Spring cleaning tips for a healthier home

Spring cleaning tips for a healthier homeWith the warmer weather upon us, spring cleaning may be on your mind. And if you have asthma, it’s a good idea to focus some of your cleaning efforts on the air you breathe inside your home.

Indoor air is an important health concern, as most Canadians spend up to 90 per cent of their time indoors. Poor indoor air quality can play a significant role in triggering certain conditions, like asthma. Here are tips on reducing some of the more common indoor triggers:

Dust and dust mites:

  • Remove or reduce dust-collecting items such as carpeting, drapes, stuffed toys and old pillows.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water.
  • Encase pillows and mattresses in covers that are dust mite-proof.
  • Keep humidity level below 50 per cent.
  • Vacuum regularly using a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or central vacuum.

Mould:

  • If the humidity level is greater than 50 per cent, use a dehumidifier.
  • Limit the number of plants in your home.
  • Fix leaks and moisture problems as quickly as possible.
  • Remove clutter and allow air to flow throughout your home, especially in the basement.
  • For small amounts of mould, use warm soapy water to clean it up. For larger amounts, hire mould abatement experts.
  • Check that your eavestroughs and drain spouts are clear of any buildup.
  • Make sure the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation so that rainwater drains away — water should flow easily away from the house.
  • Throw away musty items.

Cleaning products:

  • Many household cleaning products contain chemicals that irritate the lungs, so buy air-friendly versions or make your own.
  • When using cleaning products, air out the home by opening windows and using vent fans.

Cigarette smoke:

  • * Do not allow smoking in your home or car at any time.
  • * If you smoke, take it outside every time; when you’re ready to quit, you can seek help from the Lung Association

Find more information online at lungontario.ca.

Energy saving tips for your spring cleaning list

Energy saving tips for your spring cleaning listSpring is in the air, which means it’s time to start decluttering and organizing. While the main purpose of spring cleaning is to clean your space, it can also include taking on tasks that will make your home more energy efficient.

Here are some tips from Hydro One on how to save energy and make spring cleaning a breeze.

Book a spring tune-up for your air conditioner. Annual servicing can reduce your cooling costs by up to 10 percent and extend the life of your system.

Commit to being clutter free. Keep weeds and debris away from your outdoor condenser unit to allow the air to circulate freely. Prune foliage to be at least 24 centimeters away from the condenser.

Change or clean filters. Clogged filters restrict airflow and make your system work overtime, making it less efficient. Spring is a great transitional season for you to check both your furnace and air conditioning filters to ensure they are clean and working properly.

Install a programmable thermostat. If properly set, it can reduce cooling costs. Set your central air conditioner for 25°C when you are at home and 28°C when you are away. Or turn it off to save more energy.

Schedule your washing loads. Run your dishwasher, washer and dryer early in the morning, in the evening or on weekends when electricity rates are lowest.

Find more tips at www.hydroone.com/saveenergy.

Five DIY renovation tips

Five DIY renovation tipsAs the days grow longer and the sun begins to warm the soul, many of us might be thinking it’s time to get our home ready for the warmer weather. It’s a perfect time to embark on that painting or renovation project you’ve been dreaming about.

  1. Let the clean, fresh air in. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation during painting or varnishing projects, or when installing any flooring using glues or adhesives. You can find out about your local outdoor air quality by visiting www.airhealth.ca.
  2. Understand what you’re using. Whether it’s paint, caulking or even window cleaner, use chemical products as directed. Follow all safety and usage instructions on the label, including how to dispose of any leftover products. Be sure you use all personal safety equipment recommended on the label.
  3. Choose low-emission products when possible. Paint or varnish products often have a noticeable smell. The odour will contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some chemical products that are labelled as “low emission” give off fewer VOCs. Look on the label to see if the product is low emission.
  4. Check for asbestos. If you are planning renovations and your home has building materials already installed that you think may contain asbestos (like insulation, exterior siding, floor or ceiling tiles), contact a trained and qualified asbestos abatement professional. They can test for and remove asbestos before you begin. Never try to remove building materials that may contain asbestos yourself.
  5. Keep chemicals away from children. Keep all household chemical products safely stored where children cannot see or reach them.

By following these renovation health tips, you can brush away the last signs of winter safely.

3 ways to refresh your home for spring

3 ways to refresh your home for springLooking to update your home for the season but don’t have time or budget for a major renovation? Do it right with these three easy DIY paint projects that can each be done in just a day.

“The seasonal transition from winter to spring is the perfect time to freshen up,” says Sharon Grech, colour and design expert for Benjamin Moore. “If you’re like me, you don’t have unlimited time to devote to working on your home, which is why small weekend projects are perfect because they’re quick, easy and affordable.”

