House Proud – Without A Trace, Sun Media April 5 & 7

They prefer pinks, flouncy curtains and floral-patterned rugs. You like calm neutrals, soft lighting and the clean lines of wooden blinds. The only thing you have in common is that you both saw the same place as a space you could make into a home. They’ve moved out and now you’re moving in so it’s time to get rid of any trace of them and truly make the place your own. 

It’s amazing how many people seem to have missed the life lesson, “leave things the way you’d like to find them”. Sticky stove-tops, crud in the corners of drawers and a refrigerator that smells like food you’ve never eaten are all signs that a home isn’t yet yours no matter whose name is on the mortgage or lease. The previous owner of my north Toronto house left behind an upright piano he described as a “family heirloom”. Not only was it a broken down piece of junk, this so-called instrument had to be professionally dismantled to get it out. Naturally, we billed the previous owner but the burden was annoying and took the fun out of our move-in weekend.

Thankfully, most abandoned flotsam is less troublesome to eliminate although it does require a bit of effort and a few carefully chosen tools. Start with rubber gloves to ward off as much of the ick factor as possible. If Mr. Clean Magic Erasers ever go off the market I’ll stockpile them like I’m starring in an episode of Hoarders. They work minor miracles at removing everything from floor scuffs to marks on baseboards to just about anything on a painted surface that you don’t want to be there. I recommend buying them in bulk because they do lack durability and crumble easily.

Pop-up wipes are also invaluable and there are so many scents and brands to choose from. They kill germs as they go and you can use them all over the kitchen and bathroom to remove the gross evidence that the place wasn’t always yours. That bathtub ring will wither under the power of a disposable wipe.

A good vacuum is a must and you really do get what you pay for with these suckers. Dyson has developed what it calls two-tier cyclone technology in smaller vacuum models that have the same power as the full-size versions. The company, whose products turn every which way because of their patented ball, has now added a carbon-fibre brush bar that claims to pick up the tiniest of unwanted dust particles.

bottle of Downy fabric softenerBefore your new place can feel like it’s truly your home it has to smell like you, or at least not smell like someone else. You can purchase fabric refreshing spray or make your own for a few cents. We love the fresh smell of our fabric softener so I pour 1/8 cup into a spray bottle along with 2 tsp. baking soda and hot tap water. Shake well and spray on whatever might be holding the scent of another woman or man.

Something about the faint scent of bleach just says “clean” to me. I wouldn’t want to smell it all the time but right after a cleaning spree, it’s ideal. Maybe your clean scent is lemon. Whatever it is, make sure it gets used. A little bleach in a previously enjoyed toilet just makes me feel better about allowing delicate skin to touch plastic seat.

As far as I know there’s no law that says you have to leave a dwelling spic and span for the next occupant, but there ought to be. If you’re on the move, it’s best to prepare yourself for the possibility that you’ll have to get in touch with your inner Molly Maid.