7 Fast, Effective Garage Door Safety Tips

(BPT) – You probably put little thought into your garage door. You touch a button. The door opens, closes and you go about your day.

While the garage door – the largest, heaviest moving object in your home – serves as the primary entry point of the home to many of us, it can also be dangerous if not used and maintained properly.

June is Garage Door Safety Month, and it’s a great time for all homeowners to review important safety tips. Many of these are highlighted in a new safety video at GarageDoorCare.com, a non-commercial website dedicated to helping homeowners understand how garage doors work. The video is available in both English and Spanish.

Here are a few tips to help keep your family safe:

1. Always keep hands and fingers away from moving parts. Never touch a garage door or its components while the door is in motion.

2. Remotes and openers aren’t toys; however, the buttons may be very attractive to children. Take precautions to keep them out of little ones’ reach.

3. Children should not be able to reach wall-mounted controls. Be sure to install push-button wall controls at least 5 feet off the ground.

4. Children and adults should never stand, run or play under a garage door. When a garage door is moving, be sure to stand at least several yards away.

5. Never try to enter or exit the garage by racing under a moving garage door.

6. When opening or closing the garage door, always keep the door in view until the door is fully opened or fully closed. Make certain that no adults, children or animals try to enter or exit while the door is moving.

7. Homeowners can – and should – perform simple chores such as semi-annual lubrication of garage door hinges, rollers and springs. Other tasks like spring repair/replacement, track and roller repair/replacement and door installation are best left to trained service professionals to ensure the work is done properly and to avoid potential injuries.

Visit GarageDoorCare.com and click on the Find a Qualified Professional tab to locate a qualified professional nearby. The International Door Association, a worldwide association of leading garage door and access professionals, sponsors GarageDoorCare.com.

IDA members are committed to operating businesses under the IDA Code of Business Conduct, a commitment to professionalism and safety that helps homeowners avoid unscrupulous firms that impose unneeded parts and repairs that result in inflated bills. Find a professional before you need one – then if you need help with your garage door, you’ll know the service work will be completed properly at a fair price.

How to Blend Contrasting Materials for High-Impact Design

30318630_original(BPT) – The melding of contrasting materials throughout the home is a sophisticated way to add visual interest and depth to your design. Bold finishes coupled with muted color tones create an eye-catching statement, while natural wood combined with cool metal boasts a stunning blend of nature and machinery. From partnering unconventional textures to pairing deep wood tones with warm gold finishes, mixing materials in a space poses a refreshing take on luxury design for each room of the home.

Textured Charm

Incorporating different textures with furniture, textiles and accessories can add layers of visual and tactile appeal to a living space. Create an elegant, yet contemporary design by complementing white wooden floors with shag rugs and velvet accent pillows in neutral colors of blush and dusty blue on cream or light gray upholstery. The contrast of a coarse wool throw draped over a smooth leather chair quickly adds texture to a sitting room. For tabletop décor, brushed silver and wood statement pieces in tiered sizes radiate a deluxe aesthetic to draw the eye to a central gathering point.

Exposed Materials

Exposed brick and wooden beams bring a modern, industrial vibe to any space, while doubling as focal points in a room. From urban-rustic to contemporary environments, the rugged masculinity of the exposed elements can be balanced by soft, feminine touches to suit a multitude of design preferences. Incorporate scalloped linens and delicate prints framed in brushed gold to instantly soften and brighten the room. Reinvigorate a traditional design statement by offsetting rich, jewel tones with a neutral or light color scheme and warm metals.

Naturally Inspired

The infusion of metal and natural accents into one space brings a clean, spa-like aesthetic to the home’s oasis – the bath. Live plants and bamboo décor bring an element of the natural environment into the space, enhancing the tranquil atmosphere. The teak wood accents with the chrome or nickel handles in the Litze Bath Collection by Brizo exemplify a beautiful marriage of manmade and earthy details, evoking a unique sophistication.

Sophisticated Luxury

Deep wood tones combined with metallic and brass finishes bring refinement to any room, especially the kitchen. Darker grains, such as walnut and mahogany, emanate refined luxury, while cabinet hardware, backsplashes and modern barstools in bright metal finishes instantly capture the eye’s attention. Adding hanging light fixtures in varying heights add depth and dimension. Complete the space with minimalist furniture, such as a sleek kitchen table and structural chairs stained in cocoa tones, to bring all pieces of the room together for a cohesive look that is both polished and inviting.

