Best Cleaning Practices for Different Types of Furniture

cleaning furniture

Your furniture is one of the biggest investments you make for your home. Learning how to keep it clean will protect your investment for years to come. Don’t let water stains, ink marks, and other tough stains keep you from enjoying your furniture. Use the cleaning practices listed below to keep every type of furniture in your home looking its best.

Wooden Furniture

Dusting and shining your wooden furniture is probably already on your regular cleaning routine. But to keep it in tip top shape, a deep cleaning is needed at least twice a year. The first step is to remove water stains. Place some non-gel toothpaste on the water stain and rub it in with a soft cloth until the mark is lifted. Remove any other marks on your wooden furniture with a paste made of 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of water. Just as with the toothpaste, apply the paste and gently rub with a soft cloth until the stain disappears. Wipe the stained areas off with a damp cloth and dry them thoroughly before moving on. Tannic acid from tea is a wonderful way to clean the entire piece of furniture. After steeping two tea bags in boiling water, let the tea cool to room temperature. Dampen a soft cloth with the tea and wipe the wood. Now it’s time for the polish!

Painted Furniture

This is by far the easiest type of furniture to keep clean. Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar to 2 cups warm water to make a general cleaner good for painted surfaces. Add a small squirt of liquid dish soap for a little extra cleaning power. Wipe the surfaces of your painted furniture with a cloth or sponge dampened with this solution. Use as little moisture as possible to help prevent water damage.

Upholstered Furniture

Vacuum upholstered surfaces on a regular basis. Sprinkling baking soda over the entire piece before vacuuming will help to remove odors and loosen stains. Before using any cleaning detergents or solutions, always check the manufacturer’s care instructions found on the furniture tag. As a general rule fabric upholstery can be cleaned using a mixture of 3/4 cup warm water, 1/4 cup vinegar and one tablespoon of dish soap. Test a small area for any discoloration first and then spot treat any stained areas with this solution. Flip cushions and pillows regularly so both sides wear evenly.

Leather Furniture

Clean leather furniture with a damp sponge or soft cloth and dust it regularly. For a set in stain, use a solution of 1/4 cup white vinegar with 1/2 cup water and clean it with a soft cloth. Follow this by washing with leather saddle soap. Using a monthly application of leather cream will keep the leather material soft and moisturized.

Using these cleaning practices to care for your furniture will help it last for years, saving you money in the long run. If you have a move coming up, contact us at Zippy Shell. We would be happy to discuss how our storage and moving services can also save you money. We will even provide you with a free estimate!

How to Prepare for a Winter Power Outage

house in snow

As the cold weather continues to set in, now is a good time to discuss how to prepare for a winter power outage. Below are some steps anyone can take to ensure that you and your family are prepared to keep warm and keep fed for at least 72 hours of a winter weather power outage. Hopefully, you will never have to use your preparations, but they can be a lifesaver if you do.

Power Outage Supplies

  • Water for drinking and cooking – Sometimes during a power outage, the water supplied to your home by your local water utility may no longer be safe to drink without additional treatment. Packages of bottled water are great to keep on hand because the water stays good for years as long as the seals are not broken.
  • Non-perishable food – During a power outage, eat food from the refrigerator first, then from the freezer, then from your non-perishable food stash. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Be sure to keep a manual can opener in your non-perishable food stash!
  • Emergency lighting – Stock your power outage supply bin with enough flashlights for everyone in your family and make sure to keep extra compatible batteries. Battery powered LED lamps are also helpful to place around the home, especially in dark bathrooms. Place LED lamps or flameless candles in front of mirrors to magnify the light to a larger area.
  • Portable battery bank – Keep a couple of portable battery banks regularly charged that can support your mobile phones and any other important electronic equipment.
  • Alternative source of heat – In addition to heavy blankets and sleeping bags, a fireplace or kerosene space heater will be your best solution if the temperature drops below the level of comfort or safety for you during a power outage. Be cautious as some portable heaters can cause fires or other safety hazards when not used as specified by the manufacturer. Be sure to review the safety specifications of your specific model before using it during an outage.
  • Portable camping stove – Having a way to heat food and water during a power outage is a necessity. If your regular stove runs off of electricity, consider keeping a portable camping stove that runs off of propane in your emergency kit. Store extra propane tanks so you don’t run out!
  • Generator – If it’s in the budget, a generator can provide emergency power to your home during an extended power outage. You can have peace of mind by keeping the lights on, keeping the food refrigerated, keeping the heat running, and keeping a fully charged phone to be able to receive updates. Take care to not operate a generator indoors or in an enclosed area such as a garage where exhaust fumes and the considerable amount of heat produced can cause accidents. Position the generator outside and use a generator specific tent or cover to keep it out of the elements.

