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A gentle swap for scouring powder
The best thing about scouring powder is its abrasive action. The worst is the harsh chemical smell. To get all the benefits without the caustic chemicals, use baking soda instead. In most instances, baking soda will work just as well as scouring powder.
Simply clean tiles
For an easy, natural tile cleaner, mix together ¼ cup baking soda and 1 gallon warm water. Scrub with a sponge or mop, then rinse. For tough stains, wait 10 to 15 before rinsing.
Love your grout again
Is there anything more satisfying than nice, clean grout? A simple paste of 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water is all you need. Make a new batch each time you plan to attack the space between your tiles.
To get rid of scuff marks left on vinyl flooring by dark-soled shoes, rub some baking soda into the spot with a wet rag. The marks will disappear.
Show off crystal-clean crystal
To clean your cut crystal, mix a teaspoon of baking soda with warm water, then dab it onto the crystal with a soft rag. Rinse with water, and buff with a dry, soft cloth.
Supercharge your detergent
To boost the power of your dishwasher detergent, sprinkle a little baking soda in the dishwasher every time you run it. It will also help fight foul odors before they start.
SEE ALSO: Who Knew's 12 Dishwasher Tips and Tricks
Know this skillet saver
The teriyaki chicken you made for dinner was delicious, but the sweet sauce left terrible black burns on the bottom of your frying pan. To clean it, first sprinkle the pan with ¼ to ½ cup baking soda, and fill the pan halfway with water. Bring the water to a boil, and the burned pieces should start to release. When most of the pieces are removed, turn off the heat, dump the water, and wash as usual.
As the water boils, you may want to use a spatula to help the process along.
Get better-tasting coffee
The secret many of us miss: Make sure you clean your coffee maker regularly. Just add several tablespoons of baking soda to your pot, fill it with water, and run it as usual. Then repeat using only water.
Tackle tough appliances
If you haven’t had time to clean up and now there’s dried-on food stuck in the blades of your blender or food processor, bring baking soda to the rescue. Add 1 tablespoon baking soda along with 1 cup warm water to the bowl, put the lid on, and let it blend for 10 to 15 seconds. Wash as usual.
Perk up your plastic
Have plastic storage containers with lingering odors? Wash them with hot water plus 2 tablespoons baking soda.
I can’t even count how many times our boys have left something to fester in a water bottle or thermos! Simply fill the container with hot water and ½ cup baking soda, then let it sit overnight. In the morning, rinse well and it should be as good as new.
The brightest white cabinets
White kitchen cabinets can be beautiful, but they can also show grease, dust, and dirt more than their darker counterparts. To keep them looking their best, add water to a small amount of baking soda until it’s a runny paste. Scrub the mixture on the cabinets, and then rinse with warm water.
Simple step to a shiny sink
For a spectacularly shiny finish on a stainless steel or aluminum sink, rub a liberal amount of baking soda in a circular motion all over its surface with a damp sponge.
RELATED: Domestic CEO's How to Clean Your Sink
Instead of throwing away baking soda when it’s finished its 30-day stint in your fridge, dump it down the garbage disposal with running water. It will keep your disposal fresh, too!
Freshen rugs and upholstery
Sprinkle rugs, couches, and upholstered chairs with baking soda and let it sit an hour before you vacuum. It will keep them cleaner and fresher over the long haul.
Sprinkle some baking soda into the bag of your vacuum cleaner to keep it smelling fresh.
Save money on delicate detergents
Use this homemade solution: Dissolve 1 cup baking soda in 1 cup warm water. Add the solution directly to your standard washing machine, or add it to the soap dispenser of a front loader. The baking soda will clean your clothes without harming their delicate fibers.
All-Natural Fabric Softener: Just add ¼ to ½ cup baking soda to the wash cycle.
Erase wall marks
What’s the easiest way to remove crayon, pencil, ink, and furniture scuffs from painted surfaces? Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge, rub clean, and rinse.
Vinyl siding super-cleaner
From bird poop to tree sap to standard weather damage, vinyl siding can get very dirty. And while brand-name cleaners will no doubt get the job done, they tend to be costly and loaded with toxic chemicals. Instead, combine baking soda with enough water to form a paste, then scrub into your siding with a damp rag until the stains lift. Rinse off with a hose and, if necessary, repeat on stubborn stains.
Lift oil stains
Cleaning oil spots off the driveway is difficult, and the cleaners can be quite expensive. Instead, sprinkle baking soda over the stains, then rub with a wet scrub brush soaked with hot water. The baking soda breaks apart oil particles, so with a little elbow grease, you can have your driveway looking new in no time.
Clean battery leaks
If battery acid leaks inside the compartments of your appliances, there’s no need to throw them away. Simply take a few spoonfuls of baking soda and add water until it’s the consistency of toothpaste. Spread it on your battery terminals, let it sit for 15 minutes, and wipe clean. The acid should come off easily.
Must-try for musty books
Place the books in a paper grocery bag with an open box of baking soda. Fold over the bag, staple it shut, and let it sit for a week or two. Your books should smell considerably better when you take them out.
