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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5 Simple Ways to Stage the Exterior of Your Home Before an Open House

If you’re selling your home, chances are good you’re familiar with the concept of staging your home. Real estate agents recommend your home look its best to prospective buyers, and home staging is a great way to ensure you receive top dollar. But did you know you should stage the exterior of your home too? Failing to update the look of your home’s exterior can cause buyers to get a bad first impression when they initially arrive to view your home.  Whether your audience are luxury home buyers or you are selling your starter home, staging the exterior of your home will have a major impact in the sale of your home.  If you want to put exterior home staging to work, here are five elements you should consider tweaking.

Clean Your Exterior Windows and Screens

Nothing says poor maintenance like dirty windows and window screens. If your windows are caked with dust or muck from the last rainstorm, open house visitors are going to wonder what other maintenance jobs you haven’t attended to. Don’t give visitors the opportunity to question whether your home has been properly maintained or not; clean those windows and screens before authorizing an open house.

Refresh Your Gardens and Walkways

Just like dirty windows are a real estate faux pas, so are unkempt flower beds. Weeds and overgrown bushes tell visitors you can’t be bothered with the small stuff. Spend a day removing weeds and trimming flowers, or hire a professional landscaper to refresh your gardens.  It is amazing what a refreshed garden can do to your home’s curb appeal.

Refresh Your Home’s Siding

No, you don’t have to replace your home’s siding prior to an open house. A quick power wash could be all it takes to remove years of dust and grime. You can attempt this task yourself, but it might be worth your while to hire a professional. Some homeowners have been known to damage their home’s siding by using too forceful a water stream. This is one task that is often best left to experienced professionals.  The last thing you want to deal with is replacing siding before an open house.

Update/Clean Door Fixtures and House Address Signage

Something as simple as a new doorknob or address signage can give your home a refreshed look. You needn’t spring for a new door; just update the faceplate and/or doorknob. Purchase new address numbers from the local hardware store and you’ll have tweaked the look of your home’s exterior in just a few minutes.

Clean Patio Furniture

Whether you have chairs on your front veranda or a dining set on your back deck, tired patio furniture can cost you big dollars when it comes time to negotiate with a potential homebuyer. Dilapidated patio furniture instantly gives a bad impression and can cause potential homebuyers to request replacement furniture as part of their deal. Spruce up your existing furniture with a quick power wash, or replace it if it is beyond cleaning.

Simple tweaks to the exterior of your home can have a big impact on your home’s final selling price. By spending just a few days improving the look of the outside of your home, you can increase the amount buyers are willing to offer and make your home the cleanest real estate listing on the block. Will you be trying these exterior home staging tricks when you list your home for sale?

 

Posted by Charles Muotoh on RISMedia

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

20 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • When listing your house for sale your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible!
  • There are many small projects that you can do to ensure this happens!
  • Your real estate agent will have a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help!

Posted by The KCM Crew

Your Anti-To-Do List: 7 Summer Chores You Can Skip

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Summertime brings not only booze-enhanced barbecues in the backyard and frenzied bocce tournaments on the lawn, but also a slew of home maintenance and housekeeping tasks. Buzzkill! But here’s some good news: You might be overdoing it. Experts say that certain tasks you might have assumed you have to do during the warm-weather months might not be as critical—or onerous—as you think. In case you’re looking to let certain items on your long to-do list slide, consider rethinking these tasks below so you can spend more of your summer having fun than slaving away.

1. Cleaning your grill

Now that barbecue weather is in full swing, many roll up their sleeves and set out to scour gunk off their grill. But watch out—doing so is not only unnecessary, but also potentially dangerous. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned Americans against wire grill-cleaning brushes because the bristles can come loose and get lodged in your food.

A far easier and safer alternative? Pop the grates in the oven and set it on the self-cleaning mode, then pop them in the dishwasher to rinse them off. And rub the grates with a little cooking oil to keep stuff from sticking. Here’s more on how to clean a grill.

2. Washing your windows

With all that bright sunlight streaming through your panes, it is suddenly a lot easier to see all the grime that accumulated through the winter. But here’s a little secret: Most of that gunk is on the outside—so there’s no need to clean both inside and out. Target the dirtier side, and you’ll be amazed by the difference you can make in half the time.

As for the screens, Green Cleaning Coach Leslie Reichert says not to worry about removing and washing them.

“Just wipe them with a large, looped microfiber cloth. The microfiber will capture the dust on the screen and make it look as clean as if you washed it.”

3. Dusting your drapes and curtains

Simply toss your curtains and (machine-washable) drapes into the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes on low.

“That will knock the dust off, and you won’t have to go through washing, drying, and ironing,” Reichert says.

