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

3 Steps to Creating an Organized Entryway (Even If You Don’t Have the Space)

With a little inspiration and organization, you can create an entryway that makes coming and going a breeze.

Drop zones, mudrooms, utility rooms, entryways, “places to leave your stuff.” Whatever you choose to call them, these spaces are invaluable as a spot to kick off your shoes, drop your keys, and keep everything you’ll need for the next day right where you left it.

Sometimes these spaces can be hard to come by, especially if you live in an apartment or studio. Without organization, shoes usually end up piled in front of the door waiting to trip an unsuspecting victim, and an array of backpacks, mail, dog leashes and knickknacks can clutter your home to the point of embarrassment.

Photo from Zillow listing.

But having a dedicated, organized and stylish drop zone for all of your daily needs — and to welcome your guests — is absolutely achievable, no matter the size or design of your living space.

Try these tips to establish a functional entryway in a home of any size.

Make a little room

Since it’s generally not possible to remodel or add on to a rental apartment, you must work with what you have.

Try a narrow console table for tight hallways as a place to drop your keys or leave your outgoing mail.

If space is really tight and all you have is the wall behind your door, hang hooks for coats and bags so they stay off the floor.

Another small-space trick: Temporarily remove your coat closet’s door, and add a stool or small bench inside as a place to sit and take off your shoes — and still have room for coats.

If your apartment is inside a secure building, you may be able to leave out a basket or tray for shoes in the shared hallway.

Add functionality

A mirror can also go a long way in opening up and brightening tight areas by reflecting light and giving the illusion of more space.

Retailers like IKEA sell modern pieces that can be modified to fit narrow spaces or hung on the wall. Measure your desired entryway space, and find furniture that will make the most of the room you have.

Having dedicated spaces for accessories also will make your drop zone a functional center. A devoted bowl or hook to hang your keys, a folder to sort your mail, and a basket to keep your shoes in really makes a difference in the flow of your day.

Leave a message

Bump practicality up a notch by having a message center in your drop zone where you can pin important reminders or leave messages for family members. It’s a great way to keep everyone connected as they go in and out.

A docking station to charge all your electronics can also be useful here. Look for compact and small accessories that will fit your space, yet serve the purpose you need.

By customizing your drop zone with features you need that will fit your home, you’ll keep everything streamlined and easy to find when you need it.

Posted by Erica Sooter on Zillow

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

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

Declutter Like A Boss: 15 Secrets From Professional Organizers

Experts share their top clutter-smashing strategies, so you never have to let clutter take up space in your home, budget, or mind ever again!

Most of us have it, but none of us want it. Clutter can overwhelm our lives if we let it — even our wallets can take a hit. According to the National Organization of Professional Organizers, unnecessary spending related to disorganization eats up as much as 20% of our annual budgets. Excess stuff, no matter what form it takes, can really take a mental toll, even making you less productive and more irritable.

The good news? Kicking off a full-on clean sweep isn’t as hard as you think. If you ask professional organizer Maria Gracia, founder of Get Organized Now!, spring is the perfect time to tackle clutter once and for all. “I prefer spring cleaning to involve the purging of anything that’s weighing heavy on you, whether it’s a cluttered garage, an overclogged to-do list, a bursting email inbox, or an ongoing argument with a loved one,” she says.

Are you ready to declutter your home? Follow these time-tested tips from organization experts.

