The Dryerbox saves space in the laundry room

If you have very little space in your laundry room and every inch is precious, you may want to check out the Dryerbox. The Dryerbox “safely and efficiently collects the flex transition hose, allowing the dryer to be installed flush against the wall.”

It also helps to lower energy costs by eliminating the bends in the flex exhaust hose providing for better, less restrictive airflow. Minimizing the bends saves energy costs and reduces the fire hazard caused by lint buildup. Check out the before and after photos below. (The after shot obviously doesn’t show the dryer flush against the wall or you wouldn’t be able to see the Dryerbox set up.)

Before:

Dryerbox Before

After:

Dryerbox After

Wrap Wars: A New Hope

For a little while now I’ve had a note to myself to write a post on gift wrap clutter. Now I see that Erin has written an exhaustive entry with every solution imaginable. As these things tend to do, it sparked quite a bit of debate in the comments section.

So, being the resident insane minimalist, I thought I’d share a passage about wrapping paper from our good friend Peter Walsh’s book, It’s All Too Much,

There is a simple and elegant way to manage the wrapping of gifts. Remember this principle: More is not necessarily better! Purchase a roll of good quality brown paper and high quality ribbons of three colors–black, red, and white. Wrap all your gifts in this simple brown paper and decorate with any selection of the ribbons. Brown paper too dull for you? Use the same approach selecting your “signature” color.

Now, keep in mind this is advice from a guy clearly on the anti-wrapping side. “I am at a loss to understand when wrapping paper became such a national obsession,” he writes. For those of you who really love wrapping paper, brown paper won’t do. But it’s great for those of us who are always looking for the shortest distance between two points.

Workspace of the Week: Cable basket

This week’s Workspace of the Week is not really a workspace, but a really good idea belizardi added to our flickr pool.

Charging Station

He explains: “This is my charging basket. I took an old basket we had in the basement and drilled a hole in the back to fish the wires through. Cell phone goes here when it needs a charge for the weekend and my iPods plug in where they sync and charge.” Very cool.

Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.

Make it easy for loved ones

Reader Mary wrote in to share here experience with inherited clutter and how her mom made it easy for her. Her advice is too good not to share.

My mom was the ultimate minimalist and she constantly told us not to worry about getting rid of any of her things after her death. It was a precious gift to me (who has tendencies to be a sentimental packrat.) I had no idea that I would feel like I was burying her all over again every time I came upon something that had been hers (and it can be the strangest stuff – one time it was some old gift wrap paper I had bought from a yard sale she held.) I’d hold up the old, now useless item and hear her words – “it’s okay to throw out anything of mine that you can’t use.” I’d feel terrible for a minute, but the weight of the world was gone as soon as that stuff hit the trash can. So give your kids that gift … start telling them now. Her memories live on without all that baggage and weight.

What to do with old letters

My wife and I have been together since high school. Yes, we’re high school sweethearts and we’ve now been with each other for more than half our lives. Over the years, we wrote each other quite a few letters. My wife studied in France for two semesters and we attended colleges that were quite far from each other. And, this all took place before e-mail had become popular.

We recently came across two shoe boxes full of old letters we wrote to each other during our college years and we were at a loss as to what to do with all of them. Most of them are quite silly and pointless, but there are some letters that actually convey some long distance heartache. So, rather than pitching all of them in the garbage, we went through quite a few of them and tried to narrow down the collection to something more reasonable. After a quick scan of hundreds of letters, we pared the collection to a much more reasonable collection of twenty. Now, instead of two shoe boxes full, we have all twenty wrapped into a little bundle with ribbon. My wife made them look very nice and now our daughter can eventually read these letters when she is older (a lot older in some cases).

We also considered scanning some of the letters, but my wife decided against that. For those of you who have a ton of old letters in your possession, you may want to think about getting rid of the majority of your collection. Surely they aren’t all gems.

Record your uncluttering activities

JournalKeeping a blog, digital photography journal, or a written journal detailing your uncluttering efforts can be a great way to stay on track with your organization efforts. Whether you’re trying to get things organized in your home or office, recording your improvements can be a worthwhile endeavor. For one thing, if you start to slip in your routines, it is good to have an outlet where you can review what you have already done.

Keeping a record of your improvements also can be fun. Think about weighing the clutter you remove from your home and keeping a “pounds lost” list. Write goofy poems about the things you find (“Ode to the single sock”). Video the transformation and then edit it into a 30 second speed film.

Uncluttering can be fun and stress relieving, and recording your success is a great way to stay on track with your progress.

Save on Leopard for your Mac

We know that a good proportion of our daily readers are Mac users, so we thought that we would pass along the following savings advice. Amazon has cut the pre-order price of the Leopard operating system, scheduled for shipping on October 26, from $129 to $109 for single-users. Additionally, the pre-order rate comes with free shipping and a lowest price guarantee: “Order now and if the Amazon.com price decreases between your order time and release date, you’ll receive the lowest price.”

