Greta

I like to do preventative cleaning - each evening I spend 15-20mins and go through my house and put things back in their correct place, put clean dishes away, straighten magazines/pillows/whatever. Dishes get done daily, counters get washed with dawn dish soap after each meal, kitchen floor swept (usually) daily. Beds get made daily.

This keeps my place from looking cluttered and messy and saves time when I do my weekly clean:

  • Clean Sinks
  • Bathroom Tiles
  • Wash Floors
  • Dish And Vacuum
  • Wash Sheets
  • Vacuum Couch And Chairs

I use whatever products I can get on sale, although I know a lot of people like to make their own. I love cleaning and have a very neat home so I don't mind spending money. I usually use microfibre clothes which I saw wash and reuse but sometimes use jcloths and paper towels too. I also use a vacuum as well as a little DustBuster type thing in case I spill something small and don't want to dig out the full size one.

Be proactive, not reactive with your cleaning.

Do it frequently enough that it's never a big task, and don't be afraid to experiment with how you organize things to get the most out of the space you have.

Try to do as much laundry during the week and put it away ASAP so it doesn't add up.

Manage the incoming flow of paperwork/gifts/goodie bags etc daily (I have two young kids and a dog). I alternate on the weekends: one weekend I wash floors (vinegar, dawn dish soap and a mop and bucket, the floors get dried with a dry clean towel immediately after washing.

This prevents the water being on the wood too long, further facilitates in cleaning, and maybe polishes them a little). I also vacuum upstairs. Baseboard dusting and/or washing gets included as needed. Same with wall washing except I would do this prior to washing floors and use that water and change it if necessary.

We have white baseboards and I hate when they are dusty.

On the next weekend, I clean bathrooms and wash bedding although the bathrooms get maintained as needed throughout the week with wipes/paper towels. Bedroom/living room, blonds, door frames etc dusting gets done as needed, I use the swiffer generic brands of the hand held duster and the floor broom thing. When I sweep my floors, I will use either the broom or swiffer thing depending on which I want to use. If I don't have a hand held duster, I will use anything such as a sock.

I don't use Dusting products as I don't like the films they leave. If I need to wash furniture, I would apply same methods as washing floors and walls (dawn dish soap, water, vinegar, dish rag). Windows get washed typically two times a year and as needed. My preference of cleaning products is obviously dawn dish soap, vinegar, any brand toilet bowel cleaner (much have bleach), and a clorox bleach spray bottle.

I like to wipe down surfaces with fresh wet rag/paper towel that received the bleach as I don't like my kids to come into direct contact with harsh chemicals.

When it comes to chemicals and supplies, go with the basics and expand based on your needs. A bottle of windex, a bottle of bleach mixed with water, barkeeper's friend for extra-greasy kitchen messes, some baking soda for removing odors from carpets, and vinegar for sink stank.

When it comes to keeping things smelling fresh, I typically put on a simmer pot with mulling spice. If you need a heavy-hitting odor killer, get the stuff that's made to cover pet smells.

Make sure you have decent drain covers in your kitchen and bathroom. This is less a cleaning tip and more a "only meet plumbers when they're not working" tip. The less junk down your drains, the better. Most drain cleaners damage your pipes, and they're less effective than prevention.

Greta

We all know the baking soda tips and vinegar method of removing oder from carpets and other areas, but there are a lot of other techniques that can be used to rid rooms of smells.

Smells come in a lot of different packages and there are some common ways to identify them. One of the common ways to rid a room if it has moisture smells is to find the source and apply ample ventilation.

If you have condensation on any windows or surfaces you need to mop that with kitchen roll until dry, seal the roll in a bag as it stinks.

Clean all the things, wash surfaces, clothes or clean up what ever rubbish may be the cause.

Ensure all windows in the house are closed, open the smelly room window wide then open a window on the opposite side of the house half as wide to create a through draft. A fan pointed at the open window can help and so can cranking up the heating if its a smelly bedroom.

