Quick and Dirty: 10 Tips to Clean House Before You Sell

Real Estate Agent with The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia

Selling a home can be a major pain, but cleaning it before you sell is probably an even bigger pain! It is much easier (albeit more daunting, initially) to clean an empty house than a full one. Whether your home is going on the market empty, with you still in it, or staged to sell, clean-up duty is a must. Here are the top 10 ways to take the dirty out of your home, quick!

1. Clean from top to bottom in every way- start at the top floor, working your way down, and begin with ceilings/fans/lights and finish with sweeping and vacuuming floors. After all, gravity takes hold of everything, even dust!

2. If the home is not empty and if possible, move all furniture and items into a hall or adjacent space so that you can clean each room completely. This will allow you to remove cobwebs and dust from behind everything, remove scuffs, and rub out carpet dents. It will also help you to re-evaluate the items you want to put back into each room, if you are living in the home while it’s on the market.

3. Your best friends for cleaning are: Magic Eraser, sweeper, vacuum, all-purpose cleaner, and glass cleaner. Almost all of your spaces can be cleaned with these products, and they will give an instant face-lift to your space.

4. Mini-blinds (aluminum or plastic) can get really, really dirty without you catching on. Take them down and soak them in the tub with hot water and dish soap, wipe them down gently. Air-dry them outside, or rinse and wipe dry with an old towel. Don’t forget to clean the windows, too!

5. Replace light bulbs with CFL’s (compact fluorescent bulbs) for brighter spaces, and to save energy. The last thing a new homeowner wants to do is change burned out light bulbs.

6. Remember those vacuum attachments that you never used? Get ‘em out! Using vacuum attachments to reach dusty carpet corners, crumbs inside drawers, and cobwebs on your 10 foot ceiling will make you wonder why you never used them before!

7. Oxygen cleaner works wonders on carpet stains! Mix a product like OxiClean powder with warm water and use for almost any carpet stain to spot clean. If you realize just how dirty your carpet is after spot cleaning, you may need to decide to do a full steam-clean. Rentals are available from many retailers.

8. Clean your kitchen and bathroom last! Give it a whole day, and make sure you are ready to get down to business. No one wants a scummy tub and your old burnt mess on the bottom of the oven. All-purpose cleaner should work just fine, but in the case of severe mold/mildew or set-in stove stains, you may want to invest in some tile and oven cleaner. Not to mention some gloves!

9. If you had pets, smoked in your home, burned candles frequently, or the like, you may want to invest in a paint job. Surprisingly, you tend not to notice the build-up of pet dander, ash, and soot until you wipe a dirty spot. In less severe cases, wiping clean with warm cloth and a cleaning agent might do the trick.

10. Reward yourself. This isn’t really a tip, more of a must-do! You will be so annoyed if you spent all day, or a few days, cleaning your home just to move out of it! Take yourself to a movie, dinner, or out on the town to make nice with yourself for all the hard work you just did. Go ahead, you deserve it!


Clean Up Your Act with Tidy Dwellings


Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Cindy Jones 08/08/2010 03:09 PM
  2. Michelle Francis 08/09/2010 01:44 AM
  3. Stephanie Stringer 08/11/2010 12:53 PM
Home Improvement
Pennsylvania Philadelphia County Philadelphia
Selling Soulfully
Posts to Localism
Philadelphia PA - Philly Investing - Real Estate in Pennsylvania
Advice for Sellers
cleaning tips
home improvement
home cleaning

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Jeremy Moore
Century 21 United Realty* - Peterborough, ON

I couldn't agree more. The home must be cleaned thoroughly.

Aug 05, 2010 01:43 AM #1
Yvette Chisholm
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Rockville, MD
Associate Broker - Rockville, MD 301-758-9500


Great list, but I do disagree with #4, by all means change the bulbs, but the compact florecent bulbs do not show off a house in the best light as many of them take 30 to 60 seconds to become bright...and by then, the client has moved through the space and determined it "dingy" - especially basements.

Lights Out! Show The House in the Best Possible Light

Aug 05, 2010 01:46 AM #2
Robert Hammerstein
Keller Williams Valley Realty - Hillsdale, NJ
Bergen County NJ Real Estate

Christopher - Excellent list.. I must pass this along to some of my sellers....

Aug 05, 2010 01:49 AM #3
Anita Clark
ColdwellBanker SSK Realtors ~ 478.960.8055 - Warner Robins, GA
Realtor - Homes for Sale in Warner Robins GA

Good practical advice yet so many people fail to follow through with these important steps.

Aug 05, 2010 01:49 AM #4
Suzanne McLaughlin
Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael) - Saint Michael, MN
Sabinske & Associates, Realtor

Mrs. Clean (as my friends call me) couldn't have said it better.  One more tip...move the range out and the refrigerator out and clean those areas, too.  They collect food bits like you wouldn't believe.  And the range hood always needs attention, too. 


Aug 05, 2010 01:49 AM #5
Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Nothing better than a really clean home.  It is amazing to me how filthy many homes are!

Aug 05, 2010 01:54 AM #6
Andy Leung
Team Leung-Keller Williams - Greensboro, NC
The Power to Move You!

Great thoughts!  Thanks for the tips!

Aug 05, 2010 02:40 AM #7
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

A Clean home is a must!

Aug 05, 2010 04:43 AM #8
Heather Oberhau
Prudential Fox & Roach - Newtown, PA
Bucks County Real Estate, e-PRO

Great advice.  Those magic erasers are, in fact, magic.  

Oh, and wipe down your light switches!  

Aug 05, 2010 05:13 AM #9
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Great advice, don't forget the return duct for A/C units, people always forget to vacuum thses and they are often clogged with fluff. Trust me I know, I always forget it and after putting away the vacuum cleaner look up and see the dirt clinging to the ridges.

Aug 05, 2010 05:20 AM #10
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

Now if you could just find someone to come to my house and take care of all the items on the list :-)

Aug 05, 2010 11:57 AM #11
William Collins
ERA Queen City Realty - Scotch Plains, NJ
Property and Asset Management

Christopher & Stephanie, thanks for the post. This is a great  overview of salient points, helpful to those preparing their home for marketing.

Aug 06, 2010 03:05 PM #12
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for the post. It should be given to sellers at the listing appointment.

Aug 12, 2010 12:11 AM #13
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