Category: Other Rooms


Now You Need Only 1 Remote—Your Cell Phone

Rather than put up with the chaotic gaggle of remote controls on your coffee table, you can switch to using a single sleek device (hint: it's probably in your pocket right now)!

Blumoo Universal Remote

Photo: blumoo.com

Though a half dozen remote controls clutter your coffee table at any given time, doesn’t it always seem like the one you need is nowhere to be found? With a new smart home product, the Blumoo Universal Remote, you can once and for all eliminate the unsightly arsenal of clickers bringing down the look of your living room or den. The quietly revolutionary Blumoo and its companion app manage to pack the power of all your many different remotes into a single device—your smartphone. If you’re like me and always carry your phone all the time, you’ll never again need to go hunting in the sofa cushions; the remote is in your pocket!

Blumoo Universal Remote - Companion App

Photo: blumoo.com

It’s impressive technology. Although it doesn’t work for every television, stereo amplifier, and DVD player in the history of electronics, Blumoo recognizes an ever-expanding group of more than 200,000 models. Once you’ve downloaded the free Blumoo app, you can then begin to use your iPhone or Android mobile device to perform the most useful functions of your regular remotes—switching gear on and off, for instance, or turning the volume up and down—from up to 150 feet away. On the app, you can even scan local TV listings and take advantage of an option that enables you to create a single-screen custom remote for all your A/V equipment.

Blumoo Universal Remote - Device Close-up

Photo: blumoo.com

Another neat trick Blumoo can do: So long as you hook it up to your stereo system, you can stream music from your mobile device to your speakers. The necessary RCA cable comes with your purchase. Of course, Blumoo isn’t cheap, but if you’re sick and tired of traditional remote controls, it may be well worth the cost.

If any of your system components are not among the 200,000 currently supported, you can request that the model be added to the Blumoo database. According to Blumoo, additions are possible within a couple days. Also note that not every mobile device has Blumoo-compatible hardware and software. You need an iPhone 4S or newer; fifth-generation iPod Touch or newer; third-generation iPad or newer; or a device running version 4.0 (or later) of the Android operating system.

Purchase the Blumoo Home Theater Universal Remote Control, $129.99


Would You Buy a Mattress on the Internet?

The convenience and ease of ordering your next mattress online may mean farewell to the ritual of lying on a dozen different mattresses at three different showrooms.

Casper Mattress

Photo: casper.com

It would be an exaggeration to state that mattress shopping provokes as much stress as, say, losing your job or getting a divorce. But if you’ve ever replaced a mattress, you know how utterly confusing, inexplicably time-consuming, and overall unpleasant the process can be. Why does it have to be so hard?

Casper, a “sleep startup” less than one year old, seeks to do away with the many hassles involved with buying a mattress, simplifying the often trying process. The company’s methods are unusual: Unlike other manufacturers who offer a dizzying variety of options aimed at people with different budgets and sleeping preferences, Casper sells one model at an affordable price. Although the company does operate one showroom, in New York City, most customers make their purchase where mattresses have rarely been sold before: the Internet. Within days, your new mattress arrives at your door, compressed inside of a large box.

Photo: casper.com

The popular wisdom has always been to test a mattress before you buy it. If you don’t happen to live near the Casper showroom (most customers don’t), you can still test the mattress, and not just for a few minutes, but for up to 100 nights in the comfort of your own bedroom. If you decide—after one night, two weeks, or even three months—that you want something different after all, Casper refunds your money in full and sends a courier to retrieve the mattress. So, as the company says, “even if you insist on shopping around, why not try Casper while you do it?” It’s hard to disagree, even if you have doubts about buying a mattress this way.

Casper believes that once you try its made-in-the-U.S.A. mattress, you won’t want to bid it farewell. Extensive research and development went into the product, and its design has been carefully tweaked to be comfortable for the greatest possible number of people. While the support layer is made of medium-firm memory foam—the stuff that made Tempur-Pedic a household name—there’s also a soft and springy comfort layer on top, composed of premium, nonallergenic latex. Through this combination of layers, the mattress achieves a happy medium. It’s bouncy, but not too bouncy. It’s enveloping, but not at all smothering.