3 Super-Simple Ways to Create a Barefoot Friendly Backyard Deck

30774267_original(BPT) – When the sun is out and the sky is blue, your deck should be one of the most popular areas in your yard. But, if deck boards leave you with splinters or burned feet on hot summer days, there may be little incentive to spend time in your open-air getaway. The good news is this problem is easily preventable. With the right plan, you can build a barefoot-friendly backyard deck that will be the hub of your outdoor living space for years to come. Start with these three super-simple steps. It’s a choice your feet and pets will appreciate.

1. Create a Smooth Surface Underfoot

Few building materials take more punishment than decking. Whether it spends hours under scorching sunlight, withstands wintertime blizzards or gets soaked during water fights and pool parties, your decking is bound to take abuse from the elements. Selecting deck boards that can withstand these harsh conditions is critical to ensuring a smooth surface underfoot.

Exposure to moisture and the sun’s UV rays can deteriorate wood decking, particularly if it’s not maintained regularly and correctly. While composite decking provides greater durability, several brands have been known to rot, crack or warp as a result of moisture intrusion.

To keep your deck looking good no matter what the weather, consider composite decking made of small-size wood fibers that are fully encased in plastic. This protects against moisture intrusion all the way to the board’s core, and such boards will not rot or warp, preventing dangerous cracks and splinters from forming. To create an even smoother surface, install the composite deck boards with hidden fasteners. This technique eliminates popped nails, dimples from screws and other hazards to warm-weather fun.

2. Beat the Heat

Once you’ve narrowed your composite decking selection to brands that can withstand the toughest Mother Nature can throw their way, look for ways to beat the heat. When the sun is blazing, the plastic in composite decking can retain heat and become uncomfortable to walk on with bare feet.

One great way to avoid the hot-foot hustle dance without compromising on your deck’s surface appearance is to use composite decking with innovative cooling technology. “Homeowners know even the most stunning composite deck will disappoint if it’s too warm to walk on during the peak days of summer,” said Randy Gottlieb, A.E.R.T. president. “Recently introduced products like ChoiceDek Premium composite decking with CoolDeck technology help solve this problem. By combining a durable core with a cap that is specifically engineered to optimize heat reflection and minimize heat absorption, the boards make for a more comfortable deck on sunny days.”

If you live in an area where the sun’s rays are hot year-around, you may also want to consider using shade structures to help provide relief from direct sunlight and reduce the temperature on deck. Pergolas, lattices and breezy overhead fabrics can block the sun beautifully and add to your deck’s style.

3. Prevent Slips on Deck

If you’re installing decking near a pool or hot tub, live in close proximity to the water or experience frequent rain, it’s also important to protect against slips. Composite deck boards with a textured, wood-embossed surface have a higher coefficient of friction and better slip resistance than PVC and composite decking products with a non-embossed surface. The added traction will help friends and family stay steady on their feet as they enjoy your outdoor living area, and help ensure the party never has to pause for injuries.

Add Living Space to Your Home With an Easy Patio Makeover

30999742_original(BPT) – Everyone looks forward to a shift into summer mode, with its sun-soaked days, flower-scented breezes and velvety nights under the stars.

Now’s the time to take advantage of a golden opportunity right outside your door. Celebrate summer and all it offers by recreating your outdoor space. Whether it’s a balcony, a patio or a deck, a few touches are all you need to turn it into a highly functional living space.

When done right, a patio makeover is like a boost to your home’s square footage of living space without straining your wallet. Think of the patio as a summer room, and the possibilities really open up.

One approach to making your summer room perfect is to start by thinking of your needs and what you love to do. If you could add any room to your home, what would it be, and what would you use it for? Then, turn to a resource like Big Lots, which offers everything you need to build that summer room, while keeping you within budget.

Your Summer Living Room

Transform any outdoor space into a relaxing oasis that’s perfect for unwinding and summer daydreams. Your key piece is a comfortable outdoor couch you can really sink into.

It’s always best to start with a neutral-colored cushion, then work the accessories and accent pieces, including side tables, brightly colored throw pillows and outdoor lanterns to make the space feel extra homey and just like an authentic living room. These decor pieces can be easily and affordably switched out year-over-year to make your outdoor space feel fresh and new.

With an easy assembly gazebo, you can also keep the space cool and comfortable in the heat of the day.

Finally, if your patio faces an open or public area, a row of evergreens planted in large colorful pots will transform it into an intimate space with a perfect touch of nature.

