Living Room or Media Room
This is a difficult spot in your house to keep clean because it’s so central. Clutter accumulates regularly from a lot of different sources. These tips will help you get things back under control. For the best results, get everyone in your household onboard with your new cleaning and organizing tactics!
1. Clear the clutter first. Especially if you have kids, all kinds of random items are going to pile up in the living room. Grab a laundry basket or a large plastic bin and start by collecting all the loose random items. Get that out of the way and redistribute it all later.
2. If you don’t already have one, get a basket for your remote controls so they stop getting lost behind the couch or under cushions.
3. Get a magazine rack or newspaper stand, but make sure you don’t keep anything in there for too long. The moment you let that get out of hand, you will just end up with heaps of magazines you will “go through later” but never do. After you have gone through them, clip out anything you want to save and recycle the rest.
4. Come up with a clever organizing system for your multimedia. One great way to condense your collection of DVDs and CDs is by purchasing those booklets you can store the discs in. Put the original boxes in storage. You will free up so much space.
5. Did you know you can remove marks on wood furniture using a walnut? Cut it in half and rub it into the scratch. Don’t have a walnut? Pecans, Brazil nuts and almonds all work fine. After you rub the nut across the furniture, rub the area with your fingers. This will help the oils from the nut soak into the surface of the wood. Buff it up with a cloth, and you’re set.
6. Have houseplants with dusty leaves? Grab a banana and eat it and keep the skin. Use the skin to clean the leaves. The dust will stick right to it, and the juice is healthy for the plants.
7. Static electricity on your TV screen? Grab a dryer sheet and run it across your screen to get rid of it.
8. Want to shine up your wood with a quick and easy home mixture? Never mind furniture polish. Just grab some olive oil and lemon juice and mix them in a 2:1 ratio. Go over your wood surfaces with it and your furniture will shine.
9. If you look inside your vases and find they are full of dirt, you can clean them out by filling them with vinegar. Add a handful of dry rise, and swish the vases around. Pour everything out, and they should be significantly cleaner inside. A very cool little trick.
10. Don’t use commercial wood cleaners. Believe it or not, these supposedly specialized products often contain silicone. Silicone can leave a residue in your wood grain, which can actually be bad for the wood’s appearance over time. A damp cloth works better; just use water. It is all you really need!
11. Use a dry lint-free cloth to clean your DVD player and your other electronics. You want to avoid moisture since it is way too easy to damage your circuits. Canned air makes a great alternative for cleaning dust and also cleaning out vents without endangering your technology.
12. Likewise, be very careful when you are cleaning your cables, since moisture can short them out as well. You do want to make sure connections stay clean, and you don’t want dust to accumulate on your wires and make them grimy.
13. Put cork on the bottoms of heavy vases and other objects that you regularly have to clean under. Doing this will prevent these items from gouging your floor, which will in turn prevent damage and make your floors easier to clean.
14. Keep a dust cloth in a handy spot in your living room where you can grab it in an instant. If you regularly wipe down surfaces when you notice dust building up on them, you will have a much easier time keeping everything under control.
15. Consider replacing solid fabrics with patterned upholstery. Patterns help hide dust, dirt, and stains.
16. Regularly open and close window blinds or curtains, even if you would prefer to just keep them closed all the time. Doing this will help to dispel dust and will make them easier to keep clean over time.
17. Adding a cinnamon stick to your vacuum cleaner can help to add a nice scent to the living room the next time you go through it.
18. Another trick is to squirt a little room deodorizer on a cool lightbulb (do not use too much or you will short out your bulb!). When you turn on the lightbulb and it heats up, it will disperse the nice smell into the air.
19. Corral your cords. If your media center has a lot of screens, projectors, consoles, and other technology, take the time to bundle your cords together and tape them out of the way. Concealing surge protectors inside shoe boxes (cut holes for the wire) is a great way to get things looking neater, and it also prevents the surge protectors from accumulating dust. Label your wires with tags and you will find them much easier to manage as well.
Keeping the kitchen clean and tidy is even harder than keeping the living room or media center in order! But if you do, it pays off in terms of time saved. It’s faster and easier to prepare meals, and you can spend more time relaxing and savoring the results. We also have a whole host of other kitchen storage and organizing tips to make life easier for you.
20. Keep your cling film in the fridge. A lot of people find it much more cooperative and easier to use when it is cold.
21. Grease buildup on top of your cabinets? You need to keep the tops of your cabinets clean, but thankfully you don’t have to look at them. That makes this an easy problem to solve. If you line the tops of your cabinets with newspaper, you can protect them from grease.
22. Fingerprints all over your stainless steel appliances? Put a little baby oil on a clean, soft cloth, and run it over the surfaces. Those prints should lift right off.
23. Use magnets to give yourself some extra storage space. How? Metallic spice jars and utensils can both stick to magnets. You can then use the magnets to stick them to the side of your fridge. It looks odd, but there is no denying it is super handy. Very clever approach to keeping everything organized and in reach!
