How to Fix Annoying Problems in Your Home

Owning a home brings a big set of challenges that can range from wallet-busting emergencies to small annoyances that add up over time. While most homeowners will take the small annoyances over the big repairs that cost thousands of dollars, those small problems can do a number on your patience and your sanity.

Fortunately, most small issues around your house are likely fixable with minimal tools and just a few hours of your time. So the next time you run into a problem that just won’t go away, don’t get flustered—instead, use Blindster’s tips below and fix it for good.

Sticky locks

Sticky locks

Over time, locks can become difficult to turn, and some may even become so sticky that it’s possible to break your key off inside of the locking mechanism. If you find any of the locks in your home are getting more and more difficult to turn, don’t use traditional lubricants like WD-40, as they can break down inside the lock and eventually make the problem worse.

Instead, use a substance called powdered graphite. You can pick this up at most home repair stores. Use a small amount and squeeze it into your keyholes and inside the lock/latch to keep the inner mechanisms working smoothly and the lock easy to turn for years to come.

Leaking and running toilets

Leaking and running toilets

Leaking and constantly running toilets are loud, messy, and can significantly increase your water bill. Even if you’ve never worked on a toilet before, it’s important to understand that they are actually very simple devices and most problems can be pinpointed to two causes: a leaky rubber flapper or a chain that’s too long or too short.

To test and find out which one is the culprit, add a few drops of food coloring to the water in the top of your toilet’s tank. If the water in your toilet begins to show color within a few minutes, the problem is definitely a leaky flapper. At this point, you can also test the chain: make sure it’s long enough so that it closes the flap but doesn’t have so much slack that it gets caught under the flapper.

If the chain isn’t the right size, see if you can adjust it until it’s the proper length. If the toilet keeps running after replacing or repairing the chain, you’ll have to purchase a replacement flapper—an inexpensive part that can be found at almost all hardware stores.

Dishwasher doesn’t clean

Dishwasher doesn’t clean

We’ve all been there—you load up your dishwasher with dirty dishes, silverware, and cups, add a detergent pack, close it up, and turn it on. After it runs for an hour or so, you come back, open it up, and find half of your dishes just as dirty as they were when you first put them in. As disappointing as it may be, seeing dirty dishes after a full rinse cycle doesn’t necessarily mean your dishwasher is broken or needs to be replaced. Instead, it may just need a good cleaning.

First, remove everything from the dishwasher, including the dish racks, and take a look inside. Clean out any obvious bits of stuck-on food particles. Then, remove and rinse off the filter and the spray arms. You may have to consult your dishwasher manual to find out how to remove them. They frequently accumulate food particles or even soap residue and become clogged, making your dishwasher much less effective. Once they’re removed, thread steel wire into the holes to loosen up any blockages before reinstalling them.

You should also run your dishwasher while empty using products designed to breakdown limescale build-up and other residue that accumulates throughout your dishwasher. These products are inexpensive and can be used on a regular basis with every cycle to keep residue from building up in the future.

Cabinets won’t shut all the way

Cabinets won’t shut all the way

If you like a neat and tidy kitchen or bathroom, seeing a cabinet door that won’t quite shut all the way no matter how much you want it to close can be maddening. In these cases, the problem generally lies with the hinges or cabinet doors that aren’t properly aligned. First, try simply tightening or loosening the hinges and seeing if it makes a difference. If not, you may need to remove the doors entirely and replace the hinges.

Before trying that, however, look at the cabinet door and its alignment with the cabinet itself and any other cabinets nearby. If it looks slightly off-center, it may have been installed incorrectly and needs to be remounted.

Smells coming from the kitchen sink

Smells coming from the kitchen sink

If your kitchen has a garbage disposal or a drain big enough for food to easily fall inside, chances are you’ve dealt with a few unpleasant smells. And despite being out of sight, those smells have a tendency to fill the entire kitchen and even make their way throughout your home.

To stop them in their tracks, pour half a cup of baking soda down your drain and allow it to sit for 15 minutes without any water or other liquids. After the 15 minutes are up, add one cup of white vinegar to your burgeoning science experiment and leave it for another 15 minutes. Finally, add a few cups of boiling water to the mixture to finish killing off any bacteria and flush down any dissolving bits of food particles.