You can pre-order Leopard here.

Leopard looks to be a faster option than Tiger, and it comes with the clutter-alleviating program Spaces. Spaces allows users to group “application windows and banish clutter completely. Leopard gives you a space for everything and makes it easy to switch between your spaces.”

Pitter patter, Leopard. Pitter patter.

Microwave Drawer frees countertops of clutter

Our appreciation goes out to Apartment Therapy for directing us to this item:

Microwave Drawer

Sharp has introduced a new Microwave Drawer, which sits below the countertop instead of above or on it.

The angled touch controls are convenient and easy to use. In addition, there is no need to remove the dish from the oven to check, stir, or turn the food. For even greater convenience, a gentle pull on the handle opens the Microwave Drawer Oven automatically. Just push it gently and it closes automatically, too.

It is 24″ wide and has space to hold a 9″ x 13″ dish. This below counter microwave would be perfect for installation in a bar or kitchen island. Apartment Therapy reports that units sell for around $800. The drawer concept is certain to be a new trend, especially in homes where keeping countertops clear is a priority.

Unitasker Wednesday: Heated lotion dispenser

Lotion Warmer

How many times have you cursed the ice cold lotion that you apply to your hands? I can honestly say I have never done such a thing, but that’s just me. Conair must believe that a lot of people are sick and tired of using ice cold lotions so they created the Heated Lotion Dispenser.

Now applying lotion to your body is no longer torture. You will now welcome the warmth of the electrically heated lotion. All you have to do is plug in the Conair Heated Lotion Dispenser and in two minutes you have warm buttery lotion to apply to your hands and skin. Features include:

  • Works with your favorite hand or body lotion
  • Heat works synergistically as lotion dispenses
  • Reservoir is removable and dishwasher safe
  • 1 hour auto shutoff
  • 2 Minute heat-up time
  • Variable temperature control
  • 6′ line cord

Now, all you need to do is plug this little thing in and enjoy the nice relaxing warmth of the lotion on your skin. Don’t thank me, thank Conair.

(Thanks to our reader Valerie for the suggested Unitasker.)

** Unitasker Wednesday posts humorously poke fun at the single-use items that seem to find their way into our homes.

GPS buying tips

If you travel in your car quite a bit you probably already have a GPS system, but if you are considering one you may want to do a little research as to what you really need. GPS systems can be quite expensive and you may be overpaying for bells and whistles that you will never use.

CNET has a some tips for GPS systems highlighting what you need to consider.

…you pay a price for the convenience of a built-in navi system. For instance, the Dodge Magnum SRT8’s navigation system is an $1,870 option. Compare that to the color, touchscreen TomTom One, which comes preloaded with maps of the U.S. and Canada for $299.

Besides the cost factor, the portable nature of aftermarket navigation units means that you can take them with you on vacation and stick them in your rental car, where you’re most likely to need them. In addition, hard drive or Flash-based aftermarket units tend to have more detailed and up-to-date maps than DVD-based factory systems, since new updates can be easily downloaded from your computer.

If a GPS system is something you may be interested in, you can say goodbye to that gigantic road atlas and trim down on your car clutter with a tiny after market GPS system or built-in system.

Save money and help the environment

Kill-a-WattToday is Blog Action Day and this year’s theme is the Environment. We figured we would use this as an opportunity to explore a few ways you can reduce your home energy consumption and save money at the same time:

  • The Kill-a-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor can help you figure out how much energy is being consumed by the appliances and gadgets in your home. The unit’s LCD display indicates the number of killowatt-hours used by anything plugged into it. This information can help you determine whether it makes sense to replace the devices you already own with newer and more energy-efficient versions.
  • Most people don’t realize that some electrical devices draw current even when they are not being used. The Kill-a-Watt will also help you identify what devices you should be unplugging when not in use. When it’s time to replace that aging television, opt for an LCD model over plasma. LCD units consume much less electricity. They also don’t have problems with burn-in, which means they’re also likely to last longer.
  • Most people are already hip to the benefits of compact fluorescent lightbulbs. If you’re not concerned with having a little less illumination, you can go a step further and invest in LED lightbulbs which use far less electricity and last far longer than even compact fluorescent bulbs. Yes, they are expensive, but they will pay for themselves over their 10-year life-span.
  • Clean your refrigerator coils periodically. Doing so can dramatically improve the efficiency of your refrigerator. If you don’t have a suitable vacuum cleaner attachment, you can buy a specialized brush that’s up to the task.
  • Programmable thermostats allow you to automatically change the temperature of your house when nobody is home, which can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Do you have any energy-saving tips? If so, please share them with other readers in the comments section below.