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Monday, December 28, 2015

10 Clever Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide

10 Clever Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide
Article From By: Courtney Craig
Photo: Flickr CC License: adinaplus
Is hydrogen peroxide a non-toxic weapon in your green cleaning arsenal? It should be!
When it's time to clean, have your trusty green cleaners at the ready -- baking soda, vinegar, castile soap -- plus another ultra-cheap gem: hydrogen peroxide. You can use it anywhere, and can't beat the price: A 16-oz. bottle only costs a buck.

Here are 10 ways you can use that ubiquitous brown bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide to your home's advantage:

In your kitchen

1. Clean your cutting board and counter-top. Hydrogen peroxide bubbles away any nasties left after preparing meat or fish for dinner. Add hydrogen peroxide to an opaque spray bottle - exposure to light kills its effectiveness - and spray on your surfaces. Let everything bubble for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse clean.

2. Wipe out your refrigerator and dishwasher. Because it's non-toxic, hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning places that store food and dishes. Just spray the appliance outside and in, let the solution sit for a few minutes, then wipe clean.

3. Clean your sponges. Soak them for 10 minutes in a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water in a shallow dish. Rinse the sponges thoroughly afterward.

4. Remove baked-on crud from pots and pans. Combine hydrogen peroxide with enough baking soda to make a paste, then rub onto the dirty pan and let it sit for a while. Come back later with a scrubby sponge and some warm water, and the baked-on stains will lift right off.

In your bathroom

5. Whiten bathtub grout. If excess moisture has left your tub grout dingy, first dry the tub thoroughly, then spray it liberally with hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit - it may bubble slightly - for a little while, then come back and scrub the grout with an old toothbrush. You may have to repeat the process a few times, depending on how much mildew you have, but eventually your grout will be white again.

6. Clean the toilet bowl. Pour half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet bowl, let stand for 20 minutes, then scrub clean.

In your laundry room

7. Remove stains from clothing, curtains, and tablecloths. Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a pre-treater for stains - just soak the stain for a little while in 3% hydrogen peroxide before tossing into the laundry. You can also add a cup of peroxide to a regular load of whites to boost brightness. It's a green alternative to bleach, and works just as well.

Anywhere in your house

8. Brighten dingy floors. Combine half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with one gallon of hot water, then go to town on your flooring. Because it's so mild, it's safe for any floor type, and there's no need to rinse.

9. Clean kids' toys and play areas. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe cleaner to use around kids, or anyone with respiratory problems, because it's not a lung irritant. Fill an opaque spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide and spray toys, toy boxes, doorknobs, and anything else your kids touch on a regular basis. You could also soak a rag in peroxide to make a wipe.


10. Help out your plants. To ward off fungus, add a little hydrogen peroxide to your spray bottle the next time you're spritzing plants. Use this helpful chart to determine the ratio of hydrogen peroxide to water for your types of plants.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
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Sunday, December 27, 2015

5 Things You Forgot to Clean in Your Bathroom

5 Things You Forgot to Clean in Your Bathroom
Article From By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Photo: Flickr CC License: Mike Miley
Your bathroom, one of the rooms you clean most, hides areas that rarely see a scrub brush. It's time to tackle these 5 nasty spots you probably forgot.
If you can't remember the last time you cleaned your bathroom, we don't want to know what's living in your tub. Probably, a host of staphylococcus, the skin infection bacteria that, a recent study showed, more frequently grows in tubs than in garbage cans.

But we presume you or someone else regularly swishes out the toilets, wipes out the tubs and sinks, and mops your bathroom flooring.

But you may be missing some critical areas. With the help of Kristi Mailloux, president of Molly Maid, we've compiled a list of 5 bathroom spots home owners often forget to clean:

1. Showerheads: A warm white vinegar bath will get rid of mineral deposits, making your low-flow shower head flow even lower. Let the shower head soak for about 20 minutes, then poke a paperclip into shower head holes still clogged. Scrub with an old toothbrush, then rinse and repeat if necessary.

2. Toilet bases: Mildew can grow on the caulking around the base of your toilet. Spray with white vinegar or disinfecting household cleaner, then scrub with a hard-bristled brush. Dry thoroughly.

