Keeping your house clean while selling it

Real Estate Agent with Remax First Realty II 0790808

Your agent has told you that you must keep your house as clean and "show ready" as possible. We have also told you to accept showing requests as much as possible with as little advance notice as possible. And of course you want to sell your home quickly, so you have no choice but to keep it clean. 

Most sellers find this daunting at best. If you weren't showing your house, you'd probably keep it reasonably clean, wouldn't you? Maybe clean once a week and straighten a bit in the evening? But now, we're asking you to maintain that magazine gloss all the time.

Between preparing three meals, accumulating laundry, and generally living in the house, a house needs constant upkeep to be "show ready." Here are a few things you can do to minimize the stress:

  • You've already "de-cluttered" to get the house ready for the photographer. Now keep an eye on those places where clutter accumulates. Don't put anything there. At all. Ever. 
  • Eat out if you can. Or order in to minimize dish usage. Use a crock pot which has the advantage of giving you time to clean up while the meal is cooking. At the very least, keep the kitchen clean while you're cooking. Wipe up spills immediately, put away ingredients you're not using. If you keep something like a toaster or a vase on the counter, wipe it down every day. 
  • Don't cook smelly foods. The day you cook with tons of garlic or curry, you're bound to get phone calls!
  • Wipe the bathroom after every use. We use Lysol sanitizing wipes - they're easy, inexpensive, disposable, and one wipe cleans the sink, counters, and toilet. Clean the mirror.
  • Dirty laundry goes straight into the washing machine and clean laundry goes straight into your dresser or closet. No intermediate steps at all.
  • If you can afford professional help, consider a housekeeper for 30-60 minutes every other day. If not, elicit the help of your family. Everyone should be responsible for their own bedrooms - make the bed and put away clothes every day. Divide the rest of the responsibilities among the family. Young children can fluff pillows and take out the garbage. Older children can run vacuums, wash windows, and mow the lawn. 
  • Do a walk through of your house every morning before you leave. It's not unusual for there to be a few showings during the day, especially if your home was recently listed. Be sure it's in show ready condition every morning. It will be easier to maintain this if you spend 15-30 minutes every evening putting things away and wiping down surfaces.


Last minute fixes - What do you do when an agent is on the way?

  • The kitchen is a prime attraction to buyers. It needs to sparkle. The inside of the dishwasher doesn't need to sparkle, however. If you've got dirty dishes around the kitchen, get them into the dishwasher now. Spray and wipe the faucet, the inside of the sink, the stove top, the counters, and any appliances you  have visible. Empty the garbage. Put dirty dishtowels in the washing machine. 
  • Bathrooms are also prime attractions. When you get the phone call that an agent is coming, wipe down the bathroom and change the towels. Close the shower curtain, toilet lid, and medicine cabinet.
  • If you have a pet, remove the pet's bowls and toys. We used to hide them in the dishwasher or the oven. We had a client who hid them in the washing machine.
  • Make the beds if they weren't made already and pick up any clutter. 
  • Put away remote controls, mail, cell phone chargers, lunch boxes, whatever items you normally leave out but don't want to distract from the showing.
  • Open the windows if weather permits. This allows in fresh air without giving it a chemically perfumed smell from air fresheners.
  • Any clutter you simply can't put away neatly in time? Throw it into a laundry basket and take it with you.

Got an extra half hour? If the agent gave you a little more notice and you've got the time to do a better job, here are some bigger items you might want to tackle.

  • Sweep, mop, and vacuum floors, especially corners where dust collects. 
  • Sweep the front porch and walkway.
  • Wipe the front door.
  • Set the table with pretty placemats and dishes. 
  • Mow the lawn.


Can you live like this for a few weeks? The good news is that your home will always be clean!

Posted by




~ Wayne & Jean 

Union County, NJ - a great place to live and work!

If you're looking to buy or sell a property in Union County, call us at 908-917-4189 or email


facebook  Pinterest  LinkedIn  Read Our Blog!

All opinions, information and data provided is deemed reliable but is subject to errors and omissions. Not intended to solicit other Brokers' clients. We cooperate with them fully. 

Comments (10)

Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Wayne and Jean, never  could understand people who did not want to cooperate in the sale of their home. Enjoy your day!

Oct 01, 2015 08:57 PM
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo and Home Specialists

Yes, although it may be stressful, being "show-ready" it is the best way to staying ahead of the clean-up!

Oct 01, 2015 09:16 PM
Sybil Campbell
Fernandina Beach, FL
Referral Agent Amelia Island Florida

Wayne and Jea Marie, it can be hard sometimes to keep a house in show ready condition but the end result is always worth it.

Oct 01, 2015 10:13 PM
John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
Honesty, Integrity, Results, Experienced. HIRE Me!

Good Friday morning Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl -

This summer we listed a luxury home with 4 kids all under the age of 6.  The sellers decided quickly they would move out while showing in order to keep the house clean and in showing order. It paid off with a super quick buyer.

Oct 01, 2015 10:55 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Wayne & Jean, it does take a lot to keep a home show ready, but you have prepared a detailed list for Sellers!  

Oct 01, 2015 11:14 PM
Edward Perez
Sothbey's International Realty - Hoboken, NJ

Great blog!  Buying a home is a very emotional process.  A buyer will typically "feel" that the home is right for them and it starts at the curb and as soon as they walk in.  These tips will help them get to that point.

Oct 02, 2015 01:49 AM
Mark Loewenberg
KW of the Palm Beaches - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
KW 561-214-0370

a little cleaning every day makes it so easy to get it and keep it ready daily.. such an EASY tip!

Oct 02, 2015 10:09 AM
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

Good morning Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl . You are so right, the extra care when a property is on the market will go a long way.

Make it a great weekend!

Oct 02, 2015 10:11 PM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

What a great list that will help get a seller's property sold. It takes work on both the seller and agent's part.

Oct 03, 2015 03:22 PM
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC

Wayne and Jean

Your tips are right on target on keeping the home clean when your selling it.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Oct 04, 2015 01:31 PM