8 Ways to Clean Your Home With Citrus

citrus cleaners

Many people are aware that citrus can be used as a cleaning agent, particularly because it has been included in many of the detergents and soaps on sale over the last few decades. What many people don’t realize, though, is that you can use citrus as a stand-alone cleaner in a variety of situations. Citrus products can also be combined with other natural cleaners–such as vinegar or baking soda–to produce homemade cleaners for a variety of surfaces. Check out these ways you can use citrus to make your housework easier and your home fresher, and enjoy a deep clean that is both economically and environmentally friendly.

1. Make Your Own Citrus Surface Cleaner

Using vinegar to clean countertops and other surfaces is no new trick, but the trade-off is that you always get stuck with the smell of vinegar around the house. Adding citrus to the mix not only helps cut down on that smell, but it adds another powerful and natural cleaner to your all-purpose spray. To make your own cleaner, fill a mason jar about three-quarters of the way with citrus peels, then add enough vinegar to totally submerge them. You can use any kind of citrus peels for this process. The most popular choices are orange, lime, grapefruit, or lemon peels.

This cleaner will not be ready straight away–it needs time to brew before it will be an effective deodorizer as well as a cleaner. This process will take about two to three weeks for the mixture to completely brew, so put it in a secure place–but not so out of the way that you’ll forget about it. It needs to be shaken about once per day to help the newly forming solution mix evenly. Once your time is up, you can drain off the liquid and use it to fill a spray bottle.

2. Deep Clean the Carpet

Citrus carpet freshener is a great way to loosen up dirt while giving the house a cleaner, lighter scent. To make this carpet freshener, you will need three to four tablespoons of freshly grated zest. Again, it does not matter what kind of citrus you use.

You’ll be combining this with one cup of borax and two cups of baking soda in a bowl. Use a whisk or another light utensil to mix the three ingredients thoroughly. Then, you just treat it like any other carpet freshener: sprinkle as needed, let it set a few minutes, and then vacuum away.

3. Steam Clean Your Microwave


Keeping a microwave clean is one of the toughest parts of taking care of a kitchen. The interior can be awkward to access at some angles, and the tough, nuked-on grime that can accumulate from just a dish or two does not always dissolve easily. One great way to take the effort out of this cleaning is to put some fresh lemon slices in a shallow and microwavable-safe bowl of water. Set the bowl in the microwave, and cook it on high for three minutes. After the timer goes off, let it stand for ten more minutes. For the last step, you should be able to wipe the microwave clean. The steam and citric acid should help to dissolve cooked-on deposits, and they can even help lighten some old stains.

4. Lightly Salted Lime Stovetops

Much like your microwave, grease and grime can build up on your stovetop. However, the cleaning process on your stove will be different than it is for your microwave. To clean your stovetop, sprinkle some salt over the area that needs a deep clean. Then, squeeze fresh lime slices over the salt until you wet it down thoroughly. The combination of the two will get you a light, gritty cleaner that cuts through tough spots that overwhelm your general cleaner.

5. Dissolve Hard Water Stains

This tip is great in the bathroom, but if you have hard water issues, it can be applied to any sink or drain around the house. Using half of a fresh lemon to scrub, you can cut through limescale and other deposits without having to rely on harsh cleaners that require gloves and other special tools to handle. This works on both porcelain and steel faucet fixtures, but you need to make sure to rinse the area thoroughly and dry it off afterward. Citric acid that is left to sit on steel for long periods of time can tarnish its surface.

6. Deep Clean the Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal is giving you that heady, well-used smell and a regular rinse is just not doing the job, try a few peels and some ice cubes. Make sure that you put a fair load down the drain, but also make sure not to overfill the disposal. Then, just run it until the ice and peels are completely gone, and your degreasing will be complete! Do this process every couple of weeks to keep the disposal fresh, and remember to rinse thoroughly as you use the disposal regularly to get the best results.

7. Citrus Power Stain Lifter


This one will remind you a little of the carpet freshener recipe, but it has couple of extra twists to make it work better for concentrated stain fighting jobs. Take about a quarter cup of grated peels–the fresher the better–and combine them with two teaspoons of cream of tartar. Add in an eighth of a cup of borax and a cup of baking soda, then thoroughly shake it all together in a jar. Whenever you need to lift a stain quickly and without too much fuss, apply this mix to the area, and watch as it lifts the stain before your eyes. Just remember, blot, don’t rub, and rinse thoroughly as you clean the remnants, just like you would with any other stain fighter.

8. Whiter, Brighter Sneakers

Citrus is not limited to being a house cleaner. It turns out that you can use citrus fruits to freshen up some of your apparel as well. Lemon juice is a great natural bleaching agent that takes long enough to work that you generally don’t have to worry about light spills like you do with actual bleach. This makes it easy to use it for a variety of detailed cleaning and whitening jobs, like freshening up an old pair of sneakers. All you need to do for this process is rinse off any dirt or residue, then spritz them thoroughly with lemon juice and let them dry in the sun, and you are all set.

Keeping the house clean without using a lot of irritating chemicals is a lot easier once you understand just how effective fresh citrus fruits can be. Remember, these ideas are a starting point. You can try out zest and juice in some of your existing home remedies to see what else citrus can do for your household regimen. The best part of utilizing citrus as a cleaning agent around your house it that this cheap option leaves your house smelling clean and fresh without any chemical odors.

5 Ways to Clean Your Oven Racks

Cleaning Ovens

There is not a lot of things that are more irritating to clean than a dirty oven, except possibly stained oven racks. Even if you use your oven sparingly, chances are that sticky grime, baked-on grease and burned pieces of food will accumulate. Some people have self-cleaning ovens, but many repair companies are cautioning against utilizing this feature. Temperatures can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing damage to internal elements and the racks. The extreme heat level in the cleaning cycle destroys the shiny chrome finish. To prolong their life and avoid the racks looking dull, you should clean your oven racks the old-fashioned way.

