Category: How To’s & Quick Tips


How To: Clean Plexiglass

Learn how to keep plexiglass—a safe, glare-free glass substitute—clean and scratch-free with these crystal-clear instructions.

SHARES
How to Clean Plexiglass

Photo: fotosearch.com

Commonly used to construct everyday items from shower enclosures to tabletops, plexiglass (also known as acrylic) offers many advantages over actual glass. Though the two share a similar appearance, plexiglass is lighter, tougher to crack, and easy to cut to size for use in a variety of applications around the home. The transparent acrylic material also boasts a crystal-clear benefit of even better transparency than its competition with less glare. What’s more, it’s incredibly easy to clean and maintain that prized transparency—if you know how to treat it, of course.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Blow dryer (optional)
- Lint-free microfiber cloth
- Gentle acrylic cleaner (such as Brillianize or Novus No. 1) or mild dish soap
- Clean water

How to Clean Plexiglass - Shower Door

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
Begin by removing excess dust or dirt from the surface of the plexiglass, but not with your usual duster. Making direct, dry contact with surface particles using your hand or a cloth can actually grind them into the material itself.

Instead, use air to clear the surface, either by blowing across the pane (close your eyes first!) or briefly using a blow dryer set to its coolest, lowest setting—never, ever heat plexiglass. If you choose to go with the latter method, hold the blow dryer at a 45-degree angle several inches away from the plexiglass and run side-to-side down the surface.

STEP 2
Once excess grime has been removed, spray a nonabrasive acrylic cleaner, such as Brillianize or Novus No. 1, onto a one- or two-foot-square section of plexiglass. (For an on-hand alternative, a solution of mild dish soap and water works well too.)

Once the cleaner has been applied, use a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth—or, in a pinch, a disposable diaper—to gently wipe the surface down, again being careful to make contact only with the portion of the surface that already has cleaner on it. Continue applying the cleaner and wiping it off in small sections until you’ve finished the entire surface.

STEP 3
If you’re in the mood to be ultra-thorough, you can rinse out the cloth, soak it in plain water, and go back over the plexiglass once more. This step isn’t critical, but it might help you clean anything you missed. If it’s possible to simply run water over the surface without causing a slip hazard—for example, by spraying a shower nozzle on a low setting on the inside of a shower enclosure—you’ll ensure a brighter shine. Always remember: The less pressure, the better.

 

Above all, as you care for your plexiglass, be sure to avoid the three A’s: ammonia, abrasives, and aromatics. For all its conveniences, plexiglass is a sensitive material. It’s prone to scratching and tends to hang on to scented solutions used on its surface. Skip all-purpose cleaners when you clean, which can do more harm than good, for something even more mild or specialized. And, as already mentioned, never wipe down plexiglass with a dry cloth, or brush over it with a bare, dry hand. So long as you keep these restrictions in mind and maintain a simple, straightforward cleaning regimen, you should be able to keep your plexiglass windows and shower enclosures scratch-free and spotless for years to come.


3 Fixes for Dust Mites

These tiny pests thrive in the warmth and comfort of your favorite resting places, including your bed and your upholstered furniture. Keep the little critters under control with one of these easy solutions.

SHARES
How to Get Rid of Dust Mites

Photo: fotosearch.com

Though far from pleasant to think about, there’s a good chance your home is ridden with dust mites—microscopic organisms that feed off the steady supply of dead skin cells coating our carpets, couches, and most unsettling of all, our beds. While you can’t ever completely eliminate these extremely common household pests, you can control them, which can go a long way toward alleviating the congestion, sneezing, and coughing that plague those who suffer from dust mite allergies. To help keep your spaces—and your family—healthy, try one of these easy solutions that can minimize your mites.

 

IN HOT WATER

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites - Wash and Dry

Photo: fotosearch.com

The most effective tactic for getting rid of dust mites is also the easiest: Wash your sheets, comforters, and pillowcases at least once a week in hot water (at a temperature of at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit), then machine dry them. Beyond your weekly load of linens, you’ll also want to toss your pillows in the dryer for about 15 to 20 minutes once a month to prevent dust mites from getting too cozy.

If getting into your clean routine doesn’t provide any relief from buggy nightmares or allergens, consider also changing out down pillows or comforters, as they attract the most dust mites. For especially sensitive sinuses, allergy-proof bedding may be a worthy investment; these sets can prevent the dust mites from burrowing into your slumber station and minimize the number of times you need to wash your bed linens.