Photo: casper.com

Pricing is simple: the twin size is $500; full is $750; queen is $850; and king is $950. And because foam mattresses do not need a box spring, there are no surprise hidden costs. Plus, Casper offers a 10-year full replacement limited warranty that covers any product shortcomings resulting from normal wear.

For more information, visit Casper.


Why Isn’t the Dryer Drying?

Don't let a lengthy dry time get you down: Check out and tend to these five problem zones to remedy what might be slowing down your appliance, and your schedule.

Dryer Not Drying

Photo: shutterstock.com

Are you stumped by the fact that your dryer seems to take forever these days? If your clothes dryer needs more time to dry a load now than when you first purchased it, don’t jump to replace the home appliance just yet. There are several common reasons these machines become poky. First, take a peek at these five possible problem areas that could be messing with your dryer’s efficiency.

1. Check the lint filter.
The filter is the first line of defense against fabric lint, dust, and hair. Sure, you’ve heard this before, but you really do need to empty the dryer’s lint filter after every load. Some types of clothing—socks, especially—shed more than others. But no matter the load, getting into the habit of wiping the filter out after every wash and dry will put you ahead of the game.

Problematic Dryer

Photo: shutterstock.com

2. Inspect where the dryer vent exits the house.
When the dryer’s running, there should be a steady, unhindered stream of warm air passing through the vent exit. If you have mesh screening stretched across it, you’d do well to remove the mesh, which can catch lint and obstruct airflow. Instead, install a proper louvered door that opens only when the dryer’s running. You can purchase one at your local home center.

3. Clean the inner reaches of the vent.
If the lint filter and the exit of the vent are clear, you probably need to clean the inner reaches of the vent. This cleaning job isn’t that big a chore, especially if you use one of the widely available kits made for this express purpose. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends wiping the innards out at least once per year.

4. If possible, shorten the exit.
Keep in mind that the exit vent on your dryer should be as straight and as short as possible. If the air exiting the dryer has to be pushed too far or make its way around kinks or sags in the hose, drying times can significantly lengthen. That’s not only a nuisance, but it’s also a waste of energy (and money). If you can, consider moving your dryer to a position that allows for a shorter hose.

5. Tape all joints in the dryer vent.
Duct tape can and will melt when exposed to heat. And while screws and rivets usually make good fasteners, they’re sure to snag lint if they’re holding together joints in dryer vents—avoid using them.

An important word of caution: If you’re using one of those exit hoses that looks like a Slinky covered with vinyl, replace it. Now. Choose a foil-type hose or, even better, an aluminum flexible duct. A ridged, Slinky-like tube can more easily trap lint, and a buildup can lead to overheating. Since vynil is flammable, you could have a lot more to worry about than poky dryer.

While problems with exit vents aren’t the only factors that can cause your dryer to take forever, they’re by far the most common. Scope out these issues before you ring the repair folks, and you might just save yourself the price of an expensive service call.


DIY Pallet Desk

Transforming a stack of old pallets into a sturdy new desk takes effort but the results are worth repeating.

Bob Vila Thumbs Up - Wood Pallet Projects

DIY Pallet Desk - Completed Desk

Photo: fringefocus.com

What do you get when you mix a designer with a stack of pallets? A pallet desk, apparently. Rob Loukotka, artist/designer of Fringe Focus had acquired a bunch of pallets in his workshop and decided it was time to put them to use. But it wasn’t easy. He quickly learned that pallet wood has its limitations, but with his inventive work arounds and this stylish desk’s $0 price tag, we think this project deserves a big thumbs up. Read on to see how you could make your own!

