The Complete Guide to Homemade Floor Cleaners

The Complete Guide to Homemade Floor Cleaners

Cleaning your floors can seem like such a huge task—after all, they do cover, well, your entire house—it can sometimes be tempting to skip it altogether. But unless you are ok with dust bunnies, dirt, and permanently wearing shoes around the house, cleaning your floors is a necessity.

So how do you tackle this mountain of a chore? Well, when you know what you are doing, you will soon find that it is actually a lot easier than you might have previously assumed. And we are here to help you to know what you are doing. First, some general tips:

  1. Consistency is key. Yes, it is annoying to have to keep cleaning such a large surface area of your house, but the job will be significantly easier if you keep it up. Sweeping and mopping your floors regularly will spread the work out, meaning you end up doing far less at one time, and professional or deep cleans are needed less often.
  2. There are a lot of companies trying to sell you fancy cleaners and their newest clean floor “solutions,” but the reality is that a well crafted homemade floor cleaner will do the job just as well.
  3. Don’t overuse soapy cleaners. Soap can tend to leave a residue behind, and attract dirt build-up. Your regular cleaning can often just be a mop with warm water.
  4. Buy a doormat. Most of the dirt and damage done to your floors comes from the shoes of visitors. Buy a doormat that will allow people to clean their shoes off before entering your house proper.

Maintenance and general care of your floor should, of course, differ according to what kind of floor surface you have. Read on for tips that are specific to each floor type.

Vinyl

  • Hairspray can build up on vinyl floors. You can create a homemade floor cleaner out of a solution of shampoo and water to clean up the residue.
  • Be careful when moving furniture in order to clean harder to reach areas. Dragging furniture can leave scratches on your vinyl flooring.
  • Don’t wax. Your floor should already have a natural shine, and any wax will only do damage, rather than improve that shine.
  • Avoid heady duty floor cleaners. For vinyl flooring, the gentlest possible methods should be used.

Linoleum

  • Linoleum is one of the toughest surfaces, so you can get away with most cleaning methods for it.
  • The best cleaner to use is a homemade floor cleaner—just a simple 50/50 water and white vinegar solution.
  • You can read more tips for heavy linoleum cleaning here.

Laminate

  • The most important thing to remember when cleaning laminate flooring is that too much water will cause the flooring to warp.
  • As a result, the best way to clean it is with a dry, microfiber mop.
  • You can also use a vacuum to suck up dust bunnies and so on.
  • For when you need more than a microfiber mop, you can make a homemade floor cleaner for laminate, by following the recipe here.

Hardwood

  • Hardwood floor is often expensive, so you want to make sure that you care for it properly.
  • Hardwood is another type of flooring where most of your cleaning will be dry, whether dry mopping or vacuuming.
  • When you do use water, wring out the mop thoroughly and go with the grain of the wood.
  • However, if your floors are lacquered or shellacked, do NOT use water, as it could stain the wood.
  • Buff the floor with a soft cloth when you are done.

Ceramic Tiles

  • A lot of the hard work when you have ceramic tiles comes with regular maintenance—this prevents dirt from sticking around.
  • Washing regularly with water is a great way to do this.
  • Make sure that you take care of your grout, as this is where dirt and age will really show. Seal it after installing your tiles, and reseal about twice a year.

As you can see, whatever kind of floor you have, there are usually plenty of cleaning solutions that require neither too much money, nor excessive amounts of effort. If you keep maintenance as a priority, you will find that the rest of the time your floors seem to take care of themselves—well, almost!

Cleaning Your Washer and Dryer

Cleaning Your Washer and Dryer

Here’s something that few homeowners have really thought about: how often do you clean your washer and your dryer? You would be forgiven for thinking that such a task was unnecessary—surely the clue is in the title, it is a “washer” after all. But the reality is that cleaning the washer and dryer is actually an important task for anyone who owns one.

Why Should Homeowners Worry About Cleaning Their Washers and Dryers?

You might think that cleaning appliances like washers and dryers comes down to nothing but having them look good, but there are actually many different reasons why it is important for homeowners to keep their washers and dryers—and appliances in general—in top condition. First and foremost, it is a safety issue. Things like dryer fires can be easily prevented by cleaning them and the surrounding areas at appropriate intervals.

Second, clean appliances run more efficiently. This makes life easier for you, and saves you money on utility bills in the process. Since this will also extend the life of each appliance, it will also save you money on the cost of replacing or repairing broken machines.

Finally, cleaning your washers and dryers makes them look good, and can improve what might otherwise be an unsightly part of your house. And who doesn’t want a nicer looking home?

