Reader Question – Dealing with Cords

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Hints, Tips and Advice, Reader Question, Tips and Advice

Q. What is the best way to deal with a tangled mess of cords? My desk is a disaster and so is my entertainment center.

A. To help tidy up your desk, invest in an under desk wire basket, which you can easily find at many office supply stores that sell furniture, and a power strip large enough for all of your plugs. Instead of letting all of those ugly cables and cords hang freely, run them through the wire basket along with the power strip. Tack the remaining slack together with a handy zip tie and voila! You have a neat and clutter-free work environment.

As for your entertainment center, the jumble of cords can be an eye-sore, as well as a walking obstruction in your home. In the case of audio/visual interference or technical difficulty, a mess of cords can make finding and fixing the problem a frustrating, time-consuming experience.

Before hiding the cords of your entertainment center, diligently untangle and separate them from each other, so that each cord’s origin and destination is clear.

Once all your cords are separated, bundle groups stemming from each individual appliance with twist ties or zip ties. For additional organization, separate cords based on their function; for example, keep audio cords in one bundle, video cords in another, and power cords in another bundle.

Cord covers are a handy solution if your entertainment center is set up away from your power outlets. Measure the length of cord cover you require, then route the cords through the cover. Attach the cover to your walls with self-adhesive. Unlike flexible cable sleeves, you can paint cord covers. Paint the cover a color that complements your room decor; this makes the cord cover look like molding, rather than hardware. Or, if your entertainment center resides in a carpeted room, gently lift the edges of the carpet behind the entertainment center to tuck your cord bundles underneath. Use cable tacks to attach the bundles to the floor before replacing the carpet; this will keep the bundles from bunching.

Cleaning Up After the Dog

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Family

We all love our pets, we just hate the hair and the other messes that they make. Protecting our floors, no matter what type, and our furniture from the accumulation of fur can drive any homeowner batty. Today, here are few tips to help manage the beasts that live with us.

  • Place a sheet or a blanket where your pet likes to rest. Shake it out every few days and then toss it in the washing machine. Remember, grooming your pet regularly will also help with shedding.
  • To remove pet hair on carpeting, vacuum several times a week using full suction. Pick a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
  • On wood and other hard floors, use an electrostatic mop. They’re more efficient than vacuums since they don’t blow the hair around.
  • On clothing, use a tape roller. Loop a ribbon through the handle and hang one from the doorknob inside closets throughout the house so they’re always available to use.
  • On upholstery, use the vacuum’s upholstery tool or a hand vacuum with a motorized beater-bar attachment. Lint brushes designed for clothing and dry sponges (sold at pet-supply stores) also work well.
  • The sooner you can get to a pet stain, the better. Pet urine left on carpets can permanently alter the dye, liquids on hard wood or laminate can cause permanent damage. Remove any solid residue on carpet with a dull knife.
  • Blot fresh stains with a clean, white cloth. After absorbing as much moisture as possible, apply a solution of 1/4 teaspoon clear dishwashing liquid mixed with one cup tepid water; blot with another clean, dry towel. Rinse by blotting with a towel dampened with tepid water. Continue alternating with a soapy towel and a clean, damp towel until the stain is gone. Use a blow dryer on low to dry the carpet thoroughly. For stale stains or persistent odor, call a professional carpet cleaner.

George Elliot once said, “Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.” Isn’t that true? Suddenly dealing with pet hair and messes doesn’t seem so bad, does it? For more information on care and maintenance, please visit our website.

 

Taking Care of Cork Flooring

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Environmental, Floors, Hints, Tips and Advice

Cork flooring is a very popular option these days. Cork floors are gorgeous, environmentally friendly floors, hypoallergenic and incredibly durable. However, they do require proper care and maintenance so that they stay looking good for years.

