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- DIY Lite: Craft a Homemade Cutting Board
DIY Lite: Craft a Homemade Cutting Board
This season, wow your guests with your cutting skills—no, we're not just talking the slicing and dicing in the kitchen. Craft a handmade, house-shaped cutting board that even a beginner woodworker can master.
Family and food go hand in hand this time of year, and the kitchen is generally bustling with all of the action. If you plan to host (or are looking for the perfect gift for the do-it-all host and hostess in your life), personalize the holiday get-together with a custom cutting board. With detailing a unique geometric shape, carved heart, and two-tone color scheme, your finished project can make itself at home in the kitchen during meal prep or on the buffet as a serving tray for appetizers.
TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Hardwood lumber, 8 inches by 15 inches
- 1⁄2-inch wood drill bit
- Sandpaper (80- and 150-grit)
- Painter’s tape
- Food-safe acrylic paint
- 1″-wide foam brush
- Mineral oil
- Rubber pads
To make a cutting board durable for all of your future meal prep, it’s best to choose a hardwood, like oak. Avoid pine wood all together, which will quickly become damaged by the slicing and dicing of your blades.
Cut a piece of lumber to 8 inches wide and 15 inches long; this length will be enough material for one cutting board. On either of the shorter sides, measure to find the center. From here, use your protractor to draw two straight lines at 45-degree angles to make the point of your roof. If you’d like, you can even draw a chimney along the roofline; just add a rectangular shape to one of the slants.
Cut out the roof shape along the penciled lines using a handsaw or a jigsaw.
Next, you’ll add a heart-shaped hole in the “roof” in order to string and later hang the cutting board. Center the hand-drawn heart near the top of the cutting board. You will use a 1⁄2-inch bit to drill the curved parts of the heart, so your sketch should be at least 1 inch wide by 1-1⁄4 inches tall.
First, cut the two curves of the heart out by drilling two holes very close to one another using a 1⁄2-inch wood drill bit. (It’s not a bad idea to practice this cut once or twice on one of the angled scraps you cut from your lumber in Step 2 before trying it on your cutting board.)
Then secure the board with clamps and use a jigsaw to cut out the pointed bottom of your heart.
Sand down the board entirely, especially its corners and the inside of its cut-out. Start with a coarse 80-grit paper and finish with a finer 150-grit to smooth out the surface. To sand inside the heart hole, use a round file or simply wrap a piece of sanding paper around a pencil and maneuver the ad hoc tool along the edges.
Lay your house-shaped cutting board flat, then outline the top of the lumber in strips of painter’s tape, including as best you can around the hole. Repeat the process on the back, so that no brushstrokes will touch the cutting side when you go to paint the edges of the board.
Since this woodworking project will be used for meal prep and serving snacks, it’s important to select a food-safe acrylic paint. Double-check the paint’s label for an AP non-toxic seal (issued by the Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc.) before you get started. Once you have picked appropriate paints, apply a coat around the edge with a small foam brush. Lay the board flat to dry.
After the sides of your board have totally dried, peel back the painter’s tape. Then, rub a food-safe mineral oil over the top and bottom surfaces of the cutting board, working in the direction of the wood grain with a clean cloth. (Note: Choose mineral or linseed oil over vegetable ones like olive or corn, which can turn rancid and will leave an unpleasant taste on your food.) An even coat of oil every six months of use will prevent your handiwork from drying out and cracking.
Glue a rubber pad at each corner on whichever side will be the bottom of your cutting board; these will help keep your cutting board to slipping around while you’re wielding a knife. Then, set out on the counter for immediate use serving up celebratory wine and cheese!
Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.
- Kitchen >
- Should You Reface or Replace Your Kitchen Cabinets?
Should You Reface or Replace Your Kitchen Cabinets?
If you're tired of your kitchen cabinets and ready for a change, you have an important decision to make: reface or replace? To help figure out the best choice for your kitchen, let a professional give you the rundown on the benefits of each option.
