How To: Keeping sliding trash bins enclosed in cabinets

QWe have a kitchen cabinet that houses two trash bins that slide out on a metal-sided drawer. We had all the cabinets redone about five years ago. But the cabinet housing the trash cans has taken to sliding out, and it no longer aligns flush to the cabinet facing. It hangs out 1 or 1½ inches. The parts all appear fine. Is there a simple way to get the cabinet to stay shut? Perhaps something that pulls the sliding bins back?

Vienna

AIt’s possible that the slide mechanism has bent and needs to be replaced. Or the solution could be as simple as cleaning away spattered food or retightening a screw that holds the slide mechanism to the cabinet wall.

To investigate, set the trash cans aside and then remove the metal-sided drawer. If the metal drawer sides double as part of the slide mechanism, you might just need to lift up on the drawer front. Or, if the slide mechanism is screwed to the drawer, there might be a tab on each side that you can push up or down to release the drawer. Often, the tab on one side moves up and the one on the other goes down. With a flashlight, check for obstructions inside the cabinet and make sure all of the attachment screws are fully seated and flush. With a small level, check whether the slide is perfectly horizontal. If it tilts downhill toward the front, you might be able to loosen a few screws and raise the front of the slide. Also inspect the slide mechanism attached to the drawer and clean it, if necessary. Look for the slide manufacturer’s name and call the company’s technical help line if the drawer still doesn’t work properly once you reinstall it.

If all else fails, replace the slides. Expect to pay about $30 for good-quality, full-extension slides rated to carry at least 100 pounds without warping. If the drawer sides double as part of the slide mechanism, you might need to replace both the slides and the drawer using a kit. Wurth Wood Group in Richmond (804-359-1374) sells parts for 20-inch-deep drawers rated for 100 pounds for about $25. Or, if you discover that the trash bin moves on a track mounted to the floor or the bottom of the cabinet, you might want a floor-mounted system sold by Rockler for about $25 to $30, depending on whether you get the 18-inch or 21-inch depths.

Where can I find room air fresheners that will absorb odors and mustiness without leaving a fragrance?

Reston

The best cure for persistent odor and mustiness is better ventilation and moisture control. If you’re dealing with a small space, such as a closet, try emptying out clutter and leaving the door ajar, assuming the door is solid. If that works but you would rather keep the door closed, consider installing a louvered door instead. You can also try hanging activated charcoal in mesh bags within the closet. Look in the closet aisle of a hardware store or home center, or make your own using nylon mesh and activated charcoal, sold in some home and garden stores and in the fish department of pet stores. Or just leave the charcoal in a small bucket in a corner. You can even substitute charcoal used for barbecuing, but it isn’t as effective as the activated type. A third option: Use a moisture-absorbing product, such as DampRid (in its “No Scent” form).

For larger spaces, adapt the same approaches but in ways that have bigger impact. If one room is musty, try switching on a small fan, perhaps on a timer so it runs for just a short time each day when the breeze won’t be bothersome. In a basement, leave out several bucketfuls of charcoal. Or hook up a dehumidifier.

If what you’re dealing with isn’t general mustiness but a wish to do away with specific scents, consider adding a filter padded with activated charcoal to your home’s HVAC unit. (Ask the company that services your equipment about this.) Or you can get a portable air purifier with an activated carbon filter. (If it has a HEPA air filter, it will also capture fine particles in the air.)

Want something you can just mist into the air for those occasional unpleasant smells? Mix a teaspoon baking soda, a tablespoon white vinegar and two cups of water, and put it in a spray bottle. Don’t overdo this, though, or you’ll find a white haze left behind. If you read deep into the reviews of virtually any commercial fragrance-free air freshener, you’ll find that residue is a common problem with them, too.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in January, such as making a home inventory.

 
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