Category: How To’s & Quick Tips

How To: Get Rid of Mildew Smell

What's that smell? The musty odor on towels, tile, and basement walls can be a sign you have a mildew problem. Don't worry: With a few simple pantry items, you can completely eliminate the odor and stymy future mold growth. Here's how.

How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell


Among household odors, mildew undoubtedly ranks among the worst. And unfortunately, it’s all too common, lurking in the dark, damp corners of your home. If you were looking for a quick fix, there isn’t one. The smell of mildew can literally develop overnight, especially during periods of damp and humid weather. Getting rid of that smell—and making sure it doesn’t return—is an ongoing effort. But luckily, it’s not a particularly difficult effort: You can get rid of that mildew smell pretty easily, using only items found in most pantries, so long as you can identify the source of the odor. That’s the tough part. The rest? Persistence.

Search and Destroy
Sniff around. The first step in getting rid of a mildew smell is to locate the source of the problem. Remove impediments to your search. In the bathroom, that means taking down the shower curtain and temporarily relocating toiletries that would obscure your view of the likeliest breeding grounds (e.g., grout lines or tub caulking). In the basement, pack up old newspapers, cardboard boxes, and any other disposables. Focus your attention on surfaces vulnerable to moisture.

How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell - Mold Detail


The Beauty of Bleach
If you’re successfully able to isolate the mildewed area, that means you can spot-treat it without going through the effort of cleaning the whole room. However, if you’ve searched high and low but cannot find any obvious mildew growth, cover all your bases by giving the entire space a once-over. In a large bucket, mix one part bleach to four parts water. Scrub the walls and floors with the homemade mildew killer you’ve concocted, being sure to rinse away all bleach residue once you’ve finished the job.

Freshen Fabrics
Scrubbing the walls and floors isn’t necessarily going to cut it, though. It’s not uncommon for the smell of mildew to emanate from fabrics, such as towels, and from other personal belongings (e.g., sneakers). Can the mildewy item be placed in the washing machine? If so, soak it in all-fabric bleach for about 30 minutes. After rinsing it off, run it through the washer as you would a normal load of laundry.

And Don’t Come Back!
Of course, the best way to get rid of a mildew smell is to prevent it from developing it in the first place. An arsenal of tools can help you keep your spaces dry and clean and mildew-free:

• Install dehumidifiers in problem areas; with the humidity level low, mildew cannot grow.

Ceiling fans help keep areas dry and are at home mildew-prone areas like the kitchen and laundry.

Odor absorbers like baking soda, charcoal briquettes, and kitty litter are all effective in keeping mildew at bay. Fill a large container about halfway with your chosen deodorizer and leave it to work its magic in whichever rooms you’ve been encountering issues with mildew. Replace every month or so.

With regular attention and the occasional use of a few household staples, you can get rid of that mildew smell you hate so much, along with the hazardous, unhealthy mold those smells belong to.

How To: Get Rid of Bats

When bats takes up residence under your roof, you're in danger of more than merely foul odors. Be rid of your unwanted guests by following these steps.

How to Get Rid of Bats


The good news: Bats are not aggressive. The bad news: If there are bats in your house, it’s only a matter of time before their waste begins to pose a serious problem. Health concerns aside—and there are indeed viable health concerns—bat droppings and urine can actually destroy wood and other building materials, gradually compromising the structural integrity of your home. So even if you are not skittish and don’t mind the idea of bats dwelling under your roof, there are very good, wholly rational reasons to act fast. Follow the steps outlined below to get rid of bats and prevent them from returning.

Familiarize yourself with local laws. In most states, bats are a protected species, which means that it’s illegal to kill them. One humane approach is to install a bat house on your property prior to evicting your unwanted guests. Chances are that once barred entry to your home, the bats would take up residence in the new accommodations you’ve prepared for there. From there, you could count on the bats to continue their beneficial service of eating the insects on your property.



When the goal is to get rid of bats, it’s essential to figure out what type of bat you’re dealing with. So the first thing to do is learn what types of bats are common in your neck of the woods. Next, try to get a good look at the bats, if you haven’t already, so you can compare your observations to your research. Vampire aficionados could easily guess that you  best chances of seeing a bat are at dusk and dawn.

