Top 5 Home Renovations that Will Increase Your Home’s Value

The recession has created a buyer’s market for those looking to purchase homes. As a result, people can afford to be a lot pickier about certain details that they’re looking for. If you watch any of the programs on HGTV, you’ll notice a trend in the kinds of features that they expect to see for the amount of money they’re spending. If you’re thinking about putting your house on the market, take a look at these attributes-as they can sometimes make or break a deal.

Bathroom Fixtures

One of the main things that potential home buyers are interested in are the bathrooms. More so than the number of them that exist, people are paying attention to what they look like. Obsolete bathroom furnishings will instantly “date” your home, making room look less appealing. Jazzing up faucets, lighting fixtures, and even the tile will drastically bring your bathroom up to date.

Kitchen Counters and Appliances

If your home has granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, you can consider yourself lucky; because according to many of the experts on HGTV, these two features are the most requested in real estate. In some cases, home buyers consider these accents necessary aspects of a modern, functioning kitchen. But these aren’t the only materials that will improve the value of your home. Take a walk through your local Home Depot and you’ll be surprised by the plethora of textures available that match your home’s character. The idea in essence, is to make your kitchen look warm, relatively neutral, and most of all-modern.

Curb Appeal

Even if all the improvements in your house are phenomenal, you will still need to entice potential buyers to actually enter the premises. This probably won’t occur if your home’s “curb appeal” is less than desirable. You need not spend tons of money to create a fantasy landscape (though it might help in some cases.) But in general, shrubbery should not be overgrown. Debris and supplies should be kept out of sight. And at the very least, the entrance should appear manicured and well-cared for. Once you’ve given your yard a “shave” you can then concentrate on adding a few simple touches to enhance the look. Metro Atlanta’s Pike Nursery (and even Wal-Mart) is literally a landscaping Mecca for those with a green thumb.

Extra Closet Space

Unfortunately, some houses as nice as they are, don’t offer residents enough closet space. Master bedroom closets are often the first to be inspected by potential homeowners. If your closet is lacking a little breathing room, you might want to consider investing in creating some bigger storage dimensions. Sometimes a complete rebuild cannot be accomplished, in which case you might want to consider refurbishing storage space in another area of the house.

Livable Basement Area(s)

In a time when people are looking to cut corners and save money, homeowners are now looking to their basements as viable living quarters instead of places to store old stuff. If you happen to have a finished basement, you’ve probably got a goldmine on your hands. Homeowners love the idea of having a separate area to comfortably house in-laws, older children, or even renters. Suffice it to say, finishing your basement and providing some additional functionality to your house will boost its value tremendously.

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Keep Toxic Chemicals Out Of Trash: Dangerous Wastes Can Enter Food, Water Chains in Household Garbage


Your home’s medicine cabinets hold potential dangers not only to small children in your family, but to the environment and — ultimately — all of us.

That’s because disposing of old medicines, especially by flushing them, can allow a virtual cocktail of pharmaceutical chemicals to enter the sewers, natural water ways and, eventually, our freshwater drinking supplies. It’s definitely not a case where “what you can’t see can’t hurt you.”

Scientists are discovering more and more how many ordinary household products end up contaminating water resources and harming aquatic life and other creatures higher up the food chain. Their findings go way beyond the already-alarming recent revelation of the presence of numerous pharmaceuticals in municipal drinking water supplies in the U.S.

Chemicals linked to detergents, perfumes, antibacterial soaps and medications, for instance, have been found in earthworms, which play a fundamental role at the beginning of the human food chain. And discarded birth-control pills, hormone-replacement medications and livestock hormones have been linked to sexual and developmental abnormalities in fish, frogs and other animals.

