How Long Does it Take to Become a Successful Real Estate Investor?

Real estate investing can be an amazing way to build wealth. While it offers many opportunities and can make people a lot of money it can take some time. I have been investing in real estate for almost 20 years and success did not come overnight. It took years for me to find my niche … Read more


How To Green Clean Like A Professional: 10 Expert Tips You Must Try

Words like sustainable, eco-friendly and green get thrown around a lot these days and you’ve probably heard the term green cleaning. Green cleaning simply means using products that are not only safe for you but also safe for the environment and don’t emit any pollutants when used.

To learn how to green clean like a professional, follow these 10 helpful tips that will not only change how you clean but will get your apartment looking spick and span in no time.

1. Become best friends with baking soda Baking soda in a jar. Baking soda in a jar.

Bicarbonate of soda, well known as baking soda, is a must-have for anyone looking to green clean their apartment. Great for neutralizing odors and deep cleaning, baking soda is extremely versatile as a cleaning aid. Here’s how to green clean like a professional with baking soda:

  • Carpets and rugs: Sprinkle baking soda on your carpets and let it sit for 15-20 minutes! The baking soda will fight odor and absorb any moisturize — revitalizing your carpet.
  • Garbage can: If your garbage can is giving off an unpleasant odor or you’re really going after a deep clean in your apartment, sprinkle a tablespoon of baking soda into your trash can (before you put a new trash bag in it) or directly into the trash bag itself.
  • Mattresses: If a pet or a child has an accident in bed, baking soda is an easy remedy to help dry and deodorize your mattress. First, remove sheets from the bed and soak up any wetness on the mattress. Liberally add baking soda to the impacted area and let it sit for 90 minutes. Afterward, just vacuum up the baking soda!
  • Pots and pans: Get rid of unwanted burnt food and grime with baking soda! Just fill your problematic pot or pan with water and some baking soda and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

2. Naturally remove mold

Sponge removing mold and grease.

Sponge removing mold and grease.

Kill mold the natural way (and avoid whipping out the chlorine bleach). Mix a little soap and water to scrub away any mold or grime. Need a little more help besides elbow grease? Make a no-fail solution with 2 teaspoons tea tree oil and 2 cups of water. Tea tree is a natural fungicide and this particular solution will get rid of mold and any mildew!

3. Stains, be gone!

Cleaning up stains.

Cleaning up stains.

If you want to green clean your carpet or rugs, these easy hacks will help you remove blotches, dirt and residue. For a spill that just happened, splash soda water directly onto the spill and gingerly blot with a towel (opt for a real towel, instead of a paper towel).

Need to clean up a stain that has already set into the surface? Pour hydrogen peroxide on a clean cloth and press directly into the stain. Saturate the stain with the hydrogen peroxide and then let the spot sit for about 15 minutes. Blot with another clean cloth. Repeat as necessary!

4. Recycle and reuse old clothes and towels

Old linens being used as rags.

Old linens being used as rags.

If you’re looking to make an impact with your green cleaning, consider no longer using paper towels. Every day, over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste occurs in the U.S. and on average, Americans use around 13 billion (yes, billion) pounds of paper towels each year.

Go through old clothes — especially T-shirts — and cut them to your desired towel size. Instead of using paper towels, opt for these clothing scraps to help wipe up spills.

Not ready to give up paper towels completely? Swap to 100-percent-recycled paper towels instead!

5. Get zesty

Lemons being used as a household cleaner.

Lemons being used as a household cleaner.

Lemons are a key ingredient when learning how to green clean. Antibacterial and antiseptic, this zesty fruit works overtime. Here’s how to green clean like a pro with this citrus fruit.

  • Counters: Spray lemon juice onto your countertops for a natural disinfectant. The citric acid will help fight tough stains and lift any dirt and grime!
  • Cutting boards: To keep any wooden cutting board in tip-top shape, sprinkle salt on your board and use half of a cut lemon to scrub the salt and surface of the board. Voila! Good as new.
  • Dishwasher: Cut up lemon wedges or fill a dishwasher-safe container with a cup or two of lemon juice. Load your dishwasher as normal, but know the lemon will work overtime on your plates and glasses!
  • Drain: Cut up lemon wedges or lemon rinds and run them through your garbage disposal — this will deodorize your drain and get rid of any lingering scents!
  • Furniture: Mix two parts olive oil and one part lemon juice together to make your own DIY furniture polish! Apply this sparkling polish to wood tables and chairs.
  • Grout: Let the acidity from a lemon restore grout — just spray lemon juice on the affected area and let it seep in for 15 minutes!
  • Microwave: Bring a microwave-safe bowl of water and lemon juice to boil in your microwave. Let the steam from the citrus-infused water coat the microwave for a few minutes and then wipe down the walls and the plate of your microwave to remove any food residue or caked-on gunk!
  • Oven: Rid your oven of buildup by mixing together water and lemon juice in an oven-safe baking dish. Set your oven to 250 degrees for about 35 minutes and then let your oven cool. Take a sponge or cloth and wipe any remaining interior grime and food build up!
  • Pans: Remove grease easily with the help of lemon! Just add a tablespoon of lemon juice to soapy dishwater.
  • Refrigerator: Smell something off in your fridge? Cut a lemon in half and leave it in your fridge for about an hour! The lemon will absorb any icky smells.
  • Windows, mirrors and doors: Mix lemon juice and water together in a spray bottle and spray these areas of the house liberally for a streak-free sparkle!

