How to tackle deep-cleaning tasks around the house
(BPT) - You know it must be done, but you just don't want to. It's been on the to-do list for far too long. You may try to ignore it, dodge it or even cover it up. It's your mess nemesis — your least-favorite cleaning task — and you dread having to tackle it.
Not all cleaning is equal
While some people enjoy cleaning more than others, everyone can agree that not all cleaning tasks are created equal. In fact, 88% of American adults have a least-favorite cleaning task, according to a new survey from the makers of home cleaning brand CLR (pronounced "clear"). When asked to liken their least-favorite cleaning task to a person, 33% of Americans said it's like a scam caller. When asked to choose between activities, almost half (43%) would rather go to the dentist than handle their least-favorite cleaning task.
Cleaning during quarantine
Considering the extra time people are spending at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, messes are more frequent and can quickly become bothersome. The frequency of cleaning has increased for most Americans over the past several months, but Americans are, understandably, split on their level of cleaning productivity during this time: 53% have tackled a cleaning task they've been avoiding for years during the pandemic and 42% have avoided at least one cleaning task during the pandemic.
Tips for conquering a mess nemesis
Whether it's soap scum, mildew, rust, stinks, stains or spills, it's time to show your mess nemesis you mean business. Follow these tips to get the job done right:
1) Set a date: It's easy to keep avoiding tasks you loathe, so set a time for when you plan to focus on cleaning and be specific. For example, at 10 a.m. Saturday you're finally giving the boot to that lime and calcium buildup on the shower door. Put on some cleaning clothes, play some motivational music and focus on getting the job done once and for all.
2) Stock ample supplies: Stock necessities, such as sponges, scrubbers and rags, before diving into any cleaning mission. Having the right supplies for the specific job makes tasks simpler. Use proper cleaning formulations for your task, such as the CLR line that has products designed to get rid of the grime in areas of the home, from the kitchen and bathroom to the patio, garage and beyond.
3) Follow directions and use safer products: Always follow the directions on any product to ensure you get the results you want without making the mess worse or damaging the items. Use products that clean effectively without unnecessary use of harsh chemicals. Look for products approved by the EPA Safer Choice Program, meaning they’re recognized as a safer alternative to traditional cleaning options that rely on the use of harsh chemicals to be effective, such as bleach.
4) Rally the troops: Whether it's a big mess that requires multiple sets of hands or a tough mess that requires a few people strategizing, help can make a big difference. Even if you need to focus on the mess nemesis while other people handle regular household chores, this can keep things moving forward thanks to teamwork. Get your partner, spouse, kids or roommates in on the action.
Between sorting, washing, pouring, transferring, drying and folding, laundry can often feel like a daunting chore. While you can’t skip laundry completely, you can stop those baskets from overflowing with these time-saving tips.
5 Time-Saving Laundry Tips
(Family Features) Between sorting, washing, pouring, transferring, drying and folding, laundry can often feel like a daunting chore.
While you can’t skip laundry completely, you can stop those baskets from overflowing with these time-saving tips from the laundry experts at Whirlpool.
Sort clothes ahead of time. One way to make laundry more manageable is to sort as you go. Instead of tossing dirty clothes into a hamper, distribute items into separate bins. While the exact division depends on your wardrobe, you’ll want to separate dark and light colors, as well as clothing that needs special care.
Pretreat stains. Once a stained garment makes its way through the dryer, chances are the stain is set for life. Protect your clothes by pretreating stains as soon as possible to help keep even the toughest stains from setting in. If you’re unsure of how to treat a particular stain, such as spaghetti sauce or grass, Whirlpool offers a Stain Guide within its laundry app that provides helpful, step-by-step instructions*.
Keep your space organized. Just like it’s hard to cook in a messy kitchen or work at a cluttered desk, you’re less likely to be productive in a sloppy laundry room. Clean and organize your laundry area periodically so you have easy access to the supplies you need and a clean surface for folding fresh laundry or switching loads.
Take advantage of technology. New smart home technology is making laundry faster and easier, such as Whirlpool’s Smart Front Load Laundry Pair with the Load & Go™ dispenser. This innovative feature allows you to skip a step in your laundry routine by eliminating the need to measure out and add detergent every time you start a load for up to 40 loads**.