3. Shower curtains: Clean soap scum and mildew from plastic shower curtains by tossing them into your washer on the gentle and cold (never hot!) water cycle, with detergent and 1/2 cup vinegar. If mildew is present, add 1/2 cup of bleach instead of vinegar. Toss a couple of large towels into the machine to act as scrubbers. Hang curtains back on your shower curtain rod, spread them out, and let them drip-dry. If you turn on the bathroom fan, they'll dry faster.

4. Drains: We don't usually pay much attention to drains until they're clogged. But all year your hair, toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner are building up in sink and tub drains. Remove the stopper - unscrew the shower drain - and clear away obvious gunk, like hair and soap. Soak the drain in vinegar to clear away mineral deposits. Then, pour boiling water, or a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda, down the drain, which will bubble away crud sticking to pipes.

5. Medicine cabinet: Throw out prescription and over-the-counter drugs you no longer need or want. But don't dump them down the drain, where they become part of the watershed, or into the trash, where anyone can fetch them out. Instead, take them to a local collection site, often at police or fire stations. Or check U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's National Take Back Initiative's website for dates and sites for their next collection.

Bonus tip: Just for the fun of it, launder those powder room towels you won't let anyone use. And be sure to clean out your dryer's lint filter when you're finished.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
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Saturday, December 26, 2015

101 New Years Resolutions You Can Actually Live With

101 New Year's Resolutions You Can Actually Live With

Forget turning yourself into a swimsuit model or saving the world! Here are small, easy, positive and fun resolutions you can resolve to do over the next year to make your life better. Sometimes small changes make the biggest difference!

  1. Try a new food at least once a month.
  2. Learn a new word once a week – even if you quickly forget it.
  3. Switch to refillable water bottles.
  4. Ban hydrogenated oils, aspartame, brominated vegetable oil, or some other artificial ingredient from your diet.
  5. Pledge to switch to a Fair Trade brand for a product you use regularly.
  6. Buy a locally made gift for someone this year.
  7. Buy food from a local farmers' market.
  8. Try your own Iron Chef cook-off with family and friends – have a potluck with the results.
  9. Try a “gross” food this year.
  10. Become a backyard birder.
  11. Take the stairs more often.
  12. Park away from the building more often.
  13. Wrap a new food in bacon.
  14. Try something new dipped in chocolate or caramel.
  15. Pick a bouquet of wild flowers next summer.
  16. Try a new herb in your cooking.
  17. Try a new dessert with a berry or exotic fruit you have never eaten before.
  18. Make a book or poster out of your favorite social media posts from the last year.
  19. Learn to appreciate black coffee or un-sweetened tea.
  20. Try a new kind of tea or coffee bean.
  21. Cook the most colorful dish you have ever cooked and take pictures.
  22. Eat fish or seafood once a week.
  23. While you're at it, try a new kind of fish or seafood.
  24. Substitute wheat for white whenever you can.
  25. Do daily stretches, even if you do not exercise.
  26. Wear a color you normally wouldn't wear for a day.
  27. Try a new sport by the end of the year.
  28. Learn a new card or board game.
  29. Learn about a new art form.
  30. Hand write a letter to someone.
  31. Do a random act of kindness.
  32. Learn about your family tree.
  33. Volunteer to pick up trash during the next spring clean up.
  34. Pick an herb or plant a month to learn about.
  35. Learn a word in another language every month.
  36. Try a new genre of music.
  37. Make something by hand that you would normally buy already made.
  38. Plant a garden, no matter how small.
  39. Make a miniature of something.
  40. Start a change jar for a local charity. It adds up!
  41. Read a book, an actual paper book.
  42. If you haven't already, start using Lombardi Time.
  43. Ride the public bus for a day out.
  44. Learn to meditate.
  45. Learn a few Tai Chi or Qigong exercises.
  46. Read some poetry.
  47. Read a biography.
  48. Learn something about your town's history.
  49. Find out about local hiking trails and go on a hike.
  50. Go beach combing somewhere this year.
  51. Create something out of things found out in nature.
  52. Make something out of recycled items.
  53. Make your own piece of furniture.
  54. Over decorate for a holiday. Yes, be THAT house for once!
  55. Try a new hair color.
  56. Wear something handmade.
  57. Make a fairy ring in your yard.
  58. Make a gnome/fairy house for your yard.
  59. Make your own bird feeder.
  60. Learn something about how music is composed.
  61. Figure out what your F keys do on your computer.
  62. Take a virtual tour of a popular destination on Google Streetview.
  63. Travel around your own state or county in Google Earth.
  64. Learn about a constellation. Start with your own sign!
  65. Plan to view a meteor shower when one is announced.
  66. If you are from the North, plan to view the Northern Lights when they are forecast to appear.
  67. Learn a new economics term.
  68. Pick a stock to watch even if you are not an investor.
  69. Start reading “This Day in History” type of materials every day.
  70. Learn about a new world culture you haven't heard of before.
  71. Do your own blind taste test of a product you regularly buy. (Brand vs. generic vs. other brand)
  72. Become a connoisseur or expert of something you like. Learn about how it is made and the differences between brands and styles.
  73. Find out what was happening in the world when you were born, especially things that were happening right in the same town or state you were born in.
  74. Plan a music time machine day – Play only music from a certain era all day.
  75. Unplug for a day – no tv, internet or cell phone. (Emergencies only)
  76. Plan a Buy Nothing day or week – bonus points if you can buy nothing for a month (aside from required payments)
  77. Plan a cleansing diet for after the holidays or a vacation.
  78. Find out about using substitutes in cooking a recipe – you never know when you will need them.
  79. Make art out of random scribbles once a week and then make a book of them at the end of the year – that's only 52 pages – you can do it!
  80. Free your mind. Use reminders and lists so you can free up your brain's memory for other tasks.
  81. Set your clocks 5 to 10 minutes ahead. Fool yourself into being on time or even early!
  82. Practice making a new type of cookie.
  83. Go feed some birds.
  84. Buy extra dried foods and learn to store drinking water. Being prepared for emergencies is a good habit to start.
  85. Learn how to make a sock monkey or other sock animal. Give it to someone.
  86. De-clutter a closet or storage area – Give stuff away.
  87. Learn a word or phrase in sign language.
  88. Pick a stone, fossil, or mineral every month to learn about – or even collect!
  89. Make your own tiki mask or sculpture and then have a kitschy tiki party.
  90. Tray a random act of fun this year. (Join a flash mob, play a big prank on someone, etc.)
  91. Plant a tree somewhere this year.
  92. Research a weed you seee every day. You may be surprised about its botanical uses.
  93. Wear a costume NOT during Halloween sometime this year.
  94. Attend or volunteer at a local annual fundraiser. Make it a tradition.
  95. Why so serious? Sit down and watch a cartoon on purpose.
  96. Write a haiku for every season.
  97. Clean out your home's junk drawer. Who knows, you may even find some lost treasure!
  98. Give away old things at least twice this year.
  99. Hunt for four leaf clovers.
  100. Re-arrange the furniture.
  101. Enjoy corny jokes and puns more often.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
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Monday, December 21, 2015

