Aaron Wluka's Blog
You recently purchased a home, and as a new homeowner, you’re itching to get moved into your new kitchen so you can get settled and start entertaining. Wait! Before you get caught up organizing your pots and pans, do a little preventative care. If you want a kitchen you can entertain in hassle-free, take the time to do these things.
Whether you purchased new construction or an adorable 1920s bungalow, you need to deep clean. Either hire a reputable company, or take on the task yourself, but do it. Clean all the cabinets high and low, doors, knobs, any framing, behind and under all appliances that may have come with the house.
Next to tackle the sink hardware. Clean the faucet, remove calcium build up and run drain cleaner to preventatively tackle any clogs hidden just under the surface.
If your home came with an oven and dishwasher, use the self-clean settings they have and clean them yourself after. Starting with a fresh, clean slate will ensure your kitchen stays in good shape with just a little ongoing maintenance.
Test and Clean Your Hardware
Check that all cabinet doorknobs and drawer pulls are properly attached. Make sure that all your drawer tracks align and slide in and out well. Ensure that all hinges are tight and squared.
Check your countertop and backsplash for any cracks or holes that could be the perfect escape route for any ants or roaches that may try to find a way into your home in the future. Seal up any gaps you find with caulking or grout. Then, treat the whole kitchen with preventative pest control. You can find industrial-grade solutions online that are very affordable and will last you through the lifetime of your house. Once you treat the kitchen space, you’ll want to let it stand for at least a few hours before you wipe down the counters again and start putting away your belongings.
Preparing your kitchen for daily use and entertaining is important and is not an area you want to neglect during your move in. With these steps you’ll be ready to get things organized just the way you like and get to entertaining.
If your house is already on the market, you're probably familiar with the hectic process of getting it in presentable condition for the next showing.
Since there are so many things to remember, it can be helpful to create a "pre-showing checklist" you can refer to whenever you need it. Your reliance on the list will probably diminish over time, but it can be a good way to become more organized, focused, and efficient.
Even the simple action of writing down your priorities will make an impression on your mind and help reinforce your memory of what needs to be done prior to a showing or open house. Here are a few tips for staying on track, simplifying the process, and remembering important tasks that are all-too-easy to forget.
Stay One Step Ahead of Dust
Ideally, every room in your house should be dusted at least once a week, but that chore often tends to get postponed, overlooked, or just plain avoided! The problem with not dusting on a regular basis is that it tends to accumulate and get worse. What often occurs to home sellers is the sudden realization -- typically, just before walking out the door prior to a scheduled house showing -- that there's a thick layer of dust on your window blinds, baseboards, or book shelves.
If you're literally minutes away from a real estate agent showing up at your front door with clients, it's generally too late to do anything about the dust accumulations. However, if you've tackled those issues a day or two before they're walking up your front pathway, you can put your mind at ease that you've conquered the "grunge factor"! If you happen to have a housekeeper handling those details, it might pay to casually remind them to do an extra-thorough job on those dusty, grungy areas.
If you have kids (and even if you don't), dirt, finger prints, and hand smudges can often be found around light switches, cabinets, and door areas. While that might be the last thing you think about when preparing your home for a showing, it could be one of the first things potential buyers notice. Although perfection is an unrealistic standard to aspire to, "the devil is in the details!" In other words, it can be the small, easily overlooked details that undermine your chances for making a great impression on prospective buyers.
A Word About Mouse Traps
Whether you live in a mansion or a bungalow, nearly all homeowners occasionally have problems with mice sneaking into their basement, garage, or attic. Sometimes the little critters even find their way into your main living area (eek!). That's why it makes sense to set up a few mouse traps in areas where mice are most likely to enter. Mouse traps come in a variety of designs, some of which are better for homes with pets, children, or squeamish adults!
When it comes to preparing for a house showing, it's always a good idea to check mousetraps for "victims" that may have sprung your devices. Ideally, mousetraps shouldn't be placed in conspicuous spots, but you definitely don't want buyers to see dead mice anywhere in your house. Granted, live ones are worse, but -- in either case -- any infestation (or the perception of one) could be a deal breaker!
It's imperative that you clean up your home appropriately whenever a member of your household has had the flu to prevent other members of the house from getting sick too. Not just that, a germ-free home also provides some form of protection for everyone. To clean thoroughly, you will need cleaning supplies like disinfectant and sanitizing solutions. You may either decide to make your own at home or purchase one from the store, but remember not to mix disinfectant with any other cleaning products to prevent the rise of toxic fumes.
Cleaning The Bedroom
It’s very likely that the sick individual spent a lot of time in the bedroom, so this is one of the first places to which you should attend. Remove all bedding entirely and throw it in the washing machine, under the highest setting as they’ve usually had the closest contact with the body. The mattress should also be aired out to get rid of sweat stains and odors.
Cleaning The Bathroom
Using a disinfectant, wipe down your entire bathroom including the bathtub, toilet handles, sink and shower handles, door knobs, light switches, and any other commonly shared areas. Do this regularly throughout the period of the illness and after. You should also switch out the hand towel every day or have designated paper towels for everyone. Everyone's toothbrushes should be sanitized in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water, but discard that of the convalescent should.
Cleaning The Living Areas
It's very advisable that you cover all your furniture and upholstery with washable blankets during the sickness time, to prevent cross-contamination. Otherwise, you might be dealing with more germs than you thought. Wipe down the living room area such as the floors, chair and sofas, side stools, phones, remote controls, board games and any other thing that has been in contact with the sick person.
