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A Pro Shares Her Secrets to Cleaning and Maintaining Hard Flooring

Here at Lone Star Hauling Services we care about all maintenance aspects of your home and business. While we specialize in property clean ups and junk hauling here in Bryan, College Station, we know that a lot goes into making your space one you love. Enjoy this week’s post on cleaning and maintaining wood and laminate flooring.

Hi everyone! This is Kirsten Smith, blogger for Lone Star Hauling Services. I’m excited to share some tips for one area of your home for which I feel particularly knowledgeable and I believe not everyone may already know.

One summer during college I worked for a professional cleaning company. We mainly focused on commercial cleaning (specifically new homes) and the occasional private home. Since the company was relatively small, the owner, Cynthia, taught me all her tips, tricks and secrets. One aspect she was really particular about was how the flooring was cleaned. When it comes to cleaning your hard flooring (anything that’s not carpet), it seems like it would be a “no brainer” for me. Just your mop, cleaner and a bucket of water, right? Oh, how quickly Cynthia put me in my place, and taught me not only the importance of cleaning a floor, but cleaning it correctly.

I remember the first job I had with her like it was yesterday. She kept asking me different questions in order to see how much I personally knew about cleaning. Anytime I gave an incorrect answer she would answer me in an encouraging way why that wasn’t the best approach, and what I should do instead. As I mentioned before, Cynthia was particular on how the last and final step of cleaning was done…the flooring. I use to think that mopping was relatively the easiest part of cleaning. While I wasn’t necessarily wrong, that thought wasn’t completely true either.

There is a MAJOR difference between mopping hard wood floors and laminate flooring. I’ll start with the easier of the two, to explain the how” and “why” you do specific techniques. With laminate floors you can mop however you like. Meaning that there is no specific direction you need to mop in, and you don’t have to be conscientious of the amount of water you use on the flooring either. This is where I got the idea of “just a mop, cleaner and a bucket of water” concept. Because laminate flooring is a clear plastic like flooring, you can’t warp it from mopping. Another bonus is that the cleaner doesn’t have to be a certain brand, but I personally use Fabuloso cleaner. It works great for my floors and their needs. Wood flooring on the other hand is a completely different story.

When it comes to wood flooring, there are many things to keep in mind to preserve and augment the flooring’s life. When it comes to mopping, you’ll want to use the least amount of water possible. Too much water and you’ll warp the wood and eventually ruin your flooring. You want your mop to be slightly damp, not soaking, and you’ll want to mop in a sweeping motion (back and forth), WITH the direction of your wood.

Going with the direction of the wood will help ensure a streak free finish. Usually on wood flooring, we would just use a damp mop, with no cleaner in it. Cynthia swore by Murphy’s Oil Soap for wood floors. Murphy’s gives a smooth polished finished look, and leaves floors looking brand new.

Well there you have my tips for beautiful hard flooring. Let me know in the comments below if you have any other tricks for keeping your floors immaculate.

Everyone Needs to Clean Up Sometimes

Since starting Lone Star Hauling Services I have been able to help many people remove unwanted items that were cluttering their homes and lives. In this process I have also witnessed some who for one reason or another have accumulated way too many useless items. Very often they struggle with selling, giving or throwing away these possessions. Of course I am not one of those that struggles with getting rid of useless items…or so I thought.

Let me demonstrate what I mean. I have lived on a small farm for over forty years. As with any farm you keep many things on hand because you never know when you may need it to make a repair or build something new. I have even converted the former dairy barn on my land into my woodworking shop. I enjoy this hobby and as anyone who does woodworking knows, you can use small pieces for all sorts of things: pen blanks (which I want to but never have), drawer pulls (bought all of them so far), accent pieces (have not found that one piece to use it on) and so on.