4. Scrubbing your deck and outdoor furniture

“Get yourself an electric blower and power washer,” Reichert recommends. These two tools will do all the scrubbing for you.

“Use the blower to remove dirt and debris from your patio, deck, driveway, walkways, and even the sides of your house,” she says. Then, “the power washer will clean off all of the above.”

If you can’t afford to buy this equipment, you can rent a pressure washer or a blower from stores such as Home Depot.

5. Weeding your garden

Mulch your garden instead! Start by covering the ground around your plants with light-blocking biodegradable fabric. Then cover with two inches of mulch. This will keep weeds from taking over and will help your garden retain more water, resulting in a break on another summer chore: watering.

6. Laundering winter bedding

If you prefer lighter bedding when it gets hot, don’t worry about laundering it before putting it away.

“Place blankets in a vacuum-sealed bag and put them away until fall,” says Reichert. She says you can wait to launder them in the fall, when that freshly laundered bedding will feel nicer.

But realistically, there’s actually no need to swap out winter bedding for summer. The reason: All-season duvets are available that can cover you comfortably all year round.

7. Transitioning from your winter to summer wardrobe

Reality check: There’s no reason to store our winter sweaters under the bed to make room for T-shirts and shorts, provided you’ve purged your wardrobe of all the things you don’t wear. And rather than pulling out each item and hemming and hawing over whether it should stay or go, Reichert says there’s a much easier way: Weed it out in reverse.

Start by putting all your cold-weather clothes in a plastic bin and set it aside for the season. Next, put all your warm-weather clothes in another bin. As you use those clothes, launder and replace them in your closet and drawers.

“Anything that doesn’t come out of the summer container by the end of the summer gets given away,” Reichert says.

Plus, postpurge you’ve likely got tons of room in your closet and drawers, so you can keep everything where it is; just rearrange so your summer stuff is more easily within reach.

Now relax and enjoy the season. And save an emu burger for us.

 

Posted by Adriana Velez on realtor.com

10 Tips on Keeping Your Home Smelling Fresh

Have you ever walked in your home and something was just out of whack?  A stench takes your breath away when you walk into a room. You know what we are talking about … your home just stinks! Keeping your home smelling fresh can be simple with a few tips.

Flowers

Open Your Windows

That’s right, start by opening your windows to let the fresh air in. A good cleaning out of the house with fresh air is the perfect step to removing odors.

Add Fresh Flowers

If you do not have allergies and do have a few extra dollars, practice what some European countries practice. Get yourself some fresh flowers. Fresh flowers can brighten up a room but they also make a room smell so beautiful. Choose your favorite scented flower and keep in your favorite room. Lilacs and roses are great flowers that have vibrant scents.

Change Your Air Filters

Fresh air starts with the air flowing through your ventilation system. To have clean air and to keep your home healthy, remember to regularly change your air filters. Depending on the type of air filters you have, you will change them every 2 – 6 months. We recommend changing them at least four times in the year.

Add Scented Fragrances

Adding candles or plug ins or some other scented item to your home can step up and remove the stink from your abode. There are so many scented items to make your home smell good. Try using oils and reeds. Even natural fragrances like gently simmering herbs and cinnamon on stovetop with some water can make a home smell homey.

Clean Your Trash Cans

We quickly throw out trash and use bags to store it, thinking that these bags can protect the cans they cover. But our cans carry odors from our coffee grounds, left over foods, boxes and containers from yogurt and milk. These items carry odors that stay with the trash cans. Take the time and wash out the trash cans regularly, and practice using baking soda in your bags to limit the odors.

Run a Cleaning Solution in Your Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals naturally crush food to allow the flow of water in your sinks. But food creates odors. And therefore, your sinks can smell like a trash can. Using a disposal cleaner that you buy in the store is simple to run in your garbage disposal. Also using some white vinegar or ¼ of a whole lemon to clean the disposal is a good thing. To sharpen the disposal blades, add a few ice cubes to the disposal and run the disposal.

Clean your Washer

Fine smelling clothes can smell good on our bodies and in our closets. But foul, musty, and mildew scents can exist if you have a washing machine that has not been cleaned. Simply running some vinegar in a washing cycle without any clothes can clean any odors from the washer that can cause mildew like scents.

Run a solution through Your Dishwasher

Dishwashers are another area of the homes that have lingering odors from caked on food and dirty dishes. You can buy specific dishwasher cleaners from your store and run per the directions. Or like with the washing machine, use vinegar in the dishwasher to run a full empty cycle. Once you have run the cycle, you will have a fresh clean smelling dishwasher ready to take on any grime.

Clean Your Microwave

Like dishwashers, microwaves can carry ongoing smells from food. Food can also splatter on the walls of the microwave. So time to wipe down the inside of the microwave. Using a bowl of 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar, place it in the microwave. Turn the microwave on high for 4 – 6 minutes. Remove the bowl and wipe down the inside of the oven. Now a fresh smelling microwave.