6. Stock up on white distilled vinegar Vinegar in bottles for household cleaning.Vinegar in bottles for household cleaning.

Similar to lemons, vinegar is one of the most popular household items that can help you green clean. When we talk about using vinegar, white distilled vinegar is the vinegar of choice. If you’re hoping to learn how to green clean with vinegar, try these helpful tips:

  • Bathtub: Get rid of bathtub film by wiping the ring around your tub with vinegar and baking soda.
  • Blinds: Keep your window blinds in top shape by mixing a cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda with 3 cups of warm water. Soak your sponge or cloth in this mixture and then wipe the solution over your blinds.
  • Coffee maker: If you have an automatic coffee maker, get it squeaky clean and ready to brew a perfect cup of coffee by cleaning it with vinegar. Fill the water reservoir with vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse your coffee pot out thoroughly before your next use!
  • Laundry: Adding vinegar into your laundry can help remove stains (like deodorant), freshen up clothes and keep colors vibrant and strong.
  • Refrigerator: Wipe down the interior and exterior of your fridge with equal parts vinegar and water!
  • Shower: Wipe down your shower door and walls with a vinegar-soaked sponge to remove residue.
  • Stainless steel appliances: If you want to remove fingerprints or smudges on stainless steel appliances in your kitchen or home, simply apply a small amount of vinegar to the surface of the appliance and wipe it with a soft cloth.
  • Toilet: Add two to three cups of vinegar into your toilet bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes before flushing — this is an easy toilet deodorizer. Additionally, if you have stubborn stains, pour in the vinegar and use your toilet bowl scrubber to vigorously scrub away any scum.
  • Windows: Mix equal parts vinegar and warm water and then either spray your mix onto the window or pour some onto a soft cloth and rub away any film, streaks or dirt.

7. Boil a simmer pot

Woman making a simmer pot on the stove and stirring it.

Woman making a simmer pot on the stove and stirring it.

If you live for the smell of clean (you know, the scent that only really comes from cleaning products) — try a green alternative and create a simmer pot. Simmer pots, also known as stove top potpourri, naturally enhance your apartment’s aroma.

First off, simply bring a pot of water and your chosen simmer pot ingredients to a boil on your stove. Then reduce heat to a low simmer and enjoy the scented water wafting through your kitchen and home. Try some of these popular simmer pot ingredients as you learn how to green clean your apartment:

  • Apples
  • Bay leaves
  • Berries
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Cloves
  • Cranberries
  • Eucalyptus
  • Ginger
  • Lemon slices or peels
  • Lime slices or peels
  • Mint leaves
  • Nutmeg
  • Orange slices or peels
  • Pine needles
  • Rosemary
  • Star anise
  • Vanilla

8. Leave artificial fragrances and dyes out of your laundry

Fresh laundry being carried away

Fresh laundry being carried away

“When it comes to cleaning your clothes, always opt for a home laundry detergent that doesn’t include artificial fragrances and dyes,” says Mike Bleier, owner of The Green Cleaner. “At my home, I really like Seventh Generation Free & Clear. For your dry cleaning and delicates, make sure you find a truly green dry cleaner that offers 100 percent wet-cleaning as an option — it’s the most environmentally sustainable choice out there.”

9. Praise and prune your plants

Woman wiping down a plant.

Woman wiping down a plant.

Since plants do an excellent job at naturally purifying the air in your apartment, it’s critical to keep them happy! To ensure your houseplants stay strong and useful for many moons to come — follow these easy steps as you learn how to green clean your houseplants.

  • Prune your flora: Cut away any dead stems or leaves
  • Dust regularly: Wipe down the leaves of your plants with a soft cloth and remove any debris or dirt
  • Carefully spray the leaves: Mix water with a drop or two of non-toxic eco-friendly dish soap and gently spray it on your plant leaves. This will easily eliminate grease and dirt build-up. Make sure to wipe the leaves dry so soap residue doesn’t form.

10. Toss toxins

Toxins being tossed out of a cleaning drawer.

Toxins being tossed out of a cleaning drawer.

