Jun 13, 2023
Contractors Say You Should Never Do These Things Around Your Home — & Here's What To Do Instead
Life The pros have advice for every room in the house. Keeping a home feeling
The pros have advice for every room in the house.
Keeping a home feeling clean and comfortable is no easy task; luckily you don't need to hire professionals and spend big bucks to avoid making the major mistakes that make your home worse — or correct them. For this list, I’ve pulled together advice from a variety of contractors including professional organizers, plumbers, HVAC technicians, realtors, and more. Scroll on for all the mistakes you’ll want to avoid and what professionals recommend you do instead to update and declutter every room in the house.
As easy of a solution as liquid cleaners may seem, Sean Martz, the assistant manager at John the Plumber, recommends not relying on them too heavily. "They will degrade and damage your plumbing over time," reveals the professional. Instead, pick up this three-pack of drain snakes so that you’re always prepared when your pipes aren't flowing as they should be. The flexible wands are made with sharp grooves that trap any built-up product or hair. And because they’re made of recycled plastic, they can be rinsed off and reused.
Martz is also here to remind you that dropping in toilet fresheners does not truly clean your toilet. To up your game, pick up this pumice stone toilet scrubber to remove limescale, mildew, and stains. It can be used to clean your sink, tub, and tiles as well. It won't scratch and doesn't even require any sprays to work its magic. Plus, it comes with a ventilated storage case to keep it dry and clean.
Andre Kazimierski, the CEO of Improovy Painters Naperville, warns against leaving candles unattended, saying, "Prioritizing safety will help prevent fires and accidents." These battery-operated pillar candles deliver a realistic flicker without an open flame, and they can be controlled with the included remote to shut them off without even getting off the couch. They can also be put on a timer to ensure that they don't stay on all night.
Instead of putting a bucket underneath a leaky pipe or pretending that your faucet doesn't drip, Kazimierski advises you to "address the issue promptly by repairing or replacing any damaged parts." A quick and easy way to repair a minor leak is with silicone sealant. Caulk any gaps and wait just 30 minutes for it to be completely dry and ready to come in contact with water.
Sarah Dunn, a professional organizer and the founder of Ready Set Organize, says that a large basket is an investment that makes "tidying up a breeze." To clean up your floor and couch, use this 100% cotton basket with a 4.7-star overall rating to stylishly store throw blankets and extra pillows. It's available in seven colors within the listing and features built-in handles that make it easy to move.
While Dunn says that drawer dividers are great for "large kitchen drawers to provide some separation between the spatulas, the whisk, and the scissors," they can also be used to organize your office supplies and even clothing in dressers. This set's ability to expand from 17 to 22 inches makes it even easier to place the dividers in many kinds of drawers. Plus, they have rubber padding at each end to keep them in place and protect your furniture from scratches.
Dunn says that something as simple as getting tools like your brooms and mops off the floor will instantly make things look better. This mounted broom holder makes it easy to get them off the floor; it has four hooks and three non-slip clamps that can hold a total of 50 pounds. And because it's made of weatherproof stainless steel, it can be hung up indoors and outdoors.
Ben Green, CEO of Green Leaf Air, says that using a draft stopper like this one can improve energy efficiency. With three layers of protection, the durable attachment can block out not only cold or hot air but sound, dust, and bugs as well. Its strong adhesive backing stays in place but won't leave behind a residue when removed. It's available in four colors within the listing to match your door.
Jay Sanders, a contractor and the owner of Castle Dream Construction, recommends that homeowners install not just a smoke detector but a carbon monoxide detector as well, like this two-in-one device. The system provides verbal warnings, and instead of manually testing its batteries, the device automatically checks the sensors and batteries every 80 seconds. Its advanced technology can keep your home safe for up to 10 years.
In addition to privacy, Green recommends this pair of blackout curtains for their effective temperature control. He says it's an easy way to avoid "excessive heat gain from sunlight." This elegant set comes in 46 different colors and 22 different lengths within the listing to fit any room and decor.
