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RE/MAX real estate Newsletter - November 2017 Edition

In This Issue - Household Hacks for the Holiday Season

It’s About Time: Pillow + Mattress Cleaning and Other Smart November To-Dos
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9 Habits for a Home That Always Feels Neat and Fresh

Cubbies, squeegees, and other easy ways to keep your house clean.

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What in the world made you invite your new workmates over for a little “whine” time tonight? You never dreamed they’d actually say yes, but they did.


Gah! While your place isn’t a total mess, it’s not exactly guest-ready. You’ll have maybe an hour before they get here.


What to do?


The trick is to focus on the obvious, says Dana K. White, creator of “A Slob Comes Clean” website. Her top tip? If you can’t see it, forget it. Here’s how to prioritize your tidying in a pinch:

Follow Your Guests' Path

You don’t need Google Maps to plot out your guests’ likely route. The places on this path are the ones to tidy first.


“Prioritize,” White says.


For example, they might start in the foyer (where your boots are currently dripping on your gloves that you threw down when you dashed in), and move through your living room (oh look, this morning’s yogurt cup), and into the kitchen (oh man).


Stuff clutter into grocery totes and toss the bags in a closet until your guests are gone.

Deodorize

Cooking an apple pie is an old real estate trick that makes the house smell good and conjures thoughts of happy family meals.


You don’t have to go that far. Once you’ve decluttered your guest’s path, light a citrus candle to burn as you clean. Blow it out at the end of your cleaning binge (or as you spot your guests arriving, whichever comes first) — that’s when the aroma really hits.

Dump the Dishes

“Dirty dishes in the sink are the main thing that makes your house look like you’re not keeping up,” says White. Stick them in the dishwasher (don’t bother to scrape plates this one time; new dishwashers can handle it), and turn it on. The hum signals you’re a diligent homeowner.


If you don’t have a dishwasher, stash dishes under the sink or in the oven. Definitely set your phone’s alarm to remind you they’re there — or a monster stink will jog your memory tomorrow.

Flip the Cushions

Flip your cushions instead of vacuuming them to save a couple of minutes.


Tip: Try to buy furniture with cushions that can flip; designate one cushion side for yourself and one for guests. That way your sofa will always be guest-ready.

De-Gross the Bathroom

To get the essentials clean in hurry, White says:


  • Grab a microfiber cloth that picks up dust easily or a disinfectant cloth and run it over every visible surface, including the mirror.
  • Shine up the faucets, and take five swipes at the sink.
  • Unless you have a septic system, pour some bleach into the toilet, brush, swirl, and flush.
  • Put away anything that’s nobody’s business but your own.
  • Install a fresh roll of toilet paper; fold the ends into an arrow like they do in fine hotels and really impress your guest.
  • Last, replace your hand towels. White says fresh hand towels show you care.


Related: 5 Things You Forgot to Clean in Your Bathroom

Set the Mood

We mean mood lighting — lamps, candles — anything but overhead lighting that highlights dust. Lamps also make nice focal points to distract from whatever you missed.

Vacuum Last

“Vacuuming and sweeping is the very last thing,” White says. Otherwise, you’ll just get the floors dirty again with your speed cleaning.


Concentrate on the areas guests will see, like the middle of rooms. Forget corners and baseboards. Just suck up the big dust bunnies and dog hair. You can at least pretend Max won’t shed all over your friend anyway while saying hello.

Know When to Stop

Remember, these are your friends, not your boss. You don’t have to white-glove the place for people who only want to open a bottle of red and whine a little.


Get it tidy, but drop the broom the moment you open the door. It’s hangout time.

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Admit it: It’s easy to get a little “Judge Judy” inside someone else’s home. We notice gunk on the floor, cobwebs in the corners, and dust on the overhead fan. But guess what? Unless you’re Adrian Monk, you’ve probably got some gunky places that your friends notice, but you don’t. (Sad trombone.)


This is why we tracked down a domestic guru to help us with this article. No matter how hard it is to find dirt hideaways on your own, a little expert advice can make it alllll OK. Jan M. Dougherty, author of “The Lost Art of House Cleaning: A Clean House Is a Happy Home,” revealed the seven spots you’re likely to miss — and the best ways to make them presentable, stat:

#1 Light Fixtures

Look up. Your light fixtures are loaded with dust and dead bugs.


Take them down, spritz with a cleaning solution, and wipe clean. Dougherty uses a solution of five parts water and one part Krud Kutter, a non-toxic odorless all-purpose product. (Handy tip: When making the Krud Kutter solution, put the water in first. “Otherwise it’ll bubble over,” she says.)

#2 Toilet Body

You probably clean your tank fairly often, but what about all the bits and pieces that surround the tank, and the floor itself?


For porcelain thrones, Dougherty recommends Soft Scrub with bleach to clean the minuscule cracks that form in the glaze over time. For any non-porcelain parts, she says vinegar will do. Start with the top of the tank and spray all the way around — the lid, under the lid, the seat, down to and on the surrounding floor, and even the walls behind the toilet.

