6 Ways to Improve Your Home Gym Experience

For many, resistance is more than an elastic band used to build muscle. It’s a very real force that keeps us stationary and out of the gym. During this time of inertia, resistance gets stronger, and we get softer, in the literal sense.

A good solution to the home gym struggle? Add a little inspiration. Here are some popular ways to make your home gym more inspiring.

1. Change your perspective from the equipment. If your view from the seat of the stationary bike or treadmill has been the same since you set up your gym, move the machinery, or weights, around the room to form a new arrangement. Add a view of some sort. Even if you have a window or glass wall to gaze at, a new focal point will keep your eyes and mind occupied. This tactic is especially poignant for those of you training for a race or event. Find a picture of a finish line or your upcoming race route and use that image to keep you motivated throughout your workout.

2. Think minimalistic. It’s so easy to get distracted during a workout — ooh, I should read that book! Fend off potential distractors by removing them entirely. There are plenty of opportunities to go decor-wild in your home, but leave your fitness area simple.

3. Make space for movement. Forgive me, this may be obvious, but: Fitness takes space. All that lunging, vinyasa flow-ing, and running in place means you need at least a few free feet in every direction. After all, what’s fun about hitting your head on your coffee table while doing push-ups? (Hint: nothing)

4. Phone a friend for some company and accountability. Make a date with a workout partner and stick to it. This strategy is especially powerful when your friend is at a fitness level that you seek to attain. Conversations flow, ideas are exchanged and the time quickly passes with your buddy on board. Plus, their new energy livens up your workout zone.

5. Get visual with inspirational videos or training sessions. YouTube has millions of fitness videos you can use as prompts or inspiration to reach new levels. Take your pick from all the yoga, Pilates and Zumba options available online. It’s free, so if you try it and hate it, all you will have lost is a few minutes of your time.

6. Shake your tail feathers! Exercise doesn’t have to occur on a machine that counts calories or output levels. Get back to basics and dance your way into a new groove. Dance is fun, freeing and expressive. It also gets you in touch with your body through muscle control and balance. Plus, as the saying goes, “Dance like nobody’s watching,” and here’s your chance.

Use these tips when revamping your home gym; doing so will give you a whole new perspective on the way you exercise.

How to Choose the Best Outdoor Patio Furniture for Arizona?

Selecting the best patio furniture for your Arizona home takes consideration beyond aesthetic appeal. It is important to make decisions based on functionality and compatibility with the elements. Living in Arizona, you want to make sure you pay close attention to the types of materials that could withstand serious heat, blazing sun and regular dust.

So, what is the most durable outdoor furniture for the Arizona climate? Keep reading to find out.

Wood

No matter what type of wood you choose, it will not absorb the heat. When it comes to wooden patio furniture, you can choose from teak, cedar, pine or eucalyptus. Teak is considered the best option and can last for up to 50 years. It is a strong hardwood, difficult to mar. It also has an attractive finish and can withstand most weather conditions.

Keep in mind: Wood typically is heavier than other patio materials, so it will take a little more effort to rearrange. It is also more expensive than most other materials.

Cast Aluminum

Although this material is lightweight, it is durable and does not rust or fade in the harsh Arizona sun. It is also cost effective as it requires little maintenance.

Keep in mind: Cast aluminum patio furniture absorbs heat when under the sun, so you will have to be mindful before sitting.

Resin Wicker

Made from synthetic materials that are UV-resistant, this option is very unlikely to fade or crack. Resin wicker patio furniture is durable yet lightweight, and does not absorb heat, so you can sit without hesitation. The Convene Patio Dining Set is a great example.

Keep in mind: It is important to purchase high-density polyethylene over PVC materials, otherwise the durability standard is lowered.

Recycled Plastic

This is another affordable lightweight option that requires little maintenance and is very easy to clean. Plastics are available in many colors, which is ideal when you need to match a particular palette. You can also find plastic patio furniture that resembles wood or wicker.

Keep in mind: Regardless the quality of plastic, it can crack and fade easily. It may also break over time under sun exposure.

Wrought Iron

This durable material is ideal for withstanding all weather, especially the Arizona heat. It is also very sturdy, so it will last longer and stay put during windy monsoons or dust storms. Wrought iron patio furniture is available in many styles, and because most include a cushion for comfort, it can easily be adapted to fit your outdoor décor.