How Often Should Washers and Dryers Be Cleaned?

While you can do a light clean of your washer and dryer every month or so, a full deep clean is only needed about once a year. Furthermore, you should replace the hoses that connect your washer to water outlets every three to five years.

How to Clean a Washer and Dryer

Now that we’ve established that every homeowner should know how to clean a washer and dryer, the question becomes, how? Here are a few tips to help you out:

  • For a top loading washer, be wary of dispensers getting clogged up with detergent. You can clean them out with soap and warm water.
  • Fill the empty machine with hot water and one cup of bleach. Leave it for an hour and then run the washer for a full cycle.
  • For a front loading machine, a common problem is a moldy door. Deal with this by using a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water to clean it thoroughly. Get at difficult to reach parts using a toothbrush.
  • For a dryer, make sure that you vacuum out your lint trap every month or so, to remove stubborn lint that sticks around, and check for and repair any tears.
  • Wipe down the inside of your dryer with a rag and a mild detergent or vinegar.
  • The outside of your machines can also be cleaned with most multi-surface cleaners.

If you really want to keep your appliances in the best possible condition, it will take more than a wash every so often—proper maintenance is the best and easiest way to do it. Here are some things that you should be doing in order to maintain your washer and dryer:

  • Always clean out the lint trap after each load of laundry.
  • Leave the washer door open to prevent mildew.
  • Never leave clothes in the washer overnight. Try to remove wet clothes as soon after washing as possible. This will also prevent mold and mildew.
  • Make sure that you are using the recommended amount of detergent, as more than necessary can harm or clog your washer.

You can see more tips and tricks for how to clean your washer and dryer by watching this YouTube video. The key to all of this is proper maintenance. It does not have to be an expensive or laborious addition to your regular cleaning routine, in fact it shouldn’t add much time or money at all—but the payoff will be great for both your house and your wallet. So take a little bit of time to familiarize yourself with your washer and your dryer, give them a good clean, and then commit to keep them in tip top condition for as long as you own them—which, if you do this, will be a very long time indeed.

Countertop Q&A: All About Rustoleum Countertop Coating

Countertop Q&A: All About Rustoleum Countertop Coating

Whether you consider yourself an expert chef or not, the chances are that spend an awful lot of time in your kitchen area. Kitchens are also the room of the house that has consistently the greatest influence on a home buyer, and the highest return on investment when you weigh up renovations against value added to the property. And besides all of that, it’s just nice to have nice things.

As such, you want nice countertops; but it can be difficult to keep up with the current home trends, and installing new countertops can soon become a costly and inconvenient process. For this reason, many people are turning to a countertop coating instead. If you are considering this, we are here to answer any questions you might have. Read on for a Rustoleum countertop coating Q and A.

What is rustoleum countertop coating?

Rustoleum countertop coating is best described as a sort of countertop veneer that can be applied like paint. It is intended as an alternative to buying and installing other countertops in what can amount to messy, expensive and lengthy renovations. They come in a variety of different colors and textures to imitate the look of the kinds of countertops that you want, but perhaps can’t afford.

What type of projects are best suited for rustoleum countertop coating?

Countertop coating, as opposed to brand new countertops, is a realistic alternative for many homes. Kitchens are one of the most visited areas of the house, and can easily look outdated within a few years of building or renovating. As a result, countertop coating is a good idea for people who do not have a lot of extra cash for brand new countertops every few years. Besides saving money, what situations are best suited for rustoleum coating?

  • For a home where space is lacking or the home is a little older, and different countertops may not be as easy to install.
  • If you are intending to move in the near future, and do not want to spend too much money on big renovations.
  • If you are renting and have permission from your landlord, or if you are a landlord and your property is prone to a lot of wear and tear.

What are some of the pros and cons of using rustoleum countertop coating?

Pros:

  • Low Cost
  • Fairly easy to apply
  • Do not have to hire outside help
  • Easy to touch up
  • Quicker than a kitchen renovation project

Cons:

  • Can take some time to dry (at least 3 days)
  • Smells strongly after application
  • Can be prone to scratches and marks

How do you apply the countertop coating?

Aside from the price, one of the things that makes a countertop coating so popular is the relative ease of applying it. You will be provided with a “countertop transformation” kit, and you can find a video on YouTube that outlines each of the basic countertop covering process, step by step. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a confident DIYer or handyman, you should have no problem following each step. You may want to watch the video a few times before getting started, and it is worth keeping it close by for reference while you are working.