Is your suitcase a bit musty? The night before packing, pour a cup of baking soda in it, close it, and shake. In the morning, vacuum up the baking soda and the smell should be gone.
Get gloves on more easily
Sprinkle a little baking soda into each of your latex gloves, and they’ll stick less when you’re putting them on and taking them off.
If you have kids, you’ve had to clean up vomit. Baking soda can make the job a little less gross if you sprinkle some on top as soon as possible. It will soak up some of the mess and make the smell easier to deal with when you have to go at it with the paper towels.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a new appreciation of backyards and other outdoor spaces. With many of us spending hours and hours at home, we’re all looking for places to relax other than the living room sofa and kitchen. If you have a yard with ample space for you and your family, consider yourself blessed.
But in 2021, outdoor space owners might want to consider taking it up a notch with one of the most sought-after features: an outdoor kitchen.
âI looked at this as an investment our family would enjoy for the next 20-plus years,â says lifestyle expert Evette Rios, who recently embarked on her own outdoor kitchen project.
For people who dream of spending even more time cooking outside and enjoying their backyard, an outdoor kitchen is a must. And now’s the time to get to work to ensure your kitchen is ready when the warm, sunny days arrive.
Take a look at the tips below from experts who have successfully completed outdoor kitchen projects of their own.
1. Set a budget
Outdoor kitchens are not a cheap investment, but the price range is really broad. The cost of an outdoor kitchen ranges from $5,406 to $21,699, according to HomeAdvisor.com. Therefore, there are many ways to tailor your kitchen to your budget.
That being said, you should always prioritize durable materials in an outdoor kitchen.
âInterior furnishings afford a bit more leeway on where you splurge and save,â says HGTV starÂ Laurie March. âBut for outdoor kitchens and living spaces, performance and durabilityâwhen it comes to cabinetry and appliancesâwill always be worth it.â
2. Seek out American-made products
Photo by Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens
March says COVID-19 has caused major global supply chain interruptions, which has made acquiring building materials and appliances difficult. But sourcing for your outdoor kitchen might be easier if you opt for American-made products.
âI selected Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, which are manufactured in Connecticut. It made the process so much easier,â says March.
She says it wasnât only about convenience, but also craftsmanship, quality, and the company’s established history.
3. Order appliances early in the planning process
Appliances are what will make your outdoor kitchen shine. But youâll want to order them sooner rather than later because some companies have long lead times or backordered items.
March advises finalizing appliance picks first and ordering as quickly as possible.
âItâs easier to store them until youâre ready to install rather than have to wait for them to arrive, which can add substantial time to your project,â she says.
4. Design with four seasons in mind
Photo by Chicago Green Design Inc.
Rios highly recommends designing your outdoor kitchen for year-round enjoyment. For example, in her outdoor kitchen, she knew she wanted durable, high-quality cabinets to keep contents dry even in rain or high humidity.
âHeating elements in different zones of the outdoor space are also crucial,â says Rios. âIn the kitchen, our pizza oven helps keep us warm during food prep, and the fire pit is a cozy spot for guests to gather.â
If you have a covered outdoor space, she recommends planning and budgeting for ceiling-mounted heat lamps, or invest in one or two free-standing, mobile heating units.
5. Find the right people for the job
March says homeowners should do their homework and hire the right professionals to guide them through their vision, flag any potential pitfalls, and elevate the overall aesthetic.
âFor me, bringing a landscape designer onboard brought the whole vision for our outdoor kitchen and yard together,â says March.
Rios says itâs also important to lock in a trusted contractor and installer to ensure the vision and layout for your outdoor kitchen is doable and within your budget.
6. Have fun with color
Photo by DeGoey Designs
Rios says an outdoor kitchen is the perfect space to have fun with color, whether taking cues from the surrounding landscape or going bright and bold.
âBlues and greens can so easily play off of surrounding elements outdoors. Iâm over the all-white kitchen, and I think outdoor kitchens are the perfect opportunity to embrace brighter hues,” says Rios, who used a beautiful juniper-green, powder-coat finish on her outdoor kitchen cabinetry.
7. Design based on how youâll use your space
âAsking yourself the right questions as you think through design options can provide a lot of helpful guidance,â says March. âHow do you want to live outdoors? Whatâs not working with your current or past space, and how could it rise up to meet you a bit better?â
She says itâs also important to consider whoâs going to use the outdoor kitchen space. Does it need to be wheelchair-accessible or suitable for pets and kids?
âThese details will dictate so much of your design,â says March.
For her space, she envisioned how it could pivot from a space to cook to a space to entertain. The big, open shelf she installed, for example, serves as additional landing space for items she brings out from the indoor kitchen.
The post How to Dine Al Fresco Year-Round: 7 Outdoor Kitchen Design Tips for 2021 appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
Thereâs no question that staging your dÃ©cor is advantageous when youâre trying to sell your home.
