Maybe you’ve already heard about Integrated Pest Management (aka IPM), or maybe it’s an entirely new concept to you—either way, we’re going to help you better understand how exactly IPM can benefit you, your family, and pets. So what’s the deal with this newer, supposedly smarter approach to pest control? We have your answers below.
There are countless definitions floating around the internet, but this info from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources seems to get it just right:
Integrated pest management, or IPM, is a process you can use to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. IPM can be used to manage all kinds of pests anywhere—in urban, agricultural, and wildland, or natural areas. IPM is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage
After years of saturating our crops, lawns, homes, families, and pets with notoriously harmful chemicals, we now know there are safer, more effective ways to control pests, prevent their damage, and avoid bites. In fact, many traditional approaches have proven unsustainable, affecting not only the health of our families and pets but also the health of our lawns, ultimately resulting in even larger, hardier pest populations around the home.
In short, Integrated Pest Management is about taking proactive steps to prevent or mitigate pests before they can become a serious issue. But don’t worry, even if you’re currently struggling with a heavy, ongoing bug problem, IPM is still an excellent option for you.
You may be wondering, “What exactly do you mean by “proactive steps?” It might sound technical, but don’t worry it’s quite simple. It essentially comes down to three main components: prevention, monitoring, and family-safe pest control maintenance. Read on for the specifics.
Here’s how to start incorporating Integrated Pest Management to protect your family, pets, home, and lawn from bugs, their bites and damage.
When it comes to personal pest prevention, your focus will be on making your lawn and home unappetizing and inaccessible to insects and other damaging pests. Arguably the most important step is to remove potential hideouts, food, and water sources. Below are some guidelines to get you started.
- Clutter is your enemy—any unnecessary clutter both indoors and in your lawn needs to go, and fast. Whether it’s stacks of old newspapers, piles of laundry, or general messiness inside your home, or unused equipment, brush, or tall grass in your lawn, pests will use these spaces to hide and thrive.
- Lawn maintenance is vital. Regularly mow, weed-eat, trim shrubbery and hedges to remove potential breeding and hiding spots.
- Nothing attracts bugs like excess moisture, especially outdoors. If your home or lawn readily provides access to standing water, such as via poor drainage, clogged gutters, poorly maintained bird baths or pools, leaky hoses, faucets, drink spills, or water-filled dishes in the sink, you’re going to struggle with constant pest problems. Remove or address these water sources ASAP.
- It’s all about cleanliness. If your flooring, sinks, or countertops regularly offer crumbs and food residues, we promise you the bugs will come. It’s crucial to keep these spaces and all food storage areas free of edible debris. For best results, keep all your food items sealed in tightly closed containers or baggies. For similar reasons, take out your trash and recycling often and periodically clean the bins to keep them clear of potential food sources.
- Block their entry. Bugs and other pests enter our homes via cracks or holes in foundations, walling, screens, doorways, and windows. Do a thorough check both inside and outside your home looking for potential entrances. Repair or replace any broken screens or seals you notice, and use caulk or another appropriate material to fill any cracks or holes you discover, too. Similarly, many bugs such as ticks are introduced into our lawns via wildlife like deer. In these instances, installing fencing or other wildlife deterrents is strongly recommended.
- Team up with nature and install bug-repelling plants inside or outside your home to naturally limit bug populations. Click here to learn more.
- Consider replacing standard mercury vapor lights outside doors and windows with halogen lights. This will really help cut down on those nightly flying insects and the additional predatory pests they attract.
Periodically checking your home, lawn, and pets for bug problems is an important element of Integrated Pest Management, and can save you and your family tons of pain and money in the long run. This will allow you to gauge the extent of your pest issue as well as help identify the exact pest you’re dealing with, which will ultimately determine your pest control approach.
If you need help diagnosing a pest issue or unknown bug bites, give us a call at 800-842-1464 or chat us on our website.
PEST CONTROL MAINTENANCE
Prevention is always the best form of pest control, which is why periodically treating your lawn, home, and pets with family-safe pest control products can save you tons of time, money, and headache. It’s simple: the longer a bug problem persists, the more difficult and costly it becomes.
Old school lawn chemicals are scary, dangerous things. They not only wreck the natural ecosystems that keep your lawn healthy, including pollinators like bees and butterflies, but their toxic ingredients almost always find their way into the home. And when you compromise the health of your lawn with chemical-based pesticides, you’re only making it more vulnerable in the long run to pests now immune to traditional approaches.
Instead, spray your entire lawn and all shrubbery with family and pet-safe PCO Choice monthly to help kill and repel bugs in all life stages. For warmer regions, this should be done monthly until the temperatures consistently drop below freezing for more than a few weeks. If you live in a colder climate, start spraying monthly in late February and then taper off in November as winter sets in.
Unlike the gross, toxic sprays, there’s no downtime required with PCO Choice, meaning you and your pets can safely enjoy your yard immediately after application.
For additional pest protection, spread single-ingredient Cedar Granules throughout your lawn and garden, especially along your home’s foundation and the areas with the most pest traffic.
The next time you reach for a bottle of bug spray to kill pests indoors, consider the ramifications. Old school, chemical-based bug sprays have been linked with a laundry list of side effects, including brain damage in children, canine cancers, and infertility, dementia, and several cancers in adults.
