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Workforce Shortage in Montana Has Small Businesses Thinking Outside the Box

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Montana’s unemployment rate was an impressive 3.8% in April of this year, lower than that of the national rate of 4.3%.  However, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) is now facing the issue of a workforce shortage. The DLI anticipates that this shortage will put Montana’s unemployment rate below 2% by 2025.

So Why Is There a Workforce Shortage?

For starters, Montana’s number of retirees (those aged 65 and older) is projected to grow by 7,000 people each year, while the working age population (those aged 16 to 64) is only expected to grow by 475 each year. Simply put, Montana does not have enough people in the working age group to fix this shortage.

On top of this, another reason for the workforce shortage is due to low wages. In the past, employers generally had an adequate pool of candidates looking for work, and were therefore able to pay employees less. Now however, with a lack of applicants, employers are beginning to reconsider what they’ve paid employees in the past, and whether it’s still enough.

While some state legislators have proposed raising the current minimum wage from $8.05 to $10.10, lobbyists have continued to shut the idea down due to concerns that the increase would be too cumbersome for small businesses.

It’s Not Just About the Paycheck

Despite the working age group being so small and some employers having a difficult time filling open positions due to low wages, it isn’t all about the income for some. In fact, many new employees, and specifically millennials, want meaningful jobs where they know that their work will have an impact.

Typically, millennials measure job satisfaction based on flexible work schedules, a collaborative office culture, relaxed dress codes and validity from their employer. Because millennials are more likely to switch careers than other generations (due to feeling a lack of job satisfaction), employers are finding it more difficult both to attract and retain these employees.

What’s Next?

Many Montana government job descriptions are now being tailored to include responsibilities and the influence in the workplace that an employee would have. To reduce turnover and hold onto employees, some employers are beginning to offer flexible schedules, thus drawing in a larger pool of both interested and qualified applicants.

As many smaller companies begin to struggle with the workforce shortage, employers are encouraged to market themselves and their open job positions to appeal to the younger generation. Many businesses may have to reconsider how their positions are structured, and what they can do to entice and keep millennials who enjoy working in collaborative, honest, and fun environments.


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Looking To Sell? 5 Projects to Improve Your Curb Appeal

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

With nice weather becoming a constant and summer just around the corner, this time of year presents a great opportunity for sellers to prepare their homes to hit the market. Many people shop online first, and often times the first image of a home they see is an exterior view. If this initial image doesn’t impress a buyer, they may move on to another home and not continue to consider yours.

These simple projects can help improve the curb appeal of your home if you’re looking to sell this summer:

  • Add a Pop of Color

Because eyes are instinctively drawn to color, adding a few flower pots or hanging flower baskets near your front door or porch can add visual interest and draw positive attention to the exterior of your home.

  • Hang Outdoor Lights

Lighting is a feature that many buyers take into consideration when purchasing a home, and exterior lighting is no exception. Taking the time to install outdoor lighting or hang string lights can enhance your porch or deck area and highlight exterior features of your home that buyers may be interested in.

  • Update Your Fence

Fences, or a lack thereof, are an exterior feature that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Buyers with children or pets will appreciate the presence of a fence because it will create a private and safe area. If you have a fence, consider whether it needs a fresh coat of paint or if any boards are broken or loose. If you don’t have a fence and investing in one is feasible for you, consider the style, color and amount of time it will take to have one installed.  

  • Invest in Landscaping

Adding landscaping to any home can increase the home value and attract the attention of buyers. A few DIY project ideas include planting trees or flowers, cleaning the edges around walkways, or hanging a hammock. While some landscaping projects don’t require the help of a professional, other attributes such as water features or retaining walls may require an investment if you’re looking to up your curb appeal game.

  • Stage an Outdoor Living Room

If you don’t already own patio furniture now might be the time to invest, especially if your home offers views.  Staging an outdoor area with chairs, a table, colorful cushions and an outdoor rug can help buyers visualize afternoons lounging in the sun and evenings spent relaxing with friends, which may contribute to their overall decision to purchase.

While completing these projects isn’t necessary in helping to sell your home, they are all possible options to consider if your curb appeal needs improvement. Regardless of budget or time, there always steps to take in order to add home value and attract buyers' attention.


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5 Easy Steps to an Energy-Efficient Home

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

The simplest things can make a big difference in the efficiency of your home. Many homes waste energy that could have easily been saved—but not yours, because you found this article.

