Arts & Crafts Cleanup

Power through paint stains. Get started by flaking off any dried paint and rinsing the garment in cold water to dilute the paint stains, then soak the item for 30 minutes in a sink or plastic bucket filled with a gallon of water and about two tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent. Wash in warm water with laundry detergent and a stain booster that will help optimize removal of those pesky paint stains.

Tackle gluey situations. Brush off any dried glue residue, or dab the spot with clear tape to remove leftover pieces. Rinse fabric with cold water to dilute any remaining glue, then wash in warm water with liquid detergent.

Make magic markers disappear—really! Position the marker stain facedown on clean paper towels. Use a sponge or cotton ball to dab rubbing alcohol into the area around the mark and then onto the stain directly. Continue applying alcohol, frequently changing or rotating the paper towels underneath as ink is transferred to them. Rinse well and pretreat any remaining stain with liquid detergent for 20 minutes before washing the garment in warm water.

Deconstruct modeling clay. Once the gooey material is completely dry to the touch, gently brush or flake off any debris. Using a plastic bucket, create a soak solution by adding 2 tablespoons of a liquid detergent with color-safe bleach per gallon of cold water. Allow the garment to soak for up to 30 minutes, weighting the item with a white towel to keep it totally submerged, before washing in warm water.

Bye-bye crayon marks. With a dull knife, scrape off any excess wax and brush residue from the garment. Sandwich the stain facedown between several layers of paper towel, then press with a warm (but not hot) iron to transfer the stain to the paper towels. Keep changing paper towels until no more stain lifts away from the fabric. Pretreat any remaining marks with liquid laundry detergent and let sit for 20 minutes before washing in warm water.

How to Clean a Grill

Before you fire up summer’s favorite cooking tool, that funky, caked-on gunk will need a deep cleaning. And your lucky pit master apron could probably use a little help too. No problem—we’ve got you covered.

Start with a cold grill. Turn off all the knobs and disconnect the propane tank.

Remove the cooking grates. Soak them in a bucket with hot water antibacterial dishwashing soap.

Scrub the insides. Cover the heating elements with aluminum foil to catch loose debris that falls as you clean, and scrub the inner hood and walls with a wire brush or steel wool pad. Wipe it all down with damp paper towels.

Remove the drip pan. Empty it, and toss it into the soaking bucket. Take the grates out of the bucket, and scrub them with a wire brush or steel wool pad. Rinse grates with a garden hose.

Shine the exterior. Wipe down the outside of the grill using a fresh bucket of warm water and dish soap.

Put it back together. Toss the foil and replace the grates and drip pan, then reconnect the propane.

Address that beloved grilling apron. A regular clean isn’t enough to fight greasy grilling marks, you need to take it to another level with a detergent that has a stain-fighting booster. 

Cleaning Tips to Perk Up Your Porch

Whether your porch wraps around your house or is only big enough to fit an armchair, you can turn it into a cozy nook for reading, sipping a glass of wine, or getting away from it all (without really leaving). You don’t need to spend a lot of money or time prepping your porch. A few simple tricks are all it takes to create an outside oasis.

Hang some drapes. Add a little romance—and privacy—to this outdoor space by installing curtains. All you need is an inexpensive rod and tab-top curtains (consider ones in a durable, weather-resistant fabric, many of which are as soft as cotton) to give your porch a breezy, laid-back vibe. Bonus: On sunny days, the curtains can also be pulled shut to provide shade.

Paint your floor. Set a clear divide between indoors and out by giving your porch floor a few coats of a bright, invigorating paint. Remember to choose a shade that complements the exterior of your house.

Think bright. Patterned cushions or throw pillows add instant chic to a porch swing or a comfy chair. If you already own cushions, freshen them up by laundering them with a lush smelling detergent. Think of it as cleaning and aromatherapy in one!

Lay down a rug. Pull your porch together with an indoor/outdoor area rug or a couple of cotton area rugs. (Don’t forget to buy a rug pad to keep the carpets from sliding around.) Add colorful garden stool too. It can pull double duty as both side table and extra seating.

Include cozy throws. Fill a basket with soft, comfortable throws and quilts laundered with laundry detergent and dryer sheets in soothing scents. You'll appreciate the smell when you curl up for a nap in your newly revitalized outdoor room!

How to Entertain Like a Royal

Most nights it’s enough just to get dinner on the table, so whether you dine on paper plates or on patterned china probably doesn’t matter much. Nevertheless, there’s something to be said for crisp linen napkins, a pretty centerpiece, and a delicious meal served on your “good” dishes. Plus, it’s an easy way to elevate your evening using things you already have tucked away in the cupboards. So make like Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge (Will and Kate, to friends) will be joining you for dinner, and follow these tips for a perfectly prepped table.

Assemble the basics. Choose a tablecloth in a neutral shade, such as white, beige, or ecru. If you love the look of your table and prefer not to cover the entire surface, opt for a damask runner and beautiful place mats to achieve a more formal look. Choose napkins that match the tablecloth, and add decorative napkin rings for a dash of sparkle or color.

Set a proper table. Not sure whether the forks go to the right or left of the plate? Thankfully there are tons of Websites with instructions (and diagrams!) on the correct order of flatware and the proper placement of water glasses, wine goblets, and bread plates. Although most newer china is dishwasher-safe, your best bet is to hand wash any heirloom pieces—including crystal and stemware with a silver or gold rim, which can discolor in the dishwasher. Lay a towel in your sink before filling it with hot water to prevent chipping. Wash the glasses one at a time with a soft cloth or stemware brush, and after rinsing with hot water, dry with a lint-free cloth to prevent spotting.

Add in the extras. Once the table is set, personalize it with pretty salt and pepper shakers, crystal or sterling candlesticks, and fresh flowers. For an inexpensive option, arrange a tight, monochromatic cluster of white or pale pink carnations in a simple white vase. It’ll add a touch of elegance without breaking the bank.

Keep your linens in tip-top shape. If you notice red wine on your napkins or gravy on the tablecloth after the meal, apply a stain treatment right away, then launder the items with a liquid detergent that will get your linens super clean without sacrificing softness. And always use the gentle cycle for your special linens.

Declutter Your Life: Laundry Room Edition

There is a lot of unavoidable stress in your life so why not declutter and organize where you can? The laundry room is a good place to start. After all, it is mission control center for tidy and clean homes. Here are a few useful tips that will keep your laundry room orderly—and your mind clutter-free.

1. Clearly label a bin for darks and a bin for lights.
Separating laundry into dark and light loads can be a hassle, so make your life easier and have family members sort it themselves! Two clearly marked bins in the laundry room will do the trick.

2. Pin up a “lost sock board.”
There’s nothing more annoying than losing a sock, throwing out its mate and then finding the original sock months later. Be organized and preemptively handle the age-old lost sock conundrum by putting up a lost sock corkboard. Fair warning: This may turn into more of a memorial wall… but it will still look cute.

3. Start a laundry room piggy bank.
When you turn pockets inside out and find lose change and bills, drop the bounty in your laundry room piggy bank. Aside from looking adorable, a piggy bank may prompt family members to check pockets before putting dirty clothes in the hamper.

4. Designate a basket, bin or shelf to each family member.
Having a designated area for each family member makes sorting laundry after washday a breeze. Then they can be in charge of picking up and folding their own clean items to help ease your load.

5. Hang up a stain chart.
Knowledge is power. A stain chart will ensure that you are always prepared.