So how can you avoid contributing to the problem? These three recommendations can help:

  1. Check with your pharmacy before discarding old prescription medications. Initiatives like the Teleosis Institute’s Green Pharmacy Program now accept certain unused pharmaceuticals for environmentally safe disposal. Some aid organizations also collect medications for use in developing countries or after natural disasters. If old drugs you no longer need can help someone else rather than end up contaminating the environment, why not take the time to find out how?
  2. Keep disposed drugs from leaking into the environment. First, to discourage anyone else from using old medications, crush pills, mix with salt, flour or charcoal, and return to the original container. Then, tightly wrap the container with duct tape and seal in a plastic zip bag before throwing in the trash. Tossing out old medications this way helps reduce the chances of chemicals seeping into landfills and eventually entering natural waterways.
  3. Finally, avoid unnecessary medications whenever you can. While some medicated products are essential, you can easily do without others such as antibacterial soaps. These soaps not only contain triclosan that can harm algae and fish, but they’re increasingly being blamed for encouraging the rise of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that are dangerous to animals and people alike. Stick with old-fashioned soap and water for hand-cleaning, and consider — carefully — natural remedies for other conditions. You can find helpful information about such remedies at MayoClinic.com and the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine Index.

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Interior Designer Brian Gluckstein: Gluckstein Design Founder and Toronto Interior Design Star

Brian Gluckstein stood in the doorway of his campus at Ryerson University, wondering where his newly acquired BA in interior design would take him. Fast-forward two decades from then, and he is the mastermind behind Gluckstein Design Planning Inc. – one of the most sought-after design companies in the GTA.

“I worked for a small design firm in the city and then a few years after, I opened up my own firm,” Gluckstein recalls of his road to the top. “Some very important architects and art consultants have recommended me to some of Canada’s most important families and it just started right away.”

Today, his company employs a talented group of designers with extensive international experience. They offer a complete range of upscale interior design, planning and project management services to residential and corporate clients, residential developers, as well as the hospitality and leisure industries.

The firm’s design work extends to the design of custom furnishings and accessories, rugs, china and tableware, as well as stationary and signage.

The Power of Word Of Mouth

When asked about his success and professional accomplishments, however, Gluckstein chooses to remain modest. “Staying in business this long is probably my biggest accomplishment,” he laughs. “There is not one project that really stands out as sort of your milestone in the business. I think that each one propels you to the next.”

He explains that his company relies on its excellent reputation and word of mouth to find new clients – something that must constantly be upheld, motivating him to work extra hard on every project he takes on.

“When people see current work, it stimulates new people to hire you. I always think that what we are working on currently will bring more work after that,” he adds. “Its evolution, but all of our work is word of mouth, so most of the people that call us know someone that has worked with us in the past, which is the best thing.”

Gluckstein has had the pleasure of designing for some of the world’s most famous names, in addition to handling the top condominium projects in Toronto. His resume also includes the prestigious Windsor Arms Hotel and the Avenue Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto.

Great Design is More Than Just Following Trends

Gluckstein Design Planning Inc. employs both traditional and modern design styles. The firm aims to create timelessness and cleanness to every space by mixing bits of modern flair into traditional spaces, and vice versa.

“I think great design has longevity to it,” Gluckstein explains. “There is a difference between great design and fads. I think we definitely see a lot of trendy spaces or fads, and that’s fine in a space that may be demolished quickly. So it might be fine for a presentation centre or a retail space or a restaurant that, maybe, has a five-year life. I probably wouldn’t do it in a space like a private residence or the common areas of a condominium where they are going to have to last a long time.”

He believes that great design never goes out of style, citing a book by a California designer in the 1950s as an example. “I was looking at book on a designer named Michael Taylor,” he recalls. “I was showing some of our designers the spaces that he designed that looked just incredible. Just very inspirational space. Traditional space but very light, very beautiful.”

“And then I opened up the book in front of everybody and said ‘I love these spaces, aren’t they beautiful?’ and they said ‘Oh yeah, they’re really cool, they’re beautiful.’ So I said, “Do you realize those spaces are 50 years old? Well they could have been today!’”

Gluckstein’s theory is that great designs can truly last forever. He believes that the only reason homeowners may want to redesign such spaces is because they have lived there too long, rather than the design growing out of style.

He states that a traditional design dating back to the 1920s can still look fresh today with the addition of a few modern pieces. His passion for traditional architectural details allows him to integrate classical designs into the most modern spaces, resulting in a clean, sophisticated design he can be proud to put his name on.

In fact, his own home shows off a blend of antiques mixed with contemporary furniture to complement the traditional architecture of the house. True to his work, you can see a few modern pieces throughout.

