Top Family Projects and Chores to Tackle this Summer

Summer is officially here, and while the warm weather brings a plethora of outdoor activities and fun, it can also herald the arrival of dreaded projects and chores that need to be completed around the house.

But because the kids are out of school and many offices operate with reduced hours during the summer season, the next few months is a great time to rally your family to get off the couch, roll up their sleeves, and cross off a few of those big items from your summer to-do list.

To get your entire family pitching in and make even the biggest home upkeep tasks more manageable, here’s a list of Blindster’s top family projects and chores to tackle this summer:

lawn mowing

Appoint someone to mow the lawn or set a revolving schedule for your family

Having a thick green lawn can dramatically improve your home’s curb appeal and its overall beauty, but it also requires plenty of upkeep—starting with keeping the grass trimmed and level at all times. Unfortunately, grass grows at an exceptionally fast rate during the summer months and it’s not uncommon to have to mow it twice or even three times per week.

To reduce the headache and hassle of this time-consuming chore, designate one person in your family to be on official lawn-mowing duty and give him or her a pass from any other chores that they detest. If no one is willing to take that trade-off, make a revolving schedule where each family member is designated to mow the lawn on certain days of the month. If you have children, make sure that they’re at least 12 years old before using a push lawn mower and 16 years old before using a ride-on mower.

Create or restock your first aid kit

Summer is a time for outdoor fun—but that can also mean cuts, scrapes, bruises, and other minor injuries that come with enjoying the fresh air. Take the time to create a first aid kit and keep it in an easily accessible place to treat all of summer’s bumps and bruises. Make sure to stock it with plenty of bandages of all sizes, antibiotic creams, gauze and tape, scissors, tweezers for splinters, sunburn soothing lotion or creams, aspirin or other pain medicine, and a few packets of antiseptic wipes.

first aid

gutters

Clean out your gutters.

No one likes cleaning their gutters, but it’s an essential chore that’s best done in the spring or summer. Summer storms can bring significant rainfall, and if your gutters need to be cleaned or are completely clogged with leaves, sticks, and other debris from the winter, your yard or patio will take the brunt of the punishment due to the overflowing water.

If you have more than one ladder, two people can work on cleaning the gutters on opposite ends of the house to make the job go faster. Never allow young children on ladders, however, and always supervise older children and teenagers when they do work on ladders from potentially dangerous heights.

Have a garage sale.

Your garage is where you keep all of your fun summer items and toys, like balls, bikes, ATVs, and other sports and recreation equipment. But if you’re anything like most homeowners, it’s also probably overflowing with stuff you and your family have outgrown or simply don’t use anymore. If you need to make room for the items you do use or just need some extra cash, summer is the perfect time to hold a garage sale.

Get your entire family involved by asking everyone to pitch in and select items they want to sell. Once you’ve got all the items selected, have everyone help out by setting up tables and sorting items by price or category. You can also appoint someone to be in charge of making signage for the sale, whether it’s done on a computer or the old-fashioned way with poster board and permanent markers.

Use the day of the sale as an opportunity to teach your kids about salesmanship and how to count money and give correct change. You may be surprised at how effective and persuasive they can be when it comes to turning a tidy profit!

garage sale

playground

Inspect your children’s outdoor play equipment.

Whether it’s a treehouse, a swing set, or a trampoline, buying an outdoor play set for your kids is a great way to encourage them to go outside and get regular exercise. However, it’s important that you frequently check it to make sure that it’s in proper working function and that it’s not at risk of collapsing or falling apart.

Check all screws and bolts to make sure none are coming loose. Then, cover any exposed pieces of metal, including the screws and bolts, with foam padding to protect your children from possible injuries. Covering them can also help prevent them from loosening over time.

Whip your patio or deck into shape.

While your children enjoy their outdoor play areas, you can use the summer months as a time to get your outdoor area looking great as well. Use a pressure washer to blast away any caked on dirt and grime on your patio or deck surface that accumulated during the winter months. Wipe down all outdoor furniture to remove excess pollen from the spring and reseal the wood if it’s beginning to crack or show signs of age.

patio

pool

Clean and maintain your swimming pool.

