Doing Laundry by Hand

It Can be Done!

First of all, dismiss all ideas of washing laundry in the bath. It’s not worth it. It might seem like a good idea but really, it isn’t. You need to be standing up at a sink, not bent over a bath – even if your kids like the thought of stomping all over the washing. Everything that needs to be washed can be done so at the kitchen or utility sink.

Get yourself a supply of rubber latex gloves. Not the very thin kind, but good thick ones. You can’t hand wash laundry without them as your hands have to withstand being immersed in very hot water.

You can use your usual detergent and softener (if you really need to use softener – I don’t).

You will also need a large stainless steel pan (I used my large pasta pot), a stove top, a kettle and an outside drying space.

Washing clothes by hand
Washing clothes by hand

Sort Laundry

Start Small and Easy

Select 10 items to wash. Stick to similar things like tops and T-shirts. You can do jeans tomorrow! Run hot water into your sink – it should be no hotter than the labels state. To be honest, I always wash in the hottest water my hands can withstand inside my rubber gloves. Add a small amount of detergent. I can’t tell you exactly how much but use the smallest amount that works. You want some bubbles but not too much. You get a feel for it after a while. I use concentrated wash tablets and found that less than a quarter tablet was enough for one sink full of water.

Check the items for stains – you may have to deal with these first as you would normally. For example, soak blood and grass stains in cold water prior to washing or the stain will set fast in hot water.

Immerse no more than two or three items at one time. Squish and knead them in the water for a few minutes. Squeeze gently and place on drainer. Add next batch. Squish and knead as before. When they are on the drainer wash the last batch. Let the grubby, scummy water out.

Fill the sink with clean, hot water. Rinse the items in turn, squeezing and placing on the drainer. When they are all done, repeat once more. Most clothes will be fully rinsed by now but occasionally, you might have to rinse a third time.

Another approach can be to make use of eco washing lines clothes airer resource to find great ways to do washing the eco-friendly way.
written by myraggededge


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How Walk-In Tubs are Changing Lives

Taking a bath is one of life’s greatest, yet simplest pleasures. The gift of a therapeutic soak in a steamy tub can often be the highlight after a long day. Yet, for many seniors and people with mobility problems, an unassisted and private bathing experience is not even an option.
Moreover, when unsteady feet, aching body’s, and slippery surfaces combine, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Bathroom-related accidents are all too common. Statistics still show that 33% of all people over the age of 65 have an accident in the bathtub every year.
Just imagine it for a second….one-third of all seniors fall and hurt themselves in the bathroom…
The inability to bath oneself has become a major contributor towards institutionalization in today’s society.
However, if you or someone you hold dear is struggling to maintain dignity and independence in the bathroom, a walk-in tub can change your quality of life in an instant…

Throw Out The Old Tub

Conventional bathtubs were never designed with specific needs in mind. Instead, standard tubs create a lot of physical and mental anguish for some due to their lack of practical safety features.
The reality is that the standard bathtubs are outdated. They fail to meet the physical requirements of someone with mobility problems. For wheelchair users, bathing takes on a whole new dimension.

Walk-in Tub Solution

Walk-in tubs come with innovative bariatric design and will change the way you view bathing forever.

Traditional bathtubs simply do not offer the same features a walk-in tub does. These modern tubs provide a safer, more convenient and comfortable bathing experience.

Walk-in Tub Features

One of the features a modern walk-in tub display is its industry standard U or V-shaped door. This allows anyone to easily maneuver into the tub where they can take a comfortable seat. Once the door is closed, the tub can be filled while you sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience.

Safety grab bars,  non-slip surfaces, and easy to operate handles all form part of what sets a modern walk-in tub apart. Other features that stand out include:

  • low step-in door
  • hydrotherapy jets (hot air bubbles)
  • in-line heater to regulate water temperature
  • hand-held shower sprayer
  • lifetime warranty on door seal
  • easy to operate chrome faucets
  • durable construction
  • quick installation of 4-6 hours
  • whirlpool jets upgrade (optional)

With an advanced drainage system, most walk-in tubs will drain in 90 seconds or less. As an additional safety measure, many tubs come with outward swinging doors. This allows it to open immediately in case of emergency ( at the expense of soaking the bathroom).

Benefits of a Walk-In Tub

Apart from just added safety, walk-in tubs have elevated hydrotherapy to the new heights. Hydrotherapy has long since been discovered as a trusted method for treating many medical ailments.