“It’s like a woman wearing a beautiful, simple Armani dress with a broche or a necklace that’s from the 1920s,” he explains. “You look at that and say, ‘Wow! That’s such an incredible piece!’ It’s how you use them together to make it sophisticated and current.”

If he moves, Gluckstein …

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Green Living

Eau De Genève

There are three carafe models, all of which have printed on them the words Eau de Genève meaning – Geneva (tap) water.

The classic model, illustrated here, incorporates the words into a minimalist, elegant graphic design that also uses the rest of the logotype: purement et simplement. The other two models leave the ‘’purely and simply’’ out, and feature water-themed images by two popular local cartoonists instead.

The shape of the carafe was specially created for SIG by a local design firm, Stojan & Voumard. Each carafe costs 20 Swiss francs (just over US $ 17).

Eau De Genève Carafes: Recyclable, Practical, Successful

The glass from which Eau de Genève carafes are made is, of course, recyclable as is the cardboard box the carafe is sold in.


The dimensions of the vessel have been thought through so the 1.1 liter bottle (just over 37 US fluid ounces) fits on the rack of a refrigerator door.

In view of the success of the carafe, which can be purchased at outlets in Geneva listed on SIG’s website, in April 2020 the water utility company brought out another 10,000 of them.

By the end of April 2020, SIG had sold nearly 12,000 carafes for a total of 58,500 Swiss francs (about US $ 50,550) profit – that included the entire first edition of 10,000 carafes launched in March 2019, and some from the 2020 series.

All of the 5 francs profit on each carafe sold is donated to a Swiss not-for-profit, H2O Energies. With it, the organization is building a water filtration and purification unit in rural Kenya.

Some Other Cities’ Tap Water Carafes

SIG is not the only water utility to feature the carafe idea – there is for example Eau de Paris and London On Tap.

‘’Paris was the first to do this, in 2006’’ says the initiator and manager of the Geneva project, SIG external communication manager Thierry Truchet. ‘’It too has specially-created designs, but they don’t contribute proceeds to a humanitarian cause. London came after us, and has both a special design and a contribution.’’ Part proceeds of the London carafes go to the international NGO WaterAid.

‘’I stay in touch with the people working these projects in both Paris and London; we’re not in competition. It’s valuable to share experiences, ’’ adds Truchet.

Geneva’s Drinking Water

The subject of health benefits (or not) derived from drinking tap water offers just as lively a topic for debate in Geneva as it does anywhere else in Switzerland and elsewhere, but this article is not the place to address the issue. Those with questions in Geneva can study SIG’s abundant technical information about its water, and should doubts persist are free to buy small home water purification units which are in any case easily affordable and available on the Swiss market.

According to SIG, just what makes Geneva’s tap water worth buying a carafe to serve it in?

Truchet highlights the following points: ‘’For one thing, it’s really well balanced as far as mineral salts go, and has a low level of nitrate. For another: we say ‘it tastes good’ and what that means is, it doesn’t have a taste – that’s what makes it good.’’

A third point, Truchet says, is that drinking tap water is more environmentally friendly. ‘’It’s 100 to 1000 times eco-friendlier than bottled waters depending on whether or not they are packaged in plastic and how far away [abroad] they’re being shipped from, not to mention the environmental impact of trucking them to national sales outlets.’’

‘’And finally, of course,’’ Truchet adds, ‘’the cost is just a fraction of what you pay for bottled water.’’…

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Green Living

Make Your Celebrations Green Year-Round: Mom-Daughter Book Shows How to Have Greener Holidays


After hauling in one sugar-laden goodie after another, the girls came to a house where the featured treat was a small jar of bubble-blowing soap … and the reaction was pure joy.

“Suddenly it occurred to me that Halloween didn’t have to be about candy,” Colwell-Lipson recalls. “I began to wonder, couldn’t Halloween be healthier and still fun? And while we’re at it, couldn’t Halloween be more earth-friendly too?”

The answer to both questions was, “Sure, why not?”

That revelation led first to a Green Halloween movement, and has now blossomed into an all-out mission to make year-round holiday celebrations more eco-friendly. So Colwell-Lipson and her Mom, Lynn Colwell, have come out with a new book, Celebrate Green!: Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations & Traditions for the Whole Family (The Green Year).