Whether you are on the run or across the room, you can control your washer and dryer using an app on your smartphone or a compatible voice-enabled device for hands-free assistance. You can track how much time is left on your load while cooking dinner, assign washing settings while enjoying family movie night or begin a cycle when running errands. Touch-screen technology also guides you to the correct washer or dryer presets, or you can pre-program cycles of your own to tackle specific care settings for items like baby clothing or bulky comforters.
Finish with ease. For some, it’s not the washing that makes laundry a drag, it’s the folding. Hitting the tumble button to shake out wrinkles is one solution, but there are alternatives. Use your dryer’s end-of-cycle buzzer as an easy way to keep track of when a load needs your attention or make folding a fun game with your family.
Find more information at whirlpool.com.
*Wi-Fi and app required. Features subject to change. Appliance must be set to Remote Enable for remote control capabilities. Details and privacy info at whirlpool.com/connect.
**Model WFW9620H. Based on an 8-pound load of laundry. The Load & Go™ dispenser capacity varies by model.SOURCE:
Warmer weather and more daylight hours bring renewed energy to truly enjoy your home with family and friends. Spring is a great time to get rid of the lingering grime and grit of winter to keep your clean home happening all season long. With a thorough home clean, you can create a vibrant living space for your day-to-day life, whether it’s playing with the kids, tackling your to-do list or simply relaxing. Here are three tips to help tackle some of the dirtiest places in and around your home.
(BPT) - Warmer weather and more daylight hours bring renewed energy to truly enjoy your home with family and friends. Spring is a great time to get rid of the lingering grime and grit of winter to keep your clean home happening all season long. With a thorough home clean, you can create a vibrant living space for your day-to-day life, whether it’s playing with the kids, tackling your to-do list or simply relaxing. Here are three tips to help tackle some of the dirtiest places in and around your home.
Wash your windows
You’ll be surprised how dirty your windows have gotten and how much brighter your home, and outlook, will feel once they are clean. First, remove the screens and use a vacuum’s extendable attachment to remove the loose gunk and dust. Then, wash with soapy water and a firm brush, rinse with a hose and let air dry. For especially dirty windows, first clean with soapy water, then move on to an even mix of water and white vinegar. While using a lint-free towel or cloth will help avoid streaks, a car windshield squeegee is the expert choice.
Tackle indoor surfaces
It’s important to make sure guests at your next get-together experience a clean and healthy home — but a full vacuum bag or clogged filter can reduce suction, leaving the dirt, dust and allergens that build up on many surfaces behind. For an ideal clean, make sure your vacuum is at its peak performance by replacing bags and filters. Arm & Hammer Premium Allergen bags and HEPA filters are designed to capture allergens, and need to be replaced every one to two months for bags and every three to six months for filters. If you have pets, use Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh Dry Carpet and Carpet and Upholstery Extractor Cleaners to neutralize pet odors and break down lingering stains.
Spruce up outdoors
Winter weather and activities can take a toll on the finishes and surfaces outside your home. Cleaning a few key areas will refresh your home’s look and feel as you spend more time enjoying your outdoor spaces for birthday parties, barbecues and more:
* Siding: No need to get complicated — first, rinse with a garden hose, then scrub the dirty areas with a brush and soapy water and rinse again. Make sure to avoid chlorine-based bleaches to keep surrounding plants healthy.
* Driveway and garage: First, soak up oil, stains and other nasty winter reminders by spreading a drying material, such as sawdust, on the stain. Leave it for one day before scrubbing with soap and water. A power washer can be used for particularly tough stains.
* Grill/barbecue: For gas grills, make sure the propane is disconnected. Then, soak the grates in hot soapy water and rinse. Scrub thoroughly under the hood and on the inside walls with a hard brush, first covering the heating elements, to get rid of grease and particles from last year. Wipe down with a damp towel.
With these tips, you are ready for a clean, healthy (and fun) season. For more tips, visit www.armhammervac.com.
(BPT) - Teenagers are at a point in their life where they are looking to make their own mark and find their own space. You want to give it to them, but as you start considering renovation ideas, how do you create a space your teen will appreciate?
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America knows all about satisfying the needs of teenagers from all walks of life, and since 2009, they have partnered with Lowe's to renovate clubs to ensure they are safe and inspiring places for youth. In 2016, the two organizations expanded their partnership with Renovation Across the Nation, a $2.5 million initiative to renovate one club in each of the 50 states. This year the program will provide $50,000 each to 50 additional clubs — one in each state.
