Category: How To’s & Quick Tips

Clean Your Floors with What’s in the Pantry

Cleaning floors doesn't have to be a tedious chore. Once we hook you up with the right DIY solution for your flooring type, the rest will be easy.

Homemade Floor Cleaner


Sweeping dirt under the rug: Tempting, sure, but it’s no long-term solution. Different rooms in different houses require different levels of care, so only you can determine how often to clean. But we can tell you that homemade floor cleaner simplifies the task, somehow making it seem like much less of a production. In other words, when you clean with a homemade floor cleaner, it doesn’t feel like the sort of cleaning you know and dread. We think that’s largely because homemade floor cleaner contains no harsh chemicals; it’s completely non-toxic. It smells good, too—not in that artificial way, but genuinely good. Best of all, it’s cheap and easy to make and only requires ingredients that you likely have on hand. Here’s how to make special formulations  for some of the most common floor materials out there.

Wood Floor Cleaner
A popular recipe for cleaning and freshening hardwood floors includes the following: ¼ cup white vinegar, 1 gallon warm water, and a few drops of essential oil. When it comes to the oil, use any you like, or whatever you have, be it lemon or lavender or something else. While the vinegar disinfects, the oil adds a pleasing scent. Though it’s a forgiving formula overall, be careful to use the correct ratio of vinegar to water. If you fail to strike the right balance, the acid in the vinegar may damage the floor finish. When applying the homemade floor cleaner, do so with a dampened cloth or a mop with excess liquid wrung out of it.

Homemade Floor Cleaner - Mop


Ceramic Tile Floor Cleaner
Before applying homemade floor cleaner to ceramic tile, remember to sweep or vacuum first. There’s a chance that, in the process of wiping or mopping, loose debris could scratch the floor surface. Once it’s free of bits and pieces, scraps and shards, proceed to mix the DIY cleaner. Combine ¼ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda, 1 tablespoon dish detergent, and 2 gallons hot water. Apply it either with a damp cloth or a wrung-out mop. After, go over it with fresh water, then allow to dry.

Vinyl Floor Cleaner
The trick here is to avoid using any ingredients that might damage the vinyl. One safe bet is to mix together ½ cup rubbing alcohol, ½ cup vinegar, a few drops of dish detergent, and 2 gallons of water. The alcohol cuts through the really tough stains, while the detergent helps remove grease and residue. Mop the entire floor, then rinse with fresh water, if it seems necessary. If desired, you can also add a few drops of essential oil to infuse your home with a fresh-smelling aroma.

Carpet Cleaner
Carpet cleaning can be a complex job involving a big machine or expensive outside help. But for a more casual approach, try this: In a spray bottle, combine a few drops of dish detergent, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1 cup warm water, and 1 teaspoon baking soda. After vacuuming, generously spritz the carpeting in one section. Then, using a clean towel, rub the solution into the stain. Now, use a different towel to absorb all the moisture. In this way, clean the entire carpet, section by section.

DIY Penny Vase

Copper is one of this year's most coveted materials for home decor. Here's one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get the look.

DIY Penny Vase - Before and After

When Canada phased out the penny, Vone from Vone Inspired got to work on a DIY project—an ode to the penny. Because they were being phased out, she ran out of pennies toward the end of her project, but you can hardly notice, right? Here’s a look at how she created this quick but fantastic project!


- Vase
- Black spray paint
- Pennies
- Glue gun


DIY Penny Vase - paint

First I spray painted the vase with black and let dry.


DIY Penny Vase - gluing

Then I found all the pennies we had in the house and started gluing them on. I used a glue gun and started at the top of the vase. I didn’t worry about the direction of the penny or what side I used (or if they were Canadian or US) just keep gluing, row after row.

I ran out of pennies at the bottom, I hunted everywhere for more but when stores aren’t giving out pennies any more it was harder to find more. And now when it’s up on the bookshelf you can’t see the bottom anyway.

DIY Penny Vase - finished

Thanks for sharing, Vone! For more DIY projects, visit her at Vone Inspired


DIY Desk with a Penny Top

A plain old board of wood is the starting point for many projects—including this sparkling black and copper study station.