For those of you who have weathered a winter power outage in the past, let us know what items were most helpful to you. Check What You Need to Know When the Power Goes Out Unexpectedly from the CDC and Winter power outages: Are you prepared from the Red Cross for more information.

6 Common Painting Mistakes

painting

The number of people working on home renovations, repairs, and DIY projects has already started to skyrocket as the outdoor temperatures plummet. As there is less to do outdoors, the indoor projects get some much-needed attention. One of the most common things people like to do in the winter months is paint. Whether it is painting the walls or painting old furniture, you are going to start to see the paint area of the home improvement stores get extra busy over the next few months. If you have some painting in your near future, take a look at some of the most common painting mistakes you will want to avoid.

SKIPPING THE EDUCATION PROCESS

Unless you are painting a lot throughout the year, a refresher course on how to complete painting projects is a must. You should determine how the specific surfaces you are painting should be prepared, what types of paints and primers are best for your project, and even brushing techniques should be reviewed. You can find free videos on YouTube that will help you feel prepared before you start your projects.

USING LOW QUALITY SUPPLIES

The old adage “you get what you pay for” definitely applies to paint and paint supplies. It’s always important to stay within your budget, but you should also do some research on the reviews of different products and brands. There are affordable options that will work well for your needs, but be careful of buying the cheapest paints, brushes, rollers, and other supplies that you can find. What can happen is after you spend your money on these products you may find that they do not work well for your project and you have to go back out and spend more money on a different brand.

NOT PLANNING AHEAD

Like any home project, if you do not plan out your project, you are going to come across obstacles. Mentally go through the entire project in order to gather all the supplies you need, budget the approximate amount of money, and even the time needed for the project. We often underestimate how long a project will take and find ourselves stressed and rushed trying to finish.

WINGING IT

One of the hardest parts of painting is taping off the areas you are going to paint in order to keep paint off the ceiling, door frames, and baseboards. But this is an important step that can save you a lot of heartache in the end. Plus, those clean and crisp lines that are revealed in the end can be very satisfying!

NOT PROTECTING SURFACES

Not only should you use tape to protect your doorframes, ceilings, and baseboards, but you should use plastic sheeting to protect your flooring. It’s a common blunder to skip the purchase of plastic sheeting or drop cloths in order to save some money and time, but it rarely ends well. It is difficult to get paint out of carpet and even off hardwoods, so don’t skip the step of protecting your surfaces.

NOT LETTING EACH COAT DRY LONG ENOUGH

You may need to prime your surfaces or use multiple coats of paint, but usually, due to impatience, some do not let these different coats dry for long enough. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on drying times before painting the next coats.

We hope you can avoid these common painting mistakes this winter. If you have a home renovation coming up, give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online for a free estimate on our mobile storage options. We look forward to hearing from you!

7 Ways to Prepare Before a Home Inspection

home checklist

During the process of closing a home sale, the buyer typically hires a home inspector to identify health issues, safety issues, or major defects in the home. Things like water damage, structural damage, roof damage, electrical issues, plumbing problems, pest infestations, and HVAC issues can come out in an inspection report. Home inspectors are typically not concerned with purely cosmetic defects in a home. The home inspection report offers a deeper understanding of whether the home has been well-maintained or needs major repairs. If a buyer is not satisfied with the home’s current condition, they can request the seller address the repairs or offer a credit toward the cost of repairs at closing. A home inspection is not a pass or fail situation, but there are ways you as the homeowner can prepare for the inspection and help it go as smoothly as possible.