Give your Pets a Bath

We love our pets and they are family. But our pets have fur and dander and pets do not take showers and baths regularly like we do. They go outside in the rain and sun to play in the grass. All fun things for our pets, but our pets then come in our homes and our homes can smell like a wet dog. Giving our pets baths regularly and brushing their fur will help keep our homes fresh and clean.

 

Posted on HomeZada

The Ultimate Guide to Funky Home Smells

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There are two definitions of funky: 1) something that’s cool, and 2) something that smells bad. For our purposes, we’ll be talking about the latter—and the tragic consequences if this stench is emanating from your home.

The problem is, you may be so accustomed to your home’s smell that you don’t even notice when your guests are knocked off their feet when they enter your home. And whether you’re just entertaining or are hoping to sell your home, off-putting smells can be a huge turnoff, even if your home is immaculate otherwise. To help, here’s your ultimate guide to all the odors that can assail your home and how to get rid of them once and for all.

Rotten food

Cause: Your refrigerator and garbage disposal are basically burping up decaying food.

What to do: Purge your refrigerator on a regular basis, and clean the shelves and drawers to remove rotten spilled liquid. Yes, this is gross. Do it.

“Use distilled white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and a microfiber cloth,” says cleaning expert Leslie Reichert. To rid your sink of stink, clear rotting food from the blades of your garbage disposal by putting ice cubes down it with some salt and frozen lemon peels.

Animal odors

Cause: The most common nose-crinkling smells in a home are caused by the furry friends that live with us, usually because they don’t always relieve themselves where they should. Odors can also be due to a lingering stench on animal fur, says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

What to do: If a cat or dog uses a carpet as a toilet, use a pet enzyme removal product such as Resolve on the offending area to remove all trace of the scent and find an effective way to deter your pet from a repeat performance in a spot it may consider its own.

For litter boxes, sprinkling a bit of baking soda can work wonders. If shedding is your nemesis, vacuuming the fur (off the floor and furniture) and spot-deodorizing should do the trick.

If all of the above do not work, removal of the offending furniture or rug is often the only way to resolve the issue, says Lesh.

Smelly carpets

Cause: Think of carpets as large sponges that absorb all the smells in your home—from pet odors to sweaty feet to pungent cooking, and beyond.

What to do: For large olfactory challenges, call in a steam cleaner. For smaller yet troublesome areas, put some cheap vodka in a spray bottle and lightly mist the carpeting.

“When the vodka evaporates, it will take the smells with it,” Reichert says.

Stinky AC

Cause: Your air conditioner dehumidifies the air as it cools, but stagnant water can collect in an AC unit, allowing mold and mildew to grow in the lingering moisture. This can result in a smell similar to sweaty extremities wafting from air vents, says Richard Ciresi, a multiple-unit franchisee of Aire Serv in Louisville, KY. And, in addition, if someone in your home smokes, the fumes can get pulled into the condenser coil and recycled into your home every time you run the AC, says Ciresi.

What to do: A quick cleaning and repair to help excess water drain properly should remedy a mildew issue. Since a dirty filter can also harbor mold growth, replace filters regularly. To banish  lingering smoke smells, clean the coil.

Mustiness

Cause: Water’s the culprit! “Basement smell” can severely affect the structural integrity of your home as well as your health. Although water can accumulate anywhere, areas where dampness tends to hide include the attic, basement, and bathrooms.

“If you have a water leak behind a wall or under a floor, wood rot may occur along with mold and mildew odors,” says Lesh.

What to do: Finding small leaks early can help prevent serious water damage and offending stenches.

“I recommend looking at the underside of the attic roof at least twice a year or after heavy rain/snowfall in the spring,” says Lesh. In a basement or crawl space, water accumulation is often caused by poor drainage from the roof. Keep your gutters clean and the downspouts flowing away from the foundation. And always dry out damp areas with a humidifier.

Burnt … something

Cause: You may smell a truly weird odor the first time you fire up your furnace in the fall. But relax, it’s typically from the accumulated dirt that falls into the floor ducts, says Lesh. This scent may permeate the entire house for a while when the debris first heats up.

What to do: Simple—clean the ducts before you turn your heat on each year.

A general stale scent

Cause: Stagnant air holds on to dust, dander, and dust mites.

“This usually happens in the summer and winter as we all keep our homes closed up because of air conditioning and heating,” says Reichert.

What to do: You can battle stale air just by opening a few windows once a week to increase air flow.

“Your home needs to have the air exchanged; and if you open some windows, you allow fresh air into the house and remove those stale odors,” says Reichert.

 

Posted by Margaret Heidenry on realtor.com