 

VACUUM SEAL

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites - Vacuum

Photo: dyson.com

Unfortunately, dust mites don’t just like to kick back in your bed. These creepy critters will make themselves comfortable in carpets and furniture upholstery as well. Bid them goodbye by simply sticking to a regular vacuuming schedule. Make sure to hit every textile-covered element in a room, including couch cushions, rugs, throw pillows, and curtains. If you con’t already own one, consider upgrading to a vacuum with a HEPA filter. This attachment makes a huge difference by trapping both dust mite waste and eggs—something that most non-HEPA models cannot accomplish. If you already have a HEPA-equipped vacuum but can’t remember when you last replaced the filter, swap in a fresh one to ensure that you’re sucking up as much dusty debris as possible.

 

FREEZE THEM OUT

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites - Freeze

Photo: fotosearch.com

For delicate materials or precious items like the kids’ stuffed animals (yep, dust mites hang out on them, too) that you’d rather not risk damaging in the washing machine, give dust mites the cold shoulder with this next easy, effective method. Drop the item in question in a large zip-lock bag, and pop it into the freezer for about 48 hours—it’s that simple. Dust mites love warm, humid conditions, so the freezer is just about the last place they’re likely to survive. You can also try setting up a dehumidifier or two at home to render your spaces inhospitably dry. Maintaining a humidity level below 50 percent should make dust mites’ lives intolerable, and yours much more comfortable.


Solved! What to Do About Flickering Lights

If you’re frustrated by flickering lights, you’re not alone. Read the following response to a question posed by a reader with the same concern.

SHARES
Flickering Lights - Change Lightbulb

Photo: fotosearch.com

Q: Help! The lightbulbs in our fixtures keep flickering on and off. As far as I know, my house isn’t haunted, but I’m spooked that this could cause a fire. Am I being overly cautious, or do I need to call an electrician?

A: It appears you’re having a “lightbulb” moment. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind that sparks a brilliant idea, but rather, a problem that requires an immediate repair. Short of festive holiday lights or decorative faux candles, a flickering light in a standard fixture is not normal. Although electrical problems should always be taken seriously, you can discern the quick fixes from the causes for concern with these helpful tips.

Flickering Lights - Switch

Photo: fotosearch.com

Start at the source—of the bulb, that is. Florescent bulbs have a propensity to flicker frequently, due to a variety of everyday factors, including cold temperatures, the bulb burning out while in the socket (tip: replace the tubes to stop this from happening), and the general way that phosphors power up their maximum level. If your florescents flicker every now and again, it’s probably not a huge concern.

For LED bulbs, the most common cause of flickering relates to dimmer switches. These dimmers are manufactured to handle higher electrical loads that don’t always coincide with the lower voltages of LEDs. Before swapping out your standard lightbulbs, take an inventory of your existing dimmer make and model, and then cross-check the compatibility to ensure everything will work seamlessly.

Sometimes the solution is as simple as a quick “righty-tighty.” How many homeowners does it take to screw in a lightbulb? The answer is one, but that one person needs to screw it in correctly to avoid any flickering. The solution to your horror story lighting scheme could be as simple as twisting the bulb so that it sits tightly enough into the socket to make the necessary connection.

A faulty fixture switch or a lose light plug can also cause difficulties. It’s all about the connections: A loose one between the on/off switch on your lamp or light fixture and the lightbulb itself could be the culprit. Wiggle the switch gently to see if it evokes a flicker; if yes, simply replace it to stop the strobe light effect. The issue could also arise from a loose connection between the plug and the outlet. Unplug your lamp, adjust the metal prongs, and then plug it back in. If that does the trick, it may be that the two just needed a more secure fit.

Infrequent shakiness might mean your large appliances are to blame. Pay attention to the patterns: If you notice your lights flicker consistently when large appliances such as your air conditioner are running, the problem could be that your overall voltage is fluctuating too often, or that you have too much sensory overload on the same circuit. Although slight fluctuations are normal, your home should register between 115 and 125 volts. Purchase a voltmeter at your local hardware store to gauge your home’s output, or hire an electrician to take a look.