With these new green cleaning hacks in mind, now is a perfect time to head to your cleaning cabinet to remove any products that are toxic, not biodegradable or dangerous to the environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), products that include ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorous chemicals are hazardous to the environment, so plan to toss those, too.

Once you clear out your cleaning cabinet and you’re ready to stock it back up. Plan to purchase green cleaning products that are non-toxic, biodegradable and made from renewable resources (not petroleum).

Additionally, to ensure your new products fall into the green cleaning category, look for the following three things:

  • Green Seal: The original green cleaning certification (established in 1989)
  • Safer Choice: An EPA certification that ensures the product “contains only the safest possible ingredients”
  • Ecologo: A certification issued by Underwriters Laboratories, which is a leader in developing safety standards

Lastly, check out the Environmental Working Group. This nonprofit offers a comprehensive guide to healthy and green cleaning with over 2,000 featured products.

Learning how to green clean is worth it

While turning away from traditional cleaners like bleach and antibacterial sprays may seem difficult at first, once you learn the fundamentals of green cleaning — it’s easy to tackle household chores and cleaning responsibilities in a sustainable, more natural way.




The Future of Homebuying: Questions to Ask in a Post-Coronavirus World

For almost all of the spring homebuying season, the real estate world has been rocked by ever changing guidelines and procedures due to COVID-19. As some states deemed real estate non-essential and federal guidelines tightened, buyers are experiencing a new landscape in real estate. As Americans slowly transition to the new normal, buying a home in a future that’s post-coronavirus may look a little different. Knowing what changes have occurred during COVID-19, as well as what questions to ask, is going a vital part of navigating the real estate world in the future.

gay couple buying a home gay couple buying a home

How Can I Tour the Property I Want?

One of the most obvious– and fastest– changes during the pandemic crisis was how buyers could safely enter the homes for sale. In most cases, this has been an individual brokerage decision, as well catering to the comfort level of sellers. However, there have been some general guidelines in place, as well as new alternative options, that allow buyers to continue their home search.

  • Masks worn by all individuals viewing the home
  • Requests for individuals that have travelled out-of-state to refrain from viewing in person
  • Shoe “booties” provided to buyers as they tour the property
  • Online virtual tours, like those available on, which allow buyers to view the property from the comfort of their own home
  • 360 degree walking tours
  • Zoom tours with a Realtor. Many agents are offering this service to reduce the number of individuals in a property while also allowing people to view the home

In a world post-coronavirus, or at least, post the social distancing guidelines, these safety recommendations may still be in the future of homebuying and selling. People will likely want to stay protected from outside germs, so having extra precautions in place will be around longer than you might think.

Read: How to Buy a Home During the COVID-19 Crisis

Read: What You Need to Know About Virtual Open Houses in the COVID-19 Era

Is My Down Payment Assistance Program Still Available?

Many first time homebuyers have relied on down payment assistance programs to purchase a home without having to pay 20% down; however, once COVID-19 hit and unemployment increased, many of the programs were suspended. It is important to note that not all down payment assistance programs were suspended and in the near future as guidelines loosen, many programs, if not all, will resume. If you as a buyer are relying on a DPA program to purchase your home in a post-pandemic world, it’s important to ask the following questions:

  • Will I still get a rate lock on my interest rate?
  • How will this impact the homebuyer education course that may be required?
  • Will there be a delay in processing my loan?
  • How often will I have to submit employment verification?
  • Has the credit score requirement changed?

Am I Still Approved For My Loan?

Since COVID-19, many lenders have tightened the requirements on loans. For many, they have increased down payment requirements and credit score requirements. In addition, many lenders are doing more employment verification checks throughout the loan process. Buyers may experience a delay in loan approval as processing times have increased, and as we continue to see the requirements loosen up in a post-coronavirus world, loan officers might become busier than before. These are some things to keep in mind about loan approval post-COVID-19 to prevent your approval from being dragged out longer than you want. Ask your broker these questions:

  • What do you need to verify my employment?
  • Is there a new minimum credit score requirement?
  • Will I be able to put less than 20% down? If not, what are my options?

How Will The Closing Process Work?

As attorneys and title companies work to close transactions during COVID-19, many are taking extra precautions to effectively protect themselves, and the public, while still conducting business. Each title company and attorney may have varying precautions, and many are even offering alternative closing options. It’s likely that as we continue to move forward with loosening up the restrictions of social distancing, many of these companies will be continuing to exercise precautionary steps. Here are some options you may be seeing come with us in the future:

  • Curbside closings to offer minimal contact
  • Electronic wire funding providing a touch-free funding option
  • Personal protective equipment required at in-person closings such as masks and gloves

What If I Was In The Process Of Buying But I’m Furloughed?

