6 Best Tips for Achieving an Organized Home

A woman is organizing her home closet

No matter what stage you are in, life can get busy. Having an organized home can help you to quickly find what you need, allowing you to stay focused on the important things in life. Being organized and getting rid of clutter also helps to reduce the time it takes to keep your home clean, and who doesn’t want that! Here are our best tips for maintaining an organized home that you enjoy.

  1. Start small and only tackle one space at a time. Break organization tasks into small, manageable chunks. Setting out to organize your entire home in one swoop can lead to becoming overwhelmed and giving up before the job is complete. Set aside 30-45 minute chunks of time to dedicate to organizing with no distractions and only focus on one area at a time.
  2. Take an inventory of everything of value in your home. Inventory lists can be categorized by room, type of item, collection, or other relevant criteria. It can be a digital or a hard copy. This sounds like a lot of work, but the benefits outweigh the time it will take. An inventory list can eliminate much of the time spent looking for items around your home or purchasing items you already have. It can also be a lifesaver if you’re ever in a situation where you need to replace your personal property after a loss.
  3. Have a designated area near the entrance you most use for all your family’s “stuff.” You know the stuff we are talking about – keys, shoes, jackets, bags, hats, mail, all the things on your body or in your hand when you walk in the door. Without a designated area to store these items near the entrance, they will just be trailed throughout the house.
  4. If you have kids, create a toy storage system and stick to it. Quite often, toy clutter is caused by simply not having enough storage or not having the correct type of storage. Whether you choose to store toys in a basket or bin, on a shelf or in a cabinet, out in the open, or hidden, toy storage needs to be practical and easy. Using cut-out pictures taped to the appropriate box, bin, or shelf will help children who can’t read yet identify where items belong. The ultimate goal is to have your kids put their toys away!
  5. Have a designated donation box. Place a large container out of the way in your garage, attic, or an extra closet. When an item is no longer needed, immediately place it in the box. When the box gets full, immediately take it to the donation center. This system will keep unused items from piling up and taking up space in your home.
  6. Change your mindset. Don’t put items down; put them away. Once you have everything organized, be mindful of what led to the clutter in the first place. Instead of setting stuff down on the nearest surface, take a moment to put your items back in their designated spot. Live by the saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

In your quest for an organized home, you might find that your best option is to store some of your lesser-used items. Zippy Shell provides simple, climate-controlled storage solutions, and our contact-free delivery will give you one less thing to worry about. Learn more by visiting www.zippyshell.com today!

Keeping Your Home Clean with a Furry Family Member

A dog licks its owners face

Our furry family members can reduce stress, improve health, bring joy, and lengthen our lives. But the question must be asked, can pets and a clean house even coexist? Dog and cat lovers know that the benefits of love, friendship, and entertainment far outweigh a little mess. The keys to keeping your home clean with a dog or cat residing there are to be diligent in mess prevention and cleaning up the inevitable accidents as soon as possible. Use the following tips to create a clean, safe haven for both you and your furry companion.

  • Pet toys spend a lot of time in mouths, in the yard, at the park, in puddles, on dog beds, and many other places where dirt and grime can be picked up. It is best to purchase easy-to-clean toys and won’t hold onto odors or stains. Rubber toys can be placed on the top shelf of the dishwasher for a deeper clean, and soft machine washable toys can benefit from a run through the washing machine. For the safety of your pet, be diligent about throwing away damaged toys.
  • Machine washable bedding is a must to keep a clean smelling home with pets. Remove all visible hair from the bedding with a vacuum, lint brush, or wet washcloth. Run it through the washing machine (in a load separate from your clothing) with a mild, perfume-free detergent adding a ½ cup of vinegar to the wash. Clean bedding will minimize smells and eliminate all the dirt, bacteria, allergens, and even fleas that your pet has brought into the house from the outdoors. If your pet sleeps in your bed, wash your bedding at least once a week. The same goes for favorite household blankets that your pet likes to snuggle with. And if your pet has a favorite chair they like to nap in, throw a sheet over it that can be easily washed.
  • Minimize pet dirt and grime inside your home by cleaning your pet outside before they ever get a chance to track it in. At the very minimum, clean dirty paws before bringing them inside. If they are a dirt roller, a full spray down may be required. Keep towels on hand to dry everyone off before coming inside.
  • If you have a dog or cat that sheds, then you know the necessity of having a strong, high-powered vacuum. Stay on top of the accumulation of fur and dander by running the vacuum several times a week. A handheld vacuum or lint roller can take care of the job in between big vacuums. Additionally, a robot vacuum can be a game-changer when you have pets. It can run while you are away or at night while everyone in the household sleeps.

