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How Often You Should Do 12 Household Chores

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Ah, spring cleaning: the most daunting of seasonal rituals. Scouring the bathroom tiles and organizing your closet may be a drag, but if you stay on top of your weekly and monthly chores, keeping your home fresh and tidy will be a much more manageable feat. Here’s how often you should tackle 12 household tasks.

1. CLEAN YOUR MICROWAVE // WEEKLY

Many people think the heat in the microwave will kill all the germs and bacteria in the food you're heating, but this isn’t the case, says Mitrovic, founder of the cleaning service Uber Clean House in Melbourne, Australia. “It’s important to properly clean your microwave at least once a week,” Mitrovic recommends. Do this by microwaving a large cup of water, vinegar, and a chopped-up lemon until the solution boils and steams the window.

2. CLEAN YOUR KITCHEN RANGE HOOD // DAILY

You should wipe down the hood as part of your daily kitchen routine, says Harriet Jones, cleaning supervisor with Go Cleaners London. “However, you can clean the filter monthly—the more frequently you clean the filter, the easier it will be,” Jones says.

3. CHANGE YOUR SHEETS // WEEKLY

Sweat, dust mites, and dirt accumulate very quickly, especially since you’re typically lying on those sheets for eight hours every night, says Becky Rapinchuk, author of Simply Clean and blogger at CleanMama.net. The sheets should be washed using hot water (130 to 150°F) and a hot dryer cycle to kill the germs.

4. INSPECT YOUR DRYER VENTS // ANNUALLY

It’s important to inspect and clean the vents—and replace them if necessary—because they accumulate lint that is highly flammable and can cause a fire, Jones says. Depending on the number of people in your family and the dryer’s use, you may need to do this more frequently than once per year.

5. WASH YOUR PILLOWS // EVERY SEASON

Your pillowcases put a barrier between you and your pillows, but they still collect sweat, saliva, and other body fluids, says Nic Croughan, interiors expert at Custom Curtains in the United Kingdom. Wash instructions will vary by pillow (is it down, synthetic, or memory foam?), so check the manufacturer's instructions before throwing in the washing machine or dryer.

6. CLEAN YOUR REFRIGERATOR // EVERY OTHER WEEK

To avoid moldy food build-up (and so you don’t completely forget what’s in there), it’s important to give your fridge the attention it deserves, says Tova Weinstock, a professional organizer and cleaning enthusiast based in Brooklyn. “Also, fridges get dirty from spills, loose food particles, and even dust,” Weinstock says.

7. CLEAN YOUR WINDOW TREATMENTS // AS NEEDED

Wooden and Venetian blinds require a weekly dusting, while fabric curtains can get away with being washed annually—the exception being if your window dressing is in a particularly damp space, such as in the bathroom or above a sink. Then you'll need to clean it more often, advises Croughan. “We recommend using steam as an effective cleaning method, and if your curtains are very expensive, turn to a professional,” Croughan says.

8. CLEAN YOUR OVEN // EVERY FOUR TO SIX MONTHS

Accumulated grease and grime over time will cause the oven to use more power when it's turned on, which will lead to higher bills, says Lauren Haynes, cleaning expert with Star Domestic Cleaners. It can also ruin the taste of the food, she says.

9. WASH YOUR TOWELS // EVERY THREE OR FOUR USES

After drying off, it’s best to leave your towel in a well-ventilated place so that it can air-dry completely, Jones says. This will keep the bacteria at bay for a couple uses—but then it's time to throw your towel in the wash.

10. CLEAN YOUR TOILET // WEEKLY

It’s estimated that there are nearly 50 bacteria per square inch on the seat of the toilet, Jones says. To deep clean your toilet, cleaning expert Leslie Reichert tells TODAY that you should turn off the water to your toilet and give it a flush to completely empty the bowl of water. Then sprinkle a homemade baking-soda-based cleaning solution (or a store-bought toilet cleaner) into the toilet bowl and give it a good scrub with a scrubby sponge (while wearing gloves, of course!). Then add a cup of distilled white vinegar and allow to sit for one hour.