Putting off cleaning your oven racks will only delay the inevitable and increase the amount of work needed to remove layers of baked-on food debris and grease. Rest assured that cleaning them is easy with the right technique. If you have a standard oven or a self-cleaning model in your home, you are going to need to learn how to clean your oven racks. Fortunately, by following any of these methods, you can get the job done quickly and with a minimum of hassle.

1. Dryer Sheets and Dishwashing Liquid

An effortless way to clean your oven racks is to line your bathtub with dryer sheets. Lay the oven racks on top of the sheets, fill the tub with just enough warm water to cover the racks and add a half-cup of dish soap. Allow everything to sit overnight. Drain the tub in the morning and use the soaked dryer sheets to wipe the racks clean. The power of the antistatic in the dryer sheets helps to separate the food from the racks by diluting the bond, while the fabric softening agents soften the baked-on food. Because this method happens in the bathtub, cleanup after you take care of the oven racks is easy.

2. Baking Soda and Vinegar Bath

For this method you will also be using your bathtub. Set the racks in the tub without any water. Once they are in place, sprinkle baking soda–which acts an a cleanser and deodorizer–over the racks and then douse them with vinegar. After the foaming stops, run the hot water in the tub until it fully covers the racks and allow them to sit overnight. Scrub the racks with an old dishtowel in the morning to remove the grease and grime. Use an old toothbrush to remove the baked-on gunk. For especially stubborn spots, add kosher salt to create a more abrasive scrubbing system. Afterward, rinse the racks completely before you place them back in the oven.

Wall Oven

3. Ammonia Trash Bags

This is a fairly standard and straightforward no-mess method. You will need a large plastic trash bag, ammonia, a trash bin, a place outside where you can leave the racks overnight and a hose connected to a water source. To remove the grime from your oven racks with this technique, you simply place your oven racks in the large, unused trash bag. Add a half-quart of ammonia. Tightly tie off the bag and put it in a garbage can. Then let them sit overnight. The racks do not have to be coated in the ammonia, because the fumes will circulate and do the job. That being said, some people have found better success after they set the racks flat while they are in the plastic bags so that the ammonia can reach every spot.

If you try this, be very careful to seal the bags tightly so that the ammonia cannot leak out. Also make sure to place the garbage can outside so you don’t allow these dangerous fumes to circulate inside of your home. The next day, open the trash bag in a well-ventilated area. Be cautious of the ammonia and the fumes! Use gloves and safety goggles and wear something that you do not mind ruining. Spray the racks down thoroughly with a hose and watch the previously cooked-on grease dissolve right off. Once the racks are rinsed and dried, replace them in the oven.

4. Commercial Cleaners

Most commercial cleaners produce toxic fumes, so if you plan on using one, be sure to clean the racks outside. Cover a work surface with a plastic shower curtain or old newspaper. Lay the oven racks down in separate layers. After you put on rubber gloves to protect your hands, spray an oven cleaner product liberally onto both sides of the racks. Leave them sitting for at least 10 minutes, or whatever the recommended amount of time is for that product. Scrub the racks with an old rag or toothbrush and rinse thoroughly with a garden hose before replacing.

5. Dishwasher Soap Bath

For this strategy, all that you need is a bathtub, dishwasher granules, old towels and a few old sponges. This simple method has you place old towels down in your bathtub. Alternately, you can lay a few old sponges in the corners for the oven racks to rest on so that they will not scratch or damage your tub. Place the oven racks in your bathtub carefully, on top of the towel or sponges. Next fill your tub with just enough hot water to cover the racks. Then add a cup of dishwasher powder. Let the racks soak overnight. In the morning, rinse the racks. The stains will usually wipe right off with a firm rub of a sponge or clean cloth.

If you follow this tip but the marks still persist, try something more abrasive, like a dish scourer. If you are cleaning an oven rack with an enamel finish, make sure you do not apply too much pressure. Also, do not leave the product in contact with the racks for an extended period. An old toothbrush might be helpful for scrubbing into the corners and completely removing old scorch marks. Rinse thoroughly, dry and replace them in your oven.

Cleaning oven racks is time-consuming, and the chemicals present in most conventional oven cleaners are toxic. In addition, stains from burnt on foods can be enough to put anyone off from cleaning their oven racks. Nonetheless, with these simple and practical techniques, your oven racks will be glistening like new sooner than you realize. There are many other ways to clean oven racks, but these are the methods that do not require much work from you. Cleaning oven racks is a neglected and dirty job, but by following these techniques you can return them to their original sparkle with very little effort.

9 Things to Help You Have a Successful Garage Sale

garage sale clothes

Having a garage sale can help put a little extra cash in your pocket as well as help you get rid of things that you no longer want. Getting those unwanted possessions out of your home can create much needed extra space, and if you’re moving, a garage sale can be a great idea to help cut down on your possessions and earn some extra cash that you can use to furnish your new space. Use the following tips to help you have a successful garage sale and help you clean out your home.

1. Choose Carefully

Sorting out items to sell can be tough at first, but it is just the beginning that is the hardest part. A few weeks before your scheduled sale, go through your house room by room and pick out items that you rarely use or items that are hiding in closets or under the beds. Think carefully about each item before choosing to sell it. Is it something you use regularly, or not at all? Will you miss it if you sell it? Will those clothes ever fit, be in style, or be something you’ll want to wear again?

If the answer is no to any of those questions, put it in the “Sell” pile. Put items that are slated to sell in the garage or the basement, as long as they are somewhere where they’ll be out of sight for a while. This way you won’t be tempted to let them back in the house before the sale, and you’ll know what you can or cannot live without. If you’re moving, this step can help you get items out of the house before packing begins.

