Blog Posts by Good Housekeeping

  • 5 Insect Repellents to Keep Bugs at Bay

    These picks are safe for kids, pets, and the planet when used properly.These picks are safe for kids, pets, and the planet when used properly.

    These picks are safe for kids, pets, and the planet when used properly.

    1. Allethrin Lamps
    Allethrin lamps (like ThermaCELL, $30, and OFF!, $10) use a butane cartridge or flame, respectively, to activate the chemical repellent.

    Pros: Typically, 93% to 99% of mosquitoes and sand flies steer clear of a 15-foot area for up to four hours on each refill mat. Lamps are attractive and unobtrusive.

    Cons: Refills cost $5 to $6. Keep an eye on the flame version, especially around children and pets.

    Related: 9 DIY Projects to Light a Backyard Party

    2. Geraniol Candles
    Geraniol candles (like those from Koolatron, $10) disperse a plant-derived repelling scent.

    Pros: Five times better than citronella, it repels more than 80% of mosquitoes and 70% of sand flies for up to 10 feet. A one-pound candle lasts 50 hours.

    Cons: With candles, the open flame poses a risk. While most people find the smell pleasant, some won't like it.

    Related: The Best Patio

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  • Are You Using Too Much Laundry Detergent?

    You could literally be washing soap (and money) down the drain.You could literally be washing soap (and money) down the drain.

    Suspicious that you've been using too much soap in your laundry? Follow these guidelines to get it right every time.

    1. Choose the detergent that works with your machine.
    Today, many detergents are formulated for both regular and high-efficiency machines, but some brands, like Tide and Gain, still offer separate product lines. Pick the wrong one, and you may end up with too many suds in your clothes.

    Related: 10 Tips to Your Fastest Laundry Day Ever

    2. Make sure you're measuring.
    The instructions on your detergent's packaging are accurate guidelines -- it's when you ignore them that errors occur.

    "Don't pour in your detergent without measuring," says Carolyn Forte, the director of the Home Appliances and Cleaning Products department in the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. "Eyeballing the correct amount is more difficult than you think. You'll get it wrong."

    If measuring into your detergent's cap is slowing you down, try detergent pods to get the job done

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  • 5 Biggest Mistakes You Make Recycling

    If you're making the effort to recycle (and you should be!), make sure you're doing it right.If you're making the effort to recycle (and you should be!), make sure you're doing it right.

    You're probably on autopilot when it comes to tossing your bottles and plastic, but it's worth taking stock of how you recycle. Are you making these common missteps?

    Related: 11 Chemicals You Might Have Already Eaten Today

    1. Assuming an item isn't recyclable
    You might be surprised to learn that you can keep old CDs, furniture, mattresses, wine corks, aluminum foil, and lots more out of landfills these days. Often, you'll have to take these items to a recycling center, but some may be left curbside. Check Earth911.com/recycling (or download their handy smartphone app) to find out more about your local policies.

    Related: Start Your Garden With Some Help From Your Garbage

    2. Throwing away plastic bottle caps
    Tossing caps before recycling the bottles is no longer a household rule. In 2012, thanks to new technology and increased demand for recycled plastics, the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers announced that recycling facilities throughout the US would

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  • 5 Eye-Opening Facts About Caffeine

    We're a nation hooked on caffeine — and that's a good and bad thing.We're a nation hooked on caffeine — and that's a good and bad thing.

    In his new book, Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us, journalist and environmental scientist Murray Carpenter investigates the world's most widely used, highly unregulated stimulant: caffeine. He visits Mexican cacao groves, a Chinese synthetic caffeine plant, coffee fields in Guatemala, Federal Drug Administration (FDA) representatives, and U.S. energy drink factories. He delves deep into scientific studies on the physiological and psychological effects of caffeine on the body -- and uncovers some pretty startling stuff.

    Related: 11 Surprising Things That Affect Your Dreams

    Here are a few facts that really stood out:

    1. We Drink Less Coffee Today
    We think of our culture as hooked on coffee, but actually our grandparents were far more caffeinated than we are. Coffee consumption peaked shortly after World War II, when Americans were consuming 46 gallons a year, or about 20 pounds of beans per person. Today, the average American drinks around 23

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  • Why You Shouldn't Pee in the Pool

    A new study found that giving in to nature can be dangerous.A new study found that giving in to nature can be dangerous.

    Come on, you've at least thought about doing it.

    Related: How Morning Light Affects Your Weight

    One in five Americans openly admit that they've peed in a public swimming pool -- including Olympic swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, so if you have, you're in pretty good company. But, according to a new study, you really shouldn't.

    Related: A New, Disturbing Fact About How Sleep Affects Your Brain

    Research published in the American Chemical Society's Environmental Science & Technology journal says that uric acid from pee mixes with chlorine in pools to create two toxic gases: trichloramine, which is linked to acute lung problems, and cyanogen chloride, which is known to affect the heart, lungs, and central nervous system. Low levels of these chemicals have been linked to eye and throat irritation, while high levels can present more dangerous problems.

    - By Natalie Gontcharova

    More from Good Housekeeping:

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  • What to Do If You Spill Coffee on Yourself

    Quick! Take care of the stain and (literally) save your shirt with these strategies.Quick! Take care of the stain and (literally) save your shirt with these strategies.