Now anyone who’s lived on a farm also knows you can’t have too many tools. Case in point:  I am the proud owner of five or six partial sets of the least expensive tools originating from Taiwan, China, Vietnam and other places I am unable to speak their language. For some strange reason I also have a good set of Craftsman tools which I’m unable to remember how I got them. And then of course I have a lot of wood working tools. Some of these I inherited from my grandfathers and have a special meaning to me. Others I found, were given to me or I purchased at garage or estate sales. It’s important to note that tools don’t break unless you’re using them in which case it’s handy to have that back up hammer at the ready that you’ve been saving for the last forty years. Now if you could just find it…

Which brings me to my point. My shop consists of essentially an entire barn and yet everyone knows you cannot have a big enough building in which to keep all those valuable items. I have had so many valuable items at times I could hardly walk through, let alone work or find the items I needed. I do need to point out that I’m not always at a loss to find tools. When you own 60 to 75 screw drivers you’d be hard pressed not to find one when needed. Now the problem comes when I need to get something quickly. If I know where something is, how long will it take me to get to the area where it’s at and how much stuff will I need to move before I get to the needed item?

But how does this relate to you? Because this is a success story, a tale of the human condition and consequential triumph. My hopes in sharing this account is that it will inspire others to also remove the excess clutter from your own lives.

About a year ago I decided that I needed to do something about cleaning my own workspace. I think it was just after when I fell trying to make my way through the shop (really not funny). I wasn’t worried about the fall as much as what would happen if everything fell on top of me and how most likely no one would know it looked any different. They might have never found me should that have happened! Something had to be done.

It was after this incident, dare I say it, I started throwing things away. For me this was a gigantic step in the right direction. Well actually a small step for me, a gigantic step for the safety for those who might dare enter my shop. However after a year I was not that far along in my goal to eliminate excess and I might have even been losing some of the space I had freed up. So with a shot of Diet Coke to stiffen my nerves I decided that anything that I didn’t have an immediate need of, did not see a foreseeable future of needing or have a space to safely store it, had to go. Did you feel the force tremble? I might have but I think it was just my aging knees.

In the process I found six electric circular saws, three that worked and three that I meant to fix and I’m sure I would have fixed them if I had remembered that I put them there. Then there was the ten coping saws that I found in different places, some of them so cheaply made that I doubt would have worked well if I ever got around to using one. I threw away a paint can of nails I had been saving for twenty years because I would need those nails (never once used one nail out of that bucket). I have been giving away, selling somethings and throwing away the rest but I can now walk in my shop without fear of injury.

Readers let me share that it’s so much nicer to be in my shop, move around and go immediately to something I need. Truth be told I’m not finished yet but it takes time to decide on which one of ten framing squares to keep. If I can’t find a good home for the others it’s the trash for them. There will be no turning back for me.

Hopefully this tale will inspire you to also clear out what you’re not using and free up some extra space. Perhaps it will be for your own mental health, perhaps like me it will be for your personal safety. But whatever the reason, give Lone Star Hauling a call to assist in your clean up!

Life Get’s Busy

Life Get's Busy - Cleaning Tips

Let’s face it, life just gets busy sometimes…or stays that way. With all of these competing priorities, cleaning your house may not be at the top of your “want” to-do list. Finding your way out of the clutter can at times be overwhelming. But don’t despair! With these few tips you should be able to get your house cleaning back to the top of your “want” to do list. But no promises.

The first thing you need to consider is what is your cleaning style? Do you like to deep clean or is your style more to clean in short, fast sprints. People who prefer to deep cleaning may want to make out a schedule to focus on certain areas for that thorough scrubbing. While those who like to sprint clean may like to have a schedule that breaks out a few, short chores daily.

The second suggestion is speed clean every day. I have started to do this in my own home and I have found that it makes such a big difference. How it works is very simple. Set your timer to the desired minutes you want. I find forty minutes works well for me. Start at one end of the house and just go. Avoid doing time consuming work like washing windows or organizing the pantry during these sessions. This time is just for working around the house as fast as you can “speed” cleaning. Knowing that a timer is going is really motivating. After the forty minutes is over, the house is so clean and then it is easier to move into deep cleaning.