If your home has a swimming pool, you have the ultimate summer escape in your very own backyard. However, maintaining a swimming pool can be a lot of work—especially for one person. As with your lawn, divide the task of keeping your pool in great shape among everyone in your family. Assign everyone one day out of the week to check the pool filter, add chlorine, and remove any foreign objects from the water.

With everyone pitching in on a regular basis, your pool will stay crystal clear and perfectly treated all summer long!

How to Clean Cellular Shades

Your new cellular shades are an ideal solution to increasing the privacy, security, and insulation of every room in your home, but like all décor, they require regular upkeep and maintenance to look and operate at their best.

Thankfully, cleaning and maintaining your cellular shades is simple and doesn’t require more than standard cleaning tools and products that you likely already own. To get a step-by-step guide for making your cellular shades look and operate as well as they did the day you bought them, follow Blindster’s cleaning instructions below:

 

Step 1: Examine your shades for dirt, dust, pollen, and other accumulation.

The most common debris that collects on cellular shades is dust. Virtually every surface in your home gradually collects a fine layer of dust, and your window coverings are no different. Shades installed in high-traffic areas, such as entryways, living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms may accumulate large amounts of dust, while shades in areas like guest bedrooms, guest bathrooms, and laundry rooms may only collect a light layer.

However, shades that are frequently exposed to the elements, such as those installed on regularly opened windows or outdoor areas, may accumulate debris that’s more damaging and difficult to remove, including dirt, pollen, and even insects.

Thoroughly examine your shades from top to bottom, including the rear side of the fabric, to get a good idea of how much cleaning they need. That will help you determine both how much time you’ll need to clean them and whether you may need the assistance of a professional cleaning service.

Step 2: Consult the manufacturer’s cleaning and care instructions.

After you’ve determined the degree of cleaning you’ll need to do, you should check the manufacturer’s cleaning and care instructions to avoid accidentally damaging the shades, including the fabric and headrail. To find these instructions, check the original packaging that came with your shades or look for a tag attached to the fabric. If you can’t find the information in those places, check the manufacturer’s website or consult Blindster.

Make sure that you pay special attention to any warnings about using certain types of soaps or detergents, as failing to heed these warnings could cause permanent damage or discoloration to the fabric.

Step 3: Gather your cleaning items.

Once you’re ready to begin cleaning, take the time to gather the cleaning items you’ll need. For most cleaning jobs, a handful of items will suffice:

  • Clean bucket filled with warm water and a mild detergent
  • Feather duster
  • Clean sponge
  • Vacuum with soft brush attachment

You also may want to place a large sheet or towels underneath the shades as you clean to catch any falling dust or dripping water.

Step 4: Remove light accumulation of dirt and dust.

With your cleaning products in hand, it’s time to begin cleaning.

First, use a feather duster or light brush attachment on your vacuum to remove any superficial accumulations of dirt, dust, pollen, and other debris from the surface of the shades. Start at the top of the shade near the headrail and work your way down on both sides until you’ve removed as much of the debris as possible.

Next, wet the sponge or a clean cloth using the warm water and mild detergent, and gently wipe away any dirt or dust from the headrail. Be sure to completely wring out the sponge before applying it to the shades and be careful to not allow any water to enter any openings in the headrail, as that could damage the internal components of the shade.

Step 5: Gently scrub away excess build-up or stains.

After removing the superficial dirt and dust, use your sponge or cloth to remove any areas of excess build-up or stains. Always use a light amount of pressure when first cleaning your shades—especially the fabric—as pressing too hard on a stain can damage the fabric. Increase pressure slowly as needed in problem areas and take care to not soak the fabric to avoid accidental discoloration.

Step 6: Remove the shades from the windows and immerse in water (if safe to do so).