Here are a few tips on how to take care of your cork floors:

  1. Perform regular maintenance – sweep your floors often to pick up dirt and dust.
  2. Prevent fading – over a period of time sun exposure can cause your floors to fade. Be sure to install curtains, blinds or a window tint to block direct sunlight.
  3. Protect – lift, don’t drag furniture across your floors. Place felt pads under all furniture to prevent scuffs.
  4. Mop –damp mop your cork floors weekly. Remember that cork is absorbent, which means it can easily be stained from spills. All spills should be wiped up as soon as possible. Do not use abrasive cleaners or solvents, especially those that contain glycerin. These products can harm the finish making it impossible to refinish. A neutral PH detergent (PH of 6-8) should be used to clean cork floors either with a wrung out sponge or misted over the floor and damp mopped.

Cork floors are one of the easiest floors to maintain. If you follow our tips on keeping them clean they will continue to look beautiful for years and years.

Cleaning Baseboards

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Hints, Tips and Advice

How often do you clean your floors? At least once a week, right? How often do you clean your baseboards? If you are like most people, the answer is rarely. Yes, it’s no fun to clean baseboards but your home will look much cleaner and more polished if you do. Here are some tips to make this job a bit easier.

Clean the baseboards AFTER you have swept and mopped your floors as they are likely to get even dirtier as you kick up debris with your broom and mop.

Vacuum the baseboard with the brush attachment. You want them to be pet hair and dust free before you start scrubbing. Pay particular attention to the floor closest to the baseboards as that is where dirt tends to accumulate.

Spray the baseboards with an all purpose cleaner. Be careful you don’t soak them too much as you don’t want to damage your walls.

Using a damp sponge mop with clean water, wash the baseboards. The mop is convenient from a logistical standpoint, especially if you have a bad back; you don’t have to get down and dirty, so to speak. But really tough marks may still require you to get on the floor and scrub. If the stains are stubborn, just scrub harder, but refrain from using anything abrasive, like a scouring pad, on your baseboards.

Once your baseboards are clean, take a damp dryer sheet and wipe it over the wood. The anti-static cling property of the dryer sheet will cut the amount of dust that sticks to baseboards. In fact, each time you sweep and vacuum, go over the baseboards quickly with a dryer sheet. If you have shedding pets, you’ll want to do this regularly. This preventative maintenance will go a long way.

So even though it will take you some time to get your baseboards clean, you will feel much better AND your home will look much better as well.

Got Allergies?

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Environmental, Hints, Tips and Advice

Summer’s blossoms might be knocking you out — and not just by their beauty. Allergy season has arrived earlier this year with extra force. If you’re an allergy sufferer, and odds are good that you are, you probably already know that. About 40 million Americans now have what are known as indoor/outdoor allergies, with the most common triggers being tree, grass and weed pollen, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Experts say that this may be the worst allergy season on record. While you may stock up on allergy medication and tissues, isn’t there anything else a Mom can do? Here are some tips to reduce the effect of dust mites, spores and pollen.

A well-ventilated house and non-leaking ductwork is a first line of defense against bringing allergens into your living space. Use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters in the air conditioning system. Maintain the humidity level in the house at about 50 percent. Mold likes moisture, and dust and pollen are easily stirred in dry air. Keep your windows closed when pollen counts are highest: in the early morning hours, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and in windy conditions. Pollen and mold spores settle on clothing, so when you come in from outdoors, remove your outer garments in the mudroom, and take a shower.

Clean up clutter. The less stuff in your house, the fewer places for allergens to hang out. And, just as important, the easier it will be to clean thoroughly once a week.

Your bathroom is for mold and your bedroom is for dust mites — heaven at home. Inspect water pipes for leaks and fix them. Regularly clean walls with a nontoxic cleaner. Make sure that ventilation fans are routed to the outside, and run them for 30 minutes after a shower or bath. Scrub away mold on pipes and fixtures.

Fabrics and carpeting generate help create dust by the breaking down of fibers. Consider pitching curtains, high-pile carpeting and upholstered furniture in the bedroom: all cozy accommodations for allergens. Become a fan of washable throw rugs over wood, linoleum, or tiled floors. Damp mop regularly, and clean walls and other surfaces. If you must have carpeting, make it short, tight pile and vacuum weekly with a cleaner that has a small-particle or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

While we can’t eliminate 100% of allergens we can at least minimize their impact.

