Category: Cleaning

Storage Solutions for Shop, Home and Job Sites

Bringing order to a daily routine often requires creative solutions. Let Woodcraft lend some assistance with handy products for storage and transport that make organizing shops, kitchens, bathrooms, craft rooms, and even job sites that much simpler.

Versatile Storage and Transport

“One of the most versatile storage products in the Woodcraft line is the Tanos systainer® family of containers,” said Woodcraft product manager Jessica Douglas. “The basic unit, the systainer T-LOC, comes in five sizes and eight colors and is stackable and lockable, with easy access to even the middle container through the T-LOC mechanism. Add the Caster SYS-Cart, and you can easily transport your stored tools and materials whenever necessary without the need to pack.”

Other systainer® options include the SYS-Combi II and III units that offer the open storage space of SYS-II and SYS-III systainers on top and a handy small parts storage drawer on the bottom. The pullout drawer provides divided storage compartments for small parts. For more customizable storage, the Tanos T-LOC SYS-Sort IV/3 systainer has three levels of parts and tool storage, and each drawer opens within the stack for easy access. Drawers can be customized with bins or the optional drawer accessory pack (both sold separately) to fit your needs exactly. Like other systainers, the SYS-Combi II and III and T-LOC SYS-Sort IV/3 can be connected by the T-LOC to other systainers, Tool-Box, Storage-Box and systainer® Classic Line to make the ultimate storage system.

Racks & Shelves

Keep long material — lumber, PVC/copper pipe, molding, millwork and similar items — handy but out of the way with the Lumber Rack Storage System. System includes all the uprights (24″ and 55″) and brackets (10″, 14″ and 18″) needed to efficiently store a variety of 8′ lengths of material. The 18″ bracket will support a 300-lb. load at the tip. Shorter brackets will support even more weight. Add a board and use the system for general storage. Another option for expanding storage space is to build shelves for all the “empty” spaces along walls or in corners with Baltic Birch Plywood. This finished plywood comes in 3⁄4″ x 12″ x 60″ pieces and features a clear durable topcoat on both sides that resists scratches and chips, making it perfect for building custom shelving in rooms, closets, garages and shops.

Customize your lumber, pipe and accessory storage with six shelf brackets included with the WoodRiver HD Shelf System. Moving them in 6″ increments on the upright supports accommodates a wide range of long materials. Add a flat board to store boxes, bins, cans of finish and more.

Other ready-made racks include the Akro-Mils 24″ Tool Storage Rack that holds up to 96 tools, and Monkey Bars Racks that are available for just about everything, from garden tools to coats to bikes to camping gear.

Other Handy Storage Options

• Heavy-Duty Casters mobilize shop machines and even furniture for easy storage and use. Castors have easy rolling, non-marring polyurethane wheels that will not “flat spot” from remaining stationary.

• A Grip Magnetic Bit Holder will keep 36 driver bits, 1⁄4″-shank router bits or CNC bits organized.

• The WoodRiver Blade Keep 10″ Red Silicone Saw Blade Cover protects saw blades.

• Wrap N Strap Adjustable Straps for Cords and Cables come in 5-Piece Sets. The adjustable cord organizer consists of a rubber strap (available in 6″, 7″ and 9″ sizes) and a plastic fastener for attachment. Straps will corral power and extension cords of all sizes, organize computer cables and bundle and carry everything from quarter round to water pipe, including dust collection hose.

• The Rotating Bur & Tool Holder, set on a lazy Susan mechanism, will keep all your small tools, burs and drill bits within easy reach.

• Woodcraft’s 30-Pocket Tool Roll and 21-Pocket Tool Bag provide portable storage and transport to keep tools or other similar items safe.

• Pick & Pluck 10mm Rigid and 25mm Smooth Foam, closed cell foam specially designed for Systainer® T-LOC 1-5 (I, II, III, IV & V), fits snugly into the base of the systainer. Each unit features a grid of perforated cubes, 15mm x 15mm, so you can customize the inside shape of just about anything you wish to store or transport.