Hit refresh with paint. Nothing says refresh quite like bringing new life to a tired piece of furniture. A fresh coat of paint is the perfect solution to make old, dated furniture seem trendy and new. Look for pieces that have solid construction and interesting shapes. Grech says headboards, wardrobes, chairs and side tables are all great pieces to transform. If you are unsure of the condition of the furniture or how to paint it, visit a local paint retailer to ensure you get the product that is right for your project.

Amaze with an accent wall. Feature walls are a great way to make an impactful change to a space. “Many people think accent walls need to be very bold and vibrant hues, when they can be neutral to create a more cohesive and harmonious feel,” says Grech. Explore painting the fifth wall, otherwise known as the ceiling, for a unique and modern look that can add dimension to a space.

Front door décor. The front door has the ability to instantly create an inviting impression before guests enter your home. “Applying a fresh coat of paint to your front door is a great DIY project that can be done quickly and can invigorate the look and feel of your home,” says Grech. “Because it’s so easy, you can even change your door colour seasonally.” Benjamin Moore’s Aura Grand Entrance collection, inspired by European enamel finishes has more than 42 curated colours.

Find more information at www.benjaminmoore.ca.

 

Simple spring ideas add seasonal touches to your home

Simple spring ideas add seasonal touches to your homeA new season is here, and that means it’s time to give your living spaces an update. Refresh your home with a few strategic elements that can take you from winter to wow.

Surprise with unexpected florals. Flowers during springtime are not exactly a groundbreaking idea, but you can add a twist by incorporating them in creative ways. Think removable wallpaper or a reupholstered statement armchair with pretty, punchy or playful florals. Fresh flowers are never a miss, and you can make them bloom and last longer by placing an ice cube in their water every other day.

Transport outdoor greenery inside. Nothing says spring like new plants, flowers and shrubs. Even if you don’t have a backyard, you can give your interiors a touch of the garden with easy-to-maintain plants around your home. Popular varieties this year are coloured plants like the Pink Princess Philodendron, aquatic plants that require less care, and dwarf fruit trees.

Brighten with a pastel palette. Today’s trending colours are perfect for the season. Add some millennial pink, soft lavender and cheerful yellow with decorative accessories like pillows and art prints for an easy update. For a more substantial makeover, try painting an accent wall one of these shades for a pop of colour and keep everything else neutral for a balanced look.

Update your window’s look. Sometimes all it takes to energize a space are new window fashions. Be sure to choose something that lets in plenty of the sun’s rays after a long winter, like Pirouette window shadings from Hunter Douglas. Soft horizontal fabric vanes float on a sheer backing, allowing you to achieve infinite combinations of light control, view-through and privacy. The sheer fabric back panel diffuses sunlight, transforming it into a warm glow while filtering out ultraviolet rays.

 

Catch water damage before it costs you

Catch water damage before it costs youSpring has arrived, bringing with it new life, fresh vegetation and buckets of rain. In between splashing in puddles and smelling the budding flowers, make sure you take the time to inspect your home in advance of increased precipitation.

Water is the number one cause of damage to homes, outnumbering fire claims. To protect your home, look out for tell-tale signs of water damage in these areas:

Roof. Check for any leaks that could be causing water to seep into the walls and foundation. If your roof has shingles, inspect it after major storms to make sure none of them have blown off. To prevent water from pooling, clean your gutters regularly to make sure nothing is restricting or diverting water flow.

Ceilings, walls and frames. Look for water stains on the ceilings and walls of every floor of your home. Check windows and doorframes for cracks, dried caulking and any signs of mould and mildew. If a room has a damp or musty odour, it’s likely that water damage is hiding somewhere.

Foundation. Most homes built after the 1950s have a foundation drain that captures water accumulated near the home’s walls through a perforated pipe. But those pipes can get clogged by sand, soil and roots and should be inspected regularly. You can help prevent clogging by planting trees at least 15 feet away from your home and keeping them pruned to slow the growth of roots. If your home’s foundation has suffered water damage, you should notify your municipality in case the damage is related to the city sewers.

Water appliances and pumps. Though they’re not affected by weather, it’s a good idea to include your toilets, washing machines and dishwashers in your regular checks. Look for broken components that could cause leaks or overflowing.

If you do discover water damage, be sure to take photos of all the damaged items in your home, even if they will need to be thrown out. This will help you with your insurance claim. Insurance providers like Belairdirect offer a variety of coverage options and can work with you to make sure you have the right coverage. Find more information online at belairdirect.com.

5 smart tricks to make cleaning faster and easier

5 smart tricks to make cleaning faster and easierGet a jump on your spring-cleaning with some tips that’ll leave every corner in your home spotless in no time.

Make it part of your routine. If you wait to clean and tidy up once a week, a month or even a season, you’re setting yourself up for a long, heavy chore that you’ll only dread and procrastinate. Instead, try incorporating easy tasks like wiping the kitchen counters, straightening out the living room and freshening up your bed with linen spray into your daily schedule and you’ll have a much easier and quicker time of it when you deep clean.

