How to Organize Your Refrigerator (Because It’s Gross)

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“How do you organize a refrigerator?” is a question that, for most of us, simply doesn’t get asked enough. You pile your groceries in, and it’s not until you find moldy broccoli buried beneath a 2-month-old burrito (or at least what you think might have been a burrito) that it dawns on you: Yuck. It’s time to clean this sucker! 

If you’re finding that you have to rummage endlessly for that bottle of rose or never lay your eyes on fruit until it’s too far gone, then read on. These refrigerator organization tips will help you find your food faster—as well as waste less and maybe even eat more healthfully, too.

How to clean a refrigerator

“The absolute best tip I’ve got is to clean the fridge out the day before you go food shopping,” says Darla DeMorro of HeartWork Organizing in Wayne, PA. “The fridge is probably mostly empty at that point, so it takes very little effort to toss the few mystery containers and quickly wipe down the shelves.”

Start by moving what’s left to the counter or piling it onto one shelf while you give the other (now-empty) shelves and bins a good wipe-down (don’t forget to also wipe the shelf in use). A spray bottle filled with one part vinegar to 10 parts water works well.

How to organize your fridge

Next, group like items together to make it easier to find what you need. For example, if you put all the condiments together, you’ll be able to assess your selections quickly and avoid opening duplicates since you couldn’t find the first one, says Janet Schiesl of Basic Organization in Washington, DC.

Also, if sandwiches are a staple in your house, keep all of the fixings together.

“That will save you time by being able to pull everything needed for a quick meal, and it will also be easy to put everything back,” Schiesl says.

Tools to help you organize your fridge

If you find you need more space, you can always add an extra shelf or find a slew of organizational products to make maximum use of your space.

Tatiana Knight, a professional organizer with NeatWithKnight.com, says she’s particularly fond of products from The Container Store, such as soda can organizers and wine and water bottle holders.

“When you have the right tools for organizing, you’ll create more space and improve the appearance of your refrigerator,” Knight says.

Others have found creative ways to organize with tools that aren’t made specifically for the refrigerator. For example, a simple office supply holder (see below) can be used to keep kids’ snacks organized.

Keep safety in mind when organizing your fridge

Don’t forget about food safety while you’re organizing your fridge.

Judy Barbe, a registered dietitian in Casper, WY, offers these tips to keep in mind when you’re trying to decide where to place items.

  • Don’t store milk in the door. That’s the warmest part of the fridge. Milk needs to stay cold, so the back bottom area is ideal.
  • Don’t store eggs in the door. Keep them in their carton (to help retain moisture) in the middle of the fridge, where it’s colder. They may be refrigerated four to five weeks. Once cooked (such as in a pie or casserole) or out of their shell, eggs should be eaten within three to four days.
  • Store packaged raw meat on a tray on a bottom shelf. Plan to use refrigerated roasts and steaks within three to four days and ground beef within one to two days of purchase.
  • Do not store potatoes in the fridge. They like dark and cool places such as a cellar or pantry. Sweet potatoes, garlic, and onions are also best stored in a cool, dark, and ventilated place.
  • Use the crisper drawer levers if your refrigerator has them. An open lever allows moisture and gases to escape for apples, pears, peppers, mushrooms, mangoes, and avocados. A closed lever keeps moisture in for lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and strawberries.

How to keep your refrigerator clean

Once everything is organized, the challenge is keeping it that way. One big problem that often thwarts that plan: leftovers. Schiesl says having a strategy for leftovers—such as taking them for lunch or using them in other dishes like soups or quesadillas—is key to keeping a clean refrigerator.

“So often leftovers linger in the refrigerator until they turn fuzzy and green, but not if you have a plan,” she says. “Incorporate leftovers into another meal to save time, make the next meal prep quick, and save money by not having to buy another whole meal.”

Or just toss them. Your fridge (and family) will be the better for it.

Posted by Julie Ryan Evans on realtor.com

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7 Habits People with Clean Homes Have

We all seem to have that one friend whose house looks so refreshing and clean each time we visit them, yet we never see them struggling with cleaning their homes. Do they have house elves? Is the house actually magic, and it simply cleans itself? What type of sorcery is this?