Pet Odor Can Chase Away Buyers

Pet Odor Can Chase Away Buyers
Article From By: G. M. Filisko
Photo: Flickr CC License: ptc24
Don't let pet odors derail your home sale.
Having pet odors inside your home can turn off potential home buyers and keep your home from selling. Ask your real estate agent for an honest opinion about whether your home has a pet smell.

If your agent holds her nose, here's how to get rid of the smell:

Air your house out. While you're cleaning, throw open all the windows in your home to allow fresh air to circulate and sweep out unpleasant scents.

Once your house is free of pet odors, do what you can to keep the smells from returning. Crate your dog when you're out or keep it outdoors. Limit the cat to one floor or room, if possible. Remove or replace pet bedding.

Scrub thoroughly. Scrub bare floors and walls soiled by pets with vinegar, wood floor cleaner, or an odor-neutralizing product, which you can purchase at a pet supply store for $10 to $25.

Try a 1:9 bleach-to-water solution on surfaces it won't damage, like cement floors or walls.

Got a stubborn pet odors covering a large area? You may have to spend several hundred dollars to hire a service that specializes in hard-to-clean stains.

Wash your drapes and upholstery. Pet odors seep into fabrics. Launder, steam clean, or dry clean all your fabric window coverings. Steam clean upholstered furniture.

Either buy a steam cleaner designed to remove pet hair for around $200 and do the job yourself, or pay a pro. You'll spend about $40 for an upholstered chair, $100 for a sofa, and $7 for each dining room chair if a pro does your cleaning.