If your shades are heavily stained and traditional cleaning methods aren’t getting the job done, you may be able to remove them from your windows or doors and immerse them in water, such as in your bathtub, to help loosen accumulations and stubborn stains. Before attempting this, always consult the manufacturer’s instructions, as some fabrics may be damaged due to immersion in water. However, no matter what type of fabric your shades are made of, you should always remove them from the headrail before immersing in water to avoid serious damage to the internal components.

Step 7: Consult a professional cleaning service.

In some cases, no amount of at-home cleaning can remove difficult stains caused by years of exposure to the elements. To clean heavily stained cellular shades, you may need to consult a professional cleaning service that specializes in cleaning upholstery and window treatments. If possible, provide the service with a copy of the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to reduce the risk of accidental damage to your shades during the cleaning process.

Step 8: Schedule regular cleanings in the future to increase the lifespan of your shades.

The best way to keep your shades looking and operating at their best is to clean them on a regular basis. Whether your shades are prone to heavy staining or just light dust, using a feather duster and gently wiping the headrail down once a week can do wonders when it comes to preventing excess build-up and reducing the amount of time you spend doing deep cleanings in the future.

Tips for Increasing the Privacy of Your Home

Getting to know your neighbors is a great benefit of living in a suburb, but owning your own home also means that you can enjoy privacy when you need it. However, not all homes are built for privacy. Many neighborhoods have homes that are built close together, on small lots, with little space between houses. That setup is great for neighborhood barbecues and get-togethers, but not so great when you want to enjoy a relaxing day with your family in the privacy of your own backyard.

Fortunately, there are many ways to increase your home’s privacy without moving to a secluded cabin in the woods. Some of these projects can be completed in an afternoon, and some require a bit more planning and construction, but all are guaranteed to increase your home’s privacy, security, and comfort for your entire family.

shades

Install privacy shades or blinds on your windows and doors

Windows and glass doors are perfect for bathing your home in beautiful natural light during the day and helping to warm it during the winter, but they can also make you feel exposed and vulnerable—especially at night or if your home is built close to other houses in your neighborhood. A quick and easy way to significantly increase your family’s privacy

is to invest in privacy shades or blinds and install them on your windows and doors.

Not only are privacy shades perfect for completely blocking the view into your home, but they also act as insulators, keeping warm air in during the winter and hot air out during the summer. They’re also great for blocking outside noise from traffic, construction, lawn mowers, and other distractions.

Plant trees and hedges along your property line

Large trees and hedges are remarkably effective at increasing privacy both inside your home and in your outdoor areas. In fact, just a couple of well-placed trees, hedges, and other large plants can effectively block out both large amounts of sunlight and reduce visibility into windows and private gathering areas in your front or backyard.

While this solution is highly effective, it can take time to pay off, as you’ll have to wait until the trees and plants mature and grow large enough to provide the shade and privacy you need. But once the maturation process is complete, your home will not only have increased privacy, but also great curb appeal to potential buyers.

hedge

Fence

Build a fence

The most obvious solution to privacy issues at your home is to build a fence around any areas where you want more relaxation and less visibility. Fences are most people’s go-to project when their outdoor spaces feel too exposed and for good reason—a fence is a quick and easy way to reduce or eliminate visibility from the road or lower-level windows while also increasing your home’s security. Fences are also required by law in many places if you have a swimming pool on your property.

Fences can range in size and height, and it’s important to consider your home’s relative location compared to its surroundings as well as the height of buildings and homes nearby. If your outdoor space is relatively low-lying compared to the area surrounding it, you may need to build a fence that’s higher than normal to maximize privacy.