My third tip is use a good check list. This is very helpful for the unorganized brain. After working for employers where we had to use check list to make ensure the completion of the essential tasks before leaving for the day, I felt like this was great to implement in my own home. Being able to check off things really helps me to not overlook an area. Plus, I can refer to these checklists to see how long it’s been since I’ve completed a particular cleaning task.

I hope these tips will help you as they’ve helped me. Once you can get started on a good cleaning routine the house will stay cleaner longer and, keeping it clean will always be faster. There will be less time cleaning and more time to do the things in life that are on your “want to do list.”

Protecting Your Home from Spring Time Bugs

Protecting Your Home from Spring Bugs

Spring with all its pleasures is upon us. With it come fragrant blooms, sunshine, near perfect temperatures…and unfortunately the return of pesky bugs. Especially if you live near a green belt or in area with a lot of trees, the bugs may literally be coming out of the woodworks. However, those critters don’t have to reign supreme. Here are a few simple tricks that can help keep your home bug-free this year.

  1. If you have a brick home, you’ll notice that every few feet there are some holes left in the mortar between the bottom rows of bricks. These gaps are called weep holes and were intentionally left there to help let your house breath as the temperature rises and falls. Unfortunately, they can also create the perfect entry way for insects such as spiders and roaches to enter your walls. Now, there are two ways to prevent that from happening. The first is to always spray your favorite pesticides to create a repellent against the bugs which then acts as an invisible barrier.  This works well but may not stop all insects. My second recommendation is to either fill or stuff the weep holes with a copper mesh to make a permanent safe guard against the larger bugs. Any type of mesh will do the job but I prefer copper because, unlike other metals, it doesn’t leave rust marks behind.
  2. Keep a look out for flying insects like wasps that like to nest up in your eaves. We’ve all had experience of seeing a wasp’s nest, knocking it down only to come back a week later to find another nest being built in its place. This is because wasps leave a pheromone scent where they build their nests much like ants. The best way to prevent this from happening is to spray the bottom of an old broom with a pesticide that actually removes or blocks that pheromone. With this trick those same wasps won’t be building a nest right outside your door way again.
  3. Now for the bugs that wreck the greatest havoc—termites. The average cost to repair a home from termite damage is $3,000[i]! However, there are a few precautions you can take as a homeowner to prevent you from ever having to worry about termites making your home theirs. The first is to make sure that any and all flower beds around the house are at least 6 inches below the point where the brick and foundation meet. If not, you’re giving the termites a perfect window to enter into your home and begin eating away at the frame. The next step is to make sure that you don’t have any shrubs or greenery right up against your home. If the termites can climb up a base of a shrub and then onto ledge and then inside your home, there is good chance they will. And of course, it’s always smart to have a licensed exterminator to check your house at least once a year. They know exactly where to look for termites and they can make recommendations on how to best get rid of them.

While most of these steps are easy enough for a homeowner to handle on their own, for the most thorough protection against those damaging critters, you’ll want to involve an exterminating professional. Especially for time consuming precautions that should be implemented on a monthly basis. Hiring a professional is often cheaper than most people think. For example,  most people will spend anywhere from $15 to $30+ monthly on over-the-counter products and then will spend their precious free time knocking down wasp nests and battling the fire ants. It will roughly cost the same for a good service, not to mention all the time you save to be spent on things you enjoy. And if they’re a good company, they will most likely offer free re-services in the event you find bugs in between their quarterly treatments. A great local company I recommend is Kindred Pest Control. Besides competitive pricing, they provide more additional services than most anyone else. Give them a call for a free estimate. They can be reached at either (979)436-8023 or by visiting their website, kindredpestcontrol.com. Now enjoy those warmer temperatures in your bug-free yard!

[i] http://ransfordpc.com/2013/12/how-much-does-a-termite-infestation-actually-cost/

12 Foolproof Ways to Make a Small Room Appear Larger

12 foolproof ways to make a small room appear larger hero image

Smaller homes are cozy and we’ve probably all lived in one at one point or another. In some countries less is more or at least considered the standard. Take the UK for example where the average new home size is just 818 square feet[1].

