Is 2013 the year you resolved to keep your house tidy? With planning, a bit of extra effort and these six tips to start you off, you can succeed where your 2012 diet failed. 1. Start with a clean slate. Get a leg up on your new cleaning regiment by bringing in professionals to tackle major jobs, like cleaning the stove or scrubbing floors. Once your home is spic and span, make it your resolution to keep it that way. 2. Make a cleaning plan. The best resolutions have clear, concise goals and a timeline to accomplish them. Check out the 2013 New Year’s Cleaning Grand Plan Challenge, a 14-week program by the Organized Home web blog, for a step-by-step schedule, as well as cleaning tips and tricks. 3. Invest in tools to make cleaning easier. Often, it’s the simple things that help keep a space clean: a cover for the microwave, baking soda for the fridge, automatic cleaners for toilet and shower. And let’s not forget that industrious robotic helper, the Roomba. It cleans your floors while you’re away, then recharges itself automatically. 4. Clear that clutter. The post-Christmas season is a good time to take stock of your living space. Has paperwork taken over your desk? File it away. Ages-old condiments in the fridge? Toss ’em. Invest in storage containers to put away odds and ends. 5. Tackle cleaning one chore at a time. With any New Year’s resolution, the quickest route to failure is to tackle too much at once. Resolve to set aside just fifteen minutes per day to clean your home, focusing on one room at a time. 6. Reward yourself for a job well done. Resolve to treat yourself whenever you reach a milestone on your cleaning plan. A new flat-screen TV would look great mounted of the wall of your squeaky clean living room.
Earlier this month, Goldstar Cleaning announced the winner of its Extreme Makeover: Cleaning Edition contest. To recap: George Toressani and his wife, Rochelle Simmons, have been living apart since last summer after their eldest daughter Brooke, 17, relocated to Vancouver to undergo treatment for lung cancer. While Rochelle and Brooke have been living at the Ronald McDonald’s House in between treatments at the B.C. Children’s Hospital, George has had to stay behind in Fernie to work and take care of their high school-aged son Wesley. Fortunately, Rochelle and Brooke are returning home for the holidays later this week. Goldstar made sure their house was ready for them, sending a team of nine professional cleaners to give George and Rochelle’s home an extreme makeover. “One of the reasons we felt good about choosing this particular family is because they had been separated for so long,” explains Jill Barclay, owner of Goldstar Cleaning Services. “This way, they’ll have this time to spend together rather than worry about tedious chores.” With their trademark attention to attention to detail, the Goldstar team left no spot untouched, judging from the before-and-after photos (see below). “We had set ourselves a goal of completing the whole house in two hours,” Barclay says. “If fact, we went slightly over that, but we ended up cleaning the exterior windows and steam cleaning the floors.” In fact, it took just over three hours to finish the job, which included everything from scrubbing walls and dusting furniture to doing laundry for the home-alone bachelors. A simple gesture like cleaning can help bring a sense of normalcy to family members whose lives have been affected by cancer. That’s why Goldstar is a supporter of Cleaning for a Reason, a charity that provides professional free cleaning services to women affected by cancer. Thanks to everyone who entered the Extreme Makeover: Cleaning Edition contest. Stay tuned for more exciting promotions from Goldstar Cleaning Services!
Before-and-after shots of George and Rochelle’s House
There’s nothing Hollywood loves more than a creepy “home-alone” horror movie, with potential danger lurking behind every corner. In real life, these often-neglected corners of your house could be hiding some very scary surprises. 1. Attic or crawlspace These storage spaces can attract real-life creepy crawlies, from pests to mold and mildew, which can damage your home and cause health problems if left unchecked. You should examine your attic or crawlspace every six months, looking for droppings, nesting materials or other signs of pests. If you find evidence of an infestation, call an exterminator immediately. You should also be on the lookout for dampness or foul odours, which can signal that water is getting in to the house. Be sure to wear a face mask when cleaning the space, especially if you have exposed insulation. If you’re using the attic or crawlspace to store items, be sure to put them in airtight plastic or rubber containers. 2. Under furniture Who knows what horrors lurk beneath the Chesterfield? Seriously, though, dust and pet hair accumulating under furniture can be a real nightmare for allergy sufferers. To clean under furniture on hardwood floors or linoleum, use an extension handle duster (the kind made for sweeping the tops of ceiling fans). Carpeted rooms require a bit more work. If you’re going to move the furniture out, consider giving the whole space a good steam cleaning – will keep you from having to perform this unpleasant chore again for some time. 3. The closet If I’ve learned anything from horror movies, it’s that closets usually contain one of three things: a monster, an axe murderer or clutter – and most people would rather deal with the first two. The key to organizing a closet is to divide and conquer. Take everything out of the closet and divide it into three categories: keep, dump or donate. Be ruthless; dump anything that’s damaged and donate anything you haven’t worn in a year or longer, doesn’t fit you or no longer suits your style. Once your closet is uncluttered, plan to keep it that way: install double rods and shelves to increase your storage capacity, store small items in containers and use the back of the door for a hanging shoe organizer. 