12 Tips to Allergy-Proof Your Home

12 tips for allergy sufferersIf someone  in your home suffers from allergies, you’ll want to get your home as allergen free as possible. Whether you are allergic to dust, pets, mould, pollen or all of the above, it can be hard to know where to begin. Try these 12 tips to combat allergens and create a cleaner, healthier home.

1)       Stick to a regular cleaning schedule.  When allergies are a concern, it’s especially important to keep dust and pet dander at bay continuously. Be sure to wipe surfaces with a damp rag rather than dry dusting which just moves dust back into the air. If you have bad allergies and must clean, wear a mask, or delegate the dustiest jobs to an allergy-free family member.

2)      Start a no-shoes policy and beef up on doormats.  Keep dust, pollen and more from entering your house in the first place by encouraging visitors to slip off their shoes at the door. Provide ample interior and exterior doormats to trap shoe muck, and have a basket of synthetic slippers for guests.

3)      Upgrade your vacuum cleaner.  Get one with a HEPA filter to trap allergens. Also be sure to choose a vacuum cleaner with a bag that can be changed easily without spewing dust everywhere.

4)      Swap out heavy drapes.  Thick drapes with lots of folds and pleats are notorious for trapping dust and other allergens. Choose blinds you can wipe down or machine-washable curtains.

5)      Remove carpeting.  Traditional wall-to-wall carpeting is very difficult to get and keep clean. Whenever possible, change to hard flooring (wood, tile, linoleum) instead.

6)       Steam clean; don’t shampoo carpets and area rugs. If you really want or can’t remove carpeting, in addition to regular vacuuming, deep clean with a steam cleaner. Most rented carpet shampooers don’t get hot enough to remove allergens, so consider making the investment in a good steam cleaner of your own.

7)      Cover mattress and pillows. Zip on dust mite covers to protect your sleeping areas.

8)      Keep under the bed free of clutter. Clutter attracts dust bunnies and makes it more difficult to vacuum the entire space. Keep this area clean and clear, and be sure to reach under with a hose attachment to vacuum regularly.

9)      Streamline kids’ spaces. Children’s rooms accumulate clutter like nowhere else in the house. If allergies are a problem, having lots of toys, especially ones like my Granddaughter’s mountain of “stuffies” will only make matters worse. Try rotating toys to keep things fresh. Wash and store extras in an out-of-the-way closet.

10)   Wash linens in hot water. Bedding, towels and kitchen linens should be laundered in hot water. Remember when you are shopping to choose fabrics and colours that can stand up to the heat.

11)    Store only clean, dry items in closets. Putting away slightly damp clothes or linens can create the perfect environment for mildew and mould to grow, while dirty clothes and blankets attract fabric-eating moths. Keep your closets fresh and bug free by washing and thoroughly drying items before storing them for the season.

12)   Keep the air fresh. Open the windows to let in fresh air, unless you have seasonal allergies. Consider using a room air filter to clean the air. Avoid using fireplaces that are not airtight and definitely do not allow smoking in the house.

And remember, no matter how much you love your pets, if you are dealing with allergies, keep pets out of your bedrooms, at a minimum.  Sorry about this one!


Spring Clean your Muskoka Deck!

It’s that time of year when the deck is starting to poke its nose out from under the snow and saying “ Wouldn’t you love to be sitting out on me?”

Spring Clean Your Muskoka DeckAs a Muskoka Realtor, I understand that a great deck is a wonderful feature of your home or cottage and giving it a good spring cleaning will add to your enjoyment of it and ultimately to its value. If you are planning to sell your property, having a great looking deck will definitely increase buyer interest and help in the selling process.

An easy and fast solution to clean your wood deck and allow you to jump into spring a lot faster is as follows.

Start by washing:

  • Thoroughly wet the deck with plain water first.
  • Use ½ cup of any kind of laundry detergent in a gallon of hot water.  If using an ultra-concentrated detergent, use less. You may want to experiment with the concentration of water and laundry detergent to see what works best for you.
  • Use a garden hose with a plant food feeder to apply a plentiful amount of the mixture.
  • With a sturdy brush on a longer handle to save your back, scrub the deck and rails.
  • Rinse with clean water.


  • Apply a layer of oxalic acid (wood bleach) you can find this in many hardware stores. Sherwin Williams makes a good product. Sprinkle it on like applying dry rub to barbecue to work a lot better.

Consider your safety. Make sure you are using gloves and eye protection and wear a filter mask over your nose and mouth. You can get all of these safety items at your local hardware store.

  • Brush the bleach over the wood and rinse the deck with plain water from time to time to keep it wet.
  • After scrubbing for a short amount of time you will notice that the wood begins to look much cleaner.
  • Follow this bleach and rinse process a few more times to complete the whole deck.
  • Do a final rinse with fresh water and let dry for at least 2 days.



  • Apply a wood preservative. Pigmented (coloured) varieties tend to last longer than the clear wood preservatives. Don’t use too much of the preservative. Avoid puddling and wipe away excess with an old cloth.

Be sure to use the correct type of preservative for horizontal surfaces (decks and furniture). This type is usually semi-transparent and is made for light applications.

Don’t use wood preservatives made for vertical surfaces (walls and fences). This type is usually very thick and opaque.  It will end up being tracked onto the floors in your home and will wear down quickly.

  • A normal garden hose or pressure washer can be used for the final rinse. A pressure washer isn’t always needed, but it makes the entire process much easier and the end result is often superior.

Once your deck is ready you can set out the furniture and call your friends to enjoy the beautiful Muskoka sunshine!