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The Times
  • Home Help: Simplify your laundry routine

  • GateHouse News Service's weekly Home Help with tips on simplifying laundry, 

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  • If it seems that you can never quite diminish the size of your laundry pile, you're not alone. Laundry is a part of everyday life, and the more people in your household, the bigger the pile and the more often you need to wash. Designate one place in your home to be the laundry zone and sort through these time-saving tips to make your laundry routine faster and easier, leaving you with more time to do the things you love.
    De-clutter and reorganize. Clear some space from your shelves to give yourself more room to work in the laundry room. Get rid of old containers, trash and even those stray socks missing their pair. Place a small basket or tray near the washer for collecting small items and loose change found in pockets. This prevents clutter as well as accidents in the wash. Larger baskets labeled delicates, lights and darks help to keep clothes easily sorted and off of the floor.
    Essentials at-the-ready. Keep frequently used items easily accessible by placing them on a shelf designed to fit on top of your washing machine. Store smaller items in stackable baskets or bins so they aren't in the way. Make sure your detergent is placed high enough so that little hands can't grab it, but within reach for older kids to take over their own laundry chores.
    Get rid of hassle and bulk. Save yourself from the trouble of heavy bottles and messy spills. Choose a multi-purpose detergent that comes pre-measured. Just toss one in the washer with your laundry and go.
    Sort and go. Give everyone in the family their own small mesh laundry bag for items that tend to get lost and mixed-up such as socks and underwear. Collect the bags and throw them in the washer and dryer together so that everything stays sorted.
    Prep for final steps. Save time from ironing by pulling clothes directly from the dryer after the cycle is complete. Keep a stack of hangers nearby to hang clothes immediately for a wrinkle-free wardrobe. Designate an area of nearby countertop or a table to make folding and organizing clothes out of the dryer quicker.
    -- Family Features
    Home Selling Tip
    When preparing for a showing, pay attention to details! Little things mean a lot in the big picture because they pull the house's look together. Things like small, colorful ceramic tiles placed into brick steps to carry through a color scheme. Edging the lawn. Large planters. Finally, don't forget to tidy up. Curb appeal also means a place that looks neat and clean, the kind of place you'd like to live.
    -- Frontdoor.com
    Page 2 of 3 - Did You Know...
    Using a clothes line instead of a dryer will save a lot of energy. It's difficult to find hard numbers, but the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star website indicates the average family does about 300 loads of laundry per year. Pacific Gas and Electric's website estimates that it costs about $.33-$.56 per load for gas dryers and about $.12-$.15 per load for electric dryers. Based on these numbers, hanging clothes on a clothes line will save you about $40-$45 per year if you own an electric dryer and about $100-$170 per year if you own a gas dryer.
    -- Rebecca Matulka, Energy.gov
    Decorating Tip
    Granite remains the No. 1 choice for kitchen remodels, but the standard cost of granite runs from $50 to $110 a square foot (including installation). While there's nothing functionally wrong with laminate, Corian and Formica, they're not always what homeowners are looking for. So if your countertops need an uplift without a hefty price tag attached, try granite paint. Giani Granite Paint kits allow you to give outdated countertops a granite look for $69.95 per kitchen.
    -- Brandpoint
    Garden Guide
    Prepare for spring by diving into late-winter chores in the garden. Here's three gardening chores to help you prepare for spring.
    Water-garden maintenance
    Remove leaf litter from a pond, especially if you have fish. Decomposing leaves can have an adverse effect on water quality. Turn off the pump to make it easier to collect the leaves. While removing the leaves, you can also scoop out algae that may have formed. When you're finished removing the leaves, turn the pump back on.
    If weeds have sprouted in the path that surrounds the water feature, remove them by hoeing or pulling. Never use herbicides near a pond, especially if it contains fish, because nearly all herbicides are toxic to fish. They may also destroy aquatic plants in and around the pond.
    Wait to remove or transplant overgrown or misplaced plants in or around the pond until the temperatures are warmer. Late winter is not an ideal time to transplant herbaceous plants, and the water may be too cold or even frozen to work in.
    Ornamental grasses
    Late winter is the ideal time to cut back ornamental grasses. Although it can be fairly easy to cut back grasses with a pair of pruners, loppers or shears, you can also secure the top growth with a bungee cord or piece of twine and cut grasses back with electric or gas powered hedge trimmers. This method can be particularly useful on cutting back large sized grasses.
    Vine pruning
    Late winter is a good time to prune runaway vines because you can visibly see where the vines are growing and remove them from nearby plants. If you wait until spring has sprung and the leaves are already on the trees and shrubs, you may miss an overgrown vine that could potentially be choking nearby plants.
    Page 3 of 3 - -- HGTV.com
    GateHouse News Service

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