When did hanging out on your patio with that privacy wall you DIYed back in May stop being fun? All you can see is that rusty grill staring at you, and bird poop piling up on your outdoor chaise while you sweat and fight off bugs. And, eeeew, what is that you smell? Summer's great — but, boy, can it turn on you when the dog days set in.
Don't start job hunting in Alaska just yet. You can take back your summer. Here's the worst of what it can inflict on you (in no particular order) — and how to fight back.
Stop a Stink Bug Invasion With Caulk
Squish a stink bug, and you'll quickly learn how they got their nom de pee-yew. While the brown pests may be harmless, your family's noses will be happier without them.
- Use caulk or sealant to close up cracks a sneaky stinker could use to enter your home. Look around windows, doors, vents and outdoor faucets for any openings.
- Stick a nylon stocking over your vacuum's hose to suck up stink bugs into the stocking instead of the vacuum bag.
- Drown these nasty visitors by dumping captured ones into a bottle filled with an inch of soapy water. No tiny cement shoes necessary.
Kill Mildew with a Dehumidifier
Hot, humid summers create an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew, which your nose knows isn't right. At the first whiff of these funky fungi, strike back hard.
- Keep things clean and organized. It's the best defense against summer's musty aroma. That allows air to move around, keeping moisture (mold and mildew's best mate) at bay.
- Dry out your home with dehumidifiers and air conditioners — or at least increase air circulation by adding fans.
- In rooms that tend to get that musty smell, line closet walls and drawers with cedar for a sweet smell all year long.
- Waterproof your basement concrete and masonry with cement paint to prevent damp walls — and the sneaky mold that comes with them. But be sure to figure out the cause of the dampness before waterproofing. It only works if the moisture is coming from the soil outside.
A note of caution: Sometimes a musty smell is a harbinger of bad news — serious water damage in your home. If these tips don't work, you may need to call in a pro.
Prevent Gross Garbage Funk with Baking Soda
Summer's heat waves make the stench of garbage 10 times worse. Keeping trash cans clean (duh) is your first line of defense. But there are a couple more things you can do.
- Yes, scrubbing out your garbage can is disgusting, but it helps control the stink and pests. Give it one good clean when your stomach's feeling strong, and then quickly wipe it out each time you empty. You'll never have to face that throw-up smell again.
- Dust the bottom of the clean, dry can with baking soda to suck up future pungency.
- Or slip a dryer sheet or two underneath the bag when you change it out.
- Cat litter in the bottom of the can also works to absorb garbage odors.
Stop Excessive Bird Droppings with Netting
Not even the most dedicated bird watchers want to watch droppings accumulate on their porch and outdoor furniture.
The easiest and most humane solution is to install some yard art — the kind that moves or makes a racket. Think wind socks, chimes and fun whirly sun catchers.
If, however, the birds are barn swallows that have nested (you'll know because their nests are made of mud instead of twigs), you mustn't shoo them away, no matter how gently. Barn swallows are federally protected. Instead, install a flat board below it or place a newspaper on the ground to prevent droppings from ruining your porch. Then next year (because they will come back — and they will bring friends) install bird netting between your eaves and the side of your home before nests are built.
Eliminate Rusty, Greasy Grill Grates with a Drill
You never really got around to cleaning your grill at the beginning of the season, and now that you've invited some new work colleagues over for a barbecue, you realize your grill isn't going to stir up any appetites with all that rust and grime.
- Vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon juice are all natural rust eliminators. You can use individually or create a paste between wet and dry ingredients. Apply and let soak overnight. Then a little elbow grease should do the rest. Try these combinations: vinegar and baking soda; lemon juice and baking soda; or lemon juice and salt.
- If the rust is really, really tough, do the above but get a wire brush attachment for your drill and use it to scrub the rust away.
- Once clean, season the grates by rubbing with vegetable oil and heating them.
Keep Uninvited Homesteaders Out By Thinking Like a Critter
Snakes at the zoo: super cool. Snakes around or (gasp!) in your house: NO. NO. NOOOO. Snakes might be the worst intruder (or is it bats?), but any unwanted rodent or animal in your home is gross. Your best offense is defense. But if they break through, call a professional exterminator.
- Cover holes more than a quarter of an inch wide (snakes don't need much). Check behind gutters and roof flashing.
- Trim trees to keep pesky animals, such as squirrels, from getting on your roof and into your attic. Keep branches at least eight feet from your house.
- Eliminate any food sources — like a garbage bin with an askew lid — that might tempt a scavenging pest. The closer they are to your house, the more likely they are to find a way in.
- Get rid of yard debris, such as piles of leaves and twigs, and mow frequently to eliminate hiding spots.