A quick clean isn’t enough when you’re trying to sell your home. It’s vital that your home appeals to potential buyers and that they can imagine living there. Clutter, dirt, dust, and general uncleanliness can greatly detract from your home’s charm and may even cost you a sale.
So, if you’re preparing your home for sale, or just want to thoroughly clean your property, here’s our in-depth guide to home cleaning and organisation.
To prepare this article we reached out to 60 interior designers, home decorators, and cleaning experts and asked them the following question:
What are your best home cleaning and organising tips to prepare a home for sale?
We received a variety of answers that you can read below.
Eliminate clutter, not personality when preparing your home for sale. Edit, edit, edit your collectibles, unnecessary furnishings, and family photos so potential buyers can see themselves in your space.
For accessories, try a few simple matching vases and reframing photos to blend effectively with the rest of the home.
Choose finishes that coordinate with your door, lighting, and plumbing hardware so that there’s not too much happening visually, while still getting a little pop of light or colour.
Pull heavy window coverings off your windows and let the sunlight in—and if the weather allows, open doors and windows for a dose of fresh air.
Lastly, add fresh flowers or plants to space as organic elements breathe life into your home and welcome visitors graciously.
Ashley Spencer – Casart Coverings
The best way to prepare a home for sale is to leave a positive lasting impression for prospective buyers with a clean, organised interior that stands out.
First, remove all non-essential tchotchkes and personal items: framed pictures, perfume bottles, and bathroom accessories. Leave the kitchen counters as bare as possible. Add pleasant scents with diffusers and just-baked cookies from the oven, creating a welcoming impression.
Thoroughly clean the house from top to bottom: Vacuum walls; dust; clean and mop floors; wipe down all cabinetry surfaces and baseboards, removing fingerprints and grime; polish door handles and fixtures, making them sparkle.
Scrub walls if needed and refresh with new neutral paint colours if showing wear and spot repair cannot be done.
Conventional wisdom is to depersonalise a property, but if everyone is doing the same, how are buyers really going to remember your property if there is so much sameness?
One trick is to create a “memory point” with one visual impact that stands out. This can be achieved with a peel and stick wallcovering that can add a pop of colour for the buyers to remember.
For instance, they might recall, “that house with the lovely birch and bird wallpaper,” which is both a contemporary, neutral and a striking art piece.
The estate agent can point out the flexibility of being able to remove and reuse the wallpaper, so they won’t feel committed to acquiring it.
Ana Cummings – Ana Interiors
My best ten tips for preparing a home for sale:
- Clean all surfaces, edit personal items, and style each room to look and feel like a welcoming hotel
- Declutter kitchen counters, people want to see how much usable space there is
- Add a fresh floral arrangement in the entryway to set the tone and convey to potential buyers that your home and the people in it are loved and cherished
- Add fresh or white towels & clean or new shower curtains in the bathrooms, every little detail will get scrutinised including your well-worn towels and shower setup
- Arrange the main living room for optimal conversation or TV watching, you want the place where all will congregate to feel warm, cosy and comfortable
- Make each bed with army-like precision, a well-made bed styled with shams, pillows, and bedding that coordinate with the room will please everybody
- Remove degrees, certificates, mail, and any identifying paperwork that has your name on it
- Hire the best photographer you can, people will spend less than 7 seconds online looking at your listing before deciding whether or not to book a viewing
- Consider virtual staging for empty rooms, people need as many visuals as possible to help stimulate their imagination
- Appeal to the buyers’ senses, especially smell. Aromas trigger and evoke emotions, you want to tap into those
Carrie Miller – School of Home Staging
Organise and edit bookshelves. Leave cookbooks, art books, travel books. Remove books about self-help, diet, health conditions, and other problems. Remove tattered books. Small details can help keep buyers’ thoughts positive as they tour the home. Organise books by colour for an extra wow factor.
Remove personal items from bathrooms and bedrooms such as grooming items. Keep these items out of sight while the home is for sale. The idea is to reduce visual clutter and avoid distracting buyers.
Thin out cupboards to show off as much space as you can and remove the current owner’s personality and taste. Any items you leave must be basics that aren’t too taste-specific.
