Why flushing power matters

flush-toiletEven if you are not a plumber, you have probably noticed that not all toilets flush the same.

You may have found yourself in situations where the toilet didn’t quite flush all the way and you’re left wondering what happened and what to do next. This is just one of several reasons why the flushing power of your toilet matters. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to conquer bathroom clutter

bathroom-clutter-cleanupWith multiple people taking showers, getting dressed and applying makeup, your bathroom can get crowded with an abundance of different products and personal care items.

Such an easily cluttered space can quickly become overwhelming to clean, but with these quick and easy strategies you can conquer your bathroom cleanup in no time at all. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

10 kitchen gadgets to inspire you to spend time in the kitchen

kitchen-gadgetsLife just keeps getting busier, and one of the first things to fall by the wayside is spending time in the kitchen.

But treat yourself to some of these innovative gadgets, and you’ll find yourself inspired as your time in the kitchen become easier, more efficient and more enjoyable. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Experience “real rain” with Kohler’s new showerhead

real-rain-showerheadNow is the perfect time to update your shower.

Kohler’s new Real Rain showerhead will completely change your expectations of how a shower should feel.

Natural rain

The Real Rain showerhead looks and feels as if you are in a natural rain shower. This shower head creates a multi-sensory experience that allows you to be transported to a warm rainstorm, personalized just for you. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bathroom Chemicals Most Harmful to Your Family and the Environment

Harmful Bathroom Cleaner Chemicals_editedCleaning your toilet is a dirty task, but when you think about the chemicals you’re using and how it could be affecting your family and the environment, the job becomes even nastier.

Most of us probably don’t realize what we’re putting into the air we breathe or what we’re washing down the drain after scrubbing the tub. A quick scan of the cleaning product labels in your cabinet is eye opening, if not downright frightening.

Some of the most harmful chemicals can be found in the majority of the products you use every time you clean. The worst offenders are listed below, but don’t worry, there’s always a replacement product. We’ll tell you what item to use instead, so you still get a shiny finish.

Hydrochloric acid

This chemical is an extremely toxic, corrosive acid found in most toilet bowl cleaners. You’ll find that most of the products with this chemical carry the warning “harmful or fatal if swallowed.”

Use instead: vinegar and baking soda. Spray the inside of the toilet bowl with vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes. Sprinkle in a small amount of baking soda and scrub the bowl.

Bleach

Bleach can corrode your skin, cause eye, nose and throat irritation and even be deadly if ingested in certain amounts. While bleach is good at killing germs, it’s certainly not worth the risk to your family—especially if you live with someone with asthma or other breathing difficulties.

Use instead: A popular combination of natural ingredients can kill germs, brighten your bathroom and not leave you gasping for air. Dontwastethecrumbs.com shares a natural recipe to replace bleach.

  • 3/4 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 10-15 drops lemon essential oil
  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 7 cups water

Ammonia

A popular ingredient in all-purpose cleaners, ammonia evaporates quickly and doesn’t streak. The chemical does, however, irritate the eyes and lungs, and can produce a poisonous gas if mixed with bleach.

Use instead: Mix these ingredients into a squirt bottle to use as your replacement all-purpose cleaner:

  • 1 2/3 cups baking soda
  • 1/2 cup liquid soap
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Sulfuric acid

This chemical is a highly corrosive strong mineral acid often found in drain cleaners. Not only can it burn your skin, it’s also difficult to break down, meaning it could contaminate local bodies of water and any marine life living within.

Use instead: Clearing your drains with everyday items is easy and much safer. You’ll need:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup vinegar

Remove any sitting water from the sink or tub. Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by 2 cups of boiling water. Wait three to five minutes, pour another cup of baking soda down the drain followed by 1 cup of white vinegar, then plug the drain completely.