• FastCap Kaizen Foam peels away in layers, creating a perfect fit for all your tools in drawers and on walls. The inexpensive, high performance, super tough foam is easy to peel in 1⁄8″ layered sections. Great for shop, home, office, vertical applications and toolboxes. To learn more about these and other products, visit your local Woodcraft store, call (800) 535-4482 or visit www.woodcraft.com. TF177188

How to Streamline Household Cleaning

Travel down the cleaning aisle of a neighborhood store and you will be met with product after product designed for specialized cleaning. There are sprays for windows, cleansers for electronics, carpet-cleaning foams, and scouring solutions for tubs and showers. Although many of these are effective, the average person can rely on just one cleaning aid for a wide variety of tasks: vinegar.

Vinegar is a versatile product that can be used in everything from cooking to pickling to preserving foods to household cleaning. Vinegar is made by two distinct biological processes, offers The Vinegar Institute. Via fermentation, yeast will first change the natural sugars in the vinegar-to-be material solution into alcohol. The second process involves a group of bacteria called “acetobacter,” which convert the alcohol into an acid.

Vinegar can be made from any fruit or natural material containing sugar. For the purpose of generalized cleaning, white vinegar is the most common type used and is typically made from corn.Utilizing vinegar around the house is quite simple, and can be used in various ways around the house.

· Remove lime buildup. Vinegar is good for cleaning faucets and showerheads. Make a paste of one teaspoon of vinegar and two tablespoons of salt. Apply to sink fixtures and rub with a cloth. Fill a plastic baggie with vinegar and attach to the showerhead with a rubber band. Let sit a few hours to overnight and then rinse away the mineral deposits.

· Brighten laundry. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the wash cycle. It will help loosen stains and brighten clothing. An added benefit is the acid will reduce static cling.

· Disinfect cutting boards. Give cutting boards an extra cleaning by spraying them with straight vinegar, then rinsing to clean.

· Clean the disposal. Make sure food residue doesn’t clog garbage disposals and lead to odor. Mix vinegar and baking soda in the drain and allow the bubbling action to remove built-up residue. Use a scrub brush for extra scouring.

· Get streak-free windows. Mix a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Use to clean windows and other glass surfaces. Wipe away with a microfiber cleaning cloth so no lint is left behind.

· Eradicate pet odor. Pour a little bit of vinegar into an empty litter box. Let stand for around 20 minutes, then rinse with cold water. Vinegar also can be used to blot up pet stains on the carpet. Just test color-fastness in an inconspicuous area first.

· Banish water stains. Fix water stains and rings on wood furniture by mixing equal parts vinegar and olive oil. Use a soft cleaning cloth moving in the direction of the wood grain. Polish using a clean cloth.

Vinegar can be used all around the house – these were just a few of the dozens of ways to rely on vinegar. Just steer clear of using it on natural stone and marble, as the acid could cause damage.

How to Organize the Pantry

Since the advent of supermarkets and warehouse stores, many food shoppers have embraced buying in bulk. Buying in bulk can help shoppers save money and avoid last-minute trips to the grocery store in search of missing ingredients, but all those extra items also necessitate more careful pantry planning.

People already short on space may need to reorganize their pantries to make room for items purchased in bulk. Purging a pantry of expired items and developing an organizational strategy that works may take a little time. But once a system is in place, cooking and meal planning should become a lot easier.

1. Declutter

It’s difficult to get organized if you’re holding on to items you no longer use. Therefore, go through the pantry and find any expired foods and half-eaten items that have gravitated to the back of the cabinet or closet. After you go through everything, you will likely find that you have much more room than you once thought.

2. Empty the rest

Before placing items back in the pantry, take inventory of what you have. Getting them out in the open will enable you to see exactly what’s there and get an idea of what you purchase the most. This will help you set up food zones or purchase containers that will fit your pantry better. If you have unspoiled foods that you are unlikely eat, donate them to a food bank. Now that the pantry is empty, take this opportunity to clean and adjust the shelves.

3. Downsize from bulky packaging

Bulky packages may not fit in your pantry. Invest in plastic or glass containers with lids that will keep foods visible, neat and fresh.

4. Establish food zones

Establishing food zones is a great way to organize a pantry and make meal time more efficient. Group breakfast foods together and store pastas and sauces near each other. Use a basket for baking items, including smaller spices or things like baking powder that can get lost in large cabinets. Then all you have to do is reach in and find something easily.

