Household Tips and Resources on the Internet
Copyright © 1998 Christine Stoner. All rights reserved.
Keeping a household running smoothly has never been an easy job. If you're anything like me, you're always looking for shortcuts, ideas and help wherever you can find it. Before the Internet, when you needed information about painting a wall, redecorating a room or making improvements to your home, you would look through a book or magazine, call a friend and maybe even hire a professional. If you were having trouble removing a stain from clothing or cleaning a carpet you'd have to either call in a professional or spend an hour reading the back of every carpet product in the supermarket aisle to see if it would work for you. Now the first place you should visit for help with virtually any household item is the World Wide Web. The Internet is brimming with useful household information of all kinds-from decorating tips and advice to cleaning and laundry resources to home improvement and maintenance.
My journey into finding tips on the Internet began after I found an unidentified (and large) stain on my living room carpet. Not owning a steam cleaner, and having no idea what to do, I did a search on carpet cleaning and came up with some great help to get rid of the stain. If you have a tough stain you need to remove, check out one of the following Web sites and I'll bet you'll find a solution. The first site is Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Carpet. This is a resource for stain removal but also provides a great guide for How to Shop for Carpet. For routine carpet care, as well as stain removal, check out Dupont. The Dupont site also includes a great section of design tips.
Another area for which the Internet has proven to be a great resource is cleaning and laundry. Tide has a fantastic and easy-to-navigate Web site which contains many tips and timesavers. The Web site contains information on the basics of modern laundry, as well as Tips for Parents With Young Children, Tips for Beginners, Fabric Care Tips, an Apparel Care and Labeling Guide and Frequently Asked Questions. If you're a trivia buff you may want to visit the Laundry Trivia section and learn all about the timeline of laundry product development. One fantastic, must-visit area is the "Stain Detective" section. You will be walked through three easy steps to get to the bottom of a tough, unidentified stain you'd like to remove. You also might want to visit Clorox.com for help with bleach and other laundry products.
Many of the major product manufacturers now maintain Web sites so you can get more specific information about their products, order products online and in many cases have questions answered about their proper use. One of these sites is Dow. Here you'll find information about many Dow products, as well as useful cleaning tips for each product. It's a unique resource to use if you are trying to decide if a product is safe to use on a certain area of your house. If you have a product you're not sure about, do a quick keyword search using any of the Web search engines and you may be surprised at the level of support you find out there. Many of the manufacturers not yet on the Internet are scrambling and will be there soon.
If you're looking for decorating ideas, you'll find many on the Web. One of my favorite sites is that of Home & Garden TV. If you don't see your decorating dilemma in one of their headline articles, you can search through posted questions in the Home & Garden Forum which contains sections on "decorating and interior design" or "gardening and landscaping." Here you may find that someone has had the same question you do and might find the advice and answers that they received to be useful. You can post your own questions and wait for an HGTV professional or other viewers to help you out. There's a great link to a page of "Home Improvement Tips" from Sears which can't be accessed any other way, not even directly through the Sears Web site.
Another great site for decorating tips is Better Homes and Gardens. This site is packed with wonderful information including "Quick and Easy Decorating Ideas" which you can find in the House & Home section. You can also preview highlighted articles from their magazine including pictures. Another must-see area in this section is "Innovate" which includes ideas from their column, "Tips, Tools and Techniques," which is completely reader-driven.
If you are considering purchasing a new household item such as a kitchen appliance, or a new washer or dryer, check out the Good Housekeeping Institute's buyer information online and the products which have the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval at Home Arts. You can look through a list of past buyer's guides to find information on everything from vacuums to toasters. Looking here first will help you spend less time listening to salesmen in the stores and help you make a better-informed buying decision. This site also features links to the publisher's magazines as well as highlighted articles. A great feature of this Web site is Heloise Hints (she has a hint for everything!).
Home remodeling, home maintenance and home repair are areas of wide interest and wide support on the World Wide Web. If you're a home owner considering a kitchen or bath remodeling job, or even if you just need to replace a faucet, visit Kitchen.net. You'll find interesting (and humorous) resources including tips for the do-it-yourselfer as well as advice from kitchen and bath experts. For tips on appliance care and solving common household problems you may want to check out Popular Mechanics. It's a great spot for home improvement advice and even suggestions on how to make your house a better home. A serious site for toilet repair is Toiletology 101. This site walks you through the basics of toilet repair step by step and includes some interesting ideas for saving water. For the do-it-yourselfer, Home Ideas is a must-visit! Here you can find all kinds of ideas, a do-it-yourself Online Store and a section where you can request free catalogs direct from the manufacturer for everything from wallpaper to windows. The best feature on this site are the "Applets." This is a great group of guides and estimators for every home project.
Another great site for answers to various household problems isHader's Helpers. These tips are from Gary Sullivan from the HGTV show "The Hardware Store." Key areas include lawn and garden tips, painting and drywall tips, decks and patio tips, window and door tips, and weatherization tips. There are only a few tips in each section but if it's the area you are wondering about, it's useful information. Another jumping-off point is Home Improvements and contains links to over 300 household tips. There's also Study Web where you can find quick tips for appliance repair.
Other sites that I've already mentioned for topics like decorating and basic household tips also contain home improvement advice. You can head back to the Home & Garden Forum and post a question in the "Building and Remodeling" section of their forum for help. Through the Better Homes and Gardens home page you can access a Home Improvement Encyclopedia which has over 1,000 home improvement tips you can search through, and the Home Forum includes a Home Improvement section.
Now you have a quick roadmap to some of the useful information to be found online for household tasks of all kinds. Step into the Web and explore the wide range of resources available to save you time and money, and make running your household and life easier.
Christine Stoner is a freelance writer based in Elverson, PA.