Loving on your pets is a lot more important than being stressed over muddy paws and shedding, but we hope these tips will be helpful to you as you create a home for yourself and your pets. Zippy Shell is always ready to partner with you if you need a storage solution or looking at a local or long-distance move. Give us a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online for more information on our moving and storage options.

Invest in Your Home With These DIY Projects

A family takes a break from painting their house

It is never a bad idea or a wrong time to invest in your home and capitalize on the long-term benefits of home improvement. DIY home improvement projects reduce the amount of money you spend on a project giving you the most significant return on investment. Plus, the satisfaction and enjoyment you will receive from creating a better home environment and learning new home improvement skills are just bonuses. We have rounded up a list of DIY projects you can start on today.

  • Painting – This is an easy one to start developing your DIY skills. Painting anything and everything is a great cost-effective way to completely transform your home’s look and give you the most bang for your DIY buck. It can be messy, and you will have to move things around, as it can take a while for the paint to dry between coats. But trust us, it is worth it!
  • Update Fixtures – Light fixtures, bathroom fixtures, kitchen fixtures, doorknobs, and cabinet hardware are all easy DIY updates that can make a huge difference.  Fixtures go in and out of style pretty frequently and can quickly turn a dated-looking home into a beautiful home. 
  • Upgrade Your Doors – A new front entry door will add to the beauty of your home and will reduce utility bills. It also has one of the highest returns on investment. Replacing your garage door is another DIY option. You can upgrade to a spiffy new steel model and save some cash by keeping the same motorized opener.
  • Go Green – Instead of building a privacy fence, plant one! By planting a living privacy fence, you can create the seclusion you crave, block noise, and create a natural windbreak. While a living privacy fence is not a quick fix, your patience will be rewarded with a unique botanical barrier that serves your purposes and helps save the earth. There are a wide variety of plant options for your living fence. Evergreen trees, evergreen or flowering shrubs, or ornamental grasses are all good ideas. You can also consider a trellis covered in vines or a structure that will support a vertical garden.
  • Finished Basement or Attic – Depending on the size, this project may take a little more time and will likely require professional help. The result will provide you with additional square footage that everyone could use right now. Think about using the new area for a home office, a guest room, a workout area, or a place to entertain.

Are you inspired yet? If you need extra storage space to work on DIY home improvement projects, Zippy Shell has onsite and portable storage solutions perfect for the job. You can feel confident knowing that your furniture, appliances, and personal belongings are safe and within easy reach during home improvement projects. You can also use our storage containers to house your project materials and tools. A portable storage container is like having your very own storage facility located right on your property. Learn more and receive a free, no-obligation quote by visiting www.zippyshell.com today.

6 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Not Skip

A nice home front in a neighborhood

It is essential to keep up with the maintenance around your home and property to keep everything in good repair. There is nothing worse than an ill-timed breakdown when some simple maintenance could have prevented it. We have listed six commonly skipped maintenance tasks that we think are too important to forget. Take a look!

Have your HVAC unit serviced

If you have your HVAC unit serviced at least once a year, you will find that you maintain peak energy efficiency and prolong the life of the unit. Just like with your vehicle, regular maintenance helps prevent breakdowns that could potentially end with you needing to replace the whole unit.

Check your sump pump

If you have a sump pump, you know how vital it is to be in good working condition. If it stops working, you want to know about it before a big rainstorm, not after! You should consult the owner’s manual for your sump pump and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance. You can also have your sump pump professionally inspected if you prefer.

Clean your refrigerator condenser coils

The condenser coils on your refrigerator are located at the bottom of the back of the fridge. They work to cool and condense the refrigerant. If they get covered with dirt, dust, debris, and pet hair, they will not be able to release heat efficiently and will make your fridge work harder and harder until it eventually gives out. It’s a relatively easy job to clean them. You can purchase a coil cleaning brush to scrub off the coils, vacuuming as you go. Be sure you unplug your fridge anytime you work on it.

