How to Remove Paint Splatters From a Vanity

Removing paint splatters and spots is a common problem, even if you’ve used plastic tarp, painter’s tape, and other protective measures while painting. The real challenge isn’t in removing the paint spills, but it’s in doing so without removing the finish of your vanity. One of a number of solvents might work, and it’s a good idea to start with the mildest one before working your way to stronger solvents that can more easily cause damage. If you’ve tried scraping off the excess paint to no avail, here’s some tips for removing paint splatters from your vanity.

What You’ll Need

When it comes to removing paint splatters from a vanity, it’s a relatively easy task with only a few necessary "ingredients". Here’s what you’ll need before you can start:

  • Mild soap
  • Bathroom cleaner
  • Water
  • Nail polish remover
  • Paint stripper
  • Soft cloths
  • Cotton balls

The best time to remove paint splatters and spills is when they’re fresh. If you’ve waited too long and a skin has developed, you’ll probably find that the paint is too difficult to remove by wiping it with a cloth. If this is the case, follow these steps to remove paint.

Steps to Remove the Paint

The amount of effort needed to remove the paint relies heavily on how long it’s been there and the condition of the vanity surface. Start by cleaning the surface and paint splotches with a mild soap or bathroom cleaner. From there, scrub the entire surface gently with a soft cloth. If the paint is fresh, this may be all that’s needed to remove the splatters. If the paint has already dried completely, it will be more difficult to remove. If this is the case:

  1. Moisten a cotton ball with nail polish remover.
  2. Rub it over the entire surface.
  3. As soon as the paint is removed, clean the surface with cleaner and water to remove any residue from the nail polish remover. (Note: if the nail polish remover is left on the surface of your vanity for too long, it can cause irreversible damage, so clean it off as soon as possible.)
  4. If the paint splatters remain, it may be necessary to use a paint stripper to remove it. Apply it very carefully, and spot check to avoid any damage.
  5. Once the paint is removed, clean the surface as usual.

Other Tips and Advice

To avoid unnecessary damage, always start with the least invasive removal method possible. From there, gradually work your way up to the paint stripper. Additionally, it’s best to spot test a hidden area of the vanity to ensure the products you’re using won’t discolor or change the finish and surface of your vanity. Finally, the longer you wait to remove the paint the more difficult it will be to get rid of. If possible, clean as you go – it’ll save you time and effort down the line.

The Benefits of an Eco-Friendly Bathroom

Whether you live in California or have heard the drought news from across the country, reducing your water consumption is as important as ever. While cutting back on water usage isn’t mandatory in every city or state, going green in the bathroom can not only save energy and water, but it can lower your monthly utility bills as well. Whether you're completely renovating your bathroom or are looking for ways to reduce your water consumption and be kinder to the environment, there are dozens of eco-friendly bathroom fixtures and products available from some of the most popular manufacturers. Here are some benefits of "going green".

Conserves Water

According to a 2013 report from the United States Environmental Agency (EPA), each person in the United States uses an average of 100 gallons of water each day. Unfortunately, a part of that waste can be contributed to dripping faucets and toilets that don't stop running. If your home is one of the 10% that have water leaks due to old and ineffective toilets and faucets, you should consider an upgrade – one person alone would use 30% less water by upgrading to water-efficient fixtures and appliances. Whether you live in an apartment, a rented home, or a home of your own, it's a good idea to invest in water efficient fixtures.

Saves Money

Since eco-friendly bathroom fixtures and appliances conserve energy and water, homeowners are sure to notice a decrease in their energy and water bills. Traditional showerheads use an average of 2.5 gallons of water per minute, while water-efficient showerheads use just 1.5 (or less) gallons of water per minute. Similarly, replacing your old toilet with a low flow toilet can help the environment and your bank account. Depending on the fixtures or appliances you replace with water-efficient alternatives, you'll notice a decrease of 10-50% on your monthly water and energy bills. Over time, this can quickly add up to thousands saved per year.

