Cleaning Tips for a Quick Home Sale

Posted by Jeff Aughey on Sunday, May 27th, 2012 at 1:13pm.

If you are preparing to put your house on the market these days, you can't afford to overlook the details. The market is flooded with options for any qualified buyer -- you need to ensure that YOUR house is the most attractive option at the best possible price. Your Real Estate Agent will assist you with pricing. Only he/she knows the pricing criteria for houses similar to yours, in your area, that are receiving bids.

As far as the other things you can do, decluttering and ororganizing always improves home sales. Once that's complete, you will need to get down to the nitty-gritty of ensuring the best possible first impression.

Clean, Clean, Clean... then Clean Some More

Cleaning is one of those things that you don't notice if it's done, but you ALWAYS notice if it isn't done. You want any potential buyer to see your house as a great "move-in-as-is" option. You do NOT want them to walk from room to room making mental lists of all the things they are going to have to do to make it livable. If your house is not spotless, that's the first thing that will occur to them. Showing a sparkling clean house also indicates a pride in ownership (even if you don't feel it at the moment) and indicates that other more serious maintenance issues have been handled in a timely fashion. If you have a dirty house, what other (less visible) things have you failed to do to keep the place up?

Kitchens and Baths

These are the two areas where cleaning is the most critical. Any dirt or grime here will be blindingly obvious.
  • Clean around fixtures and faucets
  • Clean in corners
  • Eliminate water stains in Toilets
  • Pay attention to outside surface of commode
  • Scrub appliances
  • Wash down cabinets, cabinet pulls and kick-plates
  • Floors must be spotless
  • Scrub the edges where floor and objects meet
  • Polish sinks and tubs with a dry cloth to remove water spots
  • Touch up the paint if you can't remove dingy areas by cleaning alone

Living Areas

If the living areas aren't inviting, the potential buyer won't be able to see themselves being happy living here. Removing all the extra furniture and clutter is the first step, but afterwards you need to get down to scrubbing.
  • Clean the carpets, paying particular attention to high-traffic areas
  • Clean upholstered pieces
  • Dust all surfaces
  • Clean all light fixtures
  • Any non-carpeted floors should also be spotless
  • Clean all mirrors
  • Clean the glass on photos and hanging artwork
  • Dust any electronics and clean computer/TV displays
  • Check the corners for cobwebs

Private Areas

Bedrooms, offices and other "private" areas of the house should be organized and clean. These are the areas that show how the inhabitants of the home "really" live and should reflect a high level of cleanliness, organization and attention to detail.
  • Clean and dust all surfaces
  • Pay particular attention to mirrors
  • Computer and TV screens should sparkle
  • Notice the condition of kids' rooms and toys
  • Clean the light fixtures
  • Touch up any painted areas (especially important in kids' rooms)


If you own pets, the potential buyer should never be able to tell. Animal hair, food bowls and litter pans should be absent during any showing. Placing your animals in an "off-limits" part of the house only tells the potential buyer that there's some part of the house they are not allowed to see. Kennel the animals during showings or have a family member or friend pet-sit. "Love me, Love My Pets" is a great way to live, but a lousy approach to selling your home.

Other Issues

Add the highest wattage bulbs permitted in each light fixture. A light, bright room will appear cleaner and it will help you to clean easier. Clean all glass incorporated into furniture until it's streak-free and sparkling. Pay particular attention to doors and light switches - the areas around handles and switches become less than appealing with normal use. Windows should be sparkling to let in as much natural light as possible. Even if they are covered with curtains, be sure they are clean inside and out - potential buyers may peek. Blinds need to be clean and dusted. The trim around windows should be clean and dusted.

Get help

Once you live in a house for awhile, some things become virtually invisible to you. Call in a trusted friend to point out things you may not see. Someone who doesn't live with you will have a fresh set of eyes and will point out issues that a potential buyer will see immediately. If you don't have the time (or the desire) to perform a good thorough cleaning job, hire it done. But, make sure the company you hire is bonded, comes highly recommended (ask for references) and knows how to clean in depth - particularly for showing a house to potential buyers.

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