Family-safe Cedarcide Original is a non-toxic insecticide that won’t expose your family or pets to harmful chemicals, or pollute your home’s air quality. Whenever you see unwelcome bugs inside your home, deliver a quick spray for instant results. To protect your family and pets from bug bites, apply before outdoor activities in potentially bug-infested areas.
To help prevent pests from moving indoors in the first place, spray common trouble spots and known entry points weekly with Cedarcide Original.
You know those tiny, irritating bugs you occasionally spot in your fruit bowl or flying throughout your house? Those are fruit flies, and they’re filthy pests you do not want in your home.
FRUIT FLIES CAN MAKE YOU SICK
That’s right! Fruit flies can spread disease and bacteria all throughout your home. In fact, research has found that fruit flies are a known cause of E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella poisoning, helping spread these highly dangerous food-borne illnesses in both the U.S. and abroad.
While they peak in spring and summer, our homes provide a uniquely convenient environment for fruit flies to thrive, in some cases, all year round. In other words, you can get them any time of year and infestations can last for what seems like forever. So if you’ve got fruit flies and don’t want them around for months, or you’d simply like to avoid ever seeing one in your home, the below 3 steps have you covered.
The first step to getting rid of your fruit fly problem is to target the source. It’s all about basic sanitation, and removing food sources and potential fruit fly breeding sites. These gross bugs can survive off anything with sugar and almost any type of organic decay. Here’s how to get rid of the most common sources of fruit flies:
- Check any foods you have stored outside your fridge for signs of fruit flies, especially fruits, vegetables, and bread. If fruit flies emerge when you move these items, toss them in the garbage and immediately take the trash outside. Until you get your fruit fly issue under control, store all unsealed produce in the fridge.
- During ongoing fruit fly problems, empty indoor trash cans and recycling bins at least daily. Thoroughly rinse all food receptacles before throwing them out or recycling them. For food scraps, skip your indoor trash bin and take them immediately outdoors. Periodically cleaning your trash and recycling cans with a family-safe All-Purpose Cleaner is essential until the problem improves.
- Moist items like mops, rags, and sponges are ideal breeding sites. Unless you keep these items dry and clean, you’ll likely never get rid of your fruit fly roommates.
- An often overlooked source of fruit flies are drains and garbage disposals. Deep clean these areas, and then pour a mixture of several drops of dish soap and boiling water down inside. That’s usually enough to kill and temporarily repel hidden fruit flies.
- Make it a habit to never leave dirty dishes or food scraps in the sink. These are enough to perpetuate a fruit fly population for weeks, even months.
- Fruit flies sometimes enter our homes from outdoors. While you’re battling these annoying pests, keep your home’s windows firmly closed (screens are not sufficient to keep out fruit flies).
- Wash your clothes often and keep laundry spaces clean and dry. Fruit fly populations can thrive on dirty laundry alone.
- Your fruit flies might be thriving on food or drink spills you haven’t noticed yet. Closely inspect your kitchen’s countertops and flooring for any crumbs, residues, or food scraps daily until you can get the fruit flies under control. Clean as needed with a non-toxic All-Purpose Cleaner.
Killing and repelling fruit flies with Cedarcide is easy. Whether it’s your sinks, drains, bathrooms, countertops, your laundry room, or flooring, you can safely use Cedarcide Original to kill and repel fruit flies.
There’s nothing to it. To kill, a quick direct spray is all it takes. To repel fruit flies, lightly spray common problem spots like sinks and countertops, as well as suspected entry points like window frames, weekly. This can cut several days or even weeks off your fruit fly predicament.
In general, avoid spraying food storage areas. While Cedarcide Original is family-safe and won’t cause toxicity issues, no one wants their food tasting like cedarwood oil, no matter how amazing it smells.
MAKE A FRUIT FLY TRAP AT HOME
A DIY fruit fly trap can be incredibly helpful. All you need is a bowl, a piece of fruit, plastic wrap, and a toothpick.
- Place your piece of overripe or rotten fruit in a basic kitchen bowl.
- Tightly seal the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Use the toothpick to poke 5-10 small holes in the plastic wrap.
Attracted by the fruit, the flies will enter the bowl via the small holes, ultimately getting trapped inside. Leave this DIY fruit fly trap out overnight and replace it daily. Don’t be surprised if you catch a few dozen fruit flies a day—this trap is remarkably effective.
Fruit fly prevention is similar to the first step of getting rid of fruit flies outlined above, namely eliminating potential food sources and breeding sites.
If you’re f constantly facing fruit flies, the below suggestions will be game-changers for your household, helping you successfully avoid future fruit fly infestations:
- Consider storing all produce in the fridge. While it’s not the most efficient storage method for all types of food, the slight drop in taste or freshness might be a welcome tradeoff for avoiding additional fruit fly outbreaks.
- Inspect produce and other potential carriers like houseplants for fruit flies before bringing them into your home.
- Moving forward, strictly avoid leaving dirty dishes and food in the sink. Similarly, clean up food and drinks spills the moment they occur. Frequently wiping down kitchen surfaces and flooring with a family-safe All-Purpose Cleaner will also help substantially.
- Always thoroughly rinse recyclables until there’s no food or sticky residues remaining.
- Periodically clean trash and recycling bins, and take them out frequently.