Deep clean everything. Windows are extremely important so do a thorough job. Buyers love light, so blinds and curtains should be open for showings. This means your windows need to sparkle!
Fixtures like bathroom taps should be shiny and sparkly as well – use Windex.
There should be zero clutter on table tops and counters. Put things away in cabinets and drawers, but be careful not to crowd cabinet space in case buyers peek inside.
If needed, go to a bin system to corral everyday items like leashes, hats, bookbags, and other things that can accumulate by the front door – store this bin in a nearby hall cupboards.
These items read as clutter and are a distraction from the entryway, where buyers are forming their first impressions of your home.
Di Ter Avest – Di is Organized
A clean and organised house sells faster and increases its value. So here are our top three tips for decluttering and organising your home for sale on your own.
Declutter your cupboards – People like to imagine themselves living in a peaceful, orderly space. They also want to make sure their belongings will fit in the room. So take some time to declutter and tidy up areas that are behind doors.
Depersonalize your home: We all love our décor, family pictures, etc. However, people have different tastes in décor. Eliminating these distractions will help potential buyers focus on the best features of the house.
Declutter the countertops: Too many things on the kitchen or bathroom countertops will make the room look smaller. In the kitchen, put away all small appliances and dish racks, but set a beautiful bowl with fruits or a pot of plant to bring in some life. For the bathroom, put away toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotions, perfumes, etc.
Combine these organising tips with a good clean of the house, and your home will be ready to sell in no time.
Rosemary King – Heart-Led Concierge
Have a checklist. Go through the home, write down each room and what needs to be done, and include things like repairs or cleaning.
Pack seasonal and personal items. If it’s summer, pack away fall and winter items. Pack pictures, awards, etc.
Invest in a short-term storage unit. Place items in there after you’re sure you want them to go to the new location. Potential buyers don’t want to walk through a maze of moving boxes.
Remove clutter and anything that you don’t want to bring in the next home. Ask for help from a professional if you feel like there’s too much to handle. They will help you assess your items.
Hire a junk removal service or rent a U-Haul to remove any furniture or trash out of the house, these are generally cheaper options than renting a dumpster.
Moving companies won’t pack your cleaning supplies, have a way to discard items, or move them yourself.
Pressure-wash the house and deck. Hire a cleaning crew to deep clean the house and steam clean any carpet or replace if they are older than 5 years.
Hire a landscaper.
Keep important documents in a secure and off-site location.
May Flanagan – Global Green Family
Cleaning and preparing your home before you sell it can be challenging as you would have to make everything spick and span for its new owners. But the first thing that you have to do before doing a deep clean of your home is make an inventory.
Make a list of the items that you have and classify which ones you want to keep, donate, or toss. You want your new homebuyers to feel at ease and so it’s important to make space for them and their belongings (unless you’re including some items like furniture in the sale).
Once you’ve done this, proceed to cleaning. Make sure to use sustainable and eco-friendly cleaning products. Oh and, first impressions matter so trim your lawns (if you have them) and tidy the porch or entryway.
Clean out your garage and storage rooms and don’t forget to make them spacious so that the new homeowners can store their items with. Clear out the hallways of photographs or artworks to avoid making the passageway look cramped and narrow.
Also, do not forget to identify broken fixings or items and make a plan to repair them. Essentially, make it a point to depersonalise your home.
Elizabeth – The Cleaning Mommy
If you are putting your home on the market it is important to have it organised and clean before potential buyers come to check the place out. The best thing to do is hire a professional cleaning company, however, if you cannot do so here are some very important areas of the home which you must clean.
Potential buyers are going to pay special attention to the kitchen. To clean your kitchen properly purge all of your “extra” kitchen supplies and clear the counters so they look clean and empty. Make sure to properly wipe down all the cabinets so they shine, wipe up the counters properly and polish up the sink and taps.
As for the rest of the house, ensure that all furniture is dust-free and the mirrors in the home have no fingerprints and splatters on them. Get rid of all clutter that could make the home look messy. Keep the bathrooms clean and the taps polished, and close the toilet lid when the toilet is not in use.