Once you know what kind of bats are in your house, you can move on to determining whether or not it’s maternity season for that particular species. If you prevent the mother bat from regaining entry to your house while the babies are still inside, those babies are going to die. And no matter how you feel about that, you’re definitely not going to like how it smells. So if it’s maternity season, wait it out.

Sure that maternity season is over or has not begun yet? OK—time to get serious. Watch your home closely at dusk or dawn, with the aim of pinpointing where exactly the bats are entering and exiting your home. Bear in mind that a bat colony usually has more than one access point, and these can be as small as a half-inch. You may need more than one evening to locate the different openings being used.

Cover each distinct opening with a one-way exit valve, one-way tube, or one-way bat netting product. Such items are commonly sold at home centers and pest control dealers. The ingeniousness of these designs is that, while they allow bats to exit the house with ease, they provide no way for the bats to return. If your chosen device seems to be working, leave it in place for a period of about three days.

Once there are no more bats left inside, you have a messy job on your hand. Inevitably, the bats will have left droppings and urine in their wake. When cleaning, it’s imperative that you wear the proper protective gear—full-sleave clothing, work gloves, and a respirator. In fact, think seriously about hiring a professional cleanup crew. Once the area is no longer toxic, proceed to seal all the holes you identified.

Genius! DIY Pumpkin Keg

What's more seasonal than pumpkins? Here's one DIY you can make in minutes as the memorable centerpiece of your Halloween party this year.

DIY Pumpkin Keg


This time of year, it seems like everyone’s got a thing for pumpkins. But even if neither pumpkin pie nor pumpkin-spiced lattés are on the menu for your Halloween bash, you can still find a place at the table for fall’s most famous gourd. Introducing the pumpkin keg.

Christina Stiehl, editor at, first tipped us off to this genius little hack (and for that, we’re forever grateful.) Christina, it should be said, loves pumpkins—cooking them, decorating them, and yes, drinking out of them.

While it may tempting to gut the pumpkin in haste to make your pumpkin keg, Christina reminds us that it’d be waste to speed through the process. ”Pumpkins are super cute on the outside,” she says, “but the insides are filled with a bunch of delicious good-for-you stuff. After carving a pumpkin and cleaning out all the ooey-gooey insides, I love saving all of the seeds to roast. After washing them, I usually toss them in olive oil and some kind of seasoning (usually Cajun or a ranch packet), then bake for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees. It’s a tradition we always did when I was a kid, and I like to continue it every year.”

Roasted pumpkin seeds: the perfect snack to serve next to the DIY pumpkin keg you create for your guests! 

DIY Pumpkin Keg - Pour


- Pumpkin
- Marker or pencil
- Pumpkin carving kit (or serrated knife)
- Plastic spigot
- Beverage of choice

First, draw a ring around the top of your pumpkin. This will be your guide to carve the lid. Try to keep this pretty close to the top of the pumpkin, so you optimize the hollowed-out space that will hold the liquid.

Once that’s done, carve it! If you’re without a carving kit, you can use a serrated knife. Whatever your tool of choice, poke it in at an angle and work your way around the ring.

DIY Pumpkin Keg - Carved


Once you’ve gone all the way around, pop the lid off and clean out your pumpkin. Make sure you get all the seeds out and most of the pulp, but don’t worry if some gets left behind, as it adds a little flavor to the drink.

Now find the spot where you want to place your spigot. Using your pencil or marker. Cutting the hole here will require a pretty fine serrated knife, so the carving kit proves really worthwhile at this point.

Once your spigot is secured, pour in your drink of choice. (Christine recommends Sam Adam’s Octoberfest, but you can try cider or other seasonal drinks.) Finally, pop the lid back on your pumpkin. You’re ready to go!

And that’s it! Be sure to check out the how to video at, where you can also find seasonal craft and recipe ideas.

How To: DIY Your Own Dish Soap in 5 Steps

The next time you reach into the sink to wash off dirty plates and silverware, why not grab a bottle of your own homemade dish soap? With this recipe, you'll spare yourself the chemicals found in store-bought cleaners and save a pretty penny.