Old wiring, breakers, connectors, and switches are cause for concern. Loose or outdated wiring is one of the leading causes of house fires. If you try the above troubleshooting techniques and your lights still flicker, this could be a sign of loose service conductors in your main electrical panel, an outdated breaker box with worn connectors, or a switch failure. In any event, whether it’s a system-wide problem or confined to one location, these problems can quickly turn into a fire hazard; call an electrician to pinpoint the problem.

And don’t forget about the neighbors. Your home shares a transformer with surrounding homes, so a cause of flickering lights may be your neighbors’ heavy electrical usage, or damage caused by downed trees or power lines. An electrician (and a little patience to see if the problem resolves itself!) is your best bet for identifying, locating, and repairing the issue.


Bob Vila Radio: Solving a Ladybug Infestation

In your summer garden, ladybugs are an asset, feeding on plants' natural enemies. In the winter, however, ladybugs can become an unwelcome nuisance indoors. Dealing with an infestation? Read on.

SHARES

This winter, you may find yourself with uninvited guests—orange-red Asian ladybugs. Imported to combat garden pests, Asian ladybugs like to spend the cold season indoors, where they favor light-color walls that receive plenty of sunshine.

How to Get Rid of Ladybugs

Photo: fotosearch.com

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON KEEPING LADYBUGS OUT or read the text below:

Since they leave pheromone trails, Asian ladybugs typically return to the same site to hibernate year after year. They pose no danger to you or your property, but when upon invading your home, their sheer numbers can be overwhelming. To end the problem, simply vacuum and then release the bugs outdoors. Careful—don’t sweep up the ladybugs, because when stressed, they secrete a smelly yellow liquid capable of staining walls and floors.

To keep the bugs from finding their way back into the home, use weatherstripping and foam insulation to seal any cracks around doors, windows, and eaves. Also, note that it can be effective to spray insecticide, not in the garden, but against the home exterior, including the siding, trim, attic vents, and roof overhang.

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: Get Rid of Bagworms

If you don't keep a weather eye out for these voracious little critters, you may wind up with brown, damaged, or even dead trees or shrubs. Learn how to recognize bagworms and eradicate them from your yard, before it's too late!

SHARES
How to Get Rid of Bagworms - In a Tree

Photo: flickr.com via NY State IPM Program at Cornell University

Notice an inexplicable mass destruction, yellowing, or defoliation in your evergreens? A close and careful look through the branches might reveal the culprit in clever camouflage: bagworms. These destructive insects attack many species of tree or bush, but are most often found on conifers like juniper, pine, arborvitae, cyprus, cedar, and spruce. They’re called “bagworms” because after the larvae feed on plants and trees, they encase themselves in cocoon-like “bags” constructed from twigs, leaves, and self-spun silk. Once in its bag, a female bagworm can lay 500 to 1,000 eggs—escalating your bagworm problem to an serious infestation fast. Each egg will hatch into another bagworm primed to defoliate whatever it’s near. The worst part? Your problem may go unnoticed until too late because these bags assume the appearance of conifer cones. Should you find yourself with a bad case of bagworms, follow this thorough guide to get rid of them.

How to Get Rid of Bagworms - Bagworm Cocoon

Photo: fotosearch.com

HANDPICKING
If you find just a few bagworms, you may have caught the infestation early that you can effectively control the situation by handpicking the bags off the plants and submerging them in a bucket of soapy water to suffocate the larvae. This will work, however, only if the larvae haven’t yet left the bags to go out to feed. Hatching generally happens in late May to early June, so do your handpicking of bagworms from late fall to early spring.

BIOLOGICAL CONTROL
Sometimes it’s not feasible to handpick bagworms, particularly when you’re dealing with tall trees. But if you can harness the power of creatures that feed on bagworms, you may still be able to control your bagworm population.

Bacteria: Bt, the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, is effective at controlling bagworms if it’s applied as soon as the eggs hatch in the spring. Don’t wait too long—this bacteria won’t be as effective when the larvae have grown large. Follow the application instructions on the product you buy, and apply it with a garden sprayer. Follow up and reapply every 7 to 10 days until the bagworms are gone.

Birds: Sparrows are predators of bagworms, so you may be able to keep the bagworm population down by attracting sparrows to your yard. To make your property more appealing for the birds, provide water at ground level (a low birdbath) as well as materials and places for nesting (thickets and trees). Sparrows also appreciate shelter to flit between, so brush piles and shrubbery can be assets, as can dusty areas for dust-bathing.