- Cleaning supplies like mops, rags, sponges, and scrubbers need be deep cleaned and dried after use.
- Do your best to keep your home’s humidity low. Warm, damp conditions are ideal for fruit fly breeding. Using your air conditioner and/or fans will do the trick.
- Outdoor fruit flies can quickly become indoor fruit flies. To avoid fostering large populations in your front or back yards, be diligent when it comes to removing decaying organic matter, like dying plant life for instance. Sorry pet parents, this includes dog and cat poop, too, which are both exceptional fruit fly attractants.
We don’t know about you, but we’re not gonna’ let a little social distancing get in the way of our Earth Day festivities. To us, it’s clear the world needs celebrating now more than ever. We know we could certainly use some. Here are 3 ways you can do just that while having a positive impact on the world at the same time. Go you!
What better way to celebrate earth day than to find at least 1 meaningful way to honor our planet every day—or at least every week. It might sound challenging, but it’s actually really easy. Even the smallest improvement will do. Here are a few small but impactful ideas to get you started:
- Try going meatless for just one day a week. Studies indicate that if every American went vegetarian for just one day a week, the U.S. would save 100 billion gallons of water and 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide (basically the equivalent of taking over half a million cars of the road!)
- Switch to paperless billing and prevent junk mail. Most households receive over 1,000 pieces of junk mail annually, not including bills. Do the planet and yourself a favor: switch all your bills to digital, and opt out of all that annoying junk mail, here’s how.
- Recycle…more. On average, we all recycle less than a third of the waste we produce. That leaves a lot of room for improvement—we can all do better. Not sure where to start? Here are 41 things you probably didn’t know you could recycle.
- Fix that leaky faucet. Did you know a single leaky faucet can waste over 1,000 gallons of water a year?
- Use a rain barrel. Whether you have houseplants, a garden, or just a thirsty lawn, using rainwater when it’s available can save you and our planet hundreds of gallons of water annually. All it takes is placing a bucket outside whenever it rains. There’s nothing to it.
We all want a planet free of litter, welcoming to friendly wildlife, and a joy to look at—so why not start in your own backyard, so to speak. If you’re down to change the world one rewarding gesture at a time—and of course you are!—start upgrading your normal walks or jogs by incorporating a little clean up.
Grab some gloves, a bag, hand sanny, and turn your exercise sesh into a litter scavenger hunt. We know it sounds silly, but it’s honestly rewarding once you realize you’re personally advancing the community you share with your friends and neighbors. Plus, it’s an actual thing: it’s called plogging. Picking up…litter…jogging—you get the picture.
Apart from relaxing drives, essential work, and the occasional fresh air escape, most of us are stuck inside, vicariously living through computer screens and window frames. But despite what dozens of sci-fi movies have told us, technology isn’t all bad, the digital web is also a beautiful tool for uniting people all over the world. Thankfully, just in time given our current predicament, Earth Day has gone digital for 2020.
Earth Day Live, NASA, and countless other organizations are offering engaging online activities, riveting educational materials, and environmental conservation tools for all ages all Earth Day long. A full list of online Earth Day happenings can be found here.
Everyday stressors, the underlying anxiety of post-coronavirus living, the endless news cycle—there’s a lot to battle with at the moment. No doubt, it’s enough to bum you out from time to time.
But we’ve found something that helps us cope in these weird times—and it helps a lot: being productive. More specifically, checking off our home improvement to-do list. Plus, hey, making over your home, no matter how seemingly insignificant the improvements, always feels mega great, right?
In between family and work duties, here are 5 projects you can knock out while you’re stuck at home social distancing.
Your appliances, air conditioner, water purifier, vacuum cleaner—they all likely have filters you haven’t gotten around to changing or cleaning in a while. We’re all guilty of it, but now we finally have the time, so let’s go ahead and knock these out. Some of them will require monthly attention while others only need changing annually, so check the corresponding manuals and clean or replace as necessary.
Not only will it feel amazing to finally get this home project done, but it will actually improve the quality of you and your family’s lives: your appliances will work more efficiently, your water will taste better, and your home’s air quality will improve. That would feel pretty awesome, right?
DON’T FORGET TO CHECK VENTS, TOO
Many of the above items, but especially air conditioning systems and appliances, have vents that require regular cleaning. And if you’ve ever seen an old vent caked with dust, then you understand when we say touching these up can make a big difference in how your household items function. A little dusting or vacuuming is usually all it takes, but if you encounter any especially filthy vent covers, restore them by soaking them in your kitchen sink with a mixture of hot water and soap.
This one’s super important, and it usually only takes a few minutes. Start by testing every unit in the house, changing the batteries as necessary. If it’s been over ten years since you purchased new detectors, consider upgrading. If you’ve forgotten how to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, consult the manuals or do a quick google search of their make and models for help.
Having the correct number of detectors placed in the right locations is just as important as ensuring they’re all in good working order. As a reminder, you should have at least 1 of each detector on every floor of your home, as well a smoke detector in each bedroom and a carbon monoxide detector within 10 feet of every sleeping area.
There are always a few dead lightbulbs lingering somewhere in the home. You’ve got the time, so let’s finally get them changed.