24. Put plastic containers with lids inside your drawers, or use plastic drawer dividers. These will create handy pockets of space for different items.
25. Grab two buckets when it is time to clean your floors. Put clean water in one, and use the other to drain the dirty water into. I know this one is so simple as to be obvious, but … well, it wasn’t obvious to me. I never in a million years would have thought to just double up on buckets.
26. Get one of those awesome cutting boards which are designed to fit over top of your sink. This frees up counter space; actually, in a sense it extends your counter space! Since you are fitting it over the sink, the sink can also catch anything which falls through, which saves you from making a mess of things when you are cutting.
27. Turn false drawers into real drawers. This tutorial is awesome! You know those fake drawers that most kitchen cabinets include which don’t open and don’t offer you any space at all—they just look cute from the outside? This tutorial teaches you how you can install real, working drawers in their place and capitalize on that underutilized space.
28. Having trouble cleaning under your appliances? Instead of picking them up and moving them and then putting them back (which can be a pain if they are heavy or awkward), you can clean under them using a stick. How? Pull an old sock over the stick, and then run it underneath. You don’t even have to lift the appliance at all!
29. Tired of your salt lumping together and getting hard inside the salt shaker? Here’s a trick you may recognize from restaurants you have been to. Just add a few grains of rice. Rice is amazing at absorbing moisture, and will keep the salt dry. This keeps it from lumping.
30. Make use of your ceiling. There are overhead racks which are popular for people who live in small spaces like RVs. You can use these same types of racks in any kitchen. This is a wonderful way to get your pots and pans out of the way—but also keep them well within reach.
31. Hang a tablet on the wall. This may sound odd, but if you have an old one you aren’t using for much else, it is a great use for it. You can store recipes, cooking notes, shopping lists, and more in it and access it instantly. This is a great way to get rid of paper clutter.
32. Use chalkboard paint on your wall. Here is an alternative to the tablet which is a lot cheaper, and just as easy. Paint one of your walls (or the side of a fridge or cabinet) with chalkboard paint. You can then use it to write recipes and grocery lists and other notes. It is so much easier to see what you are doing when you are cooking this way, and you keep the paper clutter off the counter.
33. Clean your microwave with ease by boiling a cup of water in it first. Why? Because the steam from the water condenses on the walls, loosening the caked-on food. This makes it easy to wipe it off. This same trick actually works pretty well in the oven.
34. Build a roll-out pantry. Here are instructions for a thin roll-out pantry which you can place in the empty space between the fridge and cabinets. It is a thin set of shelves that you can push completely out of sight and out of your way except when you need it. Then you just roll it out and grab what you need. Just make sure to leave room for your fridge to ventilate.
35. Get rid of those annoying stains on the bottom of your mug from tea or coffee by swishing some white vinegar inside. This is similar to the vase cleaning trick I shared for the living room.
36. Tired of the smell of your trash bin? Toss a dryer sheet on the bottom next time before you add your next bag, and you should get a fresher smell.
37. Use tension rods to organize in your cabinets and cupboards. You can place them horizontally and use them to hang cleaning products and other items that can hook around them. Alternately, you can place them vertically and use them to support pans and plates and other dishware. This is an easy way to add functionality to any cabinet space.
38. Use bamboo steamers for storage. These are perfect for storing veggies like onions and garlic because they offer plenty of ventilation for continued freshness.
39. Have a foul odor in your kitchen you just can’t seem to get rid of? Try baking an orange peel in your oven. This will help to dissipate the bad smell and replace it with a good one.
40. A sheet of newspaper in the vegetable drawer in your fridge can help prevent bad odors from spreading.
41. Condition your chopping board so that the wood will last longer. How? As it turns out, a quick wipe-down with vegetable oil is really all you need.
42. Are your fridge seals dirty? You can clean them using a toothbrush with baking soda.
43. Let the blender clean itself. Seriously, why go through all the trouble of cleaning your blender by hand when it was practically designed for the purpose? Just add water and a little dish soap, put on the lid securely, and turn it on. Voila, the blender cleans itself! Rinse out the soap thoroughly when it’s done and you are all set.
44. Pour boiling water down your drain every once in a while. This helps to push the oils from foods down the drain so that they don’t cake onto the insides of your pipes and cause clogs.
45. Here’s another trick for cleaning stainless steel. Use dry flour! Just put it on a microfiber cloth and buff up your surfaces. Rinse it off, and you should see a fresh shine. It sounds weird, but it works.
46. If you have rust on your stainless steel silverware (yes, this can happen), you can get the rust off by using lemon juice. Soak the silverware in a glass of it for a few minutes. The lemon juice loosens the rust, so it is much easier for you to scrub off.
47. Lemon can also help you to keep your cutting board clean. If you are dealing with tough grime, you can use a little coarse salt and half a lemon to scrub the surface.