  • Declutter and clear access areas. The home inspector needs to have easy access to everything on the property including the attic, basement, crawlspace, electrical panels, HVAC systems, and plumbing. The home inspector being unable to access an area due to clutter or for any other reason will send a red flag to the buyers.
  • Make sure your home is pest free. A pest inspection is a separate process performed by a licensed pest inspector who’s trained to look for signs of infestations, but a home inspector can recommend a pest specialist take a closer look based on their findings.
  • Repair any water related issues. Home inspectors definitely focus on leaks and water damage. Check for leaks under sinks, around faucets, around your toilets, bathtubs, showers, and under any appliances that may leak, such as dishwashers and refrigerators. After repairing the leaks, also repair any water damage that you find. While you are looking for leaks, do a little multitasking and also check and clear any clogged drains.
  • Look over the roof. Any damaged or missing roof tiles should be repaired before the inspection. You will also want to remove any roof debris, be sure your gutters are free flowing, and trim trees that are near or hanging over the roof line.
  • Test the functionality of items in your home where the inspector will be focused. Try all the light switches and replace any burnt out bulbs, flush all the toilets, open and close all the windows, run all ceiling and bathroom fans, make sure all pilot lights are lit, and replace the furnace filter.
  • Be prepared to show paperwork with documentation of all maintenance and repairs you’ve done on your home. If you’ve had an insurance claim on your house, include those papers as well so you can prove that you took care of the problem.
  • On the day of the inspection, make plans to be out of the house for several hours. Make arrangements for your pets to also be out of the way. Leave any garage door or ceiling fan remotes accessible and leave any keys needed for electrical boxes or storage areas. Empty any the dishwasher and washer and dryer if they are included in the sale.

From decluttering, to preparing for a home inspection, to packing, to moving, Zippy Shell is available for all your moving and storage needs. We are ready to partner with you for an easy and stress-free move.

5 Ways to Trim Moving Expenses

saving money

Moving to a new home can involve a down payment, closing costs, first and last month’s rent deposit, and many other expenses. So, the last thing you want to add to the list is an expensive move. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your moving costs. Take a look at 5 of our favorite tips for saving money on your move.

Watch for Added Fees

There are many sites where you can receive a free online moving quote, and although these numbers are a good first step, you may find that some of them leave out fees and surcharges that are buried in the fine print. Did you know that moving companies can charge for mileage, fuel, tolls, and even windshield wipers? Little fees can add up to a huge difference in your bottom-line budget. Verify all fees in writing upfront with any company you decide to partner with during your move. If you would prefer to have a little more control over the moving process, consider using Zippy Shell. Whenever you’re ready to move, we’ll drop off our Zippy Shell container at your home. When you have it all packed up, we’ll pick up the container and drive it to your new home. You can even track your container online to see where it is in its moving journey!

Move in the Off Season

If you have any flexibility in the timing of your move, try to move in the off-season. May through September is the typical peak season for moving because children are out of school and parents desire to get into their new place before the new academic year starts. You may find different moving services to be less available or cost more during that time. The first and last days of the month are also peak moving periods as leases expire and renters prepare to move in and out of apartments. Schedule your move for off-peak times for the best prices.

Purge Before Moving

Spend extra time downsizing your belongings before you pack. You should always get rid of unwanted items before any move, but especially if you are trying to trim your moving expenses. Did you know some moving companies charge based on the weight of your items and the distance of your move? You certainly don’t want to end up paying to move items you no longer want or need at your new home. So if you don’t use it, love it, or need it to survive, it doesn’t need to make the move with you!

Save on Packing Supplies

Use packing supplies that you already have around the house. Use thick household blankets in place of moving blankets, wrap fragile items in towels and sheets before packing, and fill extra space in boxes with newspaper instead of purchasing packing peanuts. The most popular places to look for free boxes are grocery stores, office supply stores, book stores, package stores, bars, and restaurants. Many times neighbors will post moving boxes that can be picked up for free in local online neighborhood, trade, or garage sale type groups.

