Information & Tips

Shoo Fly! 3 DIY Fly Traps to Help Get Rid of Them

Flies can spread around harmful bacteria, so getting them out of your house is important — set up one of these DIY fly traps or repellants to get them away for good.

While flies might seem more annoying than anything, they can actually harbor and spread harmful bacteria and pathogens that can cause illness, like E. coli, cholera, or shigellosis, so it’s important to get them out of your house pronto. If you’d rather try some at home options before hiring a pest professional, here are three helpful DIY fly trap ideas that use mostly household and budget friendly ingredients, so you’ll probably already have everything you need.

Each method will include a vessel to hold liquid made from ingredients that’ll attract them inside, like sugar and apple cider vinegar, plus a fruity-scented dish soap, which will reduce the surface tension and keep flies trapped inside. Follow these instructions for whatever vessel you have on hand, and then place it wherever the flies are congregating.

A Soda Bottle Trap

  1. Clean out a plastic soda bottle, preferably a two-liter size
  2. Cut the top third of the bottle off, using a sharp knife like a utility blade (carefully!) and remove it from the bottom
  3. Fill the bottom of the bottle with a sweet bait. This could be water with a 50/50 sugar mix, water with honey or maple syrup, or skip the liquid altogether and use overripe fruit.
  4. If using a liquid bait, add a few drops of dish soap.
  5. Flip the top third of the bottle upside down and place it in the lower half’s opening. It should look like a cone pointing downwards, leading the flies inside.

A Mason Jar Trap

  1. Fill your clean mason jar about halfway with a sweet liquid bait, like apple cider diluted with water and mixed with sugar.
  2. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap.
  3. Cover the jar with plastic wrap and secure it on using a rubber band. Poke a few small holes in the wrap, so flies can get inside but can’t escape.

A Shallow Dish Trap

  1. In the shallow bowl, add an inch or two of apple cider vinegar, plus a dash of sugar, or another sweet liquid bait of your choice.
  2. Add in a few drops of liquid dish soap.
  3. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and poke a few holes so that the flies can get inside but won’t be able to get out.

A Natural Repellant

If traps aren’t your thing, there are some more natural ways that you can deter flies from your home, so they don’t stick around and cause a nuisance.

  • This spice, made from the flower buds of a clove tree, has a pungent aroma that’ll keep many flies away, so place a small bowl of twenty or so whole cloves in rooms where you’re having fly troubles, and they should make their way out.
  • Rosemary, basil, and mint all do a good job of repelling flies, as they hate the smell, so it’s good to keep some of these plants growing around your home, like on the kitchen windowsill. Many herbs will repel mosquitos too, especially plus you can clip leaves and use them in your cooking whenever you need.
  • Other Plants. Flies don’t just hate herbs, but there are other kinds of plants that’ll keep them away too, including lavender and marigolds. Plant them around your garden, or on your balcony if you’re in an apartment, to stop flies from coming close in the first place.
  • Essential Oils. Oils made from many of these plants will also keep flies away, plus they’ll make your home smell wonderful. Try spraying lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus oils, or add a few drops to a diffuser.

Photo credit: wael alreweie/Shutterstock

Here’s How to Organize a Garage Properly

Is your garage overflowing to the point of no return? A good cleaning and sorting can help — here are a few helpful tips for how to organize your garage.

If your garage is so full that you can’t keep your car in there anymore, you likely already know that it’s time for a good organizing — and now is a great time to do it. For anyone who needs a little advice before tackling on a big project like this, here are a few helpful tips for every step of the process, including cleaning out your garage first and organizing your stuff, to installing the right storage units to maximize your space.

Spring Cleaning for Your Garage

For many, the garage becomes a place where random objects and stuff gets stored without a second thought. The first step in organizing your garage is figuring out what you actually need, and what can go; these tips and ideas should help make the process easier for you.

  • Make sure that you set aside a huge chunk of time to get everything done, at least a day and maybe even a whole weekend, so you can finish in one sitting.
  • Plan to sort everything into three areas, one for items you’ll keep, one for things you want to donate or sell, and one for the trash. In the keep pile, keep everything separated by category, like tools with other tools, which will help you put them back in later.
  • Go through every single thing in there, leaving no stone unturned. You may think you already know what you want to keep in a box, but something else could be hiding in there.
  • The job can be a lot to take on for just one person, so getting the help of your family or friends can be super helpful — be sure to buy or make them lunch, snacks, and drinks as a thank you!

Set Up Your Garage Properly

When you’re ready to put all your treasures back in the garage, setting up and installing the right storage units beforehand can help you maximize your space. Draft a plan for how you want to organize everything, and you should be taking advantage of as much vertical or overhead room as you possibly can, so that you have more floor space for cabinets, workbenches, and your car. Below, you’ll find a few easy-to-install ideas for making the most of your walls and ceiling.