Cabinets play an important role in the kitchen and occupy much of its real estate, going a long way toward defining both the appearance and functionality of the room. Because of their prominence, if you don’t love your cabinets, chances are that you don’t love your kitchen. “Sometimes, it’s just that simple,” says Joe Maykut, a product manager with Sears Home Services. As many consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home, updating its look and feel often ranks high on homeowners’ to-do lists. The hassle and expense of gut renovation, however, can stand in the way. Fortunately, according to Maykut, “there’s a compromise between doing nothing and going all out.”
Because they “basically make or break the kitchen,” updating the cabinets can be a cost-effective way to achieve high-impact results without the high cost and inconvenience of a major renovation. Homeowners in search of a new look for their cabinetry typically weigh two options: cabinet refacing, which involves putting new doors and drawer fronts on the existing cabinet frames, or cabinet replacement. Refacing is the less invasive (and less expensive) of the two options, but despite its higher price tag, replacement “makes the most sense in certain situations,” according to Maykut. For more information on each approach, along with the differences between the two, continue reading!
For cost-conscious homeowners, cabinet refacing offers what Joe Maykut of Sears Home Services describes as “tremendous bang for the buck.” That’s because the completed project gives the kitchen a brand-new look, yet the work is confined to the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. The cabinet frames—the boxes that contain the shelves and drawers—all remain in place. Strategically targeting the doors can save you “a small fortune on labor and material costs,” says Maykut, but ultimately the scope of the project depends on how you—and any professionals involved—decide to handle the doors.
There are a number of approaches to take. One option: If you like the style of your existing cabinet doors but not their finish, it may be possible to apply a new coat of paint or stain. “Traditional refinishing isn’t always possible,” notes Maykut. “It depends on what material the cabinets are made of.” For cabinet fronts constructed of a material that cannot be painted or stained, many homeowners consider adding a veneer. Others choose to install new cabinet doors, especially if the existing doors are damaged or out of fashion. With refacing, whatever route you take, Maykut notes that your kitchen doesn’t have to go out of commission for several weeks.
For all its virtues, cabinet refacing isn’t the right choice for every homeowner. If you do not like the current layout of your cabinets, for example, then “refacing would be beside the point,” Maykut says. Giving the cabinets a new look would do nothing to alter or improve their usability. Similarly, if your cabinets are poorly constructed or in any way compromised, paying to reface them would be, in Maykut’s view, “throwing good money after bad.” To help figure out the best approach for your needs, Maykut recommends meeting with a contractor who can advise you on your options. Call around to get estimates from contractors in your area, or contact Sears Home Services for a free in-home consultation.
Whereas refacing affects only the look of your cabinetry, replacement opens up the possibility of fundamentally changing the layout and functionality of your kitchen. To be sure, you could always just swap new cabinets into the space left by the old set. Homeowners who opt for replacement typically do so for reasons that go beyond aesthetics, Maykut says. ”They want a kitchen that reflects not only their style, but also how they cook and eat and entertain.” In other words, new cabinets can transform the kitchen so that it more precisely responds to your family’s habits and needs.
The more improvements you plan to make, the broader and more complex the project becomes. Particularly in the kitchen, where so many components fit tightly together, renovation often involves orchestrating a series of separate-but-related undertakings. For instance, Maykut explains, “if you remove the base cabinets from one part of the kitchen, then you’ll have to add flooring where they once stood.” Similarly, once you’ve decided to install new cabinets, you may be tempted to spring for new countertops as well. One thing leads to another, which means that cabinet replacement, already a more labor-intensive and expensive proposition than refacing, can run up significantly higher costs.
While some homeowners may consider refacing a do-it-yourself job, for all but the most ambitious, cabinet replacement is a job best left to the pros. But whichever route you choose, even if you’re leaving the heavy lifting to the contractors, you’ll need to make the final design decisions. A little guidance along the way can smooth the process along. In fact, one reason to choose Sears Home Services is that, from the earliest stages onward, the company can guide you through what might otherwise be an overwhelming process. Of particular value, Sears sets itself apart by “bringing the showroom to your home,” according to Maykut, allowing you to “see the products in the setting where they would be installed.”