If your garbage disposal doesn’t seem to be working as well as it used to, drop in a few ice cubes and turn it on. The ice cubes will help sharpen the blades while also helping to remove any stuck on food particles that remain inside the top of the drain.

Pot lids and plastic container nightmares

Pot lids and plastic container nightmares

There are some things that just never seem to have a good storage place in your kitchen, and chances are, those things include the lids for your pots and pans and your endless assortment of plastic food containers. Because of their irregular shapes and sizes, it can be difficult to store these with other items in your kitchen. Instead of just placing them wherever you have room, consider giving them their own place in your storage areas.

One ingenious idea for pot lids is to install racks on the inside of your cabinet doors that will hold them in place. Two hooks that the lids can slide into is enough to keep them safe, secure, and out of sight. For plastic food containers, divide them up using small boxes inside your cabinets or drawers, and place lids inside one and containers inside another. Stack them neatly inside or next to each other to preserve as much space as possible.

How to Prepare Your Home for Guests

One of the perks of owning a home is having the space and amenities to accommodate guests. Whether it’s family or friends, every homeowner wants to provide the best possible experience for their guests during their stay, whether it’s for a weekend or a longer period of time. However, giving your guests everything they’ll need no matter how long their visit lasts can take a little planning and preparation.

To make your guests feel truly at home the next time they arrive at your house, check out these tips from Blindster.

Prepare the guest bed with fewer—not more—pillows and blankets.

Prepare the guest bed with fewer—not more—pillows and blankets.

While it’s common for guest beds to be lavishly decorated with an assortment of pillows and blankets, all of these items can make your guests feel awkward and unsure of not only which items they should remove when it’s time to go to sleep, but also where to put them. Solve the dilemma for them by removing these items ahead of time and leaving just a few pillows for each guest on the bed and a few extras, along with extra blankets, near the bed. That gives them the choice of grabbing anything they need before they go to sleep without having to wonder where to stash the excess.

Stock your bathroom with the essentials.

Stock your bathroom with the essentials.

While your guests probably packed everything they needed for a few nights or even weeks away from home, there’s still a good chance that they might have missed one or two essential items or that they will need to replace something during the trip. To eliminate the need for a last-minute trip to the supermarket, stock your guest bathroom with the essentials, including things like toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, shaving cream, body wash and shampoo, and even an extra hair dryer or curling iron.

Get any tech-related outlets, passwords, and connections ready to go.

Get any tech-related outlets, passwords, and connections ready to go.

The days of guests arriving and enjoying a few days “off the grid” are long gone. Instead, people expect to be connected to the Internet and their email at all times now. To accommodate your guests’ needs, either email them or write down your pertinent tech-related information, including your Wi-Fi network name, password, and any settings they need to enable on their laptops, smartphones, or tablets before connecting.

You should also prepare a space for your guests in case they need to get any work done or simply charge their gadgets. A small desk with an easily accessibly power strip will allow them to plug-in at night and stay on top of their emails and other persona or work-related communications.

Stock up your kitchen with snack foods, drinks, and the ingredients to make your guests’ favorite meals.

Stock up your kitchen with snack foods, drinks, and the ingredients to make your guests’ favorite meals.

Before you head to the supermarket to pick up food for your guests, make sure you find out beforehand if they have any allergies. Sensitivity to things like eggs, wheat, dairy products, nuts, and other common ingredients can significantly change your grocery list, so only buy items that you know your guests can safely eat or drink.

If you enjoy cooking, it’s also a good idea to buy the ingredients for a few meals that you know your guests will love. While going out for dinner is a great way to bond with your guests, it’s tough to beat the enjoyment you’ll get from cooking their favorite meals and serving it at your own dinner table. Make sure to pair any meals with your guests’ choice of beverage as well, whether it’s wine, beer, or a specific type of soft drink.

When it comes to snacks, think light and easy. Potato chips and popcorn are great for something quick and easy, but you can also prepare snack trays with things like meats and crackers or vegetables and dip.

Consider your guests’ tolerance for pets and any possible allergies.

Consider your guests’ tolerance for pets and any possible allergies.

