Man spraying outside of mobile home for bugs with a natural spray.

Natural Remedies for Keeping Bugs Out of Your Space

Being outside is probably one of my favorite things. However, summer can make the outside and even the inside of my home breeding ground for an array of insects.

As I’ve started a veggie garden and have pets running inside and out – I’ve wanted to find natural, safe ways to get rid of bugs so as not to harm the animals, plants, or people. I’ve found that even though these remedies may not act as fast, they are still perfectly efficient. Plus, many of these homemade options are cheaper than a heavy-duty alternative. Obviously, huge infestations or structural issues with your home will need a professional, but for your small to moderate bug issues – try the ideas below!

Make your own natural remedies to protect your home from pests!

Bugs in general –

  • Lavender – you can spray a lavender mixture around your home or keep dried bits of it around to repel annoying bugs like flies and mosquitoes. Another great herb to ward off flies is basil!
  • Catnip – put a few plants around your porch, deck, and outdoor spaces to deter mosquitoes. Check out more bug repellent ideas from this home improvement website
  • Coffee grounds – Placing these around common entry points of your home will discourage pests that don’t like strong smells. Be mindful of leaving these out in areas where you have your pets.
  • Purchasing/ keeping helpful bugs – you might want to introduce some bugs that take care of other pests naturally (if they aren’t already present in your yard). Praying mantis are an example of these types of bugs. They eat fruit flies, aphids, and spiders.
  • Citrus – tons of solutions can be made from citrus to keep bugs away. For example, you can mix citrus of your choice with witch hazel or vinegar and water.
  • Earth based / or natural store made solutions – there are plenty of human and pet safe sprays you can buy that do the same thing as the toxic sprays, such as Neem oil. It may take them a little longer to do the job, but you keep everyone safe.

Ants –

  • Cleaning with vinegar is a good option to ward off or keep your kitchen or food preparation areas free of ants.

Stink bugs / fruit flies –

  • Dish soap can repel both of these critters. Mix  dish soap with apple cider vinegar in a small dish to attract and catch fruit flies.

Carpenter bees – According to a bee and removal company, these bees love untreated or wet wood, so, a great way to prevent them is to seal or stain the wood around your home.

  • You can also try a plethora of natural sprays. One easy one it to try using peppermint essential oil mixed with water and white vinegar. This will lure them out so you can seal the area.
  • Carpenters also aren’t a fan of noise. You can play music right by their nests and this can push them out for good.

I hope that these options take care of your pest issues and give you and your family an amazing, safe time outside and in! Do you have any great natural remedy ideas? Let us know at mediacontent@vmf.com.  Happy summer!

exterior of mobile home

Prep Your Mobile Home for Summer

As summer approaches, it’s time to give your mobile home a little love! In this post, I’ll be looking at some easy ways to prepare your home to have the best season yet. Take a little time to focus on these items. Be thinking of ways to protect your home from heat, seal in the cool air, and just prep your home for all the activities in summer. Check out the ideas below to get started!

  • Try filling or patching up your driveway. Whether you have a gravel, concrete, or even an asphalt driveway – you can fix those edges and fill in dips or holes. You don’t have to do a complete overhaul, just work on the problem spots that weather and time may have disrupted. Check out options for your type of driveway!
  • Take care of the weeds in your yard. You may have already done this if you planted some new items late winter or early spring, but either way it’s a great time to spray and/ or pull weeds. Be sure you deal with the roots or recover an area with wood chips or rocks.
  • Clean and repair windows. You lose a lot of cool air if your windows aren’t sealed well. Caulk where needed and fix screens as necessary. You can also clean windows well as a housekeeping piece. Check our post to help you with your windows! Woman cleaning windows in house
  • Make sure your AC and fans are in working order. You can clean your unit. Dust those ceiling fans or if you’re in a warm climate you may already feel the need for some fans. Try installing some fans to help circulate and push the air through and keep you cool.
  • Clean your deck. Does your deck need a good pressure washing or leave in cleaner? Mine does! The rain and tree leaves can do some damage to your deck, so be sure to clean them up yearly if you’re able. It looks great and protects your deck by giving it a longer life. Could your deck use an extra layer of protection? Staining your deck is a great early summer project!
  • Set up outdoor tools if you haven’t already. Garden hoses, grills, sprinklers, lawn chairs, etc. Dust them off, spray them down, and get them clean for all those summer celebrations and projects. Needing to add some tools to your collection? – these are great ones to have for your mobile home!
  • Repair skirting. The underside of your home is an important focus when it comes to keep the air you want in and keeping unwanted critters out from under the bottom of your home. Take this time to repair your skirting, maybe add some all new, or even check out the condition of your vapor barrier.