  1. Follow the one-in, three-out rule. To declutter like a pro, first you have to think like one. That means throwing out the old “one in, one out” system, which “doesn’t do a thing to declutter your home — it basically just evens things out!” says Gracia. She instead sticks to a “one in, three out” policy: When you bring in anything new, three items in the same category (clothes, jewelry, toys, etc.) must be donated, recycled, or trashed.
  2. Don’t store beyond your space. A good rule of thumb to ward off clutter from the get-go is to purge all items you don’t reasonably have room to store. “If you own a house with wall-to-wall shelving in the den, you’ll have a lot of space for books,” says Jodie Watson, founder of Supreme Organization. “But try to keep a library’s worth of books in a studio apartment, and you’ll run into clutter issues pretty quickly.” The same idea applies to kitchen appliances, dishes, shoes, you name it — keep this in mind especially if you’re moving to a studio apartment for rent in Austin, TX, and closet space is limited.
  3. Color-code your closets. While you’re in the closet, arrange garments by color. “This will help you see if you have been accumulating black T-shirts over time or have an excessive amount of pink tanks,” says Ashley Murphy, co-founder of Neat Method. “You really won’t know until they’re all grouped together, and it makes the purging process much easier.”
  4. Sort the fridge. Similarly, Murphy suggests grouping like foods — such as sweet treats, salty snacks, and fresh fruits — in baskets in your fridge or pantry. That way, you can see exactly what you have. “It forces you to not overbuy. If it doesn’t fit in the designated basket, you don’t need it,” she says.
  5. Put hard-to-reach storage to work. Murphy advises clients to commit all of the out-of-reach spaces in a closet (the highest shelf, back corners, etc.) to special-occasion pieces. For example, you might stash dress shoes if you do most of your day-to-day work in a casual setting, or swimsuits if you live in a climate that’s typically cold. Then keep the heavy-rotation wardrobe items within easy reach.
  6. “File” everyday shoes. Closet on the small side? Consider loading flats, flip-flops, and sneakers vertically in a basket. “It takes up such a small amount of space but holds a ton of shoes,” says Murphy.
  7. Ditch packaging ASAP. As soon as you bring a product home (or as soon as something comes in the mail), take everything out and recycle the box or package immediately — and instantly reclaim that space. “Unless you plan on returning the item soon, there’s no reason to hold on to it,” says Julie Naylon of No Wire Hangers. “If something goes wrong, most companies won’t require the original packaging anyway.”
  8. Opt for paperless manuals. Yep, go ahead and recycle that product manual too. Steal this trick from Naylon before the paper piles up: “Whenever I buy a new product, I go online, type the model number into Google, and download a PDF of the manual onto my computer.”
  9. Organize first, then declutter. To make organizing and tossing easier, Watson suggests separating paperwork into categories first. “It’s much easier to address a smaller stack that’s either medical, financial, or home-related than to mentally jump back and forth and make decisions on each document pulled from a random pile,” she says.
  10. Toss excess office supplies. “There’s not one house I’ve been in that didn’t have an overflow of office supplies,” says Naylon. “If you can’t part with of some of your pens or paper clips, pack them up and keep them in back stock. You don’t need every pen you own cluttering up drawers.” This goes double for any freebie promotional pens that you rarely use.
  11. Purge idle projects. We all bite off more than we can chew at different times in our lives. If neglected projects (a half-knit sweater, a travel scrapbook you never got around to putting together) have been sucking up visible space around the house, it’s time to move on. “Be realistic about the projects you’ve been planning to do. Decide not to do two or three of them and let go of any items you’ve been keeping around ‘just in case,’” says Watson.
  12. Make things visible. “If kids can’t see what’s in a storage bin, they’ll never put things away properly,” says Murphy, who recommends see-through or mesh bins for toys and other kids’ stuff. Her pick: colorful locker bins from The Land of Nod, because they look great and “let little ones see that games go in one, dolls in another, and so on.”
  13. Use the right-sized containers. An overstuffed bin isn’t useful to anyone — you’ll never want to dig through it to get what you need. “If an entire group of items can’t fit inside one container, find a bigger one or break it up into two,” says Watson. On the flip side, don’t keep too few items in a larger container. That just wastes precious space.
  14. Conquer your inbox. Digital clutter weighs just as heavily as the tangible kind. To keep it from spiraling out of control, Gracia suggests making a standing daily date to deal with it. “Give yourself a set amount of time, like 15 minutes, to delete or respond at the same time every day. Set a timer and keep going until it sounds,” she says. On lighter days, take a few minutes to unsubscribe from newsletters and companies you’re no longer interested in, set spam filters, or sign up for a service like unroll.me. If things have gotten really dire, consider deleting all of it. Highlight everything and press “Delete” or change email services. “Then contact those in your address book, asking anyone awaiting a response to resend their question,” says Gracia.
  15. Use the rule of four. There’s nothing more intimidating than an overloaded to-do list. That’s where Gracia’s “rule of four” hack comes in: “Keep two lists: one master list for everything, and one called ‘To Do Today.’ Move only four items from the master list to the ‘today’ list, and only focus on those four until they’re done. At that point, you can move four more over. Every time you complete a set, reward yourself!”

 

Posted by Jill Russell on Trulia

New To Budgeting? Try The 50-20-30 Rule

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The 50-20-30 Rule makes budgeting simple so you can pay your bills, add to your savings, and set aside money for fun.

