Imagine you didn’t have shutoff valves at each plumbing fixture in your home. Besides violating nearly every plumbing code, you’d have to shut off the water to your entire house to work on any faucet or toilet. That’s really inconvenient. And that’s why every fixture has a shutoff valve, often called an angle stop valve.

I’ve been slowly upgrading the plumbing in my older home. As part of that, I’m replacing the old gate valves at each fixture with quarter-turn valves, otherwise known as ball valves. Putting a ball valve at each fixture is a simple DIY job, and makes plumbing maintenance easy for everyone in the family.

I like ball valves at faucets and toilets because if a fixture fails and starts to flood while I’m away from home, my wife or kids can easily shut off the water with a flick of a wrist.

What Is a Ball Valve?

A device with a handle that lets you control the flow of water through a pipe.

The internal mechanism features a sphere with a hole drilled in it and a handle connecting to the sphere. The ball glides on valve seats within the body of the valve. These seats sit perfectly against the sides of the sphere, sealing it.

When you turn the handle in one direction, water flows through the hole. Turn the handle 90 degrees, and the part of the sphere without a hole blocks the flow of water.

How Does a Ball Valve Work?

By turning the lever on the outside of the valve body.

When you turn the lever in line with the tubing of the plumbing system, water flows through the hole in the middle of the ball. When the handle isn’t in line with the tubing, water cannot flow.

What’s the Difference Between a Gate Valve and a Ball Valve Shutoff?

A traditional shut-off valve at a household fixture is typically a gate valve, which works exactly like it sounds. Imagine a gate in a fence that slides up and down or side-to-side. A gate valve slides up and down with the turning of a knob. The gate, when closed, blocks the flow of water.

Gate valves are simple and inexpensive, but they’re inconvenient, because they typically require several turns of a knob to close. And gate valves often stick if they haven’t been operated frequently. That’s not helpful when a plumbing fixture fails and you need to quickly shut off the water to avoid additional damage.

A ball valve, on the other hand, remains reliable for long periods. A quick turn shuts off the water. Just make sure you open and close them completely. A partially open ball valve can rattle around within the sealing seats in the body of the valve, shortening the life of the valve seat.

Thankfully, since the valve turns easily to 90 degrees, it’s easy to be sure it’s fully open or closed.

How To Use A Ball Valve

Installing a ball valve is easy. Just make certain you purchase the right valve for the size of inlet and outlet pipe. You’ll need to shut off the water supply for the house, of course. Once that’s done, it’s a quick and easy job.

What Are Ball Valves Used For?

You might find slightly larger ball valves in your home if it’s newer and plumbed with PEX plastic tubing instead of the traditional copper supply lines.

In PEX-plumbed homes, you’ll often find a manifold of tubing in a basement or other utility room near the main water supply inlet from the street.

The manifold features ball valves that allow you to shut off the water supply for an entire room or section of a house. That way, you can remodel or repair a specific area without shutting off the water to the entire house, though there will still be a shutoff at each fixture.

Ball valves are often used in industrial applications, too, since they’re reliable and relatively inexpensive. Ball valves aren’t only for water. They can be used for industrial chemicals and gases, as long as the materials used are compatible with what’s plumbed into the system.

I didn’t start drinking coffee until my late 20s. To be frank, I didn’t need the added energy, nor did I enjoy the taste. However, as I got older, I soon realized that I simply hadn’t found the type of coffee that suited me. Finding my perfect roast was similar to Goldilocks finding the perfect porridge. It had to be just right. Once I found my brew, I started adding to my coffee collection by way of coffee makers, frothers and other accessories.

And one of my favorite accessories is the coffee mug. In my kitchen, you’ll find cutesy mugs personalized with movie quotes from a throwback era or popular lyrics from a ’90s earworm. Adding a new mug to my collection has become somewhat of a pastime. So, when Yeti released a line of stackable mugs, I knew they needed to be the new staples under my coffee machine. After sipping on the Yeti Rambler Stackable Mugs I can safely say they fit perfectly inside my Goldilocks Zone.

What are the Yeti Stackable Cups?

Yeti’s New Stackable Cups under coffee machine

The Yeti stackable cup is a mug you didn’t know you needed. Brought to you by the brand known for its ramblers and coolers—two of the best Yeti products around—the stackable mugs are much smaller but still ideal for a morning brew at home or on the go. Alongside tumblers, bottles and travel mugs, these cups are the latest editions in the Yeti coffee lineup.

Choose between a 4- or 6-ounce pair that you can stack for easy storage in your Yeti Loadout GoBox. The 4-ounce mugs are handle-free, while the 6-ounce versions feature a firm-grip handle for easy toting. Both options come in eight colorways, including rescue red and camp green.

Moreover, the mugs utilize the DuraSlip ceramic lining that the brand is known for, adding to the durability of the insulated stainless steel. Basically, these mugs don’t just look good—they’re tough, too. Additionally, the interior features a nonstick coating that keeps coffee stains at bay. But the stackable mugs are also dishwasher-safe, so you can spend less time cleaning up.

Their small capacity is intentional, as the barista-friendly mugs fit under most espresso machines. Whether sitting at your kitchen island or in the back of your camper with your Yeti Roadie, these mugs are the perfect warm-beverage companions.

Pros

  • Fits under most espresso machines
  • Stackable for easy storage
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • DuraSlip ceramic lining
  • Firm-grip handle
  • Kitchen-grade stainless steel
  • Puncture- and rust-resistant
  • BPA-free
  • 5-year warranty
  • Available in six core colors and two limited-edition colors
  • Available in two sizes: 4 ounce and 6 ounce

Cons

  • Cups don’t come with lids (but the 6-ounce mug is compatible with the 10-ounce MagSlider Lid, sold separately)
  • Mugs don’t keep coffee as hot as larger tumblers

Editor's Pick

Yeti Stackable Cups

This pack of two ultra-durable mugs is sized for strong brews and perfect pours.

Why I Love the Yeti Stackable Cups

Coffee filling in Yeti’s New Stackable Cups

I simply can’t get enough of these perfectly sized mugs. In the morning, I brew a 12-ounce macchiato or cappuccino in my regular coffee cup. By the afternoon, I need a pick-me-up, but I don’t want to overload on caffeine. That’s where these mugs shine. I place my Yeti stackable cup under the machine and make an espresso that powers me through the rest of the evening.

Furthermore, when I want to have some fun on the weekends, I opt for a creamy affogato with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a hefty pouring of espresso. I make enough for two so that both my partner and I can enjoy this dessert straight out of our Yeti mugs.

These won’t hold as much coffee as their larger tumbler counterparts, like the leakproof BruMate Era. However, what the Yeti stackable cups lack in size, they make up for in convenience. Pack these mugs for your next outdoor adventure with grab-and-go ease. Since they come as a pair, you have 12 usable ounces to brew an Americano in one and a Ristretto in another.

As it’s not a large size, I don’t have to worry about my coffee getting cold before I can finish drinking it. Plus, the insulation keeps my beverage hot just as long as I need it to, and I can always add a compatible lid to the 6-ounce mug to maximize heat retention. If you fancy cozying up with the warmth of your mug, then consider the 4-ounce option that’s handle-free.

But Don’t Take My Word for It!

Holding Yeti’s New Stackable Cup in forest area

Overall, reviewers on both the Yeti website and Amazon are taken with the Yeti stackable cups for their coffee and tea.

“Absolutely LOVE these small mugs. They are made so well (of course) and are just the right size for our nightly tea before bed,” writes Sanaz S. on the Yeti website. “Totally different vibe than our rough and ready Yeti products, but still tough and durable, yet cute!”

Chrissy Ann writes, “These are the perfect size for a double espresso and cream. Bought these for my husband for Valentine’s Day not realizing the package came with two mugs so very happy.”