An unfortunate effect of COVID-19 is that many previously qualified buyers were furloughed or laid off due to no fault of their own. Unfortunately, while lenders may sympathize with the situation, most will not approve a home loan to an unpaid furloughed employee. Since this is uncharted territory even for lenders, requirements may differ. It’s important to ask the right questions if you’re currently furloughed, or expect to be out of work in the future, but are still wanting to buy a home:

  • How will my furlough affect my loan approval?
  • Will my time of employment have to start all over again once I’m not furloughed?

As we all adjust to a new normal, even in real estate, what has been business-as-usual may look differently. Buyers may experience more delays and hurdles in the process, but it is still possible to buy a home during and post-COVID-19. To begin your home search, download the free app or search online!

Jennifer is an accidental house flipper turned Realtor and real estate investor. She is the voice behind the blog, Bachelorette Pad Flip. Over five years, Jennifer paid off $70,000 in student loan debt through real estate investing. She’s passionate about the power of real estate. She’s also passionate about southern cooking, good architecture, and thrift store treasure hunting. She calls Northwest Arkansas home with her cat Smokey, but she has a deep love affair with South Florida.


When Should I Turn My Heat On in My Apartment?

Put on a sweater. Take off a sweater. One person’s “I’m too hot” is another person’s “Turn up the freaking heat.”

When it’s 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside, coming indoors to a 75-degree apartment feels great. But in winter, forget about it — 75 degrees can feel like a sauna. Some of that has to do with relativity (just in comparison to the outdoor temp), some with your own body’s sensitivity and some with humidity (less moisture means the air feels cooler, so 65 degrees feels hotter in summer than it does in winter).

And of course, if finances are on your mind, you know that putting on the heat means an increase in your utility bill. Your heating system makes up about 29 percent of your bill.

There’s a lot to weigh before you decide when you should turn your heat on.

When to crank up the heat

Once you get out of bed and your feet hit the cold floor and you need an extra layer of clothing just to wander around your place, you know it’s time to turn on the heat. That magic moment is different for everyone.

But you might also want to consider energy and utility costs as you figure out when to turn on the heat and how hot to make it.



What is the best temperature to set your heat?

Basically, you want to be like Goldilocks, not too hot, not too cold. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommended thermostat settings for us humans are usually between 68.5 and 75 degrees in winter and 75 to 80.5 degrees in summer.

Older folks often like it warmer and need to keep it warmer indoors to remain healthy, according to the National Institute on Aging. Those over 65 can lose body heat faster, and other changes in the body can make it difficult to be aware of getting cold. Just being in a very cold house can lead to hypothermia.

In addition, regardless of age, even if you like it warm during the day, it’s better to cool things down while you’re sleeping. The best temp for a good night’s sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees. Our body temps naturally warm up in the late afternoon and decline at about 5 a.m. As your body’s temperature drops, it signals to the brain that it’s time for sleep. A cool room can encourage that.

While you’re sleeping, you can also save money. Simply turning your thermostat back from its normal setting by 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours a day means you can save about 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills. says that you can save energy in the winter by “setting the thermostat to 68 degrees while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home.”

And clears up this common misconception: Your furnace works harder to warm a space up after it’s been lowered. Not true. “During winter, the lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss. So, the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save because your house has lost less energy than it would have at the higher temperature.”

What to do before turning on the heat for the first time?

You know how you feel after vacation, rested and a bit logy. If your heating system, which has been idle for months, could talk it would likely say, “I feel you.”

Be kind and set up your system for success by cleaning up around the furnace. Make sure to brush away leaves and other debris that might be around the furnace vents on the outside of the house.

Inside, there are some DIY projects to make sure your furnace is in good condition, such as changing the filter, making sure the exhaust flue is clear, flushing out drain lines and examining the ductwork.

Change the air filters

This will not only make your system run more efficiently it will keep dust, dirt and bacteria from entering your air space. And if you’re likely to forget this step or don’t have the time to do it, you can find an air filter subscription service that automatically delivers filters to your door.

Arrange for an inspection

If DIY isn’t your thing, contact a professional to make sure your furnace is in working condition. Proper maintenance will keep you feeling more comfortable and will extend the life of your system.

Test the thermostat

Make sure it’s on and that the batteries are working and do a practice run before the weather gets too cold.

Seal gaps around doors and windows

Investing in some caulk and weatherstripping and doing a few hours of work are going to help keep out the draft and save you money over time since your heating system can operate more efficiently.

Furnace repair man

Furnace repair man

What if the heat doesn’t turn on?

You flip the switch to the heat setting and expect to hear a thrumming noise or feel the delicious warmth coming out of the vent at your feet. But it’s not happening! There’s no reason to put up with the teeth-chattering cold. Here are some things to consider:

Check the thermostat’s batteries

Dead batteries mean you won’t be able to see the thermostat’s display. They should be easy to replace. Check the thermostat’s reference guide if you run into trouble.

