5 Tips for Eliminating Odors

It’s spring cleaning time again, so we’re offering five tips on how to clear the air and get rid of any nasty lingering odors in your home.

natural cleaning
Baking soda and vinegar just keep showing up in cleaning tips. If you haven’t tried this pet safe, environmentally friendly cleaning method, it’s time you did. Image attribution: By katerha (http://www.flickr.com/photos/katerha/5703151566/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
  1. Clear the drains: Garbage disposals are notorious for getting stinky, but even drains without disposals can get funky when they’re clogged. You might not even notice yet that the the sink is draining slowly, but whatever’s down there is stinking up the place. Start by pouring down a mixture of baking soda and vinegar followed by very hot water. If that doesn’t do the trick, call a plumber, or your maintenance department if you rent.
  2. Keep the humidity down: mold and mildew thrive in humid environments, so keeping your home well ventilated is key. Although mold doesn’t typically have an odor, so mildew is the most likely culprit when your home smells musty. If your bathroom doesn’t have a fan, open the window after each shower (or during if possible), and create as much of a cross breeze as you can by leaving the bathroom door open. Wiping down the shower/tub and sink after use also helps to cut back on mildew growth.
  3. Clean soft surfaces: Fabric absorbs odor, so to get your home smelling truly fresh you’ll want to take down all your drapes to wash them (take them to a laundromat with industrial sized machines). You’ll also want to either rent a carpet shampooer or hire a professional cleaner if you have large area rugs or carpeting. Hiring someone is the best route to go because they’ll be able to clean your upholstery as well.
  4. Banish smokers to the outdoors: This may seem obvious, but tobacco smoke deposits tar on all surfaces it comes into contact with, so the smell of one cigarette lingers for ages. To keep your home smelling fresh, smoke outside.
  5. DIY odor eliminators: Most of us know the old trick of keeping an open box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors, but that trick applies to more places than the fridge. Plus, coffee grounds do the same thing, so before you throw out your used grounds, consider saving them. A jar full of used, dried coffee grounds soaks up stink just as well as baking soda.

Home investments for the holidays

Do you have family coming to stay for Thanksgiving? There are all kinds of things you might need for your home when the whole clan rolls in for the holidays, so we thought we’d compile a list of odds and ends that might be useful if you don’t own them already:

  • A plunger will be a lifesaver for your overworked toilet.
    Pittsburgh in Autumn
    Festive fall foliage can been seen all over Pittsburgh, and soon your family will be here for the holidays as well.
    By John [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Extra toilet paper will be a must, so even if you have a few rolls left, buy a jumbo sized backup pack.
  • Drain strainers for your kitchen sink and bathtub will save you the headache of clogs caused by built up food and hair.
  • If you’re hosting, you probably already have all the sleeping arrangements worked and won’t another air mattress, but make sure you have a spare pump and a patching kit ready to go just in case.
  • Your bathroom almost definitely doesn’t have enough towel racks for everyone, but crumpled up towels will stink of mildew after their first use. Luckily, folding drying racks are cheap and easy to store when you no longer need extra hanging space.
  • Child proofing equipment is a must if you have small children among your guests. You’ll want to at least get locks for your cabinet doors, and a lock for your your toilet seat would be a good investment as well.
  • Stock up on carpet cleaner (and all other cleaning products, for that matter) in case of spills.
  • If you have pets and don’t already use calming pheromones or other soothing agents, now is a good time to look into it. A Feliway plug-in will help keep your skittish cat calm in its suddenly full home.
  • Extra shoe storage will protect your flooring from the wintery mix likely to be blowing outside. Even just a plastic tray to set wet shoes on will be helpful.

Best bathroom cleaning products

cleaning
Keeping the bathroom clean seems like a never-ending task, but these products will make it much easier.

Everyone has a cleaning product or method that they swear by, and then there’s that one thing that’s such a pain to clean. If you’re on the market for trying something new, this article is for you. From the best paper towels to the best vacuums, this article will tell you what’s worth the money and what isn’t when it comes to cleaning your bathroom.

So you have a new home to fill: Where should you shop?