Improves Indoor Air Quality

Before the 70s, every product seemed to be coated or made from lead – including faucets, paint, and other bathroom fixtures. If your home was built before the 60s, replacing the fixtures with eco-friendly alternatives will not only conserve water and save money, but it can improve the indoor air quality of your home. In order to truly preserve your home's air quality, switch to eco-friendly cleaners. Major cleaning brands have green cleaning products available that are affordable and easy for the public to get their hands on. Biodegradable and natural products will serve your home's cleaning needs without negatively harming the planet.

Durable & Sustainable

Eco-friendly homes require less effort to maintain since eco-friendly products tend to be more durable. Since installing green bathroom fixtures give you the unique opportunity to conserve our Earth's resources without having to change your lifestyle, you'll be actively protecting natural resources for future generations to come. With constantly dwindling natural resources, homeowners should make every effort to conserve what they can while they still have the chance. Since eco-friendly homes will only continue to grow in popularity, installing eco-friendly fixtures could even help you sell your home more quickly once you decide to put it on the market.

Hard Water vs. Soft Water

Most people assume that water is just water but, in reality, not all water is “created” equal. Typically, water falls into one of two categories: hard and soft. The difference has nothing to do with how it feels, and everything to do with the mineral content. Although both are safe for human consumption, some homeowners prefer soft water over hard water and vice versa. Knowing the difference between the two can save you money while improving your health.

As rainwater falls, it’s naturally soft. However, as water makes its way into our waterways, it picks up minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. Since hard water contains essential minerals, it is sometimes the preferred drinking water. Although hard water tastes slightly better, soft water is preferred in most households for one reason: hard water is harsh. Hard water is to blame for dingy clothes, dishes with spots, soap scum accumulation, higher energy use, weak lather, and dried out skin.

Identifying Hard/Soft Water

The most common way to determine the hardness of water is by investigating the formation of suds when you use soap. There is less lather formation with hard water; instead, soap scum is produced. Additionally, hard water forms deposits through calcification that can clog plumbing. In swimming pools, a cloudy or milky appearance is a sign of hard water. While hard and soft water test kits are sold at most home improvement stores, the identification of soap suds is the easiest way to evaluate the hardness of your home’s water.

When it comes to hard water, it’s often classified into either permanent or temporary hardness. Hardness that can’t be “removed” via boiling is called permanent hardness. Since water hardness is caused by the presence of bicarbonate materials, boiling hard water can actually remove these materials – with the end result being soft water. If the water hardness can be “boiled out”, the water is classified as being temporarily hard. Note: permanent hardness can still be softened, just not through boiling.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Although soft water may be preferred for household chores, both types of water have their own advantages and disadvantages. Hard water typically has a more pleasant taste, and some people believe it’s better for your health because it provides the body with essential minerals. However, it can leave deposits and corrode pipes over time. Hard water tends to leave behind spots on dishes and in showers and bathtubs, and doesn’t produce much soap lather. In some cases, hard water can prevent water heaters and washing machines from working properly.

While soft water is better for the skin, better for cleaning clothing and dishes, and helps household appliances work more efficiently, the biggest drawback is that it does not taste as good as hard water. If you use tap water for drinking and cooking, expect a salty, flat taste.

How is Hard Water Softened?

There are several ways to reduce the hardness of water, including distillation, reverse osmosis, or, most commonly, the addition of a chemical softener. A high quality water softener system will give you well balanced water for your home. If you think you may have hard water, contact a commercial water filtration and treatment company for more information.

How to Remove Scratches from a Porcelain Sink

Although porcelain sinks are manufactured using tough, durable materials that can last for decades with proper care, unsightly scratches and nicks are easy to notice. If your porcelain sink is visibly scratched, you don’t need to throw it out or call a professional to help you with your porcelain sink repair –there are many ways you can remove scratches from your bathroom sink on your own. Depending on the type of marks, it may require some elbow grease and a few repair essentials to get rid of them completely.

Bleach the Sink

Most of the time, sink scratches are caused by certain accessories, such as curling irons and blow dryers, coming in contact with the porcelain sink. Instead of scrubbing the bottom of your sink with abrasive cleaners, try filling the sink with warm water and adding about two cups of bleach to the water. Let the solution sit overnight; if the scratches are minor, there’s a good chance they will be completely removed by morning. In order to keep your sink sparkling white without having to resort to harmful scrubbing, you should bleach your sink on a fairly consistent basis. In order to keep the routine, add sink bleaching to your Bathroom Cleaning Checklist.