DIY penny desk - finished

When Homeroad blogger Susan’s daughter came to her with a project idea, she jumped at the chance to help. She provided the wood cut and her daughter, Kasey, did the rest—creating a one-of-a-kind desk with a plain wood board, a short filing cabinet—and a whole lot of pennies. Read on for the full tutorial.


- Wood board
- Crown molding
- Circular saw
- Black paint
- Lots of pennies
- Super glue
- Pliers
- Wire cutter
- Epoxy
- (2) legs and hardware
- Filing cabinet


Cut a wood board to size and attach a piece of crown molding to the edge for a clean finish.


Then paint the wood board black.


DIY Penny Table - glue

Next cover the board with pennies. On the front edge of the desk, bend pennies at a right angle with pliers so they fit around the corner.


DIY Penny Table - cut

Use a wire cutter to cut pennies in half so they will fit perfectly along the edge.


When the glue dries, cover it with 3 coats of epoxy. The finish is smooth as glass and amazingly awesome!


Attach two legs to the bottom of one side of the board and support it on the other side with a black filing cabinet.


DIY Penny Desk

Thanks, Susan! For more DIY furniture ideas, check out Homeroad!

DIY Penny Top Tray

What can you make with a cheap thrift store tray and an extra five bucks? This ingenious new home accent!

DIY Penny Tray - finished

Meg from Happy Looks Good on You is no stranger to Bob Vila Thumbs Up—here’s her great idea for a concrete lamp. But when we saw her idea for a DIY penny tray, we couldn’t resist nominating her again for another round of the blogger competition. Here’s how you can recreate her simple and fun project!


- Tray
- Book pages
- Mod Podge
- E-600
- Pennies
- Epoxy
- Hardener
- Sponge brush


DIY Penny Tray - Mod Podge

I started with a boring ol’ tray I picked up from the thrift store for a couple bucks. I used Mod Podge to cover the tray with book pages.


DIY Penny Tray - glued

Using E-600 I glued down the pennies. Yes, I glued each one individually. It really didn’t take that long. I alternated rows of heads up and tails up. And here is what 481 pennies looks like; can’t put two gallons of gas in the car, but it can make a fabulous tray!


DIY Penny Tray - epoxy
Now for the fun part! To cover the pennies with epoxy. It’s super easy to mix up, two parts epoxy to one part hardener.


DIY Penny Tray - pour epoxy

Once it was mixed really well, I poured it over the pennies. Using a sponge brush, I spread the epoxy to cover the entire top of the penny tray. Then just set it somewhere out of the way to dry and harden for a few days.

DIY Penny Tray - close

Thanks for sharing, Meg! For more incredible DIYs you can make this weekend, visit Happy Looks Good on You.

How to Make Your Own Letters—with Pennies!

For copper accents in the kitchen that won't cost an arm and a leg, turn to your change jar. That's what brought this typography project to life!

DIY Penny Letters

When Rebecca at The Crafted Sparrow had a friend move into a new home, copper accents were on the ultimate kitchen wish list. So, being the good friend that she is, she crafted an amazingly simple and stylish housewarming gift—DIY penny letters. So, empty out your change jar and ready your glue; she’s shown us how to recreate the project right here.


- Paper maché letters
- Pennies
- Weldbond glue or E6000
- Copper acrylic paint
- Foam brush
- Clear spray sealer


Start by painting your paper mache letters copper. I did two layers and that was enough to cover the paper mache. After I painted it copper I used a gunmetal silver color with a dry brush technique to give it a bit of a patina.


DIY Penny Letters - kitchen

Then get your glue ready.  I think this glue worked pretty well. We’ll see how it holds up over time. You’ll also want to start picking out your “good” pennies. I picked mostly shiny, but threw a few duller ones into the mix. That creates character.


I then laid out the pennies on each letter ahead of time. That way I new exactly what pattern, and placement they were going to be in. Then you just glue until your hearts content.


DIY Penny Letter - glue

When you’ve got them all glued on and they are all dry (let it sit for at least 24 hours) you can spray them with a clear satin or glossy spray paint. I did it to protect the pennies and the copper paint on the paper maché.

Thanks for sharing, Rebecca! If you enjoyed this, check out even more DIY tutorials at The Crafted Sparrow.