Do a quick sweep of each room, checking lamps, fixtures, etc, and replace any duds you stumble across (just make sure they’re cool to the touch before you start). This is also the perfect opportunity to consider upgrading older models for newer, more energy-efficient bulbs. They’re better for our environment and they’ll save you money in the long-run, making you a hero to both your family and the planet. You rock!
Even in the best of times, enduring the same old furniture layout for too long has a way of making things stale. But when you’re stuck inside social distancing, it’s enough to trigger cabin fever.
Even if it’s temporary, try switching things up: reshuffle wall hangings, reposition lamps, rearrange your sofa, tables and chairs. You’ll be amazed how much these quick changes will transform the look and feel of your home—and ultimately your own frame of mind.
While you’re moving things around, take the time to reorganize and declutter your home, too. Not sure how? We got you covered:
You know those old cans of paint you have squirreled away in your garage or closet? Well, they contain magic just waiting to happen. Nothing—and I mean nothing—has the capacity to upgrade the vibe of your home like a bright new coat of paint.
To start, consider refreshing the entire walls of common spaces like living rooms and dens—they’ll look almost brand new when you’re through! But if that seems a bit too intimidating, don’t sweat it, even touching up a few areas here and there can have a big impact. Simply go around your home and re-paint high-traffic areas like door frames, baseboards, doors, and wall sections scratched up from hanging decorations. It doesn’t sound like much, but trust us, you’ll be shocked by the results.
If you don’t have any spare wall paint leftover, spray painting is another fun option. If you have a few cans handy, consider changing up the look of mirror frames, stools, lamps, or other metal or wooden objects in need of some TLC. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s rewarding, and honestly you’ll have a blast doing it.
In these unusual times, when every dollar and grocery trip counts for double, limiting waste and making your produce last longer is more meaningful than ever. Here are 12 hacks to help you do just that:
If your refrigerator isn’t in great shape, the food you put in it won’t be either. For example, did you know every little spill and crumb in your fridge contains bacteria that can make your food spoil faster? That’s why reorganizing and disinfecting your fridge at least once a month is necessary to keep your food tasting great and lasting longer. Here are a few more essential fridge tips:
- The right temperature is everything. It’s arguably the single most important factor to how effectively your fridge stores food. The FDA suggests keeping refrigerators at 40°F or below, and freezers at 0°F or below.
- Do not overcrowd your fridge. Stuffing your fridge to the brim creates warm spots and inconsistent temperatures throughout, which can substantially reduce your food’s shelf life.
- If your crisper drawer has a temp setting, set it to low. Your veggies will stay firmer and tastier longer.
No one likes mushy berries or soggy greens, so it’s time to stop washing your produce too early. Adding moisture to fruits and veggies accelerates decay, trimming several days off their longevity. Instead, wait to wash your produce until right before you plan to eat it. You’ll be surprised how big a difference it makes.
Storing eggs and dairy in the fridge door—it’s a big no-no. Every time the fridge is opened, the temperature in the front section of the appliance rises, putting vulnerable food items at risk. Want your yogurt, creamer, and protein-packed eggs to stay delicious longer? Store them on the bottom shelf near the back, where the temps stay consistently cold.
It seems counterintuitive, but if you want your gourmet and sandwich cheeses to remain flavorful, you gotta’ stop putting them in airtight containers. Skip the sealed ziplock bags and Tupperware, and tightly wrap cheeses in a porous paper like wax, parchment, or—you guessed it—cheese paper. As with the rest of your dairy, place it on the bottom shelf of the main fridge compartment.
To combat the stink factor, make sure not to store strongly aromatic ones like blue cheese right next to other sensitive foods, as they’ll both absorb one another’s smells and flavors.
Several fruits, but especially apples, bananas, and avocados, emit large amounts of ethylene gas, which can prematurely ripen other fruits and vegetables nearby. In fact, nearly all produce emits some sort of gas as it ages, gases which are normally damaging to dissimilar items stored in close proximity.
As a rule, try to store fruits and veggies separately. Berries, kale, and bell peppers emit very little gas, so feel free to store them however you like.
I know, I know—above we told you to avoid getting produce wet until you’re ready to eat it. But there’s an exception: leafy greens like lettuce, cabbage, and kale actually do better after a quick rinse.
Start by washing your greens and then loosely wrapping them in paper towels. Finally, place these bundles inside unsealed plastic bags or containers. This should keep them tasty for over 10 days.
In some cases it can help extend the life of your bread, but usually refrigeration just makes it stale faster. Instead, keep your loaves, bagels, and naan on the counter, in a bread box, or in your pantry, tightly sealed. If you can’t finish your bread in time, toss it in the freezer for up to 3 months. To maintain its yummy texture, slice it up before freezing.
Whether they’re for baking or healthy snacking, nuts last far longer stored in the fridge over the pantry. Basically, it’s the oil in nuts that causes them to go bad faster, and the fridge helps slow the oil’s decay.
For crunchier, better-tasting celery and broccoli, reach for tin foil. It’s super simple: tightly wrap bunches of celery or broccoli in a sheet or 2 of foil. This should up their shelf life to about 4 weeks. Voila!
You read that right—just like a bouquet of flowers. Grab a mason jar, fill it with an inch or so of water, and stand your bundles of asparagus, cilantro, and parsley upright in the glass. To keep them extra fresh, cut the tips off the bottoms first and cover the top with plastic wrap.