Keep in mind: This is a heavier material, so if you like to rearrange often, make sure you’re aware of its weight. If the wrought iron patio furniture you buy is not powder-coated, you may need to coat with a rust-proofing agent.

Outdoor Pillows and Cushions

The colorful toppings we add to our outdoor furniture is what makes the entire area come to life. These items are much more fragile and affected by sun exposure and moisture, so it’s even more important to choose your patio cushions wisely. The most common materials of outdoor patio pillows you should be aware of are:

  • Solution-dyed acrylic: Created with high process standards, this material is made to last. Although acrylic patio cushions are more expensive, they are less likely to fade and are easy to spot clean.

  • Cotton canvas (duck cloth): This is your more affordable option, which means it isn’t as resistant to the elements. Cotton patio pillows can be replaced easily though, due to their low prices.

  • Vinyl fabric: This material comes in second behind solution-dyed acrylic as far as strength, flexibility and durability. It is easy to clean and does not fade easily. It may, however, become sticky or cause sweatiness since it is made from plastic.

 Source:  Phoenix Furniture Outlet

Why Peel-And-Stick wallpapers are the Nº1 hack for your home right now

Traditional wallpaper has a bad reputation for being difficult to apply and even harder to remove. That’s why many houses look dated; they still have stubborn wallpaper from the ’80s that won’t budge! In response, the temporary wallpaper trend has taken off. It gives renters and homeowners the ability to experiment with different styles but not be tied down to one look. In many cases, temporary wallpaper is also reusable.

If you are a renter, temporary wallpaper allows you to cover those bland, white walls with something more personal and homey. And you won’t get fined for changing the walls when you move, because the wallpaper comes off easily.

Temporary wallpaper is also a great option if you don’t plan on staying in your home forever. If you plan to sell your home down the road, choose temporary wallpaper so that when it comes time to put your home on the market, you can strip it away to create a more basic look that will appeal to more people.

Other uses of temporary wallpaper include in vacation homes (you could decorate your walls with a seashell design), nurseries, guest rooms or even a dorm room.

You have many options when it comes to choosing where to purchase temporary wallpaper. Various companies offer a range of designs to fit your individual style. Check out these six great sources.

Swag Paper

Swag Paper has a great selection of temporary wallpaper, from vintage maps to classic ikat patterns. Check out their inspiration gallery of photos from real users of Swag Paper to get ideas for your own home.

Wayfair

Wayfair, known for their array of affordable home goods and furniture, has an equally extensive selection of temporary wallpaper at great prices. Check out designs such as birch trees, bricks, arrowheads, peony flowers and more.

The Wall Sticker Company

This site allows you to upload your own images to create custom temporary wallpaper. Or browse their many categories, such as teens, nursery, maps and more.

Spoonflower

Spoonflower offers various tools to help you create custom wallpaper designs. You can upload your own images and make use of their color map and guide or test out their products with a sample pack of creative wallpaper swatches.

Blik

Not only does Blik offer temporary wallpaper, but they also carry fun wall decals and stickers if you don’t want to commit to redoing the entire wall space. Check out their dry-erase notepad decal here!

Easywallz

Browse Easywallz for temporary wallpaper that fits your home or office. They have an extensive collection of murals, door murals and table wraps, or you can create your own collage.

Temporary wallpaper is a great way to infuse your home with personal style and creativity. Contact The Aladin Group today for more easy ways to give your home a stylish upgrade.

Things to Know About Buying a Second Home

If you’ve been thinking about buying a second home, now is a good time to take the leap. With homebuyers enjoying an advantage in many markets, now may be the time to buy that second home. But there are some vital things to do before you start shopping. Follow these steps to make buying a second home a smooth process:

The best way to start the search for a second home is to find a real estate agent who is familiar with your desired location. Please don’t hesitate and call us! The Aladin Group can provide you not only information about neighborhoods, but also about market prices and the pros and cons of particular properties.

With an eye toward the long-term value of a property, we can fill you in on price histories and how comparable sales have fared, and resale prospects. Factors that tend to help properties hold or increase in value are proximity to a major metropolitan area, ease of access and the availability of year-round amenities.

Evaluate your needs and long-term goals.