Clean your thermostat

Dust, bugs and nicotine all can collect inside the thermostat. Pop the cover and blow or gently wipe away the grime.

Check the breaker box

You may have a loss of power. If a breaker is tripped, reset it. Or, there might be a broken fuse that needs replacing.

Make sure the thermostat is set below the current temperature

This will lead to one of those smack the forehead “duh” moments, but no one has to know about it.

Finally, if no one’s been giving the furnace a little TLC over the years, it might be that the system is on its way out. You can do some DIY clean-up, contact a professional or get in touch with your landlord. “It’s really cold and the heat’s not working,” is a sentence you don’t want to have to utter.

The heat is on

Once you’ve decided it’s time to close the windows and crank the heat, you can save money and save energy by investing in a programmable thermostat so you can preset a schedule. This way, your home automatically stays warm while you’re there during the day and cools down when you’re out or at night. If you’re going on vacation this winter, set your thermostat to 55 degrees and you won’t have to worry about pipes freezing.

Of course, there are alternatives to commandeering your thermostat. Think about cozy throws, chunky sweaters, snuggies, hot beverages and, of course, snuggling up with someone.




Are Smart Locks Safe? Pros and Cons For Your Apartment

Is anything dumb anymore? Smart locks are one of the latest gadgets to gain some serious IQ points.

Physical keys are just so 2020. Today’s locking mechanisms are often powered by a fob, keypad, wireless app or even biometrics (like a fingerprint). The newest and most advanced smart locks are those that are Wi-fi- or Bluetooth-enabled to lock and unlock doors. That’s a pretty far cry from old-timey keys and tumbler locks.

entering code in smart lock

entering code in smart lock

How do smart locks work?

Smart locks work in different ways, depending on the type of lock. Here’s a breakdown of the various versions out there.

Biometric locks

Although not the best from a germaphobe standpoint, biometric locks are nonetheless very convenient since all you need to make it work is your finger. Since most of us carry those around all the time anyway, there’s no worry over forgetting a key, code or phone. Some versions even store up to 100 fingerprints!

Keypad locks

These locks require a programmed pin number to function. Users can change the pin at any time, and the administrator can dole out multiple pins to different people. Some of these locks have buttons, but the newer ones feature snazzy touch screens.

RFID locks

You’re much more likely to use this type of lock at work, but it still bears mentioning. RFID locks require a keycard or fob to unlock the door.

Bluetooth locks

These utilize Bluetooth technology to sense when you’re approaching, so the lock disables automatically. Pretty convenient, huh?

Wi-Fi locks

You don’t even have to be near the lock to get this type to work! Wifi-enabled locks can lock or unlock from anywhere in the world using an app. Plus, they cultivate all kinds of data, like who is opening and closing the door at a given time.

picking a lock

picking a lock

Are smart locks safe?

There’s risk with any type of lock, so it’s only natural to wonder if smart locks are safe. Even standard tumbler locks are picked pretty easily with a bump key. Smart locks are more physically secure than regular locks because they’re not nearly as easy to pick. Many models will also disable if the wrong code is punched in too many times, so would-be thieves who try to guess your code will be left out in the dark.

Smart locks also eliminate keys floating all around the town. Since they have custom access codes, it’s easy to know exactly who is going into the home at what time (cleaners, kids, dog-walkers, etc.) Many smart locks can also work in tandem with home security systems, letting you know if there’s motion in the area or if someone needs to get let in or out.

However, some smart locks are connected to the Internet, which begs the question — can they be hacked? Some can, unfortunately, so protect your home by choosing a smart lock that features high-security capabilities, like two-factor authentication, 128-bit encryption, long passwords and Z-wave technology.

smart locks eliminate physical keys

smart locks eliminate physical keys

Pros of smart locks

Smart locks have a lot going for them. Here are a few of the most appreciated benefits:

They’re convenient

There’s no need to haul around a key, put one under the mat or leave one with the neighbors.

They’re programmable

If you’re the forgetful type, smart locks are fabulous because they can be programmed to automatically lock at certain times or after they’ve been left unlocked for a particular amount of time.

They’re nice and bright

Many smart locks are illuminated, so they’re delightfully easy to see in the dark.

They’re customizable

If you switch dog walkers or cleaners or whatever, you can simply disable their code. And, you can change the code regularly for added security!

Clearly, smart locks are fancier than the average lock, but is fancy always a good thing?

a dead battery ruin accessing a smart lock

a dead battery ruin accessing a smart lock

Cons of smart locks

Even the best tech has its moments of failure. Here are some potential pitfalls of smart locks.