DIY Penny Countertops

Through trial and error, this blogger discovered that DIY counters can be harder than they look. She shared her secrets to a successful project.

DIY Penny Countertop - Before and After

Ashley from Domestic Imperfection had her work work cut out for her when she decided to create a DIY penny countertop in her kitchen. What seemed like a straightforward project took a few unlikely turns, but she recovered and has an amazing DIY countertop to show for herself. Find out how she did it by reading her tutorial.


- Black paint
- Tarnish remover
- Pennies
- Cedar edging
- Epoxy


DIY penny countertops - remove laminate

First we de-laminated the countertop to make it easy to get to the nails to remove it… except that there was NO WAY that sucker was coming off. Turns out that installing this counter was one of the few things the builders of our house took the time to do right. New plan – make penny countertop while installed.


DIY penny countertop - paint

Then we painted the countertop black, since you were going to be able to see bits of it between the pennies.


DIY penny countertop - glue

We made sure our pennies were shined the way we wanted them. Then the gluing began. so.much.gluing. I know there is a bottle of wood glue next to me, but don’t be fooled, it doesn’t work. We used Gorilla Glue.


Here is where it gets messy. I wanted the pennies to wrap around the countertop and look all modern and awesome.  To do this we had to cut A LOT of pennies… it’s not easy to cut pennies by the way. Now for whatever reason, the pennies kept not lining up. We came to the conclusion that we couldn’t have the pennies wrap around the edge. It was a very sad moment. Not quite as sad, though, as the moment I realized that I had to pry all my carefully glued pennies off one by one.


DIY penny countertop - second try

So after about a week of working on it, we were back to an empty black countertop. We brainstormed about what kind of edge to use and ended up using cheap rustic cedar. After adding the edge (with about a 1/8 inch lip) we filled it with pennies. We didn’t use glue or anything, it was super easy. WHY OH WHY did we not just do this in the beginning?


DIY penny countertop - epoxy

Then it was time to epoxy. We just mixed according to instructions, poured, and spread with a putty knife. The epoxy was self-leveling, so we didn’t have to be too exact. We did get a ton of bubbles, so we went over it with the blow dryer to bring them to the surface. Whichever ones we didn’t get with the blow dryer I popped with a toothpick.

DIY Penny Countertop

Thanks for sharing, Ashley! For more helpful hints on troubleshooting your DIY penny project, check out her blog post. And don’t forget to visit Domestic Imperfection.

How To: Clean a Down Comforter

Forget dry cleaning—you can clean a down comforter at home, for free, without losing any fluff. Here's how.

How to Clean a Down Comforter


Just about every down comforter has a tag with care instructions that read, “Dry Clean Only.” But if you’re on a budget, or reluctant to expose your bedding to the harsh chemicals used in dry cleaning, or simply intent on avoiding yet another errand, there’s good news: You can clean a down comforter at home. It’s only possible, however, if you have a large-capacity front-loading washer. In a small machine, the considerable weight of a comforter can damage the appliance, while in a top-loader, the agitator can rip the fabric, causing feathers to spill out everywhere. But assuming that your washer is both large in size and front-loading in design, you can clean a down comforter by following these steps!

First things first, load the comforter into the washing machine. Next, add in a mild soap or, better yet, a soap specially formulated for down—yes, such things exists! Avoid using standard laundry detergent. What you’d normally use to clean your clothing would, if used on a down comforter, strip away the natural oils that are responsible for making the feathers so exceptionally light and delightfully fluffy.

How to Clean a Down Comforter - Bedding Detail


Set the washer to run with warm water on a delicate cycle. If there’s an extra rinse option, enable it. If there isn’t, that’s OK; you’ll simply need to run the comforter through a separate rinse cycle manually. No matter how you achieve it, the extra rinse is needed to remove soap residue from the down.

Immediately transfer the comforter to a high-capacity dryer. Set the dryer to operate on low heat, and toss in either dryer balls or clean white socks stuffed with tennis balls. Yet another option is to periodically remove the comforter from the dryer and give it a vigorous shake. All three methods perform the same important function, which is to prevent the down from clumping.

As the comforter dries, be sure to check on it every now and again, particularly at the beginning of the cycle. There is a danger of the comforter overheating, in which case the fabric could either melt or get burned. If you notice the comforter sticking to the interior walls of the dryer, stop the machine, remove the bedding, and hand-fluff it before continuing.