Be realistic about what type of second home suits your lifestyle. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, staying within a day’s drive of your primary home could be a good move. If you’d like your second home to someday serve as a retirement spot, assess the home’s accessibility and check out health care services in the area.

Decide what type of home is right for you.

Think about how much time you’re willing to devote to maintenance when deciding between a condo and a single-family home. Condos are a good choice for buyers who only plan to use their homes occasionally and don’t want to deal with year-round maintenance. But if you don’t want to sacrifice privacy, stick with a single-family home.

Be sure you can afford two mortgages. You have to qualify for a second-home mortgage, which is on top of any mortgage debt on your primary home.

Typically, you will need to make a down payment of at least 10 percent, meet credit standards and debt-to-income requirements, and provide documents for income and asset verification.

If you have a good relationship with the mortgage lender on your primary residence, that might be a good place to start your quest for a second-home mortgage. If you don’t have a good mortgage lender yet, we can connect you with the best lenders we have worked with over the years.

Factor in additional costs. Today’s second-homebuyers are more interested in enjoying their properties rather than getting a quick return on their investment.

Still, you should consider that you will be away from the property a lot of the time, which usually entails additional costs, such as having a management company check the place in your absence for water leaks, frozen pipes and other problems.

Getting insurance for a second home may be more challenging than it is for a primary residence. If you are considering a second home on the beach, for example, you’ll need flood insurance in addition to regular home insurance. It has become more difficult to get flood insurance in coastal communities, and the cost has increased greatly in some markets.

Take into account the tax implications of your purchase. If you use your home as a true second home, you could get a deduction for mortgage interest and property taxes, just as you do with your first-home mortgage.

Be aware that under the new federal tax law, the cap to the mortgage interest deduction will be lowered from $1 million to $750,000. So if you already have a $750,000 mortgage and get a loan for a vacation home, you won’t be able to deduct the interest on the second mortgage.

If you rent out your second home, you will have to consider additional tax ramifications, particularly if the rental period extends beyond 14 days a year.

No matter if you plan to buy a second home or if you are a first time home buyer – please reach out to us at 480-359-6789 and we will sit down with you and guide you through the home buying process!

Source: Bankrate.com

How To Find The Right Neighborhood For You

If you’re starting a family, you might want to consider a neighborhood known for its good schools. Or, if your children have graduated, you might feel that it’s time for a change of scenery. Perhaps your company has moved and you want to be closer to work. Lots of your priorities may have changed over the years. Here are seven ways to evaluate whether or not a neighborhood is a good fit.

1. Time The Commute To Your Job

Perhaps you have been spending hours stuck in traffic to and from work and are looking for a much shorter commute. Just because a neighborhood is closer does not mean that you will get there faster. Time the commute from the different neighborhoods you are considering.

2. Meet The Neighbors

Want to get a feel for the neighborhood? Talk to the neighbors. Just by walking around the neighborhood you’ll get a vibe, helping you determine whether it’s the right place for you. Are the people a little standoffish? Are they hesitant to make eye contact with you? Are people friendly and neighborly? Maybe a little too friendly? Take a walk around and strike up a conversation with your potential future neighbors to get a feel for the community.

3. Go For A Walk And/Or Drive Around The Neighborhood

One of the best ways to pick the right neighborhood is to take your time walking around. Go for a walk and/or drive through the neighborhood on the weekend and on weekdays. Do the same thing at different times of the day. Note where there are areas that look a little unsafe or dilapidated. How will that affect your quality of life there?

4. Attend A Local Festival Or Event

Kill several birds with one stone by attending a local event or festival. You’ll meet people from the neighborhood and get a sense of the type of community that it is. Is it tight-knit? Young? Old? A little too country? Local events can tell you a lot about the spirit of a neighborhood.

5. Go Out To Eat At A Local Hot Spot

While you’re checking out properties, go to a popular eatery in the neighborhood. Check out the vibe and take note of people’s behavior. Do they look at you suspiciously? Is the customer service lousy? Are diners happy? You can glean a lot about a neighborhood by simply people-watching.

6. See A Play Or Game At A Local School

If you have kids, the quality of the local schools in your neighborhood may be priority No. 1. Before you buy a house and enroll the kids, visit the school. Go to a school play or watch one of the school’s sports teams to get a feel for the level of community support for the school’s art and athletic programs.