Frost or fog your windows

While installing privacy shades and blinds is a quick and easy way to guarantee privacy for your windows and doors, you may not want to completely block outside light at all times. Frosted and fogged windows are perfect solutions for this dilemma by allowing outside light to enter the room, while removing virtually all visibility. Applying frosting or fogging to your windows is often fairly inexpensive, and is perfect for bathrooms, garages, and laundry rooms.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

enclosed porch

Enclose your porch or patio

Although this is a more expensive option than many of the others on this list, it’s also one of the most effective ways of increasing the privacy of your outdoor spaces. Porches and patios are great entertaining areas, but they can feel exposed—especially if you live near homes with windows on the second floor with visibility over your fence or trees. Enclosing these spaces with screen or tinted glass can dramatically increase privacy and security while also providing increased shade and comfort for your family, friends, and guests.

Install a trellis

Not all homes are suitable candidates for installing large fences or planting trees and hedges to increase privacy. If you live in an urban area or a townhouse, your options may be more limited when it comes to boosting your home’s privacy, but it doesn’t mean you have to settle for your current situation. Installing a trellis in your patio or outdoor area reduces your susceptibility to prying eyes, while also giving you decorative options. You can hang plants from it or even grow ivy along the structure to further increase the privacy and shade that the trellis creates.

trellis

lock down

Secure your Internet connection

This tip may seem out of place compared to the others, but your family’s digital privacy is just as important as its physical privacy—especially as more and more people spend their time online for work, play, and socializing. Many people don’t think twice about the wireless networks in their homes, but many wireless connections are left completely unsecured or secured using outdated encryption methods and weak passwords.

To boost your home’s cyber privacy and security, make sure you are using an up-to-date router that was released within the past four or five years at minimum, as these typically have stronger encryption methods and security than older routers. Next, be sure to set up a protected password on your wireless connection— the more letters, numbers, and symbols you use in the password, the more difficult it will be to crack.

Finally, be careful giving out your wireless connection password and other sensitive information to your neighbors, and always make it a habit to change your password every couple of months.

8 Home Upgrades and Additions to Avoid

If you have the means and desire to do so, upgrading your home seems like a no-brainer as a sound investment. Not only will it increase your satisfaction with your home, but it will also increase your home’s property value, right? Well, in some cases, the complete opposite is true. Not only will the upgrade become more of a burden than a boon, but it also could ultimately cost you money if you ever decide to sell your home.

While every home upgrade or addition should be treated on a case-by-case basis, there are some that almost never contribute anything to a home’s value and can, in fact, cause it to drop dramatically and even make it harder to sell. Before you schedule any major home renovation or upgrades, check out Blindster’s list of the upgrades you should avoid.

home office

1. Built-in electronics and entertainment systems

Having a state-of-the-art home theater system installed in your home, complete with a full surround sound system, a projector or large flat-screen TV, Blu-ray player, and all the necessary wires tucked away within your walls may sound like a dream come true, but those components may be hopelessly out of date in 15, 10, or even just five years down the road.

The display resolutions of projectors and televisions are constantly improving, and an impressive screen in 2015 may be considered completely obsolete just a few years later. The same thing applies with speaker wires, display wires, and optical media players. That’s not a major issue if you can easily swap it for a new model, but built-in entertainment systems have much more difficult to change components.

Tech-savvy homebuyers will see your outdated home theater or entertainment system, not as a selling point, but as a major money sink if they plan on modernizing it.

2. Outdoor spaces that don’t take the climate into consideration

Enjoying the great outdoors while never leaving home is a dream for many homeowners and homebuyers. But what happens when the summer fun is over and your dream patio is suddenly under a deluge of daily rain or covered by a foot of snow?

Before you go all out on transforming your backyard into an outdoor oasis, consider the climate of the area where you live. Outdoor patios are great to install in areas that get at least five to six months of pleasant outdoor weather, but areas where the summer months are the only viable time to truly enjoy being outside may be less than ideal.

If you live in a colder climate, consider building an outdoor area that’s partially covered and that features a large fireplace or fire pit to keep warm when the temperature drops. If you live in a warm climate, you have more options and can even spring for a pool to cool off on hot summer days.

snow porch

bathroom reno

3. Sacrificing a bedroom to make room for something else

Sure, that extra guest bedroom may seem like a waste of space right now—especially if you have grand ideas for knocking down a wall to create a giant master bathroom, walk-in closet or expanding any other part of your home.