They rely on other tech

Even basic keypad smart locks use batteries to function, so if they run out, it’s pretty inconvenient. Same goes for dead Bluetooth, downed power, malfunctioning Wi-fi or a lost/dead/stolen phone. So, it’s important to have a backup plan in case something crazy happens.

They’re on the pricey side

Smart locks cost a bit more on the front end to purchase and install. The fancier Wi-fi versions can run into the hundreds of dollars!

They are sometimes tricky to use

If you’re not very tech-savvy a smart lock is sometimes frustrating, especially in the beginning.

installing a smart lock

installing a smart lock

How to convince your landlord to install smart locks

If you’re itching to ditch the physical key, it’s worth it to convince your landlord of the merits of smart locks.

First, call around to other apartment properties (or ask friends what their communities use) to find out if they have them and if so, what model? Next, price a few options of differing grades (basic, mid-range and higher-end). Don’t forget to find out roughly how much time and effort they take to install. If your property doesn’t have an on-site handy-person, get quotes for that, too.

Put it all in an easy-to-read email. Be sure to note that although smart locks have front-end costs, they also take away others, like the need to change locks after a tenant moves out. Instead, they can be easily reprogrammed.

Also, note that smart locks are an additional amenity that the property can put down on listings! In today’s competitive rental industry, every amenity really counts!

Safe, secure and smart

Every home should be safe and secure. If it’s a little smarter due to smart locks, that’s probably a very good thing!




What Are Cobwebs and Why Are They in My Apartment?

With Halloween around the corner, it’s hard to avoid creepy images of dusty old cobwebs. But cobwebs are not just relegated to haunted houses. Look around your apartment — in the space between the bulb and a lampshade, under your desk, beneath the sofa. They’re everywhere. How did they get there and how can you get rid of them? First, let’s break cobwebs down.

What are cobwebs?

Yes, spider webs and cobwebs are related. But not all spider webs are cobwebs. To add further confusion, the word “cobweb” comes from the Middle English, coppeweb, with coppe being the word for spider.

Over time, people have come to refer to the elegant, neat and tidy web occupied by a spider as a spider web and to refer to any abandoned, dusty web as a cobweb.

So, what are cobwebs, exactly? In science lingo, the word “cobweb” is specifically used to describe the messy, tangled three-dimensional web produced by spiders in the families Theridiidae (for example, cobweb spiders, tangled web spiders, comb-footed spiders) and Linyphiidae (aka money spiders or sheet weavers).

spider on cobweb

spider on cobweb

What’s the difference between a cobweb and a spider web?

According to the World Spider Catalogue (you just knew there’d be such a thing), there are 49,657 species of spiders in the world. That number changes as new spiders are discovered.

Different spiders create different webs from silk spun in different shapes. Cobwebs are tangle webs, which are asymmetrical and look like a bunch of jumbled threads supported by a base. They consist of major ampullate silk and are “gum-footed” or sticky. They often collect dust and dirt and trap prey.

Spider webs are more sophisticated structures that appear two-dimensional. Their web designs vary from sheet, spiral orb, funnel or tubular to tent. Depending on the spider’s species, they may up to three of four types of silk to make the webs.

How do cobwebs form?

Spiders hang out and eat insects, which is a good thing. When the food source stops, the spider is likely to pick up and leave. But the web remains.

And they can last a long time. If you took the ratio of strength-to-density, spider silk is stronger than steel, and it can stretch a lot before it snaps.

If the web is in a hidden spot in your apartment, all that sticky silk will attract dust and dirt. And then you’ve got a cobweb of the sort you see sprouting from skulls conveniently sitting on desktops in horror films.

vacuuming up cobwebs

vacuuming up cobwebs

How do I get rid of cobwebs?

Not to judge, but cobwebs make your space look and feel unkempt. The easiest way to get rid of them is to vacuum them up. For high webs, try using a long-handled duster or a broom handle covered in a sock – but then vacuum them up.

If they’re attached to curtains, you should throw them in the wash or use a lint roller to pick up the cobweb.

Sometimes there are cobwebs outside your windows. Vacuum those if you can or run water over them to wash them away.

How do I prevent cobwebs from coming back?

Spiders like to set up shop where they are left alone, where they can spin their webs and grab their food. Unused rooms with lots of clutter make ideal spots. Keep rooms as neat, clean and decluttered as you can.

Get to know your duster and use it often. Dust light bulbs, lampshades, plant leaves and other spots that might not get your regular attention.

You might also try spraying peppermint essential oil or vinegar mixed with water in the corners. The overpowering scent might make spiders set up shop elsewhere.

Spiders get into your house or apartment through vents, windows and doors. If it’s possible, seal the areas around your windows to keep any unwanted pests from entering. The added bonus is that you’ll be warmer this winter.

