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The Right Way to Wash Your Car

How to Wash a Car

Photo: JNoonan

Good things come to those who wait: That may be sound advice for life in general, but if you’re a car owner, it’s best to ignore that old adage. Rather than wait around for crud to accumulate, I’ve learned that, if you want to protect the finish on your vehicle, it’s far better to clean early and often. Be aware, however, that when cleaning a car, it’s possible to do more harm than good. Poor technique or improper materials leave the clear-coat finish riddled with micro-scratches that not only compromise the longevity of the paint job, but also lessen resale value. Fortunately, cleaning your car the right way doesn’t have to call for a full afternoon of hard labor. It requires only that you work with the right equipment. In fact, I was pleased to discover that you really need only one tool for the task, so long as you’ve got the HYDE PivotPro Boat/Auto Cleaning Water Wand. With PivotPro, I did a much better job than my local car wash, and for much less money.

How to Wash a Car - Wheels

Photo: JNoonan

Park the car in a shady part of the driveway and begin your cleaning only after the car has cooled to the touch. Once it’s ready, grab your PivotPro. That’s right—you won’t need all those sponges and buckets today. Simply connect your PivotPro to the garden hose, then start blasting away loose dirt and debris from the roof on down to the tires. Unlike other wands in its category, the PivotPro features a patented pivoting nozzle that rotates along a radius of 135 degrees. This means that merely by pulling or pushing the slide grip on the barrel, you can adjust the spray angle. Rather than stretching or stooping to clean a hard-to-reach area, you can simply pivot the nozzle to direct the water where you want it to go. All the while, you can remain standing comfortably upright on your own two feet.

After rinsing the entire vehicle, proceed to cleaning what’s so often the dirtiest component: the wheels. Here, water alone may not be sufficient; the nooks and crannies of your wheels, like mine, might benefit from a scrubbing. But with PivotPro, there’s no need to go digging in the garage for a suitable brush. The tool comes with a spindle brush that’s specially designed to fit into wheel wells and other tight spots. Just lock that brush into position and, capitalizing on the tool’s 46-inch length, get into all those crevices where even hands wouldn’t fit. To give the front of the wheels an extra scrub, trade the spindle brush for the rectangular, nylon-bristled brush with a rubber bumper. For maximum cleaning power, scrub even while spraying the area with a steady stream of water.

Without knowing any better, some people use normal dishwashing soap or another cleaning agent borrowed from the kitchen. That’s a bad idea, it turns out, as such products strip away the protective wax coating on your car, leaving its finish vulnerable to nicks, scratches, and stains. Having learned from the error of my ways, I purchased a dedicated car-washing solution and was ready to proceed.

Whereas in the past I would have added my detergent to a bucket full of water, thanks to PivotPro’s clever soap-dispensing functionality, this time the process was remarkably hassle- (and bucket-) free. After filling the built-in mixing reservoir and setting the desired soap-to-water ratio, I sprayed down the entire car, from top to bottom, with soapy water. It must have taken me—oh, I don’t know—two minutes?

Next, I switched out the spindle brush in favor of another attachment included with the HYDE PivotPro Boat/Auto Cleaning Water Wand—a microfiber pad. Car aficionados recommend microfiber above all other materials, and now that I’ve used it, I understand why. As I ran it over the soaped-up car, the pad seemed to be floating away the dirt and debris, not driving them into the finish. Be careful, though: Pause your work every now and again to inspect the microfiber for anything that might leave a scratch. Another tip: Wipe vertical surfaces (e.g., doors) with a stiff-armed up-and-down motion; with horizontal surfaces (e.g., hood), use a left-to-right motion. Work in sections, and as you finish each one, toggle the switch on the PivotPro to rinse the soap off the section before it has the chance to dry.

How to Wash a Car - Microfiber

Photo: JNoonan

You can always let the car air-dry after a final rinse-off, but doing so runs the risk of a spotty result. To avoid streaks, dry the car with a microfiber towel by either blotting or dragging the material slowly across the surface. Even better, treat the microfiber with spray wax or instant detailer first. The lubrication from either treatment helps prevent the microfiber from marring the perfect finish you’ve managed to restore by carefully following the earlier steps.

It’s gratifying to tackle even a simple job like washing the car. But there are tangible incentives as well. For instance, sidestepping car wash fees can end up saving you some real money, especially if you’re cleaning your vehicle as often as you should. In the end, however, I was most impressed by the fact that, armed with PivotPro, doing all this myself wasn’t a chore—it was actually sort of fun!