MATERIALS
- Wood pallets
- Claw hammer
- Work gloves
- Crow bar (optional)
- Hack saw (optional)
- Jointer, planer, or table saw (choose one)
- Stain (optional)
- Wood glue
- Wood clamps
- 2x4s (for clamping)
- 1x4s (for trim)
- Miter saw
- Orbital sander
- 200-grit sandpaper
- Dust mask
- 4x4s
- Steel brackets
- Danish oil
- 0000 steel wool

STEP 1

DIY Pallet Desk - Ripping

Photo: fringefocus.com

Use a claw hammer and wedge it beneath the board. Slowly rock the hammer to peel the board up, but be careful not to snap the board (pallets are brittle). I suggest moving across the entire board, slowly lifting it up by fractions of an inch at different locations.

Many nails will be rusted or break—WEAR GLOVES. A crowbar helps for leverage, if you have one. If your pallet is particularly difficult, use a hack saw, jig saw, or whatever saw to detach the end points first! You lose about 1 inch on either end, but then you only have 3 nails to remove, instead of 9-10.

STEP 2

DIY Pallet Desk - QA

Photo: fringefocus.com

You’ll want to chuck out severely damaged boards. I found that half of my boards were very dark, and the other half were light (two different pallets). So I chose to lay out the most interesting looking boards in this stripe pattern. Yours could be a lot cleaner, I was aiming for a dirty look.

STEP 3

DIY Pallet Desk - Planning

Photo: fringefocus.com

Plan your desk size. I’m not gonna give exact dimensions here, because pallet furniture by nature is going to vary a lot. But I wanted a very deep and wide desk. I decided on an angled design, as that allows the edge facing me to be a tad longer. Even though the desk is 69″ wide, the edge facing me is around 76″ because it’s at an angle. This also gives a wild forced perspective look, as I’m using progressively skinnier boards as they approach the shallow side.

STEP 4

DIY Pallet Desk - Plane Boards

Photo: fringefocus.com

If you are lucky, your pallet boards will be exceptionally straight, blemish free, and without warps. I was not lucky. Many of the boards absolutely required jointing or planing so I could lay them flush to form a table top. But I do not own a jointer or a planer.

Solution? I ripped these boards on the table saw. Many boards I just ripped freehand or with the saw fence. It was NOT perfect, but it was much better than attempting to build a desk surface with warped boards. You could also use hand planes on the surface, but the risk of damage is high with so many hidden nails and staples in pallet stock.

STEP 5

DIY Pallet Desk - Stain Boards

Photo: fringefocus.com

Stain your pallet boards. Because I had half dark boardsand half light boards, I wanted to accentuate the contrast. I took all of my dark pallet wood, and applied a custom pickling stain to it. (To make your own custom pickling stain, click here for the recipe.)

STEP 6

DIY Pallet Desk - Glue

Photo: fringefocus.com

So it might be good to add joints & biscuits in your boards, but I just laid my pallet boards flush and glued them up. There’s a lot of surface area (and a lot of glue) so it worked. I clamped the wide boards in pairs, and I clamped the smaller boards in threes as seen above.

STEP 7

DIY Pallet Desk - Clamping

Photo: fringefocus.com

As I said, I chose very warped pallet boards. So without a planer I had to rely on some trickery to ensure a level table top I can actually work on. This was done by clamping (and gluing) several 2x4s on the underside of the desktop. The desk surface is flush with my workbench, but the underside has unevenness. Each 2×4 is secured with steel brackets on ANY board that was warping. Make sure you keep your clamps on until the glue is fully dry. Also, I put like 5 million screws through the 2x4s into the pallet boards for extra rigidity. Maybe overkill.

STEP 8

DIY Pallet Desk - Cutting to Size

Photo: fringefocus.com

Using the 2x4s as a guide, the desk top can be cut down to size. The ragged edges need to be cut flush. If you made a rectangular desk you could maybe skip this step, but since my desk has a 10 degree angle I had a lot to cut! If you have a large table saw, you could cut the entire desk top flush there. My saw and shop are simply too small, so using a handheld power saw (ideally circular saw) like a jig saw can work in a pinch.

