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7 Ultimate Window Cleaning Tips

Everyone loves a crystal clear window, but getting there isn't fun. If it seems that no matter how hard you try to have a sparkling, streak-free window, you're haunted with smears and smudges, this article is for you.

Although cleaning windows is not a difficult task, there are some things that you can do to ensure your windows are as clean as possible. Professionals recommend that you clean the outside of your windows at least twice a year. Many people choose to do it seasonally.

Follow these tricks and tips for easing the frustration involved in this chore.

Outdoor Windows

To get your windows really clean on the outside, you need to start with good equipment. Buying the cheapest will only result in disappointment.

Tip # 1: Choose High-Quality EquipmentBucket

It's best to have a large bucket that's wide enough to fit a mop and a squeegee. Rectangle buckets work great.


Not all squeegees are created equal. For doing outside windows, this is the most important tool of all. Some reputable brands to consider include Unger, Sorbo, and Wagtail. All of these offer durability and come in a variety of sizes.


Scrapers work well to attack caked-on gunk such as insects, varnish, and paint off of windows, however, you have to be very careful how you use them. The wrong technique could damage your window. Be sure to get a scraper that has replaceable blades. A small 3-inch size will do the trick.


Some people like to use vinegar and warm water while others claim that it's not too effective because it doesn't bubble up. Because of this, many people use plain dish soap like Palmolive. If you're using a squeegee, suds are especially important to help the rubber pass over the glass. The also make it easier to see the areas that need more work, since the bubbles separate where there is dirt on the window.


Also called a washer or a wand, a mop consists of a sleeve attached to the end of a T-bar. When the sleeve gets dirty, you can just take it off and wash it. Be sure to purchase a mop with a sleeve that is about 14 inches long and has good water retention.

Tip # 2: Use Cold Water

Dont make the mistake of using warm water -- it evaporates too quickly. It's best to fill a 5-gallon bucket about halfway with cold water and then put in a few squirts of detergent.

Tip # 3: Scrub First

Get the mop wet and scrub the windows to lift all the dirt. Use the scraper to remove any caked-on dirt, insects, etc. Be sure to press the scrapper blade in a forward motion, not backward, as this may cause scratches.

Tip # 4: Squeegee From the Top Down

Although you may not think about it, there is a proper technique when it comes to using a squeegee. Always begin with the squeegee at the top of the window and work in a horizontal path. If you tilt the squeegee, water will be forced out of the bottom. Dry the blade with a clean cloth after each stroke. Be sure that each stroke overlaps the other by about 2 inches. After you're finished with the window, dry the edges with the cloth.

Interior Windows

After cleaning exterior windows, interior windows will seem like a walk in the park. Here are a few tips to keep yours sparkling.

Tip #5: Dust Before You Clean

You can save yourself a lot of trouble if you dust the windows, sills, and even screens before you get right to the glass. There's no sense in leaving all of that dirty and having sparkling glass. If necessary, you can even vacuum out the sills (especially if it has been a long time since you have done this).

Tip #6: Clean On a Cloudy Day

If you clean on a really hot and sunny day, your cleanser or soap will dry too quickly and leave streaks behind.

Tip #7: Make Your Own Cleanser

Just as with cleaning your outdoor windows, choosing the correct cleaning tools when working inside is critical. Many people prefer to use window cleaner spray and a lint-free cloth to clean interior windows. While this works, the best tools for cleaning indoor windows are often the simplest. Choose your cleaner wisely; commercial brands are often overpriced and don't perform nearly as well as some homemade versions. Try combining the following for a streak-free, toxin-free shine each time:

1/4 cup white vinegar1/4 cup isopropyl alcohol1 Tbsp cornstarch2 cups water8-10 drops lemon essential oil

Mix everything in a spray bottle and shake each time you use it as the ingredients will settle. Wipe off with a clean microfiber cloth for best results.

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300+ photos from readers in this weekend's Uploader

vintage stanley furnitureUploader now closed. 300+ reader photos uploaded check them out! ! Above: Reader Melinda scored this vintage Stanley buffet at her local ReStore.