“Our goal in writing this book was to open minds to potentials and possibilities,” writes Lynn Colwell. “We are not the green police. We want everyone to enjoy every single celebration, but not to walk through them mindlessly as if the choices we make, as easy as they are, are unimportant.”

All it takes is a quick look through Celebrate Green! to realize that the concept of environmentally aware holidays isn’t difficult, dull or dreary. Colwell and Colwell-Lipson present their ideas in a light and entertaining way, making the book fun to read and easy to digest. But there’s ample substance as well, with plenty of statistics and facts to back things up. And, best of all, lots and lots of tips and instructions for greening the holidays.

Among the book’s many highlights are:

  • Lots of suggestions for healthful or non-candy Halloween treats, eco-themed costume ideas and natural face paints
  • Tips for a healthy and sustainable Rosh Hashana
  • Suggestions for a green Diwali
  • An extensive look at how to prepare an ethical and small-footprint Thanksgiving meal
  • Eco-friendly Christmas decorating tips
  • A comprehensive and clever guide to natural egg-decorating at Easter time
  • Creative and green gift ideas for Father’s Day
  • Tips for Earth-friendly summer grilling
  • And lots of unique and appealing recipes for dishes like Beet Hummus, Cranberry Ginger Cider, Eco-Egg Salad and Vegetable Enchiladas Guatemalan Style

In fact, from birthdays and baby showers to weddings and graduations, Colwell-Lipson and Colwell cover practically every celebration imaginable, presenting a wealth of ways in which everyone can lighten their footprint on the Earth while still having plenty of fun with family and friends. That makes Celebrate Green! a book that’s not only a pleasure to read, but a valuable guide that is sure to referred to time and again throughout each year.

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Bedroom Decorating Tips and Romantic Bedrooms

The bedroom is without a doubt the most personal room in the house. Most people do a lot of living in the living room, and everyone has to spend some time in their bedroom no matter what. When it comes to decorating a bedroom, the most important thing to consider is what it’s mostly used for. There are tons of outlandish suggestions on how to make silly themes for a bedroom, but a personalized theme will make the best one now and in the long run.

Bedroom Furniture Layout

The best way to make a bedroom more pleasant without spending more money is to give it a proper layout. While the amount of furniture in the room should be kept to a minimum no matter what the design is, it’s where the furniture is placed that really makes or breaks the general feel of the room. The one thing just about everyone does in their bedroom is sleep, so the beds should be at the focal point of the room.

Try situating the head or headboard of the bed on a wall opposing the entrance to the room. Drape a comfy blanket in a favorite color or style and it becomes the centerpiece of the room. This generally allows that focal point to be seen as someone enters the room. Keep good spacing in dressing areas and try placing lights where a mirror can reflect it for added space illusions.

The size of the room is important for the décor design as well. Smaller rooms need to be as clutter free as possible so any unnecessary furniture items should be avoided. Light colors on the walls is the age-old trick to make small bedrooms seem bigger, also mirrors placed in the “longest” part of the room seem to visually open up the room. Large rooms are easy as long as the bed is perfectly placed. Options of a reading table or a detached walk-in closet can give a ritzy feel to a room. Large wall paintings and other floor-to-ceiling décor like large dramatic wardrobes or curtains can add a majestic feel to any bedroom.

Create a Romantic Bedroom

The Most sought after feel for a shared bedroom is a romantic one. Romance is represented well by deep colors that are close to red but nowhere near a bright red. Deep purples and magentas will achieve the affect and go well when paired with a nice cream. White is nice when used exclusively with other colors as accents, but color tends to be more effective. There are almost always some very nice, romantic beddings on sale through Kohls’ coupons online.

Mirrors and lighting do a great deal for the romantic ambiance get creative with lights that change over time or dimming lights. Hearts and flowers are good when used subtly. Keep the colors in line with the rest of the room and don’t go cheesy or it will get old quickly.

It’s not hard to decorate a bedroom. Space and placement are key design factors. Also, don’t forget that there isn’t anything less romantic than a TV staring at the bed!