With up to 30 strategically placed jets, water pressure and bubbles can be used to gently massage the body and treat many conditions. Some of the most common conditions successfully treated with tub hydrotherapy include:

  • stomach problems
  • joint pain
  • muscle aches
  • tension
  • nerve problems
  • poor blood circulation
  • arthritis
  • headaches or migraines
  • depression

Why Buy a Walk-In Tub?

Whether it is through necessity or pure indulgence, a walk-in tub will transform your bathroom, and your life, almost instantly.

However, if bathroom safety is your number 1 priority, a walk-in tub will ensure some peace of mind.

Solar Paint from Myth to Idea to Reality?

The concept of a solar paint is not new as it has been discussed since at least 2005. However researchers are getting closer to turning it into reality.

The concept of incorporating solar cells into standard building materials such as roof panels, windows and exterior walls is also getting closer. These panels would be cheaper and more widely available than the purpose-built silicon based solar cells. The lower efficiency would be offset by the huge areas involved in using the roof, windows or external walls for solar collection.

Professor Paul Dastoor from the University of Newcastle in Australia has been developing completely printable ultra-thin organic solar cells based on semiconducting polymer nanoparticles that can be dispersed in water. When these tiny particles are kept in suspension the mixture resembles a water-based paint, which can be coated or even printed on the surface of very large surfaces such as roofs or walls. Initially these coatings will be developed as thin plastic sheets that can be attached to the roof of a house. However, eventually it should be possible to directly paint this material onto a roof, cladding material or building surface.

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Solar Panels on Metal Roofing Sheets

Another concept for “electric paint’ is being developed by Dr Dave Worsley at the University’s School of Engineering of Swansea University, UK. The solar paint is bonded directed into steel sheets by passing it through rollers during the last phases of the construction process. Eventually it will be possible to ‘build up’ the solar cell as layers of paint applied to an external surface. The objective is to develop a method for incorporating the photovoltaic material into steel sheets used to clad new buildings. The low efficiency would be offset by the huge areas involved (the entire outside of the building) and very low price.

Harvesting Infrared (IR) Emissions

Other research is concentrated on harvesting infrared (IR) emission, which comprises about half of the power available from sunlight. IR is re-emitted by the Earth’s surface when the sun has set, meaning that the solar collectors could still work to produce some power even at night. Laboratory tests have shown that, under perfect situation, the antennas can collect up to 84 percent of incoming photons. Novack’s group calculates that an entire scheme would have a general efficiency of about 46 per cent; almost double than of the most efficient silicon solar cells at about 25 per cent.

Dye-sensitive Solar Paint

Dye-sensitive solar paint is another concept in the development stage, based on dye-sensitive materials rather than silicon, offering considerable cost savings. instead of absorbing sunlight utilising silicon it uses dyestuff substances adhered to the particles of the titanium dioxide pigment. Light striking the dyestuff, causes the electrons to be ‘activated’ and they leap from the dyestuff into the layer of electrolyte.

The power generated from the triggered electrons is then moved to an assembling circuit before the electrons return to the dyestuff, thereby completing the cycle. Some researchers investigators are experimenting with food based organic dyes.

In the system the dyestuff is put on conductive glass that is coated with a thin-film of titanium dioxide (a common ingredient in paint). This binds the dye to the glass. The manufacturing process would be straightforward with the film applied directed to the steel cladding sheets.

The solar cells would be constructed up a series of layers. The first layer would be a coating of conventional paint applied to the steel. Next is the electrolyte layer and then the dye layers and the last layer is a clear protective film to complete the process. This expertise could eventually be incorporated into the steel cladding manufacturing process to greatly reduce costs.

The benefit of this expertise will be its reduced cost and its simple manufacturing process. Even though the solar paint will be far less effective than conventional solar panels, its competitive advantage lies in its low cost.

Solar Cells for Life

The Solar Cells for Life assembly in Victoria, Australia, is made up of commerce partners that include: Monash University, University of Melbourne, Bluescope Steel, CSIRO, Innovia Films, Robert Bosh and Securency International. The assembly is evolving a printable light sensitive ink that can convert the power of sunlight into electrical power.

This means that simple solar units that can be mass-produced at very low cost. The developers believe that this expertise, when commercialised, will to lead to considerable decreases in the cost of making solar units, thus making solar power even more appealing for the customer. The assembly has attracted major funding from the Victorian Government and other investors.

Turning Windows into Solar Collectors

Every house and most rooms have at least one window, so why not turn every window into a clear energy-collecting solar panel? A Norwegian business, EnSol, has patented a spray-on film that turns windows into active solar panels. The spray-on film collect solar power because it is made from metal nanoparticles. Eventually this spray-on film could even be applied directly to the construction cladding components, as well as the windows.