2. Presentation and Organization

yard sale

It is easy to stick your things outside and just wait for interested buyers, but you can attract more customers and get better prices for your items if you make sure to focus on your presentation. Clean items up so they look nice, fix missing pieces or properly label broken items, and put objects back in the original packaging if you still have it. You should also organize similar items in sections, in order to help buyers have an easier shopping experience. This encourages shoppers to leave with more than one item, and you gain a better chance of selling your stuff by putting a little more effort into how things look.

3. Do Pricing Research

If you have expensive items for sale, such as televisions, video game systems, or large pieces of furniture, try to compare prices for similar items online and price accordingly. By doing your research beforehand, you’ll have a better understanding of what your items are worth and you can make sure to get a reasonable price for them.

4. Pricing and the Art of Negotiation

Once you’ve done your research, make sure to properly label each item with a reasonable price. You’ll likely be overwhelmed with keeping things going during the day and the last thing you’ll want to do is try to think of a price on the spot. However, keep in mind that you are trying to get rid of stuff, so if someone offers a fair price for an item, even if it is below the labeled price, you may want to negotiate in order to get rid of your unwanted belongings.

It is important to keep in mind that many of your items will probably sell for a lot less than you originally planned. Take care not to overprice your items, because this will detract visitors from buying anything from your stock. People tend to overprice items that they have some sort of sentimental attachment to, but keep in mind that any potential buyer will not have the same sort of attachment towards the item. It is important to remain realistic about your price tags if you want to sell as much of your stock as possible.

5. Location, Location, Location

Perhaps your yard is a little small, or your home is currently on the market and you need to show it at a moment’s notice. Maybe your house is out of the way or hard to get to. You might want to consider a better location for your garage sale in order to get more customers and thus get more cash. It might be a good idea to ask to use a friend or neighbor’s yard, or maybe have your garage sale at a local church or community center. Location is everything, and the more customers you are able to attract, the better your chances of making good money.

If you are unable to relocate to a better location, consider spending the time to create eye-catching signs to draw in more customers. If you belong to a neighborhood community, you might want to ask your HOA if there is a community-wide garage sale scheduled in the near future. These are great events for drawing in a large audience, which can be challenging when you’re on your own.

6. Enlist Some Help

Before the sale, kids can help pick out toys that they no longer want or need, and older siblings can help organize, clean, and price items. On the big day, make sure everyone is around to help. Having all the family and even some friends on hand can help ensure that the sale goes smoothly. Remember to offer some incentives for helping hands, such as first dibs on items or half off anything left at the end of the sale.

yard sale sign

7. Get The Word Out

Tell your neighbors, put up signs around the neighborhood or on community boards, and advertise in the classifieds online or the local paper the dates and times of your moving sale. You can also mention what sort of items shoppers can expect, such as baby clothes or exercise equipment, in order to get people who are actually interested in your items to come out. Again, if your community supports a neighborhood-wide garage sale, find out when it is and take the necessary steps to be a part of this event. You are more likely to attract a bigger audience if you are part of a well-publicized event.

8. Dollars and Cents

Make sure to have smaller bills and coins on hand the day of the sale so that you’ll be able to make change for customers who pay with larger bills. If you will not accept checks, make sure to have a large sign that states “No Checks”. As for where to keep your cash, it is recommended that you do not use a cash box unless you have someone standing next to it at all times, as they are easy to steal. It is a better idea to use a fanny pack or a similar getup to keep your cash on hand and away from thieves.

9. Be Friendly and Fair

Chat with your customers to get an idea of what they want or need. Who knows, you just might have their desired item hiding in a box or waiting to be put out on the table. Don’t price your items too high, and be prepared to negotiate if you want to. Remember to be polite if you decline an offer, or give a reason for a labeled price, such as rare or popular items that sell for a similar price online. By being friendly and fair, buyers will leave happy, and they may spread the word or come back for more if you have another sale in the future.

Putting in the extra time and effort beforehand can help guarantee a successful garage sale when the day comes. Whether you are an empty-nester or just in need of some extra cash, you are sure to benefit from a thorough garage sale. Once everyone is gone and your unwanted items have found new homes, you can relax with your wad of cash and give yourself a much-deserved pat on the back!

9 Ways to Remove Tablecloth Stains

stained tablecloth

Whether you use vintage tablecloths or brand-new ones, keeping your tablecloths clean for each special occasion can be a challenge. Many of the most commonly served foods and drinks also create the most persistent and obvious stains. Fortunately, with the following measures, it should be easy to clean even the most stubborn tablecloth stains. Keep reading for nine ways to rid your table linens of unsightly messes.

1. Scrape Away Stains

As a general rule, you should always scrape away food or other residue before you attempt to pretreat or wash out a stain. This ensures that you don’t just rub more food or grease into your tablecloth while you try to clean it. Make sure to use a dull knife or something similar to gently scrape off food without causing any damage to the cloth.

Two stains that scraping works especially well for are salad dressing and candle wax stains. When you’re working on salad dressing stains, try applying an artificial sweetener after scraping; this will help absorb liquid back out of the tablecloth. If you’re removing candle wax stains, don’t try to scrub them out. Instead, scrape away as much wax as possible, place paper towels over the remaining wax and then apply a heated iron. The wax will melt into the paper towels, leaving your tablecloth free of residue and ready for any other necessary cleaning.

2. Pretreat Tough Spots

Spilled coffee

With proper preparation, it should be easy to remove many of the most common and conspicuous stains. In many cases, you can completely eliminate these stains by rubbing them with bar soap, laundry detergent or specialized stain removal products before washing the tablecloth. Try the following tactics for these common stains:

  • Butter: For best results, apply stain remover or liquid detergent, then wash the tablecloth with hot water.
  • Olive oil: Pretreat the stain with laundry soap or stain remover, and use the hottest setting to wash it. You may need to run a few washes to get the stain fully out; make sure that you don’t let the tablecloth dry in between washes, as this can cause the stain to set.
  • Coffee and tea: All three methods of pretreatment should work on these stains.
  • Red wine: After soaking the cloth with cold water, use stain remover or laundry detergent as a pretreatment.
  • Tomato sauce: You can use the same approach as you would for red wine. For added effectiveness, you may want to use bleach when you wash the tablecloth.