5. Keep a running inventory

Routinely look in the pantry to determine what you need. This prevents overspending on items you already have and also ensures your pantry won’t grow cluttered with repeat items.

Organizing pantries may take a little time, but a little organization can open up a lot of space and make it easier to prepare meals each day.

EL166129

How to Conserve Water at Home

Conservation is an essential component of an eco-friendly lifestyle. Conserving the planet’s natural resources can have a profound impact on the planet, and conserving at home is a great way for men and women to get the ball rolling on their conservation efforts.

One of the most effective ways to conserve at home is to reduce water consumption. Few people give much thought to how much water they consume at home, as water bills tend to be considerably lower than other utilities like energy and phone. But even if efforts to conserve water at home may not make a dramatic impact on monthly utility bills, the following measures can go a long way toward preserving one of the planet’s most precious resources.

· Fix leaky faucets. Leaky faucets in a home might not seem like they waste much water each day. However, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that a single home with three leaky faucets that each produce one drip per minute will waste 104 gallons of water per year from these faucets alone. This waste is easily prevented by simply fixing leaky faucets the moment drips are noticed.

· Wash your car at a commercial car wash. Some vehicle owners may enjoy washing their cars at home in their driveways. But getting a car washed at a professional car wash can conserve substantial amounts of water. That’s because many new car wash facilities employ water reclamation systems that reuse water. According to San Diego Car Care, a professional car wash that employs water reclamation technology, each car washed at their facility consumes just nine to 15 gallons of water per wash. That’s a considerable savings compared to washing at home, as the State of Maryland’s Department of the Environment estimates that 100 gallons of water are consumed during a single 10-minute car wash at home using a garden hose.

· Install shower heads that earned the WaterSense label. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that showering accounts for nearly 17 percent of home water consumption. For the average family, that translates to almost 1.2 trillion gallons of water each year. Shower heads that have earned the EPA’s WaterSense label have met various conservation criteria established by the EPA. Such shower heads are 20 percent more efficient than the average product that does not have the label. According to the EPA, the average family can save 2,900 gallons of water per year by installing shower heads that have earned the WaterSense label.

· Use a dishwasher. This particular effort to conserve water is one that everyone can embrace. According to the GRACE Communications Foundation, an organization devoted to developing innovating strategies to increase public awareness about the issues facing our environment, using an energy-efficient dishwasher instead of hand-washing dishes can save as much as 15.5 gallons per wash.

Conserving water at home can have a profound impact on the environment. And efforts at conservation are often simpler than many people may think.

Create Kid-Friendly Spaces at Home

Maintaining a home that is welcoming and kid-friendly can be challenging. Kids are full of energy and oftentimes put fun ahead of tidiness. But no matter how energetic their youngsters are, parents can still employ several strategies to ensure their homes are both sophisticated and child-friendly.

· Consider an open floor plan. Rooms that flow into one another make it easier to keep tabs on children. Such rooms also allow residents and guests to mingle in separate rooms but not be too far away from one another.

· Choose washable fabrics. Upholstery will need to stand up to the abuse kids can dish out. Sofas and chairs with slipcovers can be advantageous because many slipcovers can be easily removed and laundered. Patterned fabrics will hide some stains, while treated fabrics may resist liquid spills for easier cleanup.

· Create a catch-all spot. Special bins or other organizational tools in the entryway can help to cull clutter when children come in the house from school or play. Be sure the keep cubbies, containers and coat hooks at a child-friendly height.

· Look for high-traffic rugs. Rugs designed for high-traffic areas will be more forgiving when children march across them several times per day. There are no rules that say you can’t bring an outdoor rug inside, and these rugs tend to be easier to clean.

· Ensure there is plenty of seating. Sectionals give children ample room to spread out. And ample seating ensures there is enough room for kids to invite their friends over to hang out.

· Think outside pink and blue. For children’s rooms, make sure they’re colorful, but consider other hues to give the rooms some personality. Focus on a hobby or activity and borrow the color scheme from the accessories used for decorating.

· Hang whimsical artwork. Employ framing and lighting to make kids’ artwork look like professional pieces. Routinely change the pictures when a new look is desired.

· Designate a place for play. Devote an entire room or a nook in a house for imaginative play. Store toys here so these items will not create clutter in individual bedrooms.

