15 Common Household Problems: Easy 5-Minute Fixes
Want streak-free windows?
Large house party left a mess?
Living room seem cramped?
Find expert solutions -- all in 5 minutes or less!
Problem #1: Cleaning windows leaves streaks.
Five-Minute Fix: Here's how the pros avoid streaking when they wipe off their windows:
* Use a window-washing squeegee with a smooth, soft rubber edge. (Or use crumpled-up black-and-white newspaper -- avoid the color sections.)
* Dry a 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) strip at the top or side of each window and always start your squeegee there -- starting on dry glass is one key to avoiding streaks.
* Don't wash windows in direct sunlight, because quickly dried glass is more susceptible to streaking. Evenings or cloudy days are the times for window washing.
Problem #2: Chewing gum stuck to your carpet.Five-Minute Fix: Grab some ice, put it in a plastic bag (to prevent leaking), and rub the ice on the gum until the gum freezes and hardens. Scrape away the hardened gum with a dull knife. If residue remains, remove it by blotting with a dry-cleaning solvent, such as Carbona. Be sure to test the solvent first, however, in an inconspicuous spot to make sure that it won't damage the carpet. This procedure also works with upholstery.
Problem #3: Clothes dryer isn't drying.Five-Minute Fix: If your clothes dryer feels really hot, but your clothes take forever to dry, the vent may be clogged. A clogged vent traps the excess hot air inside the dryer's drum. But the low circulation of air keeps clothes from getting dry. This is a big problem -- the extra heat can damage fabrics and can start a fire -- but it's nothing you can't fix yourself.
1. Start by checking the vent flap or hood on the outside of the house. Make sure that you feel a strong flow of air coming out when the dryer is running. If not, try cleaning out the vent with a straightened clothes hanger.
2. If the vent flap is not the problem, check for a kink or sag in the duct and straighten the hose if necessary.
3. If a kinked or sagging duct is not the problem, disconnect the duct from the dryer and look for blockage inside with a flashlight. To remove the blockage, shake it out or run a wadded cloth through the duct. If the duct is damaged, replace it.
Problem #4: Room was painted too dark a color.Five-Minute Fix: Temper dark colors with light counterpoints. Navy blue, hunter green, and chocolate brown walls can make a dramatic statement in a room. But they need tempering with light-colored, or even white, trim and upholstery fabrics, as well as window treatments. For example, a light-colored painting or tapestry against a dark wall can create a beautiful focal point in a room. Make sure a room with dark walls also has plenty of light fixtures and lamps.
Problem #5: Living room seems cramped.Five-Minute Fix: You can make your living room seem airier through the artful choice of furniture and accessories. Decorators recommend these techniques:
* Choose just a few pieces of furniture -- declutter!
* Choose light colors for the furniture and your wall paint, and match some of the furniture to the walls. Avoid busy prints in upholstery.
* Choose low-slung, unobtrusive furniture and don't block windows or doors.
* Choose tables with glass or mirror tops.
* Choose sheer fabrics for window treatments and tablecloths.
Problem #6: Herbs are taking over your garden.
Five-Minute Fix: Whether the herbs are in the garden or on your plate, the same holds true: A few are nice, but you don't want them on everything. Gardeners soon discover that herbs like to take over their surroundings. Oregano, thyme, and mints are particularly bad about busting out all over and spreading by underground runners. To keep them in their place, cut the bottoms out of 5-gallon (19-liter) buckets or use chimney tiles. (A chimney tile looks like a square clay box with no top or bottom.) Sink your buckets or tiles 18 inches (45 centimeters) into the ground and plant your herbs in them. That's deep enough to curb their underground spread.
Problem #7: Large house party left a mess.
Five-Minute Fix: There's no need to wear yourself out by tackling the entire mess immediately. Spend just a few minutes whipping the aftermath into shape, and then do the detail work in the morning. Assuming you have already put perishable foods away, here are the steps to follow:
1. Collect bottles, cups, and glasses. Look for spills and deal with them right away.
2. Empty half-filled glasses and cups in the kitchen sink. Toss out plastic and paper. Set the glasses on the counter. Do the same with plates and utensils.
3. Fill the dishwasher with as many dishes as you can fit in and start it when it's fully loaded.
4. Gather up the garbage in plastic bags, starting in outer rooms and working your way toward the kitchen, so that you centralize the clutter there. Take garbage out as soon as bags are filled and tied, to prevent accidental leaks and odors.
5. In the morning, after a good night's sleep, finish up by dusting and vacuuming, again working your way toward the kitchen. Clean the kitchen last.