To ensure you find the best neighborhood for your lifestyle, give The Aladin Group a call today and we’ll help you navigate the home-buying process.

Source: https://bit.ly/2vGU3kD

How To Prepare For The Unknown When Buying A Home

“You never know what’s behind the walls.” This renovation mantra is so important and should be tattooed on the forearm of everyone about to embark on renovation or even small updates to their home. Before you get started on renovations, protect yourself by taking a few key steps.

Load-bearing walls

Many times a renovation has gone off the rails because a load-bearing wall made it difficult and expensive, or darn near impossible, to move. While you may not be able to eliminate every potential surprise, you can give yourself a leg up by hiring a professional to take a look before you buy, and certainly before you swing the hammer.

“An experienced general contractor can do an initial consultation and assess your wall for as little as $100,” builder Jeff Andreson told Houzz

. An architect is another possibility because they may approach the situation differently, which could save you money. “A structural engineer may also be required,” and is often your best bet for achieving peace of mind.

Plumbing

“Homebuyer inspections are the rule these days,” said Angie’s List. “Sometimes plumbers are called in to do a more thorough follow up inspection. Unfortunately, this often happens after the home has already been purchased.”

And the issues can be costly. Hiring a plumber to check everything out before you purchase could uncover problems throughout the house, from the main sewer line to water heaters that could cause extensive damage if they leak or burst, to leaky toilets. “One problem homeowners often neglect to have fixed is a leak at the base of a toilet,” they said. “The leak often appears small or insignificant, but over time the water will begin to rot the subfloor and even get between the subfloor and the finished floor. Someone unaware of the damage this kind of problem can create, may try to seal this themselves, sometimes making it worse.”

Foundation

If you have a home inspection, which you obviously should ALWAYS do, your inspector will look for signs of foundation damage. But, there are things you can look for ahead of the inspection that may impact your decision to purchase, such as: cracks in exterior and interior walls, cracks in floors, gaps around windows and doors, and doors that stick. Foundation issues can arise regardless of the age of the home, and could be indicative of a serious problem in places that are prone to earthquakes. But you also want to take them seriously in areas with known soil issues, like Texas. A few settlement cracks may be normal and safe, but you need an inspector to tell you one way or the other. Foundation repair can be expensive, something to keep in mind when you consider the price of the home.”

Electrical

Back to the old knob-and-tube situation. If someone has deliberately tried to hide illegal or dangerous wiring, that’s obviously a huge issue, both ethically and financially. And, it’s one you likely won’t find out about until you get inside the walls. Also, you may or may not have recourse against the seller since it will be difficult to prove there was knowledge that necessitated disclosure. Even in a newer home, issues with the way electrical fixtures were installed could make what you thought was a quick and easy update into a larger undertaking.

The best way to prepare for any type of renovation:

  • Add time to any job – You just never know what’s going to come up

  • Research potential issues so you’re better prepared to roll with whatever comes your way

  • Have a Plan B – See first bullet point

  • Set aside extra money

Most importantly: Establish a good relationship with your contractor – When problems or unexpected issues arise, it may just be your good humor and the rapport you have established with your contractor that keeps you at the top of his schedule instead of having to wait weeks or longer to get your updates done.

Source: Realty Times

Hidden Gems Around Arizona

Arizona offers its lovely desert life for those who love the sun, enjoy nostalgic architecture, and love to feel like they are in the wild wild west. Specifically speaking, Phoenix and all of the other major cities are thriving with incredible things to do. I know, when you think of Arizona, it might not seem so appealing at first, but there is a reason so many people are flocking their way over to this incredible state. With all of these new visitors and movers, it might be interesting to find the hidden gems around the area. Sure, the mainstream things to do will keep you and your friends and family occupied, but seeking that hidden layer of Arizona is what it’s all about! Here are some of the best hidden gems hidden around Arizona.