Creating child-friendly spaces while ensuring a home maintains a sophisticated feel is easier than parents might think.

The Importance of Clean Gutters

Every autumn, trees and shrubs take on their brilliant display of reds, oranges, purples, and yellows that mark the end of the growing season. Fall foliage may make for ideal photo backdrops and scenic days in the countryside, but closer to home leaves may be more of a hindrance than an aesthetic pleasure.

The hundreds of leaves that adorn the maples, oaks and other trees near homes will eventually fall as autumn turns into winter. Some will float down to lawns, while others will get lodged in gutters and downspouts, posing problems that can cause substantial and potentially costly problems for homeowners.

Homeowners know that gutter cleaning is an important part of fall home maintenance, but they may not completely understand why. Gutter cleaning can be a messy and time-consuming project, making it a project many homeowners are apt to put off. Waiting to clean gutters can lead to considerable problems, so it’s best to tackle the job well in advance of the winter.

Gutters guide rainwater and runoff from the roof so it drains properly away from homes. When gutters are clogged with leaves, a number of problems can occur.

· Leaks: Water will take the path of least resistance. When clogged gutters do not allow the water to drain away properly, water will find other ways to the ground. It may work itself right into the walls and ceilings of the home. In addition to damaging walls and ceilings, moisture inside the home can promote mold growth. It also makes interior spaces more appealing to pests.

· Excess weight: Gutters are meant to hold the weight of traveling water and not much more. Gutters filled with leaves and other debris can quickly become heavy. This stresses the entire gutter system and can cause the gutters to fall off of the home entirely.

· Nesting areas: Clogged gutters can serve as nesting areas for insects and birds. Mosquitoes and other insects lay eggs in pooling water. Gutters can quickly become breeding spots for harmful pests. Furthermore, birds may nest in gutters, creating unsightly messes and more damage. Seeds that sprout in clogged gutters can grow unchecked.

· Ice-damming: Left untreated, pooled water and leaves in gutters can freeze over. Blocked water can back up and push against the roof, lifting shingles and destroying the roof in the process.

· Foundation trouble: Clogged gutters also may contribute to flooded basements and cracked foundations. Leaking water will pool around the foundation, expanding when frozen and causing cracks in basement and crawlspace walls. It also can cause driveways and other cement areas around the home to sag and crack.

Gutter cleaning should be scheduled in the spring and fall of each year. Homeowners can hire gutter-cleaning services to handle the job or do the job themselves. Rinse the gutters with water from the hose afterward to ensure good run-off. Take the time to seal any leaks as well. This routine maintenance can save homeowners many headaches and prevent some very expensive repairs.


FH158400

Improve Indoor Air Quality as Winter Approaches

With fall soon to give way to winter, many people will soon be spending more time indoors. Winter weather can be harsh, and it can be difficult for fresh air to make its way into a home once the warmer temperatures of summer and fall give way to the cold days of winter.

Poor indoor air quality can cause multiple problems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, poor indoor air quality can increase a person’s risk of developing pneumonia, and it also may aggravate existing respiratory conditions such as asthma. The EPA also notes that long-term exposure to indoor air pollution can increase a person’s risk for heart disease, respiratory diseases and even cancer.

Because indoor air pollution can be so devastating, many homeowners look for ways to improve their indoor air quality, especially before the arrival of winter, when residents of the home figure to spend such a significant amount of time indoors. Fortunately, homeowners can take many steps to do just that.

* Clean with soap and water. Soap and hot water can still clean a home effectively, and this age-old combination might be the healthiest way to clean as well. Many household cleaning products contain potentially harmful ingredients that can introduce toxins and irritants into a home. Avoid such cleaners and solvents when cleaning a home. If stains prove too stubborn for soap and water, be sure to open windows when using potentially harmful cleaners indoors.

* Purchase an air filtration system. Air filtration systems vary significantly in size, cost and function. Some systems are designed to remove specific pollutants, and may not be effective at removing additional indoor air pollutants. Larger models tend to be most effective at filtering pollutants like dust, but such units are more expensive than smaller units. If your home is especially dusty, then a large filtering system may prove a worthy investment.

