bomb. If you didn’t make it to the couch, you fell dramatically to the ground. We continued playing until the entire house was clean.

Draw a Chore

My dad created a chore jar the moment I was born; he saw how messy kids were and came up with a solution. If you left something out on the floor and someone caught you, you had to draw a chore out of the jar. It was a great way to get deep cleaning done, and it motivated us to clean up after ourselves. On Saturdays, we all had to draw three jobs to do that day, and even though we knew it meant work, it was always fun to be surprised with random chores.

Celebration Feast

Cleaning can be hard, especially for children who don’t always appreciate the reward at the end. Plan a feast when all of the cleaning tasks have been completed. It motivates everyone, but it is a fun way to get children involved. Let them help choose what is on the menu and the chores that need to be completed.

Party it Up

If you have roommates, then this is a great way to get everyone involved and having fun for a day of cleaning. Order some pizza, drinks, and cookies, and blast some music as you scrub down the entire place. Enjoy laughing with your friends as you chow down on your favorite foods.

Find the Surprise

Toy rooms and bedrooms can turn into war zones fast, and hiding a surprise in the wreckage makes cleaning a blast. Buy a couple of dollar-store toys for the kids and hide them in the mess. As the kids clean, they get to find a surprise or two under the piles. Use your imagination and the creativity that comes with kids to create your own special cleaning game. As your kids, and you, beg for another day of cleaning, you will understand me when I say that cleaning is fun.

The Best Pizza in New York City

Cleaning is definitely my world, but every once in a while, I have to eat. When it comes to New York City, I don’t have to worry about finding a place to stuff my face with my favorite food. You see, I love pizza, and New York City knows pizza better than anywhere else. My pizza obsession has led me to try countless locations, and I feel somewhat knowledgeable on the subject. Maybe I’m not an expert, but if you need something to hit the spot, these six locations will do just that.

Motorino

Located in a new location by the Williamsburg Bridge is the popular Motorino. If I had to pick two pizzas to try, I would recommend the Pugliese and the soppressata picante. Both are packed with savory flavor and a kick of unique spices.

Rosario’s Pizza

If you aren’t wanting to buy an entire pizza, which is unthinkable, Rosario’s Pizza sells $2 slices for the individual looking for a fix. This pizza is like crack; it is that good and that addicting. While a single slice might seem like a good idea, it might be better to buy the whole pizza because you will be back for more. Remember I said it was like crack?

Di Fara

Di Fara has been around since 1964, and there is a reason it is still in business; it is screaming good! The only problem is the wait can be long because everyone wants to eat here, so don’t plan on swinging by for a quick bite.

Roberta’s

Roberta’s might do some unusual things, but no one can deny that the pizza is delicious. The Cheesus Christ is topped with layers of melted cheese bursting with dairy flavor. For a unique pizza that has a touch of sweetness, ordering the Bee Sting will give you that original pizza flavor with a dab of honey on top.

Louie and Ernie’s

I go to Louie and Ernie’s for white pie on a perfect thin crust. The creamy sauce leaves me licking every drop of sauce off my fingers, and the mozzarella cheese makes this pizza at the top of my list.

Coals

At first glance, the pizzas here look like something I put together in my own kitchen; they have a strange, oblong shape, but man, are they good. Coals just might be my favorite restaurant, with the best crust I have ever tasted. Some people peel the crust off and set it aside for the garbage can, but at Coals, the crust is ripped off so I can eat it first.

Now that I have shared these tasty places, you might be wondering which of these spots is right for you. There is only one way to solve this mystery; you have to try them all. You can start at the top of the list and work down, or you can start at the bottom and work up. It doesn’t really matter which is first or which is last, when all of these pizza places are drooling good.

Make Your Wooden Kitchen Surfaces Last Forever

Kitchens are all unique. They come in different designs and color schemes, and even the materials used for kitchen surfaces can vary widely. I can give you plenty of advice on cleaning, but depending on the surface, it may or may not apply. That is why today, I am going to focus on cleaning wooden surfaces in the kitchen. It is an area that I think is often overlooked and thrown into the same bag as granite and laminate counters. If you have ever cleaned a wooden cutting board versus a plastic one, then you know wood has its own special qualities. Whether you have wood cabinets, wood countertops, or a wooden cutting board, you are going to want to keep them clean so they can continually look their best. Here are my favorite ways to clean my favorite material that comes straight from nature.

Wooden Kitchen Cabinets

When I moved into my home, my cabinets were brand new. They were everything we had dreamed of, and I often would go into the kitchen just to stare at them. Now, kitchen cabinets are not cheap, and replacing them was something I was determined not to do for at least 30 years. Exactly how did I plan on keeping them so long? By taking care of them with love and a rag. Wood is affected by its environment, and constant sun exposure can cause the wood to fade and lose its original charm. I keep my curtains or blinds closed to prevent the sun from shining in all of the time. Cabinets also get the most wear through the process of opening cupboards and drawers, but knobs do a great job at preventing rubbing on the wood. The last thing to consider is cleaning the cabinets regularly. Never use pads or abrasive cleaners that will scratch the wood. When deciding what cleaner to use, stay away from most cleaners filled with chemicals; they can take off the stain and protective coat on the wood. A basic soap mixture with water will sanitize dirty areas.