48. Disinfect sponges in the microwave. Where do you think most of the germs in your kitchen call home? Probably your dish sponges. One way you can lengthen the life of your sponges and keep them safe and clean is by zapping the germs in the microwave. Just put them inside on high for two minutes and that should be enough to kill the majority of the germs (just make sure you never do this with a sponge that contains metal).
49. Alphabetize spices on your spice rack so you can find them effortlessly.
50. Set out everything you need for breakfast in the morning the night before. That way when you get up, you don’t have to do anything to prepare breakfast except finish getting it ready. This is a great time-saver, especially if you tend to be in a rush in the mornings.
51. Invest in stackable plastic food containers so that you can free up space in your cabinets.
52. Try and keep your countertop clear by putting away anything you don’t use on a daily basis.
53. Don’t let those plastic bags from the grocery store get out of control. How many do you actually go through between grocery runs? Two or three? You don’t really need twenty; they are just taking up drawer space.
54. Every time you put away groceries from the grocery store, first do a quick fridge and freezer check to see if you have any old items you should throw away.
55. Lemon and vinegar are perfect for cleaning the garbage disposal. This will not only get the gunk out, but it will also help to freshen the smell in your kitchen. Nothing is worse than that age-old garbage disposal smell, yuck.
56. A quick cycle in your dishwasher with vinegar is a great way to deodorize it. Just fill a dishwasher-safe cup with white vinegar and put it on the top rack. Don’t put anything else in your dishwasher. Just run it through a cycle on the hottest setting. Say goodbye to musty odors and to grease and grime! Unsweetened lemonade mix actually works pretty well too. You can also sprinkle baking soda on the bottom and then run another hot cycle. This will kill even more foul odors and get rid of stains.
57. Baking soda is not only great for getting rid of foul odors in your fridge, but in other spots in the kitchen too. In fact, if you just sprinkle a little bit at the bottom of your trash bin before you put the next bag in, it will prevent odors!
58. Always store meats and seafood products on the bottom shelf in your fridge. That way if they drip, they will not contaminate other food products that have a longer shelf life.
59. Make sure that in your fridge you have space around your foods. You don’t need a lot, just enough for the air to circulate. Why? If you don’t, you can end up with warm spots and cool spots, both of which can lead your food to spoil. Avoid chopping foods until you have to. Chopping foods speeds up the spoiling process. Also avoid storing milk or other fast-perishing foods in the doors or other areas of your fridge where spoilage can happen quickly. The middle is the best and most predictable zone.
Once you have tackled cleaning and organizing in your kitchen, the bathrooms in your house are probably the next big challenge! These quick tips will get your bathrooms looking clean and tidy in no time. Remember, a well-organized bathroom is so much easier to keep sparkly clean.
60. Keep your old toothbrushes. They are great for a million purposes in and out of the bathroom. Use them to clean grout in the bathroom or kitchen. They are also handy for cleaning jewelry, and much, much more.
61. Use kitchen drawer dividers in your bathroom. You know, those same things you use for silverware and other odds and ends. Those dame dividers can be perfect for storing makeup, toothbrushes, floss containers, and other small items in your bathroom drawers. As in the kitchen, they serve the additional function of protecting your drawers from moisture.
62. Keep all your larger toiletries (hair spray, lotion, etc.) inside a larger bin or box, and store that under your sink. When you get ready each day, you can just pull it out and use everything, and then put it all back. That’s a lot easier than looking for every item individually.
63. Install hooks for towels. If you don’t have enough room for all your towels on your towel racks, mounting hooks is fast and easy and will provide you with the additional space you need.
64. You can also attach towel racks or hooks to the back of your bathroom door.
65. Replace your shower caddy with overhead storage. A shower caddy can be useful, but it can also really easily get in your way. Why not hang storage from overhead in your shower instead? In fact, you can always just mount your caddy from a hook.
66. In fact, a really cool solution is to install an extra shower curtain rod. Put it in the back of your shower, and you can hook a shower caddy right onto it. In fact, this provides plenty of space, so you can store caddies for your whole families overhead this way. No more arguing about the messes everyone is leaving in the shower!
67. Quickly rinse the doors and tiles in your shower after you’re done. Get the soap off the walls, and you will prevent soap scum.
68. Try waxing your bathroom tiles with car polish. This prevents the buildup of grime.
69. Unwrinkle clothing while you shower. Okay, so technically this is a laundry tip, but it’s one you do in the shower. Hang wrinkled clothes while you are showering, and the steam will loosen them out. They’ll look great when you are done!
70. Install a magnetic strip somewhere convenient, like inside a cabinet door. You can attach all kinds of small metallic items like tweezers and bobby pins.
71. Try scrubbing your faucets off using toothpaste. You can use one of those old toothbrushes mentioned earlier for this. Rinse them off and they should have a nice new gleam.