And Joyce Dem shares in her five-star review, “These are too cute and functional. The coffee stays hot way longer and the handle design is comfortable. We bought them for camping but now use them every day.”

“Very nice. I really just love them. I was so excited to get them. They were much cuter and nicer than I imagined. Very pleased,” writes a verified Amazon purchaser. “I hope Yeti continues to make more coffee, bar and camping-style items. Huge fan of compact, efficient and durable on-the-go items.”

Where to Buy Yeti Stackable Cups

Editor's Pick

Yeti Stackable Cups

The Yeti Rambler 6-ounce stackable mugs are just the right size for an Americano in the kitchen and a Cortado at the campsite.

Find the Yeti stackable cup on the brand’s website and start sipping your favorite flat white or doppio. The mugs are also available on Amazon, Public Lands, Scheels and Dick’s Sporting Goods for $35 per pair. These mugs aren’t too big or too small—they’re just right for an at-home espresso or cortado on the go, so get into your Goldilocks era!

This FH series introduces readers to a few of the women who make up 11 percent of the construction workforce in the United States, spotlighting stories of their careers in the field. Know someone we should feature? Email us here.

Samantha Pearl was 25 years into an administrative career in health and human resources when she and her husband Jim bought a 175-year-old house in Michigan and began tearing it down to the studs.

The next month, pandemic restrictions hit. With a sudden lack of contractors, they had to jump into the renovations themselves. Their daughter Emily, home from college for spring break, also helped. They ended up enjoying it, and Samantha and Emily soon tackled a second full-house renovation.

“Emily and I spent nine months working full time on that renovation project,” says Samantha Pearl. “We both fell in love with the work.”

Samantha soon secured her residential builder’s license. Together with Emily, they founded My Handyma’am Home Repairs and Renovations, which now has five employees working in the field. They’ve also recently started the Facebook group How to Handyma’am, where they teach simple home projects and provide women a forum to ask questions about home repairs.

We asked them for their thoughts on the state of the home repair and renovation industry.

Q: How has working as a mother-daughter team been going?

Eleven Percent Samantha Pearl And Emily Pearl Reist

Samantha: It’s been wonderful. We complement each other well. Emily is an artist and I’m more of a traditional handyperson. We also tend to finish each other’s sentences. It’s good to work with someone who shares part of your brain because we’re able to know what to hand the person next and what we’re thinking.

Emily: Plus, we really have a spark for it. We love to build things, we love to fix things and we love to make things beautiful.

Samantha: And we both have customer service mindsets, so we’re always thinking about how our behavior affects our customers’ comfort level. There’s a lot of joy in solving problems for people, and loving what we do makes customers tend to love us, too, and have a high comfort level having us in their homes.

Q: How did you find your women employees?

Samantha: We offered apprenticeships for anyone interested in learning. One is a high school senior enrolled in a trades program. Another is a professional glassblower in her 40s. The third had just graduated from college, with a biology degree, and was trying to decide what to do.

We provided a living wage and a full set of tools to make it as easy as possible for them to make the leap. For the first six months they worked alongside us, and now they operate independently.

They’re pretty remarkable, fun to work with and excellent at solving problems. Their team dynamic benefits us, and it benefits our customers. You don’t have to worry about having a pool of qualified female candidates if you hire people for character and aptitude, then teach them the specific skills.

Q: Is your customer base mostly women?

Fhma24 Eleven Percent Samantha Pearl And Emily Pearl Reist, My Handyma'am Founders Karuna Eberl 01 Pkedit

Samantha: Yes, probably 90% of our customers are women over age 50. Some are widows, single or divorced. Others just have husbands who aren’t able to or don’t want to tackle the projects.

Many of them call us specifically because we’re females, and it can be unnerving inviting a stranger into your home. And that goes both ways. We also feel a certain level of safety when doing estimates and working in women’s homes.

Emily: Our approach also attracts women who have been talked down to by tradespeople, or who have felt like they didn’t understand what was going on. We encourage clients to observe and ask questions. It’s delightful collaborating with them and creating beautiful things that match the image they had in their mind.

Q: What are your more common types of projects?

Samantha: One of our taglines is, “We make it beautiful, We make it work.” That describes the two sets of projects that we do: artistic ones like painting, built-in cabinetry and backsplashes; and then practical stuff like repairs and building closets, fences and sheds.

Honey-do lists are another specialty. Tradespeople tend to avoid them, but there are a lot of older people who have a running list of things they need done in their house. And who do you call if you have a door that doesn’t close smoothly or you want someone to check if there’s water in the basement?

We love helping people with their random collection of needs. There’s a whole underserved niche in solving long lists of small problems for people.

Samantha: And since we’re actually licensed builders, we fill a unique niche where we can offer both small handy services as well as repairs and renovations that require a license and permits. Plus, we’re insured and bonded.

Q: What are some of your more memorable projects?

Emily: One time a client showed us a blue Lego, and wanted an ombré tile backsplash based off that color. Immediately my brain was imagining everything, and I was so excited about it.

Color consultations are one of my specialties. I put together six or seven digital mockups, then the client and I got in the weeds of design together. It was really fun, and at the end of the project they said it looked exactly like what they imagined beforehand.

Samantha: We built a 256-square-foot deck for a couple who liked to throw backyard parties. It had an unusual shape to meet their property lines, and they didn’t want any short boards. We ended up handling 20-foot-long pieces of lumber.

It was 40 degrees and raining. We were working in piles of mud and constantly moving a pop-up tent to keep the saw dry, but not us. But I still sometimes go back and look at those pictures, because it’s so satisfying to see how beautiful the deck turned out.

Q: What challenges have you faced working in a male-dominated trade?

Eleven Percent Samantha Pearl And Emily Pearl Reist

Emily: Sometimes there’s a masculine old-boys-club environment, which can make it feel like there’s not much space for women. I’ve even had a lot of guys at the hardware store ask if I know what I’m doing, or if my husband knows I’m there, which feels straight out of the 1950s.

But we’ve made ourselves a great space where we can be feminine in the field. And the skills of femininity, like empathy and attention to detail, have really opened up great opportunities.

Samantha and Emily Pearl Bios

Eleven Percent Samantha Pearl And Emily Pearl Reist

Samantha Pearl is a licensed residential builder in St. John’s, Michigan. Her daughter Emily Pearl Reist is a licensed residential builder and visual artist. Together they make home repair and renovation projects that are beautiful and functional, through their business My Handyma’am.

They also teach women how to DIY through their Facebook group, How to Handyma’am.

Writer Karuna Eberl Bio

Karuna Eberl is a regular contributor to Family Handyman. She spent the last 25 years as a freelance journalist and filmmaker, telling stories of people, nature, travel, science and history. Eberl has won numerous awards for her writing, her Florida Keys Travel Guide and her documentary, The Guerrero Project.

Bad news is coming for safety violators: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has increased the maximum penalty for violations.

But what do these higher OSHA fines mean, and how much are they? Here’s a quick breakdown on these job site changes.

Why Is OSHA Increasing Fines?

As the cost of living has increased, businesses have increased their rates and prices to keep up. The result: A gap between what the businesses are now making, and what OSHA can collect in fines. At the same time, the government’s operation costs are increasing, so it must raise fees and penalties to make up the difference.

The fine increases should improve safety for workers. While companies should focus on the safety in any conditions, the smaller the fine, the less incentive there is for them to keep their workers safe. While the amount is truly marginal compared to the value of life, the increases should discourage corner-cutting on safe work environments.

But it’s important to remember these increases are the result of occupational safety and health laws violations. Companies with a keen eye for safety should be largely unaffected by the policy, though accidents do happen. And these are fines for violations, not accidents, which means they’re primarily a pre-emptive measure to keep workers safe.