Remember that the sooner you attempt to remove these stains, the more effective your efforts will be.

3. Tap Into the Power of Enzymes

Many modern laundry detergents employ enzymes, which are proteins that speed up chemical reactions. Different enzymes will react with different substances and break them down, which makes stain removal easier. For example, some enzymes act on fat-based stains, while others are effective at breaking down protein-based stains or carbohydrate-based stains. Stains with a high fat content, such as gravy and grease stains, can be removed more effectively if you pretreat them with a detergent that contains enzymes.

4. Shampoo Out Oil Stains

Tablecloth stains that contain a high level of oil or grease, such as gravy and olive oil stains, can also sometimes be removed with shampoo for oily hair. This type of shampoo is designed to break down grease and oil, and it is less harsh than most degreasing products, which makes it a good choice for more delicate tablecloths. To use shampoo as a pretreatment, just wet the stain, apply the shampoo and start scrubbing. Rinse the shampoo off and repeat as necessary.

5. Bleach Out Discoloration

bleach bottle

Older tablecloths may also develop stains that stem from aging, rather than spilled foods or drinks. If your cloths are turning yellow or gray, you can use a mild bleach treatment to restore a more natural color. Chlorine bleach can actually cause certain fabrics and colors to turn yellow, so make sure to choose bleach that uses a different primary ingredient.

6. Brush Stains Off

Some tablecloth stains can be removed more effectively if you simply brush off the surface stain before taking any other steps. For example, to remove mildew, you should brush away as much of the substance as possible; then, you can apply strong soap and wash the tablecloth with the hottest water cycle. If you’re treating scorch marks or burn marks, make sure to brush off the cinders before applying detergent.

7. Remove Rust

If you own vintage tablecloths or other tablecloths that you use infrequently, they may develop rust while they are in storage. Fortunately, there are a few easy solutions. For a quick home remedy, you can apply lemon juice and salt to the stain. Make sure to keep the tablecloth damp, and keep applying this mixture repeatedly as needed. A commercial product that is designed to remove rust should also be effective.

8. Keep White Tablecloths Clean

If you use pure white tablecloths, it’s important to treat stains as early as possible. In some cases, though, you may need to use bleach to eliminate stains. If you use linen or cotton tablecloths, make sure to avoid using chlorine bleach for spot treatments or washing. Again, this bleach can cause yellowing and break down the cloth fibers. Instead, look for a non-chlorine product. You may need to run more washes to remove stains with these products, but you won’t have to worry about losing the true color of your tablecloth.

9. Protect Colorful Tablecloths

If you’re trying to remove stains from a colorful, patterned tablecloth, make sure to check that the colors won’t run. You should spot test a small section of the cloth before you apply pretreatments or throw the cloth in the wash. If running appears to be an issue, you can wash the cloth in warm water with table salt added in to help fix the color. If you’re only dealing with minor stains, you can also wash the cloth in cool water, which will help set the color of the fabric.

When you’re dealing with any type of tablecloth stain, it’s important to treat it as quickly as possible and be patient; in some cases, multiple pretreatments or washes may be necessary. However, if you stick to these guidelines, keeping anything from brand-new tablecloths to vintage linens clean should be easy.

How to Clean Up a Broken CFL Bulb

Broken CFL

Using CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs in your house is a great way to protect the environment and save on energy bills. However, breaking one of these bulbs can create a dangerous situation. When you break a CFL bulb, you need to be very careful how you go about a cleanup process.

A broken CFL bulb can be very dangerous because these bulbs contain mercury, which is poisonous to humans and animals. A correctly performed cleanup operation will ensure that your home is safe and the people within it are not at risk for mercury poisoning. Cleaning up a broken bulb isn’t difficult or harrowing, though. It can be done all by yourself in just a few minutes. Here are a few tips to help you keep your family safe from harm.


Air Out Room

The room where the bulb has broken should be aired out before cleanup begins. This will allow the mercury in the air to dissipate. Instruct any people and pets to leave the room immediately, taking precautions to avoid the area where the bulb was broken. Once everyone has left the room, you should open windows, doors and vents to the outside, but not into the house. The last thing you want is to allow the spread of mercury throughout your home. Let the room air out for about 5 to 10 minutes, if possible.


Shut Off Any Air Supply

The next step to turn off any air supply you have running. Turn off any central air, heat pump or air conditioning systems you have operating in your home or in that specific room. These systems move air throughout your home and spreading air infected with mercury can be very dangerous.

Get Your Materials

There are several items you will need to properly clean up the broken CFL bulb. You will need stiff paper, cardboard or plastic to scoop up the broken glass. You will also need tape, dampened paper towels and cleaning wipes. A glass jar with a metal lid or a plastic bag is also necessary to get the job done correctly and safely. A glass jar with a tight fitting metal lid is the best item to dispose of the broken shards of glass because it keeps the mercury vapor sealed inside. If one is not available, a sealable plastic bag will do if you handle it as little as possible. You may also want to wear disposable gloves or gloves you don’t mind throwing away in order to prevent the glass shards from cutting your hands.

Collect Debris

After you’ve gathered what you need, re-enter the room where the bulb was broken. Leave the windows, vents and doors to the outside open in order to continue to let the mercury vapor dissipate. Using the cardboard, stiff paper or hard plastic, you can scoop up the pieces of glass from the floor. Place the shards into the glass jar or plastic bag. Use the tape to pick up the smaller pieces of glass. Make sure that all glass is removed from the hard surface or carpet.

Once the glass has been picked up and placed in the jar, use the damp paper towels to clean the affected area. Disposable disinfectant towels will also be good for this purpose. When you have cleaned the area with your disposable towel of choice, place it in the glass jar or plastic bag. If you wear gloves while cleaning up the mess, those should also be placed inside the jar or bag. You should then seal the jar or bag tightly.