If you think you have too many cobwebs or too many spiders, you might have an infestation and you should call an exterminator.

A win-win on cobwebs

Even if you don’t want to live with spiders or walk into a cobweb in the middle of the night, it’s good to keep in mind that spiders are beneficial. They eat insects (one spider can eat up to 2,000 insects a year), which keeps those pesky creatures out of our homes and away from our food crops.

If you don’t want too many spiders hanging around, making your place unpleasant for them — keeping it clean, sealed from the outside and free of insects — makes it more pleasant for you.




5 Easy Ways to Clean a Litter Box in an Apartment

Cat owners are fiercely devoted to their fur babies. It’s all about the purrs and cuddles, the cute play time and the long naps. Unfortunately, it’s also about the poop. A cat’s toilet, a.k.a. their littler box, is right there, all the time. It’s up to you to deal with it on a regular basis, which can be pretty often if you live in a small space. Knowing how to clean a litter box in an apartment without making more of a mess — or a stink — is essential.

The good news, most cats only use their littler box to go “No. 2” once a day. The bad news, it doesn’t smell like roses. To keep things in check, here are some ideal ways on to easily clean out a litter box regularly without it become inconvenient.

Take the self-cleaning route

self cleaning litterbox

self cleaning litterbox

Before you even begin contemplating how to clean a litter box in an apartment, consider not having to do it at all. There are self-cleaning litter boxes for the right price, ready to make your life infinitely easier.

The biggest hiccup to this modern convenience, though, is the price tag. Owning a pet in an apartment is costly enough. You may not want to spend a few hundred dollars for a littler box and the special litter it requires.

Installation is actually also tricky. A basic litter box doesn’t have a lot of requirements as far as where you put it. (It’s a box, it can go anywhere.) A self-cleaning litter box, however needs a plug, a cold-water line and a toilet or washing machine drain. Without all these components, the box can’t wash and clean itself. Not all apartments will have enough space to allow you to give you litter box this type of access.

If you can get beyond the speed bumps of cost and installation, though, this is without a doubt a modern marvel when it comes to litter box cleaning. It’s all automatic. The litter box scoops its own waste and washes itself. Special litter is dust-free and washable, too. No more manual scooping, hunched over your cat’s dirty clumps of waste. It’s an attractive thought.

Make your litter box disposable

cardboard litterbox

cardboard litterbox

For those of us who can’t afford to automate every aspect of our lives, another way to make cleaning your litter box easier is to make it disposable. Either with an actual disposable box or litter liner, you can save yourself a lot of time cleaning the litter box by not having to scoop it every time.

With these options, when you’re ready to do a deep clean, you just throw everything out, or transform the liner into its own garbage bag. Then, you’re ready to start over with a totally clean litter box that you didn’t have to scrub.

Many disposable littler boxes are made from biodegradable materials, so even though there’s an extra cost involved — and more waste — what you’re throwing out regularly isn’t bad for the environment.

If you want a less expensive option that works the same, skip the fancy litter box liners and go with a simple trash bag. Large kitchen bags will fit over a standard box easily. You can double-bag your box to make sure there are no unwanted rips when you remove the litter, as well. Just make sure to put the trash bags on your littler box inside out for proper removal.

Go with a less-is-more approach

metal litterbox

metal litterbox

Probably the easiest way to keep your litter box area cleaner, and make it less of a chore to deal with, is to watch your litter levels. Cats don’t like a lot of litter in their box — two to three inches is an ideal amount.

You’ll know when you have too much litter in the litter box from your cat’s behavior. They’ll begin to slip and slide while in the box. It’s because they’re having a hard time getting their footing, so they’ll appear shaky and off balance.

Cats are also more likely to fling litter out of the box when there’s too much there. Sometimes they won’t walk all the way into the box either, which means they could have an accident.

If you notice any of these behaviors, make sure to take some litter out. It will spare you having a bigger mess to clean up than what’s getting deposited into the box itself.

Use flushable litter

cleaning a litterbox

cleaning a litterbox

Flushable litter is a great way to avoid having used litter going from box to trash bag to trash. Each step is another opportunity for excess litter to spill all over the floor, after all. Flushable litter is great if you aren’t living in an apartment that’s on septic. Only certain types are septic-safe. It’s also important to remember to flush small amounts at a time to avoid clogs.

Even with these stipulations, there are a variety of flushable litters out there, made from all types of ingredients. You can find flushable litter made from:

  • corn
  • cassava
  • wheat
  • pine or other wood chips
  • nut shells
  • recycled paper
  • green tea

It’s a pretty extensive list for something like cat litter, but it makes cleaning a litter box in an apartment much easier. For this set-up to work, the box should go in the bathroom. Keeping your litter box as close to the toilet as possible means the scoop will travel the shortest distance to dispose of your cat’s waste; all without the need for garbage bags and trails of used litter.