Here’s a few easy ways to save a ton of money on your home energy bills:

#1. Choose the Right Windows

Windows are the biggest source of heat loss/gain in a home.

If you own an old home that still has single-pane windows, replace them with newer, energy-efficient windows and you’ll probably see an immediate difference in your energy bills.

A choice as simple as the type of windows you buy can make all the difference. You should always consider frame materials and designs when buying new windows. Hinged windows are more efficient than sliding windows because they allow less air leakage between seams. As for the materials, avoid metal frames because they conduct heat, and choose insulated fiberglass window frames for the best efficiency.

Special note: Choose the right windows for your climate. If you live in cold, wet climates, choose materials like vinyl, fiberglass, or wood-resin composite (windows labeled with U-values less than .3 are the most insulated).

#2. Seal the Leaks

If you see a gradual increase in your energy bills over the years (given prices or anything else hasn’t changed), you might have a leak somewhere on your home’s exterior. If this is the case, you should call an HVAC company and have them do and energy audit on your home to find any hidden leaks.

In the meantime, look around your window frames and doorways, beneath your baseboards, and around flues and chimneys. If you find a leak, you can either use caulk, weather-strips, or foam spray insulation to seal it up.

Special note: Sliding barn doors can make a tighter seal than hinged doors in some cases, because it fits in a slot inside the door frame rather than against it (plus they could go well with rustic styles homes if you have one).

#3. Get a New HVAC System

Older HVAC systems are much less efficient than new and improved designs that are available today. If your current system is more than 10 years old, it would be wise to either get a new one or make improvements to bring it into this decade.

Special Note: Humidifiers can be integrated with your HVAC system to add water vapor to the system’s air flow, which can greatly improve humidity levels during the dry seasons of fall and winter (which might help when you have a sore throat)

#4. Pack More Insulation

The amount of insulation a home has is arguably the most important aspect in keeping your home energy-efficient. We’ve seen a beautiful home in a great location with hardly any flaws but one that turned a few buyers away- the insulation was so bad that the energy bills were outrageous!

Older homes like that one could have insulation that became compressed or shifted out of place over the years. Adding the appropriate amount of insulation to the attic will have the biggest effect, given that it is installed properly with no gaps and with the recommended amount of insulation for the region.

Special note: Adding insulation to your walls does not have to be a big demolition project (unless that’s what you want). Contractors can blow insulation into the walls without tearing all of it down.

#5. Get a Programmable Thermostat

Isn’t it wonderful how advanced technology is getting these days? New programmable thermostats that are available now can be set to change the temperature of your home on a schedule, so you won’t have to remember to adjust it every day before you leave the house. Some new thermostats can even change the settings remotely. Imagine the cost savings!

Black-Olive Proposal Denied by Bozeman City Commissioners

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

The long, drawn out debate over the Black-Olive proposal has finally ended. On April 11th, about 7 months after it was proposed in Sep. 2016, city commissioners decided to nix the proposal after concerns were raised about insufficient parking and blocked views of the surrounding countryside.

Bozeman residents seem to agree with this decision too. A recent poll conducted by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle showed that 65.2 percent of its readers approved of the city’s choice to deny the project.


black-olive proposal public poll

Bozeman Daily Chronicle: “Did Bozeman city leaders make the right choice to deny Black-Olive”

The project’s design was to feature 56 apartments in five stories and a commercial business space on the ground-floor, along with 37 on-site parking spaces.

With the proposed project site located so close to Bozeman’s cherished historic neighborhood south of Main Street, neighboring residents were concerned that the building would ruin “Bozeman’s small-town charm.”  

The major reason why commissioners voted 4-1 to deny the proposal was due to lack of sufficient parking, as all housing projects within Bozeman’s zoning districts require at least one parking space per bedroom. Neighbors in the vicinity to the Black-Olive project site raised concerns about residents filling up already crowded street parking in front of their homes.

So What Now?

The project’s developer, Andy Holloran, wants to regroup, modify the design, and resubmit the proposal for later review. If the parking issue and building aesthetics can be reworked and are in line with the development guidelines for downtown’s zoning district, the Black-Olive project may be revisited and reconsidered in the near future.

The Black-Olive project may have been scrutinized, but that’s not to say that mid-rise buildings are out of the picture for Bozeman. There are still three mid-rise projects that have either been approved, already built, or are currently under construction, including the SOBO Lofts, Element Hotel, and the 5 West Building.