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Old-Fashioned Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup: A Recipe for Making Chicken Stock and Noodles from Scratch

Chicken soup is comfort food for the body and soul. Full of nutrition, warmth and flavor, this recipe for homemade chicken and noodles is the perfect finish for a cold winter day.

Making Chicken Stock


  • One 5-8 pound chicken, thawed and well-rinsed
  • Two large carrots
  • Two large celery stalks
  • One whole onion
  • Two cloves garlic
  • Salt (may use table salt, garlic salt or celery salt or a combination) and pepper to taste
  1. Place chicken, vegetables, onion and garlic cloves in a large, heavy stockpot. Fill with warm water until chicken is completely covered. Bring to a boil on stove, then reduce heat and simmer for two hours on low heat.
  2. Using tongs, carefully remove chicken, vegetables, onion and garlic from stockpot. Discard vegetables. Allow chicken to cool before handling.
  3. Carefully strain chicken stock with a strainer. Use a kitchen fat separator to remove excess oils from stock. Return strained, skimmed stock to stockpot. Season with salt and pepper.

Making Homemade Noodles


  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk or half-and-half
  1. In small bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir in eggs and milk with fork. Mix until all ingredients are combined, but do not over mix. Too much handling will result in tougher noodles.
  2. Remove dough and knead on floured surface. Again, just knead until dough is workable. Shape dough into a ball and roll with floured rolling pin. Flatten until dough is 1/2 inch thickness.
  3. Using a pizza cutter or kitchen shears, cut dough into strips for noodles. These noodles will expand in the chicken broth, so cut into thin ribbons. Let rest on floured surface for 15-30 minutes.

Preparing Chicken for Soup

After boiled chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones. Discard. Carefully shred light and dark meat into bite-sized chunks. Chicken will separate as it simmers in the broth, so chunks do not need to be tiny.

Preparing Chicken Noodle Soup


  • One batch homemade chicken stock
  • One batch homemade noodles, uncooked
  • Cooked, shredded chicken meat, light and dark
  • Five large carrots, sliced
  • Three celery stalks, sliced
  1. In large stockpot, bring chicken stock to a boil. Add three cups water and simmer.
  2. To simmering water, carefully add homemade noodles. Stir gently. Add sliced vegetables. Cover and simmer on low heat for 60 minutes. Taste before serving. Season with table salt, flavored salt and freshly cracked pepper as desired

Serve homemade chicken soup with a crisp green salad and homemade bread.

This is a delicious addition to a Soup Swap Party.

Chicken stock freezes well and can be used as a base for many other soup recipes.…

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Go Green Simply – April: Tips to Help You Make Environmentally-Friendly Changes

Here are this month’s five steps you can take to modify your lifestyle and practice more environmentally-conscious choices. To date a total of 15 tips have been provided and hopefully you have been able to incorporate most of those into your lifestyle already.

With each resolution you incorporate into your daily routine, you will find practicing these environmentally-friendly lifestyle tips easier and you will soon notice a difference in how you go about your life on this fragile planet, not to mention the financial benefits of living eco-friendly.

Use only 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Paper

Your toilet tissue and computer paper might say they are from recycled sources, but were they derived from 100% post-consumer recycled paper? If not, you might be surprised to know that trees were still used to produce your products. Post-consumer content is paper that has been collected back from consumers and then remade into a new product. When a product just states it is made with “recycled” materials and does not include a high level of post-consumer content, this simply means that the leftover tree products at the mill were reused during production. Therefore, recycled paper does not mean that it has helped to reduce landfills or conserve forests. By buying only 100% post-consumer recycled content ensures that no virgin fibre was used.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

We have been hearing about the three “Rs” for years, but don’t underestimate the importance of this simple slogan. Take a mental inventory of your home and the things that you can do to minimize your environmental impact. Go from room to room to conduct your mental inventory and think of items you can reduce your use of and overall consumption. Are there any items you could be recycling that for one reason or another you have not yet been doing? What items in your house can be reused instead of discarding or recycling immediately after using? Remember that recycling still takes energy and resources so the more you can reuse an item before recycling, the better.