Tips to view slide show: Click on first image it will enlarge and you can also read anycaptions move forward or back via arrows below the photo you can start or stop at any image:

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Four Ways to Know You're on a Home Improvement Show

Four Ways to Know You're on a Home Improvement Show

In most ways we were a pretty typical family. We had our routine: got up in the morning, got the kids to school, went to work, ate dinner, repeat. Normal stuff.

Then our home was selected as a project for This Old House. And just like that - poof - the routine was gone.

As a service for you, reader, I've put together this list. If you notice the following things happening to you, you too may be on a home improvement show.

#1: There are cameras everywhere

One day I came home from work and found this in my living room:


I knew going into this there were going to be webcams, but I had no idea each one was going to be 6 feet tall, make noise and scare the heck out of me every time I walked into the room. Not shown are the ones in the front and back yards, or the one parked outside our bathroom.

#2: Very intense people are telling you what to do. And you do it.

The first filming day was an eye opener. I'll start by saying the crew is incredibly nice and professional. The folks behind the camera have the same level of expertise in their fields as Tom, Roger, Kevin and Norm.

But once it comes time to shoot an episode, they are all business. Here's what it looks like when Tom Draught, the director, tells you what to do during a shot.


See the intensity in his eyes? Clearly this is not a man to ignore.

#3: Funny things are happening all around you.

Here's a picure of TOH series producer Deb Hood showing Tom Silva how to use Twitter. Yes, pigs are now flying. You can follow him here.


#4: You see this thing parked in front of your house


I'm sure we'll get back to our routine once the project is over. But for now we're enjoying the ride!

Posted by Malcolm Faulds | Categories: Arlington Italianate 2013-2014 | Permalink | Comments (4)

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Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Fall

Danny Lipford on porch of home.

Winter will be here before you know it! While it may still feel like summer outside now, this is the perfect time to start preparing your home for the cold weather ahead.

Heating System Maintenance

Start by setting up an appointment with your local authorized Carrier dealer to have your furnace and heating system inspected and serviced.

Man removing cover on heating system.Carrier heating system inspection.

An annual inspection is important to make sure your heating system is working properly and operating at peak performance this winter.

Having your heating system inspected now, rather than waiting until cold weather arrives, will avoid the last minute rush and ensure that you wont be left shivering on that first cold morning.

Its also a good idea to inspect your heating ductwork annually, and seal up any leaks with metal foil duct tape followed by duct mastic.

Be sure to change the air filter on your furnace every month or two during cold, winter weather. Using a quality air filter and replacing it regularly will help keep the air in your home clean and allow your HVAC system to run more efficiently.

Also, be sure to check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace them if needed.

Sealing Up Cracks

Sealing up cracks and gaps around the outside of your home is a great way to keep your house warmer and save energy on your heating bills this winter.

Start by carefully examining the outside of your house for cracks or holes. Fill any cracks with a quality exterior caulking and holes with expanding foam.

Duck Brand Double Draft Seal on bottom of door.Duck Brand Double Draft Seal.

Next, examine the weatherstripping around entry doors and windows for gaps and air leaks.

Adjust any weatherstripping that doesnt fit properly, or replace it with new weatherstripping.

Pay particular attention to thresholds under entry doors, since its easy for gaps there to escape notice.

To seal gaps under doors, adjust or replace the rubber threshold strip, or install additional weatherstripping, such as the Duck Brand Double Draft Seal.

Duck Double Draft Seal is easy to install and seals out drafts both inside and out. It fits doors up to 36 wide, doesnt require nails or other fasteners, and will not damage doors.

Installing plastic window film on window.Installing Duck Roll-On Window Film.

Windows can be another major source of heat loss in your home during cold weather.

Installing Duck Brand Roll-On Window Film on the inside of windows prevents heat loss by trapping a cushion of insulating air between the plastic film and glass.

Duck Roll-On Window Film Kits are easy to install and remove. After the special shrink wrap film has been applied, a hot air hair blower is used to remove any wrinkles in the plastic film.

