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June 15, 2020

My Top Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining Your Home

You’ve been sheltering in place in San Francisco since mid March, and realizing that there are random things you really should address before they all add up and totally disgust you. There are a handful of things you can do to better clean and maintain your house, and that will make you happier at a time when we can all use a dose of positivity.

I was inspired to write this post while I washed my bedroom windows last week. The rooms were brighter afterward, and my reaction was similar to those of the homeowners for whom I’ve managed pre-sale prep work. (“We should have done this ourselves a long time ago! It looks so much better in here!”)

Here are my household tips for cleaning and maintenance. Doing any one of these things will make you feel more productive and satisfied living in your home:

1. Wash the windows. This includes interior and exterior panes, removing and wiping down screens, and washing the frame and sill around the windows. If you’re in a position to do this yourself, you can find a window cleaning kit at Lowe’s. Or you can contact my favorite cleaning company, Xavier, and schedule a time for Jezer to stop by to provide an estimate. And if you really want to go the extra mile, have those torn screen replaced within their frames at your local hardware store (or patch them yourself.)

2. Wipe off wall marks and do paint touchups. Magic Erasers do wonders for cleaning up high-traffic wall areas. (You have to be careful with plaster walls, though, as I’ve had mixed results with those.) Magic Erasers also work better on more recently painted walls (within the past five years). If you have a wall that’s beyond Magic Eraser help, either touch up or paint the whole wall. Keep in mind that touch ups can result in a splotchy look, especially on walls that get direct light.

3. Remove floor scratches. All hail the Tibetan Almond Stick, which really does remove extraneous scratches.

4. Power wash the exterior. If your exterior paint is in reasonably good shape and not peeling, a power wash is a great way to give you exterior a facelift. Xavier Cleaning Company also does power washing, or you could purchase a power washer yourself and give it a whirl.

5. Declutter. Get rid of whatever’s been taking up premium closet or garage space. If it’s basically junk, call my favorite hauler Dan Mahoney at Hassle-Free. Or contact a service like Remoov, which will pick up your stuff and sell, donate or recycle it.

Maintain and Repair
1. Replace your water heater if it’s old. If your water heater is more than ten years old and is showing signs of rust, it’s time to avoid a major flood and replace it. Give Baron at Excalibur Water Heaters a call, and he’ll help you figure out what’s best.

2. Inspect your roof and keep it in good repair. Flashing, gutters, water stains in the attic or top floor ceiling—these are all things to keep your eye on, especially if your roof is more than 15 years old. Call a trusted roofing company like Tom Lee and set up a time for them to evaluate your roof. The best time to do this is May-August, because you likely won’t be competing with all the roof leak calls they typically get in the rainy season.

3. Deck cleaning and staining. Power washing your deck (yes, Xavier does that, too) and then staining it every two years will keep your deck in excellent condition. One important tip: Don’t use paint on a deck. It doesn’t look good, and it also doesn’t hold up as well as stain. And while you’re at it, grab a screwdriver and check out the condition of the wood in places. If the screwdriver goes right through the wood, it’s time for some repairs.

4. Change your furnace filter. You should change your filter at least twice a year; if you have allergies, quarterly changes are best. And if you have an old gravity furnace, I highly recommend scheduling a PG&E inspection to make sure everything is working correctly.

5. Deal with the “handyman” stuff. Broken tub stoppers, running toilets, crappy tub grout—this is something a good handyman can knock out in a few hours (or you can, if you have the skill set after watching a YouTube video). Handypeople in San Francisco typically charge anywhere from $50-$100 per hour, depending on what’s needed. I guard my handyman contact info with my life, but get in touch with me at if you’re a nice person and really need something specific done. 🙂

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