* Open windows and doors when possible. Introducing outdoor air into a home is a great way to improve indoor air quality. Of course, opening windows and doors might not be feasible in the middle of winter. But take advantage of any such opportunities when they present themselves. For example, after cooking a big meal, open the kitchen exhaust fan to allow fresh air into the home. Such fans are not large enough to cause a significant temperature drop in the home, but they can directly remove contaminants from inside the home, like those that might be emitted from gas stoves.

* Insist guests and residents remove their shoes. Chemicals can find their way into a home in a variety of ways, and you and your fellow residents or guests may be tracking them into your home on your shoes. Keep a doormat inside all entryways, and insist guests and residents remove their shoes before entering your home. This reduces the amount of potential pollutants brought into your home and also makes cleaning the home that much easier.

* Break out the mop. Vacuum cleaners can be effective at picking up pollutants inside a home, but they also can leave things behind. When a vacuum cleaner seems to be leaving some dust behind, take out the mop and, with just a little water, address the areas where dust is still lingering. Water should be enough to do the trick, and, unlike some cleaning products, water won’t be introducing any additional harmful pollutants into the home.

* Smoke outside. Smoking inside a home is inviting trouble, especially during those times of year when the windows cannot be opened. Secondhand smoke is a significant source of indoor air pollution, as cigarette smoke is known to contain more than 4,000 chemicals. Smoking indoors, whether an area is well- or poorly-ventilated, can be dangerous to smokers. Exposure to secondhand smoke puts adults and children alike at risk of several diseases, including asthma and cancer. If you or your fellow residents or visitors must smoke, do so outdoors. FH139466

Creative Ways to Recycle Leaves

Leaves cascading down from trees indicate the arrival of autumn. However, colorful and awe-inspiring autumn leaves can be a hazard if left to lie on the ground too long.

Fallen leaves form a dense insulator to protect trees’ roots and prevent competing plants from growing. Decomposing leaves also provide nutrients for the tree. But wet leaves can be a safety hazard and leaves left on the lawn through the winter can pose a threat to the grass. These are just a couple of reasons why so much effort is placed on leaf clean-up in the fall. The following are some creative ways to recycle leaves that fall from your trees in the weeks to come.

· Mulch: Shredded leaves can make for a great amendment to fertilizer for garden beds and even the lawn. Leaves lying on the grass can be mulched into small pieces with a mulching mower so they don’t choke the blades of grass. Leaves also can be broken down with a string trimmer, a leaf blower that has a vacuum function or a commercial shredder/chipper. Add the shredded leaves to a compost pile or use them to fill container plants before adding regular potting soil.

· Insulation: Collect leaves to mound over delicate perennial plants and shrubs. The leaves will add more warmth to the soil and may help plants make it through harsh winters. Just remove the leaves slowly when spring arrives so that the soil underneath can get the sunlight and water it needs to thrive. Leave some leaves in the yard so that animals can use them as nesting material and line their dens for the winter.

· Stuffing: Create whimsical scarecrows as part of your autumn decoration scheme. Gather older clothes that you no longer use and stuff the sleeves of shirts and the legs of pants with leaves, which are less expensive and easier to come by than straw. Use a few pieces of straw around the neck and hand areas of the scarecrow for visual effect. Tie off with twine and display your scarecrow.

· Bedding: Chicken owners can use fallen leaves as bedding in their chicken coops. Dry leaves also may create more comfortable and drier conditions for goats and other livestock. Goats may look to recently fallen leaves as a nutritious food source. Gather the leaves and let the goats munch before you further rake and compost the leaves.

· Decorations: Natural leaves can be used as decorations both inside and outside a home. String freshly fallen leaves together and wrap them around a grapevine wreath for a rustic door decoration. Leaves can be placed in clear vases and put on display for a cheap way to showcase some autumn color. Preserve favorite leaves with a lamination machine or by sealing them between heated sheets of waxed paper. Cut out the leaf shapes and use for hanging window decorations.

· Recreation: Leaves have long been favorite toys for children, who eagerly await jumping into large piles of fallen leaves. Fill paper bags with leaves and draw a target on the front. Let kids test their skill aiming for the targets. Children can camouflage their clothing with leaves and masking tape and have a more intense session of “hide and seek.”