The strategic editing and placement of your furnishings can be enormously important to boosting its appeal. In a recent NAR survey, in fact,Â 77 percentÂ of buyersâ agents agreed staging is important to helping potential buyers envision a given home as their own. Fortunately, conducting your own staging need not be complex; you should be able to mimic professional techniques by following a few easy guidelines:
- Prioritize by room. The NAR reports youâll get the most visual impact by staging your living room, primary bedrooms, kitchen and extra bedrooms(s), in that order.
- De-clutter.Â Cleaning will be easier after you pack away at least 90 percent of your own dÃ©cor and personal artifacts. Your goal is to create a minimally decorated space buyers can imagine moving in to.
- Deep clean.Â Everything must be groomed, sparkling and odor-free inside and out.
- Divide and conquer.Â Plan to remove about half your furniture to give the impression of optimal space. If itâs all unpresentable, use stylish rental pieces or fake âpop-up furnitureâ for showings. Tip: Wherever possible, move display furniture away from walls (a technique known as âfloatingâ) to create groupings that are tied together visually with area rugs.
- Accessorize inside and out.Â Create an atmosphere of airiness, friendliness and cheer by selectively adding new flowers, potted plants, attractive seating and welcome mats outside, perhaps fresh flowers and bowls of fruit inside.
- Optimize light.Â Add brighter light bulbs, pull back curtains, clean windows and clean (or perhaps update) light fixtures to add to the overall impression of positivity.
The post A great presentation: 6 easy tips for staging your own home first appeared on Century 21Â®.
In March I offered some financial advice to Michelle, a Mint user who was struggling with debt, a lack of retirement savings and a bit of family financial drama amongst her siblings.
Michelle was anticipating a cash bonus from her company and wasnât sure if she should save the money or use it to relieve her debt.
I recommended a two-prong approach where she uses the cash to play savings catch-up in her retirement account and knock down some of her debt, which, at the time, included a $3,000 credit card balance and $52,000 in student loans.
Six months later, Iâve checked in with the 38-year-old real estate developer, to see if any of my advice was helpful and if sheâs experienced any shifts in her financial life.
We spoke via email:
Farnoosh: Have your finances have improved over the last 6 months since we last spoke? If so, what has been the biggest improvement?
Michelle: Yes. I’veÂ aggressively been contributing to my 401(k) â about 50% of my pay – and had hoped to reach the annual maximum of $18,000 by June, but looks like it will be more like October. I also received a $40,000 distribution from a project that I closed.
F: What aspects of your financial life still challenge you?
M: Investing for sure. I never know if I’m hoarding too much cash. I am truly traumatized from the financial downturn.Â I just joined an online investment platform, but it wasÂ also overwhelming. Currently I have $45,000 in a regular savings account that earns 1.5%.
Another challenge is not knowing whether to just bite the bullet and pay off my student loans or to continue to pay them monthly. Â I hate that I’m still paying loans 16 years after I graduated and it’s a source of frustration [andÂ embarrassment] for me. Â I owe $36,000. Often times I have an inner monologue about the pros and cons of just paying them off but then my trauma from 2008 kicks inâ¦and IÂ decide to keep my $45,000 nest egg safely where I can check the balance daily.
F: I recommended allocating $45,000 towards retirement. Was that helpful? What are some ways you’ve managed to save?
M: Yes, I recall you saying you recommended having a total of $100,000 towards retirement for a person my age. Currently, I have $51,000 in my 401(k), $35,000 in a traditional IRA and $17,000 in my Ellevest brokerageÂ account, so I’ve broken the $100,000 goal.
I did add a car note to my balance sheet. My old car suffered a total loss (major electrical failure due to a sunroof leak!) and the insurance gave me a check for $9,000.Â I used it all towards the new vehicle (aÂ certified used 2014 Acura) and I’m financing $18,000.
F: Your dad’s home was a source of financial stress, it seemed. Were you able to talk with your siblings and arrive at a better place with that?
M: My dad actually has passed since we last spoke. He passed in February and so his will went to probate. My siblings and I have decided not to make any decisions about the house for at least one year. Yes, this is kicking the can further down the street however, they recognize that I maintain the house and pay the real estate taxes and so they are not pressuring me to move or to sell.
The new deed has been recorded and the property is under all our names and so everyone seems ok with knowing that I can’t do anything regarding a sale or refinance unilaterally.
So, for now, I live rent free other than payingÂ utilities, miscellaneous maintenance on the houseÂ and real estate taxes quarterly. This, too, is helping me saveÂ aggressively.
Also, the new car note has replaced the hospice nurse contribution so I’m not feeling that my budget is overburdened with the new car.
I think ultimately I will buy out at least two of my siblings and stay in the house. Verbally they have expressed being okay with this.
Have a question for Farnoosh? You can submit your questions via Twitter @Farnoosh, Facebook or email at email@example.com (please note âMint Blogâ in the subject line).
Farnoosh Torabi is Americaâs leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, sheâs become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.
The post Mint Money Audit 6-Month Check-In: How Did Michelle Allocate Her Windfall? appeared first on MintLife Blog.