Actually, it’s not sorcery at all. They are just people who hate cleaning, and who came up with solutions to keep their house clean for a longer time. Years of experience taught them a thing or two, and now we’re sharing the love with you.

1. Put the Clothes Away

At some point in life, everyone had “the chair”, also known as the place where we’d dump the clothes that we’d worn that day. Due to laziness, the clothes would no longer reach the laundry the next day – so one pair of jeans and one T-shirt would become two pairs of jeans and two T-shirts.

You’d do this until the mountain would become so big, you’d be afraid to touch it – but what’s worse is that it would ruin the way your room looks like.

To prevent this from happening, make a habit out of putting your clothes away when you are done with them – either in the wardrobe or the laundry. It’s also more convenient to look for a pair of jeans in an organized closet rather than in a huge stash on the sofa.

2. Don’t Stash Extras

Do you have three staplers, five bottle openers and hundreds of pens lying around in your house? We get it, just in case the other one breaks; however, that “just in case” will give that feeling of clutter in your home. So, your house will no longer look clean and organized. Keep just one item of each.

3. Dust and Vacuum on a Regular Basis

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Nothing says a clean home more than a clean carpet. No matter if you vacuum yourself or hire a carpet cleaning company, you have to make sure that the floor you step on is clean.

How often you do that, it also depends. If you have pets, you must do it daily. If not, once every two days is also alright. This way, you won’t have to go through major cleaning sessions every time at the end of the week.

4. Make Your Bed Every Morning

Have you noticed how clean your home looks after you make your bed? You may have all your things in order, but if your bed is messy, then it’s all in vain. Nothing makes a room look so nice and clean than a tidy bed.

5. Wipe the Surface After Use

No matter if you are cooking, making a sandwich, brushing your teeth or putting on makeup, wipe the surface right after you use it. A dirty sink or counter will make your house look messy. Therefore, if you just wipe it right away, you won’t have to go through thorough cleaning when you see the slime or dirt piling up on the surface.

6. Stash Away the Paper

You have no idea the damage that a paper forgotten on the desk can do to your clean home. Before long, bills will start stashing next to those papers, and it will literally seem like the room itself is breeding more paper.

To keep this from happening, place all your bills in one place the moment you read them – and do the same for coupons, menus, and other paper-made things. A solution would be some DIY file holders or paper trays.

7. Wash the Dishes Right After You Use Them

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“I’ll wash this later; it’s only one bowl.” The problem is, it’s never only one bowl. Things keep stashing after the first one, and before you know it, you’ll have a mountain of dishes that you’re too afraid to touch (kind of like “the chair” syndrome).

To prevent this from happening, you may want to clean your dishes and glassware right after you use them. An empty sink with no dishes will make your house look clean for a longer time. Plus, it’s easier to wash just one dish instead of twenty.

These are some simple little things that will only take you a few minutes at a time; but if you master these habits, then you won’t have to clean your home as often – because it will already be clean.

Author Bio: Nathan Raymond is the CEO of West Coast Restoration & Cleaning. “Ray” and his staff are experts in water and fire restoration, and mold removal, carpet cleaning, and much more.

Posted by HomeZada

5 Spring Cleaning Tips that Everyone Can Do in a Weekend

We love spring with all the blooms and warm weather that gets us outside. And we love that we are now opening our windows with some wonderful clean fresh scents from outside. As we have been cooped up for months in our homes, we now have the opportunity to get our homes sparkling. We have five simple spring cleaning tips that any homeowner can do this weekend. Let’s take a look at what these tips are and how you can get a sparkling house in just one weekend. 

Change out your winter bedding for spring bedding

Getting a good night’s sleep is oh so important. Your body temperature directly affects your ability for a good night’s sleep. When you remove your winter bedding and add those fresh crisp sheets, you have a luxurious bed to fall a sleep in. Throw the winter bedding in the wash, pack them away for next winter.

Launder your Bath Mats

Walk around your bathrooms, pick up any bath mats or bath rugs and throw them in the wash. Use a little scented detergent to add a little zest to your mats. These mats will feel good on your feet and smell great to boot in your bathrooms.