The kitchen plays a central role in the life of any household. It’s where you pour that first morning cup of coffee, throw together casual family meals, and lovingly prepare holiday feasts. Remodel it, and you’re going to live with the result for years to come. Don’t you want to be sure that your kitchen will be a room you’ll love? Turn to Sears Home Services for a little peace of mind. The company even backs its work with a Satisfaction Guarantee, so right around the time when your local contractor might be saying goodbye, your relationship with Sears will only be beginning.
This post has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- How To: Strip Furniture
How To: Strip Furniture
Don't kick a good piece of wood furniture to the curb just because its finish no longer suits the latest craze. Learn how to strip off that outdated look and reveal a blank canvas that's ready to be remade.
You’ll be surprised at the gems you uncover once you strip the paint and lacquer off your attic, yard sale, or thrift store scores. Good quality furniture, no matter what era it’s from, is worthy of a second chance. You can give a deserving piece a modern makeover with no more than a weekend’s time and a little elbow grease. Everything old becomes new again, eventually—don’t be afraid to help the process along with these instructions for stripping down your furniture finds.
TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Safety glasses
- Rubber gloves
- Protective clothing, such as a respirator mask
- Furniture stripper
- Nylon brush or roller
- Stiff-bristle brush or steel wool
- Abrasive pad
- Lacquer thinner
- Clean rags or towels
- Metal coffee can
- Wood shavings or kitty litter for disposal
Chemical strippers are harsh, so make sure you wear protective clothing, such as safety glasses, rubber gloves, and a respirator mask, when performing this project. Work outside in a well-ventilated area, and cover your workspace with a tarp or some newspaper to avoid getting any stripper in unwanted places.
Apply a liberal, thick coat of stripper to the piece with a nylon brush or roller, and work in sections to ensure the most consistent results. Let the stripper sit for at least 10 minutes or longer, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. You’ll start to notice the finish bubbling and wrinkling as the stripper softens and dissolves it, which is a surefire sign that the chemicals are hard at work. After the stripper has had time to take action, test to see if it’s ready for the next step by skimming over a small section of the surface with a scraper. If the finish comes up, it’s ready to be removed. If not, allow the stripper to sit a few minutes longer.
Once it’s ready, begin scraping off the unwanted finish, always working with the grain. For flat surfaces, plastic or metal scrapers will do the trick. If you choose metal, however, remember to round the corners in order to avoid gouging or damaging the wood. For crevices and detailed areas, use stiff-bristle brushes or fine steel wool to get the finish off. Soaking the steel wool in the stripper may help with removing overall stubborn spots as well. As you work, deposit what you remove into a metal coffee can to make cleanup safe and easy.
Check the instructions on the stripper’s packaging to determine how best to remove any lingering product from the wood. One common method involves going over the surface with lacquer thinner and an abrasive pad, and finishing by wiping the piece down with a bit more thinner and a clean rag. But always check your specific product, as some may require mineral spirits or simply soap and water for proper removal. When the wood looks dull and dry, the piece is completely stripped. If you notice any particularly shiny spots, repeat the stripping process to get rid of them for good.
Mix wood shavings or kitty litter into the coffee can containing the waste, and leave it open in a safe space to allow the solvents to evaporate. Double-check with your municipality to see if there are special disposal laws in your area that you should be aware of. Wait 48 hours for the piece to completely dry out, and then apply your next DIY decorative touch.
- Contests & Give-Aways >
- Bob Vila Thumbs Up: The Bathroom Vanity Competition Starts Today
Bob Vila Thumbs Up: The Bathroom Vanity Competition Starts Today
Vote now—and vote daily—to choose your favorite among the banquette seating projects competing to win this month's Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition!
Whether you decide to remodel a master suite or redo a hallway half bathroom, there are a few universal concerns. For instance, the fixtures and decor elements you choose should fit your style, budget, and allow for ample storage in a small space. Some incredible bloggers have mastered this balance—and created amazing DIY vanities in the process. That’s why this month we’re featuring some of our favorite bathroom vanities from around the web in the Bob Vila Thumbs Up competition.