Clean Your Vinyl Siding!

I hope this gets you thinking of other ideas and that you can make a day of projects and simple updates before summer comes! Happy prepping!

Man using tool with dog

Easy Ways to Update Your Mailbox


Updating your mailbox is a quick, easy way to add some charm to your home. It’s an opportunity to introduce your home to your guests before they even open the front door. This is a great, flexible project for all skill levels. Now, I’ll talk about some easy ways to spruce up your mailbox.

Add some color. Have an old mailbox? Give it new life by sanding it and adding some paint. You can paint the base as well or stain it if it’s wood. You may have to prime the mailbox depending on the material. Want an easier route? Grab some spray paint, painters’ tape, a few old sheets to protect your grass or curb, and there you go.

Add some color to your mailbox!
  • Count it out. Is your home hard to find? Make it a little easier to find by adding large statement numbers to the base. You can add them directly to the base or you can add them to a flat base and then lean it up against the mailbox or nail it on.
  • Do some landscaping. Want to add a garden around your mailbox? Start by measuring how big you want your garden or flower bed to be by laying string or spray painting your lines in the grass. Choose the shape you want and try to make everything even and symmetrical. You can then lay rocks or whatever you like for edging. Next, you can till the top layer of land a little bit or you can lay gardeners’ fabric, then lay the soil. Lastly, you can plant your items as directed. Chose the plants based on the sun amount needed and what fits your climate best. Additionally, you can add wood chips if you like, once the flowers are planted. If you want something a little easier you can add a hook to your base and hang a flower basket or purchase a small flowerpot sling to go over your mailbox.
  • Stick to brick. Want to take it up a notch? Fake brick or real brick can make your mailbox sturdy and look super sophisticated. This can be a harder project as it involves more time and skill. Especially if you use real bricks. Here’s some help with this project if you’re wanting to use real brick. If it were me, I’d just keep it simple and apply fake bricks. You can get panels that can easily cover wood or metal bases. Usually, you can just cut them to size and bolt them in. You may also use a strong adhesive.

Freshen Up Your Curb Appeal!

What ideas do you have? I hope that these ideas get you started thinking on how you can personalize your mailbox.

Gardening tools

Spring Yard Prep: Pruning Plants and Weeding

Spring is here, and I couldn’t be more ready to watch some things grow! In the next couple of weeks, depending on where you live – last frosts will mark the perfect time to plant outdoors. Whether you’ve already got seedlings going that are ready for transplant, or you’re ready to put some new plants in the ground – there’s going to be a bit of prep work. I’m going to talk about pruning plants and how to take care of those pesky weeds. Hopefully, this can help you prep your yard/garden for the year and new plants.

Pruning:

According to the Spruce, early spring – in between the time plants drop old growth and before they grow new ones is the best time to prune. You’ll need some small or large pruning shears, depending on what you’ve got in your yard. Then, you’ll need some gloves and a bag or compost area to put your trimmings. If you‘re unsure if your plant is ready to be pruned, just try to evaluate how it’s doing: Is it bare? Does it have some immature growth? It’s probably okay to prune. Has it already started new blooms? Is it full? It may be best to leave it alone this pruning season.