But before you start combining rooms, consider your neighborhood and the types of homes nearby. Do most family homes have three or four bedrooms? If so, eliminating one of yours to add luxury to another element of your home may do more harm than good—both for your home’s resale value and your home’s overall ability to support your family.

4. Dedicated home office

While it’s true that more and more people are beginning to work from home or simply enjoy the convenience of having a home office, it’s important that you give yourself and potential buyers the option to choose whether they need one. A room with built-in bookcases, a large and immobile desk, and flooring or wall coverings that clearly indicate that the room is made for working can seriously reduce its appeal to buyers—especially those who have no interest in a home office of their own.

aquarium

5. A large custom aquarium

A full-size custom aquarium built in to your home can be a mesmerizing sight and very impressive to your friends and family, but it’s an investment that potential buyers can view with skepticism or even dread. While fish are certainly easy pets to take care of, they still require a significant amount of upkeep—and the bigger the aquarium and fish inside it, the more work you have to put in to keep it clean and running.

6. Sunroom

Sunrooms are typically built with huge floor to ceiling windows that are designed to let in as much light as possible to provide a warm and comforting place to relax, read, study, or nap. Despite their inviting nature, sunrooms are notorious for being difficult to cool during the summer and hard to heat during the winter—which can significantly increase your electric bill.

In addition, many homeowners find that they would prefer to use the space for something else, like a separate bedroom or even as a dedicated outdoor area.

sunroom

extension

7. Extensions and additions to your home

If your family is simply running out of room in your home, you can either move, downsize your belongings, or build an addition onto your home. While the latter may be an appealing option, it’s rarely worth it in the end. Additions are often very expensive upgrades and in the hands of the wrong contractor can actually threaten your home’s stability and overall structural integrity. Not only that, but many potential home buyers may even view the addition as a cost and upkeep burden.

8. Outdated décor and furnishings

In most cases, home buyers prefer hardwood floors and exposed walls. So the last thing you want to do is cover your floors with carpet and your walls with wood paneling or wallpaper. While it’s true that both of those installations can increase comfort, privacy, and insulation, they’re rarely at the top of potential home buyers’ lists of needs or wants.

Place area rugs in places where you want somewhere soft to sit or walk, like your living room, dining room, or bedroom, and install privacy blinds and shades on your windows to reduce outside noise and improve insulation.

vintage decor

Tell-Tale Signs Your Home Needs Repairs

Owning a home gives you a lot of freedom. You can paint it any color you want, renovate it at a moment’s notice, and even knock down walls or build additions to any room in your home. But for all those perks, homeowners have to put up with one pesky problem: repairs.

As a homeowner, it’s inevitable that you will face repairs that range from annoying inconveniences to problems that could quickly become catastrophic without immediate action. Thankfully, most home-related problems can be quickly spotted with a keen eye and a cautious mindset.

Here are some of Blindster’s tell-tale signs that you may be due for some home repairs in the near future.

Leaky, crumbling, and buckling roof

Asphalt and shingle roofs, which are extremely common on homes in the U.S., typically last between 20 and 25 years. However, frequent exposure to harsh elements or poor installation techniques can cause roofs to fail sooner than that.

Replacing a roof is expensive, but something almost every homeowner will face at least a couple of times during their lifetime. But how do you know when it’s time to shell out the cash for a new roof?

The most obvious sign of roof failure is a leak. This indicates that the roof is no longer doing its job of protecting the inside of your home from the elements outside, and the water damage can quickly cause wood to rot, ceilings to fail, and insects/pests to take residence inside your home.

Another sign of failure are missing or broken shingles. Over time, shingles begin to slowly detach from each other and fall off. Early warning signs can also include small pieces of shingle granules accumulating in your gutters.

Finally, shingles that are warped, curling, or buckling are a strong indicator that your roof is nearing its final days. To prevent serious water damage occurring in your home, consider getting your roof replaced right away when you notice these warning signs.