Vacuum your Draperies and Wipe Down Your Blinds

Quickly and gently use a vacuum extension and vacuum your draperies. Before you take this step, use a lint brush to first remove any lint and dust on the draperies. Once you have taken these two steps, you will see a fresh new set of draperies ready for clean sparkling windows.

Because you are at your windows, also wipe down or vacuum your blinds. Refer back to your manufacturers care instructions depending on the types of blinds you have installed. Some blinds like shutters, can be wiped down, while other blinds may need a vacuum or a blower on low heat to clean them.

Wipe Down your Baseboards, Doorways and Moldings

You may have baseboards, crown molding, and door molding that could use a wipe down after collecting dust all winter. Use a gentle disinfectant by spraying it on a rag and wipe down the molding areas in your home. You maybe on ladders, so be careful. And on floors, so watch your knees. But once these areas of your house are clean, you will have removed dust and grime that has accumulated throughout the winter.

Wipe down Light Switches, Doorknobs and Remote Controls

Each of these areas in your home, have hands that switch them on and off and open and close rooms. Hands that are dirty, oily and potentially full of bacteria. Spring is a great time to get rid of any germs that may have lingered from the winter to avoid any more illnesses that could come in the home.

With these simple spring cleaning tips, you can get your home in tip top shape, smelling fresh and happy!

 

Posted by HomeZada

Simple & Cheap: 7 All-Natural Recipes For Cleaning Your Home

Make the switch from store-bought cleaning products to natural solutions to save money and ditch toxins.

True neat freaks will go to any length to get their homes sparkling clean. But these days, even the most dirt-averse draw the line at products filled with harsh (and smelly!) chemicals. Plus, dragging potential toxins into your living space makes even less sense when cleaning everything in your home — from bathroom tile to wood floors to windows — might be as easy as raiding your pantry.

These seven recipes prove that everyday ingredients like baking soda, white vinegar, and lemon juice are all you need to get surfaces to gleam. Bonus: Making the switch to DIY natural cleaning products is a lot cheaper (just ask your grandma!).

1. Burnt-pan paste

Best for: Cast-iron and enamel pots and pans

The recipe: 2½ cups baking soda + 1½ cups salt + 2 tablespoons cream of tartar

Combine all three ingredients in a jar with a lid and store it in the kitchen. When you’re ready to use it, pour a spoonful or two into the soiled pot or pan. Add a few drops of water to form a paste (more or less as the job requires), dampen a sponge or mesh scrubber, and go to work. Rinse well and dry. (Note: It’s a good idea to do a spot test before you start scrubbing away, just to be sure your paste won’t scrub off your pan’s coating or finish.)

How it works: Cream of tartar, aka potassium bitartrate, is an acidic salt. The acidity helps dissolve caked-on grime, as do the baking soda and salt, both of which are mild abrasives.

2. Fridge deodorant

Best for: Cleaning and removing smells from your refrigerator

The recipe: 2 parts hot water + 1 part white vinegar + lemon zest (or a few drops of lemon essential oil)

Pour water and vinegar into a reusable spray bottle, cap the bottle, and shake it to combine. Then add zest or essential oil. Spritz the mixture inside the fridge, including shelves. Let it sit for a minute or two and wipe clean with a damp cloth. This concoction works great on fridge drawers too! For best results, pull out the drawers, empty the contents, and air- or wipe dry before putting everything back.

How it works: The combination of hot water and vinegar helps loosen up spills and eliminate odors. You get some antibacterial and antimicrobial action as well, thanks to the acetic acid found in vinegar. Don’t worry about vinegar’s pungent scent — it should evaporate once it dries, and the lemon essential oil or zest will leave everything smelling naturally fresh and clean.

3. Bathroom cleaner

Best for: Tubs, showers, and tile

The recipe: 2 parts baking soda + 1 part salt + 1 part washing soda

Pour all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Wet the bathroom surface with water, sprinkle the powder on the wet surface, and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Scrub with a stiff-bristled brush until the surface is clean, then rinse well with water. Tip: To make a container that will disperse the soap when you shake it, use an empty Parmesan cheese or large herb container (just wash and dry thoroughly first).