Preparing for Severe Weather

Severe weather can strike at any time of year, from summer thunderstorms and winter blizzards to fall hurricanes and spring tornados. A portable generator can be worth its weight in gold in the event of an extended power outage due to severe weather.

The Generac iQ2000 portable generator not only provides security in a storm; the lightweight, quiet design make it the perfect companion for powering DIY home improvement projects, camping outings, and tailgating at football games.

Family camping at night with portable generator.The Generac iQ2000 generator is both quiet and portable.

State-of-the-art sound mitigation technology in the Generac iQ2000, combined with advanced electronics, greatly reduces noise. Three engine speeds and an intuitive Turbo mode saves fuel and reduces noise while delivering maximum power when needed.

Generac iQ2000 features include:GENERAC OHV engine that delivers long life and reliable power.Compact, lightweight design provides portable power.Exclusive PowerDial integrates start/run/stop functions into one simple-to-use dial.Smart LED dashboard shows fuel level, remaining run time, and wattage use.Generates 2000 starting watts and 1600 running watts of power.Engineered and built in the USA and comes with a three-year limited warranty.

Taking these simple home improvement steps now will give you a big head start on the cold, winter weather ahead!

Watch Cool Fall Home Maintenance Tips to find out more.

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We want to hear from you! In addition to posting comments on articles and videos, you can also send your comments and questions to us on our contact page or at (800) 946-4420. While we can't answer them all, we may use your question on our Today's Homeowner radio or TV show, or online at

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Expert Interview with Heather Kinkade on Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting

For thousands of years, collecting rainwater for daily use was a common practice; but over the last century, wells and municipal water supplies have taken over as primary water sources.

Today, the diminishing supply of fresh water in wells and aquifers as well as concerns of quality and population growth have lead to a resurgence of rainwater catchment, according to the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA).

We recently caught up with Heather Kinkade, executive director for ARCSA and champion for rainwater harvesting, to learn more about the organization, how rainwater harvesting works and the benefits to homeowners. Heres what she had to say:

Tell us about the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association. Who are you and what do you do?

In 1994, Dr. Hari J. Krishna of Austin, Texas founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) to bring renewed attention to the ancient practice of rainwater harvesting.

ARCSA was created to promote sustainable rainwater harvesting practices throughout the United States and the world. Our mission is to promote sustainable rainwater harvesting practices to help solve potable, non-potable, stormwater and energy challenges throughout the world.

Top promotional efforts include: creating a favorable regulatory atmosphere; creating a resource pool; and educating professionals and the general public regarding safe rainwater design, installation, and maintenance practices.

Being a worldwide organization, ARCSA funds a virtual hub at This cyber home offers the public a vast array of information and resources including a project gallery, workshop calendar, course agendas, professional location directory and more.

ARCSA is a membership-based organization whose benefits include access to leading news about the technology and advancements in rainwater catchment. The site establishes a forum for members to share and gain knowledge about the growing industry. Members include professionals working in city, state and federal government; academics; manufacturers and suppliers of rainwater harvesting equipment; consultants; backyard amateurs; and other interested individuals.

Why are you so passionate about rainwater harvesting? What are the benefits?

I personally am passionate about rainwater harvesting because it is a practice that keeps rain where it falls and, if collected and treated correctly, can allow a source of higher quality water than what is provided by municipalities. It is a decentralized water source that can be maintained by an individual. I have written two books on the subject, one of which is now published in Chinese. Forgotten Rain was my first book, and the second was Design for Water.

Rainwater can be used for any water need that municipal water is used for, and it does not need to be treated for most non-potable uses. Rainwater is also a soft water, so it has an added benefit of not requiring as much soap for cleaning needs. Collecting and reusing rainwater can allow a landowner to reduce storm water retention needs in most areas.

Can you tell us about one of the most exciting or innovative residential rainwater harvesting systems youve come across?

There are too many these days.