What do I need to know about caring for my counters after applying the coating?

While the coating is good and fairly durable, there are a few things that you should know in order to keep your countertops looking in the best condition. As mentioned, they can be prone to cuts and marks, and as such should be treated with a certain amount of care (should you want to avoid this). If you cut things directly on the surface, you will find indentations, marks or even slices taken out of the coating. Furthermore, if you let something such as a plastic bag or paper with ink, parts can also get stuck permanently on the surface.

As previously stated, you can fix these problems by scraping the paint off and reapplying, but this can be rather a hassle if it happens constantly. Thus, it is best to make sure to avoid these problems in the first place, by always using a thick cutting board, and not placing grocery bags on the counter when wet.

Hopefully you now have a better idea of what to expect with rustoleum countertop coating, and can make a more informed decision for your home.

A Winter Maintenance Guide for Your Home

A Winter Maintenance Guide for Your Home

A lot of people talk about spring cleaning and the importance of getting your house and appliances tuned up for the summer, but maintenance should be a year-round endeavor, and there are few times of the year when it matters more than in the winter. Regardless of the age or quality of your home, it needs regular attention to ensure that everything is kept in working order throughout the cold winter months, and for years to come.

So, to make sure that you keep on top of things for the winter, here is a maintenance guide for your home.

Heating Tune Up
There are multiple reasons why you should get a heating check and tune up at the beginning of the winter—and not just because you will regret it once it gets cold and you have no heat! A heating system that runs well will be more effective and also save you energy costs. It is also essential in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning. Call in a handyman for a tune up, you’ll have peace of mind and it won’t break the bank.

Cleaning Your Fireplace
To get ready for those cold winter nights, you will probably want to give your fireplace a good clean before it gets too cold. You can of course do it yourself, but the easiest way to take care of it is through calling a chimney sweep.

Reverse Ceiling Fans
If you are able to—and most ceiling fans allow it—reverse your ceiling fans. This reverses the cooling effect that they have in the summer, and will help to fill the room with warm air. This might also be a good time to give the blades a dusting.

Change Air Filters
Fixing up your heating may not be as effective as you like if you neglect to change your air filters regularly. Changing your filters is also an important task in keeping your air clean. Luckily, you can buy filters in most superstores, and they are cheap and easy to switch out—just be sure to measure yours first so that you get the correct size.

Check Insulation
Another way in which heat is commonly lost in the winter is through poor insulation. Improving your home’s insulation does not mean that you have to open up and pad the walls, rather, checking for gaps around doors and windows, and adding caulking and draught stoppers where necessary.

Check for and Make Roof Repairs
After it snows is a bad time to figure out that you have leaks in your roof or loose shingles. If you roof is showing signs of wear and tear, hire a handyman to come and fix the problem areas.

Clean Your Fridge
The winter is also a good time to make sure that your refrigerator is in working order. Pull it out, vacuum behind and underneath it, clean its coils, defrost the freezer, and double check the temperature of both fridge and freezer (as the change in weather can affect them).

Clear Icicles and Ice Dams
As winter goes on, and you start to see more extreme weather, make sure that you keep on top of it. Leaving icicles hanging can actually damage your gutters or become a hazard to passers-by. Ice dams should also be dealt with before they cause expensive water damage.

Stock Up on Winter Essentials
These are just a few things that you need to take care of, in order to keep on top of home maintenance throughout the winter; but if there are any other potential problems springing up in your home, you should deal with them sooner rather than later. You might also want to take the opportunity to stock up on winter essentials such as snow shovels and salt, so that you are ready when the time comes. Take care of these essentials and you should have nothing to worry about this winter.

What You Need to Know About Appliance Insurance

What You Need to Know About Appliance Insurance

There are many situations in which you may want to consider an appliance warranty. You may have a home with older appliances that would be expensive to repair or replace, or you may be buying a home with existing appliances in unknown condition. You may even be buying a brand-new appliance from a major retailer like Best Buy.

Regardless of the situation, it’s important to understand how an appliance warranty works and the options available to you.

Extended Appliance Warranties

Many appliance retailers like Sears and Best Buy offer warranty plans when you buy an appliance. It’s important to understand the difference between this type of appliance insurance and a home warranty plan. In general, warranties offered by retailers and appliance companies are really just warranty plans for repairs outside of your manufacturer warranty. The biggest difference between the two is most companies and retailers require that you purchase the warranty when you buy the appliance. This means this option won’t help you cover your existing appliances or anything that comes with a new home.