To make your home smell fresh, avoid cooking foods with strong odours the night before a showing. Air out any musty areas regularly and consider running a diffuser and some essential oils to freshen things up.
Follow these tips and your home will be ready to go for showings to potential clients.
Michael Carnahan – At Home Nation
Without a doubt, in a sales situation, it is of the utmost importance to have a quality product for sale, keeping distractions to a minimum.
Sellers of real estate, even in a seller’s market, need to understand that having a high-quality “product” to sell allows for a more efficient sale that produces the highest financial results for the seller.
That said, it is important to note that quality is defined in many ways. In the case of a home sale, the home should be as clean as can be, as if the owner/seller is expecting to host a party. Things should be tidy and neat, and personal items on display should be limited.
The best way to see it is by considering simplicity. If an item is not needed on a countertop, such as a telephone bill, an empty Amazon delivery box, etc., put it in its proper place, out of sight.
Wipe down the stovetop after cooking a meal and dry the area around the sink after rinsing dishes.
Keep the questionable or inappropriate materials out of sight and share only things that won’t offend anyone or distract them from the qualities and amenities of the home.
Sherri Curley – The Practical Sort
Before you put your house on the market, prep immediately for a rapid and lucrative sale. Where do you start? Create the feeling you want when viewing a house as a buyer. Cramped and cluttered are likely not on your checklist.
Conversely, vacant homes are void of warmth and comfort and take longer to sell. The secret is in between. The goal is less.
Less creates an appearance of more storage space in cupboards, cabinetry, and on countertops (who doesn’t want more storage?); more free-flowing areas to walk, relax, or work-at-home; and less overwhelming for the brain and eyes when buyers come knocking.
Pack and neatly stow items not needed between now and the move such as off-season clothes and outerwear, excess linens and artwork including all family photos and personal memorabilia, and holiday dishware.
Safely store valuables, pharmaceuticals, and weapons out of view. Donate, gift or sell objects you no longer need or want. Recycle or trash unusable, non-repairable goods.
First impressions start at the curb. Your well-maintained, clutter-free yard and home entry are the invitations for buyers to come in, look around, and spend more time imagining themselves as the new residents.
Michelle Hansen – Practical Perfection
My very best cleaning tip for getting a home ready to sell is to make sure your home smells nice. Don’t just light a candle and hope it covers up the bad smells, but really make an effort to clean and disinfect your home.
If your home smells strongly of pets, fried food or other smelly odours, many potential buyers will turn around and walk right out…literally.
If a potential buyer can smell bad odours, it often acts as a warning sign to them that there may be underlying problems with the house that aren’t as noticeable.
You can get rid of odours by doing things such as deep cleaning the bathrooms, getting the carpets cleaned, being vigilant about cleaning up after pets, taking out the garbage regularly, washing all bedding, and washing pets often.
After you’ve done all of the cleaning…now you can light a candle!
Ashley J. Saunders – My Dream House
Preparing a home for sale is a fantastic opportunity to de-clutter while starting to get ready for your next chapter. However, there are a few things you want to consider before you start.
1. Accept the home isn’t yours
Now, I know this sound a little weird, but before you can start to get your home ready for sale, you have to accept you no longer live there. Adopting this mindset early will help you come to terms with having to clean, tidy and de-clutter.
2. Remove half of what’s visible
Unless you’re a minimalist, over the years, you’d probably added hundreds of items to your home. Now is a great time to remove, sort and pack most of these items to create a greater sense of space and calm. Doing so, also neutralise your home, making it appeal to a wider audience.
3. Forget coffee and cookies
For years we’ve been advised to make our home’s sell like coffee and freshly baked cookies just before a potential buyer shows up. However, not everyone likes these smells. For some, these strong smells become the overall scent they remember of a home, which can be a negative.
So instead of trying to force certain smells on your potential buyers, just ensure that your home smells fresh and looks clean.
4. Rent temporary storage
No one likes to see moving boxes! So it’s worth renting some temporary storage at the start. Doing this allows you to clear your home, giving it a fresh look, yet hang on to your possessions.
It can make the process of moving easier as you can sort items as you go rather than having to stuff boxes the day before moving.