We have numerous examples on our website in the project gallery or the 2014 conference virtual tour. There are potable and non-potable projects that range in size from single family to large commercial. There are even rainwater systems for wildlife catchment for all sizes of animals from hummingbirds and tortoises to bats and large game animals. We are even seeing swimming pools being turned into cisterns for rainwater catchment needs.

What can harvested rainwater be used for? Is there anything it shouldnt be used for?

Rain can be used for any water need, and its purification level needs to meet its ultimate intended use requirements. Therefore, if it is to be used to wash typical vehicles, no treatment may be needed; but if it is needed to wash fighter planes, it might need to be treated to ultrapure water levels.

What are some basic ways homeowners can start harvesting rainwater?

Rainwater can be used in both active and passive ways. A gravity system is probably the simplest. A homeowner can catch and reuse the rainwater for passive landscape irrigation at a later date when the soils are dry. Rain barrels are what some people start with, but they soon see how easy and how much they can capture and often end up moving up to a larger tank.

What are some examples of more advanced harvesting systems?

All systems include the same components; it is just the size of storage, level of pumping, and purification needs that may vary. Again, there are lots of systems on the website under project profiles and the 2014 conference virtual tours.

What are some best practices for making sure a harvesting system is clean and safe?

As the emphasis on rainwater harvesting continues to grow, it is important to understand that a healthy rainwater harvesting system requiring minimal maintenance is essential as our industry continues to make positive strides and the rainwater-harvesting phenomenon moves from simple rain barrels to commercial applications.

Storm water laws require most new commercial construction to detain their storm water on the property and release it over time. This has created an opportunity for properly-designed rainwater harvesting systems to become more prevalent and be used to supply water for non-potable uses.

No matter how big or small the system, using four simple design steps will ensure the system is healthy and requires little maintenance. First and most importantly, the rainwater from the roof must be filtered to some level to remove debris that collects on the roof from the water before it goes to the tank. The quality of filter used will determine the amount of maintenance the pre-filter will need to successfully accomplish this first step. It is recommend that the pre-filter be self-cleaning, which requires minimal maintenance and provides highly oxygenated water. The correct pre-filter eliminates the need to ever clean the storage tank.

The second step in this simple process is to reduce any turbulence and introduce the oxygenated water into the tank. Every rainwater storage tank will grow a bio-film that serves as an internal ecosystem. Disturbing this bio-film by simply dumping the water into the tank will not allow for this ecosystem to flourish. Using the proper components will allow the water to gently enter the tank from the bottom and replenish the oxygen throughout the tank.

Step three to a healthy rainwater harvesting system is simply to extract the water from just below the surface of the water. Since we all know this, it makes sense to supply the water source with the highest quality water possible.

The final step to a healthy rainwater harvesting system is to allow the tank to overflow. This can be accomplished simply by allowing the water to exit the tank once it becomes full; however, using an overflow device that uses a skimming effect removes floating matter such as pollen from the tank more effectively. It is also recommended that some type of device is used to keep small animals from entering the tank through the tank overflow.

Providing high-quality water to the pump and any additional purification or filtration devices required for specific applications is essential for any rainwater harvesting system. Using this simple four-step process will ensure your rainwater harvesting system is of the highest quality and will require minimal maintenance regardless of the size of the system.

Are there any common laws or regulations homeowners should be aware of before creating a harvesting system?

Every state is different. ARCSA ASPE ANSI Standard 63 is one we have helped write; it can be purchased on our website bookstore.

What are some of the most common mistakes or oversights you see homeowners making when it comes to managing rainwater?

Maybe not designing large enough storage. Maybe collecting off a surface that is not appropriate for the end use; such as asphalt shingles that have a petroleum base, which can be picked up and carried in to the storage system, or collecting off new wood shakes that have been treated with an algaecide that kills the biofilm in the tank. Not using a pre-filtration can be a big mistake in some areas.

Where can homeowners learn more about rainwater harvesting?

At or by taking one of our rainwater catchment Accredited Professional Workshops.

Connect with ARCSA on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

For gutter protection that will make for easier rainwater harvesting, call Moonworks at 1-800-975-6666.

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