If you are using a plastic bag to contain your debris, it must be removed from inside your home immediately. Plastic does not seal the mercury vapor inside, so it will continue to leak out into the air. Check your local regulations for the best way to properly dispose of the mercury infected items. Some places require you to dispose of the glass in a recycling center, but others allow you to simply throw it out with the trash. Make sure you know the laws before you dispose of your debris. Once the jar or bag has been disposed of, wash your hands to rid yourself of any remaining mercury.



Allowing the mercury to sit, undisturbed, in a room with no ventilation to the outdoors is extremely unsafe, especially if you have a central air system. While the room does need to air out before it is safe to pick up the bulb mess, it is important to be prompt in your cleanup. Don’t leave it for a couple of days. That only increases the risk of someone getting hurt.



Trying to vacuum up the glass from a broken bulb can put more mercury into the air, where your family can breathe it in. However, you may use a vacuum cautiously after all the larger pieces have been picked up. On a carpeted area, it can be difficult to find all the smaller pieces of glass from a broken bulb. Vacuuming can help, but it should be done with windows open and entry ways into the rest of the house closed. You should always use the hose attachment to the vacuum in this instance. Dispose of the vacuum bag or contents of the vacuum chamber in the same way you disposed of the other debris from the broken bulb.

Leave Windows Closed

Never clean up broken CFL bulbs in a non-ventilated area. This can be extremely dangerous for you and your loved ones. Working in a non-ventilated space means that you will be directly breathing in the mercury vapor, which can lead to mercury poisoning. It can also have adverse effects on your lungs and breathing, as well. Always make sure that when you are cleaning up a broken bulb that contains mercury, the room is as ventilated as possible.

Forget to Wash Your Hands

Even if you wear gloves when you clean up the broken bulb, there is no guarantee that mercury didn’t get onto your hands. After cleaning up the shards of glass and throwing all the debris away in the best and most legal way, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and hot water. This will remove the rest of the mercury on your hands.

Cleanup of any broken CFL bulbs should be prompt and precise. Making sure that the mercury within the broken bulb is not able to come into contact with any people or pets in your home is the best way to prevent someone from being poisoned.

10 Tips for Debugging Your New House

Tented House

If you’re moving into a new house, you’re probably concerned about what may have been left behind: bugs. While not all houses have a bug issue, it’s a good idea to make sure your home is bug free before moving in, especially if you’ve purchased an older house. Bugs carry diseases, create unsanitary conditions, and some procreate very quickly. There are things you can do to eradicate house bugs from your new home, and ways to help ensure that they don’t come back in the future.

1. Debug During Renovations

If you’re renovating any part of your home, you can use this opportunity to place repellents in various locations of your home’s structure. For instance, you or a contractor can apply a desiccant dust in the walls. When bugs try to walk across this dust, their insides are cut open and they die of dehydration. Just make sure to order pesticide grade instead of pool grade, as the latter can be dangerous to your health. Additionally, if you’re doing any flooring, you can seal the floors with polyurethane. Lastly, sealant caulk can be used on moldings.

2. Treat Your Foundations

You can use insecticides or pesticides to rid your foundations of infestations. Or you can use boric acid or diatomaceous Earth as a safer alternative. Once this area has been treated, you can help prevent future infestations by sealing gaps with trim, caulk or foam. Lastly, you’ll want to keep the foundation clear of foliage like grass, leaves or wood.

3. Seal Around Pipes


After debugging your home, you may also want to do a thorough search of any openings around pipes that extend through to the inside of your home. These include pipes for water, gas, electrical and air-conditioning. You can use sealant or caulk to fill small openings, and expandable polyurethane foam for larger ones. Copper mesh and steel wool are a nice addition to sealants as they provide an extra deterrent layer.

4. Use a Debug Monitor Before You Settle In

A debug monitor is a relatively new invention that attracts bedbugs by mimicking a human body. The monitor uses carbon monoxide to draw out bugs and attract them to the monitor. These can most effectively be used under bed legs or furniture, as the bugs will climb up and down the legs in order to feed. The three types of monitors currently available are called Climbup Insect Interceptor, CDC3000, and NightWatch. So far, these monitors have had great results.

5. Use Bedbug-Sniffing Dogs

While there is a bit of debate about the accuracy of bed-bug sniffing dogs, ones who have been properly trained are said to have a 97% accuracy rate, as opposed to humans’ 30% accuracy rate. These dogs are trained exclusively to sniff out bugs. Small dogs are generally used, so that handlers can lift the dogs to high locations in order to get a thorough read. These dogs can be expensive to rent, but they do provide another option for those who can afford the expense.

6. Hire a Professional Inspector

Pest control inspectors do thorough searches of interior properties in order to assess and treat any insect issue. They use equipment such as UV lights and telescoping meters to locate infestations, and then rid the home of bugs accordingly. Inspectors can return periodically to make sure the home has remained bug-free and to halt any future infestations before they get out of hand. Inspectors can’t always locate new house bugs, so their services should be used in addition to other measures.

7. Use a Bug Bomb

Bug bombs are relatively easy to use before you move into a new home. You’ll need to secure all windows and doors, leave open any inner doors, drawers or cupboards, and then vacate the house for about three hours, or however long it recommends on your particular bomb information. Once you return to the house, you’ll want to open all windows and doors that you can, and then leave the house for a few more hours while the bomb dissipates. A bug bomb won’t get rid of the bugs, of course, so after bombing you’ll want to do a thorough cleaning in order to pick up any dead bugs. Once you move into your home it will be harder to bomb, especially if you have pets, due to health issues from the toxic spray making contact with people and appliances. Therefore, bombing before you move anything in can be the best option.