How it works: Like your favorite store-bought shake-and-scrub scouring powder, this powerful combo cuts through even the toughest scum. The tiny grains of salt, baking soda, and washing soda (a more powerful form of baking soda) help your scrub brush physically remove grime from tub and tile surfaces. (Borax works too in lieu of washing soda, but there’s some debate about its safety in cleaning products.)

4. Floor polish

Best for: Hardwood floors

The recipe: ½ cup white vinegar + 1 gallon warm water + 2 to 3 drops lemon or orange essential oil

Mix all the ingredients together in a bucket, mop the floor, and let it dry. That’s all there is to it.

How it works: To restore shine to hardwood floors, nothing is better than the gentle-but-effective duo of white vinegar and citrus essential oil. Diluted vinegar deodorizes, disinfects, and whisks away dirt and grime without damaging porous wood surfaces, while the EO conditions and leaves behind a fresh, subtle scent.

5. All-purpose cleaner

Best for: Countertops, walls, shelves

The recipe: Citrus peels + white vinegar
Add enough citrus peels to fill half a large jar, then pour vinegar over them to fill the jar. Put a lid on the jar and let the mixture infuse in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks. Strain the solids and pour the solution into a spray bottle, then use it as you would an all-purpose cleaner.

How it works: Unsurprisingly, vinegar — one of nature’s most powerful solvents — makes another appearance here. Citrus peels add extra degreasing power because they contain limonene, the active ingredient of citrus oil. Another reason to make this your everyday cleaner? The citrus scent may actually boost your mood. Try lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, or whatever citrus fruit you have on hand.

6. Furniture polish

Best for: Wood furniture and fixtures

The recipe: 1 part lemon juice + 2 parts olive oil

Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl, dab a little onto a microfiber cloth, and work into wooden furniture and fixtures in a circular motion.

How it works: Like vinegar, olive oil isn’t just for salad dressing! Here, it makes an ideal stand-in for conventional furniture polish. Furniture oils can be harsh on delicate surfaces, could cause skin allergies, and, in some cases, release harmful VOCs into the home. (And we’ll take lemon over an artificial pine fragrance any day.) Bonus: If you need an extra boost of cleaning power, try this all-natural homemade furniture polish recipe, which adds a dash of vinegar.

7. Glass cleaner

Best for: Windows and mirrors

The recipe: 2 cups water + ½ cup white or cider vinegar + ¼ cup rubbing alcohol + 1 to 2 drops citrus essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake lightly before every use. For best results, spray directly on a microfiber cloth or newspaper (paper towels can leave lint behind), then buff over glass. Do the windows in the morning or evening, or on an overcast day — when it’s hot and sunny, the solution can dry too quickly and streak.

How it works: Ammonia, formaldehyde, and bleach are just a few of the chemicals found in that ubiquitous blue stuff. This totally natural alternative really works, between the acidity of the vinegar and the grease-fighting action of the alcohol and citrus. Still seeing streaks? Try adding a couple drops of Castile soap.

Posted by Jill Russell on Trulia

How to Clean Hardwood Floors: Must-Know Tricks

Hardwood Floors: Preventive Maintenance

Cut hardwood-floor cleaning time with smart preventive maintenance. Position mats both outside and inside exterior doors to lessen tracked-in dirt. In snowy or rainy weather, include a boot removal area to avoid damage from water and de-icers.

Prevent marks by using floor protectors under furniture and by using rugs in play areas to ensure children’s toys don’t scratch the floor.

Hardwood Floors: Basic Care

Speed up the cleaning process by first dusting the floor with a mop that has been treated with a dusting agent to pick up dust, dirt, and pet hair that might scratch the floor surface. For weekly or biweekly cleaning, vacuum with a floor-brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner or an electric broom. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar attachment, which can scratch a wood floor’s finish. For quick dusting, use disposable electrostatic cloths, available at grocery and discount stores. Save money by using both sides of the disposable cloths.