Bar Keeper’s Friend

This commercial cleaner can be found in almost every grocery or hardware store in the country. Available in two versions, a scouring powder and a scrubbing cream, Bar Keeper’s Friend can work wonders for scratches that can’t be repaired by bleach. All you’ll need is a pair of rubber gloves, a sponge or soft scrubbing pad, and whichever version of Bar Keeper’s Friend you prefer. When it comes to scrubbing the solution, be sure to avoid using a sponge that’s too harsh, as you can unknowingly remove the shiny finish of your porcelain sink. Note: this multi-purpose solution can also be used to clean cookware, kitchen, and bathroom surface, so keep it handy for use around the home.

Baking Soda

In cases where the scratches are relatively minor, baking soda can be used to remove annoying porcelain sink scratches. Simply sprinkle baking soda over the length of the scratch, or cover the entire nick with a hefty dose of baking soda. From there, buff the scratches and nicks with a soft, damp cloth. When doing so, be sure to rub the baking soda the entire length of the scratch in a back and forth motion; for nicks, use a circular motion. After a few minutes of rubbing, rinse the baking soda from your sink with warm tap water. If the scratches remain, consider trying Bar Keeper’s Friend.

Pumice Stone

A pumice stone, available at most hardware stores, is another way to remove scratches from your porcelain sink. Plug your sink with a drain plug, and fill the sink with 1/4-inch of water. From there, dip your pumice stone into the water until it’s completely wet – if the stone isn’t drenched, it can actually add new scratches to your sink. Next, scour the scratches with the web pumice stone to smooth and buff away the scratches. Unfortunately, this method will not help with deep scratches, as it’s intended to remove very minor nicks and scratches.

How to Clean Stubborn Toilet Bowl Rings

Whether you just bought a new home and are faced with toilet bowl stains from previous owners or have neglected your cleaning duties for a little too long, stubborn toilet bowl rings can be one of the most difficult things to clean. In some cases, porcelain toilets are prone to picking up these stains and holding onto them even with regular cleaning. These stains can be dark, slimy, and make the toilet look like it hasn’t been cleaned in ages. Caused by a buildup of minerals found in hard water, stubborn toilet bowl rings are a common problem. Here are some ways you can eliminate toilet bowl rings for good.

Vinegar

Ideal for less problematic stains or for those who are tired of using harsh abrasives and toxic chemical cleansers, vinegar is a natural way to clean your toilet. One method is to place three cups of vinegar into the toilet bowl and scrub the stains away with a brush. The other method is to put the vinegar into a spray bottle, drain the toilet bowl, and spray the solution directly onto the stains. Unfortunately, vinegar might not be strong enough to remove extra tough stains. If this tip doesn’t work out for you be sure to try one of the other solutions found below.

Borax Powder

Although borax paste is sold in hardware stores it’s a powerful cleaning agent that can be used to clean a variety of tough household stains – toilet bowl stains included. Start by shutting off the water supply to the toilet and draining the toilet do the hard water stains aren’t covered by water. Make the paste by mixing ½ cup borax powder with enough vinegar to form a paste. From there, liberally spread the paste over the stains until they’re completely covered. Allow the paste to sit for about twenty minutes before scrubbing it off with a toilet brush. If successful, the stubborn stains should come off with the paste.

Lemon Kool-Aid

Sometimes what’s hidden away in your kitchen can work wonders for hard water stains, and Lemon Kool-Aid is one of those hidden wonders. Simply empty a packet into the toilet, let it sit for a bit, and scrub away the stains with a brush. Lemon Kool-Aid works in the dishwasher too! If you notice a build-up of soap scum in your dishwasher, just replace the soap or detergent with a packet of Lemon Kool-Aid, run an empty load through a regular cycle, and your glasses and plates should come out crystal clear.