#3 Dust Collectors

The TV mount, picture frames, computer printer, keyboards, and remotes are great dust collectors. Use a microfiber rag that you’ve sprayed lightly with vinegar to banish it all. Vinegar isn’t electrostatically charged, so dust will take longer to return to that spot

#4 Drawer Organizers

Crumbs and dirt love those little compartments. Suck them up with a handy vac, or spray with vinegar and wipe away with a rag.


Don’t wait until the crumbs are three inches deep and have taken root in the drawer. If that’s the case, break it down and clean with the Krud Kutter solution.

#5 Ice Maker

Old ice absorbs food odors, so it’s a good idea to clean and sanitize the whole system every once in a while. Stop the machine from making more ice, pull out the ice bin, and dump the ice.


Wash the bin and ice maker with vinegar, or put the bin in the dishwasher if your manual says it’s safe to do so. Wipe the ice maker with a dry rag to remove moisture.

#6 Appliance Handles

ou touch them so many times every day. And you never think about it. Spray them all down with the Krud Kutter mix and then wipe.


“One night a week, I take the knobs off the stove, remove the dish and the grease screen from the [over-the-range] microwave, and take the bowl with utensils that sits next to my stove and put them all in the dishwasher,” Dougherty says.


“Do this before bed and by the morning you’ve cleaned half your kitchen, yet touched nothing.”

#7 Glass and Mirrors

Dougherty washes dull, smudged glass and mirrors with straight vinegar. Be aware that if you’ve been using commercial cleaners it may take “four, five, six, maybe seven cleanings with vinegar to get all the wax off the glass,” she says.



Bonus tip: ”When you go into a room to clean you shouldn’t have to think. You should be able to turn up the music and rock and roll your way around the room,” Dougherty says. She uses a method she calls “The Path” — start in one corner, progress around the perimeter, and then head to the middle. Clean everything in your path as you go around the room.

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You’re expecting houseguests. Fun! You want them to feel welcome, comfortable, and — dare we say it? — maybe even a tad envious of your hosting prowess.


No need to moonlight at hospitality school. We asked Airbnb hosts with tons of great reviews on their cozy bungalows and light-filled island condos for some quick, easy (and cheap!) ideas to turn your guest quarters into a vacation haven. Be careful, though – your guests may not want to leave!

#1 Stock Up on Extra Chargers and Cords

A dead phone equals getaway misery. Airbnb host Valarie D’Elia sets out a bowl with power strips and cords, outlet converters, and even an iHome speaker. Nothing sets the stage for feeling at home IRL like feeling at home digitally.


And that includes posting your Wi-Fi name and password in the guest room so they don’t have to bug you.

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#2 Offer Sample-Size Toiletries in Your Bathroom

Put your stockpile of Sephora samples and hotel toiletries to good use. Tiny shampoos and lotions arranged in a basket or vintage apothecary jar are as welcoming as they are practical. Guests will be relieved if they forgot their own, but even if they didn’t, they’ll love the luxury of washing their hair on the house.
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#3 Raise Your Cleanliness Standards

When you miss a dust bunny at home, it’s just your own skin flakes and dried up sneezes in your own corner. To guests, it’s disgusting at best and insulting at worst.


So clean it all. Airbnb even tells hosts to scrub the entire bathroom, not once but twice, including the toilet, sink, bath, and floors after every guest.


“We make sure you can smell the cleaner,” says Cheryl Trotta, who rents out her vintage bayside cottage in Warwick, R.I.

#4 Give It Your Personal Touch

People choose Airbnbs over sterile hotel rooms because, in part, they want an authentic, personal experience.


So give it to them!


Trotta intentionally markets her rental as a family cottage and scatters pictures and family treasures throughout the cottage. Frame a couple of your childhood photos and hang them up alongside some mementos from your own travels.


How else would your guests discover that you were drum major of your high school marching band?

#5 Put a Radio in the Bathroom

Your guests may like to sing along in the shower, but the real reason for putting some tunes in the bath is to provide them with plenty of, well, privacy. Add an essential oil diffuser — or poo-pourri drops — and you’re in business.

#6 Set Up a DIY Cafe

If your guests are early birds — or will just want some occasional alone time — put a coffeemaker in their room along with a well-stocked basket of coffee and tea. Maybe even blow their minds with a mini fridge full of snacks.


To pull this off right, ask how they take their coffee in advance, and stock up appropriately.

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#7 Designate Drawer and Closet Space Just for Guests

If your guest room closet could be featured on Storage Wars, it’s time to rethink your stuff strategy.


Consider some serious Marie Kondo-izing — maybe donate your to-be-regifted pile and sell those designer jeans you’ll never fit into again — to make room in the closet and dresser for guest to have plenty of space (and the key word is plenty).


Label a few guest drawers and crack the closet so they can see there’s space to hang their clothes.

#8 Fancy Yourself a Travel Agent

Give guests a local’s-eye view by filling a basket with menus from nearby restaurants, brochures from local businesses that cater to tourists, and a current issue of your community newspaper. It’s a great way for guests to feel like a local and customize their time in your town.