When pruning trees and shrubs, select areas that look dead or possibly diseased and remove them. It is suggested to cut them at a bit of an angle like a diagonal cut. You can also use this time to shape them a bit, too. When dealing with perennials, you can pinch off flowers and trim areas that aren’t growing. Be sure on both to check the bottom of the plant, not just the blooms or ends.

Get those flowers ready for another year of growth!

Weed Maintenance:

The Farmer’s Almanac is an amazing resource for anything gardening related, and weeds are no exception. There are three kind of steps for weeds: prevention, identification, and maintenance.

Prevention is tedious, but worth it. Try:

  • Weeding new growth and cut them below the soil line
  • Clean tools as they may spread seeds
  • Keep up with mowing
  • Add more mulch

There are plenty of other ideas, these are just a few.

Did you know there are perennial weeds?

Identification of weeds is not something I ever thought of, but it’s an important thing to do, especially when dealing with persistent weeds. There tons of different types of weeds and species within those types. The Farmer’s Almanac identifies 13 common ones and tells you how they act and how to control them.

Maintenance is a bit of trial and error. Some weeds can just be pulled out by hand, while others require a tiller or shovel to get deep into the roots. Many of the things used to prevent weeds can also be used to get rid of them. Trying to prevent seeds from spreading is a big help, too. Weeds love shaded areas. If you can free up more light or seed an area with grass seed it may help. Wood chips can help as well. You can try covering in plant fabrics, as well as landscaping an area that is waterlogged for better water flow and less weeds. You can also use chemicals, but these can harm good growth and may not be the best for your families’ or pets’ health.

More Spring Maintenance!

I hope that this gives you motivation to get out into your yard an get everything in order for the new growing season. May you make way for new growth and love all the blooms of Spring!

Mobile Home Skirting Measurement and Ventilation

There are many components to mobile home skirting. I’d like to stress the importance of skirting in this article. It’s not merely a decorative part of the home, but rather a protector of your home’s pipes/temp control, underbelly, and keeps the area clear of critters. Let’s check out how to get the right amount of skirting for your home.

To measure your mobile home, you’ll need two things:

  1. The linear feet
  2. Skirting height measurements

According to this great mobile home repair site, here’s one of the easiest strategies to measuring your mobile home for skirting:

Measuring the linear feet is easy – you just need to add up all the feet around your home. So, if you have a 52 x 32’ you’ll multiply that by 2 or could add it this way 52 + 32 + 52+ 32.

The skirting height measurements are a little more confusing, but not bad. Here, you’ll be measuring the length from the ground to the corners of your mobile home. Because the ground your home is on may be unlevel, it is recommended to measure the front, back and middle of your home as well. The site I mentioned above, says to add 2 inches to each length. Then you add the 6 sides together and divide them by 6 for the average. This will give you the length for the height of the skirting.

With these measurements I would suggest to get a little extra material. You can always return product, but if you get too little, it can be extra work to return to the store or purchase more online. The product you need could be sold out or you may have to wait for an order to be delivered and you wont be able to complete your project.  

Further, ventilation plays an important role, but it’s often forgotten in the process or deemed optional.

There are plenty of reasons why ventilation is necessary, a skirting company explains them as:

  • Can prevent mold/moisture buildup.
  • Can improve energy efficiency by trapping in hot/cold air.
  • Safely releases potential hazardous gases from plumbing and soil.
  • Lessens odors + promotes healthy airflow and proper use for gas appliances.

According to a mobile home site, vents should be placed at every 150 to 250 feet of flooring. There should be about a foot of venting at every 150 ft section. It’s important to take notice of where you place the vents so that things like pipes; which are the very thing you hope to protect from outside air don’t end up freezing because they are right next to a vent opening.