Ask Friends for Help

Your friends can lend a hand in many different ways to help you save money on your move. So often people want to help, but they don’t know how. While not everyone has the physical ability to help you move a couch up a flight of stairs, you can ask for assistance in organizing, packing, providing meals, watching children or pets, or being on the hunt for those free boxes.

Did you know Zippy Shell offers 30 days of free storage for customers who are moving cross country and need to store items until they’re ready to move into their new home? Call Zippy Shell today to get a quote.

Tips for Packing Unusual Items

organization

The portable storage and moving containers used by Zippy Shell offer tons of flexibility with a predictable cost for all your moving and storage needs. Of course, the first step is neatly packing your belongings in boxes and organizing them all with color coded labels. The challenge begins when you come across an oddly shaped or unusual item that doesn’t fit neatly into a typical box. Unusually shaped items are at greater risk of damage during a move. So before loading your container, take a look below for great tips and tricks to pack those challenging items into your storage container.

Fragile Items – For breakable or sentimental items, your first priority is to choose a sturdy box that is secured on the bottom with a minimum of two strips of packing tape. Fragile items require extra packing materials. Have plenty of packing paper, bubble wrap, and packing peanuts on hand before packing. Label all sides of the box with FRAGILE.

Large Appliances – Refrigerators, washers, dryers, stoves, and lawn equipment come with their own set of challenges when packing your container. This first step is to thoroughly clean these items and take off all removable parts. Drain lawn equipment and tools of gas and oil before packing them, as these contents are flammable. For packing appliances, it can be helpful to use manufacturer boxes and packaging if you still have them available. If not, secure moving blankets around appliances with packing tape to prevent damage. Place these heavy items on the bottom layer of your storage container near the center.

Furniture – It is best to disassemble your furniture by breaking items down into the smallest possible components for transporting. Label smaller pieces and place them in boxes. Wrap everything else in moving blankets to prevent scratches and clearly label the screws, nuts, and bolts needed to reassemble your furniture upon arrival.

Televisions – When moving televisions, most people just loosely pack them into their moving trucks or rental containers. This heightens the chance of the TV falling over and cracking or shifting during transportation. A heavy duty TV box kit will protect your televisions from unwanted shifting.

Floor Lamps – Remove the lightbulbs and any lampshades to pack in separate boxes. Wrap the floor lamp base in a moving blanket and secure the blanket with packing tape. Stand it up between two heavy pieces of furniture to keep it from moving during transit.

Odd-Shaped Items – Some things simply will not fit in a box. All you can do is wrap them as safely as possible with bubble wrap, moving blankets, and tape. Protect delicate elements and protruding parts with bubble wrap, then wrap the entire piece in moving blankets and secure with packing tape or plastic wrap. Handle these items with care throughout the move.

We hope these solutions will be beneficial for moving those unusual items that don’t fit neatly into a basic box. If you still have questions, just give us a call and let us know what you need. Zippy Shell aims to make the moving process as simple as possible!

Common Winter Pests and What to do About them

winter pests

It may not be officially winter just yet, but it sure feels like it is. The autumn festivals and pumpkin carving with the kids feels like ages ago now that the frigid temperatures have set in. All most of us want to do is get warm and cozy in the house until it warms back up again. Unfortunately, there are quite a few pests that feel the same way. While some pests, like the ants and mosquitos, have disappeared with the appearance of cold weather, we are going to see some other ones trying to sneak into the comfort of your heated home. Take a look at some of the most common winter pests and what you can do about them.

RATS AND MICE

It is not uncommon to spot a mouse or a rat in the home throughout the winter months. They are looking for warmth, food, and water and will take up residence wherever they can find it. They can, unfortunately, carry diseases that can make humans very sick so if you suspect your home is being visited by rats or mice in the night or when you aren’t around, you should take steps to make sure they are caught. You can find a variety of solutions, including live traps, at most stores. Also important is determining the entryway point for the rodents so you can seal them. For extra assurance, keep the food in your pantry in sealed containers.