CHEMICAL CONTROL
An insecticide with malathion, diazinon, or carbaryl can rid you of a bagworm problem if applied to bushes and trees when the worms are still young larvae. So, aim to spray in late spring, just after the bagworms have hatched and begun to feed, and always follow the insecticide manufacturer’s instructions.

No matter where or what time of year you find bagworms, don’t wait to start formulating a plan to eradicate them. Left unchecked, they can completely defoliate and kill your yard’s trees, bushes, or hedges.

How to Get Rid of Bagworms - Bagworm in Its Shell

Photo: flickr.com via Dick Culbert


How To: Get Rid of Gnats

There’s a reason these little buggers are referred to as pests. Try a few of our easy solutions to banish them from every room of your house—and fast.

SHARES
How to Get Rid of Gnats in the House

Photo: flickr.com via Martin Cooper

Although they can’t really harm you, gnats are certainly annoying. The mere presence in your house of these pesky insects can leave you feeling twitchy and wondering what brought them inside in the first place. Rotting fruit is a common culprit, but it isn’t the only one. Dirty dishes, trash bags with spoiled food, and even damp potting soil can cause gnats to congregate and drive you crazy. The good news: There are a handful of clever tactics for removing them from your house that require nothing more than ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen cabinets, pantry, and fridge. Here is a room-by-room breakdown of gnat-removal strategies that will help you fix the problem before it gets worse.

How to Get Rid of Gnats in the House - On the Wall

Photo: fotosearch.com

KITCHEN
Have a few gnats hanging around your fruit basket? Here’s a tried-and-true way to get rid of them. To pull it off, you’ll need apple cider vinegar, sugar, dish soap, water, and a container. Simply mix approximately two tablespoons of vinegar with one liter of water. Add a tablespoon of sugar and a few drops of dish soap, stir it all together, and set the container near the fruit. The insects will be attracted to the scent, then when they make contact with the solution they’ll get stuck in the soap and drown.

DINING ROOM
The next time you’re sipping a glass of red wine at the dinner table and notice the occasional gnat hovering around, get ready to set out an extra glass. Gnats are attracted to the sugary, fermented beverage, so use it to lure them to their death. Simply pour a small amount of wine into a glass, and add a dash of liquid soap—just be sure you don’t get confused and drink out of the wrong glass! The gnats will fly right in, get stuck, and collect in the alcohol.

BATHROOM
Gnats that swarm around the sink or above tub drains are particularly aggravating. Unfortunately, in these instances, apple cider vinegar or wine isn’t always enough to handle the problem. If the gnats are hovering near the surface of the drain, try this trick: Dilute some bleach with water, and then pour it down the drain. One-half cup of bleach to one gallon of water should be enough. (Be sure to wear protective gloves and a mask so you don’t inhale the fumes.) Repeat as needed until you don’t see any gnats.

PANTRY
Sure, rotten fruit attracts gnats, but it’s also something you can use to beat them at their own game. The next time you have a rotten or overripe banana, mash it into a container, such as a small mason jar. Next, put plastic wrap over the top of the jar before puncturing the plastic with a scattering of holes. Gnats will wiggle through the openings to get to the fruit, but the transparent cover will prevent them from flying back out.

LIVING ROOM
If you notice just a gnat or two circling the room, this method is for you: Fill a spray bottle with a mixture of one cup of water, one tablespoon of vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap. The next time you see a gnat flying around, zap it in the air with a spritz. And don’t worry—this solution won’t harm your indoor plants.


How To: Cut Plexiglass

Learn how to work with this practical and versatile material so you'll get accurate cuts and smooth, attractive edges every time.

SHARES
How to Cut Plexiglass 2

Photo: fotosearch.com

From picture frames to tabletops, plexiglass (also known as acrylic) serves as a cost-effective, shatterproof substitute for glass in a range of applications. In fact, due to its light weight and durability, many do-it-yourselfers prefer plexiglass, not least because it can be cut and shaped with common workshop tools. Versatile and tough though it may be, however, plexiglass isn’t perfect. For one thing, it scratches easily. That’s why sheets of the material come covered in a thin layer of protective film. When cutting plexiglass, leave the film in place as long as possible to avoid marring the surface. Second, bear in mind that even if you’re careful, it can be difficult to cut plexiglass without leaving a rough, irregular edge. If your project requires a clean edge, expect to devote at least some energy into smoothing the finish. In comparison, cutting the plexiglass to size is fairly easy. Continue reading for details on the two most common ways of getting the job done.