Bob Vila Thumbs Up highlights some of the very best DIY bloggers, and this month our theme is DIY bathroom vanities. Whether crafted from repurposed materials or custom building plans, each vanity is functional, stylish, and totally unique. They are all works of art in their own right but only one can voted this month’s champion and the winner of the prize—a $250 gift card.
So cast your vote today and every day in November to help your favorite blogger become this month’s Bob Vila Thumbs Up winner. After all, it’s up to your vote to determine the outcome of this competition.
Congrats to last month’s winning blogger, Crane Concept. Read more about the winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up project right here.
- Green >
- How To: Get Rid of Silverfish
How To: Get Rid of Silverfish
Did you know that if you store them in a dark, damp place, your most valuable possessions—rare books, important papers, and designer clothes—are in danger of being eaten by a sly, silver marauder? Read on to learn how to rid your home of silverfish, ravenous pests with insatiable appetites.
Don’t let the name fool you: Silverfish are nothing like the goldfish you nurtured as pets in your childhood bedroom. Whereas the latter swim placidly about their aquarium dwellings, the former lurk in the dark, moist corners of your home, munching on everything from paper goods and fabric to adhesives and mold. Named for their glassy, metallic appearance and slithering style of movement, silverfish are wingless, antennaed household pests whose ancestry stems back millions of years, predating even the dinosaurs. Given their lineage and history, it’s safe to say that silverfish are a tenacious species. Eliminating these resilient critters from your home may not be quick and easy, but with patience and persistence, you can get rid of silverfish using the following tips and tricks.
Looking for a nontoxic way to get rid of silverfish? You have at least a couple of options. Before running out to make any purchases, however, first experiment with the contents of your kitchen cabinets. Strongly scented herbs and spices have been known to repel silverfish, so try leaving out generous helpings of cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, or whole cloves, or strategically placing sachets filled with dried rosemary. If, despite your efforts, silverfish remain in your home, move on to one of the more aggressive treatments described below.
Diatomaceous earth. This looks a bit like flour, but it’s actually naturally occurring, crushed-up sedimentary rock. Dust the infested parts of your home with the substance, then wait. Silverfish are not attracted to diatomaceous earth, but if they come into contact with its shard-like particles, they dehydrate and die.
Boric acid. Even though it’s organic, it’s best to keep boric acid away from children and pets, because it can be harmful if ingested. Using the powder as an insecticide is as simple as sprinkling it in the path of the silverfish. Alternatively, mix it with water and, by means of a spray bottle, spritz the solution into hard-to-reach crevices.
There are many pros to natural pest management. But if there’s one downside, it’s that you must take it on faith that your chosen treatment has been successful. You typically don’t get the satisfaction of seeing bugs dead on the floor, so you never know for sure whether the issue has been resolved. If you’re not squeamish—and if you’re dealing with something short of a full-blown infestation—consider preparing one or a series of traps. That way, you can know for sure whether or not you’re making strides.
Jar trap. From your recycling bin, pull out any glass jar with a height of at least three inches. Cover the outside with tape (sticky side facing out), place a piece of bread at the bottom of the jar, and leave the trap in a location where you’ve seen silverfish. Aided by the tape, the silverfish can crawl in, but they can’t crawl back out on the smooth glass.
Sticky trap. Mix flour and water into a paste, with or without boric acid. Next, apply the paste to an index card or a wallet-size piece of cardboard. Allow the paste to dry to a sticky consistency, then place the trap in a spot where you have seen silverfish or suspect they may be hiding. Check it frequently.
Look out for any signs indicating that your problem with silverfish has gone from minor to major. Inspect surfaces for crusty, cast-off skins and tiny, pepper-like feces. Likewise, search such things as wallpaper, boxes, newspaper bundles, and book bindings for small scrape marks and ragged edges—either or both of which suggest active feeding. Even yellowish stains on clothing or furniture upholstery can mean that silverfish are attacking your home at night, after having spent the daylight hours in dormancy. To match an aggressive infestation with an aggressive treatment, seek out a commercial pesticide formulated to treat silverfish.