Homemade Dish Soap


Homemade dish soap. OK, sure. But why? For one thing, why not? But more seriously, homemade dish soap, which requires little time and effort to make, actually results in something that’s easier on the skin and easier on the wallet—we call that a win-win. So on your next run to the grocery store, add three extra ingredients to your cart, and you’ll be well on your way to concocting a homemade dish shop that really cuts through grease and does most of the dirty dish work for you.

- Unscented, undyed bar soap
- Cheese grater
- Borax
- Essential oil
- Saucepan and spoon
- Washing soda (optional)

Homemade Dish Soap - Sudsy


Start by using a cheese grater—whatever you have, be it a box grater or a cheese plane—to shave down the bar soap into flecks. While many recipes call for castile soap, any unscented variety does the trick.

Next, combine about 1 tablespoon of grated soap with 1 tablespoon of borax in a bowl. Note that borax, also known as sodium borate, is a powerful antimicrobial cleaning agent (you can find it in the cleaning aisle of your grocery store). Be sure to purchase borax and not boric acid; they’re not the same thing.

Commercial dish soaps contain sodium laurel sulfate, an ingredient that besides producing lots of bubbles, doesn’t do much. (For some people’s skin, sodium laurel sulfate is an irritant.) If you think you’re going to miss the sudsy-ness of the dish soap you’re accustomed to, add 1 tablespoon of washing soda (also known as soda ash or sodium carbonate) to the grated soap-and-borax mixture at this point.

In a saucepan, heat 1 3/4 cups of water until it boils. Stir in the ingredients mixed in previous steps, and continue stirring until the soap has melted and the powders have dissolved. Turn off the heat and leave the mixture to cool for a few hours, stirring the liquid occasionally in order to keep it from solidifying.

Transfer your homemade dish soap into a squirt bottle. In the process, add 15 to 20 drops of essential oil in whatever scent you prefer (e.g., lavender, citrus, or peppermint). The addition of oil makes doing the dishes a sensory experience you might even enjoy. Citrus oils, in particular, can even improve the effectiveness of your homemade dish soap, making it better able to cut through accumulations of grease.

Additional Tips
Use homemade dish soap just as you would commercial dish soap. However, it’s best to shake homemade dish soap before using it, as the ingredients have the tendency to settle and in time, solidify. Even with the addition of washing soda, you are likely to notice that there are fewer suds in homemade dish soap. That’s to be expected, but don’t worry: It’s by no means evidence of an inferior cleaning agent. If anything, it’s a sign that there’s nothing in your soap that shouldn’t be!

DIY Desk Organizer with PVC Pipe

PVC pipe makes for a cheap and efficient desktop organization solution.

PVC Pipe Desk Organizer

Why buy a desktop organizer when you can make your own? That’s what Cher, brains behind Designs by Studio C, thought when she made this incredible PVC pipe office supply holder. Taking her inspiration from an in-store version, she hacked her own for less money and only a little extra work. Well done! Take a look to see how she took a simple plastic tube and made it into so much more.

For less than $10.00 including paint, you can make desk organizing cups with PVC in whatever color you want to match your decor plus the number of cubbies are entirely up to you!


- PVC pipe (2″, 1.5″, 1.25″ round sizes)
- cardboard
- liquid nails
- spray paint
- mitre saw (or handsaw—or ask them to cut for you at hardware store)


I used a miter saw (or you can use a handsaw and miter box) to cut the pipe in random lengths. I cut a 30 deg. bevel at one end of each pipe.

Cut PVC pipe for DIY desktop organizer


I used spray paint (Valspar in Gloss Frosty Berry) and painted each piece separately.


Once the pieces were dry, I arranged the pieces in a manner I was happy with—not an easy task—then glued the pieces together with dabs of Liquid Nails.

Glue PVC pipe for DIY desktop organizer



For the bottom, I put the entire assembly on a piece of cardboard and drew around the outside of the cubbies.

Making DIY PVC pipe Desk Organizer


I cut it out with scissors, dabbed Liquid Nails on the bottom of the cubbies, and attached it to the cardboard.

DIY PVC Pipe Desktop Organizer

It is so easy and inexpensive to make desk organizing cups with PVC – the cups can be edged with washi tape for a sort of whimsical look or paint each pipe a different color. Taller pipes can be used for organizing paint brushes, as well.