Arizona Desert Mountain Jeep Tours

What better way to step into Arizona and get to know the place than to hop into a jeep and drive right into the desert. The Arizona Desert Mountain Jeep Tours are not your ordinary tour, either. This tour will give you a first hand experience as to how gorgeous and incredible the desert really can be. Once in the rugged, open aired jeep, you can sit in amazement as the dry air runs through your hair. What makes it a hidden gem though, is the southwestern cookout they offer. This is a barbeque made just for you and your friends deep within the Sonoran Desert. Afterwards, you can top it off with a gorgeous sunset tour. Keep in mind, these trips can last up to 3 hours. This can all be located in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden is where you can take your friends and family to cool off. Interestingly enough, the Desert Botanical Gardens is about 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the city of Phoenix. This is thanks to strategically placed water features that act as a coolant for the area. While you are cooling down, you can walk around and really see what makes the desert life so beautiful and outrageous. This is definitely a good spot if you are aiming to convince friends or family to move out to Phoenix, Arizona.

Saguaro Lake

There’s nothing quite like some refreshing water to swim in on a hot summer day in Arizona. The Saguaro Lake is the perfect spot to take a dip. This can also be a great spot to take your friends fishing. No matter, you will find bliss and peace here. You can also find yourself ramping things up with a live cruise and music. Take a nice sunset cruise that will take you through the lake and some forests, too – all while being serenaded by some amazing local music. Nothing quite beats the view when the sun starts to fall, and the sky starts to glow orange and purple. Major win.

Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course

Do you like speed? Do you also like flying through the air and getting your adrenaline pumping? Then this place might just be the spot for you. The ziplining course offers more than 30 exhilarating and adventurous ziplines that will help you satisfy your adrenaline cravings. Just to give you and idea, you could find yourself suspended from just 15 feet to 80 feet high in the air! You will also be monkeying around by climbing ladders and bridges that will test your strength and balance. Just know that this is not considered an ‘easy’ zip line experience. Be sure to check out local deals online for group discounts for your family or friends to sling along. You will be trained briefly beforehand, and will not have to worry about going off course due to it being self guided.

Dick’s Hideaway

Funny enough, this is a delicious restaurant that is tucked away and hidden to even the locals. It has no sign and tries to go full incognito by hiding right next to a hardware store. Dick’s Hideaway has delicious menu choices for each breakfast, lunch and dinner. They try to aim for a more casual, rustic, and upscale feel in the restaurant itself, so you can pretty much wear whatever makes you comfortable to the place. They have a New Mexican style cuisine that will sit in your taste buds until the next time you come back. They also have burgers, salads, steaks, and fresh fish. It is truly one of Phoenix, Arizona’s hidden gems. 

It boils down to exploration in Arizona. If you have that drive to seek more and find the hidden gems, you will find many and have a great time doing so. From amazing eateries, to great hikes, to romantic getaways. You never know what Arizona can bring to you on any given day. If you truly want to dive deeper into Arizona’s secrets, try asking the locals. They will tell you about the real go-to spots that will make Arizona be the number 1 spot to be! Just make sure to pack your sunscreen, and some nice, cold water. You’re going to need it once the heat kicks up. Do not worry though, the adventures will all be worth it!

By: Jeremy Alderman, ZOG Digital

3 Reasons Why Spring Is Best for Selling Your Home

It’s spring and that means the real estate market is in full force throughout the valley. If you have been thinking of selling your home this year, now is the perfect time!

Here are 3 reasons why spring is the perfect time to sell your home:

1. More Convenient for Buyers

Spring is a much better time of year for most buyers to start focusing on moving. Because most buyers want to get settled into a new home before a school year begins, buying in the spring and having the summer to get adjusted appeals to many families. Right now we have the perfect weather, but don’t be fooled, the hot summer will come and no one wants to be moving during 100F. Right now more buyers are out there looking at homes in the spring. And more buyers mean more foot traffic to your home and more opportunities for you to sell your home in a timely manner.

2. Better Curb Appeal

Although we have beautiful weather all year round, it’s not easy to keep up with all the flowers and trees. Lush green grass and beautiful azalea busher.. every buyer falls in love with that! Sellers can take advantage of this “free” bonus of better curb appeal in the spring. You can highlight your home’s best features and draw in buyers who can imagine themselves living there. Buyers can imagine themselves sitting out under the patio with a light breeze going and they are much more easily drawn to buy.

3. Higher Prices

The spring is blooming not only with flowers, but also with buyers. More buyers means a higher change for multiple offers and, ultimately, a higher sales price for you.