Whether you relish the chance to live efficiently or feel frustrated at the lack of space in in your current home, if you plan smart you’ll be amazed at how much larger a room can appear. Read below for some smart tips to negotiate more from that space between 4 walls:

  1. Remove clutter. Messes and general disorganization can appear to be more imposing when crammed into small spaces. As you look to par down on things lying around your house, ask if you’ve used this object in the last 90 days or if you’re likely to use it in the next 90 days. If the answer is no, than consider carefully if the object would be better served by passing it along to another. Another filter is to ask if you have multiples of anything. Instead of 4 kitchen appliances that only perform one function, keep one that offers several functions you most use.
  2. Make the most of storage…but don’t overdo it. A coffee table with built-in storage space or bookshelves are both examples of are efficient uses of space. Keep in mind though that while there’s a tendency to fill every available inch on shelves, a hodgepodge of books and objects can leave your space looking cluttered. Instead thoughtfully curate visible objects and make sure they’re adding value to your space. Check out these bookshelves for inspiration!
  3. Go for a light and neutral color palette. Dark colors don’t reflect light and make a space appear smaller. Also by avoiding too many patterns and colors, you’ll visually expand your space. Keep in mind that adjoining rooms painted the same color will also extend the space. If you’re the kind of person who loves color, my kind of people, stick to one color and decorate with varying shades of that color.
  4. Take advantage of natural light which opens up a space. Eliminating curtains altogether will permit the maximum passage of light. But if you love the look of curtains, keep them long and begin higher than the window to add vertical dimension to the room.
  5. Opt for furniture on raised legs that add a dimension of light and space. Flaunt those legs! Speaking of furniture, employ fold up furniture for pieces that are only used on occasion. Keeping excess furniture in storage elsewhere can streamline a room. Tables with removable leaves are a great way to free up space.
  6. Mirror mirror on the wall. Add inexpensive mirrors to seemingly double the size of a space.
  7. Bold pieces of art can make a small room appear more dramatic and larger at the same time.
  8. Instead of one overhead light which draws attention to just that spot, opt for instead a few smaller lamps.
  9. Look up! By painting a ceiling in a bright color, your eye will be drawn upward and give the appearance of higher ceilings. Check out this gorgeous ceiling treatment for inspiration!
  10. Remember the Cantaloupe Rule. Any objects smaller than a cantaloupe only crowd a space. Instead go for a smaller number of large pieces.
  11. A striped rug do wonders for making a room appear longer. Position the rug with the length of the room for optimum effect.
  12. Glass and lucite furniture is very in vogue at the moment and are basically invisible. Check out this ultra modern console table for example.

By just employing a few of the suggestions above you’ll notice a difference right away. Once you’ve cut down on clutter, give Lonestar Hauling Services a call to have any of your excess items hauled away. We’d love to hear what other suggestions you have for opening a small space. Feel free to leave comments below.

[1] http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/how-big-is-a-house-average-house-size-by-country-78685

That Junk In Your Trunk Could Be Costing You $$$

We’ve all felt the cost of gasoline time and time again. It doesn’t matter if it’s dirt cheap or costing us an arm and a leg, gas is a guaranteed expense for most of us. Big or small, we love the convenience of our cars but no one loves buying gas. I remember hearing stories from my dad about my grandfather traveling across town to save a few cents on a gasoline fill up. I usually seem to wait till the very last fume before I pull into a gas station, which has landed me in some close counters with an empty gas tank.

Though we’re lucky enough to live in an age with some of the most fuel efficient vehicles ever on the road, but most often fuel efficiency doesn’t come in four-wheel-drive or turn heads… It usually means you’ll be asked to turn in your man card for that new set of Toyota Prius keys. And if you’re like me, that won’t be happening!

I began my quest for better gas millage just like anyone else: I changed the oil and air filter, checked the tire pressure on all four wheels and even bought a can of oxygen sensor and carb cleaner. All of these did improve my gas mileage a good bit! I was very pleased with my results, when after checking my MPG, I discovered I got a whole two gallons more than before! I went from fourteen miles to the gallon in my 2004 Expedition to getting sixteen to the gallon! You bet I was smiling all the way home!