4. The Fridge Scarier than the Blob, a dirty refrigerator is a potential breeding ground for bacteria and food-borne pathogens. And like the Blob, you should tackle this chore before it becomes too big to handle – about once a month. Clear your shelves, making sure to toss anything that’s spoiled or expired. If possible, remove the shelves and drawers from the fridge. Wipe down the shelves, drawers and the interior with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda to one quart of hot water (avoid chemical cleaners, which can leave behind a scent that can be absorbed by the food.) You can place a tray of baking soda or cat litter in the fridge to eliminate lingering odours. Once a season, you should also unplug your fridge and vacuum the coils at the back of the fridge. 5. The Shower Psycho, anyone? You likely won’t meet a grisly end in the bathroom (as long as you have non-slip mats, of course). But it’s difficult to stay clean when your shower is dirtier than you are. Over time, your shower head can accumulate mineral deposits that will block the flow of water. To clean your shower head, immerse it in a pot of distilled white vinegar, then heat the pot on medium-low heat and rinse. Scrub down your shower walls with a mildew-busting solution of 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup ammonia, 1/4 baking soda and 3 litres of hot water. Wipe down glass shower doors clean with white vinegar for a crystal clear clean. Most shower curtains can be tossed in the washing machine; add half a load’s worth of detergent and 1/2 cup of baking soda during the wash cycle, then 1/2 cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle. Hang to dry.
Winter in East Kootenay can mean only one thing: tourism. And many of those out-of-town visitors will be renting guest homes to make the most of the skiing and snowboarding the region has to offer. If you’ve decided to take the plunge and take on renters in your guest home this season, here are eight tips to ensure you and your guests are a happy as possible. 1. Prepare a “Master List” for Your Guest Whether your guests are from out of town or from out of the country, chances are they’ll need some time to become accustomed to their new surroundings. You can help them out by preparing a list of important information, like the physical address of the guest house, garbage and recycling pick-up days, emergency contact information and security passwords. For a personal touch, include directions to the local grocery store, hardware store, hair salon and your favourite restaurants and bars. Include any information about rules. Is there a part of the house that’s off-limits? Do the neighbours have a habit of calling in a noise complaint if there’s partying past 11? Now is the time to let your guests know. 2. Prepare a “Master List” for Yourself Keeping an inventory is not a sign that you find your guests untrustworthy. Rather, it’s a way to avoid disputes over items that may have been lost, damaged (or yes, stolen) while you’ve been away. Putting together a checklist also ensures that your guests have everything they need to enjoy their stay. Perform a quick inspection of major appliances and furniture in the house and note their condition. If there are valuables in the house, like artwork, make a note of them; anything that’s truly irreplaceable should be taken with you or locked up. Consider taking pictures of the rooms in your house before your guests arrive. 3. Stock your kitchen — but keep it simple People rarely expect to eat off fine china — especially while they’re on vacation. So feel free to stock your kitchen with lots of inexpensive dinnerware, including all the necessary cooking and baking tools. When it comes to dishes, white is ideal. Unbreakable is even better. (Don’t forget to stock some wine glasses and a decent corkscrew.) 4. Help your guests prepare for their guests Unless you explicitly say otherwise, you should expect that your guest house will be hosting a large group function at some point in the season. Lots of chairs and/or patio furniture, a large table, extra bed linens and an inflatable mattress will help your guests roll out the welcome mat for visitors. 5. Keep bedrooms clean, bright and white Sleeping in an unfamiliar setting can be a bit uncomfortable at first. You can help your guests adjust by keeping the tone of your guest bedrooms as neutral as possible — no crazy colour schemes or knickknacks on the night table. Simple white bed linens look clean and can be bleached to maintain their radiance. 6. Help your guests keep the space clean Let’s face it — messes happen. But if you give your guests the tools they need to clean up after themselves, it’s less likely the damage will be permanent. Stock cleaning supplies like paper towels, all-purpose cleaning spray, air freshener, a vacuum cleaner, mop, dust pan and broom. Put slip covers on your sofas and mattress covers on your bed. Leave plenty of space in closets and cupboards for guests to store their things. 7. Buy a housewarming gift It doesn’t need to be anything fancy; a basket of festive goodies or a bottle of wine goes a long way toward making your guests feel welcome in their home-away-from-home. 8. Think of the little things Throw in some board games, movies, toys and sporting equipment to help keep your guests entertained. If your guest house has a BBQ, fill up the propane tank and clean the grill.