COCKROACHES

There are many different types of cockroaches, but I think we all can agree that they are pretty icky. They too look to your home for food, water, and comfortable temperatures. These little critters can get out of control very quickly, especially if they have found a treasure trove of resources. Be sure you are keeping your home clean of food, and even debris like papers and cardboard. You can try to use store-bought solutions like bait traps, but if the infestation gets too out of hand, you may need to call in a pest control specialist to rid your home of these guys.

BROWN RECLUSE AND BLACK WIDOW SPIDERS

We can sometimes see an influx of spiders in the home during the winter months, but most are often harmless. There are two spiders, in particular, that if you see in your home should cause some concern—the brown recluse spider and black widow spider. Thankfully, both of these spiders have distinct markings that make them easy to identify. The brown recluse has a violin-like shape on its back, hence the nickname “fiddleback”. The black widow spider is black with a red hourglass shape on its abdomen. Neither one of these spiders like to be around people, so take care when you disturb dark corners of the garage or rarely used areas of the house. If you were to find multiple spiders, this is another case where we would recommend a professional pest control company to treat your home. These spiders are highly venomous and should not be left in the house.

Have you had to deal with any of these pests during the cold months? Stop by our Facebook page to share your stories with our online community. We look forward to hearing from you!

How to Use Less Water in Your Home

save water

It’s always a good thing to use less energy and water in the home. Last month, we talked about ways to be more energy-efficient and to save money. This time, we will go over some ways you can decrease your water usage.

MAKE SURE NOTHING LEAKS OR RUNS

If you have a leaky faucet or toilet, you can be using far more water than you realize. There are different ways to determine if you have something leaking. First, pay attention to your toilets after you flush them. Once they refill, they should not make any noise. If it continues to run, this is using unnecessary water. You can check for leaky faucets by putting a cup under the faucets at night and checking if there is water in the cups when you get up in the morning. Don’t forget to check around the outside of the house for unexplained water or soggy ground that could be explained by a leaking exterior pipe.

INVEST IN WATER EFFICIENT APPLIANCES

This is not a cheap solution, but if you are using old appliances, you may want to consider investing in newer, more efficient appliances. New dishwashing and washing machines are made to use much less water and energy. You can also swap out your old toilets for the newer low flow or dual flush toilets to help save water.

SWAP OUT YOUR SHOWER HEADS AND FAUCET AERATORS 

If you are still using the shower heads that came with the house, you can purchase and install newer, water restricting or low-flow shower heads. An easy way to choose a water-saving shower head is by looking for a “WATERSENSE” label. This is a program run by the EPA so you know you will be choosing an efficient product. Changing out the aerators on your faucets is another DIY change you can make to use less water when using your faucets. These work to reduce the flow of water by mixing air with the water to use less without creating a noticeable change in water pressure.

JUST USE LESS WATER

This sounds obvious, but there are ways to conserve water just by making some simple changes to your daily habits. Sometimes it can take a few days to train yourself to make and stick to these changes, but we know you can do it. You can start by making sure you are never letting a faucet run when it doesn’t need to be. If you are brushing your teeth, turn the faucet off until it is time to rinse off your toothbrush. When you are shaving, you can use a cup of water to dip your razor in between shaves. Don’t handwash dishes under a running faucet; instead, fill a sink with soapy water to wash all your dishes. You can also challenge yourself to take shorter and faster showers. You can even purchase a shower timer to assist in making this difficult change.

We hope you find these tips helpful and are successful in your goal of saving water in the home. If you have any other ideas on water conservation in the home, stop by our Facebook page and share with our ZIPPY SHELL community. We would love to hear from you!

If you need flexible moving and storage solutions, give us a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online. We can help!

5 Tasks to Complete Before Putting Your House on the Market

House at dusk

Receiving timely, over-asking-price offers is always the goal when placing your home on the market. Today we are sharing 5 tasks that will give prospective buyers a great first impression. In addition, these tasks can add thousands of dollars to the value of your home and cut the time it takes to sell. By portraying the picture of a flawless house, home buyers can see the full potential of your space.