Clean your carpets. Shampoo your carpets and rugs, or have professionals do the job for $25 to $50 per room, depending on their size and the level of filth embedded in them. The cleaner will try to sell you deodorizing treatments. You'll know if you need to spend the extra money on those after the carpet dries and you have a friend perform a sniff test.

If deodorizing doesn't remove the pet odor from your home, the carpets and padding will have to go. Once you tear them out, scrub the sub-floor with vinegar or an odor-removing product, and install new padding and carpeting. Unless the smell is in the sub-floor, in which case that goes next.

Paint, replace, or seal walls. When heavy-duty cleaners haven't eradicated smells in drywall, plaster, or woodwork, add a fresh coat of paint or stain, or replace the drywall or wood altogether.

On brick and cement, apply a sealant appropriate for the surface for $25 to $100. That may smother and seal in the odor, keeping it from reemerging.

Place potpourri or scented candles in strategic locations. Put a bow on your deep clean with potpourri and scented candles. Don't go overboard and turn off buyers sensitive to perfumes. Simply place a bowl of mild potpourri in your foyer to create a warm first impression, and add other mild scents to the kitchen and bathrooms.

Control ongoing urine smells. If your dog uses indoor pee pads, put down a new pad each time the dog goes. Throw them away outside in a trash can with a tight lid. Remove even clean pads from view before each showing.

Replace kitty litter daily, rather than scooping used litter clumps, and sweep up around the litter box. Hide the litter box before each showing.

Relocate pets. If your dog or cat has a best friend it can stay with while you're selling your home (and you can stand to be separated from your pet), consider sending your pet on a temporary vacation. If pets have to stay, remove them from the house for showings and put away their dishes, towels, and toys.
More from HouseLogic

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer whose former mutt Marley no doubt created a wet-dog aroma in her condo that still remains. A regular contributor to many national publications including, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
Blogspot - Pinterest - Twitter - Facebook - Google+

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Your Small Home: 5 Big Reasons to Love It

Your Small Home: 5 Big Reasons to Love It
Article From By: Terry Sheridan
Photo: Flickr CC License Rowdy Kittens
Living in a small home has the benefits of lower insurance rates, less hassle, and less overall cost to own.
A small home  packs plenty of perks, and generally means a lower asking price. But entry price is only one factor -- they're easier on the pocketbook in a host of ways.

1. Lower property taxes. Your small home will be charged at a lower tax rate than its larger neighbors because the assessed value generally is lower.

2. Lower property insurance. The smaller the house, generally the lower the insurance cost, although it also matters where you live and how your small house is constructed. A brick house in wildfire-prone southern California is likely to cost less to insure than a similar-size house with wood siding.
3. You'll save on heating and cooling. That's regardless of how energy efficient the house is. In fact, one study indicates that a poorly insulated, 1,500 sq. ft. house is at least $200 cheaper per year to heat and cool than a well-insulated house twice that size. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says homes of 2,000 sq. ft. to 2,500 sq. ft. use an average 102.3 million BTUs of fuel yearly--13% less than homes that are 1,000 square feet larger.

4. Save on major replacements. When you need to replace a major house component or system, you'll be glad you're living in a smaller home. For example: According to the Cost vs.Value Report from Remodeling Magazine, the national average for vinyl replacement siding is about $9 per sq. ft.

For a modest-size house (1,500 sq. ft. of living space) with 1,740 sq. ft. of exterior wall space, that's $15,660. For a 2,500-sq.-ft. house, you'll pay up to $10,000 more!

5. Easier maintenance. You'll spend less time cutting those smaller lawns, cleaning gutters, washing windows, and the umpteen other chores that home ownership involves. Figure 16 windows and sliding glass doors on a home of 2,000 square feet or less would take about 10 hours to clean, inside and out, twice a year. Double the house size, and that's roughly 20 hours spent with a squeegee and rag.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
Blogspot - Pinterest - Twitter - Facebook - Google+

Monday, December 14, 2015

Top 10 Signs You’re a Bad Home Owner

Top 10 Signs You’re a Bad Home Owner
Article From By: Dona DeZube
Photo: Flickr CC License: iankobylanski
Are you guilty of being a bad home owner? Here are the top 10 signs you need to get off the couch and give your home the love it deserves.
1. Your furnace filter has more fur than your golden retriever. Installing a new one-inch pleated furnace filter every month will keep pet hair and other filter-cloggers like dust from harming your HVAC  system.