Pyrethrin. The active ingredient in many flea-and-tick pet collars, pyrethrin can be successfully used to exterminate silverfish. In comparison with other, broadly similar treatments, pyrethrin may be somewhat safer to use, and because it’s made from the seed cases of certain species of chrysanthemum, it’s biodegradable. That said, there’s no doubt as to its toxicity. Apply the chemical with caution, keeping it away from all children, pets, and food preparation areas.
Propoxur. Available in liquid and powder form, propoxur is like pyrethrin in that it’s effective against a variety of insects, silverfish included. But while both kill adult silverfish on contact, neither one works to eradicate eggs. For that reason, using propoxur often requires a sustained campaign, particularly in the case of severe infestations. Before applying any product containing the chemical, don’t skip reading the instructions on the packaging, and always be wary while handling such toxic treatments.
Indeed, the best way to live free of silverfish is to prevent them from entering your home in the first place. Given that silverfish require and seek out a specific set of living conditions, the following guidelines can help you make your home an unwelcoming place for these hungry, humidity-craving creatures.
• Locate and repair leaky plumbing or any other sources of excess moisture.
• Use a dehumidifier to bring down the moisture content of the air in your home.
• Regularly vacuum cracks and crevices along baseboards and behind appliances.
• Remove readily available food sources by storing pantry foods in tight containers.
Remember that as an average homeowner, not an expert exterminator, there’s only so much you can do. Ultimately, what you can do may not be enough to get rid of silverfish completely. If worst comes to worst, call in a pest-control specialist and leave the job to professionals who are well trained and well equipped to handle any infestation, large or small.
- Contests & Give-Aways >
- Enter Bob Vila’s $5,000 Fall Gutter Give-Away Today!
Enter Bob Vila’s $5,000 Fall Gutter Give-Away Today!
Enter for the chance to win gutters and installation from LeafGuard!
What if we told you that you never have to clean your gutters again? No, this isn’t a trick. With LeafGuard’s maintenance-free gutter system, you can prevent clogs, keep water flowing, and eliminate the possibility of damaging leaks to your foundation without having to waste your free time or risk your safety. Interested? Enter Bob Vila’s $5,000 Fall Gutter Give-Away and you could check this onerous task off of your to-do list once and for all.
Today and every day this month (from noon EST Saturday, October 31st, through 11:59 a.m. Monday, November 30th), you can enter to win LeafGuard Brand Gutters and installation (up to $5,000 in value)—and say goodbye to gutter maintenance forever. See Official Rules below.
LeafGuard by Englert is the only one-piece system of it’s kind, showcasing a leaf and debris shedding hood that boasts a large gutter bottom. Inspired by the scientific principle of water adhesion, the seamless design allows rain to flow down and around its curved hood and into the gutter, while also deflecting leaves and other unwanted materials.
These hardworking gutters, backed by the Good Housekeeping seal, not only prevent clogged downspouts and the risk of damaging leaks, but they also ensure that you can put away the ladder—forever. Plus, LeafGuard gutters are available in a wide range of styles and colors, making it easy to find a system that complements your home’s exterior.
So say goodbye to this seasonal chore, and enter Bob Vila’s $5,000 Fall Gutter Give-Away today and every day (through 11:59 a.m. Monday, November 30th) to increase your chances of winning.
To learn more about LeafGuard gutters, click here.
The “Bob Vila’s $5,000 Fall Gutter Give-Away” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Saturday, October 31st, 2015, through 11:59 a.m. Monday, November 30th, 2015. One entry per household per day on BobVila.com. Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. See Official Rules.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- 5 Things to Do with… Air-Dry Clay
5 Things to Do with… Air-Dry Clay
Stop puttering around the pottery wheel with traditional clays, and instead start sculpting these no-bake, no-fuss DIY creations using air-dry clay.