These ingredients work together to eat away at blockages. When you open the drain, flush it with 2 cups of boiling water. Repeat the process as needed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Simple Guide to Septic Tank Care

Septic Tank Care_editedIgnoring routine care of your septic tank can create a smelly problem—an expensive, smelly problem. Fortunately, simple upkeep and awareness of how you’re operating your household can keep your septic tank running properly for decades.

When to Pump a Septic Tank

While there are a number of factors that play into the maintenance needed on your septic tank – family size, septic tank size, water use – most septic tanks should be pumped every three to five years. The working parts to the tank should be inspected more often, about every 12 months.

The need to pump a septic tank is determined by the sludge and scum levels. There is a T-shaped outlet that prevents the sludge and scum from exiting to the drainfield area. The scum rises to the top of the tank, while the sludge sits at the bottom. When the scum layer is within six inches of the bottom outlet or the sludge layer is within 12 inches of the outlet, it’s time to pump your tank.

Conserve Water

The septic tank can handle a certain amount of water at one time, so it’s important to be mindful of how much water your family uses. Some easy ways to conserve water and not overload your septic tank are:

  • Repair any leaking toilets or faucets. A leaky faucet dripping once per second will waste 3,000 gallons of water over the course of one year.
  • Install high efficiency toilets. Older toilet models use much more water to discard wastes than newer models. Switching to a modern style saves the average family about 13,000 gallons of water each year.
  • Have multiple laundry days. Rather than waiting until one day to do multiple loads of laundry, spread the washing out over two or three days to give the tank a chance to catch up with demand. Be sure to wash clothes on the correct load setting (i.e. small, medium, large).

What Not To Put In Your Septic Tank

It’s a septic tank, not a trashcan. Do not allow anything other than human waste and toilet paper to be flushed into the tank. Also, avoid washing certain liquids down the sink. The following items should not be flushed:

  • Chemicals: gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze and paint or paint thinners
  • Cigarette butts
  • Cooking grease or oil
  • Condoms
  • Dental floss
  • Diapers
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Flushable wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Pharmaceuticals

It’s also a good practice to limit your use of the garbage disposal to avoid overloading the tank with oils and fats. There are a variety of living organisms in your septic system that digests and treats household waste. Using chemical-filled products to clear your drains can kill those organisms and hurt your septic system.

Keep maintenance records of your septic tank so you know when it’s time for the next service. Track the scum and sludge levels indicated by your service professional so you know when it’s time to pump.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

9 Guest Bathroom Luxuries

Guest Bathroom Luxuries_editedYour home should be a place of relaxation and comfort, not just for your family but also for guests. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or having family over for the holidays, you want guests to feel welcome and a little bit spoiled, even when they’re using the bathroom. Here are nine guest bathroom luxuries divided by price range.

Simple, Affordable Bathroom Luxuries: $

Candles

A seasonal fragrance paired with the mood lighting of a flickering flame makes any space more inviting. Even when the candles aren’t lit, they make for great décor.

Spa-like treatments

Hand soaps, bath salts, and bubble bath can transform your bathroom from an ordinary space into a desirable retreat. Placing the products in glass jars or matching containers can make them feel even more luxurious.

Fresh flowers

While a bouquet of fresh flowers can add a splash of color to the bathroom (not to mention a nice fragrance), lavender in particular can actually help your guests relax. Lavender is often used in essential oils and candles to help produce a calm, peaceful feeling.

Moderate Bathroom Luxuries: $$

Shower curtain and rugs

If you’re not ready to replace a shower or start removing tiles, a new shower curtain and rugs can breathe life into a guest bathroom. Calming colors are especially inviting, like seafoam and cottage white, white and lavender, and dusty teal, white and mocha.

Fixtures

Add a touch of elegance, keep things modern or appreciate the past with new bathroom fixtures. From a rainhead spout in the shower to brushed nickel faucets and handles, new fixtures can create a customized look and feel.

Custom mirror

Adding a frame to your bathroom mirror can make the space feel complete and rich. If you’re handy with wood and basic tools, you could even create the frame yourself.

