Shaving cream can be used as a spot cleaner on carpets, upholstery and even clothing. If you are not sure whether your upholstery can be cleaned with water, check first in an inconspicuous area.
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Need a nice-smelling house but don’t feel like baking cookies? Try simmering a pot of spices on the stove. Add several cloves and a teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin-pie spice to a few cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or so. Your house will have a delicious scent — good enough to eat!
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If you have several items of clothing with grease stains on them, add a can of cola to the wash water. It can ease out grease stains.
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Clean out a stained coffee decanter by filling it with hot water and adding a denture tablet. Let it sit overnight, and the stains should come right off in the morning.
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Make a spray of equal parts liquid fabric softener and water. Mist the air daily to relieve static buildup during the fall and winter, when the air is very dry.
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To get streaks off of freshly cleaned windows, give them a final swipe with plain newspaper (not magazines or glossy pages).
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For troublesome-to-open jars of pickles, jam, etc., use a pair of standard dish washing gloves. They provide a sturdy grip, especially if your hands are the least bit damp.
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Use cotton swabs to touch up painting jobs. They are small enough to get into tight spaces, and the best part is that they are disposable.
Unless you live in a tropical (or at least warm) climate, it’s a great idea to store your winter clothes at the beginning of spring to make room for your warm weather wardrobe. Psychologically, it also helps to look into closets and drawers filled with clothes you can actually wear in the season you’re in, as opposed to looking at rows of wool turtlenecks in the middle of July.
The only challenge is how to best store those beloved winter clothes. To make sure your clothes are as gorgeous coming out of storage as they were going in, follow our tips:
1. Clean Before Packing: Any residue left on your clothes can stain and set in after several months of storage, so be sure any clothing you store is thoroughly washed before storage. Cleaning the clothes also reduce the chance that insects will infect your clothes.
2. Store Safely: Plastic storage containers are subject to dampness and cardboard can attract bugs, so the best boxes for storing clothes are acid-free storage boxes. A cheaper option is to use an unused suitcase and line it with acid tissue paper.
3. Cedar Before Mothballs: Mothballs are incredibly toxic and not the best chemicals to have on or near your clothes (or your kids!) so choose cedar blocks for moth and insect repellant. Another great tip is to use dryer sheets. Your clothes will smell great, and you’ll have another bug repellent built-in.
4. Say No To Plastic: Do not store clothes in any kind of plastic bags, including dry cleaner plastic. The clothes can’t breathe and you actually create an environment that encourages mold and larvae.
5. Clean, Cool, Dark, and Dry: Your storage area must be all 4 of these in order to protect your clothing. Clean any area thoroughly before storing. Choose a place that won’t be exposed to heat, including near heating sources like furnaces. The dark prevents fading and keeps the area and clothing cool. And don’t store boxes on a basement floor or any area that’s susceptible to getting wet. Damp clothes will attract bugs and mildew.
Homeowners seeking to pad their homes and wallets should consider re-insulation projects that maximize energy efficiency year-round. Simple, energy-saving practices will not only reduce heating and cooling bills every month, but also will result in a higher tax return next year.
The federal government expanded the scope of a tax credit program that rewards homeowners for energy-efficiency improvements, giving homeowners a prime opportunity to increase their homes’ efficiency. Homeowners are eligible to receive a 30 percent federal tax credit up to $1,500 for weatherization improvements in their homes through Dec. 31, 2010. And as far as energy-efficient improvements are concerned, re-insulation is a smart solution for the near and short term.
“Most of the steps you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency in the cooler winter months are equally as effective in the warmer summer months, when the thermal flows are simply reversed,” said Bohdan Boyko, building science manager with GreenFiber, a natural-fiber insulation company. In most areas of the country, he notes, winter has the greatest temperature differences between inside and outside temperatures, but in either situation — summer or winter — a properly insulated home is one that will help cut energy bills, lower the home’s carbon footprint and help keep a family comfortable.
Homeowners can find information on the benefits of re-insulation, including R-Value education, how to’s and tax credit information from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, at http://www.greenfiber.com.
Older homes or homes where current insulation is inadequate can benefit from attic air sealing, duct sealing, attic insulating and side wall insulating. Because the insulation is literally “blown in” through a tube, it can reach high crevices and deep places in walls.
Whatever insulation you choose, re-insulation is one of the best ways to reduce your home’s energy use.