72. Use Mason jars or apothecary jars to hold cotton swabs and other odds and ends. These containers are cute and they do a great job containing the clutter.
73. Clean your toilet using flat cola. Yes, this is an odd one, but loads of people swear by it! Pour in a can and walk away for thirty minutes. Come back and flush. You should find yourself looking at a sparkly clean toilet bowl!
74. Do a quick clean of your bathroom every few days right after your shower. Why? This is like the kitchen tip with the boiling water in the microwave. The steam that condenses on all the surfaces in your bathroom after the shower makes it easier to wipe everything down.
75. Clean your glass shower doors using dryer sheets. You will be amazed at how easy it is.
76. Got some stubborn lime stains? Pick up some pumice at the store and give it a try. It is seriously amazing stuff, and will lift those stains right off.
77. More power! If you’re tired of putting elbow grease into cleaning your tiles, grab your favorite power drill and attach a scrub brush to it.
78. Install spice racks on your walls. They are actually the perfect size and shape to conveniently store hair products and other toiletries.
79. Install a shelf over top of your bathroom door. You would be surprised what you can fit here if you have even a little space between your door and the ceiling.
80. Install a magazine holder inside a cabinet door if you have the space for one. Why? It is the perfect size and shape to hold a hairdryer stored upside-down. Pretty cool!
81. Like listening to music on your iPod while you are showering? If your sink is dry, it makes an excellent amplifier. If you’re still worried about it, put it inside a Ziploc bag.
82. Need to get your showerhead clean? Detach it, and soak it in distilled vinegar.
83. Here is a really cool way to sharpen a dull shower razor. Just run it across an old pair of denims. That will hone that edge and lengthen its lifetime before you have to replace it.
84. A magnetic board is an excellent way to organize your makeup.
The bedroom poses a lot of organization and cleaning challenges. Dresser drawers, shelves, the closet: all of these areas can be tricky to clean and keep tidy. Here are some ideas which will make bedroom cleaning and organizing much easier.
85. Get a color scheme. If you don’t already have a color scheme in your bedroom, it probably looks even more cluttered than it actually is. Just choosing a few key colors and coordinating them with your décor can really bring focus to a bedroom. This is an especially helpful tip if you are living in a cramped space.
86. Have clothing that doesn’t fit? There is no reason to keep it in your closet. Even if you are keeping it around to motivate you to lose weight, it’s best if you pack it away and move it to a storage area. All it is doing is cluttering your closet (and probably depressing you).
87. Seasonal clothing, blankets, and accessories can also be moved to a storage area off-season. That means items like scarves, gloves, and heavy clothes during the summer, and items like light summery clothing during the wintertime.
88. Do some decluttering! If you wouldn’t buy it today if you saw it hanging on a department store rack, why do you have it around now? There is probably someone who wants it more and would wear it more than you. Take it to the thrift shop and free up that space.
89. If your closet has just a single bar for hanging clothes, you are probably having a hard time keeping neat and organized. Consider buying a closet organizer which you can use to add additional bars and shelves. This is a great way to maximize your space, and many closet organizers are surprisingly cheap.
90. Make sure that your longer clothes are grouped together (i.e. long pants, dresses, skirts) and are separate from your shorter hanging clothes (i.e. tops, shorts, shorter skirts). This frees up room underneath the shorter hanging attire.
91. Think up a way to organize your garments that makes sense to you. It is a good idea to separate items by type. From there, you could color code your wardrobe or come up with another system that will help you find exactly what you need at a glance.
92. Need to shine some scuffed up shoes? If you don’t have any shoe polish handy (or don’t like the stuff), try rubbing a banana skin on black shoes or the pith inside a lemon.
93. Consider keeping a container directly in your closet to use for thrift donations. That way you can pop items right inside that you are ready to part with. This helps to prevent delaying tactics!
94. Think about rolling shirts in drawers. Folding them keeps them flat, but it is hard to keep them nice and neat. Rolling can actually be more efficient. It’s fast and easy, and does a great job maximizing space.
95. Consider buying a hanging shoe rack for your closet door. Not only will this free up room on the closet floor, but you can use the pockets for more than just shoes. They are great for consolidating hair and makeup stuff and for decluttering your dresser and drawers.
96. Use the storage space under your bed, and if you have one of those beds you can raise to a different height, pull it up as high as you can. You can fit a ton of stuff underneath your bed, which can really help you to clear out more space in your bedroom.
97. Make your bed in the morning right after you get up every day. That way it will look tidy the rest of the day.
98. Always immediately hang clothing you take off when you walk in the door. If you need to wash it, toss it straight in your laundry basket. Don’t just throw it on the bed or a chair. Once that starts, it gets right out of control!
99. Just keep one of every type of object out at a time. If you have twenty bottles of perfume, just keep one or two out at all times. If you own a ton of jewelry, just a few items that match different garments. If you have a dozen types of lotion, just have one out. Rotate through everything over time. This helps keep the clutter in check.
