Summer Home Maintenance

Summer is just around the corner! To keep your home in tip top shape, here are a few tasks to make time for this season:
  • Prep for cooling season by cleaning ceiling fans and filters in air conditioning units
  • Install blinds (interior or exterior) to reduce the need for cooling systems
  • Stop the majority of summer dirt from entering your home with both an interior and exterior walk-off mat
  • Check for rot and any mold/mildew or pests in your basement, deck, and attic
  • Save money and energy by installing an outdoor clothesline and hang-drying your sheets, towels, and clothes in the sun
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly
  • If you didn’t get to washing your windows during the spring, now’s your chance
  • Have your roof and gutters cleaned
  • Plan and implement a summer schedule for landscaping and watering your lawn and plants
  • Clean and test (or consider professional service!) for the following: your range hood, bath fans, sump pump, wood stove, sprinkler system

Choosing Safe Cleaning Products

You would hope that keeping our homes free of bacteria and dirt would be simple. But it turns out that there can be a surprising number of toxins in the products that we use to keep our homes clean!

The EPA has just made it easier than ever to choose products in the store that are free from harmful chemicals. This rating also takes into account a product’s impact on the environment in terms of packaging waste, water use, and more!

Check out more from Buzzfeed

Healthy Home Quick Tip: Even Worn out Clothing has a Second Life

Sure, you donate your gently worn clothing for resale….but did you know that stained clothes, worn-out shoes, and frayed linens can be donated too?

Gently used clothing can go to sites such as the Goodwill, who will use their stores as fundraisers and training grounds for their employment education programs.

Clean, worn out linens can be donated to organizations such as the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center or the Seattle Feline Rescue Center.

Don’t feel badly about donating clothing that is too worn out to use. Nearly every large collector of used clothing now sorts into several categories – some for resale and some for recycling into new product, such as industrial wiping cloths, carpet padding and insulation.

Laura’s Tips for Smart Home Maintenance

This year’s West Seattle Summer Fest was a warm one! Although it was a bit too hot, we were grateful that it didn’t rain, as well as for the ability to connect with all our neighbors in West Seattle and beyond. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say “hi!”

While temperatures reached into the low 90’s, Laura braved the GreenLife Stage to share information about “Building with Reclaimed Materials” (co-presented with Second Use Building Materials) and “Smart Home Maintenance.”

If you didn’t get a chance to catch Laura’s presentation on Smart Home Maintenance at the West Seattle Summer Fest, here are her tips. Enjoy

PS – We are always looking for ways to spread the good word about sustainable building and living. Please let us know if you you are involved with a community group that would appreciate hearing some tips on the topic.

Mighty House’s Tips for Smart Home Maintenance

  1. Keep it Local by actively seeking products that are ideally manufactured locally and sold by a locally owned business.
  2. No- or Low-VOC Paints are produced with less harmful chemicals and won’t make you or your family sick. Any manufacturer can color match these days, allowing quality to be your guide.
  3. Flooring such as bamboo, cork, FSC or reclaimed hardwoods, marmoleum (a non-toxic sheet material) and tile are easier to keep clean and don’t allow for build-up of toxins. If you must have carpet, use a super-dense, natural wool carpet.
  4. Reduce Energy Consumption using Energy Star® certified appliances to save you money in the long-term through reduced energy use, and often in the short-term as well through rebates via city, state, and federal programs. Use “smart” powerstrips with master controls. Put a hot water timer on your hot water tanks. Install solar!
  5. Use Water Sense® certified fixtures which reduce water consumption without compromising water pressure. It’s functional, good for the planet, and your pocketbook.
  6. Salvaged Building Materials are sustainable, cost-effective, and unique solutions to home improvement! Your friends and family will ooh and ahh when they learn the story of your salvaged materials.
  7. Batten Down the Hatches with insulation and air sealant. Don’t forget above your can lights and behind exterior wall outlets.
  8. Abide by the Three R’s: Reduce your consumption. Reuse what you can. Recycle the rest.
  9. Educate Yourself and Make Mindful Decisions by using our methodology.•Is it healthy? •Is it eco-friendly? •Is it financially smart? •Is it functional? •Is it unique?
  10. Clean Green – homemade cleaning solutions create a healthy living space and save money.
  • All-purpose Cleaner — 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar, 4 drops of essential oil (optional), a drop of dish soap. It’s a great window cleaner! (You will need to use it 2-3 times before it will cut through the wax build-up from commercial products, after which you can stop using the dish soap).
  • Soft-Scrub — 1 c. baking soda, 1/4 c. liquid castile soap, 2 tsp. vegetable glycerin (as a preservative), 2-4 drops antibacterial essential oil such as lavender, tea tree, or rosemary (optional). mix and store in a sealed glass jar.
  • Natural Disinfectant Spray — 1 c. distilled water, 1/2 c. vinegar, , 2-4 drops antibacterial essential oil such as lavender, tea tree, or rosemary.
  • Relevant websites: • lung.org/healthy-air/home/resources/cleaning-supplies.html• ewg.org/research/greener-school-cleaning-supplies

 

Learn from Mighty House

Mighty House Construction is taking on the roll of educator this July at a plethora of community events! This is a great opportunity to pick our brains about potential home upgrades and our experience working with particular products and materials.