How to Wash a Car - Hyde PivotPro

Photo: thehydeway.com

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

Never Lose ANYTHING with Tile Tracking Tags

Don't lose your marbles over missing possessions! With the help of this small-but-mighty gadget, you can keep tabs on your keys, wallet, luggage, and other frequently mislaid items.

Tile Tracking Tags

Photo: thetileapp.com

A panicked frenzy over misplaced items as you’re rushing out the door—we’ve all been there, and the stressful search has the potential to derail an entire day. Thanks to apps like Find My iPhone and Android Device Manager, finding an errant phone isn’t a lost cause. But what happens when non-electronic possessions get lost in the shuffle—your keys, wallet, or even a pet? Enter Tile, a tracking tag that enables your smartphone to help you hunt down all your misplaced things.

Tile Tracking Tags - Keychain

Photo: thetileapp.com

As the name suggests, each Tile takes the shape of a white square chip, roughly the size of a half-dollar. You can affix one to nearly anything you’d ever want to locate. Slip a Tile onto a key ring using the handy hole punched in the top left corner, use adhesive to stick one onto the remote, or simply place a Tile into the pocket of a bag or wallet. Then, just link up the device to your account on a mobile app. If the Tiled item ever goes missing, this tiny helper will enable you to scout it out via a map on your smartphone. It’ll tell you when you’re getting warm, and you can even have the app ring your Tile so you can follow your ears to dig it up—a very useful feature when you’re trying to find buried keys or a remote control that’s fallen behind the sofa.

Rather than utilizing GPS technology to find a real-time location, each tracker tag emits a Bluetooth signal that your phone will pick up when it’s within 100 feet of the tag. Fortunately, if you’ve stepped outside of that radius, the app keeps track of the last place it “saw” your item, which could be roughly where you last walked away from it—a helpful starting point for retracing steps if you’ve spent a day running errands and don’t recall if you left your wallet at a returns counter or on the table at your coffee stop.

Perhaps the app’s most fascinating feature is its access to an extensive network of Tile users, which can be key to locating those truly lost items. If a Tiled item of yours goes missing (say, a piece of luggage at the airport), use the app to report it as lost. Then, when any other phone running the app comes within 100 feet of it, the app will notify you of its location—without alerting the other user to lost goods nearby. Whereas before if you left your bag somewhere your only recourse would have been calling around to all the places you stopped at in a day’s worth of travel, now you can rely on a larger search party of strangers to get to the bottom of the case of the missing purse.

Purchase Tile, $25 each

INFOGRAPHIC: Your Everything Guide to Painting Prep

Nothing refreshes a home like a new paint job. Read on for helpful tips, tools, and prep ideas to help you make the most of your next painting project.

Few home improvement projects are as transformative as a fresh coat of paint. In fact, painting your own house—whether indoors or out—is one of the smartest upgrades any homeowner can accomplish on their own. But for a DIY paint project that looks truly professional, it pays to prepare the space by cleaning, scraping, patching, and sealing walls and trim.  Knowing the right way to prep will give any paint job a clean, seamless look and ensure your work will last for years. So before you get to started on your next project, check out these tips from the experts at DAP.

Painting Prep Infographic DAP

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This post has been brought to you by DAP maker of caulk, patch and prep products for all of your painting needs. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

Bob Vila Radio: The Right Caulk for the Job

Rather than settle for an all-purpose product, choose a caulk specifically designed for the type of project you're tackling.

Few items in the toolbox can help you out more than a caulk gun. And one thing you may not know is that, even though lots of manufacturers offer “do it all” caulk, you’re likely to get better results with a product formulated especially for the task at hand.

Choosing the Right Caulk

Photo: fotosearch.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON CHOOSING CAULK or read the text below:

For example, caulks for kitchens and baths contain added ingredients that fight mildew, while adhesive caulks are great for joining materials. Window and door caulks, meanwhile, excel in sealing unwanted openings.

And what about concrete sealant? There’s nothing better to fill the cracks that show up in sidewalks and driveways. Still other options include asphalt sealant and gutter and flashing sealant. There’s even a specialty caulk designed to help block the spread of fire.

So next time you head to the home center to pick up some caulk, make sure you allow a little extra time to look for the product that’ll give you the best performance.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.