STEP 9

DIY Pallet Desk - Border

Photo: fringefocus.com

Add a border to the desktop. I had some 1x4s leftover from another project, and stained them dark brown for this desk. I used a miter saw to cut the 1x4s at the appropriate angles, and wrapped this 1×4 edge around the entire perimeter of the desktop. Basically 4 boards (each a different length). 45 degree miters on the back (straight) edge, with different angles for the front edge. Glue up the 1x4s (or whatever edge you like), and clamp like crazy.

STEP 10
Sand the pallet desk top. I used an orbital sander with roughly 200 grit sandpaper on the entire surface of the desk. Pallet wood dust can be dangerous, so wear a mask and vacuum up all the dust.

STEP 11

DIY Pallet Desk - Adding Legs

Photo: fringefocus.com

Add legs to the desk!  had some 4x4s laying around, so that informed my leg choices. You could easily use steel rods, or 2x4s, or even traditional lathed legs. But I used a 4×4 in each corner, with steel brackets securing it to both the 2×4 support beams AND the 1×4 edge beams. The 4x4s are placed directly under the 2×4 supports, to ensure the weight is distributed across the whole surface. Don’t just plop your legs under the thin pallet wood. For stability, I cut 45 degree angles with the miter saw on some 4×4 braces. These braces are secured with 2″ screws.

STEP 12

DIY Pallet Desk - Finished Top

Photo: fringefocus.com

For finishing woodworking projects, I use Danish oil for most surfaces. I mix the Danish oil myself. (You can find the recipe for Danish oil here.) I added a final layer of brush-on (oil based) polyurethane a day after the Danish oil had dried. I applied a glossy polyurethane to the pallet desk top and edges, but NOT the legs, to give some contrast. Depending on your desired finish (and quality of your wood) you can sand the desk with 0000 steel wool between coats, or 320 grit sandpaper for the polyurethane. Let the poly cure for at least a day before use.

Thanks, Rob! To check out some of the art and design he’s crafting at his pallet desk, or to see more DIYs, visit Fringe Focus.


DIY Pallet Bed

See how one blogger, in only a few simple steps, turned unassuming scrap wood into a handsome DIY pallet bed that demands attention.

Bob Vila Thumbs up - Wood Pellet Projects

DIY Pallet Bed - Before and After

Photo: ashleyannphotography.com

Ah, the humble pallet. You often see them on roadside curbs or lying by dumpsters in back alleys. And while they tempt many a DIYer to salvage and repurpose them, your first impulse might not be to lay your head there. Fortunately for Ashley Ann, though, she’s lucky enough to have a friend who works at a packing company and was willing to make these pallets from sturdy, untreated boards. And once she had the pallets, a DIY day bed for the nursery was only a few simple steps away. Here’s how she created this fantastic project.

MATERIALS
- Untreated wood pallets
- Palm sander
- Sandpaper (80-grit and 200-grit)
- 5 large caster wheels
- 4 hinges
- Thick foam

STEP 1

DIY Pallet Bed - Sanding

Photo: ashleyannphotography.com

Sand the pallets good and smooth.

STEP 2
Bolt the two together on the tops and bottoms.

STEP 3
Add caster wheels to all 4 corners and one in the very center (for extra strength). The wheels on mine are locked, except for the center one.

STEP 4

DIY Pallet Bed - Finished

Photo: ashleyannphotography.com

I used an old door to sit behind it – just because I liked how it looked. Simple enough.

Thanks, Ashley Ann! To read more of her incredible DIYs or to check out her photography, visit Ashley Ann Photography.


How To: Clean a Dryer

By adding only 30 seconds onto your laundry routine—and performing a deeper clean four times a year—you can keep your dryer in tip-top condition.

How to Clean a Dryer

Photo: shutterstock.com

Sorting, loading, folding—doing laundry is a tiring chore not only for you, but also for your appliances. What drags down the dryer, in particular, are the bits of fluff and fuzz that sometimes interfere with component parts. Allowing too much lint to accumulate can result in malfunctions or less-than-ideal energy efficiency. To avoid problems—and to pay no than is strictly necessary to run the machine—clean the dryer regularly. Hey, it only takes about 30 seconds! Here’s what to know.