Unreliable circuit breakers, frequent power outages, and nonfunctional outlets

Dependable electricity and power throughout your home is something you take for granted. In fact, it’s a necessity for modern life. So when your home begins to have issues with electricity, at best it means that you may need to replace your wiring, and at worst it means your appliances, electronics, and other gadgets could get damage due to power spikes and surges.

Circuit breakers that constantly trip due to overloaded circuits are not only annoying, but they can also be dangerous to your possessions. If your circuit breakers continue to malfunction, unplug any high-value electronics, such as televisions, computers, and steroes, before resetting the circuit breaker in your home’s fuse box. If the problem continues to occur, you may need an electrician to investigate the issue.

Another sign of potential electrical failure in your home is when your small appliances, such as your toaster, vacuum, or blender, produce sparks when you plug them into an outlet. Sparking outlets are extremely dangerous, as they could start a fire. If you notice an outlet producing sparks, immediately discontinue using it and call an electrician to have it tested or replaced.

Finally, outlets and light switches that have simply stopped working are often an obvious sign that your home’s wiring is simply too old and in danger of failing completely. Wiring systems have a limited lifespan, and once power outages and failing outlets begin occurring, it’s often best to replace the entire wiring of the home.

Unreliable circuit breakers

Heating and air conditioning problems

Heating and air conditioning problems

Much like reliable electricity, reliable heating and air conditioning is a must-have for homes located in almost every climate in the country. Without it, winters quickly turn even the most well-insulated homes into iceboxes and summers turn them into uncomfortable sweatboxes.

Fortunately, air conditioning units and furnaces rarely stop working without giving homeowners ample warning signs and opportunities to fix minor or major issues. However, to take advantage of these early warning signs, it’s important that you know what to look for.

The first warning sign to look for is a sluggish response from your AC unit when you change the thermostat. In most cases, efficient AC units respond almost immediately to changes in temperature settings and you’ll be able to feel warm or cool air within a few seconds of moving the dial. The longer it takes the AC unit to respond to changes at the thermostat, the more likely it is to fail in the near future.

Vents producing warm or hot air in the summer, even when the air conditioner is set to “cool,” is another warning sign that your unit needs to be repaired. Because air is still circulating, this problem typically means that there’s a problem with the unit’s refrigerant or condenser coils. To avoid these issues in the future, schedule regular inspections for your AC unit from qualified professionals.

Overflowing and packed gutters

Gutters are an often overlooked parts of homes, but they play an important role when it comes to redirecting rain water and preventing it from eroding soil, sidewalks, grass, and landscaping around your home. While many issues with gutters can be solved by simply giving them a thorough cleaning, they have limited lifespans just like roofs and need to be replaced or repaired after a certain timeframe.

While the most obvious signs of gutter failure include gutters becoming detached from your roof, clean gutters overflowing, and water leaking from the seams, there are other more subtle signs that you should watch out for to avoid expensive repairs and water damage.

Lines of weathered and eroded soil and grass directly beneath your gutters is an early and obvious sign that they’re not performing up to par and that they either need repairs or replacement. Signs of erosion and water accumulation in landscaping and flower beds under your gutters is another warning sign.

Something else to watch out for is peeling and flaking paint or rotting wood in areas directly under your gutters, including garage doors, exterior home doors, windowsills, and wooden planters.

Finally, keep an eye on how flush your gutters are with your roof. If you notice part of your gutter that’s beginning to sag away from the roof, reattach it to the roof as firmly and tightly as possible using new nails or adhesive. The sooner you reattach the gutter, the less likely it is that you will have issues in the near future.

packed gutters

How to Clean Aluminum Blinds

Aluminum blinds are a practical and durable solution if you need privacy, insulation, and an elimination of harsh sunlight in your home.

To keep your aluminum blinds looking and operating their best, it’s important that you clean them regularly to prevent the buildup or dirt and dust on the slats and inside the moving parts of the headrail.

