Claire Rainville, Broker Associate, REMAX


Could your home be making you sick? Could those allergies be inside rather than outside? Yes, and yes. Of course, you’ve already sussed out the obvious places: the mold in the bathroom, years of dirt in the carpet, even the drapes and blinds. 

But what about the air ducts? You know, the very thing that carries the conditioned air to you from your expensive HVAC unit. Just because you use filters on your furnace and air conditioning unit doesn’t mean that those ducts are clean. Here are times to check your ducts to keep your air breathable and pristine.

When you buy new

Even if your home is new, you have no guarantee that your ducts are clean. In fact, you’ll often find layers of drywall dust, insulation, and other harmful debris in your ducts that entered during the building and testing stages of your home and its systems. If you’re prone to allergies, have your ducts cleaned before you move in.

When you buy old

If you’re a home’s second, third, or more owner, you have no idea what might be lurking in those ducts. If three owners ago had a litter of kittens, you may not find any dander in the new carpets, but there could be pet hair and dander in those ducts. Try to get having the ducts inspected and cleaned added into your seller’s closing costs or home warranty.

After a long winter

When your home is closed up for long periods due to inclement weather, dust mites find their way into your ducts. Add some damp days and that crossover period from winter to summer (usually called spring) when you try not to operate your heat or air conditioning, and you’ve set up your ducts to be breeding grounds for allergens of all types including mold spores and dust mites, and a collecting place for pollen.

When to call the pros

Even a shop vacuum with a super long hose cannot clean out most ducts from the vent back toward the fan unit. Call in a licensed and bonded professional air duct cleaning service to take care of the problem for you. Schedule them before the worst of the allergy season to clean out the ducts and install HEPA filters in the air returns and furnace. Make sure that your filters can trap microscopic particles, pet dander, and fine dust. Change them as frequently are noted on the packaging.

If you’re buying a home, be sure to ask about any special filtration included in your HVAC until. And talk to your agent about requesting adding air duct cleaning into those seller’s closing costs.


One of the biggest challenges of putting your house on the market is keeping it clean, organized, and ready for the next showing!

This is no easy task, especially if you have pets, messy kids, and/or a hectic schedule. If you're like most people, you're probably contending with all three conditions!

Although it's human nature to get immersed in our own view of the world, it's helpful to try and see things through the eyes of prospective home buyers. When buyers walk into your house for the first time, they're not going to immediately know about all the improvements you've made to your property or the many ways your home has served your family's needs for all these years. They're not aware of the "big picture" and may never be. They only know what they see, hear, and smell during their brief visit to your home.

Anything which makes a negative impression can sour them on the idea of buying your house. It's a delicate balance and it doesn't take that much to tip the scales in either direction. That's why it's so important for sellers to get into a routine of keeping their house clean, orderly, and well maintained.

It's amazing what a difference 24-hours (or less) can make on the appearance and cleanliness of your home. Rest assured, if you've said or thought the words, "But I just cleaned it, yesterday!" -- you're not alone! Cleaning your house when it's on the market is a lot like shaving: It doesn't take too long for that "five o'clock shadow" to start creeping in!

Reminding everyone in your family to clean up after themselves is the first step to being ready, but it also pays to have a checklist to refer to when preparing for a real estate showing. If you don't use a task list, chances are you'll forget something important -- like wiping off the kitchen counter, sanitizing the toilets, putting away dirty dishes, or cleaning the bathroom sink. Floors almost always require a quick sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming, and waste baskets need to be emptied. Crumpled towels, bath mats, and bedspreads may also be in desperate need of straightening and smoothing out! If you own pets that tend to have "accidents" or kids who haven't quite mastered the art of cleaning up after themselves, you might also want to allow a few extra minutes in your routine to take care of the "unexpected."

While it's true that you want your house to have a "lived in" appearance, it's all-too-easy to cross that thin line into a whole different category! No reasonable house hunter will expect your home to be spotless and perfect in every way, but if it looks messy, disheveled, or neglected, then that could be a potential deal breaker!


One of the many challenges of putting your home on the market is keeping it clean!

That task can be even more difficult if you have kids, pets, and a busy schedule. If everyone is always rushing off to their jobs, classes, lunch dates, meetings, practices, or appointments, it's hard to keep your home in a perpetual state of cleanliness and order.

Probably the first step to keeping your house ready for real estate showings is to remind your family to clean up after themselves. While this may require more than one reminder, any amount of cooperation will help keep messes to a minimum. Implementing some sort of reward system or even a competition among siblings, can go a long way toward maintaining a semblance of order in the house. Some parents even post a calendar of assigned chores to make sure everyone does their fair share.

Professional Help May Be Needed!

Getting your home ready for real estate showings can feel like a monumental task, especially if you have a large house and a messy family! The good news is that you can hire some outside help without depleting your kids' college funds! Many households already have a house cleaning person or service that comes in at least a couple times a month to keep things looking civilized. If your house is actively being shown to prospective buyers, however, you might want to consider having your housekeeper clean the house a little more frequently than usual. That way, you only have to do some minor tidying up when your real estate agent notifies you about a scheduled house showing in a few hours or tomorrow morning.

If any of your rooms are carpeted and the floors haven't been professionally steam-cleaned for as long as you can remember, it may be time to hire a carpet cleaning service. Carpeted floors have an unfortunate tendancy of locking in stains, allergens, and ground-in dirt for months, if not years! Although you can often improve the appearance of your carpets by cleaning them yourself, it often requires the services of a professional carpet cleaning service to really get those stubborn stains out. You can often get recommendations from neighbors, friends, relatives, or coworkers, and can look for online reviews of carpet cleaners on social media websites.