If you have pets, it can be tough to consider parting with them for even a brief period of time. Unfortunately, that may be a sacrifice you have to make if your guests are allergic or sensitive to animals like cats and dogs. Depending on the available room, you may be able to simply relocate your pets to another part of your house away from your guests. If no room is available, consider taking them to the home of a friend or relative while your guests are staying with you.

You should also make sure to clean up any possible allergens before your guests arrive, such as loose pet hair. Wash, vacuum, and wipe down any areas in your living room or guest bedroom where your pets sleep or lounge, including the comforter, pillows, couch, rug, and sheets.

Provide storage space for luggage, clothing, and other essential items.

Before your guests arrive, clear out space in a closet or other area in or near the guest bedroom for luggage storage. If possible, try to provide room in your closet for your guests to hang up their clothing and space in a spare dresser where they can fold things like t-shirts, socks, and underwear. Living out of a suitcase can be a drag for even the most well-seasoned traveler, and your guests are sure to appreciate being able to keep their clothes aired out and unwrinkled during the course of their stay.

Write down instructions for anything your guests need to know.

Write down instructions for anything your guests need to know.

Whether you have a unique dishwasher, a confusing number of light switches, a newfangled security system, or a high-tech shower, make sure your guests understand how to operate anything that might be out of their comfort zone or realm of familiarity. It’s best to write down the instructions for anything that might confuse your guests to prevent any late-night mishaps or early morning misunderstandings.

Give your guests some time to themselves.

Give your guests some time to themselves.

While it can be tempting to plan a packed itinerary for your guests and keep them busy and sightseeing every second of their stay, it’s also important to give them some time to themselves. Plan a day where you give your guests a chance to explore your city or simply a chance to relax and unwind. Whether they use it to catch up on work, take in the local sights and sounds, or simply lay back and enjoy the day is up to them, but chances are they will relish the opportunity to take the day at their own pace.

Top Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores are popping up in cities across the country, and the demand for these budget-minded shops seems endless. While many people may write them off due to concerns about the quality of their merchandise, dollar stores actually offer excellent bargains on many items that homeowners use and need on a daily basis. In fact, the deals that can be found at these ultra-discount merchandisers often make those of even the most well-known discount supermarkets pale in comparison.

But what are the best deals to be had at your local dollar store? Check out this list from Blindster and enjoy some serious savings the next time you need a few essential items for your home.

Cleaning supplies

Cleaning supplies

The cost of cleaning supplies has skyrocketed in recent years, with small bottles of household cleaners fetching up to $7 at some supermarkets and mop-jet refills in the $15-$20 range. In fact, replenishing an entire closet or cabinet’s worth of cleaners, mops, brooms, sponges, and detergents could easily run you $200 or more when all is said and done.

To cut down on your cleaning bill significantly, consider purchasing these items at your local dollar store. Not only are they often the same brand, but they usually retail at prices that are a fraction of those posted at other discount supermarket chains. Going the dollar store route also allows you to inexpensively experiment with different types of cleaners to find ones that work best for your floors, walls, furniture, clothes, dishes, and more.

Kid’s crafts and art supplies

Whether your child needs art supplies for school or simply enjoys creating masterpieces in his or her spare time, getting all the items necessary for your Michelangelo in training can be expensive. Thankfully, dollar stores have many of these items at significant discounts. Everything from paints, crayons, glitter, beads, string, construction paper, and more can often be found in dollar stores for huge discounts.

In addition, dollar stores are the perfect place to pick up coloring books. Licensed coloring books can range in price from $3 to $5 a piece at large supermarkets, but they can be found be much, much cheaper at dollar stores.

Kid’s crafts and art supplies

Disposable dishes, cookware, and cutlery

Disposable dishes, cookware, and cutlery

If you’re planning a party or get-together in the near future, a few items on your shopping list probably include disposable plates and silverware. Being able to easily toss the plates used by your guests at the end of the night is a huge timesaver—not to mention the fact that you may not even have enough plates, knives, and forks in your kitchen for everyone invited.

But before you pick these items up at the grocery store or supermarket, consider checking out the selection at your local dollar store. Not only are the prices often much cheaper, but you also get more of each item for your buck.