You can find vents online or at a mobile home parts store locally. They generally range from about 7 – 20 dollars give or take. You can measure your home and decide the number of vents you’d need for the size of your mobile home. You can also add in an access door you choose one you can fit through. There are some that an arm can fit though as well. These are just what they sound like- doors to access underneath the home. You may need to access the underbelly for repairs, to apply heat tape to your pipes, to replace your moisture barrier, etc.

Explore Skirting Options!

I hope that this helps you get the perfect amount of skirting and protect your home well.


The Hidden Benefits of Houseplants

Houseplants probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind for most when it comes to home maintenance. Surprisingly, these little plants add more than aesthetics to anyone’s decor. So, what are the benefits of having them and how can they aide in home maintenance?

Houseplants have been found to reduce dust and mold in your environment, which means less dusting for you and better air quality! Speaking of air quality, house plants can purify and add moisture to your air.

Your home’s environment and air aren’t the only receivers of the benefits, you are too! Adding plants to your space can boost your mood, relieve stress, and help provide restful sleep. Adding plants to a variety of rooms in your home will expand the benefits you can receive.

If you are a beginner at caring for plants, you may need to do some research to find the right ones for you. It’s a good idea to factor in the time you have to care for a plant. For example, a plant that doesn’t need a lot of watering, like a cactus, would be ideal if you are busy, travel often, or tend to forget about plants. A snake plant would be a good option if your home doesn’t get much natural light.

Some great plants to consider for beginners and are easy to care for are:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Lucky Bamboo
  • Succulents
  • Snake Plant
  • Spider Plant
  • Cacti

Certain plants can provide added benefits compared to others. For example, you can use the aloe plant to help with skin issues and sunburns. Be sure to research which plants work best for what benefit you are looking for!

All in all, incorporating plants into your space can offer more than just decoration by providing health benefits and improving your home’s environment. Who knew bringing a little outside to the inside of your home could provide such an array of benefits!

Keep Going Green!

Sources:

https://www.swansonsnursery.com/blog/health-benefits-of-houseplants

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/indoor-plants-can-instantly-boost-your-health-happiness-ncna781806

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-health-benefits-houseplants

How to Clean Your Front or Top Loading Washer

I have never cleaned my washing machine. So, I’ll be learning with you on this one. Since both top loading and front load washers are popular these days, we will look at both. If you’re having an issue with an odor, then this could be a great solution to bust that musty smell and trade it for a fresh one. It’s simple when it comes to cleaning, it just takes a little time and some basic cleaners. Let’s get started!

Front load washers

  • Start with cleaning the gasket

Unique to front loaders, the gasket is that pesky ring that can get moldy before you know it. The rubber ring inside your washer needs to be cleaned once a month. Open the gasket and remove any items that got trapped in its fold to clean. You can also wipe it down with a cloth or sponge to remove more stuck-on things, like hair and dust.

With a safe cleaner of your choice you can wipe out mildew. Some sites recommend bleach, if you use this please proceed with caution. We suggest (with other sites): hot water, a good scrubber, and white vinegar.

  • Next, clean the drum

Put a small amount of baking soda in the drum and turn the washer on a cleaning cycle or a regular one, just ensure the water is hot. Use heavier duty product if this does not remove stains or mildew. Remove the detergent dispenser and soak it in warm water. Then wipe it down with an all-purpose cleaner. Before placing it back in – clean the empty cavity and wipe down the outside of the washer.

That’s it! Remember to use best practices to maintain your washer.

Top load washing machine

Top load washers

  • Start a large, hot water load

As it fills with water, add white vinegar and let it agitate for the normal time. Then let the load soak for an hour or so. You can stop the load usually by pulling the knob. You can open the washer and leave the lid up for cleaning and so the lid can dry.

  • Grab an old toothbrush or small tool

Remove the fabric softener well or any other removable parts and soak them in hot water, as well as wipe them down with an all-purpose cleaner. Go around the top edge of the washer, inside it, and the upper opening of the agitator/barrel with the toothbrush. You can add baking soda for tough stains. Leave the lid the open as the water sits.