After Every Load
After each use of the dryer, remember to unclog its lint screen. This detachable piece is usually located along the rim of the door (consult the manual for its location on your specific model). Once you’ve removed the screen, gently scrape away the material that’s collected there. On occasion, especially if you’re in the habit of using dryer sheets, it may be wise to actually wash the screen with soap, water, and a scrub brush. Replace the screen once it’s good to go. Why is this so important? Maintaining a clean trap dramatically reduces the risk of lint finding its way into parts of the machine where it’s not supposed to be.

How To Clean a Dryer - Open Appliance

Photo: shutterstock.com

Once Every Three Months
Your dryer needs a deep cleaning about four times a year. All it takes is a vacuum, all-purpose cleaner, and a microfiber cloth. So as the seasons change, make a point to spend 30 minutes providing a little TLC to a machine that you count on and hope will last for years and years:

1. Unplug the dryer, then remove the exhaust hose from the back of the machine. You can expect the tube to full of lint and debris. Use your hands to clear out as much as possible. For the rest, rely on a bent metal clothes hanger. Finally, follow up with a vacuum to suck out the leftover dust.

2. Before you reattach the exhaust hose, unscrew and remove the back panel of the dryer. Vacuum up any lint you discover within the machine, particularly in the part that connects to the exhaust vent. Your best bet here is the small nozzle vacuum attachment, as it can reach into the crevices.

3. Clean the lint catcher more thoroughly than usual. First, remove the screen, then vacuum its housing. If possible, proceed to unscrew the housing, lift it out, and vacuum the space beneath it.

4. Vacuum inside the dryer drum to remove any lingering dust bunnies. Next, wipe down the drum, along with the door rim, using an all-purpose cleaner along with a clean microfiber cloth.

5. Replace the lint trap, the back panel, and the exhaust hose. Having completely reassembled the dryer, feel free to plug it back in and give it a test run. Your clean dryer should now run more efficiently, dry your clothes more quickly, and leave them fresher!


Bob Vila Radio: Installing a Laundry Chute

By installing a laundry chute, you can harness the power of gravity to make one of life's dreaded chores much less strenuous.

Tired of lugging laundry down the basement stairs? Maybe you should consider installing a laundry chute. Kits are available at home centers, or you can build the chute yourself.

Installing a Laundry Chute

Photo: shutterstock.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 INSTALLING A LAUNDRY CHUTE or read the text below:

To construct the chase—the passage through which you drop clothes to the basement—you have several options for materials: a galvanized heating duct, wood, drywall or melamine. Chutes work best when the chase is larger, say 1 by 2 feet. And make sure any joints are smooth, so clothing articles like socks do not snag on the way down.

Location is key. You’ll need to find a stud bay with unobstructed access to the basement—that is, no electrical wiring, no plumbing. Hallways are often a good bet, especially if their walls run parallel to underlying floor joists.

Use a stud finder to locate two adjacent studs, then cut a small hole in the wall to check for obstructions. If the bay is clear, use a reciprocating saw to cut an opening for the bottom of the chute, downstairs. Once you’ve double-checked that there are no obstructions upstairs, create the hole for the top of the chute.

Upstairs you’ll also need to remove the base plate between the two studs and cut a hole through the plywood flooring to make room for the chute. Assemble the chute, fit it into the bay, then finish up by trimming out the upstairs end of the chute and installing a door.

Before you start the job, be sure to check local building codes.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Genius! DIY Murphy Bed

DIY Murphy Bed - Open

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

There’s something kind of fascinating about the Murphy bed. Is it a bed? Is it a closet? And just how do you manage to get that hefty mattress so tidily tucked away and out of sight? Yes, the Murphy bed is pretty cool, enabling you to convert a home office or craft area into a mini hotel room. Best of all, you can reclaim the room for your own purposes as soon as your guest leaves. Genius.

So when we saw this DIY murphy bed by Brooke at Creative Decor by Brooke, we had to know more. Here’s what she had to say about the project.