Getting Mustard Out of Carpet

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Carpet, Hints, Tips and Advice

One of the hazards of having a BBQ and carting food items and dirty plates back into the house after dinner is the inevitable chance of a spill. One of the hardest stains to get out is mustard. Since mustard contains tumeric, which is a bright yellow color, it can be a real hassle to get out of carpet, especially white carpet. But don’t give up hope, we can help.

Act quickly – if you see the spill happen, work on it immediately.

Fold a paper towel into a 4-inch square and use it to dab at the area of the mustard spill. Remove as much of the spot as you can in this manner. Always do this before the stain has a chance to dry. If it’s too late, try to scrape as much of it off the carpet’s surface as you can with a dull knife.

Mix together your cleaning solution.  Add one cup of white vinegar per two cups of water to your bowl. Stir with the mixing spoon. Then carefully pour the mixture into the spray bottle.

Before you apply any cleaner, including the one in these directions, to your carpet, test the cleaner in a small patch where no one will see it. Wait a few minutes. If the cleaner discolors or otherwise adversely affects the carpet, remove it immediately with cold water and a sponge. If it ends up causing permanent damage, at least it won’t be right in the middle of the room.

Hold the spray bottle 6 inches above the stain and spray until about a half inch of foam is sitting on the carpet where the stain is present. Blot the stain with a clean white cloth. Continue to blot until you cannot see any more mustard. Spray solution as needed.

Blot the spot with a new, clean cloth to remove any excess cleaning solution. Then rinse the cloth in lukewarm tap water and scrub out any remaining solution.

If you cannot remove the stain, call a reputable carpet cleaner as soon as possible.

Again, act as quickly as possible. And please don’t let the fear of a spill stop you from entertaining.

Reader Question – Organized Pantries

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Family, Kitchen and Bath, Uncategorized

Q. It doesn’t matter how many times I reorganize and label my pantry shelves. The pantry is always a disaster. Do you have any advice on how to keep a pantry looking tidy?

A. Pantries are notorious for being a disorganized mess despite our best efforts to keep them clean. Unlike a bedroom closet or a nightstand drawer, the pantry is used by all members of the family. Husbands and kids can wreak havoc on our best attempts to have a “Martha” looking pantry. That said, here are some tips to help sort out the chaos.

In your kitchen cabinet or pantry, use S hooks to hold an inventory list — so you know what you have, as well as how much you paid per unit, for the sake of future comparison shopping. The hooks can also keep other necessities handy: scissors and a box cutter for opening packages, a funnel for decanting liquids, and a scoop for dry goods.

Retrieving a jar of honey from the back of a crowded pantry can be awkward. For a simple fix, gather the small items you store on the shelf onto a spare baking tray, then treat it like a drawer, carefully sliding it in and out for easy access. The pan will also catch drips, speeding cleanup.

Use canisters to hold dry goods such as flour and sugar, and label them with their contents. Small items, such as teabags, dried fruit or bouillon, should go into small plastic bins or baskets. If you are so inspired you can buy baskets or colored bins, or you can simply find plastic containers.

Put spices on a lazy Susan on a shelf or a wall-mounted rack on the inside of your pantry door.

Group like items together: pastas, rice and lentils on one shelf; canned vegetables on another, keeping all the cans of crushed tomatoes, black beans and so on in a row (newer ones in back).

Put all your dried goods in glass or clear containers. Label them. This will not only get rid of clutter but it will also make your pantry look pretty.

If you follow those few simple guidelines and make an effort to tidy up the pantry on a weekly basis it won’t become a disaster zone.

 

While Your Away – Summer Vacation Tips

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Family, Hints, Tips and Advice, Holiday

It’s summer time and that means that many of our clients will be leaving their homes and traveling to relaxing destinations for a summer vacation. Before you leave here is a list of “to dos” to keep your home safe while you are gone and to give you piece of mind.

Make a list. Keep priorities in sight when planning your next trip by tying a to-do list onto your luggage.