Rick Sun, an HVAC technician at Green Leaf Air, warns that plugging too many devices into an outlet or extension cord at once can cause a fire. To avoid this risk, plug your chargers and lamps into a surge protector. This model is equipped with two USB ports and six three-pronged outlets. To save space, balance your phone in the top holder when taking advantage of its fast charging speed.
Lauren Saltman, a professional organizer and the owner of Living. Simplified., says that in addition to storing the obvious, a mail holder can also be used to hold bills, permission slips, invitations, and anything else that needs to be attended to immediately. Plus, the five wood hooks of this model give you space to hang up your keys and hat. The listing contains a larger version and an option in black.
When choosing a paint or stain product, James Pader, President at Mountain Laurel Handrails, warns against opting for the cheapest option. He recommends this wood oil that won't break the bank but will deliver long-lasting quality. It has a semi-transparent stain that will enhance the wood's natural look, and protect your deck, outdoor furniture, and stair railings from rain, wind, and snow.
Instead of testing your luck with pots that may fall off or discolor your railing, Pader recommends picking up a railing planter box with a bottom cutout that's specifically designed to hug the railing. This one in particular has removable drainage plugs to prevent water-logged plants. It's also available in a dark green color within the listing.
If you’re looking to increase the value of your home, Carmelo Carrasco, a realtor at Axel Property Management, reveals that it's not always the big renovations that make the biggest difference. "I would suggest focusing on simple, cost-effective updates such as [...] new hardware for cabinets," he says. These cabinet handles come in a pack of 30, so each one costs just $1. It's an affordable yet noticeable change that doesn't require hours of your time. They’re made of stainless steel and come in finishes like brushed brass and matte black within the listing.
Dunn recommends investing in drawer organizers for your junk drawers, desks, and cosmetic drawers because "separation creates order." Each of the pieces in this eight-pack of drawer organizers has rounded corners, making them easy to fit into most spaces and they can lock together for stability. Use them to separate your utensils, art supplies, skincare products, and more.
According to Saltman, not keeping your paperwork in order can lead to problems like "misplaced bills, difficulty finding important documents when filing taxes, and not knowing where your passport is when you're ready to travel." This three-tiered letter tray is made of scratch-resistant steel mesh that will remain stable on your desk. And to make it easier to find exactly what you need, each level can be pulled out.
Green says that proper insulation is something you should not overlook in your home. He recommends this window insulator kit that gives you everything you need to block drafts. It's made from a clear film that won't obstruct your view and strong adhesive tape that won't budge. In addition to lowering energy loss, it can also reduce condensation and prevent frost buildup.
Saltman recommends using a label maker on all of the bins in your pantry to ensure foods get placed back into the correct bins. This model allows you to choose various fonts, numbers, graphics, symbols, logos, and barcodes that can all be printed from your phone. It's completely wireless and only 5 inches tall, making it easy to store.
As Saltman says, to "make your closet work for you," you’ll want to make as much use of the space you have as possible. The first step is swapping in slim but sturdy velvet hangers. The smooth material will be gentle on clothes and keep items from slipping off. Plus, the hook swivels 360 degrees so you get a full view of each piece.
While empty wall space can certainly be filled with decor, Christina Giaquinto, a brand ambassador for Modular Closets, reminds everyone that it can also be used for (stylish) storage. This double-sided hook with a matte black finish can be used to hang towels, robes, and more. "If you are going to see the hook, think about getting one that matches your decor," she says.
The constant push and pull of chairs can end up doing serious damage to your floors. To reduce the number of scratches, Giaquinto recommends picking up a pack of chair leg covers. This pack comes with 16 pieces that are made of stretchy silicone and completed with a felt pad at the bottom. They’re available in different wood-like finishes as well as clear and in larger packs within the listing.
