At one point or another, we’ve all had an unfortunate run-in with creepy crawlies or furry friends in the safety of our own homes. These pests have a nasty habit of sneaking into houses and setting up shop like they own the place. Fortunately, there are several ways that you can get rid of these unwanted house guests without having to call in the big guns or the big chemicals. Cleaning the house isn’t always enough to stop them, so here are some tips on how to kick those tiny terrors to the curb and keep them from coming back.
Specific Tips to Kick Pests Out of Your Home
- Ants - To eliminate ants, find their point of entry and sprinkle cinnamon, black pepper, cayenne pepper, or coffee grounds over the area.
- Flies - Put crushed mint around problem areas to repel flies
- Mice - Peanut butter or raw bacon works as better bait for mousetraps than cheese
- Cockroaches - Sprinkle Borax powder in the kitchen and bathroom cabinets to eliminate cockroaches. (Be careful if you have small children, you wouldn’t want them to ingest Borax)
- Flea Eggs - Salting your floors before vacuuming will kill flea eggs. Salt every day for nine days and vacuum every third day, emptying the vacuum immediately so that live ones don’t escape again.
- Fruit Flies - Fill a glass three quarters of the way with vinegar and add six to eight drops of dishwashing soap. Finish filling the glass almost full with warm water, cover with plastic wrap and poke holes in the top in order to trap fruit flies.
- Raccoons/Rodents - Use repellents like oil of mustard to get raccoons or other rodents
General Tips to Keep Pests Out of Your Home
- Many pests hate peppermint oil so mix some in a spray bottle with water and spray around door and window frames and anywhere you’ve previously seen pests.
- A mix of borax and sugar sprinkled around your foundation and baseboards will keep ants out.
- Drain any standing water both inside and outside your home to decrease mosquito populations.
- Seal up any opening or cracks in your home to prevent pests entering.
- To reduce flying insects around your doors or windows, switch to high pressure sodium vapor or halogen lights. The pink, yellow, or orange tints these bulbs give off are less attractive to the insects.
- Keeping basil in your home, specifically around entryways, will help discourage flies from coming in.
Moving is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and stressful things you can do, and all that is heightened when there are children involved. Fortunately, most children easily adapt to change, but it’s the actual changing that makes all of this so hard. There are ways to smooth out the process and keep your kids as happy and comfortable as possible during this crazy adventure.
- Ask for Help. There’s going to be a lot happening on moving day and you’re probably not going to want to worry about your little ones. Ask for a friend or family member to come over and spend time with them while you load the truck, or ask if they could take your kids out for a bit. It’ll eliminate a lot of your stress knowing they’re off having fun somewhere.
- Keep them Involved. Though they may not be the most helpful moving buddies, it’s important that your children are always aware of the process. Make sure they take part in packing up their own stuff, and give them little jobs to help with the rest of the preparation. This opens room for questions, conversations, and makes them a part of the process.
- Pack Their Stuff Last and Unpack it First. It’s helpful to keep things as normal as possible for your kids in the days leading up to the move, so other than a few unnecessary things, try to leave their stuff for last. Then, see if it can’t get put in the truck last so that it can all come out first and you can get them set up right away. If they are able to be in and create their own space right off the bat it can minimize their discomfort in your new home.
- Make Sure they Know Where You Sleep. Especially if you have younger children you’ll want to make sure they’re at least somewhat familiar with where things are before going to bed on that first night. The last thing you probably want is for your half-asleep child to freak out in the middle of the night when they wake up somewhere new and can’t find you.
- Stay Positive and Have Fun. As stressful as moving can be, there are still ways to come together as a family and turn it into something fun. If one person’s stressed out and frantic it can affect the mood of everyone around them, so do your best to keep a level head and look at all the joy that comes with this exciting new experience.
Maybe you’re moving, maybe you’re remodeling, or maybe you’re just trying to do a deep clean of the house. Whatever your reason for decluttering, holding a garage sale is a great way to get rid of some of your extra stuff that you just don’t need any more and hopefully make a little extra money in the process. Here are some of the best tips for hosting the ultimate garage sale.
- Clean everything before putting it out
- Hang as many clothes as you can
- Be sure to put a price on everything to avoid confusion or frustration
- Advertise A LOT through signs, newspaper, and the internet
- Include all relevant Information in your ad
- Don’t park your cars in your driveway. Put them in the garage or park them on the road
- Put large items closest to the road to catch the eye of passers by
- Group similar items together
- Avoid putting small items on the ground
- Have a decent amount of change ready and available
- Offer free lemonade or something similar
- Have bags ready in case people need help carrying all their purchases
- Get as many tables as you can or create makeshift tables out of boxes, chairs, etc.
