Homemade cleaning solutions aren't just effective. They're also free of irritating chemicals, gentle on delicate surfaces, and easy on the environment. Here are a few recipes for making your own cleaning solutions.
Natural Wood Polish
This is a classic mix:
- In a small cup, mix one part olive oil to one part lemon juice.
- Now, use a soft cloth to rub your homemade wood polish into your wood pieces.
- Buff the wood to its rich, natural glow with a clean cloth.
What a gentle, protective cleaner! Plus, it smells lemony fresh.
Drain Cleaner and Declogger
A baking soda and vinegar mix can clear out clogs at the first sign of slow draining, before the job gets impossibly hairy. Give these steps a whirl:
- Boil a pot of water.
- Flush the drain with it. (Handle boiling water with care!)
- Then pour a cup of baking soda and vinegar, in roughly equal parts, down the drain. You'll see the drain bubble up a bit.
- Close your drain.
- Wait a few minutes, while boiling a new pot of water. Then carefully pour the boiling water down the drain.
Done! If your clog is in the advanced stages, you might want to bring a plunger into the equation. You'll get there, with eco-friendly flair.
Safe Insect Repellent for Indoor Use
Let chemicals be the last resort. Keep the air fresh and fragrant by giving these ideas a go.
- For ants on the counter: Try cream of tartar. Use a little of this white powder plus a little water to make a thin paste. Sponge it over kitchen surfaces. (It will be invisible when dry.) Wiping with vinegar can also work well.
- For moths, spiders, silverfish and others in the corners, nooks, and crannies: Cedar chips or cedar sachets in closets and cupboards deter those rascals while making your closets smell wonderful.
- To redirect them all, wherever they might be: Use cinnamon sticks! Or put a couple of drops of essential cinnamon oil in a spray bottle filled with water. A spritz here and there repels bugs from seams that the little critters regard as revolving doorways.
Paste For Making Shiny Things Sparkle
Here's how it's done:
- Sponge unpainted cabinet knobs and faucets, and other hardware, with lemon juice.
- Leave on for a time, then gently rub salt over the surface.
- Rinse, then wipe dry.
To polish brass or other metals that have a protective varnish, use a soft, moistened cloth. Avoid using household chemicals.
These are just a few ways to clean your house and keep it looking new without using chemicals. They're also great ways to get ready for your next open house without having to air out the rooms before your guests arrive.
Looking for more ways to prep your home for an open house or get it ready for the market? Feel free to reach out!
Typically made in shallow depressions in the landscape, rain gardens are a great way to beautify your yard and give back to the environment. Since they contain native grasses and perennial flowers, these gardens do not have to cost much — and they are easy to build on your own. To get started, simply use this guide to explore the benefits, then follow the steps to create the rain garden of your dreams.
Rain Garden Benefits
As you survey your yard, you can likely see a few depressions that puddle up when it rains. These areas are the perfect place to build rain gardens. As you add native flowers and grasses to those depressions, their roots quickly drain and filter the runoff, pulling pollutants out before they reach the groundwater.
The plants are nourished by the rainwater, growing heartily and providing food to bees, butterflies, and other important pollinators. These pollinators can also find shelter in the rain garden, keeping them flitting across your property all through the growing season. You might even find frogs and other wildlife making their homes in these small gardens.
As all these creatures find homes in your yard, the rain garden can also protect your home from flooding during heavy rains. The plants promote up to 40 percent more drainage over typical lawn spaces, which helps keep water flowing down into the ground instead of toward your house.
How to Build a Rain Garden
When building a rain garden, you need to know your USDA plant hardiness zone and the types of native plants that thrive in your area. You can then select your favorite varieties and plan how to arrange them in your prepared space to best complement your landscape design. Here’s how to get started.
You should select about a dozen different plants in large enough quantities to fully fill out the garden space. Choose plants that are both native to your area and will happily grow together.
With your plants selected, you will need to grab some tools to prepare the space, such as:
- Spray marking chalk
Also, consider gathering up décor items, such as glass baubles and painted rocks, to personalize your garden.
Once you have all your plants and tools on hand, you can start building your rain garden by following these steps.
- Observe your yard to find the lowest points and select one for your rain garden
- Spray the marking chalk around the perimeter of the planned garden space
- Use the shovel and rake to remove the grass in the area, creating a bowl shape
- Amend your soil as needed to make it habitable for the selected plants
- Artfully arrange the plants around the garden to create a beautiful design
- Plant the grasses and flowers in the garden and generously water them
- Add your other decorative elements to personalize the space
Once you finish these seven steps, all that is left to do is watch in wonder as your garden grows and wildlife flock to their new home.