Most Desirable Bathroom Luxuries: $$$

Heated floor

Electric in-floor heating mats are installed under the tile, creating a comfortable, warm floor beneath your guest’s feet. The average cost to install 100 square feet of heated flooring is $600.

Jet tub

Adding a jet tub to your guest bathroom may mean your guests never want to leave. This luxurious staple in any spa bathroom not only promotes relaxation, but also helps improve blood circulation and provides relief to sore muscles and joints.

Digital shower

Make your shower completely customizable with digital control. Install a rainhead, body sprays or steam feature—nearly any characteristic you can think of to enhance your bathroom experience. In addition, digital showers eliminate the bulkiness of handles and knobs, making your shower an uncluttered space.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Throw Away the Chemicals and Steam Clean Your Bathroom Instead

Steam cleaning_editedFor decades we’ve wandered aimlessly down the cleaning supplies isle at our local box store, grabbed something that says “Kills 99% of germs” and unloaded it into our bathroom sinks, toilets, and showers. If the bathroom didn’t smell like a toxic mix of bleach and Summer Breeze, it simply wasn’t clean.

What we now know is there is a much better, safer way to clean the bathroom. The power of steam not only kills those germs you’re trying to rid yourself of but also eliminates the use of harsh chemicals that can affect your family’s health.

What’s Wrong With Chemicals?

Cleaners that incorporate chemicals – whether in a spray bottle, powder, or pour spout – can present a danger to your family. In fact, some labels give explicit warnings, such as, “Hazardous to humans and domestic animals.” We’re guessing you’ve got a few humans living in your house, so let’s look for a better solution.

Common chemicals in cleaners:

2-butoxyethanol

This powerful solvent is found in window and multipurpose cleaners. Inhale too much of this chemical and you could suffer from an itchy throat or even liver or kidney damage.

Ammonia

This chemical is liked by cleaning product companies because it evaporates and doesn’t leave streaks, which means you’ll find it in window clearers and polishes. Ammonia is a strong irritant. Family members with asthma or difficulty breathing could be affected immediately. Ammonia also creates a poisonous gas if mixed with bleach.

Chlorine

Many cleaners contain chlorine, including scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers and laundry whiteners. Chlorine is an irritant that can cause mild discomfort breathing, but high levels of chlorine can negatively affect your thyroid.

Bleach

Bleach is often used in clearers or as a standalone cleaning product in the bathroom. Irritation from bleach can begin right away, causing runny eyes, nose and skin irritation. Constant exposure to the chemical can lead to respiratory problems, skin burn, headaches or vomiting.

Why Steam Cleaning Is Better

Steam cleaning kills 99% of the bacteria in your bathroom without the harsh side effects of chemicals. Not only is steam cleaning safer for your body, but it also provides a safe environment for your kids and pets. Here are the top reasons steam cleaning your bathroom is better than using chemicals:

Non-toxic

Steam cleaning only uses heat and water. No need to open all the windows or wear a mask to complete the job.

Safe for kids

Your family can immediately touch or use the facilities without worry of a skin irritation or breathing in chemicals. Same goes for Fido – the whole family is safe, even the furry members.

Allergies

Because steam cleaning doesn’t involve the harsh chemicals of store bought cleaners, those with allergies or asthma can breathe easy.

Mold removal

Using bleach on mold doesn’t kill it; the chemical just turns the mold white so you think it’s gone. Steam cleaning reaches such a high temperature that it actually kills the mold and can be easily cleared with a brush.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Understanding the Most Common Kitchen Design Styles

Today’s kitchen isn’t just used for cooking. This multi-functional space has become the favorite spot for family gatherings, parties, work and conversations over a glass of wine.

The layout and design of your kitchen must fit your family’s lifestyle. Whether you’re building a new home, planning a kitchen renovation or want to make the best choice in your house hunting process, keep these common kitchen design styles in mind.