- Try to have an outlet/ extension cord or batteries available so people can test your electronic items
- Be honest and don’t try to oversell things for more than you know they’re worth
- Give as much information as possible
- Use tablecloths, towels, sheets, runners, etc. on all your tables if you can
- Whether it’s donating or turning to the internet to sell, make sure you have a plan for whatever’s left over.
- Be approachable and friendly
- Keep a mirror nearby so customers can see how they look in the glasses, hats, scarves, or other accessories you’ve made available.
- Don’t put anything directly on the ground but on a towel or tablecloth instead
- Try to keep your garage door closed so buyers don’t get distracted
- Clean up your lawn before the yard sale (mow, rake leaves, sweep the sidewalk, etc.)
No one will give you a blue ribbon each time you do it, and it's not the subject of cocktail conversations. But housecleaning is a necessary evil, and someone's got to do it. If you clean your own house, however, you may just be shooting yourself in the foot with the methods you employ, creating a situation of diminishing returns.
Realtor.com's Larissa Runkle sat down with a few housecleaning experts to determine a few common (albeit well-intentioned) cleaning mistakes they see people make, as well as offer advice on how to avoid them.
First off, you are not a Proctor and Gamble. Making your own cleaning products is noble, but you may not know how those products can also ruin surfaces or even how, mixed together, they can be downright deadly. Vinegar can dissolve the coating of wood surfaces, and baking soda can scratch and destroy chrome-coated items or marble countertops. And no matter how strong the cleaning fumes may be, never mix bleach and ammonia. It can generate chlorine gas, producing toxic vapors.
Read labels! You may be using the wrong product. Using multipurpose cleaners on high-end pieces that include wood, marble, or stainless steel can cause discoloration, even those handy cleaning wipes can cause damage. You can use them on a lot of surfaces, but not on everything. So, when in doubt, READ what the manufacturer or supplier instructions about how the product can and can't be used to clean.
What about attacking odor? You have to know that you may have become odor-insensitive after a while, perhaps only noticing how your house smells after you've gotten back from a vacation or long business trip. The act of merely spraying a deodorizer may seem like a quick fix, but cleaning experts strongly advise against it no matter what those TV commercials claim.
"The biggest mistake I see is people trying to cover up odors instead of handling them at the source," says one of Runkle's expert sources. "Walking into a house that smells like Febreze, and has candles burning in every room, and still has an odd smell is a direct sign to me that the person is trying to cover up an odor of some sort." Solving the real problem may be a simple as using a fabric cleaner for the couch or carpet or taking out the trash more frequently. Dog baths help, as does making sure the kitty litter does not sit for long.
Did you know there is an order to housecleaning? You may not know this if your mom never explained it to you. You can't just push the vacuum around one day and decide to dust the next and what about that ceiling fan whose blade tops are never seen? Cleaning aficionados say to clean from top to bottom, starting with the ceiling fan, entertainment centers, and cables, and finish off by vacuuming up anything that may have fallen on the floor. Vacuuming comes last.
Clutter creates work, which means when you let junk accumulate, you'll end up cleaning it along with everything else. "Make a garbage pile and a to-do pile," suggests cleaning guru Jenna Haefelin in the article. "When the to-do pile piles up, take action!"
Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval: What’s the Difference?
If you are starting the home buying process, you may have heard that you need to get pre-qualified or pre-approved. Although many people use these terms interchangeably, there are very important differences between the two terms that every homebuyer should understand.
Pre-qualification is seen as the first step in the mortgage process, and is usually done over the phone or online with a Loan Originator. You provide the lender with an overall financial picture, including your debt, income, and assets. The lender reviews everything and gives you an estimate of how much you can expect to borrow. Pre-qualification is based solely on the information you provide to the lender and can give you a starting point for your homebuying search.
A pre-approval can be done first or as a next step after pre-qualification. It requires the borrower to complete an official mortgage application and supply all the necessary documentation to perform an extensive check on your financial history and current credit rating. During the pre-approval process, you will discuss product and rate options because this is often based, in part, on your credit score. You may even lock in an interest rate. You will receive a conditional commitment in writing for an exact loan amount, allowing you to look for a home at or below that price level. Pre-approval puts you at advantage when you are negotiating with a seller because they know you are one step closer to being able to afford their home.
The advantage of completing both steps before you begin house hunting is that you will have a good idea in advance of how much you can afford. You won’t waste time with guessing or looking at properties that are beyond you means. The pre-approval also enables you to move quickly when you find the perfect home, because the seller knows that your offer is serious, especially in a competitive market.