Coke

Believe it or not, you can use a can of Coke as a cleaning agent in the bathroom. Although pouring a two liter bottle of Coke into the toilet may sound a bit odd, it’s an effective way to clean stubborn toilet bowl rings. Usually all you’ll need to do is let the Coke sit in the toilet bowl for about thirty minutes before wiping away with a soft rag. For extra cleaning power, let the Coke sit in the toilet overnight before scrubbing. Note: since it’s the phosphoric acid that does a lot of the cleaning work (and not the actual Coke), it’s just as effective to use soda water in lieu of Coke.

Muriatic Acid

Since this method is a rather dramatic way of cleaning stubborn toilet bowl rings, it should only be used if the above methods didn’t work. Make sure to use the weakest form of the acid possible and wear protective gear while working with muriatic acid. Before starting, ensure the toilet bowl is empty and the water supply has been turned off. Muriatic acid works by eating away the first layer or two of your toilet bowl, thus getting rid of the stain. Just be sure to follow the directions on the back of the package closely, as using too much muriatic acid can be harmful.

Common Plumbing Questions: Answered

As a homeowner, it’s only natural to have plumbing questions. While some plumbing problems are quite complicated and may require the expertise of a professional, many issues are minor and can be fixed with a bit of time and elbow grease. Not only will homeowners who understand the complexities of plumbing be better prepared to make the best decisions when a plumbing problem arises, but they may be able to take care of the problem themselves.

Q: What are the most important plumbing tools to keep at home?

A: The most well-known tool is the plunger – an essential tool that should be found in every household due to its usability and effectiveness. It can be used for unclogging toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs. Next on the list is a hand auger, which should be used for difficult clogs. With over 25-feet of steel cable, the hand auger is capable of handling clogs a plunger can’t. Finally, a wet-dry shop vacuum, though not strictly a plumbing tool, can be a lifesaver in the case of a flood. If a broken pipe or appliance has flooded a room, getting the water up as quickly as possible with the vacuum can mean the difference between saving a floor and having to completely replace one.

Q: How can I increase my water pressure?

A: Typically, issues with water pressure can be attributed to a volume or flow issue. A restriction in a line, or having a line that’s too long or under sized, could be the problem. If a pressure gauge is installed, you can check the pressure yourself. Water pressure in most households should be around 50 PSI. Look at the gauge with all the water off, and then once again when the water is on full. If the pressure is okay until you turn the water on, then it’s a flow problem. If the pressure problem only happens to a particular faucet, it might be possible to improve the pressure by cleaning the faucet or installing a new aerator on the end of the spout. Over time, faucets can clog and reduce the flow.

Q: How can I avoid frozen pipes?

A: If the pipes in question are exposed to an unheated area (garage, basement) or are outside, the pipes should be wrapped with foam or some type of insulation material and bound with electrical tape. If you can get your hands on electrical wire heating wrap, this will keep the pipes above freezing even in very cold weather. If you’re concerned about pipes within a wall, you can poke small holes through the wall and cover the pipes with insulating foam. If the pipes are totally inaccessible, leave a trickle of water running– this will warm the pipe slightly and slow down the freezing process.

Q: Is there a difference between hard and soft water?

A: Yes, and the difference can be damaging to both your home and your body. Hard water is water that contains a noticeable amount of dissolved materials, like calcium and magnesium. Soft water is treated in such a way that the only ion present is sodium. If you’re experiencing damaged clothing after laundry, excessive soap consumption, pipe scaling, deterioration of faucets and fixtures, or undesirable odors or tastes in your water, you may have a water problem. In addition to improving soap lather and removing soap scum, using a water softener can have financial benefits as well. In homes with water softeners, energy bills are noticeably lower and, since appliances don’t have to work so hard, the lives of washing machines, dishwashers, and water heaters can be prolonged.

Organize Your Linen Cabinet in a Few, Easy Steps

Linen cabinets are an awesome addition to any bathroom – they ensure extra towels and linens are always within reach and, depending on the style of linen cabinet chosen, can also act as a beautiful focal point in your bathroom space. Typically, linen cabinets are used as a catchall for bath essentials, towels, sheets, and personal hygiene products. With such a variety of items being stored, it’s easy for the space to become overwhelmingly cluttered. If you avoid opening the doors of your linen cabinet for fear of what lies within, these tips can help you condense and organize your linen cabinet.