Keep the comforter in the dryer until it is bone-dry and the down has returned to being soft and fluffy. This may take several hours. Resist the temptation to take the comforter out of the dryer before it’s completely dry. Doing so would, at best, compromise the bedding’s insulating power and, at worst, encourage the growth of mold and mildew.

Want an easier cleaning routine? 
Keep the bedding covered, at virtually all times, with a duvet cover. Like a pillowcase for your down comforter, a comparatively easy-to-clean duvet protects the underlying bedding from stains. Every three or four months, remove the comforter from its duvet and hang it outside by means of clothespins. Save this chore for a dry, sunny, and preferably windy day. Once it’s hung, leave the duvet out until the sun sets. Cared for in this way, a down comforter may only need to be cleaned once every five or ten years!

Genius! Copper Pendant Light

Inspiration struck when this DIYer saw a pricey designer lamp. Here's how she made her own for a mere $50.

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Light

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention—but so is thriftiness. When a $2,000 light fixture was out of the question, Brynne from The Gathered Home created her own icosahedron (that’s 20 sides!) copper lamp for a price tag that was well within reach. 

It can take guts to tackle a geometric project when you’re not a math whiz; Brynne has called herself a fearful/fearless DIYer. When asked what allows her to work through her critical, perfectionist side to see a project through, she said, “A lot of research! I like to have my plans and expectations set before I dive into a project, so I spend a good chunk of time on the front end researching techniques and supplies online or running ideas past someone knowledgeable. Once I have a basic outline in my head of the steps I’ll take to complete the idea, I feel much less intimidated to gather up the supplies and get started!”

That diligence has paid off as she’s shared her DIYs on her website. “When I first started blogging, I really had no idea how inspiring and encouraging the online DIY community could be! I never imagined the support and friendship I would find among fellow bloggers and it’s truly one of the best parts of doing what I do.”

So now, we’re sharing one of her tutorials with you, too. Read on to see how she brought this incredibly sleek knock-off to life.

Inspiration Copper Pendant Lamp Knock Off


- 10″ IKEA Foto pendant light
- (2) 10’ 1/2” copper pipe
- 25’ copper wire, 2 packages
- Spray paint
- Tube cutter
- Measuring tape
- Marker
- Steel Wool, 0000 grade


DIY Copper Pipe Light Geometry

Math. To say it is not my strong suite would be an understatement. Truthfully, I had a little help with the geometry.

I began by tracing the base of my light fixture. I knew that I needed to fit the circle inside a pentagon, so we divided our circle into 5 sections with a protractor (72 degrees/section). In retrospect, once assembled, the entire icosahedron came out a little large for the IKEA pendant light, so I probably could have shaved the sides down to 7.25” or so.


DIY Copper Light - spray paint

The 10” IKEA Foto lights from come in silver, green, red and beige, but I wanted/needed black, so I taped around the wire and did a few coats of glossy black spray paint.


DIY Copper Light - Pipe Cutter

An icosahedron has 30 equilateral edges, so I needed to cut my copper pipe into thirty 7.5” pieces. A 10’ pipe will give you sixteen 7.5” pieces (plus 1/2” to 1” extra, I discovered, as they aren’t exactly 10 feet), which is why I needed to purchase two 10’ pieces. If a 10’ pipe is too long for you to safely transport home, and it very nearly was for me even in the bed of my truck, you could always cut the pipes in half at the 5’ mark before loading them into your vehicle, using a tube cutter.

DIY Copper Light - Measure

Although cutting all thirty pieces was a little tedious, this small copper pipe cutter worked just fine. First, I made dots at the 7.5” mark all around the diameter of the pipe with a marker. Then I lined the blade in the pipe cutter up with the marks, tightened it, and laid it on its back on a flat surface.


Once all 30 pieces were cut, I used some very fine 0000 grade steel wool to remove the red ink markings from the copper pipe. It worked like a charm—fresh, shiny, pure copper pieces ready for assembly.


DIY Copper Light - copper pieces

Assembly. This is the most detailed step, and the one for which I have the least amount of advice and helpful photos. I began with three copper pieces and as long a piece of copper wire as I could manage.