 

SCORING

How to Cut Plexiglass - Utility Knife

Photo: fotosearch.com

For a thin sheet of plexiglass—that is, material up to about 3/16-inch thick—use a scoring method not dissimilar from the technique used to cut actual glass. First, lay the sheet on a flat surface and, using a yardstick and a permanent marker (or a grease marker), measure and draw the line you wish to cut. Next, hold the yardstick to the marked line, and run the dull side of a utility knife along the yardstick to score the sheet. Score again and again, as many as 10 or 12 times, until you have made a deep groove in the plexiglass. Flip over the plexiglass, and score the opposite side in the same manner. To finish, hold the scribed line to the edge of your work surface, and secure the plexiglass in place with a clamp. Then, with sharp downward pressure, snap off the portion of the plexiglass that extends beyond the work surface.

 

SAWING

How to Cut Plexiglass - Circular Saw

Photo: fotosearch.com

For thicker sheets of plexiglass, cut with a power saw—be it a circular saw, saber saw, or table saw. (To cut anything but a straight line, opt for a jigsaw.) No matter which type of saw you choose for the task, it’s critically important to use the right blade. There are special blades designed expressly for acrylic, but any metal-cutting blade with carbide tips can do the trick. Before committing to one blade or another, double-check that its teeth are evenly spaced, with no rake, and of uniform height and shape. After readying your tool, measure and mark the plexiglass, then cut as you would any other material, clamping if appropriate. One note of caution: If the blade overheats, the material may chip or crack. Proceed accordingly, water-cooling the blade or pausing your work for a few minutes as needed.

 

Polishing Cut Edges 
Whichever cutting method you choose, you may find that the cut edge doesn’t look terribly attractive. If the cut edge would be visible in your application, take the extra time to sand and buff out the imperfections. Note: You can use a handheld power sander, but as wet-sanding typically achieves the best results, we recommend manual sanding. Start the process with 120- or 180-grit waterproof paper, in combination with a wood or rubber sanding block. As the plexiglass becomes smoother, transition to successively finer grits. Finish by sanding with 600-grit paper. Once you are satisfied with the appearance of the edge, move on to buffing. Outfit your electric drill with a buffing pad and, after applying a polishing compound (formulated for plastic), bring the plexiglass edge to a perfect polish.

Every building material comes with a set of quirks and nuances that you can master with practice. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long for do-it-yourselfers with woodworking experience to feel quite at home with plexiglass. Although for the time being, you may only need to cut a piece of acrylic down to size, learning to work with this versatile, transparent material opens up a new universe of DIY possibilities that you can explore in myriad projects for years to come.


3 Ways to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew

Is the lack of a corkscrew making you whine over that tempting unopened bottle instead of wining and dining? Pop the cork using these three no-fail approaches.

SHARES
Open Wine Without Corkscrew

Photo: fotosearch.com

It’s an all-too-common occurrence: You pick up a fine bottle of wine to enjoy for dinner or to hand off as a hostess gift, when you suddenly realize there’s no corkscrew to be found. You may think your only options are to journey back outside for an opener or go without that glass of perfect pinot, but fear not—there are plenty of household hacks you can use to loosen the corkscrew. With a few everyday items and a bit of old-fashioned elbow grease, you’ll be relaxing with a glass of Bordeaux’s best in no time.

 

CORK ON THE COB

Open Wine Without Corkscrew - Corn Holders

Photo: fotosearch.com

Comprising a nob and two prongs, corncob skewers are best known as those little yellow tools that make noshing on your favorite summertime vegetable a breeze. But their sharp ends can also be put to good use as an in-a-pinch solution for opening your favorite bottle of red or white. Simply insert the prongs into the cork, and then gently lift, twisting left and right as you go until you successfully dislodge the top.

Another way you can use this barbecue essential to liberate your libation is by adding some hardware into the mix. Start by twisting a screw about 60 percent of the way into the cork. Next, place the corncob prongs beneath the screw head to form a T shape. Grab hold of the screw and pull, then reward yourself with a generous pour.