Bundle Spare Sheets

For many people, the main source of their linen tower clutter is sheet sets that somehow get separated or tangled. By bundling sheets together, you can avoid mismatched sets and heavy piles that topple over. Sheets can be bundled together by stacking sheets in a wicker basket, or tying the sets together with leftover wrapping paper ribbons. Don’t forget to add labels so you’ll know which size bed the sheets are intended for. Aim to have at least two sets of sheets for each bed in the house.

Purge Frequently

How many times have you headed to Costco and bought toilet paper in bulk, only to realize you already had ten rolls hidden in the back of your linen cabinet? A common mistake many homeowners and renters make is purging linen closets and cabinets only when necessary. By adding linen closet organization to your monthly cleaning list, you’ll be able to keep a better inventory and avoid accidentally purchasing the same item twice. In order to better keep control of your inventory, try fixing a dry erase board on the inside of your linen cabinet – as items run low, make a note.

Utilize Hanging Hooks

Every space has a hidden potential if you’re willing to think outside the box and get a little creative. By installing hooks from the walls of linen cabinets, you can conveniently hang loofa, robes, towels, and whatever else you can think of. If you don’t want to go through the effort of purchasing and installing hooks, repurpose your old shower rod and hooks for linen cabinet storage. It’s as simple as trimming down the rod to fit in your linen cabinet, installing the rod towards the back of your linen cabinet, and hanging items like washcloths, hand towels, and spare loofas from the hooks.

Maximize Shelf Space

By using stackable boxes, bins, or basket for storing small items like cosmetics or first aid supplies, you can maximize vertical space on the shelves of your linen cabinet. Another good way to corral small items, like cotton balls and q-tips, together is to arrange them on a tray or in a drawer which you can easily slide in and out of your linen closet. For easy maintenance and cleaning, be sure to use a tray that’s both waterproof and wipeable. If you use your linen cabinet to store shower products while not in use, load up a caddy with bath products so you can easily move the products in and out of the shower.

Clean Bathroom? Check.

Whether you clean your bathroom in a few hours or spread the task out over a few days, it can be hard remembering to scrub every tile, dust every surface, and wash every towel. By using this handy daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly bathroom cleaning checklist, you’ll keep work to a minimum and give yourself the time you need to do the things you love. If you have a larger family, consider handing parts of this checklist to family members, delegate tasks, and ensure everyone sticks to the schedule.

Daily:

  • Wipe down sink, tub, and faucets after each use
  • Wipe down counters
  • Spray shower and shower curtain/door with cleaning mist after use
  • Wipe down counters

Weekly:

  • Scrub bathtub/shower/tiles
  • Scrub & disinfect the sink & toilet
  • Clean mirrors & faucets
  • Wipe down & disinfect counters
  • Wash toothbrush holders & cups used for rinsing
  • Wash & refill soap dispenser or soap dish
  • Wipe down & disinfect door & doorknobs
  • Empty & wipe down the wastebasket
  • Vacuum, sweep, or mop the floor
  • Wipe down any switch plates, moldings, or baseboards
  • Replace & wash towels
  • Dust windowsills & other exposed surfaces
  • Wash any rugs or mats, if necessary (Some prefer to wash rugs bi-weekly)

Monthly:

  • Wipe down & disinfect the fronts of cabinets & drawers
  • Organize medicine cabinets, linen towers & items in drawers
  • Deal with any mold & mildew in the bathroom
  • Check & restock supplies, including toiletries & cleaning supplies

Quarterly:

  • Clean & re-seal grout (if needed)
  • Dispose of expired or old medication, cosmetics & toiletries
  • Change or launder the shower curtain & liner
  • Wash walls & ceiling
  • Launder window curtains, if applicable

Yearly:

  • Wash windows inside & out
  • Replace torn mats & rugs
  • Replace torn window curtains, if applicable
  • Clean out/vacuum ventilator
  • Deep-clean carpet, if applicable