If you are leaving the country notify your credit card companies and your bank of your destination. They will be less likely to deny charges if they know where you are.

Visit the currency exchange. It’s helpful to have some cash on hand to pay for taxis and tips when you first arrive. It’s also likely that you will receive a better exchange rate.

Water your plants. If you are going to be gone for more than a few days, arrange for a neighbor to help you keep your living things alive.

Board your animals. Make reservations ahead of time. Check shot records to be sure they are up to date.

Stop your mail. Have your mail held at the post office especially if your mail box is not secure. Identity thieves are clever. Stop your newspaper as well.

Put name and destination phone number or destination address on your luggage. Don’t put the address of your vacant home.

Pack extra prescription medication, contacts, lens cases and solution. It’s a big pain to have to replace contact lenses away from home.

Photocopy your passport, credit cards and record the phone numbers for reporting lost or stolen credit or debit cards. Put this information in a location other than your purse or wallet.

Close and lock all windows.

Unplug all appliances. Decide if you would like your heating or AC on or off.

Turn off water to all external faucets. If a neighbor is watching your home, make sure they know how to turn off the water main to your home in case of a sprinkler leak.

Put timers on your lights. No need to advertise that you are gone.

Be sure to pack your phone, camera and computer chargers. If you are leaving the country make sure that you have the necessary adapters.

And finally, be careful what you post on Facebook or FourSquare. You might be having the time of your life, but no one needs to be reminded that your home is unattended.

Cleaning Household Blinds

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance

What is your least favorite household chore? Did you just say cleaning blinds? It’s right up there with cleaning the oven, isn’t it. Fear not, cleaning blinds doesn’t have to be tedious anymore. Follow these quick tips and your blinds will look fabulous.

Vacuum your blinds weekly. Yes, weekly. Close the slats before you start. This way you clean more surface area. Vacuuming weekly will go a long way in keeping your blinds clean and dirt free.

Spot clean – fingerprints and dirt build up may require more than just vacuuming. Use a damp cloth or sponge to remove stubborn stains. Make sure you wipe the blinds dry to prevent water spotting.

Bath your blinds – when vacuuming and spot cleaning are not doing the trick take your blinds down and immerse them in your bathtub. Add dishwashing soap to the water. Never dunk wooden blinds or blinds with decorative tape, you’ll destroy them. Be sure to towel dry.

Get rid of the dingy – use white shoe polish on cording, ropes and taped areas if bathing and vacuuming don’t help. Yes, it seems like cheating but at least your blinds will look terrific.

Even though we have added another “to do” item to your weekly cleaning list, we think that it will help you keep your home looking beautiful.

Spring Cleaning!

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Hints, Tips and Advice

It’s that time again – yep, time for Spring-cleaning. Wash away the winter doldrums and brighten up your house in celebration of the new season. While you may not enjoy Spring-cleaning, there are ways to make it easier and more efficient.

Cleaning goes more smoothly if you have everything you need at your fingertips. The following tips will help ensure that your cleaning efforts go as quickly and easily as possible.

Start off by purchasing a bucket. Look for a stainless steel bucket big enough to hold your cleaning kit. Another bonus – it won’t rust!

Add a multi-purpose cleaner. If you use a concentrate get a great spray bottle that can be refilled many times. You will also need a multi-purpose powder. Mildly abrasive powder works well on ceramic, stainless steel, and porcelain.

Break your paper-towel habit with reusable cloths. Pick some sturdy enough to hold up well in the wash.

You will also need sponges. Try using natural cellulose sponges, as they are soft, pliable and a bargain!

Do you know about the super secret ingredients – vinegar and dishwashing liquid? A good dishwashing liquid mixed with water can clean almost anything, including countertops and painted wood. Diluted with water, vinegar is a household M.V.P. It works!

Protect your hands by using latex gloves. There are some now that have a soft cotton lining.

Don’t forget glass cleaner. Glass cleaner is not just for mirrors and windows it’s also wonderful for polishing fixtures.

By having these tools at your fingertips it will be a breeze to get through your Spring-cleaning checklist!