Artificial Photosynthesis method for Harnessing Solar Energy

In a similar concept for using windows and glass, the Australian Company, ‘Dyesol’ has developed expertise based on the DSC, a 3rd generation photovoltaic technology. The DSC expertise resembles ‘artificial photosynthesis’, utilising an electrolyte, a layer of titania (a pigment utilised in white tints and also in toothpastes) and ruthenium dyestuff sandwiched between glass layers. Light hitting the dyestuff stimulates electrons which are soaked up by the titania to become an electric current. Compared to accepted silicon founded photovoltaic expertise,

Dyesol’s technology has the advantages of much lower cost and can be incorporated during the manufacture of the glass. It produces electricity efficiently, even in low light conditions. The benefits of DSC expertise are:

► Much less affected by the angle of incidence of the light – it is a “light sponge” soaked with dye

► Generates power over a wide range of light conditions

► Low sensitivity to ambient temperature changes

► Much less affected by shadowing

► Option for clear modules – allowing a wide range of applications

► Truly bifacial – soaks up light from both faces – can be inverted

► Production facilities for DSC utilise commonly available low cost processing equipment.

► DSC modules have lower embodied power than all other types of solar cells

► DSC can be incorporated into various tandem designs to produce integrated power packs, direct chemical manufacturing and various sensor solutions

► DSC power can be magnified by tandem and optical methods without use of concentrators.

Nanoscale Solar Paint by NextGen Solar

NextGen Solar will use nanoscale solar “paint” expertise invented by Argonne National Laboratory, with the aim of reducing costs while improving efficiency compared with thin-film photovoltaic materials. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is currently working on a silicon-based solar ink, and The University of Texas is also developing spray-on solar cells. These solar paints can be applied to many types of building cladding surfaces, including windows and roofs. It can be applied like paint, then dries-out to form a microscopic pattern of interconnected solar cells. If the task succeeds solar paint and other types of low-cost solar power will have a major influence on energy sources and greenhouse gases.

Liquid Silicon Method for Solar Array Films

This method utilises the alteration of the silicon form from solid into a fluid. The method takes minute silicon particles, in the form of a powder called “nano-crystals” and chemically liquefies it into ink. The substance can be utilised in a normal inkjet printer and solar units can be applied to any surface. This is a major development because it means that the paint can be applied to almost any exterior surface turning it into a solar cell. Adding the silicon paint to the roof may reduce the cost of solar generation by a factor of 10 fold.

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Home Improvement Projects that Increase Your Property Value

Your home will begin looking rough on the edges after a couple of years. You will get used to the once amazing amenities. New technology and décor concepts will render your once state of the art home obsolete. This is the natural course of action – if you don’t do regular remodeling and improvements.

The right home improvement project will make the property more likable. It will make it a better home to you and a better asset since the net price will appreciate.

Know Your Neighborhood and Potential Market

Preferences vary from a market to another. A townhouse in a high-rise neighborhood could make do with a swimming pool. Other neighborhoods would prefer a gazebo or perhaps a backyard garden.

The first step is in understanding what you, your family and potential homeowners need. Any good return on investment will give a considerable asset value bump.

Here are some simple remodeling projects to get you started

Kitchen Remodeling

Kitchens are the hottest topic in home remodeling. Sprucing up your kitchen is the sure way to getting up to 100 percent returns on investment. The improvement can vary from a drastic overhaul of the entire kitchen to a mere change of the counter tops.

Keep the upgrade as stylish and up to date as possible. Find a theme that the modern market can identify with or go with a classic look that attracts the refined buyer. Harmony and sticking to a theme will reward you handsomely.

Bathroom Remodeling

The bathroom is another important section of your house. So much goes into a bathroom and you can use the dynamicity to create something totally amazing. You can add a shower enclosure, a bathtub or use the right tiles. This will beef up the décor hence increase your property’s worth.

Bathrooms are the most expensive section of the house in terms of construction. It is easy to tell if money was well spent or not. Aim for a classy and relaxing look. This will appeal to the modern bathroom theme by giving a place to relax after a long work day.

A Simple Paint Job

Painting will always make everything look better. This is great since people but looks. Choosing neutral colors increases your chances of selling. The quality of the paint and the finish should be professional. A slap-dash paint job will do more harm than good.

Stick to a sensible color choice especially in adjoining rooms. The bedrooms and perhaps study room can take their own independent looks. The living room, the hallway, and the kitchen must show some harmony.

The Driveway and Entrance Appeal

The environment will always define the first appearance. The driveway, the lawn, and the front entrance make the first impression. Working on these could give you great bargaining power. Your home will always look appealing from a distance hence more appealing.