“We just worked on it in our garage, because we don’t have a wood shop. It took us approximately eight hours to build, and then I painted it and that took about three hours.” If that sounds do-able to you (this is not necessarily a beginner project), Brooke recommends that you remember, “the most important thing in making a Murphy bed is the mechanism…. I would search online and find the mechanism you want, then it will have instructions on making the bed to the right size.”

If you’re not quite ready to build your own DIY murphy bed, follow Brooke’s advice. “I started off small with a drill and scroll saw… and advanced to table saw and router, as I got more courage and wanted to try making bigger things.” If you want to increase your skills, “start small and master one tool at a time,” she says.

Take a lesson from Brooke and remember: safety first! “I drilled through my hand one day…. I was holding a piece of wood in my hand and drilling…. The drill hit a soft spot in the wood and zipped right through, and because I was holding it, my hand was next.” She was fine, luckily, but adds, “Just learn from your mistakes and be safe.” Truer words were never spoken.

Take a look at Brooke’s simply genius DIY Murphy bed. Who knows, maybe it will inspire your next project!

DIY Murphy Bed - Opening

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

MATERIALS
- Spring mechanism
- Wood (to measurements)
- Crown molding
- Cabinet hardware
- Paint and primer
- Paintbrush
- Mattress

STEP 1
This is where it all started. We purchased the mechanism for the Murphy bed and with it came instructions on making it and the wood we needed to purchase.

DIY Murphy Bed - Frame

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

STEP 2
Screw together the wood pieces according to your measurements.

DIY Murphy Bed - Process

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

STEP 3
So when the bed is up in the cabinet, the front is supposed to look like an armoire. You can have cabinet doors made, but that is expensive, so I decided we could make fake doors and drawers with just some trim and fake drawer fronts. Use crown molding along the top of the Murphy bed to create the look of cabinet doors. Put handles and knobs on them, and they look real.

DIY Murphy Bed - Pre-Paint

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

STEP 4
I then started the yucky job of painting. I hate to paint. I decided black was the color.

DIY Murphy Bed - Painting

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

STEP 5
Do a little sanding around the trim (I mean doors) and crown molding.

STEP 6
Then I put two coats of polyurethane in satin finish. It recommends three coats on the can, but I had had enough!

DIY Murphy Bed - Polyurethane

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

STEP 7
“Where is the mattress?” you ask. Well, we had to order it, because it is a full/double size, and the store we went to didn’t stock them because they aren’t that popular. I do love how it looks in the room, and it will be great for an extra bed when needed.

DIY Murphy Bed - Complete

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

 Thanks, Brooke! If you loved this post, check out her site for even more inventive DIY projects.


How To: Clean Pillows

When was the last time you washed your pillows? If you don't remember, then it's probably well past time to do so.

How to Clean Pillows

Photo: shutterstock.com

Whether tucked under our heads while sleeping or behind our backs while lounging in the living room, pillows are an often used, seldom truly appreciated hallmark of the civilized world. Perhaps it’s because we take them for granted that we tend not to clean pillows as often as we should. Or perhaps people don’t clean pillows for a simpler reason: They didn’t know they could. In any case, consider the mystery solved. You can indeed clean pillows, and here’s how it’s done.

Bed Pillows
Check their care labels, of course, but most pillows today can be machine-washed and dried, no matter what they’re stuffed with. Try to clean two pillows simultaneously, because a lone pillow gets thrown around so much in the process that its filling can come out distorted. Once you’ve loaded the washer with a pair, set the machine to run on a hot-water cycle. Add the normal amount of detergent, opting for liquid rather than powder, because the latter can leave a residue. Run two complete rinse cycles to fully rid the pillows of soap, then immediately move them to the dryer. Synthetic-filled pillows should dry on the machine’s lowest setting, while down- or feather-filled pillows are best dried on the air or fluff cycle. Before closing the dryer door, throw in two new tennis balls, each tied off within a white sock (a precaution meant to keep the balls’ neon dye from transferring to the pillows). The balls bounce around in the drum and help restore full pillow fluff.