All Current Mid-Rise Development Projects/Proposals

 

Perhaps this was the right project but for the wrong location, given that we may be seeing a reconfigured proposal again soon!

Follow us on Facebook, or sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive exclusive information about the housing market, real estate tips and advice, and local news and development in the Bozeman, Montana area.


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To Buy Before or After Selling Your Home?

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

One of the biggest frustrations in the real estate market is timing. Having another property lined-up after selling a home is not always easy. The ideal scenario for sellers is to close on their current home just as they purchase a new one, allowing a seamless move.

Unfortunately, as in most markets, it’s difficult to accurately predict timing between sale and purchase, causing frustrating conflicts in the transition process. The time-frame for getting a home under contract can range anywhere from days (not uncommon in here in Bozeman, Montana) to months or even years (typically for higher priced homes). This is why hiring a Realtor® is worth the investment to gain market insights about local inventory, months of supply, and other market conditions not entirely available to the public.        

In short, there’s no concrete answer about whether it’s better to buy before or after selling your current home. There are pros and cons to either decision (or outcome).

To Buy First?

Pros

If you have the financing available, buying a new home first may be a viable option. Having a home lined-up in advance has the obvious benefit of relieving pressure on your home search. This is typically the biggest advantage of buying first, because buying a home is no small deal, so you really shouldn’t rush and buy under pressure.

Buying first also allows you to move all your stuff and get your home just right before you move in, and again, without having to rush.

Another benefit of buying first is that, although you may end up having an extra mortgage payment, you won’t have to find a place to rent while searching for a new home. And because most renting agreements require a year lease, renting may not be the best option for you.

Cons

However, there exists the risk of not being able to sell your current home, or at least at the price or time-frame you were hoping for, adding the cost of a second mortgage.

Another major disappointment that you may face when buying first is losing out on your dream home. If you don’t have the funding to purchase a new home outright (as most people don’t), your offer will have to be contingent upon sale and transfer of title of your current home. Depending on how your contract is negotiated, a non-contingent offer may force your hand to remove a contingency in typically a 48 to 72-hour period, or terminate

To Sell First?

Pros

The main advantage of selling first is the strong position it puts you in as a buyer to negotiate, without being tied down by sale contingency terms. Offers tied to contingent-upon-sale contracts can significantly lower your negotiating power, and in a seller’s market, are often rejected.

Another great benefit of selling first is that it will give you the cash you may need for your new home.

Cons

On the other hand, selling your home before securing a new one will obviously entail the risk of not having anywhere to live in the meantime. When selling first, you may have to rent, stay at a friend’s house and pay for storage, or do whatever means necessary to find shelter in your transition between homes.

One way to avoid this, however, is to negotiate “rent-back” terms with the buyer of your current home, allowing some additional time for your home search.    

Why Hire a Real Estate Agent?

As discussed already, Realtors® have (or should have) a firm grip on local market conditions. Having experience and exclusive access to local market statistics, a Realtor® can provide a closer estimate of how long it should take for a home to sell in your neighborhood, and negotiate terms and conditions in your best interest. It’s the job of a real estate agent to be your trusted guide and ensure that the whole process, from marketing to writing a contract, flows smoothly.

With that, I have one last important tip: make sure to properly interview prospective real estate agents before entering a contract. Not all Realtors® have the same experience and wisdom in guiding you through the transaction process. Find an agent that truly cares about their clients and will go above and beyond expectations to serve you. Make sure to read through reviews, ask your friends and neighbors, and do some digging to find the right agent for you.

Follow us on Facebook, or sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive exclusive information about the housing market, real estate tips and advice, and local news and development in the Bozeman, Montana area.


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Bozeman’s 4th Mid-Rise Building Proposed to Replace an Old Grain Mill

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

Bozeman’s 4th mid-rise building is currently being scoped out for a site on the east side of downtown. This BG Mill building will have a little more character than the rest though, turning an old grain mill that has been vacant for decades into a 5-story, multi-use building with a mixed modern/rustic style architecture.

The proposed plan for the BG Mill project includes a parking garage and a small commercial space on the ground floor, 18,000 square feet of office space on the middle levels, and 10 condos on the top two levels. The project developers, Michael Ochsner and Chris Lohss, plan to integrate three silos from the grain mill into landscaping features and hopefully keep the “BG Mill” logo for the new building.