PVC pipe organizer finished

Thanks for sharing, Cher! To see even more ingenious DIY projects and furniture plans, check out her website, Designs by Studio C.

DIY PVC Pipe Wine Rack

Instead of buying an upscale wine rack, this blogger made her own at a fraction of the cost.

Finished PVC Pipe Wine Rack

When Rachelle, blogger from Adventures in Creating, saw a modern (and pricey!) wine rack for sale, it was love at first sight. And when she realized she could make her own strikingly similar DIY wine rack using PVC pipe, well, the rest was history. Using her handy power tools and a heavy dose of ingenuity, she elevated the simple PVC pipe to an accent piece worth showcasing in any modern home. Take a look below to see how she did it—and you’ll see why this project gets a big thumbs up from

Umbra Wine Rack


- 4″ round PVC pipe
- 1.5″ round PVC pipe
- Dremel (or mitre saw)
- safety glasses
- mask
- #8-32 x 3/4 screws
- epoxy glue for plastic
- spray paint


I bought lengths at the hardware store. It was a little over $1 a foot. You can have them cut it down to the length you need so you won’t have to buy a big giant long pipe. I used 4″ and 1.5″ pipe.


I used the plastic cutting bit of my Dremel to cut the pipe down further to 6″ lengths, 6 of each size. You can use a mitre saw or hack saw to cut the pipe if you don’t have a Dremel. Be sure to wear eye glasses and a mask—pipe dust gets everywhere!

Cutting PVC pipe for DIY Wine Rack


Once I had all my pieces cut I used a sander so smooth out the edges. If you use a different kind of saw you might be able to skip this step, my edges were not completely even. Then clean all your pipes to get any dust or residue off.

Sanding PVC pipe DIY wine rack


After that I arranged my pipes in the pattern I wanted, looking at the original picture as a guide.

Arranging PVC DIY wine rack


My main issue next was how to attach the pipes. There’s plenty of ideas of how to attach them end to end, but side to side was a different story. I decided to use a mixture of screws and epoxy glue made for plastic. (*Note: I have recently learned that Pluming Adhesive would be best for this!) I used #8- 32 x 3/4″ machine screws. We don’t have a real hardware store in our town so this is the best Walmart had. They are long enough to fit through the 4″ tubes where they connected and not to long on the ends where the 4″ and 2″ tubes connect.I marked the edges that needed screws then drilled 2 holes on either end 1″ in from the ends.

Attaching PVC pipe DIY wine rack

This was the hardest and most time consuming part. Marking each edge then drilling took some time but was successful in the end.


After is was all together I used Locktite Epoxy Glue made for plastic (again all Walmart had- E6000 or another brand would work fine) and poured it into the crevices. Because the screws are attaching hard edge to hard edge, the joints were a little wobbly. The glue helped keep them in place. Next time I might try rubber washers and see how that does instead.

I let the glue cure for 24 hours, then it was time to paint! I used a white Rustoleum spray paint to cover any of the original markings on the PVC pipe and to disguise the screws.

Finished DIY PVC pipe wine rack

Thanks for sharing, Rachelle! To see even more of her inventive DIYs, check out her site, Adventures in Creating.

DIY Kids Chairs with PVC Pipe

Turn PVC pipe into furniture like this blogger did.

PVC Kids Chairs

Summer might be over, but that didn’t stop us from appreciating these amazing (and amazingly simple-to-make) summer camp chairs. Made by one of the two Elizabeths behind Simple Simon and Company, these chairs are as affordable as they are easy to build. Plus kids will like them. That gets a thumbs up in our book. So take a look at how these PVC pipe chairs can be made in no time at all.

Kids Using DIY PVC Pipe Chairs

So, in my summer nostalgia, I was telling Liz about how I wanted to make some stools like I had when I was little for our kids. And so we started talking…. and we came up with these summer camp stools for our kids.  AND. THEY. ARE. AMAZING. They are light, portable… and the best part… YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO ASK YOUR HUBBY TO MAKE THEM. They are so easy! Really. And they can each be made for around $6 dollars a piece. Even better.


