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Caring for Your Home

The Dirt on Clean Bedding

How Often to Wash FOLLOW THIS BASIC SHEET-WASHING SCALE

■ One a week: ideal
■ Once every two weeks: totally acceptable
■ Once a month: that’s fine. Not good. Just fine.
■ Once every six weeks: dicey
■ More than two months: [CLUTCHES PEARLS]

How to Really Wash Them SHEETS AND PILLOWCASES Generally speaking, you can launder sheets in hot or warm water with any detergent you choose. A strong laundry booster containing sodium percarbonate or a borax infusion will help cut through and dissolve the oils and skin cells that can gunk up sheets.

PILLOWS AND DUVETS Check the care tags, but more often than not, you’ll be able to toss these in the washing machine on a cold-water setting and dry them on a low-heat setting. Visit a dry cleaner if you’re got an extra-fluffy duvet.

THROW BLANKETS Wash them a few times a year according to the care-tag directions. If you’ve been sick and have curled up under your blankie, be sure to launder it once you’re recovered.

Save a Dying Plant

If you’ve under-watered or over-watered your favourite houseplant, repot it. Since both maintenance mishaps result in brown, shrivelled leaves, feel the soil to see if it’s damp or dry.

OVER-WATERING – the No 1 cause of problems -creates root rot, depriving the plant of air in the soil. Moving it to a new pot ensures that there will be little lingering bacteria, says Barbara Pleasant, author of The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual.

UNDER-WATERED PLANTS, on the other hand, require a slightly larger pot, to let the roots stretch out and absorb more water. Submerge the pot in a pan of water for 5-15 minutes to hydrate dry pockets deep within the soil. After repotting, spray the under-watered plant with coconut water – or more affordable seaweed emulsion (both contain cytokinins, substances that promote growth) – three times a week until it perks up.

Chances are, the other line really is faster

Why We Always Seem to Choose the Slowest Queue

The next time you wind up on the slowest moving queue at the supermarket, don’t curse your bad luck – curse maths. According to queuing theorists – mathematicians who predict queue lengths and waiting times – your predicament can be proved. Queuing theory explains why there’s probably no way you can always be in the fastest line. The explanation goes something like this: a supermarket tries to have enough registers open to get all their customers through with minimum delay. But there are always going

to be busy periods. Because most supermarkets don’t have the physical space to add more checkout lines during these busier times, their system becomes overwhelmed. All it takes is one small interruption – such as a price check or chatty customer -to have a domino effect on the entire line behind them. If there are three lines at a store, these delays will happen randottily at different registers. So the chances of your line being the quickest are only one in three. So you’re not just imagining it, another line probably is moving faster than yours.

Travel Topics

The Self-Reliant Silent Traveller It wasn’t that long ago that your holiday started with a trip to your local travel agent. Today, travellers are increasingly sorting out their travel arrangements using smartphone and tablet apps. This trend led US travel industry analysts Skift to create a name for such travellers – the Silent Traveller. What sets the silent traveller apart is his or her ability to solve problems using their tablets and smartphones while on their holidays. They don’t contact local tour companies directly or hunt down help from hotel staff, rather they solve their own travel concerns using their own tech-savvy wits. Using their smartphones or tablets they check local information, make bookings and basically man-age their holiday entirely digitally. A survey released by Skift in July this year found that just under 40% of silent travellers were aged between 25 and 34.

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