 

HAMMER TIME

Open Wine Without Corkscrew - Hammer

Photo: fotosearch.com

For a corkscrew-free solution that literally nails it, find a hammer and a handful of clean, short finishing nails that are about the same length as the cork. Hammer three to five nails in a straight line across the middle of the cork, using only mild force to avoid breaking the cork into pieces. Then, use the claw of the hammer to pull out the nails one at a time, removing a little bit more of the stubborn stopper with each nail. Once the cork wiggles free, you’re free to pour yourself a glass.

 

SHOE SOMMELIER

Open Wine Without a Corkscrew - Open Wine with Shoe

Photo: fotosearch.com

Remove the capsule (the foil covering) from the top of the bottle, and then slip your chardonnay into something a little more comfortable—your shoe! Choose one that’s not overly cushioned, as this can weaken the effect of this approach, then rest the sole flat against the wall. Place the bottom of the bottle inside the shoe, and then, holding the neck of the bottle with one hand and the shoe with the other, strike the two perpendicularly against the wall at least 10 times, or until the cork is dislodged. (Check the status of the cork every few strokes to ensure that it doesn’t fall out unexpectedly.) The liquid in the bottle transfers the force from the wall to the cork, so you can remove it with ease and be back on your way to a relaxing evening. Bottoms up!


How To: Caulk a Shower

Keep your shower watertight and mildew-free by using the following steps to refresh the caulk in your enclosure.

SHARES
How to Caulk a Shower - Tub

Photo: fotosearch.com

There’s nothing quite like a steamy shower to rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit after a good night’s sleep or a long, hard day. But when the caulk around your enclosure begins to crack and crumble, it’s not you that needs reviving—it’s your shower. Replacing the caulk around your tub, tiles, shower door, and drain is a relatively simple do-it-yourself fix that takes only a few hours from start to finish. If you find your shower in need of a facelift, follow these steps to create a good, solid seal.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Kitchen and bath caulk
- Utility knife or oscillating tool
- Commercial caulk remover (optional)
- Commercial mold cleaner (optional)
- Caulk gun
- Painter’s tape

How to Caulk a Shower

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
A quality caulking job begins with a quality product. There are two primary types of caulk you can choose from: silicone and latex. While silicone forms the stronger seal, latex is easier to work with, especially if you’re a beginner. Whichever you choose, always check that the tube is designated for use in kitchens and baths. These formulas contain special inhibitors that protect against mold and mildew—a quality that’s certainly necessary in the shower.

STEP 2
Before you can apply the new caulk, remove any leftovers from the last job, otherwise your fresh bead won’t bond well. Using a utility knife or oscillating tool, cut through the strips of old caulk. Scrape off as much as possible, and then apply a specialized remover to any stubborn spots. If you discover any mold in your path, eradicate it with a commercial cleaner or a homemade solution of one part bleach to two parts water. Once the old caulk has been removed, wipe down the area and allow it to dry thoroughly before moving on; caulk won’t adhere to a wet surface.

STEP 3
While you can apply caulk by simply squeezing it out from the tube, it’s best to invest in a quality caulk gun. This will let you better manage the flow and will, as a result, produce more accurate results. The sturdy plunging mechanism allows for precise and even distribution of caulk, while the pressure release lets you stop quickly. Whichever method you choose, the trick is to not cut off too much of the tip from the caulk tube. A wide opening will yield a thick bead, which may lead to sloppy results. Cut the tip just above the indentation point that is usually marked on the tube.

STEP 4
Painter’s tape makes a great guide to ensure a clean bead. Use long strips of tape to mask off the surface on either side of the line where you’ll be applying your bead of caulk, whether that’s along the wall, shower door, or tub. To start the bead, apply pressure to the caulk gun or tube and either pull the gun away from your starting point or, holding the gun at a 90-degree angle, push the caulk in a forward motion. There is no true right or wrong technique, so choose the approach that works best for you and proceed accordingly.

STEP 5
Once the gap is full, wet your finger and wipe along the line to remove the excess caulk and create a smooth, rounded bead. Peel off the painter’s tape while the caulk is still wet, and then continue on to the next section to be caulked.

STEP 6
When you’re done, allow the caulk to cure for at least 24 hours before hopping back into the shower to recharge your battery. A thorough caulking job should last at least a year—which means you have around 365 more chances to belt out your favorite show tune before you’ll have to repeat the process yet again.