  • Close the lid and finish the cycle

You can then clean the top and dials with a rag and baking soda. You can then repeat and do another cycle with baking soda if the first wasn’t enough. Once you are happy with the inside of the washer, wipe the sides of the drum with a dry cloth to remove any leftover debris. You can complete the cleaning by wiping down the front and sides of the washer.

More Tips for Your Mudroom!

That’s it! Be sure to leave lid up after washing loads for a while to reduce mildew and allow the interior to dry.

This is just one idea of many!  There are so many great tutorials to cleaning both types of washers, so if this one doesn’t do the trick, keep browsing, or work with your own safe options and let us know what worked best for you!

My Go-To Way to Clean the Microwave

Cleaning the microwave is one of my least favorite tasks. Everything that splattered is stuck onto the sides of the microwave and is a pain to scrub clean. I needed an easier way, one that didn’t require a ton of elbow grease.

Then I came across this method. It’s super simple and allows for all the dried food to be effortlessly wiped cleaned.

All you need is the following:

  • A microwave safe bowl
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Lemon juice

In the bowl, add one-part vinegar, one-part water and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice. Place the bowl in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes. (I typically use a cup each of vinegar and water, but you can decide what works best for your microwave.) When the timer goes off, carefully remove the bowl as it may be hot and wipe down the microwave with a damp cloth.

If you have a microwave with a rotating glass dish, be careful when removing, as it may also be hot,  and wipe down.

If anything is still remaining, place the bowl back in the microwave for another minute or so.  The steam can help break up the grease and dried on food.

Clean Your Oven, Too!

What used to be an exhausting appliance to clean, now is a quick clean up no matter how long you go in between cleanings.

5 Tips to Help You Clean Your Fridge

November 15th is National Clean Out Your Fridge Day. The thought behind this day is to clear the way for all those incoming leftovers that will fill your fridge after Thanksgiving. However, just as a rule I try to clean my fridge at least once a quarter. It is amazing how we don’t notice the little spills or reside from fruits and veggies (especially if you forgot about them in the drawer) until it gets bad.  If you maintain regularly though, cleaning your fridge can be a less bothersome task. Here are some tips to help make the process efficient and get you through!

Tip 1: Remove all your contents – don’t just work around them

You can do this a few ways. You can take everything out all at once, or shelf by shelf. As you remove the contents, take note to see what is expired and what is still good. I like to create two piles on the floor that way I know what I am tossing and what I am not.

Tip 2: Use an unscented, natural cleaner

To clean the surfaces of your fridge, you’ll want to use something natural and doesn’t have a strong scent. You can use a scentless natural cleaner you buy in a store, make your own, or even just wipe down the inside with some warm water and add a little dish soap for stuck on messes. Having a strong scent can linger in your fridge and cause your food to absorb the smell or using chemicals could be potentially harmful.

Tip 3: Get organized…again

When putting back all the unexpired foods, make sure to reorganize. It is so easy for things to get put back in different places. Having an organized fridge will allow you  find what you need quickly. It will save you time and money.

Tip 4: Don’t just focus on cleaning the inside

It isn’t just the areas where your food sits that gets dirty. It is the door, back of the fridge, top, and under the fridge too. Make sure to wipe down the inside of the door where it seals. Unplug your fridge and gently wipe down the coils with a dry cloth or brush and move the fridge out to clean underneath. You’ll want to make sure your remove all dust so it doesn’t harm the functionality of your fridge. Once done cleaning, remember to plug your fridge back in.

Tip 5: Keep it smelling fresh

Keeping either baking soda or freshly ground coffee in your fridge will help to absorb food odors. You can also crumple a brown paper bag and place it in your produce drawer to help absorb odors.

Freshen Your Fridge/Kitchen!

While cleaning the fridge is no one’s favorite task, hopefully these tips will help to improve your process to keep your fridge clean and smelling great.