How Much Are OSHA Fines Increasing?

On the whole, OSHA fines are increasing 3.2% from 2023 to 2024. This rate hardly keeps up with inflation and the cost of living. But it may prevent companies from losing their focus on safety while helping the government cope with increasing operational costs.

Also, the 3.2% bump is much smaller than the 7.7% increase OSHA imposed from 2022 to 2023.

The fee increases depending on the type of occurrence:

  • The maximum amount for a violation will increase from $15,625 to $16,131 per occurrence.

  • The maximum amount for a willful or repeated violation will increase from $156,259 to $161,323 per violation.

When Will the New Fees Go Into Effect?

They already have.

Under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act (FCPIAA), any agency increasing fees is required to publish rules and make annual adjustments for inflation no later than January 15 each year.

This year, because January 15 was a federal holiday (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day) and government offices were closed, the new penalties went into effect the next day.

The Top 10 OSHA Violations for 2023

OSHA keeps track of all cited violations each year. In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2023, the following violation types were most common:

  1. Fall protection violations — general requirements: 7,271;

  2. Hazard communication violations: 3,213;

  3. Ladder violations: 2,978;

  4. Scaffolding violations: 2,859;

  5. Powered industrial truck violations: 2,561;

  6. Lockout/tagout violations: 2,554;

  7. Respiratory protection violations: 2,481;

  8. Fall protection violations — training requirement: 2,112;

  9. Personal protective and lifesaving equipment violations — eye and face protection: 2,074;

  10. Machine guarding violations: 1,644.

What Can Companies Do?

Companies should continue to make workplace safety a top priority for their employees. Violations and citations are overwhelmingly avoidable with the right training, equipment and safety personnel.

Corroded, frozen or seized parts and hardware can quickly turn an inexpensive 10-minute fix into an all-day, really costly repair.

When working as a technician for a Pontiac dealership many years ago, I cringed every time I worked on a Trans Am. Fabulous cars, yes. But their honeycomb wheels were made from cast aluminum.

As Don Sutliff, product specialist at Permatex, explained to me, when water and road salts got behind those wheels, corrosion buildup would “mechanically weld” the wheels to the steel and cast-iron axle hub. That made the wheels, as well as brake drums, impossible to remove.

This is when I first learned about anti-seize compounds, and how they keep rust and corrosion at bay. That’s why I always have some in my toolbox. As auto repair specialist John Alcaro told me, “Using anti-seize makes any suspension fasteners exposed to the elements easier to remove.”

About the Experts

Don Sutliff, is the senior product specialist at Permatex Inc., in Solon, Ohio, one of the world’s leaders in automotive chemicals, sealants and adhesives. He has firsthand experience with anti-seize compounds from working in the specialty chemical industry.

John Alcaro has been an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) master technician for 43 years. He serves as the senior automotive technology instructor at North Montco Technical Career Center in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

What Is Anti-Seize Compound?

Anti-seize compound is a product that seals and protects metal fasteners and other parts when exposed to high temperatures, pressures, acids, alkalis and harsh caustic chemicals. Made from base and synthetic lubricants, it contains highly refined graphite and micro-metals.

Anti-seize compound is used in automobiles, marine and industry applications to protect metal parts and fittings from corrosion and pitting, wear, galling or seizing together.

What Does Anti-Seize Lubricant Do?

It coats metal parts and components to seal out moisture, road salts and dirt. This prevents metal assemblies — especially two unlike metals — from seizing together.

“Applying anti-seize compound helps reduce frustration when disassembling parts where threads are susceptible to corrosion,” Alcaro says.

This also applies to frequently removed fasteners. Anti-seize compound provides consistent thread torquing, decreasing part and component failure, reducing overall maintenance and repair costs.

How Does Anti-Seize Compound Work?

By preventing electrolysis, a chemical reaction generating an electrical current that passes between metal parts via rain, salt air or salt water.

The current causes the metal parts to release corrosion-causing oxides. The oxides made metals swell (think of rusted rebar cracking through concrete), corrode, rust and mechanically lock onto each other.

“Using anti-seize on parts and fasteners that experience extreme heating and cooling periods [aka thermal cycling], such as exhaust flanges, helps increase their lifespan,” Sutliff says. Alcaro also recommends using anti-seize on engine head bolts.

Types of Anti-Seize Compound

Different types of anti-seize compounds are used for specific applications.

  • Aluminum: Recommended by Alcaro, anti-seize compound is most often used on aluminum. It allows for easy part disassembly and assembly, including engine, exhaust, steering and suspension components. Don’t use with carbon steel.
  • Copper: Prevents seizing in high temperature conditions while providing good electrical conduction. Best used on exhaust bolts and flanges, oxygen sensors and fuel filter connectors. Don’t use with stainless steel.
  • Nickel: Recommended for use with stainless steel, titanium, nickel and other alloys. It protects metals under high pressure and temperatures, and where copper contamination should be avoided.
  • Molybdenum disulfide (aka moly): Contains no copper or aluminum, so it’s used under extreme pressure and temperature applications.

Is Brake Grease an Anti-Seize Compound?

No. Brake grease lacks the protective materials found in anti-seize compounds. Although anti-seize compound is commonly applied to contact areas between the brake caliber and the steering knuckle, don’t use anti-seize in place of brake grease.

Can I Use WD-40 Instead of Anti-Seize Compound?

No. WD-40 is different from anti-seize compound. WD-40 is a water-dispersant and lubricant that can remove rust, but it’s not intended to withstand high temperatures or pressures. Also, it can attract dirt and dust which can hold onto moisture, resulting in unwelcome corrosion and wear.

Can You Use Too Much Anti-Seize Compound?

Yes! Don’t slather anti-seize compound all over the place.

“Use anti-seize sparingly,” Alcaro says. “Apply a thin coat, just enough to fill the threads at the end of a bolt [not the entire length of the bolt] and especially under the bolt head.”

How Long Does Anti-Seize Compound Last?

Sutliff says seven years. I’ve seen it last even longer.

To extend the life of anti-seize products:

  • Clean the brush, glove (I like to use my finger to control the amount I’m applying) or tool before dipping it into a jar to prevent dirt or debris from contaminating the compound.
  • Tightly seal the cover to keep dust and moisture out and store in a cool, dry place.

Pro Tips for Using Anti-Seize Compound

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Wear eye protection and disposable gloves.
  • Choose the correct type anti-seize for your project.
  • Clean or repair nut, bolt and internal threads with a wire brush. Use a thread restorer if the threads are damaged. And clean with a degreaser to remove dirt and oil.
  • Compensate for anti-seize compound’s lubricating qualities by reducing torque 20% to 25%.
  • Carefully remove all corrosion and debris from mating surfaces to avoid part misalignment.
  • Wipe excess anti-seize compound to stop gunk build up.
  • According to NGH Spark Plugs, spark plugs plated with nickel or zinc offer protection against corrosion should be installed dry, without anti-seize compound. “Dabbing a small amount of copper anti-seize on spark plugs with black oxide threads [is fine],” Alcaro says.
  • Sutliff says Permatex doesn’t recommend using anti-seize on lug nuts due to its extremely low coefficient of friction.

Let’s get this straight: Is it “duct” tape or “duck” tape?

Believe it or not, historically, it’s the latter.

This fabric tape with its strong pressure-sensitive adhesive was developed during World War II as a waterproof (like a duck’s back!) fix-all for emergency repairs. Though it wasn’t recommended for mending metal ductwork, homeowners began using it that way when the war ended.

Manufacturers responded by making it gray to match galvanized steel, then rebranding it. That, according to the folks at Echotape, is how “duck” tape became “duct” tape.