100. Use small plastic bins inside your drawers to keep makeup, hair clips, and other little odds and ends sorted. Bins that snap closed are a good choice since they keep everything in place.
101. Clear plastic bins are the best choice because you can see through them. You always know what is inside, even when they are closed.
102. To remember which bins go where (if for example you take everything out of your drawer for whatever reason), put a grid-work down on the bottom with everything labeled. One great way to do this is by painting the inside of your drawer with chalkboard paint. You can then chalk in the organizational plan and set up everything accordingly. If you change things later, it’s just a matter of re-labeling.
103. Use drawer dividers. There are soft fabric organizers you can use which collapse and fold up outside your drawers. You can expand them inside your drawers to create a number of small compartments. They are great for socks and underwear, scarves, belts, and so much more.
104. A necklace tree is a great way to keep your chains from tangling together.
While a lot of the organizing and cleaning tips for the bedroom involved clothing, there are still some additional tips which can help you out in the laundry room.
105. If you stepped in a puddle or you were ankle-deep in snow, you can dry out the insides of your shoes much faster if you just crumple up balls of newspaper and place them inside. The newspaper will soak up the water.
106. You can speed up your ironing by taking a sheet of aluminum foil and placing it directly on the board, underneath the cover. The sheet will reflect heat upward, making the job easier and faster.
107. While sorting out your laundry, toss small items like socks, underwear, and tights inside different pillowcases. This saves you from having to sort them out later, and will prevent you from losing socks.
108. Have rust stains on white cotton? You can scrub with lemon juice and salt before throwing it in the wash, and the stains should come out.
109. To keep your pillows fresh, tumble-dry them once a week for 15 minutes. This will get rid of mites and remove any mustiness. Your pillows will also come out much fluffier.
110. To get deodorant stains off of your clothing, use white vinegar. Sponge it on, and then wait for a few minutes while the vinegar works its magic. Then use hot water to rinse your clothes off.
111. Have candle wax stuck to a table cloth or some other fabric? Use a knife to scrape off most of it, and then press the cloth in between a couple of pieces of waxed paper. With an iron set on warm, push down. Pull the fabric back out and then toss it in the washing machine with detergent. Run it on the highest setting you can get away with. This should pull most of the wax off.
112. Want to get rid of unpleasant odors sticking to towels or clothing? One of the best tricks is to add a little baking soda to your wash. Baking soda is great at killing odors (which is why it is recommended you put it in your fridge). Your towels should come out smelling fresh again.
113. Need to get rid of a coffee stain? As quickly as you can after the stain occurs, soak the garment in cold water. Then wash it using detergent and bleach (make sure you use bleach that is safe for color). If the stain is set and you don’t reach it in time, use an egg yolk. Beat the yolk first, and then apply it using a terry cloth. Work at it for about a minute and then rinse. You should see awesome results.
114. If you need to get rid of blood stains, start by soaking the stained item in cold water. Wait half an hour and check it. Sometimes that is enough. Other times, you might need to try again. Use room temperature water and add ammonia. Rinse again. If that fails, you can try with laundry detergent and color-safe bleach.
115. Lipstick stains can be a real pain to remove from clothing as well, but one handy way to do it is using a piece of bread! Wad it up into a ball (get rid of the crust), and then blot the stain. You can pull most of it up this way, and then the washer should be able to take care of the rest.
116. There are lots of ways you can remove red wine stains. You have to act fast as red wine sets fast. Club soda, salt, kitty litter, or milk are all reported to work.
117. Dealing with ink stains? Those can be some of the worst! If you have some hairspray or hand sanitizer, you have an awesome stain-fighting weapon on your hands. Just spray either one onto the ink stain, wait for ten minutes, and then throw it in the wash.
118. If you have grease stains, try rubbing on them with chalk. This is a great little trick. The powdery chalk will absorb the grease with ease. Baby powder also works for the same reason. That powdery texture just draws that grease right out of your fabric.
119. What about grass stains? Use one tablespoon of dish soap and two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide. Rub the mixture into the stain and you should be able to work it out.
120. Sweat stains are another annoying problem, but thankfully there are a lot of different approaches you can use to remove them. You can try lemon juice and table salt, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, or white vinegar. Two stranger hacks which might surprise you are meat tenderizer and aspirin.
121. Regularly clean out your washing machine. Why? If you use a lot of detergent, you are going to get a buildup of soap scum over time. This stuff can get into your pipes. Run an empty cycle now and again with just a cup of white vinegar. This will help to remove soapy residue from your pipes.
122. Don’t want to run empty cycles? If you add vinegar to your wash on a regular basis, you don’t have to. The vinegar will still deodorize your machine and clean it out. It will deodorize your clothing too. It’s also pretty great at getting rid of stains, mold, and more.