Your Summer Party Room

With the right pieces, you can set the scene for any gathering of friends and family. Start with ample seating. Add to the traditional living room setup with an outdoor cushioned bench, and position some accent chairs and tables in a nook or two for conversation clusters. A patterned outdoor rug also helps to delineate spaces on a large patio or deck.

A fire pit always creates a natural centerpiece and gathering spot. Some designs take this up a notch and incorporate the soft glow of fire right into a tabletop, making it easy to talk long into the summer night. As a finishing touch, be sure to have a wireless speaker and playlist ready to set the mood with music.

Your Summer Kitchen

The downside of summer living is building up unwanted heat in the kitchen from cooking dinner. The best solution is to take it outside. Don’t limit the grill to weekends and burgers and brats. Explore the many grilling recipes out there to expand your repertoire. While you’re doing this, set up your patio as an outdoor cooking station that’s ready to go whenever you’re ready to start cooking.

Set up a sturdy table for prepping veggies and meats and a selection of lightweight, outdoor serving dishes. The variety of colors and designs are endless and add to the space aesthetic. (Just as you would indoors, make sure the surface is clean before you get started.) Use colorful crates to keep grilling tools, potholders and outdoor dishes and glassware organized and handy.

Finally, pick up some bright-colored pots that match your decor style and plant rosemary, parsley, basil and other herbs so they’re within easy reach to add fresh flavors to your grilled fish and chicken, as well as those tasty summer veggies. These potted plants also make for beautiful, easy centerpieces.

Your Summer Dining Room

Dining outside is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy food as well as the company of your family and friends. When you choose a patio table, choose one with ample seating, and keep things comfortable and colorful with waterproof cushions. Umbrellas can throw shade on a sun-drenched deck or patio, making daytime dining (or your morning coffee time) more pleasant and easy on the eyes. If you’re looking for something different, a patio umbrella outfitted with lights on the underside will let you linger over dinner longer.

Creating beautiful outdoor spaces can be easy, but it also doesn’t have to break the budget. Big Lots has a wide variety of affordable patio furniture and décor so you can create an outdoor scene with indoor style. Visit BigLots.com or a store near you for all your patio and outdoor accessory needs.

Big Impact Ideas for Small Patio Spaces

30483197_original(BPT) – Do you have a small patio? Do you think you can’t do much with the space due to its size? There’s probably a lot more potential than you think.

From the influx of urban dwellers, empty-nesters in transition and even the tiny-home movement, the trend of downsizing continues across the United States. Contrary to popular belief, you can have an impressive patio even if you have a smaller abode.

Here are a few design ideas to help bring your limited patio area to life while maximizing the space:

Rugs

Add visual interest under foot with a patterned rug. A rug properly placed under a table can break up a smaller floor, giving the illusion of more square footage. Colored rugs are readily available in a variety of designs. Pick your favorite striped, chevron or paisley variety and see what a difference it makes.

Water Features

The natural elegance, gentle gurgle and sparkle of a flowing water feature can add a sense of peacefulness to any patio. For smaller spaces, easily turn a decorative waterproof container or planter into a beckoning water feature by simply adding water and a smartpond Low Water Shut-off Fountain Pump. This smart pump automatically shuts off if the water becomes too low, preventing pump burnout. It’s also a great replacement pump option to revive a decorative premade fountain that has quit working. Learn more at www.smart-pond.com.

Think Vertical

To get the most out of a limited space, think upward instead of outward. Hanging plants are a classic option, but vertical wall gardens are a top trend that’s sure to be a conversation starter. You’ll enjoy plenty of greenery but also open floor space for your furniture, water feature and entertaining to ensure a welcoming area for hosting summer parties.

Built-Ins

To get the most out of every inch of your petite patio, look for furniture and features that multitask to help save space while maximizing functionality. An easy solution is to opt for a table that opens to become a cooler for beverages or a bench to hold blankets and other patio extras. Just remember to keep scale in mind so you don’t overwhelm your space with massive furniture.

Mixing Materials

Matching is out for 2017, so forget about perfectly paired combos and explore a variety of decor. A great way to try this trend is to add visual interest by experimenting with different materials. Inject your own personality through various finishes. One example: consider setting black resin pots next to a handwoven wicker for an eclectic blend of textures.

Vibrant Colors

Don’t make the mistake of thinking a small space must have muted colors. Vibrant hues inject energy and style, often making a small patio feel larger than it is in real life. From ocean blues to ferocious fuchsia, an accent pillow here and a throw blanket there will transform your space dramatically.

From DIY water features to vertical gardens, a small patio doesn’t have to be short on style or functionality. Let these top trends guide you to create a space you’ll enjoy all year long.