2. Epiphany isn't the day you take down your holiday lights, it's when you realize you left them up so long that you've actually put them up early for next year. Leaving lights up year-round and exposed to the elements can shorten their lifespan and turn them into a fire hazard. If you live in a community association, year-round holiday lights probably violates the HOA's holiday decoration regulations.

3. Your strategy for leaf removal involves a strong wind blowing toward your neighbor's yard. Make the job easier by getting the right leaf-removal equipment.

4. You think that toilet bowl in the front yard really would make a great planter. Bad curb appeal can lower you home's value. Ease up on the lawn ornaments, stash your trash, and seek professional help if you're brown-thumbed.

5. You send out a birth announcement when the family of rats living in your backyard has a new litter. Getting rid of rats takes community effort and having even one neighbor who won't join in the cause can doom neighborhood-wide pest control plans.

6. You tell your son that the fallen tree in your backyard is his new Sherwood Forest play set. The right pruning tactics can save trees damaged by storms.

7. Closing your pool for the season requires a call to the HazMat team. Close your swimming pool the right way to save time next spring.

8. You tell your kids that you don't shovel snow from your sidewalk because you want them to experience the nostalgia of walking to school through three feet of snow, uphill both ways. Home snow removal is easier if you buy the right snow blower.

9. Your strategy for repairing broken windows involves duct tape or cardboard. You can save money by repairing windows yourself, or replace your windows with energy-efficient models.

10. You're charging the neighborhood kids admission to your backyard because they think your dilapidated fence is the gateway to a spooky carnival funhouse. Choose a great replacement fence by thinking about style, cost, and HOA limits.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

© 2015 Dan Benton
Dan Benton - Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska
1577 C Street, Suite 101A., Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 727-5279

Join Great Alaskan Homes on:
Blogspot - Pinterest - Twitter - Facebook - Google+

Thursday, December 10, 2015

5 Tips for Buying a Foreclosure

5 Tips for Buying a Foreclosure
Article From By: G. M. Filisko

Get prequalified for a loan and set aside funds, and you'll be ready to purchase a foreclosed home.
Photo: Flickr CC License: danxoneil
When lenders take over a home through foreclosure, they want to sell it as quickly as possible. Since lenders aren't in the real estate business, they turn to real estate brokers for help marketing their properties. Buying a foreclosed home through the multiple listing service can be a bargain, but it can also be a problem-filled process. Here are five tips to help you buy smart.

1. Choose a foreclosure sale expert. 

Lenders rarely sell their own foreclosures directly to consumers. They list them with real estate brokers. You can work with a real estate agent who sells foreclosed homes for lenders, or have a buyer's agent find foreclosure properties for you. To locate a foreclosure sales specialist, call local brokers and ask if they are the listing agent for any banks.

Either way, ask the real estate professional which lenders' homes they've sold, how many buyers they've represented in a foreclosed property purchase, how many of those sales they closed last year, and who they legally represent.
If the agent represents the lender, don't reveal anything to her that you don't want the lender to know, like whether you're willing to spend more than you offer for a house.
2. Be ready for complications. In some states, the former owner of a foreclosed home can challenge the foreclosure in court, even after you've closed the sale. Ask your agent to recommend a real estate attorney who has negotiated with lenders selling foreclosed homes and has defended legal challenges to foreclosures.
Have your attorney explain your state's foreclosure process and your risks in purchasing a foreclosed home. Set aside as much as $5,000 to cover potential legal fees.

3. Work with your agent to set a price. 

Ask your real estate agent to show you closed sales of comparable homes, which you can use to set your price. Start with an amount well under market value because the lender may be in a hurry to get rid of the home.

4. Get your financing in order. 

Many mortgage market players, such as Fannie Mae, require buyers to submit financing preapproval letters with a purchase offer. They'll also reject all contingencies. Since most foreclosed homes are vacant, closings can be quick. Make sure you have the cash you'll need to close your purchase.

5. Expect an as-is sale.

Most homeowners stopped maintaining their home long before they could no longer make mortgage payments. Be sure to have enough money left after the sale to make at least minor, and sometimes substantive, repairs.
Although lenders may do minor cosmetic repairs to make foreclosed homes more marketable, they won't give you credits for repair costs (or make additional repairs) because they've already factored the property's condition into their asking price.