Follow Blindster’s instructions below to safely and effectively clean your aluminum blinds and maintain their appearance and function for years to come.

 

Step 1: Inspect your blinds.

Before you begin cleaning, take a moment to inspect your blinds and determine how thoroughly they need to be cleaned. Blinds that have a light accumulation of dirt and dust often require nothing more than simple spot-cleaning, while blinds with heavy amounts of mold, mildew, and other debris may require more intensive cleaning.

Step 2: Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning and care instructions.

Your blinds came with instructions for cleaning and care that should always be followed to prevent damage. Aluminum blinds are more durable than many other types of blinds, but certain types of chemicals can strip away the metal or cause it to become discolored and damaged. Before using any cleaning chemicals on your blinds, always spot test an inconspicuous area first to test for possible damage or discoloration.

Step 3: Gather the items you’ll need to clean your blinds.

Once you’ve determined how thoroughly you need to clean your blinds and how to safely clean them, it’s time to gather the items you’ll need. Grab a bucket filled with warm water and a mild soap or detergent, a soft sponge, a feather duster, and a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to get started.

These items should be sufficient to remove caked on dirt, dust, mildew, mold, and pet hair from your blinds without causing damage. To prevent water from pooling and possibly damaging your floor or window sill, you should also place something underneath the blinds, such as a spare bedsheet or bath towels to absorb any water or cleaning products that run off from the blinds.

Step 4: Clean your blinds.

With all of your cleaning supplies in hand, it’s time to get to work. Start by using a feather duster to remove any surface dust and dirt from the blinds. Run it along every exposed surface and rinse it as necessary to remove any accumulations.

After using the feather duster, use your vacuum’s soft brush attachment to remove any dirt or dust from more hard to reach places or from areas where the feather duster won’t fit, such as near the headrail and near the internal components of the blinds.

If your blinds require more extensive cleaning, a sponge dipped in warm water mixed with a mild soap or detergent can help lift any caked on debris. Be careful while cleaning to avoid putting excess pressure on the blinds, as that can cause them to bend or even break. In addition, always wipe away any excess moisture left behind by the sponge.

Finally, if your blinds aren’t coming clean with spot cleaning, you can remove them from your window or wall and wash them either outdoors or in your bathtub. Be careful to not get water inside the headrail, as this can cause the blind to malfunction.

Step 5: Maintain your blinds to make cleaning easier in the future.

It’s a fact of life that blinds tend to attract and accumulate dirt, dust, and debris. However, a few preventative measures and regular cleaning can keep them looking great year-round and eliminate the need for extensive cleaning in the future.

One of the best ways to prevent accumulation on your blinds is to install screens on your windows. This prevents most airborne particles, including allergens, from getting inside your home and collecting on your blinds.

Another preventative measure you can take is to always spray window cleaner on your paper towel or rag and never on the window itself. This keeps it from spraying backwards and ending up on the blinds where it can attract dirt and dust.

Finally, make it a habit to use a feather duster on your aluminum blinds at least once per week to prevent debris from accumulating.

Easy Ways to Turn Unwanted Clutter into Useful Items

Whether you’re looking to make your home a greener and more environmentally place, or you’re looking to cut back on the amount of waste your family produces, there’s no better way to get started than to take a look at the items you throw out and find ways to repurpose them. While most of the items the typical American family throws out are legitimately waste, you might be surprised to find out how many items can actually be incredibly useful around your home.

If you’re interested in repurposing things that you normally toss in the trash, take a look at Blindster’s list of items that can easily live a second life in your home.

Brown paper bags

Brown paper bags

Although many grocery stores and supermarkets primarily provide shoppers with plastic bags, paper bags are still an option at most stores. In addition to being biodegradable and better for the environment, they also have many uses around the home.