123. Got a stain on your dry-clean-only garment? If you can, try to spot-treat it yourself instead of taking it in. It will save you money, plus, dry cleaning actually is quite damaging to clothing.
124. Is it really a dry-clean-only garment? Typically if a tag just says, “Dry Clean,” you can still get away with cleaning it yourself. “Dry Clean Only” is more likely to actually really need it, but even then you can research the fabric and find out online. There are a lot of items you would be surprised to find you can take care of at home.
125. If it isn’t dirty, don’t clean it! We are trained to wash our clothing after every wear, but a lot of clothes simply are not dirty after you wear them once. If it still smells fine and looks great, why wash it? Wear it again. If you want, you can spritz a little vinegar on and then hang it outside on the clothes line to air out for a bit. This saves time and energy and money.
126. Baking soda is a good alternative to bleach. Bleach can damage fabrics, but baking soda is a lot gentler and can still have a whitening effect.
127. Vacuum lint out of your dryer. Even if you clean out the lint trap every time, some lint is still going to build up in there. That can drain your dryer’s efficiency by 30% over time, and it also is a fire hazard. Twice a year, vacuum the lint filter out using the hose attachment. Clean out the external vent while you’re at it.
128. Overfilling your washing machine will result in your clothing not getting as clean as it could. Fill your laundry to around the three-quarters mark. If you need to do additional loads, that is better than trying to stuff the washer full.
129. Add the laundry soap before you add your clothing. That way the soap can dissolve into the water, which will make it more effective. It also prevents powder from getting stuck to your clothes.
130. Borax makes a great addition to your detergent, as does washing soda. Both can help to whiten clothes (so only use it on light colored or white clothing). They soften water, which can prevent soapy residue, and they can get rid of unwanted odors.
131. Use cold water whenever possible. This uses up a lot less energy, which will cut back on your costs, and it will help to preserve the colors in your clothing. Warm water causes colors to bleed, whereas cold water minimizes this impact. Additionally, cold water is much gentler to delicate fabrics. You can make your clothes last years longer this way.
132. Line-drying is awesome! It takes longer, and you need a nice day to do it, but your clothes will last longer. Like washing on the cold cycle, line drying is much kinder to delicate clothing. This is yet another way to add years to your clothing.
In a lot of houses, the laundry room and the mudroom are the same place, so a lot of the laundry tips above should help you out! But the mudroom serves other purposes as well. You may use it as a storage space, especially for outdoor attire and equipment, and you may also have mail and a household organization center located there. Here are a few more quick tips for this part of your home. Image : Flickr
133. Have a system for shoes and boots. That way your family won’t just kick them off pell-mell when they come inside. Have handy bins ready for shoes and boots, or even consider investing in an actual shoe cubby. Getting shoes and boots put away immediately will keep the floor from getting cluttered, and it will keep mud and water off the floor too.
134. Get several bins for outdoor equipment. Consider moving seasonal sports supplies to another storage area when they are not needed.
135. If you do not currently have a family command center, the mudroom is the perfect place for one! Everyone passes in and out of the house through the mudroom, so this is a spot where everyone can access mail, calendars, notes, schedules, and more.
136. Get bags for all the places you regularly go. These should be reuseable. For example, you can have a grocery bag, a bag for soccer practice, a bag for the library, a bag for the thrift store, and so on.
137. Consider installing lockers. This is a great way to keep everyone in your family organized, and it can also add a little privacy for everyone.
138. Add hooks to your mudroom walls if you don’t already have them. These are great for holding jackets, bags, and so much more.
139. This is a great place to keep a Shop-Vac, especially one of the ones that can handle wet stuff. Then you can readily vacuum behind people who trudge in mud and debris. This is much easier than having to leave the mudroom to go fetch your full-size vacuum cleaner out of your closet every time.
140. If you have a pet, another bin for pet supplies is a smart idea. That way you won’t clutter the doorway with his leash, dog clothes and boots, and so on. If your dog likes to play with this stuff in the basket, you can either mount the basket on a shelf out of reach, or consider hanging some of it (a leash can easily hang from a hook).
141. Adding a plastic bag dispenser to your mudroom is a great idea. Why? It gives you somewhere to stash plastic bags when you come in, say with your groceries. And if you need a plastic bag while you’re heading out (for picking up after your dog, carrying a wet umbrella, or so on), they are always handy.
142. Keeping a towel near the door is a smart move if you have a pet that loves to come in with a muddy coat and paws. Grab him right away and wipe him down before you let him inside.
Once you’ve got the indoor areas of your home organized, you can’t forget about the outdoor areas! Your garage, shed, garden, poolside and lawn all need to stay clean and neat too. Image: Flickr.
143. Have oil spots on your driveway or sidewalk? One easy way to get rid of them is by pouring on some baking soda, then scrub the stains with an old brush. The baking soda will soak up the oil and the elbow grease will loosen it up.