After I made one complete equilateral triangle, I kept adding triangles using one of the existing pieces as a side. While I wish I could be more informative, I’ll repeat that I do not have a geometrically inclined mind, so I had a hard time visualizing what exactly I was doing. I just kept in mind that each “point” of the icosahedron had five edges running into it, and the shape really did build itself.

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Light - wire

Before closing up the icosahedron entirely, I made sure to fit my light fixture inside. I didn’t do this at first, but you will want to run the wire for the light fixture through the center of one of the points of the icosahedron, and then close it up around it. I forgot to do this at first, so I had to open up one of the points after the fact and re-thread my wire.

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Light - desk

Thanks, Brynne! For more amazing DIY projects, like these Agate Slice and Copper Sconces, visit The Gathered Home.

5 Things to Do with… Matchboxes

Even with no matches left, a matchbox has at least one use left. Check out these five creative ideas for making these mementos actually useful again.

Before antismoking campaigns and the advent of disposable lighters, matchboxes and matchbooks were very common. They were everywhere. Today, matchboxes are, most of all, mementos—of that earlier era, maybe, or of a memorable dining experience. Rarely do they do anything more than sit idly within a box of keepsakes. But with the help of a few basic household supplies, you can make those matchboxes useful again. Scroll down now for five clever repurposing ideas!



Matchbox Crafts - Pinhole Camera


Believe it or not, you can make a pinhole camera out of a matchbox, and it’s relatively simple. This type of camera lacks a lens, instead capturing images quite naturally through a tiny—you guessed it—pinhole. To make your own, follow instruction at Matchbox Pinhole. (Yes, this technique has its very own Web site!)



Matchbox Crafts - Sewing Kit


Just the right size for travel, a matchbox can house everything you need for an emergency sewing kit. Seriously, you’d be surprised by how many sewing staples can fit inside something so small! For fixing wardrobe malfunctions on the go, or as a gift for a globe-trotting friend, these kits are handy and downright adorable.



Matchbox Crafts - Notepads


Super simple to craft, these little notepads are 99 percent creativity, 1 percent matchbook. Once you’ve removed the matches themselves, collect about 15 squares of thin paper, cutting them to fit. Staple the paper stack into the slot where the matches were, and you’ve got a mini pad for jotting down impromptu notes-to-self.



Matchbox Crafts - Flashlight


Even after the last match has been lit, the empty matchbook can muster a glow—as a DIY flashlight. First, pierce holes in the matchbook for two tiny LED lights you can buy at a home center. Next, fit the LED wires through the holes, connecting them to the 3-volt battery tucked inside. Instructables has the step-by-step.



Matchbox Crafts - Gift Boxes


For gifts of jewelry or folded currency, wrapped matchboxes are the perfect packaging. The key is to cut the wrapping paper slightly wider than the box, so the paper flaps can be glued down flat. Once you get the hang of it, why not wrap up an array of matchboxes to hang as decorations? Visit WikiHow for the tutorial.

Genius! Hamster Wheel Desk

You've heard of standing desks, but what about walking desks? Maybe this one-of-a-kind DIY desk is the piece that any office worker needs to lose that extra 5 pounds—all while answering email and meeting deadlines.

DIY Desk - Hamster wheel

There are DIY desks, and then there are D-I-Y desks. We learned that when we came across this so-called “hamster wheel standing desk” co-created by Autodesk’s Pier 9 Artist-in-Residence Robb Godshaw and Instructables developer Will Doenlen. It certainly looks like it’s fun to use—but why did they do it? We asked the makers to share.

As Will put it, “Standing desks are becoming more and more common in companies across the United States, but why stop there? We know that standing is better than sitting, but why not go the extra mile and make a desk you can walk on to keep active?”

But building the walk-able desk wasn’t a cake walk. “Cutting large curves from wood is difficult to do precisely,” said Robb. “Luckily, our employer has a world-class work shop on San Francisco’s Pier 9 that has advanced computer controlled cutting tools that made it quite trivial.”

In fact, Autodesk’s Pier 9 sounds like the place to be for the pro DIYer. According to Robb, “The facilities and tools here are only trumped by the incredible community of brilliant and generous makers of every kind” who “come together to make incredible things everyday.” We’re glad their creative ingenuity cooked up a project as cool as this one.