Eating half an avocado usually means eating one half now and throwing the other half away after you thought it’d keep overnight in the fridge, but it didn’t. Here’s a trick to always save that second half for later without it turning brown and weird tasting: brush it.
Using either lemon juice or olive oil, thoroughly brush leftover avocado halves, covering the entire exposed surface. This will prevent oxygen from ruining the fruit, keeping your avocado delicious and beautiful for the following day.
Plain old paper bags are miracle workers when it comes to preserving mushrooms. As mushrooms age, they begin to expel moisture, which can result in mushy, often moldy mushrooms if they’re stored incorrectly. Paper bags absorb this moisture while simultaneously keeping your mushrooms firm and fresh.
Just throw them unwashed straight into a paper bag. Fold over the top, place the bag in the main part of your fridge, and expect them to last up to a week. Avoid the crisper drawer, it’s way too humid in there.
Clutter isn’t just annoying, it’s stressful—like medically, life-altering stressful. Did you know clutter is clinically proven to increase anxiety, the stress hormone cortisol, and lead to unhealthy habits like overeating, oversleeping, and binge-watching TV?
Studies also show that if this stress isn’t reduced, it can cause lasting damage to your brain structure, organs, immune system, metabolism, and more.
In other words, you need to get rid of all your extra stuff. We’re here to help. And with most of us stuck at home right now, there’s no time like the present. So let’s go ahead and knock out your spring cleaning, including all that stress-causing clutter!
Here’s your decluttering checklist!
Let’s start with something easy—unnecessary and expired food. Whether supplements, canned goods, crackers, old pasta boxes, spices, sauces, jams, or those fast food condiments you keep hoarding, go ahead and throw out everything that’s expired, freezer burned, or now just plain gross.
For all unwanted dry and canned goods that are still in date, consider donating them to a food bank in need.
Some of us—we’re not pointing any fingers—like to collect, store, and never, ever get rid of their grocery store bags. Don’t misunderstand us, having a few on hand can be a real lifesaver, but once you reach the threshold of 5 or so, it’s probably time to seek out the recycling bin and consider investing in a reusable grocery bag.
If your kitchen cabinets are overflowing with a chaotic rainbow of duplicate or mismatching utensils, pots, pans, and Tupperware, it’s time to rethink your life choices. OK, maybe it’s not that bad, but hidden clutter is still clutter, even if it’s stuffed wayyyy in the back of a drawer.
Get real, if you’re not a family of 10, you don’t need 5 different spatulas or 4 of the same size skillet. You know the drill, if it’s donatable, donate it. If it’s not, recycle or trash it.
Isn’t it ironic—the things we buy to clean our homes often end up making them more disorganized?
As you scan through your kitchen, looking for ways to decrease clutter, don’t forget to check under the sink. Odds are it’s packed full of half-empty cleaners, noxious air fresheners, and grimy sponges and scrubbers.
First, chuck all the extras you don’t need. Then, to make your spring cleaning simpler and safer this year, start by trading out the old fashioned household products for effective, family-safe alternatives. Next, replace all those gross, old sponges with eco-friendly microfiber cloths or another sustainable scrubber. They’ll last longer, meaning you’ll need fewer of them, ultimately saving you some extra space.
While outdated medication is rarely dangerous, it does become less and less effective over time. It’s a no-brainer: if it’s expired, toss it. But before you do, learn how to properly dispose of each medication by consulting with your doctor, pharmacist, or the FDA’s website.
Old makeup isn’t just about clutter, it’s also a health hazard. Within only a few months, makeup that’s used directly on your eyes, lips, and anywhere else on your face, becomes a breeding ground for all sorts of yucky bacteria.
So even if you have a sentimental connection, put your health first and upgrade your makeup collection as needed. Refer to labels for the expiration date, but if for any reason you’re unsure, trash creams after about 6 months and eye makeup after 3.
Old styling products, extra bottles of shampoo and conditioner, soaps that are shrunk to within an inch of their life—these items only serve to make your bathroom messier. Do yourself a favor and only keep what you really, really need (pro tip: if you haven’t used it in 2 months, you don’t really, really need it).
On average, bath towels only last about two years before they become a source of embarrassment when friends come over. So if your towels are past their second birthday or already tattered and holy, it’s time to bite the bullet and go shopping for a new set.
If they’re completely beyond redeeming, recycle them or say goodbye for good. Otherwise, do the planet a solid by finding a way to reuse them instead—like as a rag for drying your pup after rainstorms or as a cleaning towel for your car or garage.
The junk drawer in your desk—like almost everything in there needs to go. Those dozens of extra pens, that 95% empty whiteout bottle, all those loose staples, paperclips, and business cards, yeah go ahead and toss, organize, or recycle all that. Do away with any other unnecessary knick-knacks, redundant supplies, and out-of-date office equipment, too.
Without question, there’s lots of paperwork we all need to keep, such as tax documents and certain receipts. Without question, there’s even more paperwork we should’ve thrown out a long time ago. If it’s super essential, keep it well organized and consider scanning a digital copy to save yourself some physical office space. Shred and recycle everything else.
Stacks of books and magazines might make your home seem cozy, but they’re also a common source of stress-causing clutter and dust. The magazines are easy—if they’re more than a couple months old, recycle them. Books, on the other hand, can be harder to let go.