Today, you can find seven kinds of duct tape, from general purpose to professional grade to a type of coated cloth tape called “Mission Tape” that helped save the lives of the Apollo 13 astronauts. They all have one thing in common: a sticky adhesive that leaves a hard-yet-gummy residue when you pull off the tape.

Removing this residue can be a headache. Josh Rudin, a home restoration pro, says when his company encounters taped ductwork, they “often just cut out that section and redo it according to code.” That isn’t always the best solution, obviously. So he described the ways he removes tape residue.

I also three other experts how they do it. Read on to learn what they said.

About the Experts

Joshua Rudin, a certified restorer, owns ASAP Restoration, LLC in Tempe, Arizona.

James King is the operations manager for DeluxeMaid, a home cleaning service in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Dela Gomasi is CEO and director of MaidForYou, a cleaning service in Sydney, Australia. He writes all the standard operating procedures for the company’s cleaning teams.

Rafi Friedman is the CEO of Coastal Luxury Outdoors, a pool building, construction and cleaning company based near Jacksonville, Florida.

Method 1: Dissolve It With a Solvent

Most of the experts agreed using a solvent is one of the best ways to dissolve duct tape residue. These include:

  • Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol: “For hard surfaces like glass, metal and hard plastics, rubbing alcohol on the residue is a highly effective,” says Friedman. “Simply apply it to a cloth or cotton ball and rub the sticky area until the residue comes off.” Don’t try this on painted surfaces, because rubbing alcohol can soften or dissolve paint.
  • Goof-Off Pro-Strength Remover: “This solvent is great for around the home tasks like this because it will take off the residue without damaging the materials you are trying to clean,” Rudin says. “This works on almost any surface that has duct tape residue on it.”
  • Olive oil or cooking oil: “Apply a small amount of oil to the residue and let it sit for a few minutes,” King says. “Gently rub the residue with a cloth to remove it.” This is not recommended for porous surfaces like bare wood or unsealed tile grout, because oil will stain it.
  • Soapy water: If you’re worried about staining, Friedman recommended this method. “For more sensitive surfaces, a solution of warm water and dish soap can soften the residue, making it easier to scrape off gently with a plastic scraper or a credit card,” he says.

Does WD-40 remove duct tape residue?

Yes, though none of the experts recommended WD-40. But I know it works, and I always keep a can in my car for this purpose.

Though it doesn’t leave stains, it probably shouldn’t be your first choice. Its a strong petroleum odor may bother people with sensitivity to volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Method 2: Heat It With a Hair Dryer

“We deal with a lot of removing adhesive residue, duct tape marks and other wall marks that have been left over from previous tenants of a home, where they have tried to hang photo frames and other ornaments,” Gomasi says. “Realtors are often surprised that we have managed to remove the adhesive, as they thought that it would be permanent.

“Our preferred method is to use a hair dryer on the lowest setting to melt the adhesive residue and then we wipe it away. We rinse and repeat until the adhesive has been removed.”

However, Gomasi cautioned against using a heat gun. “We find it ruins the paint,” he says.

Method 3 : Rub It Off With an Abrasive

When old tape residue turns hard, you can often rub it off easily from bare wood with 100-grit sandpaper. This won’t work as easily on soft, gummy residue, however, because it clogs up the sandpaper. And it isn’t good on painted surfaces, or surfaces you don’t want to scratch.

Rudin recommended a pumice stone in certain circumstances. “It’s best for cleaning mineral deposits off of glass and porcelain, but it can also be used to rub off the residue from duct tape effectively,” he said.

Use a Plastic Scraper

Whether you dissolve duct tape residue with a solvent or soften it with heat, you’ll still need to scrape it off. Don’t use a metal scraper or you’ll leave scratches. You can do as Friedman suggests and try a credit card. But if you’re like me and prefer to keep your credit cards in good condition, go with a plastic putty knife instead.

FAQs

What’s the easiest way to remove duct tape residue?

Lay fresh duct tape over it, then pull off the tape. The residue often comes with it. This doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s magic.

What causes duct tape residue?

The remnants of the pressure-sensitive adhesive that makes the tape stick. The adhesive is a blend of rubberized polymers that tend to harden over time, so residue becomes harder to remove the longer you leave the tape on the surface.

Can you prevent duct tape residue?

No. It’s almost impossible to avoid some residue from clinging to a surface. But the sooner you remove the tape, the less residue will remain.

Consumers love convenience. Is it smaller, easier, more efficient? Sign us up.

Doing the dishes got three seconds faster once we compacted detergent into a pod, because pods take the guesswork out of it. No mess, no measuring. But there’s one drawback: Sometimes dishwasher detergent pods don’t dissolve all the way.

If you eagerly embraced pods only to find gunky plastic film stuck in your detergent compartment, or a sad puddle of undissolved detergent in the bottom of your machine, we can help.

“Several factors can contribute to dishwasher pods not dissolving properly during a wash cycle,” says Alicia Sokolowski, president and co-CEO of AspenClean, which sells dishwasher detergent pods.

We talked to Sokolowski and dishwasher expert Haven Polich to learn why pods don’t dissolve, and what you can do about it.

About the Experts

Haven Polich is a product manager at Asko Appliances, a Scandinavian-inspired luxury kitchen and laundry appliance maker.

Alicia Sokolowski is the president and co-CEO of AspenClean, a maker of environmentally conscious and cruelty-free cleaning products, including dishwasher detergent pods.

7 Reasons Why Your Dishwasher Pods Are Not Dissolving

Pods are convenient, but if they don’t work, what’s the point? Here are some potential culprits:

Water temperature

“Dishwasher pods are designed to dissolve efficiently in hot water,” Sokolowski says.

Water coming into your dishwasher from the hot water supply is likely around 120 degrees, which prevents corrosion but isn’t hot enough to scald. Polich says dishwashers use a heating element to bump up that temperature as high as 160 degrees. So if that’s not happening — due to a faulty heating element, thermostat or even your home’s water heater — the pod may not dissolve.

Too-short cycle

Quick and eco-friendly cycles save water and time. Unfortunately, they could also be why your pods aren’t dissolving, Sokolowski says.

Though detergent pods can be used in all cycles, you might find there isn’t enough time for the pod to fully dissolve, depending on the specific quirks of your machine or water conditions.

Some short cycles use lower water temperatures, too, and may not provide enough heat to dissolve the pod completely, Sokolowski says — a double whammy.

Water flow

So, we know pods need heat to dissolve. They also need water. “Insufficient water flow or pressure in the dishwasher can prevent the pod from dissolving properly,” Sokolowski says.

If you’ve loaded your dishwasher the right way and nothing’s blocking water from reaching your detergent pod, it might be a mechanical problem. If water’s not circulating, Polich says, “it could be anything from a broken spray arm to a failing circulation pump.” Get it checked out by a certified technician. Or fix it yourself, if you’re handy.

Pod placement

If you’re still finding half-dissolved pods when the cycle’s over, make sure you’re putting the pod in the right place.

“Pods are typically designed to be placed in the detergent dispenser, or a designated compartment in the dishwasher,” Sokolowski says. Put the pod where you normally put the powder and liquid detergent, at least to start (we’ll troubleshoot more later).

Newer dishwasher? Look for a separate compartment specifically for pods. Follow the directions in your use and care manual for best results.

Hard water

Even the best dishwashers struggle against hard water. Polich says it’s important to keep your dishwasher clean and free of mineral buildup by running a self-clean or sanitize cycle periodically. Add a cup of vinegar to the bottom rack, or use a commercial descaler, especially in hard water areas.

Sokolowski says pods themselves can react with minerals in hard water, too, forming a film or buildup that prevents the pod from completely dissolving. Descaling your dishwasher makes pods dissolve better, Sokolowski says.