  • Pegboards are a great way to utilize vertical space affordably. They look like thin cork boards with lots of little holes which you can use for various storage purposes, like popping a nail into the holes and hanging your wrench set off them or hanging tubes from them to store pencils and pens. They’re a reasonably priced solution, but keep in mind they’re prone to wear and tear, and they aren’t as good for holding heavy tools.
  • Track-based systems are a similar concept, except instead of little holes they have lined tracks, which you can attach different sized hooks onto and use them store heavy tools and accessories. They’ll be a bit more expensive than your average pegboard but make up for it in durability, strength, and a sleek appearance.
  • Large plastic bins are your friend when organizing a garage but keeping them all on the floor can add up and take up your precious space. Instead, try installing a simple system that can store them overhead, using 2x2s and 1x4s screwed together and onto the ceiling to create an upside-down T-shape, that will hold the lip of the storage bins secure.

Photo credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Got a New Ceiling Fan? Here’s How to Install it

You don’t necessarily need a professional to install your new ceiling fan for you — these tips will help you accomplish the task on your own.

Ceiling fans are a wonderful way to keep cool in the summer months, and they can keep your electricity bill lower, too. If you’re looking to complete the installation project on your own, here’s our tips to help you along.

Safety First

You’ll want to protect yourself against any injuries or accidental damage to your home, so before starting the project, take the following precautions:

  • Read through the manufacturer’s instructions for installation because it may have product-specific installation or safety information you need to know, plus you’ll have a good sense of the steps needed.
  • Make sure that the outlet box can support the weight of the fan, and that all the electrical connections comply with local standards.
  • Before doing any electrical work, ensure that the power is shut off at your circuit breaker box.

Take Out the Old Fixture

  • With the electricity shut off, remove any glass shades from your old fixture first.
  • Unscrew any fasteners holding the fixture to the ceiling, and carefully lower it.
  • Disconnect the electrical wires, by removing the plastic connectors from the ends.
  • Remove the old electrical box by unscrewing the fasteners, then pull it out through the opening.

Mount the New Electrical Box

  • Start by inserting a fan brace though the open hole, in a centered position, and rotate the support brace until perfectly locked into place. If the brace doesn’t fit, you may need to carefully saw a larger hole in your ceiling. Have a vacuum nearby to pick up any fallen debris.
  • Attach the provided U-bolt over the brace, using screws, then thread the electrical wire into the box. Move the box upwards, so that the bolts above attach to it, and secure it in place by tightening the nuts.

Attach the Bracket

  • The bracket is what connects your new fan to the box above. You’ll want to pay special attention to manufacturer instructions here, making sure to pull the electrical wires through the center before setting it in place. Some models may simply have a ceiling medallion to be glued, while some may need to be screwed in more elaborately.

Assemble the Rest

  • Grab your new canopy, motor, and downrod. While on a flat surface, feed the motor’s wires through the canopy, so that it rests loosely on top of the motor, then string it through the downrod pipe.
  • Attach the downrod to the motor, using the manufacturer’s instructions.

Connect the Wires

  • Find a way to rest the ceiling fan near the electrical box while you work — a friend could help you hold it, or you might be able to use a hook on the mounting bracket.
  • Connect each wire on your fan to the electrical box above, matching color to color (black wires should only connect to black wires, etc.) You may need to trim some of the insulation to link them and then finish with a wire nut, and make sure you connect the grounding wire appropriately.
  • Once everything’s connected, secure the fan into place, and attach it to the mounting bracket.

Attach the Bulb and Fan Blades

  • The last step is to assemble your fan blades, according to the manufacturer’s guide, and then fasten them to the motor. Some fans are designated as easy assembly, so keep an eye out for that if you want a simpler installation.
  • Twist in the lightbulb, then flip the power switch back on from the breaker and test your handiwork. The lights should be on, and the fan should be spinning smoothly.

Photo credit: antoniodiaz/Shutterstock

Four Reasons Why Your Faucet is Leaking, and How to Fix It

You don’t want to leave a broken faucet for long — the drips will be a constant reminder. Here’s our tips for how to fix a leaky faucet.

Leaking faucets can be a nightmare. Not only does the constant dripping get annoying, but you’ll end up with higher water bills, too. We’ve outlined four common problems for a leaky faucet below, to help you figure out the cause. Then, read on for the steps to fix it on your own.

Common Leak Issues

  • Broken Parts: There are a few different parts within your faucet that can wear down over time and cause leakage, like the O-ring, cartridge, stem, or seal. Broken parts will need to be replaced.
  • Loose Parts: Sometimes, these parts are just loose and not broken, and they’ll need a quick tightening to stop the leak.
  • Sediment Buildup: Particularly if you live somewhere with hard water, sediment can build up over time and corrode the parts. Corroded parts can be cleaned off, but if left for too long, they’ll need to be replaced, too.
  • Water Pressure: If you only notice the sink leaking at certain times, it could be a water pressure problem — too strong a flow can damage pipes over time. These issues can be difficult to fix on your own without experience, so a plumber might be your best friend here.