5 Reasons Why Your First Home Should be an Investment Property

If you’re young and you’re looking to purchase a new home to live in, maybe you should consider turning your first home into an investment property. While most people wait until after they’ve bought their first or second home to begin investing in real estate, you could start much sooner than you think. We’ll explain why jumping into the real estate investing game might be a good idea.

Many people, especially in the wake of the mortgage crisis, have found themselves wondering: “Is buying a house a good investment?” One way to ease your worries about whether buying a house will pay off is by renting out the first home you buy. By turning your home into an investment property, you can leverage your less-than-perfect credit, less-than-perfect lifestyle and limited responsibilities into an investment. All it takes is a little bit of smarts and real estate shrewdness.

The idea of making your first home an investment goes against the general notions of personal finance. In fact it goes against how most people approach post-college life. The typical financial timeline for your average American adult might look like this:

  • College

  • First Job

  • First rental

  • Second/third rental

  • Marriage

  • Starter Home

  • Children

  • Second Home

  • Education

  • Investments

There’s nothing wrong with following that timeline, since it can give you plenty of time to build credit, save money and enjoy being young. But if you’re a 22-year-old college graduate with a solid job (good for you), waiting until you’re well into your 30s or 40s to start investing might not be wise.

Here are five reasons why you should entertain the idea of investing in real estate while you’re still young.

1. You’re Young

Being young and independent can be pretty amazing. You can make your own rules, live where you want, buy what you want and travel whenever you want. But that can get old pretty quickly, especially if you have other goals in mind.

All the money you’re currently spending “living the life” while living in a crappy apartment could be spent on something else. Saving money and building credit aren’t impossible and they’re part of what you’ll need to qualify for a mortgage loan (more on that below). Your current lifestyle might actually allow you to cut costs in a way that might not be possible later in life when you have larger obligations.

If you can learn how to effectively manage your money, you can come up with enough cash for a down payment.

2. Real Estate Prices

According to recent reports from National Association of Realtors home prices are on the rise. However, most real estate markets present many bargains to potential buyers in the form of distressed sales. Distressed sales are homes or properties that have usually been foreclosed on that the bank is willing to sell at a loss in order to clear its books. These distressed sales also help drive down the cost of all properties in the area.

There are plenty of distressed homes for sale. Buying one would allow you to own an investment for significantly less than market value, especially as prices begin to rise. Before buying any property, however, it’s important to make sure you purchase a house that you can afford.

3. You’ll Have Another Source of Income

If you are purchasing a property that you plan to rent out, you’ll be able to profit off your investment as soon as you find tenants. Then you can take the money you earn and reinvest it in your property or use it to pay off other bills and debts.

4. FHA Loans

Industry standards say that you’re required to put at least 20% down when buying a house. But if you can’t afford to pay that much, you might be able to purchase an investment property with much less than that by getting an FHA loan.

FHA loans give people who don’t have the greatest credit the chance to become homeowners. If you decide that investing is for you, an FHA loan could be the perfect way to finance the purchase. There is one catch, however, FHA loans require that you live in the property you seek to purchase. To get around that rule, you can purchase a property with up to four rental units and make one unit your primary residence.

5. Changing Demographics

According to a report produced by the Research Institute for Housing America, homeownership among immigrants nationwide is expected to account for 36% of housing growth over the next decade. This is due in large part, according to the report, to the strong desires among immigrants to become homeowners.

As more individuals and families move to become homeowners, property owners have more of an opportunity to capitalize on that shift. Would you want to miss out on the opportunity to own property in a neighborhood that is set to see values skyrocket? Your future self probably wouldn’t. If you think real estate investing could be right for you but you aren’t sure how to start, you may want to find a financial advisor who can help you understand all your options.

If you don’t know how or where to start, we are happy to help! Call us at 480-359-6789 and we can discuss all your options and can connect with you a great lender as well!

Source: www.smartasset.com

7 Spots in Your Home You’ll Probably Forget to Clean This Spring

No matter how thorough a housekeeper you are, there are certain blind spots in every home that are all too easy to overlook. As a result, they get bypassed during your spring-cleaning tirade, growing grimier … and grimier.

Curious where these surprising cesspools lie? Check out this hit list of areas in your home that we’ll bet you forget to clean this spring—and read on to find the best way to give them a thorough scrubbing.