Avoid Harmful Chemicals

Going back years ago when reduce, reuse and recycle first became popular, there was plenty of talk about the damage caused by aerosols and the Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) contained within them. While the production of CFCs has basically been banned in much of the world, this is not to say that there are not plenty of other regularly household items that may have harmful amounts of chemicals and toxins. One way to avoid harmful chemicals is to only buy natural cleaning products and toiletry products, which are formulated only from naturally-occurring elements. If a cleaner is corrosive to human skin, one can only imagine the damage those same chemicals must do to the soil. With young children or any pets in the house, there are a plethora of reasons to ditch the chemical cleaners and other products and opt for a more natural alternative.

Eat Local

This has become the latest catch phrase in the environmental movement and everyone is talking about “eating local.” There is a simple logic behind it: eating local means eating products that were grown in the vicinity of your city or town and was not shipped or transported by truck from around the country or world. This is a better environmental choice because eating locally uses fewer resources, energy and helps to support a sustainable farming economy in your region without relying on other jurisdictions to provide food items.

Switch your Light Bulbs

If you haven’t already made the transition from incandescent light bulbs to Compact Florescent Light (CFL) bulbs, you have a lot of catching up to do. Despite the small amount of mercury contained in CFL bulbs (which means that these bulbs must be properly disposed of at the facilities provided by your municipality to handle dangerous waste), these bulbs have emerged as the best choice for the environment and for your energy bill savings. They are available in a variety of sizes now and have a drastically longer life than regular light bulbs, while consuming just a fraction of the energy of incandescent bulbs.…

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How to Organize a Utility Closet: Organizing Tips to Store Household Cleaning Supplies

Utility closets keep much-needed cleaning supplies out of sight and yet close at hand. Keeping this storage space well-organized and neatly arranged means that cleaning up is easier and quicker. For homes that don’t have a dedicated utility closet, it will be a good idea to identify and allocate a specific area to store household cleaning supplies and keep it organized.

Here are easy ways on how to create, arrange and organize a fully functional utility closet.

Contents for the Utility Closet

The first step will be to collect everything that will go into the utility closet. Here is a list of cleaning items that most homes will require.

  • Brooms,mops,bucket and dust pan
  • Trashcan liners and plastic bags
  • Paper towels, kitchen towels, dusters and rags
  • Sponges, scouring pads, brushes and scrubbers
  • Vacuum cleaner and attachments
  • Protective gloves
  • Various cleaning sprays—glass, oven, kitchen and floor
  • Various polishes—furniture, brass, silver, floor wax or coating
  • Car cleaning supplies
  • Spare flashlight and batteries
  • Step stool

Creating Space and Storage in the Utility Closet

While the list of household cleaning supplies may be long, one does not really need a big closet to house them. All that is required is a small closet or even, a few shelves in a larger cabinet. Regardless of the size of the closet, it will be a good idea to add hooks and pegs to the insides of the closet doors and to the back and sides of the closet. Adjustable shelving will be a big plus.

Storing Items and Arranging the Utility Closet

The next step will be to arrange the items in the closet. Here are a few organizing tips for storing the various household cleaning products.

  • Use hooks and pegs to hang broom, mop, dustpan, gloves and anything else that can be conveniently stored by hanging.
  • Store plastic bags and trash can liners inside a plastic bag container or any plastic box with a lid.
  • Line shelves with paper and arrange cleaning sprays and polishes neatly in trays or baskets. Follow the principle of storing like items together. For instance, glass cleaning supplies should be in one basket while floor cleaning supplies will be in a separate basket.
  • Add a paper towel holder to the inside of the door. Store extras by stacking and arranging neatly on one of the shelves.
  • Scouring pads, scrubbers and other such items can be kept in their original packing and stored in containers or baskets to hold them all together.
  • Cleaning caddies can also be used to hold frequently used items together.
  • A closet rod can be used to hang storage bags and keep towels, dusters, scrubbers and brushes together.
  • Closet floor space can be used to store the vacuum cleaner along with its attachments and the step stool.
  • Put up easy to read labels, where needed, so that other family members know where everything goes.
  • Keep the closet locked to prevent small children from getting into it.

Once all the items are organized and kept neatly, finding the right cleaner or cleaning implement to keep the house spotless will be quite easy. Do use these organizing tips for arranging and storing household cleaning products neatly and creating a centralized storage space for them.

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