The desk looks truly amazing—but we had to ask. Does anyone actually get any mileage out of it? Will says yes, but admits that sometimes he’ll “switch to using a normal desk to rest when I get tired of walking.”

- (4) Sheets of ¾” Plywood
- (4) Skateboard wheels
- (2) Pipes
- 240 wood screws
- Pint of glue
- Waterjet cutter (or jigsaw)
- Table saw
- Chop saw
- Clamps


design - hamster wheel desk

First, design your wheel. Things that are made to fit people are subject to lots of careful consideration. Ergonomics and safety are very important to any furniture project.

We considered adding in brakes but decided against it in order to really force the productivity out of the desk user. In the end, we decided on a wheel 80″ in diameter that would be supported by a 24″ wide base that contained a set of four skateboard wheels on which the wheel would rest. This design allows fluid rotation without requiring an axle for the wheel.

We already had a standing desk that fit through the wheel, so it was just a matter of avoiding interference and leaving enough room for a human.

The wheel was designed using Autodesk Inventor over the course of a few hours. See the files here.


We used a waterjet cutter to cut the arcs from four sheets of plywood, but this project could certainly be completed with ordinary power tools.

The arc pieces are the hardest to make, as their precision is key to smooth operation of the wheel. A carefully measured string used as a compass could be used to draw the arcs on a piece of plywood, which could be cut with a jigsaw. A hand router with a template and a trim-bit would make duplication fairly straight forward.

However, we both work at Instructables HQ at Autodesk’s Pier 9, and have access to a large OMAX waterjet cutter. It’s a computer-controlled machine that uses a high pressure waterjet to cut through any material, as long as it is less than 6″ thick. Wood, any metal, glass, stone—any material into any shape. You might think it crazy to cut wood with water, but it saved us many hours and saved a lot of wood because we could nest the parts within 1/8″ of each other. Plus, the precision made for smooth rolling and perfect registration of the stacked pieces upon assembly.


Hamster standing desk - cutting

We used a table saw and chop saw to cut out the remaining slats of wood used to span the two rings of the wheel. There are 60-something slats in total. We used plywood because we had it on hand. 1″x6″ pine would work great and look better, but cost more.


Hamster Standing Desk - Rings

Lay out the rings. The wheel consists of two wheel rings with some 60-odd plywood slats between the rims.


Hamster Standing Desk - glue up

We then glued the layers of each ring together, staggering the two layers by 60° to maximize overlap and stability. Initial clamping was done with ¼”-20 cap screws and T-nuts, followed by about 20 clamps. Glue was wiggled out liberally, spread with a piece of paper, then clamped to kingdom come.

Pro tip: A sign of a good glue-up is squeeze-out, a small amount of glue emerging along the glue seam indicating complete dispersion of glue.


Hamster wheel standing desk - base

The base consists of two large, hot-dog shaped pieces of wood, each of which holds two skateboard wheels. The two plates are held together with 5/16″ threaded rods inside steel pipes to pull the plywood sides together. The length of the pipe is key, and had to be changed a few times. Too short and the wheel won’t spin, and too long and it wiggles too much.

The skateboard wheels were attached to the base using 5/16 cap screws with two fender washers and two locknuts. As shown in the image, the first locknut should be super-tight, and the second a bit loose to avoid damage to the wheel.


Hamster wheel standing desk - test

Once the base was assembled, we tested out the action of the rings on the base to ensure they spun freely and didn’t hit the pipes or catch on jagged edges.


hamster wheel standing desk - attaching

Satisfied that the rings could spin on the base, we then screwed the slats onto the wheel. This part was tricky—we had to redo it several times since we found the distance between the two rings of the wheel would creep upwards or downwards as we attached more and more slats. The solution was to screw in a couple of pioneer slats at strategic 90° intervals along the rings in order to maintain a fixed distance between the rings as we attached the slats.

It took five of us working together for several hours. We went through approximately 250 screws total, or about every screw we could find in the wood shop.

Did you like this project? Then check out some of Robb’s other work, like this set of steel clamps in the shape of the alphabet, or find even more pictures of this one right here.