Many clubs that receive this money use it to update their facilities for today’s teens so they have a desirable place to spend time after school. As they plan for the renovations, they get input from teen members and have learned some helpful insights about what teens look for in their own space. You can use these tips as well in your own home renovation project to create a space your teen will love.
* Make it a colorful, distinct area. Teens desire their own space where they can retreat and feel inspired. Paint the room with bright, vibrant colors that add a youthful vibe and select accessories with pops of color you can swap out as their tastes or trends change.
* Incorporate creativity. Giving teens access to items like art supplies, camera equipment and musical instruments encourages them to tap into their passions. Pay attention to what they’re interested in and make sure it has a place in their new space.
* Technology is key. Teens are used to having technology at their fingertips. Flat screens, charging stations and computers are tools that help them explore the future and are key to inspiring innovation. Find ways to infuse new technology, such as mood lighting, into the space to make it feel extra comfortable and cool for your teen.
* Create an environment for studying. Teens need a space that helps them focus on studying. Warm lighting and comfy chairs or bean bags help create a quiet, welcoming space for them to relax and learn. Create a homework station and your teen will have everything they need to stay organized and focused on their studies.
* Design a space they'll want to share with friends. As you're designing your space for your teen, be mindful of them inviting other teens over as well. If the space can easily handle multiple teenagers, it will be a place that can help them build new friendships or strengthen existing ones. At Boys & Girls Clubs, long tables encourage group activities, but in your teen's space it could be as simple as extra seating for their friends.
Creating a great space for your teen is possible by focusing on what makes them unique. Make the space personal and functional with these five tips, and you’ll create a space that your teenager, and their friends, can’t wait to enjoy.
To learn more about the Renovation Across the Nation grants program and in-store donation opportunities to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America at Lowe’s stores, visit BGCA.org. To find products and materials to renovate a room for your teen, visit Lowes.com.
(BPT) - Spring is the perfect time to shake things up with your home decor. As Mother Nature transforms her landscape with fresh buds and blooms, you're probably longing to refresh your home, too. These five easy craft projects are perfect family activities and the results will add touches of springtime throughout the house.
Rain boot wreath
Do you have a pair of rain boots your kids have grown out of? Use these as an adorable way to display silk flowers in the entryway. Simply select your favorite long-stem flowers from your local craft store (hint: tulips are perfect for spring). Have kids help arrange flowers inside boots and then hang with a large decorative ribbon on your door.
Thumbprint flower pots
Jazz up boring terracotta pots with acrylic paint and the tiny fingerprints from your mini helpers. Have kids wear a smock (acrylic paint can stain), then carefully dip fingertips into paint and press onto the pot. For example, red fingerprints can be turned into cute ladybugs with a few black details when dry. You can also use fingerprints to create flowers, butterflies and more.
Flip-flop welcome sign
Favorite warm-weather foot gear can be used to create a cute sign welcoming guests to your home. Buy four pairs of colorful flip flops from any dollar store. Line up and then adhere each side together with hot glue (eight flip-flops total glued together). On the heel of each sandal paint a letter from "Welcome!" When done, let kids adorn with colorful gems, stickers, and other fun spring details.
PEEPS spring centerpiece
PEEPS is the quintessential springtime candy, but is also great when used in crafts like this colorful centerpiece. Just follow these easy DIY directions and you'll create a centerpiece that will be a real conversation starter for kids and adults alike. For more project ideas, visit www.marshmallowpeeps.com.
4-inch cube vase
6-inch cube vase
30 Gerbera Daisies or silk flowers of choice
20 PEEPS Bunnies
1. Center one vase inside the other and insert jelly beans (in any colors you like) between the walls of the two cubes.
2. Place PEEPS on top of jelly beans, making sure to save a few for the corners of the vase. Don't be afraid to squeeze them into the space. You should have enough to fill in any gaps.
3. Gerberas are usually sold with plastic tubes on the stems for support. Keeping the plastic in place, cut the flowers to desired length and arrange them in the smaller vase.
4. Cutting shorter stems for the outside flowers and longer stems for the inner ones will give you a nice rounded top. And don't skimp on flowers: If you don't want to use that many gerberas, find a pair of smaller vases.