5. Clean your oven!
Granted, most buyers won’t open your oven, but they’ll notice how clean it looks and judge the rest of your home. So clean your oven and hint to potential buyers that your home is, indeed, clean and tidy!
Justin Carpenter – Modern Maids
From personal experience, the single most important part of cleaning a home for sale is making sure the entrance is a clean as possible.
When we clean a home that is for sale or preparing for showings we make sure to sweep the front porch and entryway, clean the outside of the front door, and clean inside/outside of any windows by the front door.
I’ve found that first impressions are the most important aspect of cleaning because perception is reality. If the front entryway is a disaster and the front door has dirt and dust on it that will set their mood for the rest of the house to be looking out much closer to every other detail.
If you clean the entryway to perfection they will go in with the mindset of how clean and nice the house is.
From the cleaning perspective, you will want to do all the obvious items like cleaning inside the oven, inside the fridge, bathrooms, etc.
More importantly, you will want to make sure all the detailed items are taken care of. These small areas can make a huge impression and make a big difference.
When we clean for clients that are showing their homes we make sure to include things like baseboards, doors/door-frames, windows, and air vents.
It’s a big turn-off for potential buyers to look up and see layers of dust on the air vent or dirt smudges on the doors.
Diana Rodriguez-Zaba – ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba
Potential buyers pay special attention to the appearance of walls and floors.
If your carpets are dirty and foul-smelling, make sure to get them professionally cleaned. If they are old or have thinned out in certain areas, it’s best to replace them altogether.
Dirt in corners, smudges on walls, and grimy floorboards are also very off-putting to potential buyers, yet are areas that are often neglected when homeowners prepare their home for selling.
Another issue to remedy is smoke and cigarette smells. Hire a professional smoke remediation company that can professionally remove odours from your home.
Eric Sztanyo – Team Sztanyo
Nobody likes the job of cleaning and organising their home before a sale. As stuff slowly creeps into our houses over the years, the job of decluttering can feel overwhelming to many. Here are a couple of tips I give my sellers:
- Don’t think of it as cleaning. Think of it as “early moving”. – If you’re actually going to move, you have to take care of everything in the house anyway. This simple mindset helps put the job in a positive frame. Now, instead of the chore of organising, you are getting a jump start on your move to your next house!
- Be ruthless. – Get rid of anything you don’t want with you in your new home. Either donate it, or take it to the curb. There’s no sense in moving something you don’t need to keep!
- Use cupboards, the basement, and the garage. – Stuff everything in these areas. Rarely do they need to be in your real estate photos for the listing, and buyers don’t inspect these areas to carefully. The goal is to keep your main spaces clear of all clutter.
Jane McKay – Zen of Slow Cooking
First impressions matter!
The first thing I did after I booked a viewing of my new home was to do a drive-by. Tidy up the front yard, and clean the windows. Add a colourful pot plant beside the front door, and a vase of fresh-cut flowers indoors.
Find a holding space to hide nik-naks, toys, laundry, and toiletries. Make beds neatly, fold towels and clean bathrooms.
Welcome in the light by clearing windowsills, opening curtains, and blinds. Leave room doors open to bring light throughout the hall and landing areas.
Paint… if time…consider a lick of white or neutral paint indoors. It’s inexpensive, clean-looking, and easy to paint over. Refresh the front door!
Plants and outdoor living space
Maintain the garden and however small, add a table and chairs to make it inviting. Consider it an extra room and a view of the outside world.
Vera Peterson – Molly Maid
Home cleaning and organisation tips to prepare a home for sale:
- Making sure your home looks attractive for a prospective buyer from the outside by cleaning your front garden up, trimming weeds and mowing the lawn, freshening up the front porch and door as well as washing the front-facing windows.
- When it comes to freshening up the inside, allow natural light to flow throughout the home by opening all curtains and shades, get rid of photos that are personalised to your life, and dust and declutter all surfaces.
- A simple fragrance can go a long way when potential buyers are roaming through the home. Adding a calming scent, such as vanilla or citrus, via candle or diffuser, can create a soothing atmosphere.