How To: Clean Patio Furniture

How to Clean Patio Furniture

Photo: thehydeway.com

A fixture of backyard barbecues and poolside parties, patio furniture must withstand not only the elements, but also the everyday wear and tear that occurs even in fair weather. Given your furniture’s almost constant exposure, dirt and grime inevitably accumulate over time, but with proper preparation, you can clean patio furniture fast—and with next to no hassle. The key? Insisting on the very best tools for the task at hand. Read on to discover the easy way to care for wood, metal, and plastic outdoor furniture.

- HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand
- Garden hose
- Vacuum with hose attachments
- Sponge
- Oil-based soap, dishwashing soap, or automatic dishwashing detergent

How to Clean Patio Furniture - Table 2

Photo: thehydeway.com

Cleaning patio furniture the easy way hinges on HYDE PivotPro, a triple-threat tool that’s part sprayer, part soap dispenser, and part stiff-bristle brush. Swing the brush into position, then use the 46-inch tool to scrub away all the loose dirt or debris from the furniture. Before you get going in earnest, remove any cushions, setting them aside to be handled separately.

Different cleaning agents are best for different patio furniture materials. No matter what type of furniture you’re dealing with, however, you can usually count on having to pull out a bucket and pour in about a quarter-cup of the appropriate cleanser with about a gallon of warm water. But with PivotPro, you can skip the bucket and let the tool dispense the correct cleanser-to-water ratio.

• For wood and natural wicker furniture, opt for a nourishing oil-based soap.

• For both colored plastic and wrought-iron furniture, choose a clear, mild dishwashing soap.

• For white plastic furniture, use automatic dishwashing detergent. Because such detergents typically contain bleach, wear rubber gloves for protection. After applying, remember to let the solution stand for 15 minutes before rinsing it off.

The PivotPro comes with a built-in 16-ounce mixing reservoir. Just add the appropriate cleaner to the reservoir and set the tool to dispense precisely two ounces of soap for every one gallon of water (which is just one of several available ratios). Now attach the PivotPro directly to your garden hose.

Point and shoot, using the PivotPro to spray down the furniture with a steady, rapid stream of soapy water. Be sure to address every surface—top and bottom, front and back. For best results, capitalize on the patented pivoting nozzle from which the PivotPro derives its name. Simply slide the grip on the barrel of the tool, and the spray angle adjusts along a radius of 135 degrees, enabling you to clean those hard-to-reach areas, all without bending, stretching, or stooping. If you encounter any crud that refuses to budge, swing the brush back into position and scrub while simultaneously spraying. That ought to do it!

Disengage the soap dispenser and rinse the furniture with clear water, taking care to remove all residue left by the cleaning agent. Finally, let your furniture air-dry outside, and it’s sure to be ready in time for a relaxing, well-deserved alfresco dinner that very evening.

How to Clean Patio Furniture - Al Fresco

Photo: fotosearch.com

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

Bob Vila Radio: Give Your Gas Grill a Tune-Up

For better-tasting food and longer-lasting equipment, set aside time at the start of barbecue season to give your gas grill a little tune-up.

Grilling season is back, and not a minute too soon! To avoid any unpleasant surprises on your inaugural cookout, give your grill a little TLC before you start it up.

Gas Grill Maintenance

Photo: fotosearch.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON GAS GRILL MAINTENANCE or read the text below:

Shut off the valve on the propane tank, then carefully remove the cooking grates, gas tubing, and burner. Wash the grates and gas tubing in soapy water, then use a damp rag to wipe grime off the burner. Next, poke a toothpick into each hole in the burner to dislodge any gunk from last season. Finally, use soapy water and a stiff brush to clean the inside of the grill before reinstalling the gas tubing and burner.

Before your first cookout, fire up the grill, with the burners set on high. Let the heat burn off any grease or such that you may have missed. Doing so also provides assurance that all components of the grill are working as they should. It may be wise to keep a couple of propane tanks ready to go, as you never know when unexpected guests may show up with an appetite for one of your juicy burgers!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.

5 Things to Do with… Sawdust

Don't toss your woodworking scraps yet! Give your sawdust and shavings purpose with one of these five tasks.