Hardwood Floors: Deeper Cleaning

Dirt, oil, and grime build up over time and aren’t completely removed by a weekly dust mopping. For occasional deep cleaning (consider doing the cleaning in the spring or just before the winter holidays), use a wood-cleaning product diluted according to the label instructions. Saturate a sponge or rag mop in the water, then wring it almost dry so it feels only slightly damp to the touch. Damp-mop the floor, being careful to prevent standing water on the floor. Rinse with a clean mop dampened in clear water, but only if the cleaning product requires it. Wipe up excess liquid because standing water can damage wood surfaces. If the weather is humid, operate a ceiling fan or the air-conditioner to speed up drying.

Hardwood Floors: Removing Marks

Consider your floor’s finish before trying to remove a mark. If the stain is on the surface, your floor probably has a hard finish, such as urethane. If the stain has penetrated through to the wood, the floor probably has a soft oiled finish — common in older homes whose floors have not been refinished and resealed. Wipe surface stains from a hard finish with a soft, clean cloth. Never use sandpaper, steel wool, or harsh chemicals on such a surface because they can permanently damage the finish.

The following remedies are for hardwood floors with soft oiled finishes. If needed, end each treatment by staining the wood, then waxing and buffing the spot to match the rest of the floor.

  • Dark spots and pet stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the area is still dark, apply bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak into the wood for about an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth.
  • Heel marks: Use fine steel wool to rub in floor wax.
  • Oil-base stains: Rub the area with a soft cloth and dishwashing detergent to break down the grease. Rinse with clear water. If one or more applications don’t work, repeat the procedure. Keep children and pets out of the room until you’re done. Let the spot dry, then smooth the raised grain with fine sandpaper.
  • Water marks or white stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the stain goes deeper, lightly sand the floor and clean with fine steel wool and odorless mineral spirits.

See video and full post on Better Homes and Gardens

Spring Forward: 8 Smart Tasks To Do Every Daylight Savings Day


It’s almost time to move the clocks ahead an hour. But that’s not the only thing you should be doing on March 13.

Daylight savings time rolls around twice a year for most of the country, and while it may moderately disrupt your sleep schedule for a few days, the event is an excellent reminder to tackle those infrequent chores. Even if you own a piece of Phoenix, AZ, real estate (where the daylight savings time change is nonexistent), the days are slowly getting longer from now until the summer solstice, leaving you plenty of time to check off a few extra tasks.

Add these eight tasks to your daylight savings time change to-do list.

  1. Wash your windows. It’s an arduous chore that, thankfully, needs to be done only periodically. “Unless you have pets or small children who leave smudges, you may not need to clean the inside of the window,” says Donna Smallin Kuper, a certified housecleaning technician and small-space expert. (Pro tip: You can hire someone to do this for you for around $100.)
  2. Clean under rugs and appliances. Roll up your area rugs and vacuum underneath them. Pull out your stove and refrigerator and do the same. It’s also a good idea to gently vacuum your refrigerator coils, which will keep the fridge running properly. Be sure to unplug the fridge before doing this, and consult your user manual to find the location of the coils.
  3. Clean for safety. The daylight savings time change is a good reminder to change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. But while you’re at it, remove and wipe the detector cover with a damp cloth, then vacuum the interior to remove any dust particles, says Smallin Kuper. Check your dryer vents too, to make sure they are lint-free.
  4. Swap out your winter bedding. Remove your winter quilts and sheets and replace them with lighter-weight bedding. “Always launder these items before storing,” advises Smallin Kuper, adding that it helps keep moths at bay.
  5. Clean those hard-to-reach places. Working from high to low, start by wiping down ceiling fans and the tops of bookcases and other furniture with a duster that has an extending pole. Gently clean the inside of light fixtures and wipe down (cool) light bulbs to remove grime. Finally, dust baseboards and windowsills with a slightly damp microfiber cloth.
  6. Deep-clean carpets and rugs. If you haven’t done this before, it’s a sound idea to start now. “Many carpet manufacturers will void the warranty on carpets if they’re not professionally cleaned at least once every 12 to 18 months,” says Smallin Kuper.
  7. Declutter. Start with the obvious places, like your closet or junk drawer, but don’t skip the often-forgotten ones, like your bathroom and pantry. Go through your medicine cabinet and toss expired medications. Open up your cosmetic bag (or drawer) and throw out anything that looks a little grungy, and if you haven’t changed your toothbrush in a few months, swap it out for a new one. Toss anything in your pantry that’s expired and give your utensil drawer a once-over — are the knives too worn or in need of a little sharpening? Is there anything there that should be tossed?
  8. Clean your appliances. Wipe down the door of your stove, dishwasher, and fridge with warm, soapy water. Turn on the self-clean cycle in your oven and then tackle the inside of your dishwasher with a toothbrush and hot, soapy water, making sure to clean the rubber seal inside the door. Wipe away any debris with a leftover sponge, put a cup full of white vinegar on the top rack, and run a full cycle. When the cycle is done, wipe the inside of the dishwasher with a soft cloth.