Holiday candy and decorations

There is no shortage of festive holidays on the American calendar, and many retailers take advantage of this fact by displaying holiday-specific candy and décor up front and center to catch your eye as soon as you walk in. What you may not realize, however, is that these items are often marked up significantly and sell at huge profit margins for the retailer.

Instead of buying a big bag of candy for trick-or-treaters and a Christmas wreath at the supermarket or department store, see what’s for sale at the dollar store first. In many cases, the selection and quality are exactly the same but at a much lower price.

Holiday candy and decorations

Health and wellness items

Health and wellness items

The prices on everything from soaps and lotions to toothpaste and bandages seems to go up significantly year after year. Just like keeping your kitchen sink well-stocked with cleaning supplies can come close to breaking the bank, so too can keeping the essentials in your medicine cabinet and bathroom drawers.

But in many cases, dollar stores stock name brands for things like toothpaste and soap and offer generic alternatives for things like pain relievers, allergy medicines, antibiotic ointments, acne treatments, and much more. The vast majority of these products contain the exact same ingredients as their much more expensive name-brand equivalents, but they’re sold at huge discounts.

Boxed and canned food

Food that is preserved and packaged in boxes or cans is the same no matter where it’s sold. While your local dollar store probably doesn’t sell any fresh fruit, cuts of meat, or crisp vegetables, any items that are pre-packaged are likely identical to those found at your local grocery store or supermarket—except they’re sold at steep, steep discounts. Take advantage of these offers to stock up on things like rice, soups, chicken stock or broth, snack foods, and even spices and flavorings.

Boxed and canned food

Household knick-knacks

Household knick-knacks

Need a new spatula? How about a roll of aluminum foil? Light bulbs need replacing? Your first instinct when replacing these items may be a quick trip to the supermarket, but that could set you back far more than you bargained for. Dollar stores stock the majority of assorted items that most homeowners need and don’t realize they can’t live without it until it breaks or goes missing.

Instead of paying far more than the item is truly worth at the supermarket, pay $1 or less at your local dollar store and get the same quality for much cheaper.

Mailing items

Office supply stores and shipping centers make huge profits selling boxes, tape, shipping labels, packing peanuts, and other assorted mailing supplies at big markups. In reality, these items cost next to nothing to manufacture, but retailers take advantage of the fact that most people need them right away. Before you spend an arm and a leg to ship something across the country, see what your local dollar store has for sale. Not all super discount merchandisers carry shipping supplies, so it might be worth your while to call ahead first and make sure they have the items you need before making the trip.

Mailing items

Overlooked Areas in Your Home that Need Regular Cleaning

Regular cleaning is a must for any homeowner. Wiping down counters, vacuuming the carpet, mopping the floor, and dusting every nook and cranny are all in a day’s work for you and your family. However, even though your home may look clean at first glance, chances are there you may have missed some key areas that are highly prone to collecting dust, dirt, bacteria, and other gunk that can range from allergens and irritants to even health and fire hazards.

To clean your home top to bottom and eliminate even the most well-hidden messes, check out Blindster’s list of the most overlooked areas in your home that need regular, deep cleaning.

how to clean a refrigerator

Your refrigerator

Regularly wiping down your counters, washing your dishes, and cleaning your sink are all great ways to reduce the chances of suffering from food-borne illnesses, but the very place you store your food to keep it safe for long periods of time may be harboring huge amounts of dangerous bacteria. No matter how well-sealed and packaged your food is inside your refrigerator, small spills or food exposed to even small amounts of air can eventually begin to spoil and spread bacteria throughout the surfaces inside your refrigerator.

Make it a point to remove the food, beverages, and condiments from your refrigerator one shelf at a time and give every square inch a thorough cleaning at least once or twice per month. Not only does this keep sticky messes from drying and becoming extremely difficult to remove, but it also eliminates bacterial growth and can even increase the length of time that you food stays fresh.

Give your dishwasher a deep cleaning

Your dishwasher

Because dishwashers are regularly inundated with hot, soapy water, it’s natural to assume that they are self-cleaning and that no further intervention is necessary. However, even the most efficient and powerful dishwasher can’t eliminate the full gamut of food particles that break off of plates, bowls, and silverware and end up on the walls and inside the filters and other moving parts.