Unlike its pricier, high-maintenance counterpart, polymer clay, air-dry clay requires neither baking nor extensive handling. Time is all you need to dry your designs to polished perfection! From decorative dishes in the dining room to desktop organizers for the home office, the options for air-dry clay are endless. It’s almost trickier to decide upon a design than it is to shape up this super-simple material. Get inspired with five of our favorite ways to mold and make with this flexible medium.
1. PENCIL IT IN
Occupying that vague zone between schoolwork and crafts, colored pencils often get lost in a labyrinth of desks, drawers, and cabinets. Build a home for these industrious instruments with your own version of this handmade pencil stand by Lines Across. Here, air-dry clay shaped into a dome can take the impression of every pencil you have in stock. Form holes by twisting each writing implement into the clay. When you’re done, remove the pencils and leave your creation to dry overnight. The next day, you can use a clay knife, box cutter, or kitchen knife to sculpt the edges to form a more riveting, geometric receptacle.
2. CREATE A LASTING IMPRESSION
You don’t have to revisit ancient Mesopotamia to bring ornate earthenware pottery into your home. These decorative clay dishes made by Urban Comfort put a modern twist on Neolithic pottery. Roll out some fresh air-dry clay on a clay mat, and lay an evergreen branch on top. Place an acrylic sheet over the branch, and roll over it with an acrylic roller to create the imprint of the needles. Using a foam brush, glaze the dish with putty, weathered paint, and a glazing medium to leave an evergreen impression on your guests.
3. GET IT TOGETHER
These alphabet containers get an A for effortlessness. To create custom lettered storage like this one from Willowday, press alphabet cookie cutters into rolled-out clay, and cut out side strips from the excess. Fit these strips around the edge of the letter while pinching the sides to the base. (A knife or other tool comes in handy here.) Dipping your fingers and the knife into water can help you smooth any seams. After drying and sanding the container, paint it in complementary colors, and you’ll receive endless compliments.
4. MAKE YOUR MARK
Whether you have a green thumb or you can’t tell parsley from parsnips, these DIY plant labels will help you do away with mistaken identities in your indoor or outdoor nursery with little more than leftover air-dry clay. Following instructions from the DIY site Burkatron, roll the clay flat and then use a craft knife to cut out long, rectangular stakes that you can sink into the soil of a planter. Using alphabet stamps, imprint the appropriate plant names onto each stake, and then dry and seal the deal with waterproof spray sealant.
5. ADD AN ACCENT
You might never guess by looking at them that these polished metallic drawer knobs from Delineate Your Dwelling are actually cover-ups made from humble air-dry clay. Start by rolling the clay into balls and fitting each one over a freestanding knob until it’s covered by the clay. After partially drying the clay knobs, carve them with a butter knife to create eye-catching, geometric edges. Follow up with two coats of gold spray paint—or any metallic you favor, for that matter—and install the knobs on nightstands, dressers, or wardrobes to really make them shine.
- Green >
- Bob Vila Radio: Do’s and Don’ts of Mold Removal
Bob Vila Radio: Do’s and Don’ts of Mold Removal
To effectively eradicate mold after a flood, you need patience, commitment, and an unsentimental attitude about household belongings. Keep these tips and pointers in mind as you work toward getting the job done.
No doubt the best way to manage mold is to prevent it. But if your basement floods and mold gets a head start, there’s nothing to do but take on the serious cleanup job ahead of you.
Listen to BOB VILA ON REMOVING MOLD or read the text below:
You can always hire a specialized contractor, but you can also handle the task yourself so long as you exercise caution. Be sure to don rubber gloves and to prevent the inhalation of mold spores, wear a respirator.
If any carpets or carpet pads took a bath in the flood, you’ll probably have to pitch them to the curb. Do the same for upholstered furniture and books and any appliances with fans—computers, for example, or microwaves.
Jewelry, dishes, and other non-porous items can often be saved with a solution of bleach and water (about a cup of the former for every gallon of the latter). Just be careful not to mix the bleach with any products containing ammonia.
Finally, bear in mind that if you save any heirlooms in questionable condition, it’s best to store them away from the items you have reason to believe are mold-free. Better safe than sorry, after all!