144. If you have a freezer in your garage or shed, it can easily accumulate rust and mold because of the damp conditions. You can prevent this by adding a coat of wax to the outside.
145. Tired of the soil in your potted plants draining out of the holes on the bottom? In the future, when you pot your plants, put a coffee filter down in the bottom. This will cover the holes and keep soil from leaking out, but will still allow water to drip through.
146. White vinegar can kill weeds that are pushing up between the cracks in your patio or sidewalk.
147. There are a couple of handy ways you can contain sports balls in your garage or mudroom. A large drawstring bag is a great way to keep them all in place. Another option in your garage is to install bungee cords over a shelf or a niche in your wall. The cords will hold them all in place, but it makes it easy to reach in and get one from anywhere in the stack.
148. Color-code your garage. It can be so easy for all the tools and equipment in your garage to blend together, especially since garage lighting is often not the best. One great hack is to section off different parts of your walls for different categories (yard tools, recycling stuff, etc.). You can then paint each wall section a different color to denote what it’s for. This makes it effortless to find all your tools and equipment at a glance.
149. Another cool trick is to hang peg boards, and then draw outlines around your tools with a sharpie. If you do this, other people can figure out where tools belong, and can put them back in the right place. That way you can always find them again.
150. Label the drawers on your toolbox. Seriously, just taking half an hour to do this will save you a huge amount of time in the future.
151. Label plastic storage bins in your garage or shed on all four sides and on the top. That way you can see what is inside from any angle and it doesn’t matter how you put it back.
152. Improve your garage lighting! Just brightening it up makes it easier to find what you need and makes the entire space look cleaner and neater. A space that feels more “finished” also discourages family members from dropping stuff all over the floor.
153. A leaf blower is not only a great tool for cleaning out your yard, but also for cleaning out your garage! When leaves and debris blow in or get tracked in from outside, the leaf blower can get it right back out again.
154. Consider keeping your trash bins outside instead of in your garage. That will keep your garage smelling much more pleasant. If you are worried about them blowing around, bungee cords can help you secure them.
155. A small piece of carpet on the floor right next to your car door where you park can keep you from slipping if the car tracks in water on a rainy day.
156. Plastic bins are great for storing tools. They may not be the traditional choice, but if you drop them, they will never break. They are also clear, so you can see what is inside.
157. A box of wet wipes is a handy thing to keep in your car. You can use them to clean your hands at the gas station, etc.
158. Wipe your windshield with vinegar on nights frost is in the forecast. The next morning, you should find your windshield completely clean and clear of frost with no need to scrape.
159. Keep a bag handy inside your vehicle. That way you can stash items in it that need to be brought into the house.
160. Keep a trash can in your garage specifically so that you can clean out your car on a regular basis. In fact, the best way to do it is right away when you step out of the car when you get home every day!
161. Parking multiple vehicles in a small garage? If you park them wrong, you can easily ding a door or a support when you try to get out. A handy trick to let you know if you are centered and pulled inside the right distance is to hang a string from your ceiling. When the string touches the right spot on your windshield, you know you are lined up properly and you can open your doors.
162. Keep a small crate or bin in the back of your car so you can organize papers, mail, and other items you want to bring inside which are not trash.
163. You know those metal paper holders inside 3-ring binders? They actually make great holders for tools with long holders in your garage, tool shed, or garden shed. You just need to tear them out of the binder and attach them to your wall.
164. Magnetic strips are a lifesaver in the garage or the garden shed. They are great for holding garden sheers, trowels, and many other tools. Make sure you go with a really strong magnet so that you can hold heavier tools.
165. A toilet paper holder turned on its side and mounted to the wall can make a great holder for twine, thin wire, etc.
166. A potting bench is a great addition to your garden shed if you have the space. That way you can keep gardening even when it’s raining outside.
167. A carrier is a big help for any gardener. You can use anything for this; a shower caddy, an old milk bottle carrier, whatever you like. This will save you a lot of trips to and from the shed.
168. Ceiling storage is an awesome way to utilize space in your garage or shed which you may be forgetting.
169. If you have an old, unused shed in your back yard, transform it into something new. You don’t have to leave it empty. You can turn it into a “she shed” or a backyard guest house. It may sound like a big project, and it is, but it’s a great way to expand the functionality of your home and make use of neglected space.
170. Clean and cover your outdoor furniture and BBQ grills when you are not using them. This will prevent them from collecting debris and needing cleaning more often.
171. Drain your garden hoses after you use them and store them indoors to prevent freezing inside (and subsequent breakage). While you are at it, turn off any outdoor water valves to prevent plumbing hassles.
172. If you have empty planters stored outside in cold temperatures, make sure that all the soil is drained from them. Why? If dirt is left inside, it can freeze. This can lead to cracking in your pots.
173. Turn a broken rake into a tool holder. Those broken prongs may not be able to do their original job anymore, but they can still hold your tools.