Although there has been a long, drawn-out debate over mid-rise buildings changing the character of Bozeman’s small-town charm, Ochsner and Lohss point out that the site, located on the southeast corner of Mendenhall Street and Broadway Avenue, is already surrounded by other existing commercial properties.

While residents are concerned that the Black-Olive project, another mid-rise building proposed for Bozeman, would cast a shadow over Bozeman’s southern historic downtown neighborhoods, the BG Mill project may not cause nearly the same issue.

Positioned between the south end of a neighborhood and the north end of downtown Main Street, the site seems to be better suited for its location where it wouldn’t obstruct views of the Bridger Mountains to the North—a major point in the argument against mid-rise buildings in Bozeman.

The project developers said they haven’t filed an application for the project yet, but plan to do so by next week. Once approved, construction of the BG Mill project is hoped to break ground this summer.

A public meeting will be held at the Bozeman Public Library on April 13 at 7 p.m. to discuss the project and gather feedback from the public.

All Current Proposed Mid-Rise Development Projects for Bozeman.

Follow us on Facebook, or sign up for our monthly newsletter for exclusive access to our latest market stats, expert tips and advice, and local news and development in the Bozeman, Montana area.


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Bozeman Ranks Second as the Fastest Growing Small Town in America

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

According to the U.S. Census Bureau population estimates from 2014 to 2016, Bozeman, Montana was the second fastest growing micropolitan area in the country for the second year in a row, with a population growth rate of 3.6 percent.

While a micropolitan area is categorized by the Census Bureau as a county that “contains a core urban area with less than 50,000 people” (half of what is estimated for the Bozeman area), it also includes adjacent counties that have a high degree of social and economic integration with the core urban area. By definition, this means that the following estimates may include outlying areas where a large portion of residents commute from.

From 2014 to 2015, the population in the Bozeman area increased from 97,276 to 100,739 residents—a change of 3,463 residents. Over the same period, Williston, North Dakota far outpaced other areas in population growth, at 9.9 percent.

From 2015 to 2016, Bozeman grew at a slightly higher rate of 3.7 percent, ending 2016 at a population of 104,502—a change of 3,763 residents. This time, Heber, Utah took the lead at a growth rate of 4.5 percent, while Williston took a downward turn with a -3 percent growth rate.

Although we came in second for growth rate, Bozeman actually had the greatest population increase, and by a large margin. There weren’t many other areas that gained even a third in the number of new residents as Bozeman did. If it wasn’t for the smaller sizes of the other areas, each having a population around 35,000, we could have been in first.

What Does This Mean for Bozeman?

Well, for one, there’s certainly no sign of Bozeman slowing down.

According the latest economic report by the local nonprofit Prospera Business Network, non-labor income is “one of the largest and fastest growing sources of income in the West.” In 2015, non-labor income accounted for 36 percent of total personal income in Gallatin County, according to data collected by Headwaters Economics.

While retail, food, construction remains the three largest employers in Gallatin County, it’s no surprise that the high-tech sector is growing at such a rapid rate. Read our latest report on Montana’s high-tech sector to find out more.

Consequently, with so much growth and demand, the cost of living is on the rise. In April 2016, Bozeman’s estimated cost of living was 0.4 percent below the national average. However, both housing and health care costs were above average, by 6.6 and 3.9 percent respectively.

From 2014 to 2016, the median sale price for a home in Gallatin County was up 8 percent, now at $309,000.

Follow us on Facebook, or sign up for our monthly newsletter for exclusive access to our latest market stats, expert tips and advice, and local news and development in the Bozeman, Montana area.


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Bozeman Montana Becomes Hot Spot for High Tech Companies

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

The high-tech industry is thriving in Montana, growing at a rate seven times faster than other sectors.

Montana’s high-tech companies are expecting to add roughly 1,000 new jobs this year, paying an average salary of $60,000—more than double the median annual income in Montana.   

The Montana High Tech Business Alliance counted a total of 546 tech companies in Montana as of December 20, 2016. Yet the organization says there are even more companies unaccounted for, as smaller companies may be hiding in remote business parks and second-floor offices without signage.

Much of the attention seems to be focused around the Universities. With Montana State University pumping out more qualified talent each year, as FICO Chief Executive Officer Will Lansing says, “the talent pool in this part of Montana has attracted dozens of leading technology firms.”

High Density of High Growth, High-Tech Companies

He wasn’t kidding either. Here’s a list of some of the most successful high-growth technology companies in Bozeman, Montana.