11. CLEAN YOUR FAN VENTS // MONTHLY

Dust, pollen, and other allergens can block the vents, Jones says. “If you have any refurbishment work done, you definitely need to clean, or at least inspect, the vents, as construction work spreads sawdust throughout the house, which can cause increased suffering of people with allergies or asthma,” she says.

12. CLEAN YOUR COUCH // ANNUALLY

“Along with brightening its appearance, regular cleaning will eliminate bacteria rooted deep in the furniture’s fibers, and leave your couch smelling fresh,” Jones says. “Cleaning your upholstery will also reflect on the air quality and will reduce the risk of mold and mildew growing.” If it's been a while since you've had your upholstered furniture cleaned (or if you never have), it might be worth investing in a professional cleaning.

All images courtesy of iStock.

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This Living Wallpaper Uses Bacteria to Generate Electricity
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Previously known as the culprit behind some of the worst eyesores in home decorating history, wallpaper may be on the verge of a comeback. As FastCoDesign reports, scientists at Imperial College in London, the University of Cambridge, and Central Saint Martins have pioneered an innovative wall covering made of paper that contains live bacteria. The goal? To use that bacteria to generate electricity.

Here’s how it works. The paper is processed through a common inkjet printer, getting stamped with both conductive ink and then cyanobacteria, a photosynthesizing organism that gathers energy from light sources and turns it into electricity. After being exposed to the light, the paper's ink is able to conduct energy from the bacteria. The sample used—paper roughly the size of an iPad—powered a small LED bulb and digital clock via energy collected over the course of 100 hours.

Researchers at Imperial and their colleagues at the University of Cambridge and Central Saint Martins say the applications for “living wallpaper” are numerous. It could be used to monitor indoor air quality by powering sensors; in health care settings, small samples could monitor patients with conditions like diabetes. If enough energy could be harvested, it might be able to power larger devices or even charge phones—all of it disposable and biodegradable.

The project will next attempt to scale the paper panels up in size to allow for greater photosynthesis productivity while cleverly disguised as home decoration.

[h/t FastCoDesign]

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Live Smarter
How to Safeguard Your Home From Annual Asian Beetle Invasions
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Autumn means falling leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, and apple picking. And while we're outside enjoying the crisp weather, Asian lady beetles, or ladybugs, are scrambling inside to keep warm. But there are simple ways to safeguard your home, according to Good Housekeeping, which highlighted tips from both pest control company Orkin and the University of Minnesota.

Asian lady beetles, or Harmonia axyridis, aren't native to the U.S. But populations of the bug have exploded throughout the South, East Coast, and Midwest, and households across the country are now annually bombarded by the tiny spotted bugs come fall. They prefer our snug houses to the great outdoors, and are known to congregate on and around light-colored buildings, seemingly by the dozens (if not hundreds). Some prefer chilling in quiet places, like attics, and re-emerge on warm winter day or in the spring.

In addition to being unwelcome house guests, Asian lady beetles exude a bitter, smelly aroma, especially if they're crushed, and can stain light-colored surfaces with a yellowish liquid they secrete from their legs. The good news? Asian lady beetles are relatively harmless, although they do bite and some people might be allergic to them.

The secret is prevention. Seal all cracks and crevices in your house with caulk and other materials, as Asian lady beetles typically wriggle their way inside through these tiny openings. (Keep a close eye on home sections where two different construction materials meet, like brick and wood siding.) Also pay attention to cable TV wires, phone lines, and other wires and pipes that run through miniscule, bug-sized holes.

Repair or replace damaged windows and screens, too. As one final preventative measure, install door sweeps or thresholds to all exterior doors, and line your garage door's bottom with a rubber seal. And if you're not chemical-averse, consider pre-treating your home's outside doors, windows, and roof lines with insecticide. (Don't use these products indoors, as they won't deter bugs from coming in.)

If Asian lady beetles do somehow make their way into your home, the only thing you can really do is either vacuum them up (change the bag regularly to avoid a lingering stench), use insect light traps in dark locations, or simply wait it out. By spring, they'll be frolicking in your backyard instead of on your living room ceiling.

[h/t Good Housekeeping]

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