  • Make sure the area is well-ventilated and get some of those baking soda packets people put in their fridge to ward against smells. I keep two of them in my car when I go on long road trips. Drove 2000 miles to Seattle and back last year and that worked like a charm.
  • Put some vinegar in a pot on the stove and heat it until it's just hot and steaming. Pour it on a couple of saucers or small bowls in the room. It should completely dissipate the smell instead of masking it.
  • Ozium also works very well. My mom used to use it in her classroom art the end of the day (4th graders, recess, hot area). I used it when I was in college because my roommates smoked, and now currently use it on cat boxes when the cats do a ripe one. It's an air sanatizer unlike what you are probably use to, which is an air freshner which covers up smells. One spray of this and it gets rid of almost everything.
Greta

When we moved in the smell in the upstairs bathroom was pretty bad. I think that they must have masked the smell when we were looking at the house because I think that it would have been a down point since you can smell it in the bedroom down the hall.

Things we tried:

  • Cleaning the bathroom
  • Dumping a bunch of water down the drain to make sure the P-trap has water in it
  • Looking for hidden mold or dirtiness with a black light

Right now we got it into a state of acceptable with following various advice. Unfortunately the advice that worked the best got mixed in so we pretty much feel like it was a combination of various things that helped us git rid of the smelly bathroom orders.

If you are technical like my husband you could check the pipes yourself, but his uncle is a plumber so this wasn't a big deal for us. Before bringing someone out you could try unscrewing the pipe and making sure threads are clean and then put them back together making sure they are tight and well sealed. Do you have basement or anything you could see where the other side of the pipe goes that is in the wall?

The P trap may not hold water sufficiently to block gases.

This happens in little used bathrooms or those that were not hooked up correctly we think that the latter was the case since it gets used every day.

Some pedestal sinks are built hollow and the overflow drain does allow gunk to accumulate, but even though I had one of those, it never got smelly.

Have you checked the wax seal on the toilet?

Did you have your home inspected? Were there any notes on this matter? You may have legal recourse depending on the terms of your purchase if you end up needing to pay for a plumber.

Greta

I have a lot of clothes, and in the dozen or so homes I’ve lived in, many have had very little closet space. Here is 12 years worth of tips on how to cram your stuff into the minimal space you have.

So how do I make use of this blessing?

General tips:

  • Use all of your available space, but keep it organized
  • You’re more likely to wear something if you can see it
  • Keep 1-2 hooks empty for quick-n-dirty clean up
  • Don’t forget the backs of deep shelves, and high up places
  • Keep out-of-season (winter/summer) clothes out of the way

Creating Space:

  • Buy an armoire - that’s what I did.
  • Are you handy? Build a closet in a corner!
  • Only kind of handy? Get a stud-finder, drill, closet brackets, a shelf and closet rod. Install brackets, add shelf on top, slip rod into place (that’s what she said). Beware of how much your wardrobe weighs; you may need more than two of those brackets. Note: I once installed just the shelf, then had a towel rod underneath for scarves, and below was the boots bookshelf.
  • Get a freestanding rack. I have one in my pantry for coats. Whatever, it works.

Folded Clothes:

  • If you are using a dresser or other drawers, stack clothes vertically rather than horizontally. (See tip 3.) I do this for EVERYTHING including tights, socks, PJs, and even underwear! By the way, folding your underwear saves space but people may call you OCD – weigh your options wisely.
  • Fold all knit items to prevent hanger bumps. That includes sweaters, most T-shirts, and some blouses.
  • Got deep shelves? Fold clothes appropriately. If you still have space behind your folded clothes (i.e. really deep shelves) store your out-of-season sandals/sweaters back there.
  • For open shelving, be sure not to stack so high that it tumbles.
  • Feel free to use extra shelving in already existing shelves.

Hanging Clothes:

  • Install a second closet rod above your main one. This basically doubles your space. Buy a stool (my preference) or a reaching rod for access.
  • Matching hangers makes everything look so nice. I have these Joy Mangano ones and I love them so much. I bought a 200-pack or something like that when it was on special. Worth it.
  • Cascading hooks are bloody genius and work with almost any hanger. Use two at a time!
  • You can get a tiered hanger for skirts. Mine is over 30 years old and still going strong.
  • I have yet to find the perfect single skirt hanger commercially available, but it must have spring-clips and smooth rubber grips.