Getting Smarter About Temperature Control

30365146_original(BPT) – The key to reducing your home’s energy bills could literally be at your fingertips, hanging on the wall of your home. Multiple studies have shown the connection between lower energy bills and thermostat settings. In fact, reducing thermostat settings just seven to 10 degrees for eight hours per day can reduce heating and cooling use by 10 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Smarter Thermostats, Greater Efficiency

With smart home automation, homeowners can use a home comfort system to actively manage their comfort and energy usage. This greater ability to match the system performance to individual lifestyles puts the homeowner in a position of power when it comes to managing their energy usage. And in terms of home comfort, that control typically starts with the thermostat.

Thermostats often serve as the touchpoint that integrates with the larger system to provide the simplest, most user-friendly interface for the homeowner. So, it’s important for homeowners to understand the different types of thermostats available to them and how they can improve comfort and efficiency:

* A conventional thermostat lets the homeowner adjust the temperature using a traditional dial or control panel.

* Smart thermostats monitor user behavior and dynamically adjust system performance for consistent comfort and maximized efficiency.

* Connected thermostats bridge the gap between the two, offering remote operation, but still rely on the user for direction.

Smart thermostats, like Champion’s Momentum Hx Touch-screen Thermostat, manage automation by communicating wirelessly with home heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to maximize efficiency. Smart thermostats learn better than humans, and can automatically adjust temperature programming to match your lifestyle while maximizing efficiency and savings. As part of a complete system, the Wi-Fi-enabled Momentum thermostat allows users to monitor and control systems remotely with an app from any internet-enabled mobile device, and can even notify homeowners of developing problems.

Looking Beyond the Thermostat

The number of connected households that have smart thermostats more than doubled in the past two years, according to market research firm Parks Associates. With 36 percent of broadband-using households interested in a system that manages and monitors their home energy use, Parks Associates predict that half of all American homes will be smart homes by 2020.

Energy consumption starts with the overall heating and cooling equipment; thermostat watts are just a small portion of energy consumption. Purchasing home automation products designed and manufactured to work with the homeowner’s specific comfort system is the best way to maximize performance and energy savings. And, homeowners should start with buying energy-efficient equipment.

“It’s important to remember that “smart” isn’t just the thermostat – it’s an overall connected system,” said Jedidiah Bentz, director, Advanced Systems, Controls & Technology, Johnson Controls. “A complete home comfort system goes beyond the thermostat to offer energy saving benefits.”

To learn more about Champion home comfort systems, visit www.championhomecomfort.com/smarthome or follow @Champion_HVAC on Twitter.

Top 6 Home Decorating Trends

30968244_original(BPT) – If you’re planning to tackle a home decorating project this year, here are the top trends you should consider:

Marble Wallpaper

A lot of the 2017 trends are about going back to classic styles, and it doesn’t get much more classic than marble. Few materials evoke high-end living as simply and effectively as marble, a global symbol of refined taste and sophistication. Marble was a big trend in 2016, and it looks like it’s here to stay. With faux-effect materials and faux-marble wallpapers such as this beauty from Murals Your Way growing in popularity, you can count on the soft, subdued design to be a top pick for accent walls, powder rooms, kitchens and more. It’s a seriously impressive way to dress up your walls!

 

Deep Blues

Though black has long been a decorating darling, designers are now recruiting deep blues for their go-to power hue. It’s a bit more approachable than pure black, and it has a lovely nautical vibe when used in conjunction with materials like rope, brass and wood. Navy velvet couches are a popular way to incorporate the color into your home. And if you want to keep your space light, wallpaper with blue accents is a great solution. Whether you go for indigo, cobalt, navy or some other blue hue, a dramatic, deep blue color will add interest to your space.

 

Acrylic Everything

Acrylic was a trend that picked up steam in 2016 and will keep going strong this year. Because most acrylic is clear, it works with almost any type of design style or color scheme. Acrylic furniture pieces and accessories have been around for years, but they primarily came in very modern shapes that wouldn’t work well in a more traditional home. All of that has changed, and now you can find the best of both worlds with this more modern material being used in furniture with traditional designs. Bring acrylic into your space by choosing a larger piece, such as this coffee table from Wisteria, or simply use smaller accessories, such as an acrylic floating frame. Whether it’s a coffee table or floating frame, acrylic accents and accessories are this year’s clear favorite for adding a gleaming finish to a space.