Moving into a new home can be daunting, especially if you’re also on the market for new furniture for that new home. The good news is that there are plenty of options for saving money, and those options just keep getting better.

guest bedroom/home office
We found this futon at Walmart. Its black faux leather is just the right look for extra seating in a home office. Plus, it lets the room double as a guest bedroom.
  • Ask around. Most people have stuff they don’t use. From surplus silverware and china to old dining sets, if you ask enough friends and relatives, you can cobble together almost an entire household. If you have a trustworthy source, you could go so far as to get a mattress for super cheap. (Maybe even for free!) Though you shouldn’t accept upholstery without first giving it a thorough inspection. After all, your Aunt Marge might have an old sofa that she’ll give you if you’ll just come pick it up, but you might show up for it and realize it smells worse than her ash tray.
  • Go thrifting first. Spend a weekend visiting garage and estate sales, check your local Goodwill, visit flea markets. Any place that sells used items is going to have at least some of what you need for cheaper than if you were to buy it new. But thrift smart. Haggle for a lower price when possible, and don’t buy anything that’s so worn out that it’ll cost more to fix it than to buy the same thing new.

    home office/guest bedroom
    This desk is from IKEA, and the chair–believe it or not–is from Costco!
  • Buy new upholstery. Yes, coffee tables and shelving units are easy to find on the cheap and easy to fix up if they’re a little worn, but couches are a different story. Just like you should always buy mattresses and box-springs new, it’s safer to buy upholstery new. If you’re buying a ratty old thing with plans of re-upholstering, forget it. Unless you know how to do it yourself or know someone who’ll do it for cheap or even free, re-upholstering won’t save you money. Besides, old upholstery is dusty, musty, hard to clean, and possibly full of bedbugs. Safer to buy new for sure.
  • Comparison shop. Where you find the cheapest version of what you’re looking for will depend on what it is you need. Walmart’s furniture selection has gotten trendier over the years, but they still don’t have much beyond futons. Places like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond regularly have sales, but you might have to wade past stuff aimed at college kids to find the classier items. Check TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods for smaller pieces like accent chairs and storage benches as well as decor to tie a room together. Amazon, Overstock.com, and Wayfair have competitive prices, but stick to free shipping to really keep that price low. IKEA is still an excellent place to get everything you need, especially if you browse their as-is section as well as the store itself.

Excellent tips for using baking soda

Dogs welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments
Stinky pet? Try baking soda!

We’re all about the amazing fizzing cleaning powers of baking soda mixed with vinegar, but there are more uses for baking soda than we could have imagined! Check out this article for some truly excellent tips. Our personal favorite is the pet odor control method of sprinkling your furry friend with baking soda, letting it sit for 15 minutes, then brushing them clean. You’ll need a well-behaved pet to pull it off, but we bet it works miracles.

Cleaning tips galore!

We’ve been scouring the web for the best tips on keeping a home spic and span. Here’s some of the best advice we’ve found:

  • A list of things that should be cleaned but are often overlooked. This slideshow reminds us of our previous post on cleaning mattresses and oft-overlooked spots in the kitchen. It adds a few key places, like the toothbrush cup and some very specific spots in the fridge. We’d just like to add, that once or twice a year, you should pull your fridge away from the wall and vacuum up all the debris that’s collected behind it. While you’re at it, your fridge’s filter should be cleaned regularly as well.
  • The best way to clean a microwave. This method is super easy, no scrubbing required, and it leaves your microwave sparkling and smelling fresh. Plus, this article offers some of the best step-by-step instructions we’ve found for this cleaning method.
  • These 20 home-cleaning hacks are pure gold. Some of them are similar to what we’ve shared before, but great advice never gets old.
  • Prepping for visitors involves more than just vacuuming (though vacuuming is key). We enjoy this list’s advice to put out fresh flowers to impress guests. And why wait for guests to de-clutter? A tidy, organized home is a happy, stress free home.

More natural cleaning tips

We’ve been scouring Pinterest for our favorite natural cleaning tips, and it’s time to share our findings.

  • Because Alvern Gardens Apartments feature stainless steel kitchen sinks, we were especially excited about this cleaning regiment, though we’re not so sure about that last step of buffing with olive oil. Why waste delicious (expensive) olive oil like that? The tip of using a citrus fruit peel before tossing it is, however, genius.
  • We’re especially excited to try the toaster and pan cleaning tips on this list.
  • Dirty blender? Hair in your drain? Grimy grout? Dusty air vents? Dirty vacuum filter? Carpet stains? Nasty oven? Scratched ceramic? Nail polish spill? You name the job, this list will help you tackle it.
  • Finally, here’s an excellent infographic that shows you how to make your own natural cleaners for every room in the house.

So why use all natural cleaners instead of the store bought stuff? First of all, it’s better for you, your family, and your pets as well as the environment to use natural products instead of harsh chemicals. Second, it’s gentler on the items you’re cleaning. If you have an acrylic tub, for example, some cleaners are so powerful that they eat away at the tub itself and do more harm than good. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, making your own cleaning products can save you money.