We get it. Old books are full of memories and we’re not suggesting you get rid of all of them, especially not the ones with priceless sentimental value. But try to be honest with yourself about what books you really need to keep around. Anything that doesn’t make the cut, consider gifting it to a friend, donating it to a local charity, or selling it to a secondhand shop for some extra cash. Recycle as a last resort.
Even the most organized among us normally have tons of extra stuff in their closet. It’s just such a convenient place to hide things you don’t want to deal with till later. Any clothes, purses, linens, and shoes you haven’t used in over a year are good candidates for the chopping block. And, yes, that includes all those items you’re hoping will fit or come back into style again, too. They probably won’t, so just pull off that bandaid now.
As you work your way through your closet, try to recycle everything that’s damaged, worn out, or missing its matching partner. Unless you have a direct use for them, we suggest tossing out all those free wire hangers from the dry cleaner, too.
We all have one of those boxes where we stuff our unused electronic cables and cords. Well, you knew this day would come eventually—it’s time to finally conquer that box!
After unknotting the box of snakes before you, go through and discard any cords or cables belonging to electronics you no longer own or use. Trust us, you don’t need the power cord to your first iPod anymore. You had some good times, but it’s time to let go. If you uncover duplicate cords in the process, try offering them to a friend or coworker.
Speaking of electronics you no longer use, they tend to take up a lot of space, so let’s try to get rid of those as well. For everything you don’t want to gift, donate, or recycle, slap it up on Letgo, OfferUp or Craigslist.
We’re of the mindset that you should totally keep quite literally every little doodle, school project, and note your kiddos give you over the years. Personally, we just know we’d regret it one day if we tossed away something memorable.
But all their old toys and clothing, that’s a different story. Sure, these can hold memories, too, but they take up a lot of space, cause loads of clutter, and frankly there are needier kids who could use them. For everything in decent shape, try your best to hand it down or donate it. Anything with missing pieces or broken parts should probably find its way to the waste basket or recycling.
For all you pet parents out there, this applies to you, too. All toys, bedding, and gear that are past their prime should be recycled or trashed. For anything unused or barely used (like those treats your pup would never eat or your extra leash), donate it to a local animal rescue to benefit pets in need.
Likely the most challenging step to decluttering your home is finally getting around to organizing your garage. We’re not gonna’ lie, it’s not going to be easy. But you got this. We can tell. This is the year you get it done!
There’s no telling what’s hiding away in your garage, aka the junk drawer of the home, so we’ll skip the details, but the general suggestions remain the same. Be hard on yourself and recycle, donate, sell, or trash anything you haven’t used recently, say in the last 2 years. Deep clean afterward and make a serious effort to get your remaining garage items organized and neatly stored away. You’re going to feel soooo good when this is done!
The title of most successful collector of random clutter belongs to your junk drawer, but your tables, side tables and countertops tie for a close second. Keeping just these spaces alone clean and sparse will make your home feel much less stressful and scattered. It’ll also make dusting and polishing a breeze.
The worst, messiest clutter hideout of them all is also the final and most satisfying item on your decluttering checklist. If your junk drawer is anything like ours, 75% of it is going straight in the trash, another 20% back in the drawer or storage space it actually belongs. For the remaining 5%, recycle or donate it. The goal here is to give this drawer a whole new name, anything other than “junk drawer.”
Your favorite gym is closed and social distancing puts personal trainers out of reach. To make matters worse, all the stress and anxiety in the air is making binge-watching and all-day-snacking irresistible.
Did you know even just 1 hour of lazy behavior—like vegging out on the couch—has been shown to reduce immune function? It’s a vicious cycle: less physical activity equals more stress, more stress leads to lethargy, poor eating habits, and decreased health, which studies show make us more vulnerable to illness—the very thing stressing us out in the first place!
Thankfully, you can still work out from home. And it’s really not all that hard. But with the world upside down, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why we put together this quick, 3-step workout you can do from home each day. Best of all—no equipment or formal training is necessary.
Whether it’s jumping jacks, a stroll outside, or jogging in place, you’ll want to start with a warmup. Go for 5 minutes, start slow, and aim for just breaking a sweat. We’re just looking to slowly ramp up your heartbeat, here. Don’t forget to include stretches, too, both for their physical and mood-boosting benefits.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, each week. They also suggest strength-training 2-3 days a week.
That would mean approximately 10 minutes of intense cardio or 20 minutes of low-level cardio daily—and that’s just your aerobic exercise. Then you’ll need 20-30 minutes of resistance training every other day or so (alternating between the major muscle groups: back, abs, upper and lower body).
It all sounds a bit complicated, right? Don’t worry, we’re going to make this very simple for you, and combine both your aerobic and strength-training needs by doing compound exercises. In other words, exercises that target both cardio and multiple muscle groups at once. Like these…
If you could only do one exercise each day, this would be it. Burpees are the all-star of compound exercises. They combine pushups, planks, and squats with explosive cardio-heavy jumps. If they’re new to you, shoot for 5-10 per set, 3 sets, resting for 30 seconds to a minute in between. Otherwise, pick a set that’s challenging for you (say 15-20), and then simply repeat it 3 times.