Do a weekly clean

cat in basket

cat in basket

Cleaning a litter box is about more than scooping every day. You also need to include a cleaning of the actual box in your regular routine. Once a week is best to help with lingering pet odors. It also ensures your fur baby has fresh litter on a regular basis.

To clean your litter box:

  • Empty it out completely. Consider all the litter inside used.
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
  • Wash with regular dish soap and a disposable sponge (you aren’t going to want to use it again after this).
  • Make sure you remove any lingering clumps of litter.
  • Wipe the box dry before putting fresh litter back in.

Making it a priority to keep the entire litter box clean is something your cat will appreciate. Think about how much time they spend bathing themselves.

Making the litter box less of a chore

Bringing a sweet, new kitty home is one of the best things ever and you’re probably not thinking about a litter box in that moment. However, once they’re settled, it becomes something you deal with daily. Take the hassle out of keeping your apartment smelling good and your kitty happy with any of these helpful methods to clean a litter box in an apartment.




How to Dry Clothes Without a Dryer

We all need to have more than clean clothes — they need to be dry, too! But living in an apartment can mean you have limited space for both a washer and a dryer and you may only want to have one of them. Or, you need to pay to rent an in-unit dryer or to use one at a laundry facility, which can really add up over time. Plus, dryers use a lot of energy.

But whether you don’t have a dryer at home, you’re trying to save money at the laundromat or you want to be a little more eco-friendly, there are plenty of ways to dry your clothes. Here are a few tips for how to dry clothes without a dryer.

1. Spin dry in a washing machine

You can get most of the water out of your clothes by placing them into a washing machine on a high spin setting. This may not get them 100 percent dry, but it will get them pretty darn close. You can also purchase a separate spin dryer that’s made to spin at even higher speeds than a washing machine, so your clothes will end up even drier!

Pro tip: Doing fewer items at a time will get the clothes drier than if you have a large batch to spin.

hanging clothes to dry without a dryer

hanging clothes to dry without a dryer

2. Hang dry your wet clothes

A classic method, hanging clothes to dry has been used for ages. Hang your clothes up wherever you can — a drying rack, a clothesline, the back of a chair or anywhere else you can find.

To make the drying process faster, be strategic about how you do it. That might mean opening the window to allow better airflow in your laundry room, placing a fan near the clothes or hanging them close (but not too close!) to a heat source, like a radiator or heating vent.

And if the weather and your space allow, you can hang clothes to dry outside on a balcony or in a backyard.

Pro tip: Use clothespins to hold your items in place, especially if you’re hanging them outside. You don’t want your clothes to blow away!

3. Roll clothes in a bath towel

A pretty simple method for drying your clothes is using a plain bath towel. Use your hands to wring the water out of a clothing item. Lay down a dry bath towel, then spread the clothing item onto the towel, so both are as flat as possible. Then, roll the towel up to encase the clothing item and twist the opposite ends of the towel. The towel will absorb the moisture from the clothing.

Pro tip: You can also put the rolled towel onto a hard surface, like countertop or floor, and apply pressure with your hands to get even more water out of it.

use a hair dryer to dry clothes without a dryer

use a hair dryer to dry clothes without a dryer

4. Try a hairdryer

Hairdryers will dry more than just your hair! Using a hairdryer is a great fix for when you need a single piece of clothing to dry quickly. Just hang the item on a hanger or towel rack and blow-dry it.

Pro tip: Be sure to hold the hairdryer at least six inches away as a safety precaution.

5. Use a towel and iron

You can essentially heat the moisture out of your clothing by laying it flat, placing a dry towel on top of it and ironing on top of the towel. You may need to switch out the towel and run the iron over it a few times to get all of the water out of your clothes.

Pro tip: Don’t let the iron sit for too long in one spot on the towel and make sure you don’t put the iron directly on wet clothing. This could leave burn marks and cause tearing. So, keep that towel in place and keep that iron moving.

hang clothes in the sun to dry clothes without a dryer

hang clothes in the sun to dry clothes without a dryer

6. Tap the power of the sun

If you live somewhere that gets lots of sun, it’s one of the quickest ways to dry clothing. Lay your clothing on a flat surface that’s completely exposed to sunlight — this could be on a table, chair seat or even the floor of your patio (make sure it’s clean!). Or, you can hang it on a clothesline outside.

Pro tip: Don’t leave clothing in the sun for too long, or else the colors might fade. Bring in your clothing once it’s dry and try not to let it sit out any longer.

A dryer isn’t a necessity

While dryers can be nice in many cases, they certainly aren’t necessary. Once you figure out how to dry clothes without a dryer, you might not even miss having one. Save yourself the space and money, while also saving the environment and dry your clothes using an alternative method.