Ascent Vision, an aerospace technology company based in Bozeman, grew from two people to a team of 50 and made millions within just the first year of operation in 2013. Last year, the company began construction of a new 30,000 sq. ft. facility by Belgrade. It will be interesting to see how this company will grow with the rising demand for sensors in UAVs, counter UAS systems, self-driving cars, and ground based military applications.

Elixiter, a marketing services firm, averaged an astounding 100 percent growth rate year over year, landing on the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing companies in 2016. Having such rapid and unanticipated expansion, the company relocated four times in four years, finally settling on the northeast side of Bozeman.

FICO, a data analytics company for credit rating services, plans to add a new location in downtown Bozeman, and hire 50 new employees within the next 18 months. The company employs roughly 3,000 around the world, and is a recognized leader in analytic technology. FICO was ranked #31 among the Top Technology Providers in financial services ​by American Banker and BAI, and was also named to the Analytics 50 by Drexel University and CIO.com.

Foundant Technologies, is a “software-as-a-service” company in Bozeman that develops grant and scholarship management software, was also on the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing companies in 2016, but for the third consecutive year in a row.   

PrintingForLess.com (PFL), while technically located in Livingston, Montana, is close enough to give credit to the Bozeman area. PFL landed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies for three consecutive years, and appeared on CNBC, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times for having innovative HR policies. Having established the first website for commercial printing, PFL has made significant progress since it was founded in 1996. It evolved from a traditional print shop into a sophisticated marketing technology company. It’s expecting significant growth in 2017 with its new software, named “Tactile Marketing Automation.”

Quiq, a firm that develops text messaging software for customer service, scored a $6.5 million investment last year—a great start after just being established in October 2015. Company CEO Mike Myer, a former employee of RightNow Technologies before it sold to Oracle for $1.8 billion, says it was an easy decision to choose to start this business in Bozeman. He says “Montana is a great place to recruit up-and-coming people, and not just recruiting, but retention and loyalty.”

Wisetail, a learning management software (LMS) company in Bozeman, is an inspiring entrepreneurial example. Amidst the most recent housing crisis, company founder, Justin Bigart, started the company with the ambition to repay his debts, refusing to consider bankruptcy as an option. His hard work and determination certainly paid off. Wisetail ranked #32 in Outside Magazine’s 100 Best Places to Work in 2016, named one of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in America by Inc., and one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Best Small Businesses in America.  


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Bozeman Invests Millions in More Parks and Trails

by Hart Real Estate Solutions

bozeman trails

 

As Bozeman has grown, The Bozeman Parks and Recreation Department has been taking steps to maintain and enhance our beloved parks and trails. The department currently manages more than 40 parks and 60+ miles of trails in and around Bozeman.

The one thing that the city of Bozeman, Montana takes pride in, above all, is its parks and trails. People come here for the freedom to get lost in the bliss of Montana’s beautiful countryside, while also being just minutes from the heart of a bustling city.

Since the $15 million park bond was approved by voters in 2012, the city spent about $14 million of its funding on projects such as stream remodeling, trail extensions and three new parks that will add 150 acres to the city’s current 500 acres of parks.

 

Six major park projects are currently underway in Bozeman.

 

The Story Mill Community Park Project is working on transforming 55 acres adjoining the historic Story Mill on the northeast side Bozeman, an area currently lacking in parks, into both a nature sanctuary and a fun place outdoor recreation, community gatherings, and educational programs.

This new park will be an urban-style wetland, outlined by boardwalks along Bridger Canyon Drive, with a new trail, named Story Mill Spur, added to the trail network. In addition, this project will turn an old boys and girls club into the city’s first community center. 

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFSoIBKxV_U

 

A New 80-acre Sports Park will be built on the west side of town, by Flanders Mill Road and Baxter Lane. The park will include 12 rectangular fields for sports such as soccer, lacrosse, and ultimate Frisbee, while also having open space, trails, and a playground and a splash pad for the kids. This park is planned to open in 2018.  

A Nine-Acre Addition will be made to the 16-acre Bozeman Pond Park near Gallatin Valley Mall. This extension will include a new off-leash dog park, more trails, picnic areas and a natural playground.

Enhancement will be made to Bozeman Creek through Bogert Park, as part of the city's environmental restoration initiative. The Bozeman Creek Enhancement Committee believes that the Bozeman Creek “is a focal point of our quality of life,” and intends “restore the natural processes for a functioning stream ecosystem.