If burpees are a little out of your league, or you want to follow up your burpees with another compound exercise, air squats are a great place to start. They’re simple to execute and work out your butt, your calves, quads, abs, hamstrings, and more! Again, if you’re new, start with three sets of 5-10 reps (and don’t forget to rest in between sets). If you’re a veteran to squats, push yourself—you should be able to complete at least 15 reps per set, easy.
Pushups are a classic for a reason. You can easily modify them to fit your age and skill set requirements, plus they strengthen your pecs, biceps, triceps, core, upper back, and deltoids all at the same time. 3 sets, 5-10 reps for beginners, 15-30 for experienced exercisers.
Another all-body exercise that benefits your thighs, hips, glutes, calves, abs, and back, lunges are a great compound workout, especially for those wanting to add more resistance to their at-home training regime. For example, by holding a couple dumbbells or gallon water jugs while doing your usual lunges, you can really up the strength-training benefits. 3 sets, 5-10 reps for beginners, 15-30 for more veterans.
In general, your cooldown should look a lot like your warmup. Aim for light to moderate cardio—even just a 5 minute walk works—to slowly bring your heart rate back down. Again, stretching is highly recommended, too.
If you’re struggling to exercise at home and just need a little extra motivation, there are tons of digital options to get you over the hump. Mobile app stores, YouTube, and live streams on Facebook and Instagram, are all full of helpful step-by-step exercise and yoga routines you can perform at home.
Missing your gym pals? Want to support local? Chances are your favorite local gym or yoga studio is offering free online workout classes for members. So what are you waiting for—go check it out!
TRY FOR FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
Not only is it a great way to kickstart your day, but exercising in the morning might just help you stay consistent with your fitness routine. According to the American Council on Exercise, morning exercisers are more likely to stick with their workouts compared to their evening counterparts.
Thankfully, social distancing doesn’t usually forbid us from going outdoors. Outdoor workouts like jogging, hiking, biking, even just walking, gift us not only fresh air but also sunlight, which improves vitamin D levels, boosting our moods and immune systems along with it. And who among us couldn’t use some additional good vibes right now.
Giving your body the best possible chance to fend off infection and fight illness has never mattered more. Here are 10 natural tips for boosting your immune system.
A study of over 22,000 participants discovered that people who sleep less than six hours per night are more likely to suffer from colds and other respiratory infections.
To enjoy the optimal amount of sleep each night, aim for approximately 7-8 hours and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and other stimulants in the 6 hour window before bedtime. Avoiding sources of blue light—like phone, laptop, and TV screens—during the hour or so before you plan to sleep can help improve the quality of your sack time, too.
A balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds is vital to immune system health, especially when it comes to successfully fighting off infectious diseases. Our bodies’ produce dangerous free radicals when defending themselves against illnesses, and a healthy diet can help remove these molecules by supplying our bodies with antioxidants.
Substances naturally found in the plant-based foods mentioned above, antioxidants help shield our body’s cells from the potentially damaging effects of harmful free radicals. To boost your immune system, add more of the following antioxidant-rich foods to your diet:
- Red cabbage
- Red grapes
- Sunflower seeds
- Sweet Potatoes
It should come as no surprise to learn that excessive alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on your immune system—including making you more vulnerable to lung infections, pneumonia, and acute respiratory stress syndrome (ARDS), a common cause of death via respiratory failure.
Try cutting back to a single drink a day (1 beer, glass of wine, or cocktail), or better yet, consider an alcohol fast for the time being.
We all know the air we breathe daily plays a substantial role in our health. What you might not know is that traditional air fresheners, candles, and other synthetic fragrance products are among the biggest sources of indoor air pollution. The noxious chemicals contained in these products have been tied to cancer, respiratory problems, and other serious health complications.
In other words, do you, your family and pets a favor and stop using these harmful products today. Instead, open your home’s windows for 10-15 minutes each day and switch to family-safe, pet-safe air fresheners.
Like the chemical-based air fresheners mentioned above, many common household products are outright poisonous, detrimental to both our immune system and everyday health.
To help protect your immune system, trade your traditional, chemical-based household cleaners and pesticides (including flea & tick products) for safer, toxin-free alternatives. This will improve your home’s air quality, too!
Stress not only makes us feel bad, it also suppresses our immune systems. Studies show chronic stress hinders healthy immune system function and increases general body inflammation, which can ultimately lead to poorer overall health.
To help keep your stress levels in check, make sure to get enough sleep and exercise at least 2-3 times a week. If you’re still experiencing heavy stress, consider adopting a daily meditation or yoga routine.
Study after study shows a strong link between regular exercise and immune system health. Frequent exercise is believed to strengthen the cells in your body that defend against disease, increase the circulation of these cells, and also help fight aging.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise) each week. They also suggest doing strength training for all major muscle groups at least twice a week. But don’t let these general guidelines deter you from doing any at all—some exercise is always better than none.
Whether you smoke or not, cut those tobacco fumes out of your life. Inhaling cigarette smoke isn’t just about lung health. It’s also been shown to weaken your immune system’s defense against infection, as well as increase the likelihood of bronchitis, pneumonia, and other respiratory complications.
The advice is simple: do not smoke, including secondhand smoke.
Did you know sunlight can naturally boost your immune system?
