You have finally decided to make the jump and sell your house. Putting your house on the market, finding a new one, filling out the paperwork, not to mention cleaning and preparing your house for showing — It can be intimidating and just plain exhausting. I mean, where do you even start?
Before selling a house, owners should take the following steps to clean their home:
- Create a plan
- Clear out the clutter
- Elbow grease
- Don’t forget the yard
Cleaning up should not add to the chaos of selling your house. It should be a way for you to make a fresh start by properly presenting the home you once loved. From packing up to showing off, here, we will provide a full guide to cleaning your home, so it becomes the easiest part of moving out.
Create a Plan Before You Start Cleaning
Having a plan is the first step to any large task in your life – and selling the home you’ve lived in is one of life’s biggest undertakings. To help tackle this large project, know what you are going to do, and how much time you want to do it in. Give yourself realistic goals and clear directions.
Do a Walkthrough and Make a List
Start with a walkthrough of each room in the house and make a list that includes:
- Problem areas in each room, in terms of cleanliness, damage, or clutter
- Fixtures in each room, such as ceiling fans, appliances, counters, and closets
- A breakdown of which items are going with you, what will be donated, and what is trash.
Then, make a list of jobs that need doing in every room, such as:
- Walls Vents
You may want to have a friend or family member outside of your household do this along with you. It’s good to have another set of eyes to catch things you may not notice as easily about your home.
Once you’ve done your walkthrough, break up the job into small, attainable tasks. For instance, if you say you want to donate anything you have not worn in over six months, stick with it. If not, you will waste a lot of time making hundreds of tiny decisions. A clear space makes for a clear head.
Clear Out the Clutter from Every Room
Get rid of everything you do not use or need. This won’t only be helpful when showing off your old home, but it will help you bring less into your new one.
Get Rid of Useless Items
When you are getting ready to show your house, you want it to be in the best shape it’s ever been. In this situation, “less is more.”
Get rid of the toaster oven that has been sitting on the counter for the last 10 years but has not made any toast in at least five. Do away with the tacky nick-nacks that have been taking up space on your mantle for who knows how long. Say goodbye to the sports equipment your kids left behind when they moved out.
Removing the stuff that is lying around transforms a house from messy and crowded to tidy and neat!
A Sentiment is in the Moment, Not the Item
Get rid of the items that do not make sense or have no value. Even if these things are sentimental to you, it does not mean you must keep them. Let go; it’s okay.
It’s a pretty safe bet that your brother’s 3-year-old won’t be offended if you tossed the popsicle pencil holder that she made you at preschool three years ago. And we can guarantee you won’t forget her or love her any less after you do. The only difference this will make is a clear shelf.
Do you have boxes of puzzles that have never been put together or craft kits that have never been opened? Give them away. If you have a large “to do” pile, filter through it and get rid of the “to do’s” that have been there the longest.
Chances are good you are not going to get them done before you move, right? For anything you decide to keep, make sure it’s stored neatly in labeled containers. You might end up actually making some of these crafts one day if you can actually locate them.
Organize Everything – Inside and Out
If everything has a place, you will know where to find it when you need it. Another plus: it makes your home look organized and neat. When someone walks in, they will see the potential for their own items and belongings. Don’t forget that potential buyers will be opening up closets and cabinets, too!
When your belongings are in boxes and labeled, you will not only look clean but organized, and this shows professionalism. That’s a great advantage when you are trying to make a sale. Plus, you will already have everything packed and ready to go when you are all set to move.
The Over-Cluttered Kitchen
When you begin to show your home, the kitchen will be one of the first rooms your viewers are going to want to see. It’s where a lot of the day is spent, so size and space are important.
Counters and Cabinets
If someone walks into your kitchen and pans and lids are everywhere, or your Tupperware cabinet is out of control, it will give the appearance there is not enough room or the space is not adequate for your everyday household needs. Clear the extra supplies out.
Have You Checked the Pantry?
If not past expiration, donate those cans of soup you bought while on the soup diet, before realizing you hated soup. Take the time to make your pantry look simple and easy to access, not like you are preparing for the apocalypse.