Could it get even better? Well the following Saturday I was asked to go pick up my brother from a neighboring city. Needing to clear some space for his bags, I emptied a few items that had been sitting in the back of my vehicle for one reason or another. These being a chain in the event of an emergency, a few big boxes of dishes and books which I was supposed to drop off at Goodwill but hadn’t yet done so, and other random things I had allowed to collect back there. Needless to say upon removing these items I came to find that my gas millage had actually increased a whole another mile per gallon! I felt a little dumb that I hadn’t thought of doing that earlier…Of course a less loaded vehicle means less stress on the engine and more money back in your wallet!

I decided to read up more on the topic to see just how much weight would actually make a noticeable difference. According to an article written by Sebastian Blanco of the well-known Auto Blog website, just reducing the weight of a vehicle by a 100 pounds the gas mileage will improve 1-2%. Meaning if gas were priced at $2.58 a gallon it would be a total savings of .03-.05 cents a gallon, though of course the size of your vehicle would impact the total savings. Reducing just 5% of the vehicles total weight actually increases fuel economy 2.1%! Now imagine if you’re like me and instead of decreasing the weight, you start increasing the weight inside your car. That’s money right out of your pocket!

Sure they’re only pennies on the dollar but if you saved 5 cents a gallon and bought thirty gallons a week that would be $78 a year you’d be paying to haul around all that extra stuff. Take the proactive choice today and begin cleaning that junk in the truck to start saving money for every mile you drive. It’ll keep not only your wallet happy, but you too just knowing how clean your car now is!

Spring Cleaning Tips: 4 Easy Tips for a Cleaner, More Organized Home

Spring Cleaning Tips: 4 Easy Tips for a Cleaner, More Organized Home

With snow still blowing in parts of the country it may seem premature to already be discussing spring cleaning. However, it’s never too early to make a plan of action that will leave your home cleaner than perhaps ever before.

While it can feel overwhelming knowing where to start with spring cleaning, it only takes a little pre-planning to make it a mostly pain free and easy process. Follow these suggestions below to see how easy it can be.

  1. Break out the different areas you’ll be cleaning into small quick jobs that can be done in minutes. As the old saying goes, “Wheneating an elephant take one bite at a time.” Let yourself enjoy the small victories in a large battle. Get creative with this step. Are you a list maker? Start with written lists to help you stay on track and scratch off your successes as you go. If you prefer to follow someone else’s list, you can download a number of spring cleaning checklists from the web such as these from organizedhome.com.
    Look at all the rooms in the house and decide which ones you believe are the most important ones to take on. You may want to break it down even further in each room. Start with a closest or a chest of drawers for example. So much of the battle is just getting started and staying on track as you go.
  1. Gather those cleaning supplies. Before rolling up your sleeves you’ll want to have everything within an easy reach to avoid interruptions. You can never have too many rags because they’re perfect for scrubbing, dusting, shining, or even my go to, wiping your face as you go. Another thing to consider when purchasing cleaning supplies is the smell of the products you’re using because they will linger.
  1. Schedule things out. You want to make sure you can finish what you start but for longer projects you might need breaks as you go. As you clean, stay focused on the task at hand. It’s easy to get distracted or find that you’ve forgotten or misplaced something. The organized home of your future after some spring cleaning will make it easier to avoid the last one.
  1. Throw away any unwanted items or donate them to charity. This can be the hardest step for some. I have a hard and fast rule, “If I have not used it in more years then I’ve been married or I can’t remember its purpose, out it goes.” Of course your own rule will have a personal spin on it. Remember that those really valuable items that you’ve been storing may only become truly valuable after you’re gone.

These are only the very basic items to consider but hopefully they’re helpful as you tackle your spring cleaning this year. Remember to call Lone Star Hauling Services when you’ve gathered any unwanted items from your home and are ready to free up space.