- (4) 15″ pieces of 1″ round PVC pipe (you can have it cut at the home improvement store)
- (2) 10″ pieces of 1″ round PVC pipe
- (2) 7″ pieces of 1″ round PVC pipe
- 8 PVC elbows
- (2) 3″ bolts and nuts
- power drill
- 7 x 18 inches of ripstop nylon (or heavy duty canvas)
- primer and paint (optional)
- acetone (optional)


OK. Here is the deal. Go to your local home improvement store… ask them to cut the pieces, and help you find the rest of the pieces. You will have to drill 4 holes and that’s it. Really. We promise that you can do it!


OK, here’s what you need to do to make the seat covers. One helpful tip–use a super heavy duty canvas. It needs to be able to hold the child’s weight and not stretch out or rip.

Seat Cushions for DIY PVC Pipe Chairs

Measure and sew a 2.5 inch casing on each side, enough to slide through the PVC pipe.


And here’s how you make the seats. We did end up priming and painting our PVC pipes because they have black labels and numbers on them. (Another approach from a Simple and Simon Co. reader is to use acetone to remove the black labels.)


Drill hole in PVC pipes

Find the middle of all four 15″ PVC pipes and drill a hole in the middle of each.


Put seat on DIY PVC pipe chair

Thread the seat through one 7″ piece of pipe and one 10″ piece of pipe.


Making DIY PVC Pipe Chair

Make your pipes into rectangle shapes.


Criss cross DIY PVC pipe chairs

Then, criss-crossing your rectangles, line up your drilled holes and insert the bolts on each side of the chair. Use the nuts to tighten.


Finished DIY PVC Pipe Chairs


Thanks to both Elizabeths at Simple Simon and Company for sharing with us. To see more of their crafts for kids or some fun fall projects, check out their website.




Genius! DIY Faux Stained Glass

Making your own stained glass is easier than you thought.

DIY Faux Stained Glass


There’s something about the nostalgic and timeless beauty of stained glass… but genuine stained glass comes with a hefty price tag. So, innovative DIYers like Colleen from Just Paint It are making their own—and so can you!

Colleen’s a self described self-taught artist. “Years ago I was a display designer in a large craft store. Faux finishes were just coming into vogue and there were no glazes or tools locally available in California.” That was pre-Internet, which means Colleen got really creative with new craft products to create different effects. Eventually her love for the craft took her inside people’s homes, painting faux finishes and murals.

But for this paint lover, not all paint is equal. For home decor projects, she favors chalk paint and for artwork, watercolors. “I’m new to both of them and I absolutely love them. Chalk paint is incredibly forgiving and watercolors give a ‘painterly’ look with very little experience or effort.” She says she stays away from crackle finish, though. “I can’t think of one time I’ve had success with it.”

If you tackle this or any other paint project, here’s Colleen’s advice: “First and foremost—it’s only paint! If something doesn’t turn out, just paint over it and start over. Also, we are our own worst critics. Give yourself a break and some time to get the hang of a technique or new product.”

So with that in mind, here’s how to make your own faux stained glass!

- Glass surface (I used a thrift store frame)
- Rubbing alcohol and cotton
- Pattern
- Glass stain leading
- Utility knife
- Glass stains (clear, yellow, orange, red, brown, and green)
- Toothpicks
- Paper towels
- Small paintbrush
- Painter’s tape (optional)

Materials to Make DIY Faux Stained Glass

You can use anything for a pattern, or my fall leaves, if you like. All you need is an outline. Or you could use stencils.

Thoroughly clean the glass with rubbing alcohol and allow to dry. While it’s drying, mark off the borders. I used the cardboard that came in the frame, created the borders and transferred the leaves.

DIY Faux Stained Glass - Steps


Pour your glass stain leading. Think about real stained glass—it’s a bunch of pieces of glass that are soldered together. So you want to create that effect with your leading and “solder” the glass into the frame. Leading takes about 6-8 hours to fully dry.

DIY Faux Stained Glass - Leading



I had some goopy clumps. No worries, ok? Just allow the leading to completely dry and then remove any clumps with your utility knife.

I missed a spot here and there. Again, no worries. Just come back with your leading and fill it in.

Next, mix and pour your colors. It’s so easy! Just squirt a little brown, then a little yellow, take a toothpick and swirl it all together. So much fun!

