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  • By Leah Zerbe, Rodalenews.com

    Healthy home alert! To save money, protect your health, and help the environment, give these toxic tenants an eviction notice.

    1. Coal Tar Driveway Sealant

    If you plan to seal your blacktop driveway come spring, avoid coal tar-based sealants. They contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which studies suggest can be toxic, causing cancer or other genetic mutations in your body. When rainwater and other precipitation hit your driveway, the toxic chemicals run off into your yard and into your local drinking water supply. In fact, this situation has been compared to dumping quarts of motor oil right down a storm drain.

    Better alternative:
    Gravel and other porous materials are best for driveways because they allow rainwater to sink into the ground, where it gets filtered and doesn't inundate water treatment plants. But if you do seal blacktop, pick asphalt sealant and stay away from any product that has coal tar in its name (or prod

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  • If you lug your turbo-charged vacuum or trusty mop-and-bucket combo out of the closet only once a week, you're not alone. According to a recent survey by Bissel, 32 percent of Americans wait at least one week to clean their floors. But thanks to some handy tools and a troubleshooting approach, you can keep yours spotless throughout the week without having to deploy the heavy artillery.

    Related: 47 Ways to Maximize Space in Your Kitchen

    Start with a Solid Foundation

    Vacuum once a week, and do it like you mean it. A good time is on the weekend, when you can spend a half hour or more removing accumulated dirt.

    Kick Off Your Shoes

    Take a cue from Martha and enforce a no-shoe policy inside your home. Outdoor shoes transfer bacteria like E. coli to floors, according to a study done at the University of Arizona. At the door, set out a basket of slippers or skid-resistant socks to encourage the habit for family members and guests alike.

    Related: 19 Tips for Perfect Laundry Every Time


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  • Winter is undeniably one of my favorite seasons, but I've checked out early this year. In an attempt to coax spring into coming early, I've started the long and grueling process of cleaning my house.

    Whether it's deep cleaning or just tidying up, there are a few ways to go the extra mile and keep your home sparkling. During my spree, I uncovered dirty items around my home that I didn't even realize were in need of my care. I cannot confirm or deny that I spent 30 minutes vacuuming a loveseat.

    Get a head start on your spring cleaning with these deep cleaning tips from HGTV.com's blog, Design Happens.

    1. The upholstery. Vacuum couches, chairs, love seats, rugs and mattresses, then spot clean with a rag and warm water. Depending on the fabric, curtains and slipcovers can be tossed in the washing machine.

    2. The walls. If you have kids or pets, this might be a no-brainer -- those handprints (or pawprints!) add up. Wipe off any loose dust with a soft cloth, then gently scrub off any dirt wi

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  • Clean Smarter, Not Harder

    Clean Smarter, Not Harder

    Crush your chores without breaking a sweat! Pinpoint your preferred approach, then use these tips to tidy up your entire home in record time.

    Related: Stay Organized Year-Round »

    Everyone has a basic tidy-up "personality" that affects the way they get things done (or don't!). After you identify your style, learn how to turbocharge your cleaning tasks, maximizing your strengths and using some easy work-arounds to rectify your weaknesses.

    If you are a multitasker...You're a sprinter, blitzing your way through the house, picking up clutter with one hand, steering the vacuum with the other, while that foaming cleanser is loosening soap scum in the shower. Meanshile, you're using your MP3 player to learn Spanish. In your zeal to do it all, you often run out of time--meaning that some chores are left unfinished, and you have to start them over again. To clean smarter:
    Divide and conquer. Make two lists: hands-on tasks (clear clutter, dust, vacuum, mop) and hands-off tasks (do laundry, ru

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  • If the snow has melted, your yard is ready for a refresh.

    Sure, you typically focus your spring cleaning on the inside of the house, but getting your yard ready for the new season should also be on your list. Here are several tips to streamline your outdoor spring cleaning.

    1. Survey the damage, post-melt.
    Once the last of the snow is gone, survey your lawn for any bare areas or dead spots of grass. Heavy traffic and pet messes can keep the grass from growing back. You can help by sprinkling some soil over the area and adding grass and fertilizer. Be sure to keep the dirt moist until the seeds sprout into grass.

    Related: You're Going to Love These DIY Planters

    2. Tidy up any debris.
    As you scan your yard, remove any fallen branches and twigs. If your lawn is covered with leaves, there's no way around pulling out the rake. Before collecting the leaves, be sure the ground is completely dry -- raking over wet grass can tear it from the roots, leaving you with even more bare patches. Don't send the leaves, branches, and twigs to the garbage, t

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