TF159521

7 Ways to Make Mornings Less Hectic

Many families find the rush is on to make it to school and work on time each morning. Feeling rushed in the morning is a recipe for added stress. Rushing through things is a poor way to begin a day, and those feelings of uneasiness can put a damper on the rest of the day ahead.

Making mornings less hectic involves a few different strategies that parents and kids can easily incorporate into their daily routines.

· Wake up slightly earlier. Getting up earlier than normal, even if it’s just 15 to 20 minutes before you’re accustomed to getting out of bed, can help reduce morning stress. Resist the temptation to hit the snooze button over and over again. A few extra minutes each morning can make you feel more relaxed and make for a smooth, stress-free start to the day.

· Get some work done the night before. Prepare lunches the night before and have them ready in the refrigerator. In addition, lay your clothes for the following day out each night. This saves time and takes a couple more things off your morning to-do list.

· Ease back into a routine. As a new school year dawns or a long vacation comes to an end, begin going to bed earlier and start waking up earlier as well. This can make the transition from carefree mornings to busy mornings go more smoothly.

· Prep backpacks in the evening. Look through folders, sign paperwork, check assignments, and do whatever is you need to do the night before to save your family from having to scramble in the morning. This ensures those permission slips get signed and items make it back into school bags.

· Opt for school lunch a few times. Look ahead on the school lunch menu and speak with children about which meals they enjoy. Let kids purchase school lunch on those days to give yourself a day off from lunch detail.

· Have quick breakfast foods available. Smoothies, cereal bars, oatmeal, and whole-grain cereals are fast and nutritious ways to start the day.

· Carpool whenever possible. Busy families can save themselves extra work by proposing a neighborhood carpool. Sharing school dropoff detail frees time up for parents once or twice a week, and kids may enjoy traveling to school with their friends.

Mornings can be tricky when family members are getting ready for school and work at the same time. By practicing a few daily rituals, it’s possible to curb the rush and start the day happier and more relaxed.


BS167224

Transition Your Wardrobes From One Season to the Next

People who put a lot of thought into their wardrobes know that one of the challenges presented by the changing seasons is figuring out what to wear and when. For example, as spring transitions into summer, the occasional chilly day is to be expected, removing summertime attire like shorts and sleeveless shirts from consideration.

Such sudden changes can be problematic, as not everyone has the room to store multiple seasons’ worth of clothing in their closets and drawers. Yet, with a little ingenuity, men and women can make their seasonal wardrobe transitions a little easier.

· Layering: Layering is the key to keeping comfortable no matter the weather. Layering enables you to take off layers or put them on as needed. Lightweight sweaters or blazers can be worn over short sleeves or sleeveless ensembles when temperatures have yet to reach their midday highs. Layers also can prove invaluable in office settings where the air conditioning may make working environments especially chilly. Leggings can be worn under skirts or dresses and then removed as temperatures rise.

· Long-sleeved shirts: Keep a few long-sleeved shirts at the ready. Simple sleeve length can mean the difference between comfort and discomfort. Covering shoulders and/or arms with a lightweight top also can protect against the rays of the sun. Choose among your most versatile long-sleeved shirts, meaning basic colors that will blend well with any outfit.

· Bright colors: Bright colors go hand in hand with warm weather. Keep bright-colored items you typically wear during other seasons so they can be paired, if necessary, with summer staples. This may include a thick sweater for cooler nights on the beach or trousers for formal evenings out on the town.

· Maxidresses: When shopping, invest in maxidresses. They’re easy and cool for hot days and nights, but they also can be refashioned if you wear them with long sleeves or knit sweaters. When covering up, use a waist-cinching belt or scarf to add structure to the look.

· Vary shoes: While flip-flops and other sandals may be summer staples, have a few other pairs of more traditional shoes at the ready as well. One can get away with boots with a maxi-dress. Ballet-style slippers are delicate enough for the season and provide extra foot coverage for comfort. If you walk a lot, look for shoes with structure, as summer footwear tends to provide less support than footwear worn during other times of the year.

Transitioning clothing from one season to the next takes a little ingenuity. While it may not require a person to keep all of his or her clothing out of storage, transitioning from one season to the next may require reserving a couple of versatile items that can be worn throughout the year.


TF166182