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's & Quick Tips >
- 3 Fixes for a Streaky Mirror
3 Fixes for a Streaky Mirror
Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose is the streakiest of them all? Not yours, once you read our secrets for getting a streak-free shine every time.
Streaky mirrors are common problems for even the most conscientious housekeeper. Sometimes, no matter how carefully you clean, you’re still left with the impressions from where you last wiped. But don’t give up yet; a streak-free shine is well within reach when you follow these easy fixes for a flawless reflection.
A DAB A DAY…
Mirrors suffer a lot of unwanted attention from globs of toothpaste, coats of hairspray, and regularly smeared-on fingerprints. While you might think that a simple spray removes all, not properly treating these spots is the leading cause of streaks—when you go to wipe down the rest of the mirror with a clean or solution-sprayed cloth, the greasy or oily residue just spreads across the surface of the glass with each sweeping motion. Fortunately, an easy solution hides inside your medicine cabinet: rubbing alcohol. Wet a cotton pad with it, and dab away these problem areas before you get cleaning. Pretreating the mirror before you wipe prevents spots from turning into streaks, leaving you with a sparkling surface.
ANOTHER VICTORY FOR VINEGAR
Believe it or not, the best solution to mirror streaks is a solution—a vinegar and water one, that is. Sure, store-bought cleaners may offer an all-in-one answer, but good marketing is no match for the cleaning power and cost efficiency of this simple mixture. Plus, these cleansers tend to include more soap than is necessary, and more soap equals more streaks.
To avoid a cloudy surface, simply mix 1 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of distilled water in a spray bottle, give it a good shake, and you’ll have the perfect potion for tackling smears, streaks, and smudges. Apply your mirror-cleaning mixture directly to your microfiber cloth instead of the reflective surface—to prevent the liquid from accumulating in the corners, making its way underneath the mirror, and causing more damage—and zig-zag back and forth down the entire length of the glass.
THE MAGIC OF MICROFIBER
Contrary to popular belief, paper towels and newspapers do not make effective glass cleaners. In fact, they could complicate your cleaning quandary by leaving behind lint, dust, or even newsprint residue (as many papers today have switched from petroleum-based ink to one starring soy). So save the paper products for spills, and stock your cleaning closet with a few microfiber cloths—perhaps the perhaps the best weapons for eliminating stubborn streaks. But stick to the thin ones: A flat-weave microfiber cloth works more efficiently than its thicker terry cloth cousin because it won’t hold any lint or other particles that could transfer to the mirror and contribute to streaks.
Remember, your time is valuable. Don’t waste it wiping away every last piece of lint from your bathroom mirror. Instead, choose the best materials—and methods—to get the job done right the first time.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- Genius! Boost Your WiFi with a Soda Can
Genius! Boost Your WiFi with a Soda Can
Has your WiFi slowed to a crawl? Get back up to speed—and back to streaming videos—with this free hack!
If you rely on Google to answer day-to-day questions or count on cat videos to pull you out of the post-lunch slump, slow Internet speeds can feel like the end of the world. Luckily, there’s a simple fix—and it isn’t buying up a $200 WiFi range extender. It mirrors a technique used before cable television became the norm, when people wrapped tin foil around their antennas for better reception. Here, however, a little aluminum cut from a can help your Wifi router’s signals go a long way.
To boost your bars immediately with this trick from Hack College, start by washing out any old beer or soda can with some soapy water. Dry it thoroughly, then flip the can upside down, and cut off the bottom with your utility knife. Also make a cut along the end with the tab, but don’t lop the top off completely—leave about an inch of metal still connected in front of the drinking hole to make a flap, as shown below.
The final cut will go down the can on the side opposite the metal flap. Slice the can top to bottom, and uncurl it carefully. Stretch out the aluminum on your work surface to flatten, and press down until it holds the shape. Then, when you’re ready, slip the drinking hole over your router’s antenna with the aluminum sheet up standing up tall. With your amplifier in place, sit back, relax, and enjoy the stronger connection.
FOR MORE: Hack College