Couple of tips: “Pull” the colors to the leading with your toothpick. As the paint dries it shrinks a bit, so you want to make sure you’ve completely filled the space in with color.

I found it more comfortable to work in smaller portions, rather than filling in an entire leaf.

DIY Faux Stained Glass - Mixing Colors


Thanks for sharing, Colleen! To use Colleen’s pattern to make your own faux stained glass window or to watch her video tutorial to get started, check out her website.

DIY PVC Pipe Mirror

Crosscut PVC pipe comes together in a starburst mirror with a twist.

DIY PVC Pipe Mirror

Who says PVC pipe can’t be really, really good-looking? Alicia from Thrifty & Chic makes a case for keeping PVC pipe on hand as an essential DIY material. Using crosscut PVC pipe and a whole lot of glue, she made this fresh take on the classic starburst mirror. After using PVC pipe for various household projects, Alicia realized she had a lot leftover for a new project. That’s when she got out her trusty saw and got to work. She mentions (and we will too!) that her way might not be the safest way to go about this project—but it certainly worked for her. Make sure to take appropriate safety precautions and always wear the right safety gear when operating a saw. Safety first and ingenious mirror ideas second.


- PVC pipe
- miter saw
- hot glue gun and glue sticks
- spray paint (optional)
- mirror
- safety glasses


You can spray paint your pipe whatever color you wish before you cut it.


I took the pipe, marked every 1/2 inch, and sent it through my miter saw. In order to get the best cut and not have it ping and then shoot out flying across the room, it is best to go at a slow downward speed. Just trust me on this one.

FYI: If you choose to use a miter saw, let it cool down a couple of times between cuts. It will thank you. Or if you don’t have a miter saw, and have a lot of time on your hands, you can cut these with a hack saw or even with pvc pipe cutters.


Now that you have all your cut pieces, lay them out into whatever desirable decor piece you would like.

Cut PVC pipe for DIY PVC mirror


Once you have this all laid out, start hot gluing them together. I started from the outside in. It just made more sense to do it that way. And as I was gluing, I made sure that pieces that had ink or marks on them were hidden beneath the glue so they wouldn’t be so obvious when I was finished with the piece—and mainly because, I was lazy and didn’t spraypaint or paint the pipe before hand to hide said marks.


Next, I took a mirror that I found at the craft store and glued that baby on also.

Hot Glue PVC Pipe Mirror


Once all was said and done….and dried. I had to clean off the hanging plastic that was left from the cutting and all the little shards of plastic that not-so-mysteriously appeared (as you can see above).

Finished PVC Pipe Mirror

Thanks for sharing, Alicia! To see even more of her inventive DIY projects, or to take a tour of her house, visit Thrifty & Chic!


DIY PVC Pipe Bathroom Storage

Hack PVC pipe into an inventive bathroom storage solution.

DIY PVC Pipe Toothbrush Holders

When Crafting in the Rain blogger, Steph, remodeled her bathroom, she said goodbye to an ugly old cabinet—but lost some prime storage space in the process. Since her new vanity left her with little counter space and her kids weren’t yet tall enough to reach the way-up-high shelves, she knew she’d have to get creative. 

That’s where these DIY PVC pipe toothbrush holders came into the picture. With this cheap and easy material, Steph made space for everyone’s toothbrush right where the kids could reach them. And the best part is that you can make your own, too!


- 1-inch round PVC pipe
- PVC pipe end caps (one for each holder)
- command hooks
- vinyl or stickers
- PVC pipe cutter
- drill (or drill press)


Cut pipe into 4.25 inch sections.


Drill a hole about 1/2 inch from the end, making sure it’s on the “back side” where any printing is.

Drill PVC Pipe Toothbrush Holder


Wash the pipes. Cut vinyl initials (or use stickers) to label each holder. Add end caps; they don’t need to be glued on, and then you can disassemble them later and wash them out as needed.


Install command hooks on the inside of the cabinet door.  Our vanity is small, so more may fit in your doors if you need them.  Let them set for 1 hour before hanging holders and toothbrushes.

Command Hooks PVC Pipe Toothbrush Holder


Hang your new toothbrush holders!

Hanging PVC Pipe Toothbrush Holders

Thanks for sharing, Steph! For more inventive DIY projects, check out Crafting in the Rain!