Budgeting isn’t always as complicated as it may seem — this simple formula makes it easy to allocate your money each month.

If you’re new to budgeting, figuring out how to manage your money each month can feel overwhelming. Not only do you need to organize, but you also have to make difficult decisions about how to spend your cash. Relying on the advice from others can help only so much, because your income and expenses are unique. Someone may be able to spend $4,000 per month on rent in Manhattan, NY, but that kind of spending may not work for you.

But there’s good news: You don’t need fancy finance apps on your phone, or complicated spreadsheets with countless spending categories to understand how much you can spend. You simply need to follow the 50-20-30 Rule.

 

What is the 50-20-30 Rule?

The 50-20-30 Rule helps you build a budget by using three spending categories:

  1. 50% of your income should go to living expenses and essentials. This includes your rent, utilities, and things like groceries and transportation for work.
  2. 20% of your income should go to financial goals, meaning your savings, investments, and debt-reduction payments (if you have debt, such as credit card payments).
  3. 30% of your income should be used for flexible spending. This is everything you buy that you want but don’t necessarily need (like money spent on movies and travel).

Keep in mind that the percentages for essentials and flexible spending are the maximum you should spend. Falling under those guidelines can leave more money for other financial goals.

How to start a 50-20-30 budget

Figure out what’s currently happening with your spending habits. First, look at your pay stubs to determine exactly how much money you bring home each month. That’s your income and what you’ll base your 50-20-30 split on. (If you’re self-employed, be careful to track your earnings and understand your average income per month so you can budget accordingly.)

Next, track your spending. Yes, every cent, from the big stuff such as rent, to the coffee that you grab on the way to work. (If you spend most of your income through credit and debit cards, these reports are easy to generate). Each of these should be categorized into the three 50-30-20 buckets mentioned above: essentials, financial goals, and flexible spending. From here, adjust your spending to ensure you’re falling into the 50-20-30 parameters. You may find that you’re overspending on stuff you want but don’t need, and that’s when it’s time to cut back.

Why the 50-20-30 Rule works

This budgeting plan keeps your personal finances simple so you can pay your bills, add to your savings, and have the freedom to use some money just for fun. And for the novice, the 50-20-30 Rule is a great starting point for learning the basics. There’s no uncertainty, your action steps are clear, and it even provides for savings, investments, and other financial goals. This makes it much more likely that you’ll stay the course over time, ultimately reaching your desired financial stability.

The 50-20-30 Rule also offers some flexibility. Do you spend more than 50% of your income on essentials? You can bend it a bit by altering the percentages to make it work better for you.

“It’s not about the exact percentage breakdown, because all budgets will be slightly different,” says Eric Roberge, a financial planner who specializes in helping professionals and entrepreneurs at Beyond Your Hammock. “The key is to take action and use a system to help you stay consistent in managing your money every month, and making sure you’re covering your expenses, being responsible by saving for tomorrow, and giving yourself some room to enjoy life today.”

 

Posted by Kali Hawlk on Trulia

 

ESSENTIAL WINTER HOME MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST ITEMS TO START NOW

It’s that time of year again when the days are shorter and the cold air means your home and family are going to start feeling the drop in the temperatures. While we all love the idea of cozying up around a warm fireplace while it’s blustery cold outside, most of us don’t enjoy our heating unit dying on the coldest night of the year! This season of colder weather termed the “hibernation season” is the hardest on your plumbing and HVAC systems, as well as on your family’s comfort. American Home Shield and I have compiled an essential winter home maintenance checklist that will help your home get ready for the hibernation season instead of suffering through it in regret. We also give you some handy tips for organization to ensure your family is ready for canceled school days and winter vacation.

Try these Plumbing Tips Before it Gets Too Cold: Protect Plumbing Guide from American Home Shield

For most homeowners, the thought of having to check your plumbing pipes inside and outside of the house is only thought of right before the first freeze of the season. The hibernation season means colder temperatures and this is the time to ensure your plumbing lines are ready:

1. Water Heater Home Maintenance: Before the cold season fully sets in consider draining your water heater from sediment that has built up. Over time small pieces of sediments similar to small grains of sand can slowly shorten the life of your water heater. Consider draining it during before winter temperatures plunge below freezing and your water heater has to work harder.

This hot water heater maintenance video from American Home Shield can help.

2. Plumbing Pipes: Leave water dripping in your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and any room you have sinks when temperatures are expected to plunge below freezing. Open under counter cabinet doors around pipes to keep air circulating.