Tackle the Closets
Just like the kitchen pantry, you do not want your closets to look cluttered and too small. Make the most of the space and get rid of anything you do not need. There are plenty of great companies that offer personalized closets at affordable prices. The more you can do with the closet, the more your buyers will see the potential of the space.
Time to Put in the Elbow Grease and Get Cleaning
Now that your space is cleared of garbage, useless items, and space invaders, it is time to clean the house. Literally. Grab the paper towels, disinfectants, cleansers, and brooms.
All the Small Things
Preparing your home for a walkthrough can be one of the biggest make-or-break moments of the sale. If the home is not in tip-top shape, your buyer may walk right out the door. Just as important as the shelves and closets you just cleared out; the smallest places get noticed too.
Make sure you are checking these items while scrubbing down your home.
- Fan blades: These accumulate a lot of dust and dirt throughout the years that you may not even have noticed. You want to take a wet duster to these at the least to remove the buildup. If they are too hard to dust off, consider removing the blade and cleaning them in the sink.
- Light and outlet plates: Fingers are constantly touching and poking at these items daily. You’re turning on and off lights and plugging in different appliances all the time. To clean these items, simply take a wipe or paper towel and gently scrub. If stained or too hard to clean, these are low-cost replacement items that can make a huge difference.
- Windowsills and baseboards: These places are often overlooked when doing your daily cleanup. Most people may do a quick wipe down if it gets dusty or dirty but never a thorough cleaning. Get out the sponge and cleaner and make it look brand new.
- Vents: Filtering air all day long, your vents are sucking up and trapping tons of dirt and debris. We neglect to pay any attention to these fixtures because they barely need maintenance. Make sure these items are clean and dust-free; no buyer will want to see dirt build up around any part of the home.
Be Odor Free
There is no bigger deal-breaker than a smelly home. That all-too-familiar term “nose blind” is a real thing, and it’s ugly. From pet smells you have become accustomed to, to your teenage sons’ dirty foot-scented bedroom you have turned a blind eye to—all these smells could cost you in the end.
Here’s how to make sure your home isn’t harboring any unwelcome aromas:
- Wash the carpets: A beautiful carpet can be an incredibly attractive accent to any room. Unfortunately, it can also make it smell like a doghouse. The carpet fibers are known to absorb scents, good and bad. Rent a heavy-duty carpet cleaner from your local hardware store and make sure your guests are hit with a fresh scent when they walk into the room.
- Wash the furniture: Just like your carpets, your furniture’s fibers collect and store odor-causing air particles making your couch and chairs smell like must, mildew, and soil. Give it a good deep clean using a steamer or cleaner, so when your buyers sit to sign the paperwork, they don’t think twice.
- Garbage cans and laundry baskets: Yes, we are asking you to wash your garbage cans, wastebaskets, and laundry baskets. All these items are designed to collect dirty, smelly things, so you will want to make sure they are clean when you’re showing your home.
- Pet beds and litter boxes: Of course, you have already cleaned the litter box and maybe even decided to keep it out of sight (good decision). However, your pet bed? The truth is, your pet is dirty. The buildup on their coats will get into their beds, leaving an odor you may not even notice. Toss it in the wash or take it to the cleaners. You and Fido will appreciate it too.
Sinks and Tubs
Your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room have some of the toughest jobs in the house. From spills to dog baths, a quick shoe clean, and more, your tubs and sinks see a lot. And with that can come to a lot of stains and wear.
- Cleaners and Scrub brushes: There are many different cleaners on the market today sold specifically for these purposes. Purchase a great cleaner and sponge and hit every bath and sink space in your home.
- Naturally clean: If you want to take a more natural approach and stay away from harsh fumes or toxic chemicals, a popular way to clean these areas is to mix half water and half white vinegar into a bottle. Spray the site and let sit for 10-15 minutes, and then scrub out. You will notice a nice shine, and so will the buyer.
A lot of buyers want to bring in their own appliances, but for the viewing, you still want everything spic and span. Your appliances take quite the beating throughout their lives, from the washing machine to the stove. Put on the rubber gloves and put in the elbow grease.