Clean your exhaust fans

Your bathroom exhaust fans are important for making sure that condensation doesn’t build up in your bathroom, causing mildew and mold. If it gets full of dust, it can stop working efficiently. You should make sure to clean it once a year. This task requires a little more effort but will be worth it. First, turn the power off to the fan at the circuit box. Remove the grate covering the fan and wash it with a gentle dishwashing liquid and warm water. You can then remove the dust on the fan assembly with compressed air or a vacuum attachment. Once everything is clean and dry, you can replace the grate and turn the power back on.

Clean your dryer vents

If you have ever noticed that your clothes are taking longer and longer to dry, they are coming out of the dryer hot (not warm) to the touch, or you smell something burning, it is time to clean out the vents to your dryer. This is an easy task, but you may need to visit your local home improvement store to purchase a dryer vent cleaning kit. It usually will include a long brush and vacuum attachment that can fit into the vent.

Check for dead limbs and trees around your home

Dead limbs and trees near your home present a real danger. It would be best to do regular checks on the trees close to the home or hire an arborist to do an evaluation.

We hope these tips help as you make your home maintenance list this year. If you have a move coming up, feel free to give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online. Our portable storage options are perfect for any move or storage needs you may have.

We look forward to hearing from you!

5 Reasons to Have Houseplants in Your Home

Some plants sit in the sun on a home window sill

Live houseplants are becoming more and more sought after since the global pandemic began. Plants are a great way of bringing the outside in and giving your home a boost of nature. If you haven’t jumped on the houseplant trend, take a look at 5 other reasons we think you need plants in your home.

#1 They can be functional

Not all houseplants are meant to be looked at. You can choose houseplants that are functional to you as well. Aloe vera, eucalyptus, lavender, dwarf lemon trees, and various windowsill herbs are popular choices for people who want houseplants that can also be used in everyday life.

#2 Plants are great for mental health

Studies are showing that houseplants can provide benefits to our mental health. They can lower stress, increase happiness, and even improve our concentration and productivity. In fact, there are even some reports of medical practitioners prescribing potted plants to patients who are experiencing anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

#3 Plants can be an inexpensive way to interior decorate

If you open any interior decorating magazine, you are going to see houseplants. That is because they are a beautiful and inexpensive way to add dimension, color, and life to practically any room. According to the size and type of lighting you have, you can use large trees or even a succulent garden. No matter which direction you go, we know it will add character and color to your space.

#4 Certain plants can help purify the air

In the 1980’s, NASA published a study that indicated plants could have a positive effect on indoor air quality. There have been mixed results on this topic ever since—with some studies showing they do help filter the air, while others say you would need a room full of plants to achieve positive results. But with some careful selection, they couldn’t hurt! Spider plants, English ivies, ferns, snake plants, peace lilies, Chinese evergreens, aloe vera, and pothos are some of the most common varieties of houseplants said to filter different harmful toxins in the air.

#5 Caring for houseplants can become a relaxing hobby

Keeping live houseplants can become a satisfying hobby. The daily act of checking on them, watering, pruning, and inspecting can be very cathartic for some people. Just be sure to not overwhelm yourself with more than you can realistically care for or it may have the opposite effect and become a source of stress.

We hope this helps inspire you to try your hand at keeping houseplants this year! If you have a local or long-distance move coming up, give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation estimate. We would be happy to answer any questions you have about our portable storage containers or how the process works and help make moving and storage simple for you!

DIY Fence Installation Tips

A wood fence in a backyard

More and more people are making improvements to their homes during the pandemic, especially improvements to their outdoor space. With the price of lumber currently at all-time highs, many people have been thinking about doing a DIY fence installation to cut down on costs. Depending on the size of the fence you are installing it can take a weekend to a week or even more to complete, but there are some things you need to know before beginning. Keep reading to see if this is a project you think you can tackle on your own.