Detergent age or storage conditions

Dish detergent is shelf stable, but it’s important to use and store it correctly. “Dishwasher pods can lose effectiveness if they are old, or have been stored improperly,” Sokolowski says.

Close the box or inner sleeve to keep them dry between dishwasher cycles. Moisture can reduce the efficacy of the detergent, and cause the film or the detergent to dissolve too soon. If the pods fuse together, they’re staying that way.

Blocking the detergent compartment

Make sure you’re not blocking the detergent compartment by loading your dishwasher wrong, Polich says.

Cookie sheets, cutting boards and casseroles should go along the sides, tilting slightly inward and down toward the spray. Make sure the spray arm can freely spin. If larger items block the spray or movement of the arm, remove and wash by hand.

Don’t jam in every dish, either. “Always leave enough space for water to circulate freely around the dishes and detergent dispenser,” Sokolowski says.

What To Do When Your Dishwasher Pods Aren’t Dissolving

It’s often trial and error, depending on what’s going on. Here are some solutions to try:

  • Clean your dishwasher: Vinegar, citric acid and commercial descalers are good options.
  • Turn up the temperature: Change cycle settings from low to high heat.
  • Choose a longer cycle: Eco-friendly cycles may be too short for pods.
  • Fix broken parts: If you suspect water isn’t getting hot, or the dishwasher is malfunctioning, have it checked out.
  • Keep pods and compartment dry: Sticky pods or wet spots can gunk up the compartment, preventing full release.

FAQs

Is it better to use dishwasher pods, powder or liquid detergent?

It’s really up to you, according to the experts. “Dishwasher pods, powder and liquid detergent all have their own advantages and disadvantages,” Sokolowski says.

Pods are convenient. There’s no measuring, and no mess. Powder often has earth-friendly cardboard packaging, while liquid is easy to pour.

Can you throw dishwasher pods into the bottom of the dishwasher?

Yes, but read your use and care manual to see what’s recommended. Polich says this may be a solution if your pod’s not dissolving. But if you notice your dishes aren’t getting clean, you may have to investigate another option.

Walls, windows, floors and doors have a few things in common. First, they’re all surrounded by trim. And they’re also subject to daily wear and tear that can take a real toll on your home’s appearance. Think of trim as the framework that lets the rest of your home shine, almost like a framed piece of art.

“Trim borders everything and makes the whole space look cleaner,” says Todd Berry,  a pro painting project coordinator. That’s why homeowners should take care of trim showing obvious signs of damage.

Luckily, painting trim is something almost every homeowner can handle, according to Steve Hester, a painting company vice president. As long as the homeowner follows directions and takes their time to complete the task properly, he says, they’re more than capable of painting trim. Those who feel unsure of their ability and patience should reach out to a professional.

If you’re ready to take on a DIY trim painting project, read these 11 pro tips first.

About the Experts

Todd Berry is project coordinator at Emerald Painting in Kaneohe, Hawaii.

Steve Hester is the vice president of Hester Painting & Decorating, servicing the Chicago metropolitan area.

Nick Slavic is the owner of Nick Slavik Painting and Restoration Co. in New Prague, Minnesota. He has more than 25 years experience as a professional painter.

Take Proper Safety Precautions

If you’re not sure if the paint currently on your trim is lead-free, test it. “If the home was built prior to 1978,” Hester says, “you should follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules for lead paint safety.”

Once you know your trim paint is lead-free, you can paint it without worry.

Start By Washing the Trim

After basic floor and furniture protection and site prep to contain dust and odors, Slavic says, “We typically wash trim before sanding. Grease and grime on the trim can gum up sandpaper.”

Next, Sand the Trim

A person using sandpaper on a pipe

Berry says most homeowners can stick to 220-grit sandpaper. But if your trim is in really rough shape, start with 80-grit before moving on to 100-grit for smoothing and blending in the areas with layered paint. Then go over all the wood with 120 grit.

“Giving it a proper sanding will make sure the surface is smooth,” Berry says. That makes it easier to apply the paint evenly, which can cut down on the time to finish the project.

Properly Prime the Trim

“I’m a firm believer that trim should be primed first, then caulked,” Slavik says.

Hester says you should always prime raw surfaces before caulking or patching. Berry agrees, adding oil primer is the best choice for raw wood trim you’re likely to find in new builds.

“We prime everything, or do an adhesion test to determine if priming is needed,” Slavik says. “When trim painting fails, it usually fails with adhesion.” He also recommends oil-based primer.

Fill Any Holes and Dents

A person applying wood filler to fill holes in a pipe

To repair large dents or gouges on edges vulnerable to abuse, use a hardening-type two-part wood filler. You can purchase wood filler online, buy it at a home improvement or hardware store, or take a stab at making your own.

Fill smaller dents and holes with spackling compound. Because spackling compound shrinks as it dries, you’ll need a second and possibly a third coat.

After each coat, shine a light across the woodwork to highlight depressions and ensure you didn’t miss any spots. Once you’re satisfied, let the filler dry and sand it smooth.

Caulk to Avoid Gaps and Cracks

A person using caulk to fill gaps and cracks in a window

“If there are any cracks or nail holes, that’s when you’ll want to start caulking,” Berry says. “Sealing those cracks can protect your trim from things like water damage in the future and make the paint job last longer.”

Use latex (acrylic) caulk or a paintable latex/silicone blend. Make sure to cut the caulk tube tip carefully to create a tiny hole. Fill all the small cracks first. Then, if you have wider cracks, recut the tip to make a larger hole.

Move the gun swiftly along the cracks to avoid excess caulk buildup. If necessary, smooth the caulk with your fingertip. Keep a damp rag in your pocket to clean caulk from your finger and keep the tube tip from gumming up. If caulk piles up in corners, remove the excess with a flexible putty knife.

If you’ve never caulked before, follow these expert-approved tips.

Choose the Right Paint

Most pros prefer oil-based paint on trim for two reasons.

First, it doesn’t dry as fast as water-based paint, which gives you more time to brush. And oil-based paint levels out better than most water-based paints, leaving a smoother surface with few visible brush marks. But because water-based paint is more environmentally friendly, less stinky and easier to clean, it’s often a better choice for DIYers.

Berry says most homeowners he works with choose a gloss finish for their trim because it’s easier to clean. Hester recommends higher end products with a satin enamel or semi-gloss finish, particularly from Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams. Slavik notes he and his painters prefer water-based enamel because oil-based enamel isn’t readily available.

Paint From a Separate Bucket or Pail

Handy Paint Pail

Berry says it’s essential to work out of a different bucket or pail so you can easily bump or slap the brush against the side to remove excess paint. Paint gallon cans straight from the store are filled so close to the brim that it’s nearly impossible to do that.

Placing a small amount of paint in a pail also lets you easily load the bristles of the brush by dipping them about one inch into the paint. The extra control is essential when painting smaller areas like trim.

Use the Proper Brushstrokes to Paint Precisely

After years in the painting industry, Hester has one main suggestion for homeowners: Paint with precision.

“To keep paint from dripping or running on your trim, you need to put on an even coat of paint,” he says. “Don’t overload the brush with material. If there is a need for another coat, then add a second coat. Don’t try to make it cover in one coat because that can lead to runs.”

Start with cutting-in the edges

A peron painting edges of the wall

Cutting-in is a skill that takes practice to master, but it’s worth the effort.

To cut in, first load the brush. Then wipe off most of the excess paint by gently scraping the bristles on the edge of the paint bucket or pail.

Start by pulling the brush along the edge, but keep the bristles about 1/4-in. away from the wall or ceiling to deposit some paint on the wood. Now return with another brushstroke, this time a little closer. Sneaking up to the line like this is easier than trying to get it perfect on the first try.

At the end of the stroke, arc the brush away from the cut-in line. Cut in a few feet, then fill the middle using the lay-on, lay-off technique described in the next section.