To give your dishwasher a deep cleaning, remove the racks and wipe down the exposed surface areas inside the appliance. Then, consult your dishwasher manual to remove the filter and wash it thoroughly, making sure to remove any bits of food that are stuck inside. For a truly deep cleaning, you can even take apart the cleaning arms that contain the spray nozzles to remove any obstructions. Just make sure you know how to put everything back together when you’re done.

After you’ve cleaned your dishwasher manually, run it empty on its hottest cycle with two cups of vinegar on the bottom to finish off the deep cleaning process and ensure that your dishes come out cleaner than ever in the future.

Claening your baseboards and molding

Your baseboards and molding

Although vacuuming and mopping your floors is an excellent way to reduce the amount of dirt, dust, mold, and other allergens are floating around your home, it doesn’t address one of the areas where they collect the most: your baseboards. Pet hair, human hair, and free floating dust tend to collect on and around baseboard ledges and can become a dingy color over time. The same is true for any molding in your home, especially near windows and doors.

To clean these areas of your home, use a gentle cleaner or make your own by combining equal parts water and vinegar. Apply the mixture to a paper towel or rag and gently wipe it along the exposed areas while scrubbing any areas with heavy amounts of accumulated gunk. You may be surprised by how much brighter and cleaner your floors, walls, and windows seem in comparison after you’re done.

keep pet beds clean

Your pets’ beds and toys

Pet beds are magnets for fur and dander, and when those accumulate in one area, they can be allergens to people who normally have no issues being around pets. In addition, pet beds and toys are also prime breeding grounds for pests such as lice, fleas, ticks, and other critters that your pets may bring in from outside.

To keep pet beds clean, use a large lint roller to collect any large accumulations of hair. Then, if it’s machine washable, toss it in the washing machine to loosen up and remove any remaining hair, dander, and dirt. Depending on its size, either dry it in the dryer or let it air dry.

To wash your pets’ toys, wipe them down with anti-bacterial wipes or put them in the wash. Make sure to let them dry completely before handing them back over to your pets.

Your hard to reach places

Your hard to reach places

Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not chock full of dirt, dust, pet hair, and other gunk that would clean up on sight in other places in your home. Places like the tops of your doors, your ceiling fan blades, the top of your cabinets, and the top of your refrigerator can all become full of allergens in no time—especially if you have roaming cats that enjoy surveying the landscape of your home from a high perch.

Use a paper towel and rag and a gentle cleaner and go over these spots at least once a month to cut down on the amount of dust and dirt freely circulating through your home.

Your most used items and switches

Your most used items and switches

Light switches, door knobs, oven/microwave controls, faucet and refrigerator handles, and television remotes, tablets, and cell phones are the most commonly touched areas in our homes, and yet they often go months or even years without getting a thorough cleaning. These objects are breeding grounds for bacteria—especially if someone in your home is sick—and should be cleaned on a regular basis.

Make a note of everything you touch in a single day in your home, and then wipe down the surfaces of all those areas.

Your cleaning products

Your cleaning products

Yes, even your cleaning products need a good cleaning every once in a while. Brooms, mops, vacuums, buckets, and even cleaning spray bottles themselves can accumulate dirt and bacteria and should be wiped, soaped, and rinsed on a regular basis. Cleaning vacuums is especially important, as clogged vacuums are much less effective at removing trapped dirt and dust in carpet and can actually spread allergens in the air that are inside their bags, canisters, and filters.

Pros and Cons of Different Types of Flooring

The sheer variety of flooring types can seem overwhelming—especially if you’re in the market to build a new home or renovate your current home. The flooring you choose for your home can have a huge impact on its overall atmosphere, appearance, livability, and comfort level for your entire family. Installing new flooring is a biggest money and time investment than simply changing the color of your walls, so it’s important that you make the right decision before you start spackling.

Because every type of flooring has its own strengths and weaknesses, Blindster created this list to help you choose the right flooring for your home.