How to Clean Sofa Pillows

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Pillows yellowed from sweat need a little more TLC. In the washing stage, start by filling the machine a third of the way with hot (even boiling water), then add in one cup of powdered laundry detergent, one cup of powdered dishwasher detergent, and a half-cup of borax. Finally, add a full cup of bleach into its designated compartment, before starting the machine and letting it run for a few minutes to agitate and dissolve the detergents. Now put in the your pillows—again, clean two simultaneously for best results—and run the washer on its hottest water setting. Go through two complete rinse cycles before moving the pillows to the dryer (and again, for maximum fluff, include two tennis balls knotted inside white socks).

Decorative Pillows
Many decorative pillows have zippers that allow for the case to be separated from the cushion. In these instances, simply remove the case and wash according to the care directions on the label. If you’d like to clean a throw pillow whose cover doesn’t come off, first consider the fabric it’s made of. Don’t know? Check the label; it should say whether it’s velvet, silk, linen, cotton or a synthetic. Generally speaking, velvet, silk, and upholstery materials—or any pillow with heavy braiding or trim—must be professionally dry-cleaned.

If your throw pillow cover is made of thinner cotton, linen, or a synthetic fabric, you can use a mild upholstery shampoo. But first, lightly rub a damp sponge over an inconspicuous spot on the pillow to test how colorfast the fabric is. If the color leaks, have the pillow dry-cleaned. If not, proceed to whip the upholstery shampoo into a froth, then use the same damp sponge to rub suds over the entire pillow. With a white towel, pat away excess foam, before giving the pillow plenty of time to completely air dry.


How To: Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

When you use homemade laundry detergent, you have complete control over the ingredients and save money with every single load.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Photo: shutterstock.com

Two primary advantages recommend homemade laundry detergent. First, mixing your own costs very little in comparison to purchasing a container at the pharmacy or grocery store. Second, homemade laundry detergent gives you complete control over the ingredients doing the dirty work. For some, particularly those with allergies or sensitive skin, the chemicals in commercial products make them a non-starter. But no matter why you want to create your own, the process is actually easier than you might have expected. In fact, only three ingredients are necessary (four, if you wish to make a scented batch). Read on to learn how it’s done.

What you’ll need:
- Pure borax
- Washing soda (otherwise known as sodium carbonate or soda ash)
- Unscented bar soap
- Essential oils like lavender or tea tree oil (optional)

How you combine these ingredients determines what form the detergent takes—powdered or liquid.

Homemade Laundry Detergent - Grating

Photo: shutterstock.com

Powdered
First, grate the unscented bar soap into flakes. (If you have sensitive skin, test the soap on your wrist first to see if it causes any irritation.) Next, mix one part grated soap with two parts sodium carbonate and two parts pure borax, the latter of which kills mold and mildew. For a fresh scent, add a few drops of essential oil to the powder. Any oil should be fine; choose the one whose scent you like the best. Finally, put the detergent into an airtight container, keeping it there until you need it next. When it comes time to do laundry, use about 1/8 cup of detergent (or 1/4 cup, if the clothes are very dirty) for each load.

Liquid
Grate a full bar of unscented soap, then dump the shavings into a large saucepan along with two quarts of water. Heat on low and stir until the soap has dissolved into a smooth, thick liquid (do not bring to a boil). Meanwhile, add a box of borax and a box of washing soda into a bucket filled with four and a half gallons of warm water. Once the soap has dissolved in the saucepan, pour the solution into the bucket. Mix well. If you want, put in several drops of your favorite essential oil, then leave the detergent to settle overnight. When it’s time to do laundry, shake up the detergent before adding 1/2 or one cup to the washing machine.

Congratulations, you’ve done it! Now to extend the shelf life of the generous batch you’ve just made, remember to store the homemade laundry detergent in an airtight container. Keep it safely out of reach of children and pets, because although the ingredients are natural, they still may be harmful if swallowed.