Wooden Cutting Boards

Bacteria can easily get trapped in wood, so it is important to clean wooden cutting boards properly after every single use. After you have finished cutting on the board, immediately rinse it with water. This will rinse most of the bacteria out and prevent them from soaking into the wood quickly. Avoid cutting meats on a wooden cutting board, and use soap for cleaning after cutting fruits and vegetables. To deodorize the area, spray some vinegar on the surface. If you love tomatoes as much as I do, then your cutting board might have red stains: Grab some salt and scrub it on the spot to remove the stain easily.

Wood Countertops

Cleaning wood countertops is not like cleaning a wooden cutting board. This might sound confusing, but while a cutting board doesn’t need to look pretty, you are going to want your countertops to look good. As soon as you spill something on the wood, immediately wipe it up to prevent stains. Soap and water are your best friend, and vinegar is your enemy. I know I am always pushing vinegar, but vinegar is acidic and can dissolve the glue that holds your counters together. A bleach mixture can sanitize an area, but don’t overuse this toxic substance. You aren’t going to want to chop your chicken or favorite vegetables on your countertops, either, like you would on a cutting board. Wood scratches easily, so use a cutting board for everything. Be delicate with your wooden surface by using a rag and staying away from scrubbing pads.

Maintenance

Taking care of wooden surfaces in the kitchen is all about maintenance. If you avoid cleaning the cabinet fronts for a year or two, you are going to be left with a greasy coating and a lot of gunk. Getting dirt buildup off might take some scrubbing, and scrubbing can scratch your cabinets and wear them out. So keep this buildup away by washing wooden cabinets about once a month or whenever there is visible dirt, grease, or grime on them. For countertops, wipe them down daily and after every use. Wood is a beautiful look in the kitchen, and continually cleaning and taking care of it is a sure way to help it last for many years.

The Top 7 Things to do Outside in New York City

When summer rounds the corner, my feet suddenly develop a mind of their own. Once the sun peaks over the horizon, my feet walk my body out the door before I’ve even had the chance to eat a proper breakfast. I spend more time outside in the summer than I do in my home. I can’t really complain; I love summer, and soaking in every last ray of sunshine before the weather goes cold is always my goal. What exactly do I do in New York City? Well, thousands of people around the world travel to visit this amazing city, so you can guarantee there is plenty to keep you entertained in the summer weather. Now it can get expensive if you fill your summer plans with the most popular tourist attractions, but there is plenty to do that is absolutely free. Here are seven fun things you can enjoy outside this summer.

1. Central Park

This park is a classic, and there is always something happening here, especially in the summer months. Check out one of the events, walk the paths, and admire the statues scattered throughout the park.

2. Governor’s Island

This is an amazing little gem that is perfect for a day outside. First you get to board a ferry that costs $2 round trip and ride across the water with an ocean breeze blowing across your face. The ride alone is refreshing, but once you cross, you can spend the day having fun with family or friends. There is a nice area to sit and relax, so make sure you pack a picnic or try out the local shops for a special lunch or dinner. A sandy area is laid out for volleyball, and there is a playground for children to run wild on.

3. High Line

If you haven’t been to this new creation, then you must go now. I literally mean right now. Taking an old railroad and turning it into a garden is pure genius and makes the experience unique. The park is high enough that you get views of New York City and Hudson River below. With two miles of greenery lacing this path, I enjoy a popsicle or two while walking the entire length.

4. Public Boathouse Kayaking

Kayaking at the public boathouse is one of the best ways to enjoy the summer weather. It will work your muscles, splash you with water, and keep you entertained. It can be a little addicting, so expect to come back once a week for the rest of the summer season.

5. Staten Island Ferry

Riding this ferry a few times a year is the perfect way to cool off and enjoy the most special parts of New York City. The price to board the ferry is absolutely free, and you get a 20 minute ride both ways. On the ride you can see the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan Skyline, buildings in the distance, tugboats, and Governors Island. Once you cross, you can enjoy Staten Island, or you can hop right back on for another 20 beautiful minutes.

6. Green-Wood Cemetery

A few weeks ago, a relative was visiting and I mentioned a stop by the cemetery for some outside fun. He agreed, but only after giving me a concerned look. Who goes to a cemetery for fun? If you haven’t been, it might sound strange, but plenty of people have made their way to this peaceful place. The soldiers buried here date back to the Civil War, and the history lined along the graves is incredible. It is huge and many of the graves are breathtaking.

7. Rockefeller Center

This building is fun to visit in both the summer and winter months. While the ice rink and Christmas tree are magnificent to see in the cold months, the art, flowers, and landscaping make summer extra unique. There is plenty to explore both indoors and out, and it is this creative place that makes New York City summers so special.

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