Hope to see you there!

“40 Days” to Clean and De-Clutter

March is here! Days are a little longer, dust and dirt show up a little more….and suddenly after a winter of cozyness, the house is feeling a little cluttered. It must be time for spring cleaning!

This year, we’ve noticed a trend of tying spring cleaning and decluttering to Lent. Rather than give up a favorite food, beverage or activity, some are choosing to challenge themselves to quit hoarding items they no longer need or want. Shelf by shelf, room by room, they are committing to purge their homes of 40 bags in 40 days.  Are you someone who already feels blissfully clutter-free in your home? Consider a commitment to buying nothing new (except real necessities such as food and toothpaste) for 40 days.

While we are all about the purge, keep in mind that your trash might be someone else’s treasure!  We truly hope that most of these discarded items find a new home where they will be used longer and loved more (read our blog article about this topic.)

A few other quick tips:

  • Clean Green! Find simple and effective non-toxic cleaning solutions here.
  • Old t-shirts can be cut up to make re-useable cleaning rags and old veggie “nets” can be made into dish scrubbers. Save them from the trash and save money at the same time.
  • While you are dusting the inside of that chandelier….take a minute to switch out the bulbs for CFL’s or better yet, LED’s. See our post about efficient lighting solutions.

Trash to Treasure

Has Spring sent you into de-clutter mode? Remember, your trash might be someone else’s treasure. Here are some ideas for reducing that clutter while still keeping trash out of landfills.

Your old clothes, vintage toys, and jewelry probably have some value on ebay. Items like these, which are fairly easy to ship, do well in front of the national audience that ebay provides. Remember to use descriptive key words in your posting (brand, size, color, measurements), and provide several well-lit pictures to make your items look attractive and make you look professional and legitimate.

Furniture items, sporting equipment and building supplies are great on Craigslist because people want to see the items and try them out before buying. That skateboard you are too old and sore to ride could be the new treasured possession of the kid down the block and that is an awesome thing.

If you aren’t comfortable with the money exchange aspect of ebay, and you don’t want to meet anyone in person, you can try Listia, where you earn and exchange credits by sending your used items to new homes. We’ve never tried it, but we are intrigued, so let us know what you think if you test it out.

If you don’t think your discarded items have any value, and you are too embarrassed to take them to Goodwill, you might still try the “free section” on Craigslist. It is amazing how quickly “free items” can be claimed – we’ve gotten rid of small amounts of paint leftovers and packing materials this way – both of which could have easily been thrown into the garbage instead.

Cheers to clutter-free living!

Solutions For Green Cleaning!

Spring cleaning time is almost here! Following are some of our favorite easy-to-make recipes for earth friendly cleaning.

  • All-purpose Cleaner – 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar, 4 drops of essential oil (optional), a drop of dish soap. It’s a great window cleaner! (You will need to use it 2-3 times before it will cut through the wax build-up from commercial products, after which you can stop using the dish soap). (The vinegar smell goes away when it is dry.)
  • Soft-Scrub – 1 c. baking soda, 1/4 c. liquid castile soap, 2 tsp. vegetable glycerin (as a preservative), 2-4 drops antibacterial essential oil such as lavender, tea tree, or rosemary (optional). mix and store in a sealed glass jar.
  • Natural Disinfectant Spray – 1 c. distilled water, 1/2 c. vinegar, 2-4 drops antibacterial essential oil such as lavender, tea tree, or rosemary.

Happy Cleaning!

Declutter and Help the Planet!

If you are like us, spring brings a desire for simplicity and a reduction in clutter. We have been hard at work and have a collection of “good stuff” to sell off in the West Seattle Garage Sale (May 11) and are looking for other ways to reduce as well.

This article from the Daily Green gave us some great ideas. It offers tips for reducing clutter in your closets, on your bookshelfs (and nightstands and coffee tables) and in your drawer of computer “stuff.”

First and foremost to reducing clutter AND helping the planet is to reduce your consumption from the get go. By lessening the amount of *things* that come into your home, you will have less to organize and tread more lightly on the planet. The article specifically calls out paper as a main contributor of clutter. They suggest going electronic with paperless billing, downloading apps instead of subscribing to paper magazines and newspapers, and opting out of junk mail and phone book delivery.

The City of Seattle is sponsoring the Catalog Choice program, designed to help residents reduce unwanted junk mail and phone books. The average Seattle resident gets over 100lbs. of junk mail per year. Save time sorting through paperwork and have more time to do the things you enjoy!