Lay-on, lay-off technique

Painting a wall at home with a brush

To avoid visible brushstrokes, load your brush with paint, then quickly unload on the surface with a few back-and-forth brushstrokes. This is called “laying on” the paint. Repeat until you’ve covered a few feet of trim with paint. Don’t worry about how it looks yet.

Now, without reloading the brush, drag the tips of the bristles over the wet paint in one long stroke to “lay off” the paint.

Start in the unpainted area and drag into the previously painted trim. Sweep your brush up off the surface at the end of each stroke. Areas wider than your brush will require several parallel laying-off strokes to finish.

When you’re done laying off a section, move on and repeat the process, always working quickly to avoid brushing over partially dried paint. Try to complete shorter pieces of trim with a continuous laying-off brushstroke.

Don’t Brush Across an Edge

A person paints a the edges of a wall with a brush

Brushing across an edge wipes paint from the bristles and creates a heavy buildup that will run or drip. Avoid this by brushing toward edges whenever possible.

If you must start a brushstroke at an edge, align the bristles carefully as if you’re cutting-in, instead of wiping them against the edge. If you accidentally get a buildup of paint that could cause a run, spread it out right away with a dry paintbrush, or wipe it off with a damp rag or your finger.

Air Out the Area

Try to air out the space you’re painting between coats and when you’re finished. “If everything is closed up your home will smell like paint,” Berry says. “People with breathing issues or respiratory illnesses could be affected.”

Fhma24 Earthwise Electric Snow Shovel Sheri Kaz E 9459 02 Msedit

In a love/hate relationship with winter? Well, don’t let the thought of shoveling snow get you down. We found the right tool for the job. The Earthwise 16-inch Electric Corded Snow Shovel is so easy (and, dare we say, fun?) to use, that you’ll look forward to the next snowfall. While manual snow removal can be a chore, this miniature electric snow blower takes the exhaustion out of the equation. 

I’ve had my eye on electric snow shovels for a few years but wondered how well they actually worked, so I splurged on a cordless snow blower instead. It was a great solution for the driveway, but I still needed to shovel parts of my property by hand. Luckily, I got to try the Earthwise snow shovel and it’s undeniably 100 times better and faster than using an old school shovel. Here’s why you’ll love it, too.

What is the Earthwise Snow Shovel?

Imagine a pint-sized snow blower that clears snow without you doing the heavy lifting. The Earthwise SN70016 snow shovel we tested is a wheeled 16-inch snow shovel that runs on electricity. This 14-pound machine is lightweight, compact and portable. As a result, it clears snow from those awkward or tight places that a big traditional snowblower can’t. The Earthwise snow shovel moves an impressive 430 pounds of snow per minute and makes quick work of blowing snow up to 8 inches deep. 

Plug it into an outdoor extension cord and save your back. It’s ready when you are. No more fumes, gas or waiting for a battery to charge. The 6-inch rear wheels provide a base to keep this snow shovel upright (unlike other electric snow shovels), offering stability and ease of use. 

This tool is especially helpful for anyone who needs to shovel a deck or porch with stairs. It’s light enough to pick up and carry or push from place to place with very little effort.

Earthwise Sn70016 Electric Corded 12amp Snow Shovel Ecomm Via Amazon.com VIA MERCHANT

We Tried It

Earthwise Electric Snow Shovel

The Earthwise 16-inch, 12-amp corded snow shovel is great for clearing sidewalk paths, decks and driveways.

Earthwise Snow Shovel Features

One of the things I love most about the Earthwise 16-inch corded snow shovel is the directional output that allows you to throw the snow where you want it. The big directional knob at the base of the unit adjusts the throwing angle left, right or center. The lever is easy to reach and large enough to operate with mittens. And because the shovel stands upright, you don’t have to struggle to make adjustments. I tested seven electric snow shovels and the few that had a directional chute had small sticky adjustment dials that were prone to icing up. The user-friendly large directional knob makes the Earthwise snow shovel the best choice for people with bad backs or mobility issues. In addition to the trigger handle, the Earthwise shovel has an auxiliary handle that easily adjusts for height, comfort and handling. 

Depending on the consistency of the snow, this powerful 12-amp shovel is capable of blowing snow up to 30 feet out of your way. The dual-curved plastic auger is surprisingly effective in icy or packed snow. It chews it up and spits it out with ease! 

How We Tested It

Earthwise Electric Snow Shovel cleaning marble floor

I received the Earthwise corded snow shovel several weeks before our first snowfall, which was wet and slushy. The machine required some assembly with a handful of screws and bolts, including attaching the wheels. When I accomplished that task, I was ready!

My back patio has uneven crumbling pavers, the space is tight and requires hand shoveling, mainly because my cordless snowblower gets hung up on the uneven surface. So I was excited to have a better tool to help me with the taxing drudgery of shoveling. Admittedly this is a challenging space to try out a new tool, but I was careful not to get too close to the surface that likely had random gravel, debris or hidden sticks. Luckily, the wheels on the Earthwise shovel make the auger easy to tilt up when the ground isn’t completely flat or smooth. 

The first snow was very wet, with an inch of accumulation, so this wasn’t the optimal test, but I’m pleased to report that the Earthwise was able to move the slush. The machine surprised me with how far it hurled the soupy snow. The deeper the snow, the further it flew.

Heavy, Wet Snow

Earthwise Electric Snow Shovel cleaning the path way

Naturally, I had more opportunities to use the Earthwise snow shovel with different types of snow. When we received 18 inches of heavy wet snow in 24 hours, I used the Earthwise multiple times to clear my patio and front porch area, and I had the opportunity to test it against other powered shovels on a variety of terrain. It pushed through 6 inches of heavy snow, although it struggled a little more and was slower than blowing away the same amount of fluffy stuff. 

Of course, the driveway was the least challenging of all. There I was able to control the Earthwise with one hand, as easy as pushing a vacuum cleaner, and used my free hand to control the cord. 

As a final test, I tried using it on the grass to shovel a path for my little dog, but the snow was already at least 8 inches deep and the wheels dug in, making it harder to maneuver than the other shovels I tested. Aside from that difficult task, I enjoyed using the Earthwise snow shovel and found it highly effective in turning a strenuous chore into a quick and easy task. 

From slushy and wet to ice-glazed to powder snow, the Earthwise made my life so much easier. It took a fraction of the time to let this tool shovel my snow compared to digging it out manually, plus it was gentle on my back, wrists and shoulders. 

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Stands upright without assistance
  • Push-button start
  • No-hassle corded operation
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Ergonomic design
  • Powerful 12-amp motor throws 430 pounds of snow per minute
  • Adjustable throwing direction with a large user-friendly lever
  • 2-year warranty

Cons

  • Ear protection needed
  • Assembly required
  • Tethered by a cord

FAQ

A woman assembling the Earthwise Electric Snow Shovel

How do you assemble an Earthwise snow shovel?

The 16-inch Earthwise corded snow shovel requires nothing but the time to read the directions and attach the parts. I’ll admit that I’m not naturally mechanically inclined and assembly of anything has never been easy for me, so when I opened the box and laid out the parts, I panicked. Laying before me were 11 screws and bolts of varying lengths, two wheels, an axel, some handles, plastic-covered wing nuts, the base of the machine and a folding handle that housed the wiring. 

However, I’ve found that patience is my best tool when tackling an assembly project. I gathered my screwdrivers, turned on some tunes, grabbed a cup of coffee, read the directions and took it one step at a time. 

To assemble the Earthwise snow shovel, first line up the main handle, snap it together and secure it with the bolt. Next, plug the long handle into the base unit that houses the motor and auger. Then secure the two pieces with four more Phillips head screws. After that, screw in the auger directional knob. Then it’s time to mount the wheels to the bracket and secure the bracket to the machine. Lastly, attach the auxiliary handle and it’s ready to roll.

