I can’t tell you how many emails I receive about organizing. Everyone resolved to be better organized this year and is coming up with some pretty great ideas, so I took the top 10 best ideas and decided to share them with you, so do one or, maybe all of them, if you can!

• Pick one small area and focus on it until it’s finished! One closet or a drawer in your kitchen is a good place to start. It will be finished quickly and prove to you that you can make progress, one step at a time.

• Store organizing ideas that you run across in an file folder, on Pinterest or just on your bulletin board until you are ready to get to work.

• Sort your stuff like the pros do — “trash,” “donate” and “keep” piles. This will make sorting through things a little easier.

• Find a partner to do it with. This person can help you clean out your utility room, and in return, you can help him or her work on a garden shed. Sometimes a partner can help you make decisions that are hard to make on your own.

Invest in some storage helpers, like plastic bins or wall storage systems. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but this can really make a difference.

• Use space that is otherwise wasted. Hang organizers on your walls or on the inside of cabinet doors to organize and free up floor space.

• Put things you already have on hand to better use. If you have baskets, store electrical cords, toys or towels in them. Shoe organizers also are great for cleaners, paper products or even tools. Two birds, one stone.

• Getting rid of things can be difficult, I know because I am a HUGE pack rat! But consider donating things to your favorite charities like the Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity or Goodwill. Useable items bring in money for these organizations and you will usually get a tax deduction for giving as well. That might make it easier to let go of things you value.

• Being organized can really free up your time. How much time do you spend searching through piles of stuff just to find that one item you need for your project? Now that’s great incentive!

• Give yourself a reward for doing this chore. It’s tough work, so treat yourself to a movie or dinner out, or maybe just a car wash.

Keep your home organized with this easy-to-make basket

Storage bins and baskets are really handy because you can store things in them, but then pick them up and carry them to a work site. They can be used in the shop, craft room, kitchen or garden. They can be made cheaply, too, from leftover hardware cloth. Cut out a basic pattern with a bottom and four sides, all in one piece, so you can just fold up the sides and tie them together to form a basket. You can use scraps of wire or clips to tie them together. You should watch out for sharp edges, but they will be super handy for storing lots of stuff around your house.

Put your shop vac on autopilot for easy cleanups

We all love our shop vacuums — and things would be a lot messier without them, right? But here’s a way you can put it to work while you are doing something else. That’s right — put it on autopilot. Just set the end down on the ground near where you are working. Then, do your sanding, cutting or whatever other messy work you’re doing. Some of the mess will be sucked in right away. The rest you can sweep toward the vacuum hose while it’s pulling it on in for you. Now that’s a good plan.

Super hints

• Instead of throwing away those nasty kitchen sponges, soak them in lemon juice or white vinegar and then heat them in the microwave for 1 minute. They will be super hot when you take them out, but much cleaner and safer to use.

• If you have several keys that look similar and you are tired of trying them all before getting to the right one, just paint the correct one with some paint or nail polish, which lasts a long time. Now it will be easy to spot the right key the first time you go for it.

• I had a cobweb hanging from the ceiling in my front hallway. I wasn’t in the mood to bring the big ladder inside just for the cobweb, so I got my paint roller extension pole and put a dust rag on the end of it. It just reached the cobweb. I’m sure nobody else noticed it, but it was really bugging me!

Q. I have a problem with a toilet seat in one of my bathrooms. The seat is crooked and I want to straighten it. I have tried to loosen the bolts, but they won’t budge. Now what?

A. Spray some WD-40 on the bolts to see if this will loosen them up enough to turn them. Also remember to hold one side of the bolt while turning the other. If your bolts are hopelessly stuck, then at some point they may have to be replaced, and using a hacksaw to cut them off will be required.

Q. I need your help with some leaves that fit into my kitchen table. They are covered with a veneer that is starting to peel. I tried to glue it down, but it didn’t hold. What can I do to stick the stuff back down?

A. Contact adhesive will work best. It needs to be applied to a clean surface, so try to scrape off any old adhesive with an Xacto knife. You need to apply the adhesive to both sides and let it sit for a few minutes before pressing the pieces together; the label will tell you how long. You can use wooden skewers or dowel rods to keep the pieces apart. Just be careful not to break the veneer. Once the pieces are pressed together, put heavy weights on them until the adhesive has cured.

Q. We have a dryer vent that exhausts through the side of our home. In the process of cleaning it out, I discovered that it sticks — not all the time, but occasionally. What can I do to free it up?

A. It really depends upon the material is made from. Try a lubricating spray, like WD-40, on it. If that doesn’t work, you can replace it without a whole lot of expense or labor, and that might be your best bet. It MUST work properly, or you could have some serious issues.

Reader tips

• We have been making some minor upgrades to our home this winter and my wife wanted me to create some box valances for her new drapes. I knew that using wood would be very heavy, so I tried using foam insulation panels. This turned out to be a great plan. They were inexpensive, easy to cut and glue together, and so lightweight that they were very easy to hang, too. She covered them with fabric, and they are up and looking great, if I do say so myself!

• We found a really great-looking wallpaper border for use in our son’s room, but the store had only a small supply, and it wasn’t quite enough. After looking closely at it, we decided that we could cut it right down the middle, horizontally, to make it into two pieces that would cover twice the space. We even had enough to do the bathroom, too. He loves it!

• I found a neat glass display case that’s in pretty bad shape. The glass still is good, but the rest is peeling and looking pretty bad. I decided to set it on my patio as a display case for some of my plants. What I’ve discovered is that I can open the case on nice days to let warm air in, and close it when it’s cold in order to let the glass case become a little greenhouse. It looks neat, and my plants are flourishing.

• We had a fairly nice metal gazebo, but the canvas topper was starting to tear up. I removed it and, before I could get a new one on it, the vines started to grow up and over the metal top. After pricing a new top, I decided to see what will happen with the vines this summer. I think they will come back strong and cover the whole thing with a nice shade of leaves and flowers. This might be better than the canvas, anyway.

• In my effort to get better organized this year, I went to my local hardware store in search of gadgets to use. There I found some inexpensive over-the-door racks for closets. These racks also can be installed directly on a wall, so that’s what I did. I bought four of them and put them on my garage wall. I can store tons of stuff on these without taking up any floor space at all. It’s wonderful and I even have extra room now.


• If you have noticed that the pressure in your water supply has diminished over time, especially the hot-water supply, it may be something as simple as mineral deposits clogging up the lines. It’s not a very hard thing to fix once you know a little trick you can play with a dime. We will send you the written instructions or get it directly from It’s a very simple thing to do, and it may just solve your problems — at least, your water-pressure problems.

• With all of the electronic gadgets we are acquiring these days, a charging station makes more sense than ever. The Docking Drawer might be a good solution for you if you want to do this without a lot of clutter. The Docking Drawer can be installed in any standard drawer fairly easily, and can accommodate up to four devices at once, all safely stashed in a drawer out of sight. To find out more about this product, just go to and see it for yourself.

• There’s a new wood glue called Nexabond that is worth checking out. It’s unique because it’s water- and solvent-free, and it bonds almost instantly. That means you can get your project finished faster, especially with much less clamping time required. It can also be used on metal, plastic, rubber and ceramics. Check it out at your local hardware store or home center. For additional information, go to
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