8. Use Plug-In Repellents

Once you’ve rid your new home of bugs, you’ll want to implement measures to keep your home bug free. One option is to use a plug-in repellent. These repellents use ultrasonic sound waves to keep bugs and even mice away from an area. However, they can only provide a limited range of effectiveness, as the sound waves don’t extend past a small radius, and pests can get used to the sound over time. Therefore, plug in repellents are best used along with other measures.

9. Sticky Traps

Bug Spray

Sticky traps work just how they sound: they effectively trap bugs that have walked across the trap in order to feed. Sticky traps work best when they are placed in locations that bugs like to frequent, like up against baseboards, near refrigerators, and even inside cabinets. Just make sure that the traps are either out of the way of pets, or that your pets don’t have an interest in the trap. While the trap is relatively safe, ingestion by a pet–or human–can be dangerous.

10. Indoor Bug Spray

Of course you won’t want to rely on bug spray alone, but keeping some on hand can be a great way to kill bugs as you see them. The spray is highly poisonous and kills bugs on contact. It often smells quite strong, and you’ll want to wipe it up right away in order to keep the area clean. Be sure to put the dead bugs in the trash so that the carcasses don’t attract other bugs.

Purchasing a new home can be really exciting, so you don’t want new house bugs to ruin that excitement. If you’ve purchased an older piece of property, you’ll especially want to take measures to debug your home. This will help keep you and your family safe for years to come.

7 Ways to Prevent Weeds From Growing in Your Yard

Weeds in sidewalk

Weeds are a dreaded sight for anyone who takes pride in his or her yard. Like many people, you may feel like the only way to keep these invasive plants at bay is to invest in professional garden care. However, there are several do-it-yourself tactics for driving off or killing weeds that are easy and economical. If you’re struggling to keep your yard free of weeds, try the following measures to get those intruders under control once and for all.

1. Leave Your Soil Alone

There most likely are already weed seeds in your soil, lying dormant and waiting for the right conditions to support growth. By leaving your soil as undisturbed as possible, you can lower the likelihood that these seeds will receive enough sunlight to begin sprouting. Instead of tilling your soil with a machine, do it by hand to limit the amount of dirt that gets churned up.

Rather than planting your flowers and vegetables directly in the soil, consider planting them in an overlying layer of compost or bagged soil. This can further reduce the risk of weeds growing in.

2. Suppress Weed Growth

In addition to minimizing soil disturbances, you should proactively stop seeds from developing into pesky weeds by covering your soil with materials that block sunlight. For the best effects, you will need to create a layer that is two to four inches deep to ensure that stubborn weeds don’t poke through. The following items are all affordable, easily accessible and highly effective as mulches or sun blockers:

  • Store-bought mulch. Beneficially, any kind of mulch will hold in moisture and add nutrients to your soil.
  • Grass clippings. These clippings, which smother weeds and fertilize the soil, act as a natural and readily available mulch.
  • Newspapers. When layered with other types of mulch, newspapers ensure that sunlight and even oxygen can’t reach the soil.
  • Carpet swatches, wallpaper or shower curtains. These items help block sunlight when they are placed underneath a layer of mulch.

Many kinds of plants can make effective mulches, but one type of dried grass that you will want to avoid using is hay. Hay can contain seeds, which could leave you dealing with other unwanted plants growing in your yard.

3. Crowd Out New Growth

Another measure that can inhibit weed growth is a crowded planting design. The key is to eliminate barren or empty spots that allow weeds to take root. If you have a lawn, make sure to reseed it in areas where the grass has died.

You should also make aeration and fertilization regular yearly practices. If you grow vegetables or flowers, consider planting them in a diamond pattern, which leaves fewer gaps than conventional rows do. If you loosen the underlying soil down to a depth of 24 inches, you can plant your flowers or vegetables very close together without worrying about the roots crowding each other, since the roots will be able to grow downward.

4. Try Natural Measures

Pulled weed

If you prefer natural garden care, you’ll be glad to know that you can usually prevent weeds from growing in your yard by using a simple home remedy. Treating your soil with corn gluten meal can stop weed seeds from germinating. This treatment has the same effect on virtually any seed, though, so make sure that you only apply it once your vegetables and flowers are well-established.

If weeds have already grown into your yard, you can kill them by applying vinegar, vodka or salt. Vinegar is a natural herbicide. Vodka can be mixed with water and a little soap to act as a desiccant. Like vodka, salt dries weeds out, and it additionally stops them from taking in nutrients. It’s important to use these three treatments with caution, however. All of them can kill the plants that you are deliberately growing, and salt will render any soil that it comes into contact with unusable in the short term.

5. Apply Herbicides

The use of chemical herbicides can also help prevent weed growth. Spraying a store-bought herbicide before weeds begin sprouting can halt unwanted growth without causing any harm to established plants. Make sure to use a pre-emergent herbicide about three weeks before you normally start seeing weeds appear in your yard.

To deal with weeds that grow even with this treatment, you can make your own homemade herbicidal soap. However, make sure to use it carefully, since it can kill plants that you aren’t trying to eradicate as well as weeds. To make the soap, combine equal quantities of dish soap, vinegar and water, and then spray it directly onto the weeds.

6. Remove Them by Hand

Removing weeds by hand is an effective option if you want to avoid the use of harsh chemicals and ensure that no harm comes to your flowers or vegetables. You’ll need a trowel or small shovel so that you can dig down and access the roots. Protect your hands and limit the spread of seeds by wearing a pair of gardening gloves.

Make sure to fully remove the weeds, including the entire root system, or they will grow back later. To improve efficiency, try weeding when the soil is damp. Many people find that pulling weeds is easiest early in the morning or after a storm.

7. Heat Things Up

Heat can be a great tool for removing established weeds. One easy approach is to simply pour boiling water directly onto weeds. This should kill even the toughest plants after just a few applications. You also can invest in a weed torch, which heats the water present inside weeds to kill them. Once you get used to this approach, it can be very effective, although it isn’t safe to use on poisonous weeds. When using either method, remember to take precautions to protect yourself, such as wearing close-toed shoes and clothing that covers your limbs.

Keeping weeds out of your yard can feel like an overwhelming task, but it’s important to remember that even a small amount of regular work can go a long way. Practicing smart preventative measures and treating any weeds that do appear quickly can keep your garden looking beautiful and leave you with more time to focus on the plants that you actually want to grow.

14 Simple and Effective Home Cleaning Tips

We are well into spring–have you started your spring cleaning yet? Although tidying up your house is probably not as exciting of a spring activity as relaxing outdoors is, you can’t deny that a neat living space looks great and really does improve your mood. Here are some of the top tips for keeping your home clean this spring.

Appliance Care

Clean Kitchen Ice Maker

Instead of putting all of your cleaning off to do in a single day, remember that it’s easier to do small, daily maintenance tasks. By practicing this method of cleaning, you can avoid doing a major cleaning project every week or two–giving you more free time to enjoy the springtime. A good place to start is in the kitchen: try to wipe up spills and clear away stray crumbs as soon as you notice them. Also, make sure that your appliances are cleaned often: remember to wipe down your mixer, blender, ice maker or hot plate right after using to avoid stuck-on grime and streaks.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

8 Dangerous Items in Your Home

House Cleaners

Although most people recognize the dangers of a car accident or a home fire, they often overlook some of the ordinary items in their homes that can also pose a safety risk. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the organization that regulates recalls, estimates that 33.1 million people are injured each year by household consumer products in the United States. Here are eight common but dangerous items you can find in your home and what to do to minimize their risks.

1. Household Cleaners

Although people use household cleaners everyday, they rarely think about the dangers they pose.

Read the labels of most of the commercial cleaning products in your home, and you’ll quickly notice the list of warnings and dangerous ingredients. Some warnings caution you to avoid contact with the eyes or skin, but that’s not the only danger they pose. In fact, many of these also release toxic pollutants into the air. Using them in an area that isn’t well ventilated can pose serious health hazards. Here are a few common cleaners and the hazardous ingredients they contain:

  • Air fresheners:

    Air fresheners can contain compounds like nitrogen dioxide which do more to pollute your indoor air than to freshen it.

  • Cleaning Container
  • Bleach:

    Anyone who has come into contact with undiluted bleach can attest to its danger. Not only can it cause burns on the skin, it’s also dangerous to inhale in an unventilated area.

  • Toilet Bowl Cleaners:

    Like bleach, most toilet bowl cleaners can cause burns if they come into contact with the skin or eyes.

  • Oven Cleaners:

    There’s a reason that commercial oven cleaners power through caked-on grime. The corrosive alkalis in oven cleaners make quick work of a dirty oven. Unfortunately, they can also do serious damage to your respiratory system if inhaled and to your gastrointestinal tract if ingested.

Even if you banish dangerous household cleaners, you don’t have to give up on a clean house. It’s easy to mix together effective cleaners with less toxic, common household ingredients. With an initial investment in vinegar, baking soda, borax, and liquid soap, you can whip up batches of cleaners whenever you need them. There are also many nontoxic, natural cleaners on the market.

2. Cosmetics

From shampoos to lotions to makeup, most bathrooms are overflowing with cosmetic products. However, many popular cosmetics actually contain harmful ingredients. One common ingredient–specifically, parabens–is a plasticizer. Although parabens may extend the shelf life of cosmetic products, they are linked to reproductive and developmental problems in animals. Read labels carefully and opt for products with short lists of recognizable and natural ingredients.

3. Lead Paint

Lead paint is probably one of the more recognized dangers in the home. With recent attention and educational campaigns, most homeowners are aware of its hazards. Exposure to lead paint can affect the central nervous system, blood, brain, and kidneys of people who are exposed.

Lead paint was commonly used in homes built pre-1978. If you have an older home, have the paint tested. If you notice peeling paint in your older home, don’t tackle the job yourself. Instead, call in professionals experienced in lead paint removal.

Even if you don’t own an older home, you may be exposed to lead paint. Many toys and dishes made in China contain lead paint. In particular, watch for made-in-China products that are red or yellow, colors that are frequently made with lead.

4. Pressed Wood Furniture

From wood paneling to chipboard or particle-board furniture, pressed wood can be found in many homes. Pressed wood is made by gluing many thin layers of wood together to create a stronger, lighter product than solid wood. The glue, however, can pose health hazards. Many pressed wood products use urea-formaldehyde in their construction. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause a host of health ailments ranging from watery or burning eyes to asthma attacks. Because new pressed wood releases more formaldehyde, avoid purchasing any new products containing it.

Dangerous extension cords

5. Mothballs

Mothballs are another dangerous item often found in our homes. Mothballs contain naphthalene, which can actually destroy red blood cells. Although scientists don’t yet know if naphthalene causes cancer in humans, it has been proven to cause cancer in animals. The EPA requires mothballs to come with a warning label cautioning buyers to avoid breathing in their vapors. Trade out your mothballs for cedar chips. Not only do they smell better, they are a far safer alternative.

6. Extension Cords

In and of themselves, new extension cords are not dangerous. However, without proper use and care, they can quickly become hazardous. They are, in fact, a leading cause of house fires. To avoid dangers, check the voltage capacity on any extension cords you use. Just because there is an open spot on the extension cord doesn’t mean that you can plug in all your appliances. Also, be sure to check extension cords frequently to make sure they are not showing any signs of wear. If you notice exposed wires or worn spots in the cord, it’s time to trade it in for a newer model.

7. Prescriptions

Prescription medications can be dangerous to anyone that misuses them. Be sure to always follow your doctor’s orders when it comes to the proper dosing of your medications. If you have small children or pets around your house, you should be extra wary of where you keep these prescriptions. Consider keeping them on the top shelf of your pantry or cabinet. Another option is to invest in child-locks for your cabinet doors, which makes it challenging for little hands to open them and grab what is inside.