#9 Hang a Robe – or Two – in the Closet

Bonding with their host over morning coffee is one of the best parts of staying with friends. But they can miss it completely when they realize they only packed a ratty grandma nightgown or — even worse — NSFW lingerie.


Help your guests feel right at home by hanging a couple of cozy (and freshly laundered), one-size-fits-all robes in the guest-room closet.


Not only can they wear their pajamas to breakfast without feeling self-conscious, but they’re also super-comfy and great to wrap up in after a shower.

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#10 Expect the Unexpected with Extra Personal Supplies

And let your guests know where they are so they won’t feel guilty for bothering you (or worse, go without!). Here’s a list of things that rock-star Airbnb hosts always keep in stock:


  • Disposable razors
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • First-aid kit
  • Towels, pillows, and extra blankets
  • Umbrella
  • Flashlight
  • Replacement light bulbs



Being the perfect host is perfectly achievable. With a little forethought, you’ll start racking up your own stellar reviews from your friends and family. Get ready to be the house everyone vies to visit.

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With guest season (also known as THE HOLIDAYS) coming at you fast and furious, you want to be sure your home is cozy, but with that fresh-as-spring feel — as opposed to that musty-damp-winter feel.


Here’s how to make that happen (along with a few other timely tips):

#1 Wash Bed Pillows

You love your trusty, old, perfectly-snugged-to-your-head pillow. But guess what’s also snug against your head? Fungus — 4 to 16 species to be precise. Gross!


With fall being the height of guest season, you’ll want your guest pillows fresh, too. Pop them in the washing machine and dryer for an all-over clean feeling. (But check manufacturer advice, too. Some pillows shouldn’t be washed, but replaced instead.)

#2 Clean the Mattress, Too

Sleeping soundly gets even better when you know you’re lying on a clean and fresh mattress. The yuck factor: Skin cells and sweat get into the mattress, then dust mites show up for a dinner party featuring those tasty skin cell morsels.


You’ll want your guest mattress to be at it’s freshest. It’s easy to do: Vacuum it and then wipe it down with a cloth dampened with an upholstery shampoo. But be sure to let it dry; otherwise, you’re inviting mold. Also, be sure to rotate it 180 degrees to help keep it lump-free.


(Another option: if you’ve got a flippable mattress, go ahead and flip it. That, too, can help kill the yucky mites.)

#3 Insulate Windows

Bone-chilling drafts seriously detract from the cozy vibe you want. Keep it cozy by hanging drapes as close to your windows as possible to help you keep the heat inside.


You can even add clear Velcro strips or dots to the back of the drape and attach to fasteners on the wall to help insulate. Be sure to cross one drape over the other when you close up for the night. Insulating shades can do the trick, too.

#4 Stock Up on Snow Supplies

If snow is a given where you live and you’re lacking supplies, take advantage of seasonal sales now to make sure you’re not the one rushing to the hardware store at the last minute — only to find out they just sold out of ice melt.


If you have a snow blower, be sure to have it serviced and fueled up before the first winter storm arrives — and with it, price hikes on all the snow stuff.


Related: 3 Brilliant Hacks to Make Snow Shoveling a Snap

#5 Trim Tree Branches

The last thing you need is a winter storm loosing the wrath of that mighty tree whose branches are angling over your roof. Long limbs invite pests to explore your roof for excess water to seep into cracks in the roof or siding.


Keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from the house. Plus it’s easier to trim branches after leaves have fallen. (If it’s an evergreen, well, sorry about that. It’ll be a prickly job, but the bonus is you’ll have greenery for the holidays!)


Related: 7 Dirty Places Your Guests See, But (Shock!) You Don’t!

#6 Get a Chimney Sweep to Inspect the Fireplace

It’s time to dust off and sweep the chimney! Best to hire someone who knows wood-burning fireplaces. A professional chimney sweep will ensure your wood-burning fireplace burns more efficiently and will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter. So yeah, it’s pretty important.


Tip: If you don’t already have a chimney cap, this is also the time to add one to stop wild outdoor critters from crawling down it — and (yikes!) into your house.

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5:30 – 10:00 PM Wednesday through Sunday Nov 10 – Dec 31

Lehigh Valley Zoo, as well as presenting sponsor Christmas Decor, will kick off its third season of Winter Light Spectacular on Friday, November 10. Last season, the popular nighttime fundraiser for the Zoo attracted over 46,000 guests across 35 event nights. This season’s Winter Light Spectacular will feature 36 scheduled event nights on Wednesday through Sunday from November 10, 2017, to December 21, 2017.


Lehigh Valley Zoo and Christmas Decor have enhanced the entire Winter Light Spectacular experience, raising the bar with new technology, more prominent displays and improved value to guests. All in all, Winter Light Spectacular features nearly one million energy conserving lights!

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SCHEDULE AND TICKET INFORMATION

Winter Light Spectacular runs 5:30 – 10:00 PM on Wednesday through Sunday from November 10, 2017, to December 31, 2017. The event will be on break for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas.
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