How To: Remove Candle Wax from Any Surface

Still burning the candle at both ends trying to remove unwanted wax accumulations? Use these simple solutions to remove candle wax from any surface in the home!

SHARES
How to Remove Candle Wax

Photo: fotosearch.com

No matter their placement—on the mantel, beside the bathtub, or on the dining table—lit candles instantly create an atmosphere of relaxation. The mood can swiftly change to one of frustration, however, if your candles leave behind drips or pools of stubborn, tough-to-budge wax. While there’s no universal solution, it’s pretty easy to remove candle wax using nothing more than common household items, so long as you know which method to use. Usually, the right approach depends on the material on which the wax has dripped. Read on for the details on removing wax from the surfaces where it most often lands.

 

WOOD

How to Remove Candle Wax from Wood

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Fix: Vinegar. Your first instinct may be to scrape off the wax with the edge of a kitchen knife, but unless you have a remarkably steady hand, you run the risk of scratching the finish or even the wood itself. A safer, quicker way is to hold a hair dryer (set on medium) a few inches away from the wax. When the wax becomes soft, dab it away with a soft cloth. To prevent stains on light-colored wood, be sure to moisten the cloth beforehand with a mixture of one part vinegar and two parts water. Note: Follow the same process to remove candle wax from hardwood floors. 

 

COTTON

How to Remove Candle Wax from Tablecloth

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Fix: Clothes Iron. After you’ve cleared the table, done the dishes, and straightened up, spotting dried-up wax on the tablecloth may be enough to make you swear off entertaining. Take a deep breath and—yes, seriously—toss the tablecloth into the freezer. Once the wax has completely cooled, you can easily lift it away with a knife. Don’t worry if the wax appears to have left a stain. Simply lay a brown paper bag over the stain, then press an iron (set on high heat) over the bag. Watch as the stain transfers from the cloth to the paper. Note: You can also use the ironing trick to remove candle wax from painted walls.

 

METAL

How to Remove Candle Wax from Metal

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Fix: Boiling Water. It’s easy to see why wax would drip onto the metal candlestick that holds the taper in place. Fortunately, it’s also easy to restore the metal to its pristine state. Here’s what to do: Boil of pot of water—enough water to completely submerge the candlestick—then after turning off the burner, place the candlestick into the pot. As the water gradually cools, the wax slides off the metal. Once the water has returned to room temperature, remove the candlestick, and wipe away any residual wax with a soft cloth. Note: Follow the same process to remove candle wax from thick glass objects.

 

CARPET FIBERS

How to Remove Candle Wax from Carpet

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Fix: Ice. But don’t rub it in! Instead, fill a plastic bag with ice cubes, then lay the bag over the wax. After waiting several minutes for the wax to cool, use a butter knife to lift the wax away from the carpet. The important thing is to separate the hardened wax from the carpet fibers. Once the wax has been separated, don’t worry if any small, hard bits are left in the pile, because the next step is to vacuum the area thoroughly using the upholstery attachment. Finally, moisten a soft cloth with rubbing alcohol and dab away any discoloration. Note: The ice cube trick also works to remove candle wax from brick. 

 

VINYL

How to Remove Candle Wax from Vinyl

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Fix: Mineral Spirits. It may be highly durable, but vinyl flooring isn’t invincible, at least not when it comes to candle wax. What not to do: Because vinyl is prone to discoloration, it’s best not to subject it to any treatment that involves high heat. A better bet is to place an ice cube-packed plastic bag over the affected area. Let the bag sit for several minutes, long enough to harden the wax. Then, dislodge the hardened wax with a blunt-edged kitchen spoon; sharp objects and vinyl don’t mix. If the wax leaves any discoloration, saturate a cotton ball with mineral spirits, then use it to wipe away the stain.

 

LEATHER

How to Remove Candle Wax from Leather

Photo: fotosearch.com

The Fix: Blow Dryer. Soft, supple, and luxurious, leather furniture deserves better than to be pocked by drips and drabs of candle wax. The key to restoring its plush comfort? Your hair dryer. Hold the appliance a few inches away from the leather and move it back and forth across the area to warm the wax without damaging the material. As the wax softens and loosens its hold, wipe it away using a soft cloth dampened with warm water and mild detergent. Note: Follow the same process to remove candle wax from tubs, sinks, and other bathroom fixtures and surfaces.