Along with retailers, you may be considering appliance insurance through Square Trade, a company that offers protection plans on electronics and appliances. This type of plan covers failures that result from normal use an appliance and cover all parts and labor, but the coverage can be very expensive. Rather than covering all appliances in your home, you must purchase a separate policy for every appliance. For example, a refrigerator that cost $1,000 will require a protection plan that costs $260. Another major downside is you must buy the protection plan within 30 days of buying the appliance.

Home Warranties

A home warranty plan is typically a one-year service contract that you sign with a home warranty company. This warranty will cover repair and replacement of covered appliances and systems in your home. Depending on the coverage you choose, your total annual premium may be anywhere from $250 to $450.
If an appliance like a refrigerator or dryer breaks down, you will contact the warranty company, which will then send a licensed repair technician to your home. You will need to pay a service fee or deductible for each claim, but this is typically about $50 — far less than a normal service call. You will not have any additional costs such as labor or parts. If your appliance is beyond repair, the plan will cover the cost of replacement.

Virtually all of the appliances in your home can be covered with a single insurance plan, regardless of appliance age, make, and model. Many systems in your home such as your HVAC system and plumbing system are also covered by most plans.

If you are considering a home warranty plan with appliance insurance, make sure you do your research to choose a solid home warranty provider. Not all companies are equal, so start by looking for a company that has been around for many years, as well as a company that offers affordable service call fees, several appliance insurance coverage options, and warranty plans that cover most appliances.

Exploring Home Warranty Coverage Options

Home Service Warranty (HSC), the leading provider of home protection plans, offers several coverage options to give you the level of protection you want. The standard plan covers the appliances listed above, along with ceiling fans, electrical systems, heating and plumbing systems and toilets. The comprehensive coverage option includes all standard coverage as well as ductwork, gas leaks, doorbells, hot/cold water dispensers, pest control, plumbing stoppages, hot water pumps, sump pumps, water leaks, exhaust and attic fans, whirlpool motor and pump assemblies, and telephone wiring.

You can also choose optional cover add-ons. Each item has an additional cost. If you have more than one washer, dryer, dishwasher, water heater, refrigerator, or freezer in your home, you will need to buy add-on coverage. You can also add-on coverage for spas, roofs, jetted bathtubs, and water softeners.

How HSC Compares

You have many choices when you buy an appliance warranty. Unlike many home warranty companies, HSC guarantees service work for 90 days on parts and 30 days on labor. HSC also offers high limits for covered items, including up to $2,500 for HVAC systems, which is higher than almost any other company. Many companies, such as Choice Home Warranty and Select Home Warranty, limit coverage at just $1,000-$1,500. HSC also has among the lowest service fees in the industry. You can choose a policy that is effective immediately, whereas most companies have policies that only take effect after 30 days.

Virtually all of the appliances in your home can be covered with a single insurance plan, regardless of appliance age, make, and model. Many systems in your home such as your HVAC system and plumbing system are also covered by most plans.

If you are considering a home warranty plan with appliance insurance, make sure you do your research to choose a solid home warranty provider. Not all companies are equal, so start by looking for a company that has been around for many years, as well as a company that offers affordable service call fees, several appliance insurance coverage options, and warranty plans that cover most appliances.

Exploring Home Warranty Coverage Options

Home Service Warranty (HSC), the leading provider of home protection plans, offers several coverage options to give you the level of protection you want. The standard plan covers the appliances listed above, along with ceiling fans, electrical systems, heating and plumbing systems and toilets. The comprehensive coverage option includes all standard coverage as well as ductwork, gas leaks, doorbells, hot/cold water dispensers, pest control, plumbing stoppages, hot water pumps, sump pumps, water leaks, exhaust and attic fans, whirlpool motor and pump assemblies, and telephone wiring.

You can also choose optional cover add-ons. Each item has an additional cost. If you have more than one washer, dryer, dishwasher, water heater, refrigerator, or freezer in your home, you will need to buy add-on coverage. You can also add-on coverage for spas, roofs, jetted bathtubs, and water softeners.

How HSC Compares

You have many choices when you buy an appliance warranty. Unlike many home warranty companies, HSC guarantees service work for 90 days on parts and 30 days on labor. HSC also offers high limits for covered items, including up to $2,500 for HVAC systems, which is higher than almost any other company. Many companies, such as Choice Home Warranty and Select Home Warranty, limit coverage at just $1,000-$1,500. HSC also has among the lowest service fees in the industry. You can choose a policy that is effective immediately, whereas most companies have policies that only take effect after 30 days.

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