 

Wood

PRO

Wood floors bring an elegant, warm, and timeless look to any room in your home. Mostly commonly used in living rooms and bedrooms, hardwood floors can range in appearance from light cedar to dark mahogany, and each can be stained to create even more dramatic colors and hues. Wood floors are also great for complementing wood furniture, and a freshly waxed wood floor can create a brilliant shine in direct sunlight.

CON

Unlike many other types of floors, wood floors are highly susceptible to scratches that can be extremely difficult to remove. In addition, wood floors are also vulnerable to water damage, as any standing water or liquid can quickly cause problems-meaning spills must be cleaned up immediately to avoid damaging the wood. Dark wood floors also hide dirt, which can make it more difficult to keep them completely clean.

laminate flooring

Laminate

PRO

Laminate is a common substitute for wood floors, as it can be designed to look almost identical to wood from a distance. It’s also much easier to install than wood flooring, as it can often be installed directly on top of existing flooring. Laminate flooring is traditionally cheaper than other types of flooring, it’s also easily cleaned and scratch resistant. Inexperienced DIYers can often install laminate flooring with minimal construction or home repair skills, as it only requires precise cuts and a strong adhesive.

CON

This type of flooring is synthetic and doesn’t have the same shine or sturdiness of wood. Depending on the type of laminate purchased, it can also look synthetic and unnatural when viewed up-close or in certain types of lighting. High-quality laminate looks more like the real thing, but the price for this type of flooring can reach the same levels of actual hardwood. It also has a tendency to warp over time.

tile flooring

Tile

PRO

Most commonly used in bathrooms and kitchens, tile flooring is available in a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and patterns, which makes it quite versatile for your home’s décor and color schemes. In addition, tiles also holds up well to repeated exposure to liquids, including spills and humidity from kitchens and showers. Finally, tile is easy to install as a weekend DIY project and can be laid with very little experience in home repair or improvement projects.

CON[/av_font_icon

Tile can get cold in the winter and is a hard surface, making it less than ideal for families with small children. It also has a tendency to become extremely slippery when wet, making it a hazard for trips and falls. Tile is susceptible to chipping, cracking, and breaking over time, and it can be difficult and expensive to repair or replace broken tiles. Initial costs for purchasing tile can also be higher than other types of flooring.

Carpet

PRO

Carpet is the flooring of choice for most homes and is widely used in living rooms, dens, hallways, and bedrooms for its warmth and comfort. Its softness makes it ideal for homes with small children, and modern carpet is often highly stain-resistant and more easily cleaned than older carpets.

CON

Wall-to-wall carpeting can be harmful for people with allergies, as it can trap dirt, dust, and other irritants deep inside for long periods of time that vacuuming may not remove. Carpeting installed in locations with high humidity is also susceptible to developing mold and mildew. Animal stains and certain liquids can permanently stain, discolor, or ruin carpet, and thorough cleaning requires heavy-duty machinery or the help of a professional carpet cleaning service.

Vinyl

PRO

Vinyl flooring often looks like tile but can be purchased at a much lower cost. Like laminate flooring, it is designed to provide the same appearance as more expensive types of flooring while being easier to install and maintain. Installation of vinyl flooring can be done in tiles or by laying down large sheets cut to fit your kitchen, bathroom, or any other room in your home. And like tile, vinyl flooring is water and stain resistant, making clean up a quick and easy process.

CON

Because of its thin design, it is prone to major dents, tears, scratches, and even cuts when exposed to rough surfaces of edges. Once damage, vinyl flooring is difficult to repair and may need to be completely replaced. In addition, this type of flooring is also susceptible to detaching from the baseboards when exposed to moisture.

Stone (Marble, Granite, Slate)

PRO

Stone flooring is incredibly durable and resistant to nearly any type of damage, as it doesn’t scratch, break, warp, or crack in most circumstances. In addition, its natural patterns and colors make for a beautiful and striking appearance in any room in your home. Stone flooring can also be finished to increase traction to make it easier to walk on.

CON

Stone is one of the most expensive types of flooring available and can cost magnitudes more than other types of flooring. In addition, it’s also cold and hard on your feet and isn’t ideal for homes in cold climates, as it doesn’t retain any heat. Because of its weight, stone flooring shouldn’t be installed in homes that don’t have strong subfloors or baseboards.