One of the best uses for paper bags is to ripen fruit. Fruit that normally takes several days to reach peak ripeness, such as avocados and bananas, can become ready to eat within 24 or 48 hours if placed inside a paper bag and sealed tightly. The gases produced by the fruit will cause it to ripen much more quickly than normal—especially if multiple types of fruit are added to the bag at the same time.

Another use for paper bags is to cover textbooks. Whether they’re used for schoolchildren, high school students, or college students, paper bags can protect the delicate covers and spines of books that can cost an arm and a leg—keeping them in great condition and making them a fetch a higher price on the used book market.

Takeout food containers

Takeout food containers

Ever notice that the containers you receive after ordering takeout food from local restaurants seems to be even more robust than your own storage containers? In some cases, that actually may be true. Instead of immediately tossing any used containers in the trash after ordering takeout, take the time to inspect the containers. If any of them seem robust enough to use for the foreseeable future, wash them out and hold onto them. While they may not be dishwasher safe, you can still use them to store certain food items or to transport food to picnics and potlucks.

In addition, takeout containers can also be used as general storage in your home. Use them to storage jewelry, sewing kit items, spare tools, pens and art supplies, and even children’s toys. Their small size makes them fit easily inside closets, under beds, and inside larger storage containers.

Junk mail, magazines, and old newspapers

Junk mail, magazines, and old newspapers

While many families receive more and more of their bills online—and magazine/newspaper subscriptions are slowly becoming a thing of the past—there’s still a pretty good chance you end up throwing out a sizable amount of paper products each month that arrive at your home via your mailbox. But you don’t have to immediately toss it out. Instead, use a shredder to eliminate the chances of identity theft and to cut the paper into small pieces, and use the trimmings as packing filler when sending packages instead of buying packing peanuts. You can also use it as makeshift pet bedding to turn an uncomfortable crate or hard pet carrier surface into something more desirable for your cats and dogs.

Ripped, torn, or stained clothing

Ripped, torn, or stained clothing

Old clothes with serious rips, tears, and stains may not even be fit for donation to a local thrift store, but that doesn’t mean they’re useless. Old t-shirts and socks can be put to good use as rags for everyday cleaning purposes and to dry cars after washing them. You can also refashion clothes using some creative cuts. Old flannel pajamas can become a stylish scarf with some precision cuts, while shirts and blouses can become colorful headbands, hair ties, and bracelets with the power of scissors and a steady hand.

Chipped coffee mugs and drinking glasses

Chipped coffee mugs and drinking glasses

While completely broken dishes and silverware can be dangerous and should be tossed out, chipped coffee cups and drinking glasses can be used to pot small plants and create an indoor garden. Pack them with soil and plant seeds of small herbs and flowers—then place them on your windowsill or in another area where they’ll receive ample sunlight. In no time at all, you’ll bring life and color to your living space and get to keep your favorite coffee cups.

Toothbrushes

Toothbrushes

A toothbrush is at its most effective during the first few months that you own it. After that, it tends to lose its ability to remove plaque and truly clean your teeth. But just because you replaced your toothbrush with a new one doesn’t mean you have to throw the old one away. Because of their bristles and unique size, toothbrushes are perfect for a variety of cleaning tasks around the house.

Use them to scrub the grout in your shower, the space between the tile on your floor, the tops of your baseboards, and even the spokes on your or your child’s bicycle. They even come in handy for cleaning small grooves in tennis shoes where mud, dirt, and other debris can get stuck.

Disposable razors and razor blades

Disposable razors and razor blades

Like toothbrushes, razor blades have a tendency to quickly wear out and become less and less effective over time. Eventually, they begin pulling at hair rather than cutting it—which can lead to irritation. But after you’ve replaced your razors, it’s worthwhile to keep a few around the house. First, clean any leftover razors using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to reduce bacteria for safe storage. Then, use them any time you need to eliminate excess fuzz or frayed fabric from a favorite sweater, jacket, or t-shirt.

While the razor blade itself may no longer be sharp enough to cut hair effectively, it’s likely just the right sharpness to remove fuzz without damaging the fabric of your favorite clothing items.