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.

An Ode to Vinegar

We’ve touted the wonders of white distilled vinegar as a natural cleaner on many occasions. Today, we’d like to share something new that we’ve read: vinegar can help prevent mold growth! We’re not sure if it’s true, but since it seems to be true that it prevents mildew growth, why can’t it do the same for mold?

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
This is how it apparently works: if you find mold growing, clean it up by soaking it in vinegar for an hour then wiping the area clean. After it’s all cleaned up, spray some more vinegar and just leave it there. Reapply every few days. Because vinegar is safe and non-toxic, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to give this a try.

Now, obviously this is no substitute for finding and repairing the source of the moisture that’s allowing the mold to grow in the first place. It is, however, a nice way to give yourself peace of mind that you’ve done everything you can to stop mold from growing.

Have you heard of this trick? What other uses do you know of for vinegar? Share in the comments below.

Roundup: Most Popular Posts of 2015

On this, the first year of 2016, we’d like to take a look back on last year’s most popular posts. Happy New Year!

Pittsburgh First Night
Happy New Year!

45 Uses for Dryer Sheets This is post links to one of our favorite life hacking articles of 2015 featuring more uses fro dryer sheets than we could have ever dreamed of.

Farmers Markets in the South Hills of Pittsburgh This post is actually from 2014, but a popular post is a popular post (even if it’s not farmers market season right now). Keep these markets in mind come spring, and you’ll be enjoying fresh, local produce for as long as it’s in season.

Day trips and weekend getaways around Pittsburgh Though this post is from summer, it’s still relevant in January. Sure, Cedar Point’s out, but, Seven Springs as a year-round wonderland of fun for the whole family.

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.

Make yourself at home with window treatments

When you first move into a place, one of your first steps in nesting should be to put up window treatments. They reduce echo, make a place look cared for and lived-in, and even make your home more energy efficient.

Window Treatments
Not all window treatments have to be exclusively for privacy and blocking out the sun. Even simple sheers can add a homey feel.

Lots of rentals don’t have blinds as a standard feature, so you’ll want to put up something in a hurry for privacy on that first night, but remember that this is a temporary stopgap. Unless you’re living in a college dorm, it’s just plain tacky to use a blanket or flag as a curtain, especially when decent window treatments aren’t that expensive.

  1. Start with is blinds. If you have a pet or a child, you’ll want to stay away from corded blinds to keep your loves safe. Also, you’ll want to know the rules about whether you’re even allowed to drill into the walls and window frames to mount blinds. Chances are, it’s not allowed or you’d have to pay the maintenance man to do it. Luckily, Redi Shade has your back! They make cordless blinds that you trim, peel, and stick. Now, we are a bit skeptical as to how long they stay put and how annoying it will be to clean the glue residue off the window frame once the blinds are removed, but color us intrigued!
  2. Next: drapes. If you’re lucky, you’re renting from a place like Alvern Gardens, where each window comes with its own curtain rod. If not, you’ll need to buy those. Luckily there are sturdy temporary options. If your window frame isn’t conducive to spring-loaded rods, you can use Command hooks to mount your rod instead. Now, you’ll want to measure your window not just for fitting the rod but for finding the right size curtains. Floor-to-ceiling drapes in a heavy fabric lend luxurious drama, but you don’t want the bottoms to drag across the floor.
  3. Finally, maintenance. Now that you have blinds and drapes, you’ll want to clean them regularly. Give blinds a good dusting every week or so, and take drapes down once or twice a year to wash them. We recommend taking drapes to a laundromat with commercial sized washers and dryers to get them fully and properly clean.

Shelf liners: good for your security deposit

We’ve been seeing some nifty ideas online for affordable shelf liners that make for easy clean-up. Of course, we look at these ideas and think they’re perfect for renters who want an easier time cleaning their rental when it comes time to move out. Here are some of our own tips when it comes to shelf liners:

  • Not just for cabinets, shelf liners are also an excellent idea for your fridge and freezer. We’ve read plenty of online tips suggesting plastic wrap as an excellent liner for fridge shelves. If something spills, you just peel away the soiled plastic wrap and replace it. Now, we imagine that’s a lot messier in practice than it is on paper, but it’s worth a try.
  • Not just for the kitchen: consider lining the shelves of your medicine cabinet and bathroom vanity as well. Do you have shelves in closets or buildt-ins? Line those too!
  • Wax paper is good for lots of things, and with a little double-sided tape, you can use it to line your drawers and cabinets on the cheap.
  • Aluminum foil would be ideal for completely wrapping up a removable shelf. Slide the shelf out of your fridge or cabinet, wrap it up, securing edges with tape if necessary, then slide it back into place.
  • Shelf liners as drip guards. Do you have a fridge with metal grate shelving instead of solid plastic? If you’ve ever spilled something on the top shelf of one of those, you know what a pain it is to empty and clean the whole fridge from top to bottom (though you should do that regularly anyway… not just when your roommate’s flavored coffee creamer takes a tumble and coats everything in a sticky pumpkin spice film). If you wrap the grate shelves, it’ll keep stuff from spilling through to lower levels of the fridge.

You might be wondering how a shelf liner is good for your security deposit. It’s pretty simple, really. When you move out of your apartment, you’ll significantly cut your cleaning time if all you have to do is remove your shelf liners to reveal squeaky clean surfaces beneath.

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.