December 11, 2013
Red Wine Stains
An oenophile is not safe from its scourge except in a nudist colony. The red wine stain, an inescapable consequence of the bibulous life, is a special hazard around holiday time, when liquid tends to flow freely and elbow room can be tight.
Maybe you’re not too concerned. You’ve got Aunt Ruby’s folk remedy or a commercial blotter at the ready. Problem is, most wine-stain-fighting techniques – sorry, Aunt Ruby – are about as effective as all those hangover “cures.”
So, I have gone to the mountaintop and consulted the highest authorities, a wine-country dry cleaner, a chemist and a veteran household-tips guru. What they had to say enlightened me. And I’d advise skipping the rest of this column at your wardrobe’s – or carpet’s – peril.
“Leave it alone,” said Tracey Michael at Classic Cleaners in Penticton, in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia’s premier wine region. “Take it to the dry cleaner and let them deal with it.”
Self-serving, perhaps. But Michael, who receives a constant stream of merlot- and syrah-stained linens from local winery restaurants as well as pieces of wine-stained clothing every day or two, says amateur strategies tend not to work. She reserves special derision for commercial blotting products designed to fade the stain prior to laundering. “Don’t ever buy a Tide to Go pen,” she said, referring to the magic-marker-like blotter. “Sometimes they don’t work and then it leaves marks on the clothing where the dry cleaner usually has to get them out.”
Michael says she’s bracing for a surge in wine-related business during Christmas holidays after the fall quiet period. “Never buy red wine,” says Michael. (Easy for her; she doesn’t drink the stuff anyway.) “I’d love to talk to these wineries. Quit making this s---.”
Although the traditional dry-cleaning solvent, perchloroethylene, or “perc,” is designed mainly for grease and tends not to work on wine, Michael and another dry cleaner I spoke with say their “wet cleaning” (a.k.a. laundering) arsenals, including professional blotting chemicals, are far superior to what you and I can accomplish at home. What are those techniques, exactly? “It’s an ancient Chinese secret,” Michael said. “If I told everybody, then I wouldn’t be in business.”
Frantic Lady Macbeth at-home stain-fighting strategies, including club soda, salt and – that bizarre old chestnut – pouring white wine over a red-wine stain, are not only ineffective but apparently can do more harm than good.
A 2001 study conducted at the University of California at Davis, the leading wine school in the United States, dispensed with the latter two, among other things. Prof. Andrew Waterhouse, a wine chemist, teamed up with Natalie Ramirez, then a high-school student on a summer internship at the university, to compare various popular home and commercial remedies on red-wine stains.
They divided the research into two sections: fabric that had been soiled just two minutes prior to treatment and dried-out fabric that had been stained for 24 hours. After each treatment – which typically involved blotting with the cleansing agent – the fabric was laundered with detergent in a home washing machine and the intensity of the residual stain was measured using a Minolta Colorimeter.
The results, which cover four different types of fabric – cotton, polyester/cotton blend, nylon and silk – are too detailed to fully summarize in this column, but suffice it to say that the two most effective treatments on most fabrics consisted of: a mixture of Dawn liquid soap with an equal volume of hydrogen peroxide (a very mild bleach, specifically the 3-per-cent formulation commonly available as a wound treatment in drug stores); and Erado-Sol, a commercial cleaning solution traditionally used to remove biological and chemical stains from lab coats. (The latter is now sold to consumers as Stain Rx, available at stainrx.com.) Spray ’n Wash (now called Resolve) finished a respectable third only on the fresh, two-minute stains.
BEPPI CROSARIOL, THE GLOBE AND MAIL
Published Tuesday, Dec. 10 2013
December 9, 2013
Green Your Home and Save Money
According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), 74% of British Columbia home owners would consider green home renovations. 67% would consider green renovations even if they cost more than non-green renovations options. More than half (52%) of home owners agreen that co-freindly home improvements increase a home's value while benefitting the environment. The primary barrier to green home renovations for Canadian home owners is cost.
The REBGV has produced a publication on simple green renovations that will get you thinking about the possibilities. Download it at http://www.realtorlink.ca/portal/server.pt/document/3672521/50_ways_to_green_your_home_and_save_%24%24%24
December 4, 2013
Grants and Rebate for Property Owners
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has compiled a list of available grants and rebates for Property Buyers and Owners. These include:
- energy saving mortgages
- low interest energy saving renovation loans
- rebates for buying ENERGY STAR clothes washers, fridges, dishwashers or freezers
- fridge buy-back programs, and
- rebates for businesses for energy-efficient boilers, water heaters and other improvements
Download this document at
December 2, 2013
Tips for Holiday Home Sellers
Tradition has it that there’s no point trying to sell your home in late winter, especially the holiday season. And every year at this time, listings bottom out. But Realtors report that buyers are out there, and desirable, well-staged, well-priced homes still sell well, no matter what month it is.
Here are some seasonal strategies to make your home stand out in the December/January market.
1. Be prepared to negotiate
Many people house hunting in December and January are serious buyers who are aware that there are bargains out there. Consult with your Realtor to determine the ideal price for your home and make a plan for negotiating to reach it. Don’t reject initial lowball offers. They may be just a starting point.
Tip 2. Add curb appeal
How do the front and back yard look? It’s winter and the garden is sleeping, but can you make it look better with pots of attractive winter-hardy plants? If you’re planning on selling, it’s probably worth the investment to hire landscapers who can add curb appeal to your home.
Tip 3. Stage it and pare it down
This goes for any time you’re selling. Eliminate all clutter, remove personal touches—make your home as neutral as possible so buyers can imagine living in the space. If you can’t bear to part with your clutter, hire a stager. Getting rid of stuff adds huge value to your home.
Tip 4. Decorate with discretion
Much as we love to lay it on thick during the holidays, decorations equal clutter, and clutter is a bad thing at an open house (see Tip 3). Instead of decking the halls to the hilt, just put up a few dramatic but simple decorations.
Tip 5. Go with nature
Avoid overtly religious seasonal decorations during the holidays. In a multicultural region like ours, consider a nature theme: evergreens, rosemary branches, candles, berries, pinecones, lights. A few dramatic sprays or a small tree are festive without being overbearing.
Tip 6. Don’t hide flaws
House hunters want to see everything, so don’t use holiday decorations to hide some flaw. Cracks, mould, water stains, whatever… it’s better to fix them than hide them. Otherwise, like the Ghost of Christmas Past, they’ll come back to haunt you.
Tip 7. Make it fragrant
This is the season when you can really appeal to the most primal sense: smell. For open houses, simmer a big pot of some kind of punch with apple and spices on the stove to make the space smell like everyone’s best memories. Or bake some special cookies just before you leave. Use real scents, not fake ones.
Tip 8. Keep it minimal
You’re busy, your Realtor is busy, everybody’s busy —you can get away with just a couple of open houses during the holiday season. There are interested buyers out there. They’ll come because they’re serious.
Tip 9. Gift wrap your home with a great online listing
Buyers will be doing much of their house hunting online, so work with your Realtor to make your listing really sell your home. Include lots of photos—even video or a virtual tour—so viewers can get a real sense of your home. Include a couple of summer photos so people can see what the garden looks like at its best. In the listing itself, include key words that people will use in their online search, including the neighbourhood, the schools nearby, and the style of home. Use these more than once so the search engines will give your listing a better position in the search results. Finally, check the copy for spelling and grammar so it looks professional.