3. Garden and Drain Hoses: Now that the weather is getting colder it is time to disconnect your garden hoses before water freezes inside of them! Disconnecting the hoses also helps your faucet not back up into your internal plumbing system inside your home when frozen.

  • Preventative Measures: For exterior water pipes and pipes consider covering them with insulated sleeves. These will help your pipes stay warmer than the outdoor freezing temperatures.

Ensure your Fireplace is Ready for a Warm, Crackling Fire:

When temperatures get cold many homeowners rely on their wood burning fireplaces to help heat their homes. Unfortunately, many accidents occur during the winter season due to dirty chimneys and improper ventilation can cause smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation. Here are some tips to make sure your fireplace is ready:

4. Winter Home Maintenance: Hire a professional chimney sweep: While there are creosote sweeping logs you can burn in your fireplace to remove creosote from your chimney, it is still important to have a professional take care of what you can’t see.

  • A chimney sweep will:
    • Inspect your chimney, smoke ducts, flue pipes
    • Help prevent soot fires and gas emissions by inspecting the firebox, smoke shelf and other areas of your fireplace that you can’t reach.

5. Tips you can do for fireplace safety: Once your fireplace is professionally cleaned each season try and keep the firebox free of soot and ashes before you start a new fire.

  • Open a window: When using a fireplace allow for fresh air into your home to prevent smoke build-up. Don’t worry the air coming in will go up through the chimney.
  • Keep flammable items away: Ensure furniture, throw rugs and blankets, pillows and other furnishings are at least 4-5 feet away from the fireplace while in use.

Keep your House Warm and Air Clean with these HVAC Maintenance Tips:

Your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning system (HVAC) are one of the most important systems in your home as it controls the comfort level, humidity, and quality of air in your household. During the colder months, your heating system or furnace can run double duty trying to compete with the outdoor temperatures. These American Home Shield recommended maintenance tips should be checked now to ensure a comfortable winter.

6. Hire an HVAC professional to inspect system: Each season your system should be inspected to ensure it’s working up to its potential. Higher energy bills and your home having problems heating and cooling could be signs of a larger problem.

7. Change your air filters monthly: This tip is one of the easiest because it doesn’t involve a professional and you can do it yourself. Check for the air filter size on the air handler unit and keep a few in storage so they’re no excuses when it’s time to change.

This American Home Shield video will show you

how to replace a furnace filter:

8. Learn how to properly use your thermostat: Many homeowners assume they know how to use their thermostat but several thermostats, especially Smart thermostats can actually learn your behaviors and lifestyle habit and adjust to save you energy. Take time to educate yourself and your family on how to properly use your thermostat before the cold weather sets in.

Organize and Clean your Home Before your Family Stays Indoors:

Each winter the opportunity for your family to stay in the house for longer periods of time is inevitable.Whether you’re getting ready for extended family and friends for the holidays or you’re gearing up for snow days from school, these organizing and cleaning tips from American Home Shield will help.

9. Clean out the kitchen and pantry: Have you noticed around hibernation season is when we like to cook, eat and entertain more? Your kitchen becomes the main hub of activity and cleaning out your refrigerator, pantry and utensil drawers will help the chef and family find exactly what they need. Throw out expired food in storage cabinets and why not install new shelf paper where one-too-many containers have spilled?

Food ingredients and green herbs on modern kitchen countertop.

Food ingredients and green herbs on modern kitchen countertop.

10. Declutter closets and entertaining rooms: Playing board games, video games, watching television and lounging around the family room are popular pastimes throughout the colder season. Before the chill sets in why not purge old toys and magazines? Donate old coats, boots and winter weather in your hall closet and give to charity or your local church. Visit your local discount store and stock up on new games, crossword puzzles and adult coloring books for those cold nights when the electricity goes out.

This hibernation season is going to be cold, but before it sets in you will be prepared with these home maintenance tips to ensure your family is warm, healthy and comfortable. If you’d like to find more tips from American Home Shield on preparing your home for winter, take a look at this video:

Is your home protected in case of an unforeseen problems occurs? American Home Shield can help with a home warranty. It can repair and replace all of your broken appliances and home systems.

Whether you are ensuring your plumbing and HVAC systems are working properly or you’re gearing up for more time indoors, you will be ready this winter season.

 

Posted by Ronique Gibson on stagetecture