Turn Off the Water

When you’re ready to start, begin by shutting off the water valve, otherwise you could cause a flood. There should be a shutoff valve somewhere below your sink, but if you don’t see one, shut off the main water supply to your home. Test that it’s shut off by turning on the faucet — no water should flow through.

Disassemble the Handle

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your sink to remove the handles. You’ll likely need to use a screwdriver to remove a screw cap, then again to loosen the handle. Then, you should be able to pull it off freely.

Inspect the Parts Underneath

Take a look around inside at all the parts mentioned above — the cartridge or stem itself may have been the issue, but other parts you should inspect are the O-rings, washers, and seals. If any of the parts are damaged, they’ll need to be replaced, but they could just need to be cleaned if there’s sediment or tightened if they’re loose. If you suspect water pressure might be the cause, check for cracks in the pipes.

Replace and Reassemble

If you notice a damaged part, remove it from the faucet, but make sure that you keep it: bringing it to the hardware store with you will help ensure you can find the proper part to replace it with. Ask an employee to help you find it if you aren’t sure. Faucets come in a few different varieties, like cartridge faucets, disc faucets, or ball faucets, so if you don’t know how to reinstall the new part, read any manufacturer’s instructions you have and look up your sink online to learn the process. Once done, turn the shutoff valve back on, and test that the leak stopped, and water flows smoothly.

Still Having Trouble?

We hope that this guide helps you out, but if you’ve inspected all the parts and can’t figure out the cause, or if water pressure is your issue, there’s no shame in calling a plumber for some help. Sure, it can be a bit pricey, but in the long run leaking faucets can leave a dent in your wallet if not properly dealt with, too.

Photo credit: ArtSvetlana/Shutterstock

How to Build a DIY Cat Tree in Six Easy Steps

You can get as creative as you want when making a DIY cat tree — your kitty will be grateful.

Cats love to climb and hide, so why not gift your loveable feline a new cat tree? Sure, you could just buy one from the store, but making it yourself keeps costs low, and you can design it based on your own space. As long as you have the proper tools, this is a pretty straightforward construction project, just follow this guide and you’ll be set.

Tools Needed

  • Lumber, like plywood boards
  • PVC pipe, dimensional lumber, or heavy cardboard tubes
  • Carpet
  • Sisal rope
  • Wood glue or screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Scissors

1. Get Inspired

Your first step is to scour pet stores, or the internet, for ideas. You can go as simple or as elaborate as your heart desires — your imagination (and maybe gravity) are the only limits. Your structure could go all the way to the ceiling, or have multiple towers for more than one cat, and think about where you want to put your cat tree, too. If your pet loves to lounge in the sun, for example, build it to be the proper size and height to catch the rays from your window.

2. Sketch a Design

Next, you’ll need to plan out a design. Make sure that the base of your cat tree is larger and heavier than any platforms, so that it can’t tip over. The wood you use for the base should be thick, too — you can glue multiple pieces of wood together. If you’re inexperienced and worried about making it structurally sound, feel free to find an exact blueprint online so you know how big to make your pieces.

3. Prep Your Lumber

Before you start building, it’s a good idea to get all the pieces ready so that you’re prepared. Carefully use a hand saw or table saw to cut the wood into the sizes you’ll need for the base. Platforms should also be made with plywood panels, which will be attached together to form a bed shape. For the posts, you could use dimensional lumber, PVC pipes, or even heavy-duty cardboard tubes.

4. Build the Base

Start by working with your base. Cut out a piece of your chosen carpet, which will cover the base, a few inches longer on each side than the wood. Cut out notches at the corners, so that it can fold smoothly, and staple the carpet along the bottom, out of sight.

5. Attach the Vertical Supports

Start by wrapping your supports in either sisal rope or carpet and add staples along the bottom or inside to secure it. Then, attach the post to the base using either wood glue or screws — you’ll likely need to cut out an exact hole from the top of the carpet. You could also carpet the base last, but your cutting will need to be more intricate to wrap around the post.

6. Secure the Platforms

Now is the time to secure any platforms you’ve built onto the vertical supports, using either glue or wood screws depending on your design. Cover each platform with carpet after putting it together, so that any screws in the wood will be hidden and won’t harm your pet, and then secure it by stapling it underneath.

Finishing Touches

Following these steps will result in a wonderful cat tree, but there are some optional additions you could add to make it even better. Consider making a double posted cat tree and hanging a hammock in between, so your cat has a soft bed to sleep in, or you can build some steps so your cat can get to the top more easily.

Photo credit: LeDarArt/Shutterstock