As an avid DIYer, chances are you have remnants from many projects lingering around the house—tools waiting to be stashed away, leftover materials, and probably a bit of mess, much to your dismay. While you might think your project scraps aren’t good for more than the trash, there is one byproduct that’s quite a valuable material in its own right: sawdust. These wood shavings have plenty of potential for household use! Read on for five reasons to save the extras from your next woodworking session.



Uses for Sawdust - Wood Filler

Photo: fotosearch.com

When you’re in need of good wood filler, don’t look any further than some glue and sawdust. Mix the two together, and you can patch any hole or gash in your wood furniture. The sawdust helps to keep the glue from running and, if you’re lucky, will help closely match the color of the wood. Once it has dried, lightly sand the surface smooth. It will really help you out in a pinch!



Uses for Sawdust - Fire Starter

Photo: fotosearch.com

Getting a campfire going in less-than-perfect conditions can be challenging. When you’ve got no time to wait, enlist the help of a handy homemade fire starter. Make your own by mixing melted candle wax with a handful sawdust in an old or disposable muffin tin, then let the composition cool. You’ll end up with convenient little rounds that are ready to toss into the makings of your next summer campfire!



Uses for Saw Dust - Litterbox Liner

Photo: instructables.com

Have you ever noticed how much money Miss Kitty’s litter is costing every month? It adds up. Fresh wood chips and sawdust can stand in as a smart alternative—cheaper and more environmentally friendly, too. The only downside is that it won’t clump like many store-bought varieties do, meaning you’ll have to change the litter more often. No cat at home? This same method will work for hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, and bunnies—pretty much any critter with a cage that needs to be lined.



Uses for Sawdust - Paint Spill

Photo: flickr.com

Accident-prone crafters, rejoice—you can use the mess from a woodworking project to clean up the mess of future DIYs! When you spill an excess oil or paint, just sprinkle some sawdust onto the sticky spot. The highly absorbent wood shavings will soak up most of it, making for an easier cleanup. (Better start keeping a bucket of sawdust on a shelf in the garage, just in case.)



Uses for Sawdust - Kill Weeds

Photo: flickr.com

While most wood chips make an effective mulch for landscaping, walnut sawdust can work wonders outside the garden bed as a weed killer. It contains juglone, a chemical toxic to most plants, so sprinkling this wood’s shavings judiciously along the perimeter of the yard and over pathways will keep unwanted greenery from growing. Just make sure you don’t get too close to the flowers or plants you do want to stick around all season.

Genius! Turn Your Watermelon into a Drink Dispenser

Watermelon may be a summer staple, but we've clearly been missing out on some of what it has to offer. What if you could both enjoy the juicy flesh and make a practical party centerpiece all at once? Read on to find out how a watermelon can get a second life as a keg!

DIY Watermelon Keg - WK 1

Photo: prettyprudent.com

There’s more than one way to slice a watermelon, and more than one thing to do with it once you do! Sure, you can snack on juicy cuts any sticky summer day, but why leave it at that when you can also use the fruit to pour yourself a cool, refreshing drink? Jaime of Pretty Prudent teaches us a thing or two about using every part of the summertime staple by turning her rind into a festive drink dispenser. To re-create this fun, party-ready DIY, you’ll need nothing more than the summer essentials: a ripe watermelon, kitchen knife, ice cream scoop, spigot, and apple corer.

Start by slicing a small portion off the bottom to make a flat base so the watermelon stands up tall. Now, cut another, larger chunk off the top—remember, a large opening will make it easier to hollow out the inside. Once you’ve scooped out as much of the pink melon innards as you can, use an apple corer to create a hole for your spigot. Then, screw the spigot into place.

Just fill the fruit turned beverage dispenser with the drink of your choice, and you’re done! No matter what you pour in your watermelon keg, it’s sure to be enjoyed by all, says Jaime: “Every kid will love it, and almost every parent will love to spike it.”

FOR MORE: Pretty Prudent

DIY Watermelon Keg - WK 2

Photo: prettyprudent.com

Install Wood Paneling with Peel-and-Stick Ease

Get the look of the beautiful wood-paneled wall of your dreams without all the labor and costs involved with planking it from scratch. Stikwood's thin peel-and-stick panels get the job done in no time at all.

Stikwood - Wall Installation

Photo: stikwood.com

Want wood paneling without the hassle of nailing lumber to the walls? Meet Stikwood, the first peel-and-stick solid wood planking solution.