What is most interesting is how simple it is to spruce up your lawn. It could even be a DIY project. This includes pruning your trees, keeping the landscaping tidy, paving your driveway and adding some flair to your front door. Get rid of anything that makes your home look messy from the outside. This will get the value increment you so much desire.

Understanding your immediate market needs is the key to getting your home improvement project right. Also, remember that you might have to stay in the house for a while after the renovations. Doing the remodeling to your own satisfaction is important. But still, you will have to ensure that each custom fixture leaves room for simple conversion in case the new buyer doesn’t really like your color choices or arrangements.

How To Hire The Right Contractor For Your Project

So, you’ve finally decided to take the leap into remodeling your home, and now it’s time to find a contractor. Of course, you don’t want to hire just anyone, so how can you find the right contractor to hire for your project?

A home improvement project doesn’t need to be a stressful, negative experience. By doing some research and knowing what to look for, you can find the right contractor for your project. Here are some helpful tips and steps you can take to help narrow your list of potential contractors.

Specialized Contractors

You wouldn’t go to a vet for your heart condition, would you? The same should apply to hiring a contractor for your project. Contractors, just like any other profession, can specialize in specific areas. So, it’s important to look for a contractor who specializes in the type of work you need to have done. This can also help your entire project run smoothly and efficiently.

So, it’s important to look for a contractor who specializes in the type of work you need to have done. This can also help your entire project run smoothly and efficiently.

Check Licensing

Don’t just take someone’s word for their qualifications. You can check the qualifications of your potential contractor with your local licensing board. This is usually classified into residential and commercial.

It’s important that your contractor is licensed no matter what size project you have. This means that they have an in-depth knowledge of the contracting industry. This includes:

  • current building codes
  • safety policies
  • how to handle and dispose of hazardous materials
  • labor and hiring laws
  • permitting requirements

In general, most states will require a contractor’s license if the work they’ll be doing is over $500 in value. Your local agency should be able to tell you if your contractor had to take a written exam to get his license. This agency can also tell you what other licenses and certifications your contractor holds.

Your local agency should be able to tell you if your contractor had to take a written exam to get his license. This agency can also tell you what other licenses and certifications your contractor holds.

Bonded and Insured

Of course, you want to choose a contractor who’s bonded and insured as well. So what does this mean for a homeowner? This means that you have protection against things like incomplete work or unpaid subcontractors. With a bonded and insured contractor, you’re protected against things like:

  • liability
  • accidents
  • injuries
  • home and property damage

Again, these requirements and minimums can vary depending on location. It’s a good idea to check with your local agency for specific requirements in your area. A professional should be able to produce proof of coverage during your initial consultation.

You Get What You Pay For

Sometimes, the cheapest estimate isn’t always the best. It’s important to remember that price shouldn’t be the only deciding factor. It’s always recommended that you get several estimates from local contractors before choosing one.

An estimate that is significantly lower than the rest could spell trouble. These contractors could be cutting costs by hiring sub-par subcontractors among other things.

Don’t be hesitant to ask questions. It is certainly acceptable to ask how a contractor arrived at a specific number in your estimate. It’s also okay to ask why items are higher than a competitor’s estimate.

Check References

Referrals are important. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential contractor for references from previous clients. Be sure to call and ask questions like:

  1. Did the contractor stay on budget?
  2. How long did the project take and was it completed in the timeframe quoted?
  3. How well did the contractor communicate during the project?

It’s important to get as much detailed information as possible. The more you know, the more you’ll know what to expect from your potential contractor.

Get a Detailed Estimate

It’s never a good idea to take an over-the-phone estimate or a verbal one for that matter. You want to make sure you get everything in writing. Your estimate should contain as much detail as possible so that you know where your money is going.

A down payment or deposit might be in order, depending on the size and complexity of your project. This is a good practice and shows your contractor you are sincere in your intentions. Typically, this can be up to 33% of your total cost. Always make sure that this is part of your contract.

Communication Is Key

Communication is the key to success. It’s important to set the right tone from the beginning. This will eliminate any misunderstandings along the way. Address any expectations you may have and think about how involved you want to be in the project. Also, consider the following:

  1. Do you want regular meetings to discuss budget and timelines?
  2. Are you okay with the crew using your bathroom facilities during the project?
  3. What time would you like the project to start and stop each day?
  4. Do you expect work to continue during weekends?
  5. Do you want to be a part of the material selection process?

By getting things straight right from the start, there will be less room for negative experiences along the way.