174. Don’t leave your garden hose just lying around on the ground. Get it coiled up neatly and place it inside a bucket. This will keep it corralled so it doesn’t get knotted up or uncoiled.
175. A set of plastic bins or plastic drawers is perfect for organizing at the poolside. Don’t just keep big pool toys out here. Keep small items like sunscreen outdoors too. That way it is always handy, and you don’t have kids running in and out of the house tracking water everywhere.
General Tips and Tricks
Finally, here are some more general and miscellaneous tips and tricks for running your household smoothly!
176. Before you bring any new item into your household, put some thought into where you will put it, and try to actually choose the most logical room for it. Don’t feel like you have the space? Don’t buy it until you make the space.
177. Thinking of doing a complete makeover of a room in your house? Always take a picture first. It will be amazing to see how you have progressed. Once you are organized, take another photo. Don’t just keep it as documentation. Tack it to your wall or put it somewhere else handy. When the room starts looking different from what you have in the picture, it may be time to clean up again. Spot the differences and you will immediately see what is out of place.
178. Have scratches on glass surfaces? Try rubbing some toothpaste over the surface, and then polish with a microfiber cloth. This can really improve the appearance of the glass.
179. A wad of newspaper which you have dipped in a mixture of vinegar and water (in a 1:10 ratio) can be a surprisingly effective way to clean mirrors and windows.
180. Have an LCD monitor you need to clean? Try using a dry microfiber cloth, buffing gently in wide, circular motions. The larger your strokes, the better. If that still isn’t enough, you can dampen it slightly with water. Never use anything other than microfiber!
181. Copper and brass can both be cleaned effectively using a salt and lemon juice mixture (amazing how many things that is good for!). Use the salt in a 3:1 ratio with the juice.
182. You can also clean brass using ketchup or Worcestershire sauce.
183. Flies hate lavender, so it’s a great flower to put next to your windows. As a bonus, it smells amazing.
184. Coffee grounds are another great way to dispel bad odors and replace them with good odors. A bowl of grounds smells great wherever you put it, and is especially helpful in the fridge.
185. If you break a dish and the fragments scatter everywhere, you can pick them up quickly, safely, and easily using a ball of Play-Doh. The shards will embed inside, and then you can throw them away.
186. Looking for a way you can quickly and thoroughly dust off lampshades or plant leaves? A lint brush is your answer. A quick roll over and you will get that dust off almost effortlessly.
187. If sweeping gives you grief, equip yourself with the right tools for the job. Finer bristles are good for picking up smaller particles, and are perfect for indoors. Outdoor jobs usually call for brooms with larger, stiffer bristles.
188. Brooms should be stored with the handle down, not up. This will protect the bristles from damage and will also make it easier for you to tell one broom from another.
189. Run the clock and figure out how long your various household chores actually take. You will likely find they take less time than you think. This will make it easier to commit to doing them in the future.
190. When you bring a new paper into the house (bills, etc.), immediately either deal with it, file it, or toss it. That will prevent paperwork from piling up.
191. Create a lost-and-found area somewhere in the home. Set up a bin to collect lost items as you find them (toys, socks, etc.). Then when you figure out where they need to go (you find the other sock, for example), you will know exactly where everything is. You won’t be stuck wondering, “Now where did I put that again …?”
192. How can you get chandeliers clean? Grab a blow-dryer and set it on low. This is perfect if you can’t reach with the feather duster.
193. Can’t reach dust, dirt or cobwebs in a high corner? Get a golf club and wrap a microfiber cloth around the end. A rubber band can hold it in place. This is a great way to reach into those high crevices.
194. Have scuff marks on your walls, woodwork, or tile? You can get them off by rubbing them with a tennis ball.
195. Old dryer sheets can work well in place of disposable cleaning sheets. They cost much less since it’s a form of recycling, and they get the job done.
196. Look for ways to multitask. Clean the shower while you’re taking a shower. Soak dishes in the sink while you are eating dinner. Cut back on the time you spend cleaning and it will be easier to keep up.
197. Vinegar works great for cleaning up after pet accidents. A 1:1 mixture of water and apple cider vinegar will break down the enzymes, decontaminating and removing foul odors. This will also stop your pet from trying to mark the spot repeatedly.
198. Air out rooms in your house. It is tempting to think a scented candle or incense gets rid of bad odors, but all it does is mask them.
199. Soot, oil, or wax on glass or stone can all be cleaned effectively by using washing soda. Make a paste by mixing it with water. It needs to set for an hour before you can scrub it away.
200. Vacuuming a room where you think you have lost some small item, like an earring or a bead? Attach a stocking over the end and run it over your carpet. The stocking will catch the item if you find it.
We hope you enjoyed all these household tips and tricks! We love learning new things, so please be sure to share your favorite cleaning and organizing secrets with us in the comments below!