Accessories:

  • Corral smaller items into open boxes, jars, and cups purchased at thrift stores.
  • Items that you intend to use infrequently can be hidden away in boxes. Those are Ikea, and hold travel organization tools, special occasion undies, and hats.
  • Hang scarves on towel racks – you can get one for less than $4 at your local home improvement store. I have two on the inside of a closet door, but have also had this hanging over a boot bookcase (see above) on the wall before.
  • For belts, jewelry, sunglasses, and basically everything else ever, buy some screw in hooks in bulk at the home improvement store, and leave no wall or cabinet space uncovered. (Tips 1 & 5) These are also very handy in the kitchen. They work best if you drill a hole first.

Bags:

  • If you must hang, use an over the door coat rack or this handy thing (on the other side of the door from your shoes) to hang bags, and even hats. Potentially keep some of these hooks open (tip 4).
  • For less often used bags, create a drawer out of a long boot box. Line them up in the box, and slide it into a shelf – great for deep shelves (tip 5).
  • Stuff bags with tissue to keep their shape. When using a bag, leave tissue as holding space.
  • Sit them on a shelf rather than hanging them to prevent handles from stretching out.
  • Use bookends to keep them up. I built my own.
  • I love having a junk bowl/box/space for the things that I often but not always keep in my purse like hand sanitizer or a different sized wallet.

Shoes and Boots:

  • Small cheap bookshelves are great for boots. Check your local craislist for cheapies.
  • Some people love keeping their original shoe boxes, but this violates tip 3.
  • Use an over-the-door shoe organizer - I like these better than hang-in-the-closet versions because hanging space is so valuable. Ideally, look for ones where you can put both shoes in one slot. This is the one I have and I love it.
Greta

I live in an old house and I have noticed that smells play a role in their charm. Will, not really charm. But they can stink. Any vinegar based cleaners that you can make at home should help neutralizing the odor. Vinegar is great for strong odors. Stinks when you're using it, but dissipates to neutral pretty quickly.

I've found several recipes online that I now use everyday.

What I learned was that paint on walls/ceiling and the floors are the biggest retainer of odors. Assuming you don't want to rip your carpet out and clean the subfloor, you could try to wash the walls and ceiling with a detergent. Washing the surface as best as you can without damaging the plaster might help get rid of the smells.

The more thorough the better.

Once dried, prime with a good odor removing/covering primer. Look for products that are aimed at houses that had smokers or un-neutered pets. Then paint. I would strongly recommend hiring a good house painter for this. They probably know of good products and can get the painting done very fast.

Lots of fresh air is fine, but will have limited success. Over the decades a house gets lots of oils and other residues on every surface. It is not easy to get rid of those things.

Clean and cover or replace.

Good luck.

Greta

This might be more effective when the temp is slightly in the positive or when the sun is melting some ice causing a layer of water between the asphalt and ice layer.

I used this method to clear our driveway when it ice over this year.

I used a regular garden shovel and slid it along the pavement and under the ice as much as possible. Then I pried up pieces of ice. Sometimes this would flick off small chunks and sometimes it would lift several sq ft of ice.

I knocked off the thickest parts by using a 30~ lb steel rod with a pointed end to smash and chip into the ice about 5-6" from the edge. This weakened the ice so that I could pry off pieces with the shovel. If the ice was not too thick then the bar alone would chip off pieces. A pick axe or sledge might have a similar effect. I doubt you'd be able to find a metal bar I had found in the garage from the previous owners, I assume they used it for the same purpose.

Then I shovelled off the ice pieces with a big push shovel into the middle of the yard. This is much easier to do if you cut through the snow bank and form a ramp. It's a bit of shovelling to start with but that little effort will pay off.

I think the key to this method was the small amount of melt/runoff that was between the surface and the ice. Not sure how this would work when temps are well below 0C. Softening the surface with a bit of salt certainly doesn't hurt.

Good luck. It took a total of 6-7 man hours of rather efficient ice breaking (by my judgment) to finish our driveway (about 100 ft long, 10 ft wide).

Needless to say I was tried at the end of the day and my hands, back, and feet hurt.

My husband would have done it but he was down due to back surgery.