Kitchen layouts

There are six common kitchen layouts for you to consider for your home. Some of them are space dependent, but others are designed to fit certain lifestyles and patterns of use.

One-wall

The one-wall kitchen design is typically found in small homes. Appliances are lined against one wall in the home (usually a studio or loft condo). The sink is placed between the refrigerator and the stove for easy cleanup. One downside to this kitchen layout is the limited counter space for food prep. A kitchen island can be added for more space in larger homes.

Galley

Galley kitchens have a narrow design optimized for cooking, not socializing. Restaurants often use this design for maximum efficiency when prepping, cutting and plating food. Having the kitchen open on both ends of the galley is ideal for allowing maximum light and easier access. A downside to the galley design is that there’s often no room for a dining area.

U-shape

Similar to a one-wall design, the U-shape kitchen is typically smaller in design and best suited for a one-cook family. The layout places the refrigerator, range and sink each on a different wall. These kitchens often offer limited space, so a dining area or kitchen island is usually not an option, especially in older homes.

Island

An island kitchen is usually a larger version of the traditional U-shape design. Newly built homes often feature large kitchen islands and an open-space concept, making your kitchen an accessible social space. The island is a great space for homework, food prep and a breakfast bar.

L-shape

The L-shape kitchen is a common design in small and medium sized homes. The “L” is formed by the kitchen essentials running along two walls—usually 12 to 15 feet in length for maximum efficiency. This design usually offers enough space for dine-in kitchens, but it’s not meant to be a thoroughfare.

G-shape

The G-shape kitchen design is also known as a peninsula kitchen. Think an L-shape kitchen with an attached island to one side. This design offers many of the same benefits of an island kitchen without having an obstructive piece of your kitchen in the middle of an open area.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hot Remodeling Trend: At-Home Dog Washing Station

With more than 60 million families across the nation owning at least one dog, it’s no surprise that the latest home remodeling trend caters to dog owners.

An at-home dog washing station not only makes caring for your furry family member much easier but also provides the dog with a safer, less stressful environment. Mudrooms or laundry rooms are great places to consider as many already have the necessary plumbing for a shower.

How much does a dog washing station cost?

Installing an at home dog washing station is similar to installing a shower or tub. You’ll need to contact a plumber if the water line and drain are not already present and a contractor to install the actual wash area. Costs vary from roughly $1,000 for a freestanding tub while a custom design can cost much more.

Shower, tub or freestanding wash basin

A walk-in shower works best for larger dogs, while an elevated tub is best suited for smaller dogs that can easily be lifted into the washbasin. A freestanding washtub is a less expensive option as it requires no tile work, but you still need a plumber for installation.

  • Elevated tub: Steps or ramps can be installed with an elevated tub. If you choose a tub, keep the depth no greater than 15 inches so you don’t have to learn over constantly.
  • Walk-in shower: The walk-in shower can be framed with an elevated lip around the base of the shower to prevent water from running into the floor. A hinged door can also be added if desired.
  • Freestanding washbasin: This option is the least taxing on your wallet and is an easier feature to remove if you desire a change.

Whether you choose a shower or tub, tile is the recommended material for easy clean-up and water damage prevention.

Best dog washing station features

As you plan out the installation of a dog washing station in your home, be sure to include these helpful features:

  • Hand-held showerhead: Make the shower head mobile so you don’t have to force your dog into one corner of the bath to be rinsed.
  • Leash clip: Create stability by having a clip you can use to tether your dog to the wall.
  • Shelf: Create an easy-to-reach area where you can set your supplies during bath time.
  • Storage: Keep your dog washing area organized while it’s not being used with sufficient cabinetry and shelfing.
  • Rubber grip mat: The American Kennel Club says dogs can become stressed on slippery surfaces. Use a rubber grip mat in the bottom of the shower or tub to provide a stable surface.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment