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.

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4 Tips for Remodeling Your Empty Nest

Redecorating

Transitioning from a full and bustling house to an empty nest can be difficult. Don’t think of it as losing your children once they move out, think of it as you regaining plenty of empty space in your home that you can do anything with. If you do not feel the need to preserve your children’s rooms for their visits, why not create a fun an usable space instead?

There are plenty of remodeling options available to you, and hopefully something inspires you enough to take on the project. Here are four great ideas for how to convert your newly regained space:

Repainting

1. A Guest Suite

A lot of older homes have several bedrooms right next to each other. If your child’s room is adjacent to another spare bedroom, you might consider knocking out the wall and converting the entire space into one big guest suite. A guest suite is not only trendy, but also functional. When your kids (and maybe even grandkids) want to come for a visit they’ll have a comfortable place to stay. This is a good bridging point between redecorating the room completely and preserving the nostalgia of your kid’s bedroom.

If you’re learning toward creating a guest suite, consider a bright yet neutral color for the walls and bedding. You’ll want to choose something that’s inviting and welcoming to your guests.

Remember, this space is more than just a bedroom. You can add a sitting room or an entertainment area for the little ones. You can even add a small refrigerator and microwave, like you’d find in a hotel. It’s all up to you and your budget!

2. A Home Gym

A spare bedroom can easily be converted into an exercise room. With the right paint, equipment and decorative choices, you can create a calorie-burning room of your very own. Start by looking into and pricing exercise equipment. Test out a few options, especially if the room is only big enough for one machine.

Most people make space for a television, which serves multiple purposes. You can watch your favorite shows to distract you from your burning muscles, or you can use it to watch exercise videos. If you buy a few yoga DVDs, for example, you can rotate your routine between the exercise machine and your 30-minute yoga show. Plus, your TV stand can double as a locker. You can store your yoga mat, sneakers and towels in there.

You may want to paint the room an energetic color like a light yellow or green. Sometimes a fresh paint job can completely transform the energy of a room.

3. A Game Room

Edgestar Ultra Low Temp Full Size Stainless Steel Dual Tap Kegerator

What adult doesn’t want a little room to play? From pool tournaments to Bingo nights, you can soon host a game night at your house. Of course, you’ll need to use your space wisely. Try creating a wish list of games you’d like to play in your new space. Keep in mind that the average game table takes up an area of about 3 feet by 5 feet. Plus, some games–such as pool–require additional space for adequate play.

The game tables will likely take center stage, but you should also consider size-appropriate furniture so guests can relax during or in between play. Stools and ottomans make great, space-saving seating options.

Don’t forget a place for cold drinks. A small bar with either a kegerator or a wine refrigerator would make a nice addition to any game room. These appliances are compact enough to fit into a bedroom while not completely dominating the space.

4. A Dad Cave/Mom Cave

Tired of battling your spouse for the remote control to watch your favorite show every weekend? The spare bedroom could solve that problem. Consider converting this room into your own personal space–a private mom or dad cave. Take down your teen’s posters and change the walls to something more your style. A new coat of paint could do the trick, or you might even consider stained wall paneling. Your cave, your rules!

Traditionally, this cave-type room is converted into a sports room, equipped with a flat-screen TV, lots of seating, and a mini bar. If this is your style, go for it! Having a new place for entertainment that is 100% your style can be fun and stress-relieving.

Perhaps you’re less into sports and more into crafting. A bedroom is the perfect size to create an organized sewing and beading station. Or, perhaps you have a couple of grandchildren running around–why not cater this new craft room to their interests?

If you’re more of a book-worm, consider making this spare room into a cozy library. Finally, an organized way to store your hundreds of books! Invest in nice furniture, dark walls, and mood lighting to create the perfect reading room.

Of course, these are just a few ideas. You could remodel the room into a small library with built in bookcases; change it into a hobby room where you can spread out all sorts of odds and ends; or convert the space into a movie room complete with stadium seating and surround sound. You’ve got a lot of options, and what better time than now to turn that room into a fun space for you and your spouse.

How to Pick the Perfect Electric Tea Kettle

Electric Kettle

With a little homework, you can find the pot that fits your family’s needs.

All electric teakettles are not created equal. They come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, have varying degrees of wattage, and can contain various safety features. Don’t get intimidated though! Picking the right electric tea kettle is hardly a chore, and may just become one of your most used and beloved kitchen appliances.

Here’s how to make sense of all the different features when choosing an electric tea kettle.
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Stove Care & Maintenance Tips

Stove Top

Today’s homes are filled with many time-saving gadgets and appliances. Modern homeowners enjoy the convenience of appliances that wash dishes, cook almost instantly, and practically eliminate the need for an open flame in the home. The stove is a popular cooking appliance that has made meal preparation simpler and faster.

In some homes, these hardworking appliances are used every single day, sometimes more than once. This constant wear will inevitably have an effect on how well and how long the stove works. In order to improve the performance and extend the lifespan of your stove, it’s recommended that you follow a regular routine of maintenance and cleaning. The below tips will typically cover both gas ranges and electric ranges, but it is important to refer to your owner’s manual on what to do for your specific unit.
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10 Handy Washing Machine Usage Tips

Loading a Washing Machine

Many people think that the washing machine is a self-cleaning machine, but it is not. It still needs to be cleaned and cared for periodically. What happens to all of the dirt and debris that the washing machine removes from your clothes? It does not all go down the drain during the rinse cycle, like you may think. Much of that dirt accumulates inside of the machine and the detergent that you use to wash your clothes may also leave behind minerals and residue that accumulate on the inside of the washing machine.
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How to Choose the Right Type of Grill for You

Personal Sized Grill

When I was 23 living in a studio apartment that had a common area for grilling, I got myself a personal hibachi grill. When I was married, living in a condo apartment with a balcony, I got a stand up electric grill (per my lease requirements), and now that I own my own home with ample pool deck for any size grill, my husband chose a large gas grill with all the bells and whistles. There are many types of grills that you can choose from, but they’re all built differently and may not be the best fit for your home.

So, whenever you move to a new place, it’s time to re-evaluate your grill choices. You can do this by asking yourself the following four questions. Based on your answers, you will have a better idea of what type of grill fits your life (and space) perfectly.
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How to Move Large Appliances Without Damaging the Floors

Moving Large Appliances

Whether it’s for spring cleaning purposes or a big move, it’s important to be very careful when moving large appliances. You run the risk of ruining your floors, hurting your back, or even damaging your unit. Depending on the model, the appliances in your home can weigh from 100 to 300 pounds or more, so having a plan of action is crucial.

Whether you have hardwood floors, laminate, carpeting, or tile, you can protect them from dings, dents, and rips if you approach your appliance-relocation challenge armed with knowledge and the right tools. Here are a few tricks of the trade that, when followed, will help you avoid potential damage to your floors and move your unit quickly and efficiently.
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12-Volt Coolers: The Key to Successful ‘Staycations’

12 Volt Cooler on the Beach

I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely curtailed my vacation spending, preferring to plan shorter, closer-to-home trips versus one big, long, expensive excursion away from home for a week or more. How about you?

According to a 2014 Ipsos Public Affairs poll of more than 2,000 Americans, 36 percent have not taken a vacation (defined as leisure travel of at least a week at least 100 miles from home) in the last five years. In 2013, when polled about vacation plans, Ipsos found just less than half of Americans (48 percent) said they were confident that they would take a vacation in 2013, down four points from 2012.

12 Volt Cooler

Since the Energy Information Administration predicts gas prices will hover around a national average of $3.61 per gallon through this September, you might be planning a ‘staycation,’ also known as the ‘stay-at-or-near-home vacation’ or taking a ‘daytrip’ (defined as one-day travels within 50 miles of home) to save money.

If so, you might consider a 12-volt (12V) cooler to help ensure your family’s happiness on these outings. While traveling, I’ve found ice just doesn’t cut it in a conventional cooler all day long because wet, soggy food is a given and warm-ish drinks can ruin any family adventure or event.
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6 Dishwasher Loading Tips

Dishwasher Loading Tips

Nothing beats the convenience of a dishwasher. Live without one for a while and you will never take for granted the time and energy savings that this small appliance can provide. Standing with your arms submerged in soapy water up to your elbows is not very enjoyable, especially if you have to do it day in and day out.

While your dishwasher is likely one of the most loved appliances in your home, what do you do when your dishes keep coming out dirty? In an ideal world, your dishwasher would remove every last piece of dried food or grime; however, improper loading techniques can reduce efficiency and leave you with dishes that are not completely clean.

If you want to ensure that your dishwasher works the way that it should, try some of these loading tips.
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The ROI for Switching to a Stackable or Combo Washer Dryer

Washer Dryer Combo in the Kitchen

Ever wonder if it’s worth it to exchange your ol’ side-by-side washer/dryer setup for a stackable or combo unit? Well, my family learned firsthand there was plenty to gain in our rental property when we swapped out our full-sized washer and dryer for a stackable washer/dryer — space!

In fact, we gained an entire kitchen wall. We reconfigured the space and added more kitchen cabinets and counter space to our 1,000-square-foot house. Here’s what we learned during the process.
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