Overall it took me an hour and a half, but I’m a novice at assembly. To my credit, other users have mentioned that the directions aren’t especially user-friendly. Although it took more adept users only 20 minutes to assemble.

What is the best kind of snow shovel to buy?

The best shovel to buy is the one that does the heavy lifting for you. An electric snow shovel, whether it’s battery-powered or corded, will be the easiest way to remove snow. We tested seven electric snow shovels and everyone who tried them agreed that a power shovel was much easier to use than a conventional manual shovel.

Who makes the best battery-operated snow shovel?

I tested four battery-powered snow shovels and found them all to work well. If you’re looking for a beast, the Ego Power+ Multi-Head Snow Shovel Kit proved to be a heavy-duty workhorse, whereas the Snow Joe Cordless Snow Shovel is a solid choice with plenty of power, an affordable price and a lighter body. 

Are battery operated snow shovels worth it?

Yes, cordless and corded snow shovels are worth every penny if they take the backbreaking labor out of snow removal. The only downside to a battery-operated snow shovel is the run time of the battery. If you have a large area with heavy snow and run out of power, you may need to wait for hours for your battery to recharge. Whereas a corded snow shovel is ready whenever Mother Nature strikes. Corded units generally weigh less and will not be as fatiguing to maneuver. The beauty of a cordless snow shovel is that you aren’t tethered by a cord. So if you like to routinely shovel your neighbor’s walk, you’ll appreciate the freedom of a battery-operated snow shovel. Either way, you’ll spend less effort and time cleaning up the neighborhood. 

What Other Reviewers Had to Say

The Earthwise electric snow shovel exceeds many customers’ expectations. Amazon customer William Grieszmer writes this five-star review: “Easy to assemble (20 minutes) and does a very good job of throwing the sidewalk snow on my city sidewalks. Works well to clean up down to minimal thickness, but is not intended to absolutely clean the sidewalk, additional scraping or treatment would be needed. However, this power shovel does a great job for which it was intended. Much lighter and maneuverable than even the smallest electric classic snowblower. I am very satisfied with the product.”

Another Amazon customer, Kristin asks, “Where was this 30 years ago?” She writes, “I have been doing snow removal for 35 years. Central Pennsylvania, wooded area. When we do have snow, it can be exhausting when you do not have machines to do the work for you. The decks and pressed concrete cannot have ‘metal’ that scrapes, so this ‘shovel’ is a major plus. Due to horrendous spine and joint issues, not to mention a hip replacement, this thing made it so much more comfortable to do snow removal. Hope it lasts forever!”

Jeffrey N. Gawne shares, “This was an easy-to-assemble, powerful little snow thrower! I used it this past winter for my decks and sidewalks. There are times that I don’t want to get the walk-behind snowblower out. This is directional, so you have the option to throw snow from about 45 degrees left to 45 degrees right. It made it through the winter with flying colors. You will want to be careful around the kids, pets, etc.; the whirling plastic blades are like a woodchipper out front, so be careful with deck posts. I bought one with a cord, so I wouldn’t have to worry about batteries running down. This is worth the money, in my opinion.”

Product Comparison

If you have stairs to shovel, the Earthwise Electric 12-inch Corded Snow Shovel is a convenient option to consider, because it lacks the wheels and is narrower than the 16-inch wheeled Earthwise. The 12-inch shovel is suitable for up to 5 inches of snow and moves 300 pounds per minute with a 10-amp motor. It’s not as powerful as the 16-inch version, but if you want a smaller tool that will tuck away in a closet, this may be the right choice for you.

Earthwise also offers cordless snow shovels and snow blowers. The Earthwise SN74016 Cordless snow shovel is similar to the corded version with a 16-inch clearing width and 8-inch clearing depth with 6-inch wheels and dual blade auger. And because it’s cordless, the advantage is greater mobility. Be aware that the cordless model is 5 pounds heavier and requires a battery and charger.

Final Verdict

A woman cleaning snow with Earthwise Electric Snow Shovel

The Earthwise snow shovel will absolutely make your life easier. I’ll let the machine lift 430 pounds of snow per minute any day rather than relying on my aching back. Plus this tool saves so much time. Heading out the door for work in the morning means I don’t have to get up two hours earlier to clear the snow before it freezes for life. Talk about easy to operate and maneuver. Removing snow has never been easier.  

I love the stability of this machine. It stands upright, unlike many other electric snow shovels. Plus, it’s easy to stop and start. You can move the cord or change the angle of the output without bending over to pick it up off the ground (again). I highly recommend this shovel, especially for seniors or people struggling to lift a heavy load. The only hard part is keeping a grip on the trigger.  

For a medium-duty snow thrower, the power and durability of this machine seems substantial, while staying on the light side. The auger slices through chunky snow impressively well and I’ve never had issues with clogging or overloading the motor. Unlike a large snow blower, I didn’t experience vibration.

I don’t expect this snow shovel to last forever since it’s mostly made of plastic, but Earthwise offers a two-year warranty and replacement parts when the scraper blade or belts wear out. 

I wish I had invested in an electric snow shovel years ago. Even though I own a snowblower, this handy snow removal tool goes places my snowblower can’t. The cord is a little cumbersome, but the featherweight and stable design is worth the hassle. For under $125, it’s way more affordable than multiple trips to the chiropractor.

Where to Buy the Earthwise Snow Shovel

Earthwise Sn70016 Electric Corded 12amp Snow Shovel VIA MERCHANT

We Tried It

Earthwise Snow Shovel

This powerful snow shovel can tackle any snow job around the house. Once plugged in, this snow thrower is ready to go to work.

Why break your back shoveling when the Earthwise snow shovel can do the heavy lifting for you? This 14-pound machine goes places a traditional snowblower can’t—at a fraction of the cost. The Earthwise sells out fast, so grab yours today on Amazon. Then clear your deck, patio or sidewalk of slushy, heavy or powdery snow.

In the last few months, I’ve tested more than your average amount of vacuums—Bissell vacuums in particular. I’ve become quite partial to the brand’s cleaning solutions, from the upright carpet cleaners to the pet stain erasers. Bissell’s best carpet cleaners can clean anything from upholstery to pet stains, so I was eager to try the Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One that claims to vacuum and mop at the same time for a more efficient clean. Read on for my full Bissell SpinWave review.

What is the Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One?

Bissell Spinwave + Vac

The newest model in Bissell’s highly-reviewed SpinWave line puts everything you need to keep your floors clean in one easy-to-use machine. It’s ideal for kitchens and bathrooms, and suitable for any sealed hard surface, including tile, linoleum, laminate and vinyl—you can even use it to clean hardwood floors!

On heavy cleaning days, use the Bissell SpinWave to vacuum and mop floors simultaneously, cutting your cleaning time in half. For smaller messes or regular maintenance, use the vacuum mode and mop mode independently. Using cyclonic suction, it easily pulls dirt up off the floor, and sucks up stubborn pet hair without clogging. In mop mode, it uses two spinning microfiber scrubbing pads to scour the floor, eliminating the need to get on your hands and knees to scrub out stains. It’s cordless, too, making it easy to use wherever you need it without the hassle of finding an outlet or tripping over cords.

We Tried It

Bissell SpinWave + Vac

This all-in-one cordless cleaner lets you vacuum, mop or do both at the same time for a more efficient way to clean sealed hard floors.

Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One Features

Bissell Spinwave + Vac

The Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One offers three cleaning modes: dry vacuuming, wet mopping and dual-action vac/mop. It comes with a set of textured microfiber pads meant for scrubbing floors, a set of soft microfiber pads for routine mopping, an A/C adapter cord for charging, a storage tray and one 8-ounce bottle of Hard Floor Sanitize Formula so you can get cleaning right away.