Instead of hiding clothes that you intend to donate, Saltman recommends keeping them accessible in a lidded storage bin. By storing them in a more prominent place, you’ll be more likely to add to the collection. The 30-liter bins in this pack of two are lightweight but sturdy so they can easily be moved around. When not in use, collapse them down flat to just 2 inches tall.
To implement a new organization system in your pantry, Saltman recommends taking the time to separate your food products into organizer bins. These clear plastic containers are shatterproof and easy to clean. By organizing your pasta, beans, sauces, and more, you’ll have an easier time finding what you need.
Saltman says that a water bottle rack can keep bottles from rolling around and that it can save you time when trying to reach your favorite. Each level can be adjusted between the wire sides to accommodate bottles of all sizes. Plus, it takes just one minute to assemble and doesn't require any tools. Wider models are also available within the listing.
"Shelf risers can be used either in your pantry or in your kitchen cabinets," says Saltman. Wherever you place them, you’ll have more space to keep spices, canned goods, and more. Plus, you’ll have easier access to everything as well. They’re made of strong alloy steel and can expand from 14 to 26 inches wide.
To keep all your most-used ingredients easily accessible, Saltman recommends using a turntable, especially in "hard-to-organize corners." It spins 360 degrees so you can find any oil, vinegar, condiment, spice, or sauce fast. Plus, the non-skid lining keeps everything in place even as it rotates. It also comes with removable dividers that can be used to create four separate sections.
In order to create your own cleaning solutions, Allison Harrison, the co-owner at Goodbee Plumbing, recommends having a few spray bottles at home. Use it to mix baking soda and vinegar before wiping down your counters and tables. This one has an ultra-fine mist, can be used upside down, and is leakproof.
"Don't settle for bad-tasting tap water," says Harrison. Especially not when this faucet water filter is so affordable. No tools are needed to attach it and enjoy purified water with reduced amounts of 60 different contaminants, including 99% of lead. One filter can purify 100 gallons or for approximately four months of use.
If you are going to go to the trouble of washing your windows, Craig Ricks Jr., the president of Acadian Windows and Siding, is here to remind you to "be sure to dry them properly as well to avoid streaks." The easiest way to do so is with a squeegee tool. Its silicone blade sweeps water away, leaving no streaks behind. Plus, it has a plush handle that's comfortable to hold as you work.
If your goal is to have fewer items crowding your countertop, Saltman recommends picking up an in-drawer knife block. This bamboo model has a secure slot for 16 blades and comes with a slot for a knife sharpener to keep them as good as new. Its angled position makes it easy to remove and insert knives and the bamboo material won't dull the blades.
Because windows are easy to scratch, Ricks Jr. suggests being mindful of what you use to wipe them. "Your best bet is to invest in a pack of microfiber cloths and simply use warm water and a mild soap or cleaner," he says. This pack comes with two reusable cloths, one intended for polishing and wiping, and the other for scrubbing. Both can be used 100 times and are capable of removing 99% of bacteria.
Zach Barnes-Corby, the head of construction at Block Renovation, admits that sprucing up your walls is not always the easiest task without a professional by your side. If you want "a statement wall with a lot of texture or tone," he recommends peel-and-stick wallpaper. This one comes with 14.5 square feet of paper and is made of durable vinyl in a matte finish, and its geometric design will create a more modern feel in your home.
"These [light strips] will dramatically increase the functionality of your space without requiring too much effort or skill to install," says Barnes-Corby. All you have to do is use the included adhesive tape to mount this three-pack of LED lights. There's no need for an outlet, so you can use them anywhere you need extra light.
To keep your bathroom looking new and clean, Troy Lamsee, a contractor and co-founder of Ace of Space Interiors, recommends picking up a non-yellowing sealant. This silicone blend will remain a bright white over time. It adheres to all common bathroom surfaces so you can create clean edges and cover up dingy or missing grout.Veronika Kero