  • The first step is to determine if you need any building or zoning permits to build a fence on your property. Also, check your survey to determine exact property lines and find out about any easements. Do some research into your neighborhood bylaws as they may contain specifications for fence height, materials, or appearance.
  • Sharing a fence line across the edge of your property with a neighbor is a good way to share the cost. If you choose to go this route, be sure to have a written agreement in place before beginning any construction. Even if you aren’t going to be sharing a fence with your neighbors, it would be courteous to discuss your plans with them before breaking ground.
  • Always call 811 before you dig. Underground utilities need to be clearly marked to avoid a dangerous situation or a service interruption.
  • Choose your materials wisely. Wood fences are beautiful and economical, but they require regular maintenance. Cedar or redwood is typically used as these woods are more resistant to rot and decay. Always use pressure-treated wood for the posts as the parts that go into the ground are susceptible to insects and moisture. Composite, vinyl, or metal fence materials cost more upfront, but require much less in time and money for maintenance.
  • Mark the layout of your fence clearly with stakes and line. Determine the location of all the posts and mark those spots for digging. Fence posts should be installed a minimum of 36” into the ground. Adding gravel to the bottom of the hole will provide extra drainage that will prevent water from affecting the bottom of your fence posts. Use a level to ensure fence posts are plumb in both directions. The more secure your fence posts, the longer your fence will last. After securing the posts with cement, allow them to dry for 24 hours.
  • Installation of the fence panels will vary depending on the type of fence you choose. Be sure to use galvanized or stainless steel screws and nails as they are resistant to rust and corrosion.
  • Secure the gate. Gates are often the most difficult part of your fence installation as you have to be spot on with your measurements and you often need at least one additional pair of hands to hold it in place while you attach the hardware.
  • If using wood, protect it. Staining helps extend the life of a wooden fence by protecting it from elements that cause rotting.

Take advantage of the warm weather this spring to make some home improvements. We can deliver all-steel, weatherproof storage containers to you for all your home improvement storage needs. If you want a simple way to store your stuff, look no further than Zippy Shell

6 Ways to Make a Cozy Home

fire place

There is no place like a cozy home in the middle of a freezing cold winter night. Now that holiday and other seasonal décor has likely been packed up, have you made any design changes to make your home feel cozy and inviting? If not, take a look at some of our favorite ideas for adding a warm and comforting touch to your home for the winter season.

LIGHTING

If you are using daylight or cool lighting, switch to warmer tones for a more comforting and cozy atmosphere. Did you know you can purchase smart bulbs that connect to your wifi and you can control from an app on your phone? You can change the color, brightness, and even choose settings like “flickering candle” to give the appearance of a burning candle or fire. While these bulbs are a little pricier than your standard bulb, they are worth the extra money if you are looking for an inexpensive way to overhaul the atmosphere in your home this winter.

BLANKETS

Big, chunky, warm blankets are a must-have during the winter season. You can find affordable, oversized throw blankets at almost any retail store. Not only will you love curling up under a warm blanket at the end of a cold day, they look great draped over the side of a chair or couch.

SEASONAL SCENTS

Use a wax burner, candle, oil diffuser, or plug-in to showcase a seasonal cozy scent. There are scents like pumpkin spice, apple pie, bon fire, sugar cookies, and others that can make your home feel inviting and comforting.

ELECTRIC FIREPLACE

While not exactly cheap, if you don’t already have a fireplace in your home, an electric fireplace can copy the look and feel of one. These can be especially useful if you need extra heating in your home and already need to use something like a space heater. The cool thing about these electric fireplaces is you can put them almost anywhere, even your bedroom. Talk about fancy!

CHANGE OUT YOUR WINDOW COVERINGS

This is not exactly a design suggestion, but more of a functional change. If you use heavier drapes during the winter, you will be able to keep some of the cold air that can sometimes seep in around the seals of the window behind the curtain. Have you ever pulled back your curtains and felt cold air rush out? Heavy drapes can help your home feel warmer and even help you save a little money on your heating bills.

ADD SOME GREENERY

Adding some greenery, whether live or artificial, can help give your home a warm and cozy boost during the winter months. If you are getting live plants, be sure to do a little research on easy care plants for the types of lighting you have available in your home.

We hope these tips will be helpful to you as you give your home a winter makeover. We would love to hear your ideas on how to make the home feel warm during the winter season! Stop by our Facebook page and share your ideas with our Zippy Shell community. We look forward to hearing from you!

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!