8. Gas Space Heaters

Gas space heaters put out a lot of heat quickly, making them a popular purchase. Most are labeled as suitable for outdoor use only. However, people sometimes overlook that and use them inside. In enclosed spaces like a garage or bedroom, gas fumes are extremely dangerous, carrying a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure to only use gas space heaters outside, and stick to electric space heaters inside your home.

Make your home a safe haven. Weed out as many dangerous household items, like toxic cleaners and mothballs, as you can. Use caution when using things like extension cords. Read labels carefully and look for safer alternatives whenever possible. By eliminating or limiting these eight hazards, you can rest easy knowing that you and your loved ones are safe in your home.

8 Tips to Bug-Proof Your Home


Springtime means budding trees, blooming flowers, soft breezes and, unfortunately, an influx of bugs. Eager to stretch their wings and legs and go in search of a food source, a host of bugs may soon start eyeing your home as a possible new residence. Making sure you bug-proof your house can help keep the bugs outside where they belong. With these eight tips, you can protect your home against unwanted guests.

1. Make Your Surroundings Inhospitable

Like humans, bugs have preferences when it comes to making a new home. In order to discourage them from cohabiting in your space, make your surroundings as inhospitable to them as possible. Spending some time cleaning up both your house and yard provides a first line defense against bugs. Being overly neat and clean around your house and property effectively makes you a rude host to these unwanted visitors.

  • In your yard, dump out any standing water. Stagnant water attracts mosquitoes. In fact, mosquitoes need water to pass through their lifecycle. Within a short time, just a few mosquitoes can lay hundreds of eggs in standing water. These eggs soon hatch into hundreds of new mosquitoes.
  • Mosquitoes aren’t the only insect hoping to take up residence in your yard. Wood piles are cozy and dark, making them ideal homes for a variety of crawling bugs. Be sure to keep piles of wood or debris away from the side of your home.
  • Inside, keep your home clean and tidy. Bugs, like ants, are searching for a food source. It’s easy for crumbs to accumulate on tables, countertops, and on the kitchen floor. A quick wipe-down after meals and frequent sweeping of kitchen and dining room floors can minimize the food trail.
  • It’s just as important to avoid standing water inside as it is outside. A lone mosquito can lay eggs inside your home just as easily as it can in the yard. Cockroaches also need a water supply to survive so drying up potential water sources can discourage them.

2. Watch for Invaders


Ants send scouts to check out a new area before sending in the troops. When you see a lone ant, don’t ignore it. Take care of any initial invaders promptly before they can carry the message back to the rest of the hill. Likewise, keep an eye out for other bugs like cockroaches and crickets that may sneak inside. If you catch them early, it’s much easier to eliminate them from your home before they make it their home too.

3. Guard Your Perimeter

Bugs search for ways into a cozy home. Eliminate the easy entry points. First, seal your doors or install door sweeps to fill in any under-door gaps. Weather stripping isn’t just for winter. Install it for both doors and windows to seal openings. Be sure to check for openings around pipes, vents, garage doors, and windows. Caulk any cracks you find to seal up obvious entry points.

4. Screen Your Windows

When warmer weather comes, many people like to open the windows and let in some fresh air. Make sure that both your windows and doors have good screens so that you’re not letting in more than fresh air. Check existing window screens to be sure they are in good working order. Repair any rips or tears that could let bugs inside. If you have a patio sliding glass door, invest in a sliding screen. Screens keep the fresh air coming in and the flying bugs and other debris out where they belong.

5. Keep it Clean

Food is a beacon to bugs. The pantry is a hotspot for these crawlers, which is why you should be sure to keep dry foods sealed and put away. Plastic or glass storage containers can seal up bug favorites like sugar and cereal. Don’t leave dirty dishes on the counter or in the kitchen sink. Also, avoid leaving overripe fruit out on the counter, which can increase your risk of a sudden infestation of fruit flies.

Be sure to take out the trash promptly as many types of bugs love to burrow into an overflowing trashcan. If you have a lot of food scraps, don’t just toss them in the kitchen trash can. Instead, keep compost and food scraps sealed, and take them out frequently.

Don’t forget about pet food either. Rather than leaving food out all the time, which can quickly become a creepy-crawly smorgasbord, feed your pets more frequently in portions that they can eat in a single setting.

6. Use Safe Chemicals

If, despite all your best efforts at warding your home against insects, you spot a bug or two, don’t despair. You can still get rid of them by using some common household ingredients. Many bugs, like ants, are repelled by strong smells. Reach for the vinegar and spray or wipe down surfaces where you’ve spotted bugs. Ants also do not like cinnamon so sprinkling a line across windowsills or on counters can keep them out.

What about everyone’s favorite home-invading critter, the cockroach? To get rid of pesky roaches, make a cockroach cocktail. Cockroaches love both cocoa and sugar. By mixing either with dichotomous earth or Borax, you can kill any roaches that eat it.

7. Encourage Natural Predators


You can also turn to natural exterminators. By attracting bug predators to your yard, you can help control the bug population. Bats, for example, can eat thousands of mosquitos. They’re also not picky, willing to snack on flies, wasps, and spiders in addition to mosquitoes. To attract bats to your yard, build a bat box and mount it high on a pole.

Bats aren’t the only natural bug predators though. Warblers and swallows also love to eat mosquitos. Put out a birdhouse with some birdseed or nectar to attract them to your yard. To encourage birds to stick around, keep a fresh water source available. Do remember to change it daily or invest in a moving water feature. Birds do not like stagnant water, but mosquitos certainly do.

8. Call in the Pros

When all else fails, you can always call in the exterminators. If your bug situation has gotten out of hand, consulting with a professional can help you get on top of the situation. Exterminators can give you information and options for addressing infestations.

This spring, spend a little time bug-proofing your house. With a few tips and a little preparation, you can discourage bugs from invading your space. By creating a less-than-welcoming environment, you can keep bugs where they belong, outside your home.