Choose appliances that tackle the dirty work. You may already have a self-cleaning oven or laundry machine, but that self-cleaning magic is more valuable than ever when you can have it in the bathroom. The new VorMax Plus self-cleaning toilet from American Standard is a huge time-saver that cleans and freshens your toilet every time you flush. Available at Home Depot, it features an innovative design that uses a Lysol fresh infuser that reduces dirt buildup and an antimicrobial surface that inhibits the growth of stain- and odour-causing bacteria.

Set tidying up on autopilot. It’s a lot easier to clean when you have a system that keeps your house clean. Keep your mud room area in top shape by encouraging everyone to sort their coats, shoes and mitts as soon as they set foot in the door with designated hangers and pretty storage boxes. Eliminate unattractive packaging and clutter in the bathroom and kitchen with mason jars and decorative canisters for your toiletries and dried goods.

Have items work double duty. Get creative and think outside the box to find things that can do some of the cleaning for you. For example, your dishwasher can do much more than just clean your plates, pots and pans. Load it up with plastic toys, light fixtures and toothbrush holders and have it run while you work on everything else. Using dryer sheets to prevent musty odours in clothing storage boxes, linen closets and shoes means you won’t have to do extra cleaning or laundry just to get rid of unwanted smells.

Add some inspiration. Sometimes tasks feel like they take forever simply because they’re dull and repetitive. Time flies by when you’re entertained, so listen to a podcast or stream re-runs of your favourite show in the background for cleaning that seems speedier. You can also use the time more efficiently by multitasking and squeezing in a workout while you clean. Make every step count with a fitness tracker and throw in a few exercises like pushups or squats every time you switch rooms and easily meet your daily physical activity goals.

www.newscanada.com

Have fun in the sun safely this March break

Have fun in the sun safely this March breakWith time off around the corner, it’s time to think of sun care. Whether you’re headed down south or planning a staycation, you need to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. In fact, both snow and water can reflect UV rays, making your skin even more susceptible to sun damage. Whether you’re on a ski hill or on a beach, here are a few tips to keep your skin healthy.

Apply sunscreen daily. Choose one with a minimum SPF of 30 to help prevent skin damage due to gradual exposure to the sun. Even if your makeup or skincare contains SPF, opt for a product that is exclusively sunscreen, as the skincare or makeup ingredients dilute the protection.

Use a different sunscreen on your face. Formulas designed for your face and ones made for your body are different in texture and how they perform on the skin. Compared with body sun care, face care products are generally thinner, less greasy and look for ones that are non-comedogenic, as they’re less likely to cause breakouts and sit better under makeup.

Choose between mineral and chemical formulas. Mineral and chemical sunscreens act differently on the skin, so it’s important to know what works for you. Mineral sunscreen is longer-lasting, ideal for sensitive skin and have a better shelf life. However, it is thicker in texture, making it more difficult to blend, and it has a white cast. Chemical sunscreen is thinner in texture and easy to blend, and less product is needed. On the other hand, it tends to be pore-clogging and can irritate sensitive skin.

Choose an appropriate SPF. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF 15 blocks around 93 per cent of UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks around 97 per cent, while SPF 50 blocks around 98. The difference in protection is minimal, but that small percentage can add up over a lifetime. Also, you cannot layer SPF for greater protection. You are only as protected as the highest SPF number you put on. For example, an SPF 10 and an SPF 20 do not equal SPF 30.

Understanding your sun care needs and the best products to meet them can be difficult. Head to a local pharmacy like Shoppers Drug Mart to speak with a pharmacist and beauty expert to make sure you’re protected.

www.newscanada.com

Top home maintenance tips for spring

Top home maintenance tips for springAs warm weather approaches, spring is the perfect season to assess whether your home is in tip-top shape after a long winter. Below are four home maintenance tips every homeowner should consider to help keep insurance claims at bay while increasing the value of your home.

Get those gutters clean. With warmer weather and a greater likelihood of flash rain storms, now is the time to make sure your eavestroughs are clean. Removing any debris like leaves and dirt will prevent gutter backup and reduce leaks when it rains.

Keep the roof over your head. Roof damage — including loose shingles, leaks and cracks — is common during the winter due to the heavy weight added by snow and ice and icicle formation. As winter melts away, inspect your roof and attic to determine if any repairs are required.

Check the drainage of your property. Receding snow and ice may unveil eroded landscapes or pond-sized puddles on your property. Take advantage of the changing season to ensure your property is fitted with appropriate drainage fixes. This may be as simple as extending your downspout to drain into the lowest area of your yard.

Make sure you’re covered. Now is a good time to look at your home insurance plan and make sure your coverage is adequate. Summer weather events, social gatherings and time away can make your home more susceptible to damage or break-ins. You can easily manage your policy online with companies such as Esurance, freeing more time to enjoy all that summer has to offer.

www.newscanada.com