I'm the editor of Smart, a magazine for women in southcentral Pennsylvania. I said "I do" to my wonderful husband in 2002. We have two adorable children who have taught me much about life and love. With the birth of my second child, I bid farewell to my dreams of having a clean house, folded laundry and family dinners on weeknights.

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Make your home shine

Kimber Sutton

Kimber Sutton, 42, of York Township makes washing windows look easy. Photo by Jason Plotkin/SmartMamaPA.com

By HOLLY WHITE for Smart

Dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing the toilet are regular chores that you probably do to keep your house clean. But what about the exterior of your home — when was the last time you cleaned that? Would you even know how to start?

Different surfaces on your home’s exterior should be cleaned at regular intervals to eliminate grime and dirt.

To clean the outside of your home, you’ll need a pressure washer, garden hose, large bucket, extendable, ­soft-bristled brush and cleaning chemicals or soap, according to Steve Konarzewski, owner of Squeegee Klean in York.

First, apply the chemical wash or soap to the particular surface (brick, siding, stucco); spray the power washer from bottom to top to avoid streaking. Let the cleaning agent soak on the surface for up to five minutes. You should be able to see the dirt and grime dissolving.

“Make sure you’re close enough, around 8 to 12 inches away for siding and around 6 to 8 inches for stucco and brick,” said Jason Anthony of Advantage Power Washing in Dover.

Standing several feet away won’t provide enough pressure. When spraying off the soap, spray from top to bottom and stay away from spraying underneath the siding. If your home is made of aluminum siding, avoid power washing because it has the potential to ruin the painted finish.

“You can also power wash patios and sidewalks,” Anthony said. He uses general soap and a degreaser, which really makes a difference.

Following these steps, you can have your home in pristine shape year-round.

Windows

Steve Konarzewski, 27, recommends ­cleaning windows on the outside a couple of times a year. The best tools are a squeegee, a bucket of warm water, a little ammonia and some dish soap, said Konarzewski. Scrub the window with a cloth or sponge to get all of the dirt and stains out, and then scrape the squeegee in a straight line horizontally across the window. Wipe and scrape again, until the window is clear and clean. If using Windex instead of soap and water, use a dry micro-fiber towel to make the window shine. If there are smears or streaks, turn the micro-fiber over and buff the window.


Gutters

Gutters should be cleaned out at least once a year, according to Rob Camarro of Mr. Green Gutter Cleaning in Hellam Township. He recommends cleaning them twice, once in the spring after the buds and pollen have settled and to get any winter twigs out, and again in the fall to remove leaves and gunk.

The main tool needed is a ladder. Always make sure the ladder is placed on a solid surface, and never put it on top of another object. For every 4 feet the ladder is reaching up to, place it 1 foot away from the vertical surface (i.e., a 12-foot roof would need the bottom of the ladder to be 3 feet away from the side of the house). And always have the ladder stretch 3 feet higher than the surface you might need to climb onto.

“I always use gloves; I like latex to keep my hands dry,” Camarro said. A good pair of gloves and a scoop found at your local hardware store are useful. When you’re finished, make sure you can run water through the gutters, seeing it come out the other end.


Awnings

Joe Musti of York Tent and Awning Company recommends hosing the fabric off each month with clear water to keep dirt from embedding within the fabric. A thorough cleaning will be needed every two to three years. This entails brushing off loose dirt, hosing it down, and using a cleaning mixture of natural soap mixed with water and a soft-bristle brush to scrub, letting the soap soak in. After ­rinsing thoroughly, let it air dry. If there are stains that won’t budge, mix 4 ounces of chlorine bleach, 2 ounces of natural soap and 1 gallon of water. Soak the stain for up to 20 minutes before rinsing. Washing machines can be used if the awning will fit and only ­natural soaps are used.

About our model

Kimber Sutton

Age: 43

Lives in: York Township

Family: Husband Brian, 42; children: Stevee, 21; Brandy, 18; Erica, 14

Hobbies: Scrapbooking, music, ­exercising, camping, co-leader for York County 4-H Entomology Club, ­collecting insects, ­butterflies and moths with her family.

Least favorite chore to do around the house: Yard work

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