Once you've cleaned, dusted, and sanitized the inside of your house, there may be one more area to tackle before you're ready to have your house shown: its exterior! Your home's siding may be covered with filmy layers of dust, grime, splatters, and environmental pollutants -- a condition which thankfully can be reversed by using the services of a local power-washing company. While not all power-washing services are created equal, a reliable one can remove years of accumulated filmy deposits from pollen, birds, spider webs, acid rain, snow blower splatters, rust, smoky emissions from backyard barbeques, vehicle exhaust emissions, and other miscellaneous air pollution.

So even though the environment, your family, and the wear and tear of normal, everyday use will take its toll on the appearance of your home, there are many things you can do to reverse that process and restore many aspects of your home's original freshness, charm, and appeal!


Pretty bottles of nail polish, handfuls of eye pencils, tubes of lip colors, palettes of blushes, pots of eye color litter the bathroom vanity but the meager drawers are already full, so what to do? Short of purchasing expensive vanity organizers (or a new house with a more substantial bath and more drawers) you can tame and tidy your countertop with a few items you already have on hand.

Repurpose with purpose

Just because an item has a specific use doesn’t mean you can’t use it for your makeup. Try these on for size:

  • Mason jars—Use jars of various sizes to hold brushes and pencils. Tie a ribbon around the top of the jar. If using the lid, add a circle of fabric on top of the seal-lid and slip it into the mason ring.
  • Lazy Susan—If you have one of these space savers meant for spices, it’s perfect to fit your collection of lipsticks and glosses.
  • On the rocks—These short glasses make wonderful organizers for mascaras, eyeliners, lip liners, and brow pencils.
  • Spice racks—A tiered spice rack works great to hold your bottles of hairspray and mousse, facewash, and lotions while a wall rack fits foundation bottles and eyeshadow palettes. Hang a magnetic spice rack on the wall beside the vanity to hold all your small items neatly above the surface.
  • Tins and trays—Metal tins from hot cocoa or tea are perfect for keeping cotton swabs and pads. Or use a shorter one to hold pins or hair ties. Paint the tin or wrap it with contact paper for a decorative touch. Mint tins transform into holders for baubles and bit, then stack nicely on the counter.
  • Votive glass—An empty candle glass makes an excellent match holder. Create a matching set: candle holder and matching matchstick holder.

Raid the Office

Desk organizers work well for organizing smaller tubes, bottles, pencils, and brushes. A narrow version fits well on the tank lid. Transform a magnetic paperclip dispenser into the perfect holder for bobby pins. Stack powders, eyeshadow, and blush compacts vertically in a pen tray for easy access.

Borrow from the Bedroom

Many organizer items meant for the bedroom work for other places as well. Hang an over-the-door fabric or clear vinyl shoe rack in the bathroom to hold extra bottles of lotions, foundations, nail polishes—pretty much anything. Jewelry boxes can do double duty for combs, barrettes, or hairpins.

In fact, there are many ways to reuse items in your home to create order from chaos. If you still find yourself wanting your dream vanity, your local realtor can start the search for you.


You recently moved to a new house so, good for you! You upgraded to a larger living space. The kids each have a room, and the house has a living room and a den along with a kitchen nook and a formal dining room, office and plenty of bathrooms. You're all set to start your new life of entertaining, playing and enjoying your new home. There's just one thing, you have all this new space, and now you have to clean it. Tackling housekeeping with a large house can be daunting and exhausting if you can afford a cleaning service, excellent! Do it. If not, here are some tips to making housekeeping manageable in your new home.

Little by little. Not all at once. 

You might be tempted to set aside one day a week, or every other week for cleaning. Don't make the novice mistake of believing you can quickly knock out all rooms and get your house in tip-top shape all in one day. You might pull it off the first couple times, but it's exhausting and can easily lead to burning out and not cleaning at all, ever. You don't want that. Instead, inventory the rooms in your home and the chores you need to tackle to keep your home looking pristine. Then, create a schedule with a couple of tasks assigned to each day. Depending on your home size, you can create a weekly schedule or bi-weekly plan. In your planning don't forget to give yourself a day or two off each week that can be hassle and chore free.

Room by room, or task by task? Tackle your housekeeping in the best way that works for you. If you function better and get a better sense of satisfaction from completing an entire room, then schedule a room or two each day and stick to just that room. It might work better for you to plan a specific task and apply it to the house as a whole. Start with dusting all rooms, then sweeping all floors, then vacuuming or mopping. Have one day for laundry or do a load every other day to stay on top of the dirty clothes. Whatever your preference, find a way to split up the work over a week or two weeks to keep yourself from burn out.

Hold your family members accountable. 

Employ your family to help you maintain your home. Put each child in charge of keeping their own spaces clean. If they share a bathroom have them take turns cleaning it each week or have them clean together. Assign daily dish duty and laundry folding to stay on top of constant cleaning needs. Ask your partner for help in maintaining the home. Maybe they sweep, and you mop or they pick up the daily clutter and run loads of laundry while you tackle the cleaning projects.

Moving into your new house should be exciting and exhilarating. Don't let the task of maintaining your new home negatively impact enjoying your new life. If you're in very early stages of your home search talk with your real estate agent about your living space needs and about your lifestyle and available time to find the best house to suit your family without bogging, you down with housekeeping.