It may be tempting to call an expert (and sometimes, you can't avoid doing so) to fix something or to enhance the decor of your home, but some projects are surprisingly easy to do. Tackling DIY projects at home has never been easier, thanks to the availability of tools and products designed just for homeowners. You won't have to pay contractor's rates -- and can have a custom look you'll love -- when you try one or more of these projects.
Upgrade your Shower: Get an immediate boost to your shower when you swap out the old shower head for something new. Removing the old head and adding a fancy new one -- whether you want something adjustable or a spa-worthy rain shower. You won't need many tools and can remove the old head, clean things up, then add the new one in about an hour. You'll love the satisfaction that comes from doing this yourself, and be able to buy a more expensive shower head without blowing your budget, too.
Paint a Room: Leave the cathedral ceilings and complicated spaces to a pro, but if you just need a quick color change in a bedroom, you can generally DIY it for about a quarter of the cost of hiring someone to do it. Expect to spend several hours over the course of the weekend and invest the savings into quality equipment and paint you'll never have to touch up or worry about.
Prepare the Garden: Shoveling out a 10x10 space sounds less than appealing to most of us, but you can rent a tiller from a local home improvement store and DIY this space in under an hour. You'll be able to focus instead on the planning and planting -- not the grueling digging -- when you take this approach. If you can push a lawnmower, you can use a tiller to prepare any area for planting in a hurry.
Assemble Furniture: You can hire someone to do it, or pay a fee for the store to assemble things, but if you have some spare time and a few tools, most items can go together very swiftly. Use the time to binge watch a new program and DIY the assembly. You'll save money and get the satisfaction that comes from knowing you can do things yourself.
Powerwash: There are many powerwasher brands on the market today that offer a lot of cleaning for a small price. A contractor could charge you hundreds of dollars each time you need the service, or you can spend about a hundred one time and get a unit of your own. These smaller, more compact models still pack plenty of punch and can be used for decks, porches, patios and on your home itself with ease.
Simple projects like these build your skills and your inventory of supplies and tools. If you have a project in mind that can be safely done, it is worth exploring your DIY options -- you could end up leanring something new and creating a finished look you'll love.
It's common knowledge that when selling a single-family home curb appeal is essential. You want buyers to be impressed by simply driving or walking by. The same is true for your condo. However, in a building full of similar or identical units that all have the same exterior style, how do you make yours stand out? There are a few ways you can make your condo entry more individual and appealing to prospective buyers.
- Start by planning for any pets to be boarded during open houses and cleaning up all pet supplies, food and litter boxes. If you do this a day ahead, that will give you time to get any remaining pet hair and smell out of your unit before showing.
- Make sure your unit is pest free. Get it treated regularly and do a special treatment before showing the home. Make sure to clean up dead bugs and throw out traps before your open house; you wouldn't want to lose a prospective buyer over a dead pest or an old trap.
- Make sure your door is clean and clutter free and put a welcoming mat in front of the entrance to create an entryway that draws buyers.
- Look for an easy to care for, but fresh, potted plant to put inside the door to bring a living touch of the outdoors inside. Ensure the plant is healthy, in an attractive pot, isn't surrounded by dead leaves and doesn't block your walkway. For smaller entryways, a hanging plant might be the best solution.
- Ensure your windows are spotless and bright for your open house. If it is your responsibility to do the outside of the glass, make sure to include that as well. In some condo complexes, that falls to the HOA, so put a request in that they do a cleaning right before your open house for the warmest and well-lit experience.
- Make sure the hallway and steps to your entryway are clean. That may mean you have to sweep or vacuum them yourself, but its worth it. Your building reflects on your unit, so you want to make it look as good as possible.
- Just like with a single-family home, make sure your home in clean, clutter-free, and store personal effects out of sight.
- When your home is going to show, ensure that its well-lit and play soft music to create a warm and welcoming vibe.
- If you have an internal mail slot, ensure that no mail is piled up below it. Not sure when your home might show? No problem. Just keep a basket under your mail slot so you can quickly pick it up and set it out of sight when prospective buyers arrive.
Once you’ve done all these things, talk to your real estate agent about what additional features to play up in your unit for the best selling price.