Cleaning Other Parts of the House
Also disinfect the parts of the house that you don’t pay much attention to on a regular basis such as the handrails, doorknobs, computers and video game consoles, light switches, etc. If the sick individual spent much time in the kitchen, disinfect it thoroughly. Kitchen utensils and plates used by the individual should always be washed at the highest setting of the dishwasher or disinfected when washing by hand.
Keeping your home germ free at such a time like this might seem like lots of work so soon after an illness, but the rewards are definitely worth it. Ask your real estate professional for a housecleaning referral if you don't want to do it yourself.
Nothing ruins a great view like a greasy hand print right in the middle of the window. No matter the time of year it is, you can always benefit from brightly clean windows. They allow in more natural light and can transform a dull room into a bright living space. Planning for this at the right time is important. You don't want to clean your windows while they are in direct sunlight or the cleaning suds will dry while you're working, just making them worse. You can either do a full day's worth of windows by starting on the South and West facing sides in the morning, then moving to the North and East facing sides in the afternoon. You can clean on an overcast day but be careful, or your hard work will just get washed away in the rain.
Filling Your Tool Bucket
Window washing techniques aren't too tricky, but they do require the right tools. If you start without them, you'll stress yourself all the way through the process.
- Soft Bristle Brush: Think of the same kind of brush you use on non-stick pans or glasses in your kitchen, but make sure it’s a clean one, not the actual one from the kitchen, so you don’t spread kitchen grease around the windows. For best results, get one with a built-in soap dispenser and an extendable handle so those high window edges are always within reach and you don’t have to carry around a bucket of soapy water. Use the brush to get grime and stains off the window without wearing out your arms in the process.
- Lightly Soapy Cleaner: Stay away from all the combined sprayer cleaners. Instead, go for a kitchen cleaner that is meant to cut through stains and grease. Your best choice will be one that cleans well but doesn’t get too sudsy. Test it in your brush to determine how much water to combine with it for exactly the right consistency.
- Hose with sprayer: An adjustable sprayer nozzle attachment for your garden hose can make getting the rest of the outdoor grime off the windows even easier. Once you've loosened it up with your brush, simply spray the residue off with your hose. Be careful not to spray too vigorously because you can accidentally loosen the seals around your windows.
- Squeegee: A good squeegee is necessary to prevent all your previous work from going to waste. When used properly, a squeegee gets all that beaded water off your windows, so it can't dry in streaks and ruin all your hard work. It also means the windows are almost completely dry for the last step and won't get those round rubbing streaks either. If you have wide picture windows, look for a wide squeegee to cut down on the number of vertical stripes required. Lastly, look for one with an extendable handle like your bristle brush so that you can always start and the very top of each window.
- Chamois Cloths: For that last little bit of drying and polishing, don't use any old cloth. Get yourself a proper chamois to prevent streaking. If it is in your budget, you can get a natural chamois made of sheep leather, but don't rule out the synthetics. There are some fantastic synthetic chamois fabrics out there for any budget.
- Simple Soft Cloth: After you’ve dried the window, you’ll need a simple soft cloth for the window sill. Use this cloth to pick up any remaining dirt or water from the cleaning process.
Don’t Forget the Screens
No matter how clean the windows, you still can't see through them if you have dirty screens. Since you had to take them off anyway, now is the perfect time to clean them as well. Using the same soapy cleaner and a bristle brush, gently brush both sides of the screen to remove dirt, dust, and grime. Then spray them off with your garden hose and sprayer attachment. Be careful only to use a medium pressure sprayer option, since you don't want to tear the screen away from the edges.
Got your home looking its greatest? Call your real estate professional and schedule that open house!
Changing your air filters in your home can be a chore that is quickly forgotten and overlooked, but it is crucial to the overall health of your home. To keep your home air system functioning at its best, be sure to have your HVAC system checked, maintained, and changed regularly.
- Prevent Damage. By keeping your system up to date on routine maintenance, you can prevent extensive and unwanted damage from happening. By allowing your HVAC filter to get clogged, you risk your system straining to get clean air through. With less clean air able to get into your home, your system will go into overdrive by running longer and working harder. Neglecting routine maintenance will ultimately cause your HVAC to fail.
- Clean Air. When you have a clogged filter in your air conditioning, you are getting less clean air throughout your home. This is beneficial for everyone in your house, but especially for the elderly and children. Having healthy air in your home is also essential for family members who struggle with allergies or asthma. Keep dust, pollen, and other small particles out of your lungs and breathe clean air by changing your filter regularly.
- Save Money. Aside from preventing expensive damage to your HVAC system, replacing a dirty filter can also save you a significant amount in operating costs. A dirty air filter will cause your air conditioner to run much longer than it would need to with a clean filter. This will ultimately result in a higher electricity bill. By making a habit of changing your filters regularly, you can obtain a savings of around 15% off of your energy bill.
- Protect the Environment. Failing to replace your dirty filters routinely is ultimately failing the environment. While your system is running more often to replenish your air, it is also producing large amounts of carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases into the air. By running your home in an eco-friendly manner, you can benefit the environment while never skipping out on the comforts of your home. Changing a filter once a month is a small step with a significant impact.
Neglecting your HVAC system's maintenance is sure to result in the failure of its capabilities. Changing your air filter once every month will result in cleaner air, saved money, and a healthier environment. Don't miss out on these benefits by turning your back on this painless chore. If you're concerned about your home's air system, contact a local HVAC technician to evaluate the function of your system.