 

Farmhouse Chic

Reclaimed wood, aged metals and distressed details are showing up everywhere in interior design and are not going anywhere in 2017. Farmhouse chic decor is a spin on the classic farmhouse style with an added soft elegance. Classic shapes, rustic simplicity and natural materials celebrate country-inspired charm, while soft and cozy neutrals evoke a luxurious and chic style.

 

Greenery

Named the 2017 Pantone color of the year, greenery is meant to represent refreshment, revitalization and our connection to nature. It seems to be an instant hit for those looking for a back-to-nature hue that brings zest while still managing to work with warm wood tones. Greenery is an attention-grabbing color, and it can be used to add pop and contrast to the overall interior. The earthy tone is a welcome complement to some of the more neutral hues that have gained prominence in the past year.

 

Forget Hygge

This year is all about lagom: The year 2016 was about reaching the highest level of coziness and comfort, an outlook encapsulated by the Danish term hygge (pronounced hoo-ga). Now there’s an even more sustainable and enjoyable lifestyle we’ll all be wanting in 2017: lagom. It’s a simple Swedish philosophy on everyday life that means “just the right amount.” The lagom home strikes the perfect balance between minimalism and cluttered, resulting in a clean, calm space that is also warm and inviting. This Swedish concept of “not too much, not too little” may just dominate in 2017.

5 Projects to Create the Perfect Outdoor Kitchen

23722908_original(BPT) – The weather outside is beautiful, so naturally you want to spend as much time outdoors as possible – and that includes mealtime and even the
time spent preparing your food. So, if your outdoor cooking station isn’t quite master chef worthy, worry not. There are several easy, affordable projects to help you transform the area into the perfect cooking and entertaining space. Give these projects a try to create a one-of-a-kind destination for the season.

 

Start With the Grill.

Your grill is the focal point of your cooking area, and you’ll need to determine whether gas, charcoal or propane is right for you. If expense is a concern, propane is a more cost-effective fuel than charcoal, and it doesn’t require running any lines to your grilling area, providing you with the same grilling space with fewer expenses.

 

Build a Barbecue Cover.

Give your kitchen a beautiful outdoor shelter by building a barbecue cover from Western Red Cedar. This natural wood is resistant to rot, decay and insects, and it will look great no matter what the weather brings. In addition, building the cover is easy – simply follow the nine-step process found at RealCedar.com.

 

Find the Perfect Light.

If nighttime is the right time for your group, then forget the deck light and opt for ambient lighting options instead. Track lighting can be strung across your space easily to make your outdoor kitchen a welcoming environment. If you want to be more unique, you can find simple instructions online for building wine bottle torches or Mason jar lamps.

 

A Place for Guests to Dine.

Enjoy the food where it was made by building a dining table and chairs from Western Red Cedar. Building a table is easier than you think, and red cedar can be finished in a variety of ways because it is pitch and resin free. All of this allows you to create furniture perfect for a more traditional or modern kitchen.

 

Provide a Little Shade.

Make those summer afternoons more enjoyable and comfortable by providing some shade for your guests, along with the cook. Building a pergola creates a beautiful and functional addition to any seating area. Building plans exist to create a pergola of any height or length, allowing you to customize your project to your space. Once the project is completed, stain it or decorate it in a way that provides the shade you desire while supporting your overall outdoor design look.

Many people mistakenly believe that outdoor kitchens are luxury items for only the wealthy, but that is no longer true. Any of the easy projects listed above can help you reimagine your space into the outdoor kitchen of your dreams. To find more beautiful options for improving your outdoor space, visit RealCedar.com.

5 Tips to Create an Affordable and Rewarding Home DIY Project

30822110_original(BPT) – When it comes to home improvement, DIY is more popular than ever. There’s just something satisfying about improving your home with your own two hands and being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor, day after day. However, home improvement projects can be expensive, and many people shy away from tackling home improvements they know they would enjoy because of their skill level or the fear of high costs.

This doesn’t have to be the case. While some projects – like a complete bathroom remodel – are going to be expensive, other DIY projects can be tackled in an economical and enjoyable way. These projects may include repainting a room, installing a new ceiling fan or replacing old, damaged baseboards. The limit is your imagination, so look around your house to see what home improvements could enhance your home and then apply these tips for an affordable and rewarding experience.

 

Find Your Motivation.

The most rewarding DIY projects are those that satisfy a real need in your home and those you’ll use or see every day. Whether it’s to spruce up a room’s appearance, enhance its usability, repair existing damage or another project that may increase your home’s resale value, select one that will be meaningful. Find out where your motivations lie and choose a project that satisfies the goal. You’ll put more effort into the project and be happier with the result.