A Fresh Coat of Paint Helps Show Off Your Home
Your home is the center of your life, your family. It sees all the birthday parties, new puppies, and playdates. Your walls and trim are bound to get colored on or stained. Grabbing a bucket of paint can go a long way. You do not necessarily need to repaint every wall in every room; just a quick touch up can add value to your home.
If you do choose to repaint a room completely, stick with more natural tones and colors. Keep the color light or white. Not only do lighter, more natural colors brighten up a room and make it appear bigger and spacious, but they also help the new homeowner feel their furniture and decor will match just fine with the current colors. Less work for someone is a big bonus when purchasing a home.
If you decide not to paint, just make sure you give all the walls a good scrub. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.
Cleaning Up Your Curb Appeal: Heading Outdoors
A clean home is a sellable home. Now that the inside is odor-free and clean, remember the outside is what the prospective buyers will see first. Get your tools out and the hose ready; it’s going to be a long day.
Fix the Fence
- Check the decks and railings or fences: Fixing a broken fence or railing is especially important when selling your home. You want the buyer to see a safe and livable place to raise their family. If they see something as simple as a broken railing, they are going to wonder what else could have been left unmaintained.
- Paint the porch: If the porch or fencing is dirty or the paint is chipping, you may want to give it a touch-up coating. This will give your home curb appeal and appease the potential buyers.
Wash the House
Yep, the whole house. Wash it. Pull out the hose and give it a good spray; any local hardware store sells vinyl siding cleaner that you can simply hook up to your hose and turn on the water. You could also purchase or rent a power washer to get those stuck-on grime spots or the high-up blemishes. A clean house on the outside will represent a clean house on the inside.
Empty Out That Garage
So much stuff will collect in your garage or shed over the years. Although this stuff may seem important to you, it’s not going to seem appealing to a buyer. Toss anything that has accumulated throughout your lifetime but has not seen the light of day in years
- Rent a storage locker: For the larger items that may be taking up space or making your garage or shed look cluttered, rent a storage unit. Just like inside the home, you want the viewers to imagine the space with their belongings in it. They should be able to see everything the room has to offer so they can see themselves living there.
- Spray down the floors: Make sure the floors are clean from dirt, oil, and debris. Where you may have once worked on your old Ford projects, your potential buyers may want for their children’s play area. Any parent would frown upon a dirty stained-up floor in the spot their toddler may be running through.
- Organize everything: A garage or storage shed is used for just that, storage. Make sure it is clean and organized, though. Having paint cans and chemicals strewn about will make any viewer wary of the space, and that would not be good for business.
Why is it Important to Clean When Selling Your Home?
Besides the obvious answer (that you want a clean house when strangers are coming in), there are some very important reasons you are going through the hard work of cleaning your home before you sell:
A Clean Home Brings Value To Your House
If the buyers see a more attractive home, they are going to want to own it more than they would if they see themselves cleaning it. When a home is move-in-ready, it is more of an incentive to prospective buyers.
A Clean Home Feels Inviting
When you are having an open house or showing your home to a couple interested in buying, you want them to feel welcomed. When a potential buyer walks into a clean, fresh home, they can see themselves in the space and what they can do with it to make it their own.
A Clean Home Makes You Look Good As a Seller
When buyers walk into a clean house, you want to look professional and put together. A clean home shows you are serious and ready to do business. When you look like you are capable and the house is ready to go, buyers will be more inclined to act fast. They will be less likely to drag their feet on the process because they will not foresee the extra work that may need to be done before unloading the U-Haul.
A Clean House Is a Home
There are so many tasks to be handled when preparing for a sale. The biggest is getting the house sold. The chances of selling a clean house are much higher than a “lived-in” one.
Your takeaway from this guide should be that to sell your house, your buyers have to be able to envision their home. And you want to make that as easy as possible for them to picture. Their home is not going to smell like your pets or have your child’s growth chart on the wall. It’s not going to have your cluttered cabinets or dirty stove.
A clean home is a sellable home. So, get scrubbing.