How Often You Really Need to Get That Thing Dry Cleaned

If you have a pile of clothes growing in the corner of your room that you keep meaningto take to the dry cleaners, listen up: Not every “dry clean only” garment needs to be professionally washed after every single wear. Whew. Talk about good news for your wallet and your time.

In fact, most items can go three wears before being tossed into your dirty clothes hamper, while bedding and jackets can go months. To determine what you should be tackling and how often, follow our handy check-list. Then, why not keep track of how often you should wash the rest of your laundry and clean everything else in your home while you’re at it?

Take a look:

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15 Surprising Things Many First-Time Homeowners Don’t Know

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Buying a house is one of life’s biggest moments, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a little scary.A recent Reddit chat asked first-time homeowners to reveal the one item that ended up being super useful to them in their new abode, and the answers were incredibly helpful.

1. Break out the tool kit. “Cordless drill, step-stool and a free-standing ladder. I had no idea I would use those three items so much.”

2. Caulk. “Caulk covers all manner of evils, such as gaps in frames and baseboards. A single little crack can really throw off the finished look of a door or window.”

3. Find a good way to cool down your house. “My first house had a ‘whole house fan.’ It’s pretty much a giant fan in the center of the house that exhausts into the attic. When you turn it on, it draws air in through every open window in the house. Cooled the house down in minutes.” Continue reading “15 Surprising Things Many First-Time Homeowners Don’t Know”

5 Simple Rules to Make a Hammer Last Forever

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Here are a few rules for keeping your hammers whole. See if one of these situations sounds familiar:

• Claw hammers are designed to hit nails, sets for sinking finish nails, and specially made bars that are used to dig out nails or pry wood away from a surface. Don’t use them to strike hardened steel or to break up cast iron or concrete. Those jobs require a sledgehammer.

• Don’t use one hammer to strike another. For example, don’t use a claw hammer to strike the head of another claw hammer in order to drive its claw deeper between two pieces of lumber.

• Don’t use a claw hammer to hit a brick chisel, stone chisel, cold chisel, or center punch. There are specific hammers to strike those.

• Don’t use a claw hammer (or its claw) to break or chip rocks or bricks.

• Regardless of the type of hammer you buy, get the best you can afford. I’ve owned hammers by Estwing, Vaughan, Warwood, Craftsman, and Stiletto. They’re not cheap tools, but not one of them has chipped, and I have decades of use on some of them. Good tools last.

These Ingenious Window Inserts Will Slash Your Heating Bill

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Our house was built in 1866 and still has the original windows. The wooden sashes are in beautiful shape, and many of the wavy, handblown glass panes are still intact. Unfortunately, the windows are not airtight anymore (if they ever were), which means the house is not warm, which is why my wife turns up the heat, and then I turn it down, and then she puts on her parka.

I’ve spent a lot of time and a good bit of money searching for ways to make our windows more energy-efficient. I tried the plastic-wrap things you adhere with a hair dryer. I bought some metal tracks that were supposed to make the sashes fit more snugly in their frames, but they arrived dented, were flimsy, and I badly gouged one sash trying to install them. Continue reading “These Ingenious Window Inserts Will Slash Your Heating Bill”

5 Things You Need to Know Before Building a Walk-In Shower

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Walk-in showers accommodate efficient morning scrubs and relaxing spa-style treatments. With proper preparations, thoughtful space planning, and wise material choices, you can build a walk-in shower that perfectly suits your bathroom space, getting-ready needs, and design preferences.

1. Consider construction costs. Generally, building a walk-in shower requires gutting walls to access plumbing pipes, applying waterproof poly sheeting to the walls and floor, rebuilding walls using moisture-resistant drywall or backer board, installing drains, and pouring mortar to create shower pans. Plumbing pipes might need to be moved to accommodate showerheads and sprays. Finally, the new walls will need to be tiled or clad in a waterproof surface. Easier and more affordable walk-in shower options include prefab shower kits, which can be installed by moderately handy do-it-yourselfers who are comfortable framing walls and working with plumbing pipes.

2. Find inspiration. Look for walk-in shower ideas in shelter magazines and at bath showrooms and home centers. Meet with a bathroom designer or construction professional to discuss your project, firm up goals, and solicit bids if needed.

3. Be space-savvy. When planning a walk-in shower, make sure there will be a minimum of 32 inches between the shower and the room’s other fixtures. Walk-in showers should supply at least 36×36 inches of space per person, so double that amount if two people will be using the shower at one time. Remember: Hinged shower doors must open outward and require 30 inches of clearance.

4. Review your options. Standard prefab shower kits range in size from 31×31 inches up to 36×48 inches and are available as one-piece stalls, as a shower pan and three walls, and as customizable units. But if you want a custom look, you’ll want to build a walk-in shower from scratch. This allows you to devise a stylish shower enclosure or opt for a wet-room-style shower, which is a barrier-free showering space that opens to the rest of the bathroom.

5. Think about entry and accessibility. Opt for a curbless shower or a low-threshold entry so you can safely move in and out of the shower. Consider whether you want to leave the shower’s entry undressed or add a curtain or hinged or track-style doors. Opting for an open doorway? Make sure the shower walls, base, and showerhead layout are designed to contain spraying water.

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