 

Know Your Limits.

The “do” in “do it yourself” varies tremendously based on who you are and the skills you possess. If you’re a licensed contractor, your ability to “do” is probably quite high. But for most people, focus on projects you know you can handle. If you’re unsure, surf the web for a how-to video on your chosen project and watch it closely to see if it matches your capabilities. Tackling a project you can handle on your own will protect you from calling in a contractor last minute and incurring unexpected expenses.

 

Turn Loose Coins Into Value.

You have more money lying around your home to support your DIY project than you may think – and it’s nestled in that jar of coins you keep on the dresser, under the couch cushions or hiding on the closet floor. The average home has an estimated $42.92 in unused loose change, according to data from Coinstar. That’s money that could easily be turned into a couple cans of paint or tools for your next project. So collect your coins and bring them to your nearest Coinstar kiosk to put your newfound money toward that DIY project.

 

Make It a Family Affair.

Turn your DIY project into lasting memories by including your children in the work. Assign them tasks you know they can accomplish. Ask younger kids to sort supplies or carry lightweight materials, while older children can be tasked with painting large spaces or performing simple hammering tasks. Work closely with your kids and celebrate their victories at the project’s end. You’ll find that your little helpers may even be eager to sign up for your next DIY undertaking.

 

Take Pics to Record Your Accomplishment.

Your DIY project will spawn many memories, so take pictures to capture them all. Before-and-after pictures can be a fun way to see how your project improved your home, and while you’re at it, why not brag a little by posting photos of your accomplishments online. And don’t forget to take pictures throughout the process as well. Your entire family will enjoy looking back at the progression years down the road.

To learn more about how Coinstar can help you find the cash you need for your next DIY project, visit coinstar.com.

5 Fast Shortcuts to Make Your Home Sparkle This Spring

30784803_original(BPT) – We all know that one person who just adores cleaning. But for the rest of us, it’s a necessary evil that gets old very quickly!

Before you tackle that long list of spring cleaning tasks, try some of these cleaning hacks designed to make these chores faster and easier. When cleaning is fun and even effortless, you’ll feel more energized and gain the momentum you need to knock out your list of chores. Afterward, your house will sparkle from top to bottom, which is its own reward!

1. Find Smarter Tools

Throw out the messy bucket and mop and reach for a smarter floor solution that’s efficient and fun to use. For example, the O-Cedar EasyWring Spin Mop & Bucket System has a built-in wringer that offers superior moisture control of the mop, which makes it safe and easy to use on all hard floor surfaces – even hardwood! The hands-free wringer requires a simple press of the foot pedal to easily spin out the water and help finish the job with less mess and faster drying times.

2. Try Natural Solutions

Commercial cleaning solutions can add extra costs to your deep cleaning session, not to mention the harsh chemicals can leave behind unpleasant odors. Why not experiment with everyday pantry items? These often cost less and are just as effective in their cleaning power.

A simple solution of warm water and vinegar removes built-up grime from your floors, while leaving a clean, rinse-free finish. Just add a half cup of distilled white vinegar to a gallon of warm water and start mopping.

If you dislike the smell of vinegar, add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil – the fresh scent will be like a small reward!

3. Shortcut to Shining Windows30784723_original

If you want streak-free mirrors and clean windows without the hassle, Cas Aarssen, author of “Real Life Organizing: Cleaning and Clutter-Free in 15 Minutes a Day” and the YouTube channel ClutterBug, has this expert tip: Add a teaspoon of cornstarch to your favorite glass cleaner and shake until dissolved. Cornstarch improves the cleaning power of the solution and makes streaks a thing of the past, so you’ll get the job done more quickly.

4. Use a Cleaning Method That Also Protects

Aarssen has an easy tip that will not only shine up your kitchen appliances, it will repel fingerprints and food splatters often left behind. Just spritz on a little wood furniture polish and rub in with a soft cloth until the surface shines like new.

5. Clean Up Top

Dust can collect on those high, hard-to-reach places, such as decorative molding and ceiling fans, making cleaning day more difficult. To clean your ceiling fan without showering dust bunnies everywhere, an old pillowcase is your best tool. Spritz the inside of the pillowcase with a vinegar and water solution and slip it over the blades of the fan, pulling it back to trap the dust.

For those tough to reach moldings and corners, use a sturdy rubber band to wrap a microfiber cloth around the end a broom, and give those hard-to-reach areas a clean sweep!