Posted by Michelle Hainer on Trulia

5 Appliances to Take from Dull to Sparkling

Regular cleaning is something we must all do to keep a healthy and functioning home. But often, we forget about all the appliances we have and how to give them a bit of a deep clean to help them really sparkle. Here are five appliances that you can make sparkle with some simple cleaning tips. 

Coffee Makers

Using 3 parts water and 1 part white vinegar, your coffee maker will be refreshed and no longer carry the residue from pots of coffee made throughout the last several months. By taking this water and vinegar mixture and running it through your coffee pot like you are brewing a fresh pot of coffee, you will experience a cleaner tasting coffee the next time you are ready to brew your coffee. After running the mixture, clean the coffee pot carafes and filters like normal and you will be ready for a fresh pot of coffee.

Dishwasher

Many people forget about the dishwasher thinking that running dishes to clean will automatically clean the dishwasher. Unfortunately, your dishwasher can get clogged and still need a refresher rinse similar to that of your coffee pot. Using white vinegar by pouring about 1/2 – 1 cup in the bottom of your dishwasher, you can run a wash cycle and the the vinegar do its magic. You can also use a dishwasher cleaning tablet like Affresh. This tablet is also placed in the bottom of your dishwasher and with a wash cycle will also clean your dishwasher. Use a sponge to wipe down your doors and the sided of the dishwasher for any excess dirt.

Microwave

Mix 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup water, place it in a microwave safe bowl or cup and turn on your microwave for 2 – 5 minutes. The microwave will create a steam bath for the vinegar water mixture and this mixture will reduce any food accidentally left in your microwave. This mixture will also reduce food odors that have formed from the microwave food products. After performing this step, then use the mixture … be careful, it will be hot … and a sponge and wipe down the rest of the inside of the microwave and wallah … you have a sparkling clean microwave.

Oven

If you have a self cleaning oven, you can run this program and then using a damp sponge or rag wipe down the excess ash that cleaned away the food drippings. If you do not have a self cleaning oven, using oven clean or a baking soda paste (made with baking soda and water), spray or wipe the cleaner or paste on the the inside of the oven and let it sit overnight. Be sure to remove any racks and clean them separately. The next day, wipe down the inside of the oven and then if need be use a little vinegar and water with a couple drops of dishwashing detergent to wipe down any excess. Now you have a clean oven with no food odors ready for all your new dishes to share.

Washing Machine

You can naturally clean your washing machine with once again vinegar and baking soda. Using 1/2 – 1 cup of vinegar to run inside your machine for the first few minutes. Then you can add about 1/2 cup of baking soda and wipe down the inside of the machine in a temporary pause phase of your cycle. Then run the cycle completely without clothes in the machine. The rinse cycle will naturally rinse away the vinegar and baking soda. You will also need some cleaning solution to clean the areas of your machine that hold your softener or bleach. This can be done by wiping down the area or using a small brush to clean the area. You can also use a tablet formula to clean the inside of your washer if you want to make it easier for you. Tide makes a great product as does the Affresh organization.

With all this cleaning of major appliances, you will have fresh and clean food, dishes and laundry to eat, use and wear.

Posted on HomeZada