Tile grout

If you have tile floors or countertops, the grout may harbor germs and mold, according to Mark Welstead, president of Rainbow Restoration. Not only is that awfully gross, the grout will eventually start to stain, meaning an even bigger cleaning job down the road.

How to clean it: Wipe the grout with vinegar, then scrub with baking soda and a brush. You can also try scrubbing with borax or olive oil-based Castile soap. For visibly moldy grout, you need to spray on 3% hydrogen peroxide diluted by half in water. Let it sit for 45 minutes, then rinse. Here’s more on how to clean tile grout.

The tops of door frames, cabinets, and bookshelves

If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist, and therefore doesn’t need cleaning, right? Sadly, no. The tops of door frames, book shelves—anything above your sight line—are primo dust collection spots. If your upper kitchen cabinets don’t go all the way to the ceiling, the tops are probably coated in dust mixed with sticky kitchen grease. Charming!

How to clean it: Wipe door frames and bookshelves with a damp cloth. For greasy gunk, try rubbing dish detergent on, leaving it for a moment, then wiping it off. If that doesn’t cut it, level up to Goo Gone Kitchen Degreaser. For bonus points, take the glass globe off any ceiling lights or fans, and rinse out the dust and dead bugs.

Garbage disposal

You know that thing is gross, right? I mean, think about what you put into it! Beside general yuckiness, it’s important to clean, because, according to Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, grease buildup can seriously back up your sink drains.

How to clean it: Run hot water and turn on the disposal. Pour a tablespoon of dish soap down, and let the water run for 15 to 30 seconds. Turn off the disposal and let the water run until there are no more bubbles. Scrub the underside of the drain flaps with a brush, hot water, and dish soap.

Toilet brush and holder

You don’t need me to explain why your toilet brush and holder are disgusting. But how do you fix them? What cleans the cleaning implements? There are options other than just throwing them away and buying a new one when it gets nasty (yes, we all know someone who does this).

How to clean it: First off, you can prevent some germ build-up by spraying down the brush with disinfectant right after you use it. Leave it to drip-dry into the toilet, smushed between the seat and the rim of the bowl.

For deep cleaning, you can either soak the brush and holder in a bucket of warm water and a few capfuls of bleach for about 10 minutes, or you can spray them both down with disinfecting spray, let sit for 10 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Yes, bleach is a harsh cleaner, but if you’re going to break out the big guns for anything, it should be the item that scrubs the inside of your toilet bowl.

Curtains

Curtains are pros at passively catching dust, pet hair, and other particulate gunk from the air. If you’re not cleaning them, you should be.

How to clean it: Start with vacuuming them. And check the tag: Some fabrics can be machine washed, while others need to be hand washed and dried. Very heavy fabrics require a steamer, which you can rent.

Remotes, phones, and keyboards

All three of these items fall into the category of things your grimy fingers touch every day. Research shows that cell phones are dirtier than toilet seats, and keyboards have the added problem of snack crumb infiltration (don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about). Almost nobody is cleaning this stuff often enough.

How to clean it: For your phone, grab a microfiber cleaning cloth (of the kind you’d use to clean glasses) and spray it with a 50/50 combination of distilled water and vinegar or distilled water and isopropyl alcohol. Wipe down your phone thoroughly, without getting it too wet. Use a toothpick or Q-tip to dislodge anything stuck in the crevices.

You can use the same disinfectant and cloth (clean, obviously) on your remote control. Wipe with the cloth, use a Q-tip to go around the buttons, and a toothpick can help with crumbs.

Keyboard time: Flip the keyboard or laptop over and shake it out. Clean with compressed air while the keyboard is upside down, so the dust will fall out. Finally, use a Q-tip and alcohol to wipe anything gross off the keys. To sanitize, you can do a quick swipe with your handy cleaning cloth, lightly moistened with an alcohol or vinegar solution.

Chimney

When your wintertime fires are over, it’s time to clean your fireplace. If you don’t, you risk a chimney fire, smoke, or even deadly carbon monoxide gas seeping into your home, says Richard Ciresi, owner of Aire Serv in Louisville, KY.

How to clean it: Since cleaning a chimney involves getting up on the roof, and doing it wrong can have serious consequences, you should call in a professional to tackle this task. Once a year is the minimum for having your chimney swept if you want to use your fireplace safely.

Source: Realtor.com