This lightweight cleaning machine is cordless, running on a 25.9V lithium-ion battery that takes three hours to fully charge. Once the battery is at 100%, you can either vacuum or vacuum/mop for 20 minutes. If you’re only using the SpinWave in mop mode, a full charge gives you 70 minutes of cleaning time.

One of the most impressive features of the Bissell SpinWave vac/mop is its ability to get nearly every inch of the floor clean without much hassle. Adjust it to lay almost flat to get beneath furniture and other spaces less than 6 inches high. Maneuvering around objects is a breeze thanks to SpinWave’s swivel action, and its 90-degree edge cleaning design makes it possible to both vacuum and mop the room’s edges.

Bissell makes it as easy to clean this machine as it does the floor. Just toss both sets of microfiber pads in the washing machine. A push of a button removes and empties the dry dirt tank.

How We Tested It

Bissell Spinwave + Vac

The first order of business after unboxing my Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One was charging it up, which was outstandingly simple. This vac/mop combo uses a standard A/C adapter to charge, and the port to plug it in is toward the top of the unit, so I didn’t have to struggle or bend to find it. Even though I’m using the included A/C adapter, I appreciate the fact that if it gets damaged or mysteriously goes missing (a constant possibility when one lives with teenage boys), I can use another one of the many A/C adapters I own to charge it and get cleaning.

Two Weeks of Mess

To get the truest sense of how an appliance performs, it needs to be tested in real-world conditions. As painful as it was, I resisted cleaning my apartment floors for two weeks, letting my kids and cats have their way with it. By then, I had a floor covered in dirty shoe prints, traces of cat litter, traces of poorly cleaned spills, random bits of cat food and colossal dust bunnies. It was utterly terrible to live with, but if the Bissell SpinWave was able to tackle it, I’d know it was a machine worth recommending. I filled the water tank, added a few tablespoons of the included Bissell cleaning fluid and stuck on the velcro-backed scrubbing pads.

After pulling my furniture away from the walls and picking up any errant dirty socks (again, I have teenage boys), I was ready to test. Fully charged, I had only 20 minutes to tackle my dirty floors, but the entire reason to buy the Bissell SpinWave is to thoroughly clean in less time. If it couldn’t get the job done in that amount of time, I’d consider it a failure.

Vac/Mop Mode

I chose not to use vacuum-only or mop-only mode and instead cleaned the entire room with the vac/mop setting, as the ability to do both things simultaneously is the main selling point of this cleaning machine. I was worried about how it would handle bits of cat food with damp, spinning mop pads, but thankfully it sucked them up into the dry dirt container without turning them into mush.

However, cleaning cat kibble taught me an important lesson about usage. When vacuuming large pieces of debris, you need to adjust your aim to line them up with the center of the machine’s head. Anything in the center will get sucked up and anything off to the sides will get flung across the floor. Fortunately, the spinning mop discs don’t fling them far, so I was able to get everything cleaned up without pulling out my broom. Still, there’s a small learning curve when navigating the vacuum across a dirty floor.

Running the Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One against the wall, I can confirm that it does a marvelous job of true edge-to-edge cleaning. The spinning pads not only effectively mop, but they’re able to draw out pet stains and dust bunnies that have stubbornly wedged themselves into creases and crevices.

Powered Spin-Mop

When I approached stuck-on stains, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Bissell SpinWave performed. It didn’t get them spotlessly clean with a single pass, but leaving the rotating pads on top of the spots for a few seconds did the job. Light spots took less than 10 seconds to remove, while more heavily soiled spots took a few tries. At least I didn’t have to get on my hands and knees and scrub.

I covered my entire open-concept kitchen/living area, which is about 350 square feet, in about five minutes. Since the Bissell SpinWave doesn’t overload its cleaning pads with water, it took almost no time for the floor to dry. Though it was free of debris, stains and mysterious patches of floor gunk, it wasn’t sparkling. It left behind streaks, meaning that my floors hadn’t gotten 100% clean. However, I did let my floors become excessively filthy before I conducted my first test, so while the Bissell SpinWave didn’t do a perfect job, it did a respectable one.

Lay-Flat Feature

Two days later, I cleaned my somewhat clean floors again, this time using the soft mopping pads. This time, I had no issues with streaks, as there wasn’t as much dirt or grime for the machine to spread around. I used Bissell’s lay-flat feature to get beneath furniture. At about 6 inches high when in a fully horizontal position, it was too bulky to get completely beneath my couch or chairs, but perfectly adept at cleaning beneath tables and television consoles.

The thing that impressed me the most about the Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One is how easy it is to navigate around the room. Its swivel action lets it glide around objects, while the rotating mop pads that jut out from the machine’s sides coax out hidden dirt. When I brought it into the bathroom, it easily cleaned around the entire base of the toilet and sink and got the whole room clean in less than a minute.

Pros

  • Simultaneously mops and vacuums
  • Can be used in vacuum-only or mop-only modes
  • Vacuum uses high-powered cyclonic suction
  • Lightweight
  • Cordless
  • Spin mop has 70 minutes of runtime when fully charged
  • Less than 6-inches tall when laid flat
  • Cleans to the floor’s edge
  • Removable machine-washable mop pads
  • Easy-to-remove dirt chamber
  • Two-year warranty

Cons

  • Vacuum has only 20 minutes of runtime when used in vac/mop or vacuum-only mode

FAQ

Bissell Spinwave + Vac

Where does the dirty water go on the Bissell SpinWave?

The Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One is a vacuum/mop combo, which is not the same thing as a wet/dry or steam/dry vacuum. A wet/dry vacuum suctions large amounts of water. A steam/dry vacuum, like the Bissell Crosswave Hydrosteam, deposits pressurized water to deep clean before sucking it back up into a dirty water tank. The Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One dispenses small quantities of cleaning solution to be spread out and re-absorbed by the spinning microfiber pads. Once you’re done mopping, any moisture left on the floor will evaporate in minutes.

Can I use vinegar in my Bissell Spinwave?

It is not recommended to use vinegar in the Bissell SpinWave, as the acidity can permanently damage the machine’s rubber seals. The company also says to avoid homemade cleaning solutions, as it’s unknown how the components will react to the machine’s mechanisms. For best results, and to prevent voiding the warranty, use Bissell MultiSurface Floor Cleaning Formula in your SpinWave.

Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One vs Shark Vac Mop

The Bissell SpinWave vac/mop cleans floors almost the same way the popular Shark VacMop does, but with several key differences. Upon first glance, the most obvious difference is the price. The Bissell costs around $200, while the $70 Shark is nearly one-third of the price. But, as always, you get what you pay for. Though the Shark VacMop is well-reviewed, it’s not nearly as powerful, durable, versatile or eco-friendly as the SpinWave. It doesn’t have the smooth maneuverability of the Bissell, nor can it lay flat. But the biggest difference is that the Shark VacMop uses pricey disposable pads to clean the floors, which need to be replaced after every use. The Bissell SpinWave’s pads, on the other hand, are machine washable, making them better for the environment, and ultimately better for your wallet.

Final Verdict

Bissell Spinwave + Vac

While you might want to consider the Bissell Revolution HydroSteam for deep cleaning, the Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One does an incredible job of keeping floors clean throughout the week. Truth be told, if you’re using this machine regularly, you won’t have to worry about deep cleaning anytime soon, if ever.

Where to Buy the Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One

We Tried It

Bissell SpinWave + Vac

The SpinWave has a powerful suction and a lay-flat design for hard-to-reach places. Vacuum to the room's edge with swivel action, and mop with spinning scrubbing pads.

You can purchase the Bissell SpinWave + Vac All-in-One directly from the Bissell website or on Amazon or Wayfair for around $200.