Two New Trails will be added to connect Bozeman’s trail system to the “M.” Front Street Trail will connect Oak Street Pathway to Story Mill Spur, leading to a 2.1-mile path that will be paved all the way to the famous “M” Trail. The goal of this project is to eliminate the need for hikers and bikers to drive a car just to get out of town. The completion date for this project is set for 2018.

More To Come, as the director of Bozeman Parks and Recreation, Mitch Overton, says there’s another $25 million in park projects underway with contributions from partners like Trust for Public Land, Gallatin Valley Land Trust, the Sports Park Foundation and many others. Seems like a great value for taxpayers!

 

Follow us on Facebook, or sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive exclusive information about the housing market, real estate tips and advice, and local news and development in the Bozeman, Montana area.


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Bozeman Ramps Up Development This Spring

It’s that time of the year again! The weather is getting warmer, the BBQs are firing up, and Spring cleaning has begun! It’s time to take care of all those dreaded chores that you’ve been putting off all year. But before you start going on a cleaning frenzy, be sure to prioritize the most important areas of your home—areas that you probably didn’t realize was so important.

Here’s a list of some of the most important Spring cleaning tasks that you should be taking care of every year.   

Dusting…

Refrigerator Coils

Refrigerator coils are a dust magnet, and if left unattended, accumulation of dust can impair energy efficiency. Too much dust will force your refrigerator to work harder and spend more costly energy to keep your precious groceries cold.

Cleaning them is easy. The coils can be found on either on the bottom or back of the machine. Just take a vacuum with an upholstery attachment and suck up all the big chunks. Then, use a duster or a specialized refrigerator coil brush to clean between the coils and pick up any pet hair or dust that’s clung to the coils.  

Ceiling Fans

It’s easy to forget about your ceiling fans, so here’s a friendly reminder to clean them before you start flinging dust around the room. Dusty ceiling fans are also a big source of allergens, which you don’t need more of in the Spring, or ever.

Baseboards

Much like other crevices of your home where you don’t typically pay attention to, baseboards can accumulate a lot of dust. So, don’t forget about the baseboards, especially if you’re getting ready to move out of an apartment. Landlords might keep more of your deposit if you leave more for them to clean (it happened to me).

Washing…

Pillows—not just the pillow cases

Yes, your pillows are washable. Once or twice a year, you should be washing your pillows to clean off your nasty sweat and dead skin cells, which dust mites love!

Comforters

Just like pillows, comforters are also a favorite place for dust mites to hang out.

Mattresses

You might think it’s protected by your sheets, but it’s not. While you’re washing your sheets, pillows, and comforters, vacuum the mattresses, then spread baking soda on it and let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming it again.

Deep Cleaning…

Shower Heads

If you have hard water, shower heads can easily accumulate lime scale that is tough to remove…or is it? If you wrap a plastic bag full of distilled white vinegar over the shower head and let it soak for a few hours, magic happens!

Appliances

So things that do the cleaning, don’t need to be cleaned, right? WRONG! Your dishwasher, washer, and dryer can actually get quite gunky if you don’t clean them on a regular basis. Here’s a few secrets to get the job done right.

Dishwasher—Food and leftover soap can build up along the bottom and sides of your dishwasher. Place a shallow bowl of white vinegar in the dishwasher and sprinkle a LITTLE BIT of baking soda along the bottom, then run it through a hot cycle.

(Important note: vinegar mixed with baking soda starts a chemical reaction, which is why it does a good job cleaning, but can also cause explosive fizzing if too much is added)

Washer—Dirt and detergent can build up in your washer and can even stimulate mold growth in the worst cases. A cup of bleach through the hottest cycle possible should do the trick!

Dryer—While you should be cleaning off the lint screen after every cycle, you should also occasionally pull off the hose in the back and try to remove as much lint as possible (a leaf blower works great!). Hint: if it takes longer than normal to dry your clothes, it’s time to check the hose.

Carpets

Advice from the Environmental Protection Agency: you should be steam cleaning your carpets at least once or twice a year. Bacteria and dust mites thrive in dirty carpets, so don’t put yourself or your children at risk of health issues and allergies. Plus, carpets are not cheap, so keep them in their best shape!

Filters

Filters obviously can’t do their job if they are clogged up, which would increase energy use while spreading dust throughout your entire house. Air filters, furnace filters, and even vacuum filters should all be checked on a regular basis and replaced when necessary.

 

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