Lenders will also require that you purchase the home "as is," which means in its current condition. Protect yourself by ordering a home inspection to uncover the true condition of the property, getting a pest inspection, and purchasing a home warranty.

Be sure you also do all the environmental testing that's common to your region to find hazards such as radon, mold, lead-based paint, or underground storage tanks.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who purchased a foreclosed condominium and found herself in the middle of a months-long dispute between the former homeowner and the bank over whether the foreclosure was conducted properly. Six months after paying the full purchase price, she was finally able to enter the property. A frequent contributor to many national publications including, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Ready to Shop for a Foreclosure?

Here are today's foreclosed properties for sale in Anchorage. You can call or text me if you are ready to buy a home. Dan Benton, Realtor with Real Estate Brokers of Alaska (907) 727-5279

Anchorage Foreclosed Properties for Sale

How to Water Plants While on Vacation

How to Water Plants While on Vacation
Photo: Flickr CC License: Squirrel Nation
Article From HouseLogic.comBy: Deirdre Sullivan

Here are five ideas that won't leave your potted pals fending for themselves.
Sure, you can hope your neighbor or friend remembers to care for your houseplants during your next vacay. Or, you could forgo the favor and opt for one of our five self-watering ideas.

Before you pack your bags, do a test run. Otherwise, you risk vacation buzz kill when you get home.

Solution #1: Drip water irrigation system

This cheap solution only requires one plastic bottle for each houseplant. For potted trees, you may want to double-bottle to make sure water is dispensed evenly.

Tips: Make sure each planter is saturated with water before inserting the plastic bottle. Otherwise, the bottle will quickly empty.

If water flow is being blocked by compacted dirt, glue a tiny piece of screen to the bottle opening to prevent clogs.

Why we like:
Easy, quick fix
Trip length: 3 days
Set-up time: 5 minutes per plant

If you don't like the look of upended water bottles, here's an elegant alternative: aqua globes.
Globes are available in two sizes, so make sure the style you purchase is appropriate for your plant.

The planter needs to be saturated with water before you insert the globe.

To avoid the impacted dirt at the tip, imbed the globe at an angle.

Why we like: It's a pretty and easy solution that can be used 24/7.
Trip length: up to 3-5 days
Set-up time: 3 minutes per plant

Solution #2: String watering system

A wick-edly good idea that uses cotton or nylon string. But I learned that if you only have thin cord, braid it so it holds water better. I also learned that if you use a string that's not 100% water absorbent, it'll fail.
Just remember to use a container filled with water appropriate for your plant's size.

Why we like: Easy, quick fix
Trip length: 3 days
Set-up time: 5 minutes per plant

Solution #3: A DIY electronic-sensored watering system

Perfect for advanced DIYers who like working with electronics, this low-tech system uses sensors to detect when the soil is dry. You just have to remember to water the machine once in a while.

Why we like: It's a neat and nerdy solution for the lazy plant lover.
Trip length: up to 7+ days
Set-up time: Once built, 2 minutes

Solution #4: Grobal hydroponic planter

A no-dirt-fix for small house and herb plants, this stylin' system comes with everything you need to get started and is available in eight trendy colors.

Why we like: A designer solution for casual indoor gardeners with small plants.
Trip length: 3-7 days
Set up time: 5-10 minutes per plant

Tip: If you're transplanting to the Grobal from a dirt planter, hold the exposed roots gently under running, room-temperature tap water. Once the dirt is washed away, cut off any dead roots and transplant into the hydroponic pot.

Solution #5: Oasis self-watering system

Oodles of houseplants? This automatic drip-watering system claims to keep up to 20 of your leafy and flowery friends happy.

Why we like: Operates independently of faucets and electrical outlets.
Trip length: Up to 40 days
Set-up time: Right out of box; plan on spending a few hours to set up the machine.

How do you keep your houseplants healthy and alive while you're gone?

15 Awesome Alaskan Themed Christmas Things

15 Awesome Alaskan Themed Christmas Things

Whether its cookies, decorations, or ugly sweaters, these things have awesome Alaskan themes on them. Click on the links to go buy some of this stuff for yourself, family and friends!