Stikwood planks are thin, flexible, adhesive-backed slices of real wood. The concept is reminiscent of contact paper, the old household standby that may still be lining your cabinets. Stikwood installation is similarly painless. Simply plan out your design, cut planks to fit, peel off the backings, and stick up the planks. The adhesive binds to any clean and smooth interior surface—walls, ceilings, doors, cabinets, and drawer fronts—and will last at least 10 years. Because each plank measures no thicker than three-sixteenths of an inch, installation—if you can call it that—is a snap. Indeed, Stikwood can transform an ordinary room in a matter of hours. And with 16 finishes to choose from, ranging from rustic white to a more contemporary mocha, there’s bound to be a texture and color combination suited to your taste.

Stikwood - Entertainment Center

Photo: stikwood.com

Stikwood can be purchased online in multiples of 20 square feet, with some 10-square-foot quantities available by special order. But whereas measurement would be a taxing step in a typical paneling project, Stikwood simplifies this portion of the job, too. Just plug in the measurements for the height and width of the surface you plan to panel, and the Stikwood site calculator tells you how many square feet of product you need. So really, the only “work” for you to do is in dreaming up a design.

Purchase Stikwood, $10 to $14 per square foot

Before & After: ’70s Kitchen Remodel Puts Every Inch to Work

A tiny, outdated kitchen gets a 21st century update—complete with extra storage, increased natural light, and more room to breathe. Read on for more of the story and photos of this beautiful before-and-after.

70s Kitchen Makeover

Photo: angelinthenorth.com

For Mat and Anna Nicholson, husband and wife with three houses’ worth of DIY renovation under their belts, a tiny kitchen in a not-so-dream home posed a creative challenge. First off, its tired style felt stuck in 1974. More concerning was its serious lack of space to cook, store supplies, eat in, and entertain. “The old layout left a lot of space underused,” Anna explained. “As it’s not a huge house, we wanted to make the most of what we had.” Together, she and Mat transformed the initially awkward room into a livable design by tearing down walls to open into a dining area, bricking over existing doors, and expanding windows into larger glass doors to invite in extra light. Floating shelves, a final addition, make even the most awkward corner useful and open up the tight space. Impressed by the work, we invited Anna to discuss behind-the-scenes details about designing her favorite project to date. Read on for her experience of making the best of a tiny kitchen!

How would you describe the kitchen before the makeover?
The main problem was the size—the kitchen was very small. And the layout of the downstairs was old-fashioned, with one living/dining room going from the front to back of the house and a separate kitchen, complete with 1970s serving hatch. There was also a pantry in the kitchen that took up a lot of space, which we removed in the end, and a door that we bricked up for more wall space.

What did you envision for this space?
We wanted the room to feel light, bright, and open. The layout needed to fit in with modern family life—a dining kitchen, somewhere comfortable and pleasant to cook and spend time.

70s Kitchen Makeover - Use of Space

Photo: angelinthenorth.com

You tore down walls, ripped out flooring, installed new cabinetry and subway tile—really, the finished space is barely recognizable! What was most challenging?
The biggest challenge was probably living without a proper kitchen for six months! As we did nearly all of the work ourselves alongside working full time, the process took longer. The biggest and scariest challenges were probably the structural changes—knocking down a wall and replacing a window with double doors—but they were worth it because they’ve made the biggest difference.

Do you have any helpful advice for someone embarking on a kitchen remodel?
Just make sure you get your measurements right and spend time thinking about and planning the layout of your cupboards and appliances.

70s Kitchen Makeover - Wall Removal

Photo: angelinthenorth.com

Which part of the new design are you most proud of?
We just love the overall look, and the fact that we’ve managed to get all the appliances and cupboards we need in a relatively small space!

How do you make the small kitchen feel more cozy and less cluttered?
We’ve added open shelving in awkward corners, which I think looks great and serves a practical purpose—keeping the worktop free of clutter.

70s Kitchen Makeover - Extra Storage

Photo: angelinthenorth.com

Finally, how does this makeover change how you use the space?
It’s a much bigger, brighter, and more sociable space. Now, cooking is enjoyable and it’s a room where we spend time after work preparing and eating food and chatting. Just after it was finished, we hosted a Christmas dinner for 10; seeing everyone sitting together in the room enjoying the meal was a really proud moment. The old kitchen could barely fit two people in at the same time!

See more photos of the transformation at Angel in the North.