It works in two ways. First, sunlight increases vitamin D levels, which are known to benefit immunity. Second, sunlight directly activates key immune cells (infection fighting T cells), helping them to move more efficiently throughout the body.
Approximately 15 minutes a day in the sun is enough to reap the benefits.
Evidence suggests cutting down on your sugar consumption could help you have a stronger immune system. Foods high in added sugars—like packaged meats, treats, and fast food—are known to temporarily reduce the effectiveness of your immune system for several hours.
In other words, if you regularly consume sugar-rich foods, chances are your immune system is constantly in a compromised state. The next time your sugar craving kicks in, skip the candy and reach for a sweet fruit like mango instead.
There’s not enough hand sanitizer to go around right now and it sucks. The store shelves are empty, and unless you bought in bulk a few weeks ago, you’re probably fresh out like the rest of the country.
We’re all a little stressed and anxious at the moment, but having hand sanitizer is one thing you won’t have to worry about anymore. Below you’ll find quick, easy instructions for making a DIY hand sanitizer in the comfort and safety of your own home—and all it takes is three ingredients.
Reminder: Institutions like the CDC and WHO reiterate that hand sanitizers are not a substitute for washing your hands, which remains the most effective approach to preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
A former CDC doctor specializing in viral disease outbreaks, Dr. Rishi Desai, has stated that the below recipe will kill 99.9% of germs after approximately 60 seconds.
- 3/4 cup rubbing or isopropyl alcohol (go with the 99% strength)
- 1/4 cup aloe vera gel
- 10 drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil (lemon juice also works)
It’s important to mention that you should not further dilute this recipe, as the CDC advises 60% alcohol content is the minimum strength needed to kill most germs. Increase the concentration to 70% for disinfectant mixtures.
First thing, thoroughly wash and dry your hands (remember: lather your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing them off).
Then, ensure the tools and surface you plan to use to make your sanitizer are also clean. We recommend disinfecting your countertop or tabletop with a diluted mixture of bleach and water or another disinfectant. Wash dishes and utensils as normal before use.
Finally, mix everything together in a bowl, stirring until the solution is completely mixed (a whisk will help you reach the desired gel consistency faster).
As per the World Health Organization’s recommendation, let your DIY hand sanitizer sit for a minimum of 72 hours once it’s finished. This gives germs and bacteria introduced while you were making the sanitizer time to die. For the same reason, be careful not to touch the mixture at any point during the above process to avoid contamination.
Lastly, don’t forget to clearly label the bottle so there’s no confusion later on.
- 60 seconds—don’t forget that number. That’s how long it takes for hand sanitizer to kill most germs. After applying, continue to rub your hands together for at least 60 seconds until the sanitizer evaporates.
- If your hands are visibly dirty, do not rely on hand sanitizers alone. When hands are covered in dirt or grease, hand sanitizer is far less effective. In these cases, wash your hands first, then sanitize.
- Again, hand sanitizers are not a substitute for washing your hands, which is still considered the most effective approach to preventing the spread of disease.
If you’re a plant parent, sooner or later you’re going to come across a creepy-crawly or two—or, more likely, a few dozen. After all, when you bring a piece of nature indoors, usually nature brings a few friends along with her. While there’s no real way to completely prevent this from happening, by taking a few simple precautions you can greatly reduce the number of houseplant bugs you encounter. Chances are, you’ll save a few plant lives, too.
Here are 5 houseplant pest prevention tips:
Not only is this the most obvious tip to prevent houseplant pests, it’s also arguably the most effective. Before taking any new plant babies home, do a careful and thorough inspection. Look closely for webbing, odd leaf discolorations, sickly looking stems, as well as actual insects, too. Take your time and pay close attention, pest symptoms can be subtle and quite small.
If you happen to notice anything out of the ordinary while plant shopping, let an employee know. This will allow the shop to isolate the plant, treat it for bugs, and will help prevent other shoppers from taking home an infested houseplant.
To prevent potential bug problems from spreading, it’s a good rule of thumb to isolate new plants from your current collection for around 30-60 days. This will give you ample time to carefully observe your new plant baby for signs of illness or infestation before introducing it to the rest of your plant family.
Whether it’s a new addition from your local nursery or an old one you’re reusing, planters should always be deep cleaned before each use. This will significantly decrease the likelihood of cross-contamination for not only pests but also fungi and harmful bacteria.
To clean pots, fill your kitchen sink with a mixture of water, natural dish soap, and ¼ cup vinegar. Scrub for several minutes, dry, and you’re ready to re-pot!
It might seem obvious: but always use fresh, sterile soil. Using soil that’s been left outside unsealed or previously used soil is just asking for trouble. Eggs, bacteria, fungi, and various harmful insects are all known pitfalls.
While doing your weekly waterings, make a habit of also closely inspecting each of your plant babies and giving them a quick clean. Large-leaved plants like Alocasias and Monsteras will especially benefit from weekly washes, as dust and other debris can quickly accumulate on their big leaves, which can interfere with photosynthesis.
Take this time to look for signs of houseplant bugs, such as sickly leaves and stems, webbing, or sticky residues. If you spot anything, immediately isolate the plant and consider lightly spraying it 1-2 a week with a non-toxic, plant-safe insecticide.
To clean your houseplant’s leaves, simply spritz it with water and wipe it dry with a microfiber cloth.