Pastel painted pine cones
Take kids on a nature walk and collect pine cones. Brush off dirt and allow to dry if moist. Then, lay out paper and have kids paint pine cones in festive pastel colors. Mint green, soft pink and sky blue are classic spring hues. Once dry, display in a decorative bowl and hang from strings in front of a window.
Capture your teen's authentic self with senior portraits
(BPT) - Here it is, the final year of high school. A year from now, nothing will be the same, so this is, no doubt, an exciting and often nostalgic time for the entire family. As this final year of high school begins, now's the time to think about senior portraits.
Of course, you want your teen to be on board with the entire process so you have a collection of beautiful images you will treasure forever.
“This is such an exciting time for high school seniors and their parents. It’s the culmination of their childhood, and while parents see the young adult before them, they also see the child they’ve watched grow up. These photographs will forever be part of their story and should reflect not only who the senior is, but who they’ve been and who they will be,” says Angela Kurkian, a professional photographer who has 22 years of experience.
Here are some tips to help you, as parents, guide the process so you end up with photos that you love because they are an authentic expression of your child.
Map out where the photos will live.
From one photo session, you will be using several images to suit several purposes. Make a list and consider what you will need ahead of time. A wall portrait that becomes the focal point of a room? A collection of several smaller framed pieces? Some images will look stunning displayed as a large print on a wall, but will get lost in a smaller layout, such as a yearbook space or a small frame. While many people think about the main portrait, don’t forget you will also need some options with a simple, uncluttered background that just showcases the most important thing in a portrait: the face. At this early stage, discuss with your teen what they want from the session so you can head off any potential conflict.
Focus on your teen’s personality.
Now that the head shots are settled, think about the big portrait. Here, you’ll be thinking about style, setting and how the photo is shot so your teen can let their personality shine, and you can preserve that special memory of where they were at this time in their youth. Talk with your teen about how they want to express themselves, whether it's getting their game face on or going with a candid portrait in a natural setting they love spending time in.
The next step is to review a variety of portfolios, and narrow them down to a few photographers who have images that show the style and personality you are looking for.
Choose a professional photographer.
Recently, we spoke with seasoned and highly awarded photographer, Dan McClanahan. If there is one thing that he has seen, it’s plenty of clients who were disappointed with how their senior portraits came out after turning to a family friend or a relative who is an amateur photographer. High school senior portraits are just too critical to take a risk on someone who hasn’t yet demonstrated they can get consistently great results. That’s why you get the best images from a professional. To find a professional photographer in your area, visit the website for the Professional Photographers of America. It’s a non-profit that allows you to search, sort by specialty, locate, browse through portfolios, and even contact qualified photographers in your area.
“When you work with a professional photographer, you’re paying for the artistic and technical knowledge to capture and preserve your graduate’s unique personality,” McClanahan says. “Not only that, he or she will have the experience to make your graduate feel comfortable."
Before you make your final selection, see if you can meet with the photographer in person. Not only will you plan the session together, it might also help you and your teen feel more comfortable.
“And whether or not you can meet beforehand,” McClanahan says, “photographers are pros at getting our subjects to feel at ease. That’s what we do.”
Choose the right outfits.
Have this discussion ahead of time in a conversational way. Teens often feel very comfortable and happy in their favorite clothes, whether their style is casual or bold and individualistic. Be sure to respect their preferences while having the talk about choosing clothing that will look flattering in a photo today and years to come. No matter what, the style of the decade will be part and parcel of the image — that is impossible to avoid. Still, you’ll want to avoid busy prints and logos to avoid looking overly dated.
“Depending on the background or the lighting conditions, different fabrics, colors and textures can result in stunning, unique effects in a senior portrait,” McClanahan says. “And this is why you should never shy away from asking your photographers what outfits or colors might work best. We do this every day and know what ends up looking good on camera.”
Whatever the look, make sure your teen feels comfortable and at ease. Because if there is one thing McClanahan has learned, people look their best when they are feeling great.
For more tips on working with a photographer, or to find a qualified photographer in your area, go to FindaPhotographer.com/SeniorPortrait. Don’t let the years go by and the memories slip away. Consider getting a session done with your teens. Time files too quickly!
Put your personal touch on your home’s decor with crafting projects that highlight the best of fall: copper detail, animal icons and pumpkins of every color, including white. Create a seasonal tablescape or mantel decoration with these Harvest Fall Lanterns or apply an outdoorsy look with a Birch Wreath.
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