    We've all been there. You're right on schedule to get to that big meeting with your boss (or that parent-teacher conference, or brunch with your mom), and just as you're properly caffeinating yourself for your day ahead, it happens: You spill coffee all over your shirt.

    Related: 10 Tips to Your Fastest Laundry Day Ever

    Don't worry. Your day is not lost. Just follow these four steps to right your wrong.

    1. Sponge the stain with cold water to remove what you can. (Don't use hot: It'll set the stain.)

    Related: Don't Fall for These 7 Common Clothing Care Myths

    2. Use a Tide To Go pen or Shout Wipe to erase as much of the mark as you can, and get on with your day.

    3. As soon as you can, pretreat the spot with a prewash stain remover, even if you're not going to wash the blouse right away. Use a pretreater like Resolve Stain Stick or Shout Advanced Gel to stop the stain from setting, even several days before washing.

    Related: These Spring Accessories Will Transform

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  • 5 Things Every Good Umbrella Should Have

    Don't settle for an umbrella that will only last a few downpours.Don't settle for an umbrella that will only last a few downpours.

    The truth is many of us don't think about buying a new umbrella until the sky turns black or, worse, when the one you have suddenly breaks in a downpour. But snapping up the first umbrella you find means it'll likely end up broken and tossed in the trash. We've tested many compact and mini umbrellas for water repellency, durability, size, weight, ease of opening and closing, and more in the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. After putting all those umbrellas through the wringer (and our rain tester!), we learned a thing or two about what makes a good one.

    Related: 9 Signs You're Seriously Over Winter

    Here's what we recommend:

    1. A model that's about 10 or 11 inches long
    A large, domed canopy is one key to good protection. In our test, umbrellas that were in this size range offered the best combination of coverage and compactness. If you really want something smaller, try the Totes Signature Micro 'Brella ($22). It packs a lot of umbrella into only six inches.

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  • 8 Biggest Mistakes You Make with Fresh Cut Flowers

    Whether your get them from a florist or the grocery store, give your blooms the attention they deserve.Whether your get them from a florist or the grocery store, give your blooms the attention they deserve.

    Fresh flowers are a speedy way to brighten any space in your home. But take the time to avoid the mistakes that diminish your bouquet's staying power.

    1. Going overboard choosing blooms
    We're all for creativity, but if you're unsure of your eye for arranging, keep it simple. "Try choosing flowers in a single color," says Eric Buterbaugh, chief floral designer at The Bouqs. "I think they're more sophisticated and visually powerful. You don't have to overthink it."

    Related: 8 Ways to Upgrade a Plain Glass Vase

    2. Not putting your flowers in water ASAP
    Don't plop your bouquet on the counter and then go off to answer a dozen emails. "It's important to hydrate your flowers immediately to preserve their integrity," says Valerie Ghitelman, floral merchandising director at 1-800-Flowers.

    3. Cutting the stems straight across
    "Stems should be cut at an angle with a sharp clean pair of clippers," says Ghitelman. "It provides a wider surface for water to travel up the

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  • 6 Biggest Mistakes You Make Putting on Mascara

    Follow these tips to make sure your lashes always look their best.Follow these tips to make sure your lashes always look their best.

    1. You start with your top lashes.
    You know those annoying dots you get on your eyelids and under your eyes? To prevent those, start with your bottom lashes when putting on your mascara. Otherwise your top lashes will smudge when you look down. When doing your top lashes, look straight ahead and place your wand at the base of your lashes. Then, use a zig-zagging motion while moving the wand up your lashes, recommends Marlena, founder and CEO of the blog Makeup Geek. "This will help give your lashes a curled effect. Keep repeating this until you get your lashes as thick as you want, usually two to three coats. When it comes to the bottom lashes, tilt your head forward slightly to keep from getting mascara onto your cheek." You can also use a credit card, business card, or small piece of paper to keep your mascara from traveling.

    Related: Don't Even Think of Touching Your Eyebrows Before Reading This

    2. You pump the wand too much.
    Are you spending more time separating your

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  • 4 Fabrics to Keep Away from Fabric Softener

    Sure, you want your clothes feeling soft and smelling nice, but the damage may not be worth it.Sure, you want your clothes feeling soft and smelling nice, but the damage may not be worth it.

    Whether you use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets, fabric softeners work well at softening fibers, reducing static, and adding a bit of fragrance to your laundry. But using it on certain materials can actually have a negative effect on the fibers. Here are four times you should skip it:

    Related: 10 Tips to Your Fastest Laundry Day Ever

    1. Microfiber
    What's great about microfiber is that its intricate fibers have the ability to trap dust and absorb spills. However, if you toss it in the wash with fabric softener, you could end up destroying the effectiveness and durability of its fibers.

    Related: How to Clean Your Washing Machine (Yes, It Needs to Be Cleaned)

    2. Athletic Sportswear
    Many types of athletic wear have wicking technology to absorb sweat from your skin and keep you cool when you're working out. If you use fabric softener on these garments, it'll leave a coating that will prevent them from wicking.

    Related: 7 Ways to Save Money on Dry Cleaning

    3.

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