Boost Curb Appeal

Great curb appeal can create a lasting first impression. It’s important that your landscaping looks neat and that it complements your home’s exterior. Make sure your yard is looking its best by clearing out debris, watering the grass, trimming the hedges, mowing the lawn, and putting in a few annual flowers to brighten things up. Clean the exterior of your home and add some bold, vibrantly colored accessories like planters, door decorations, or a welcome sign.

Deep Clean

The kind of clean your home needs to be before listing is not the same as weekly vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning the bathrooms. It is not even the type of cleaning you would do before your mother-n-law comes for a visit. We are talking about a deep, deep clean. This means baseboards, appliances, light fixtures, switch plates, vents, fan blades, windowsills, drawers, cabinets, fireplace – nothing is off limits. Potential buyers will examine your home and its contents with a fine tooth comb. A spotless home will send the message that this is a well-maintained property. Hiring a cleaning crew for a one-time deep clean is definitely a wise investment as it can add to your resale value.

Revive the Flooring

Take a hard look at the area underfoot. Allow your floors to put their best foot forward with a professional cleaning, especially if you have carpet. Hardwood floors should be buffed and polished before the first open house.

Tackle Maintenance

All the little things that annoy you about your home like the drippy faucet, the sticking drawer, or the squeaky closet door should be addressed before putting your home on the market. Buyers will be coming into test drive your home and every blemish can stick out in their mind. This is a good time to tackle the tiny nicks, scuffs, scratches, and holes that may stand out to buyers.

Refresh with Paint

Freshly painted rooms are a natural attraction. Using a light or neutral shade will allow buyers to more easily picture themselves living in your home. Plus, lighter colors will make your home seem larger, cleaner, and more appealing. If your walls are still in pretty good shape, washing them can give the same desired look.

To give the illusion of space in your home, it may prove useful to store excess items off-site. We can deliver all-steel, weatherproof storage containers to you for all your storage needs. Zippy Shell delivers the container directly to your door to be loaded then safely stores all your furniture and other belongings back at our climate-controlled facility – out of sight and mind for you and your potential buyers. If you want a simple way to store your stuff, look no further than Zippy Shell.

5 Safety Checks for the Home

home checklist

Have you checked your home for potential hazards as we get ready to enter the winter season? Take some time this week to do a run through of these important safety checks to make sure your household has a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

  1. ENSURE YOU HAVE SAFE WALKWAYS: Not only do you want to make sure you are keeping your walkways clear of debris, you want to make sure you have everything you need to clear snow or de-ice the walkway if you live in an area where snow and ice is an issue. One of the most common injuries during the winter season is slip-and-fall accidents in the driveway or walkways.
  2. HAVE YOUR FIREPLACE AND CHIMNEY INSPECTED: It is important to have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned each year before use. Soot and built-up creosote can cause fires that can quickly spread to the rest of the home. This can be devastating. Hire a professional to come out to your home to make sure your fireplace is safe to use this winter.
  3. REPLACE BATTERIES FOR ALL ALARMS: You should make sure that all your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms have fresh batteries and that they have all been tested to ensure each one is working properly. Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can be the difference between life and death in a dangerous situation like a house fire or a carbon monoxide leak.
  4. BE AWARE OF POTENTIAL WINTER HAZARDS: The winter season comes with hazards that are not an issue the rest of the year. We tend to use things that increase the risk of a house fire during the winter. Space heaters, in particular, is something that many of us use but don’t always pay attention to the warning labels. Never leave space heaters running unattended. Turn them off when you leave the house. You should also be aware that Christmas trees can be a potential flammable item in your home this winter and turn the lights off when you go to bed or you leave the house.
  5. CREATE A SAFETY PLANS AND KITS FOR POTENTIAL EMERGENCIES: Create safety plans for potential winter emergencies that everyone in the family understands. You should have escape routes in case of a fire. You should have supply kits stocked in the case of a winter snow or ice storm that could have you trapped in your home. If you have a generator that you use when the power goes out, make sure everyone understands how to safely use it. The most important thing is that everyone, including the children, know what they are supposed to do during an emergency situation.

We hope these tips help as you get ready for the winter season. If you have a move coming up, give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online through our website. We have a variety of moving and storage options that will you flexibility for a stress-free move. We look forward to hearing from you!