Deborah Ann Spence – Fierce Realty Corp
The real estate market is like this summer-sizzling hot! We are in a seller’s market with home prices increasing with the median list price over 12%.
Now is the time to sell. However, just because you list your home for sale does not mean it will sell quickly or have multiple bids. But with a good presentation, it is possible.
The pre-sale process of your home should start with declutter-donate it, trash it, store it is the philosophy you should follow when doing a walk-through of your home.
Once you have reduced your living space to the bare minimum, next would be the time to paint the house with neutral colours. Do not leave any room or cupboards untouched. If your basement is unfinished or partially finished, I recommend painting the floor to have a clean, fresh look.
Lastly, you must do a deep cleaning. Deep cleaning involves servicing the furnace, shining the water heater, servicing the HVAC system to remove dust, scrub floors and doors, clean and disinfect bathrooms, polishing furniture, sweeping attics, power washing the exterior, and dusting ceiling fans.
To confirm the house is clean, walk around with a white glove and touch everything above and below your eyesight.
I recommend you give yourself at least two weeks to get it all done, but no later than a month. Tick Tok, Tick Tok, now is the time. So, grab your mop and happy cleaning.
I advise clients to think of a store showroom. Any cluttering elements, specifically furniture, personal memorabilia or decorations are best placed into storage during a marketing period.
We seek for prospective buyers to focus on the property, not personal belongings. Landscaping for curb appeal, also factors highly when selling a home.
You may recall the adage regarding first impressions and personal appearance? Well, the concept applies to a home too.
Since we discussed decluttering and depersonalisation, I recommend storage facilities often. Typically, a home seller is pressed for space.
One option places the cluttering objects into a garage.
However, fully taking up space which many consider important impede a sale.
Anaïs Chaumien – Design By Anais
- Declutter: hide a maximum of items, and if you can’t hide them in cupboards, dressers…, rent storage for a few weeks
- Suppress everything personal: your family pictures, the drawings of your little ones, etc. (hide them or put them in storage)
- Do minor renovations: don’t put a massive budget in it as you want to sell. But if you can paint your home in white to refresh it, it can be an excellent investment!
- Go neutral: don’t prepare your home as you like it. Prepare it as everyone would like it. Choose neutral colours (white, grey, cream, blush, light blue, or green), avoid patterns (or maybe elementary ones, like stripes). Forget bold colours, complicated patterns, flashy wallpapers, etc.
- Try to create a crush: people need to project themselves in their future homes. Sometimes making minor renovations to create a crush can be an excellent investment (replacing the kitchen’s backsplash, covering the old floor, creating a beautiful accent wall with wallpaper, installing a statement chandelier, etc.).
You can also buy some accessories to decorate (covering your old sofa with a lovely blanket, installing candles in the bedroom to create a cosy effect, etc.)
Will Friedner – Montana Life Realty
Make sure the yard in the front of the house looks good. This will be the very first thing that people see before entering your house. It’s all about the first impression so give them a good one.
Plant some flowers, fertilise the lawn, and trim the shrubs. You don’t want a buyer’s first thought to be about the amount of yard work that will be needed!
Inside, pack up all of your personal items (photos, collections of any kind, etc.). Buyers want to picture the house with their own things in it, they can get distracted by all of your things. Remember, less is more! You are planning on moving so it will give you a head start on packing!
Natalie Runko – Independent
It’s really important to keep everything neutral and clean when preparing the home for sale. We all have our personalities and tastes throughout our home. But that might not be the same as prospective buyers.
If you have any quirks or unique styles, consider cleaning those away and putting them into storage for the home open campaign. Keep things as neutral as possible. Consider painting walls or removing mix-matched furniture.
You ideally want the buyer to imagine their furniture and style in the home so they fall in love with it. Make sure any carpets are steam cleaned, and grouts are all clean. Make sure you get those architraves and inside the cupboards.
Home inspections allow viewers to access your entire property including any hidden areas and storage places, so don’t skimp on the cleaning. Again remove anything that you can to have space and rooms as neutral and plain as possible.
Don’t give the buyers an opportunity to pick faults in the property both inside or outside the home.
The best results we see are where homes only have the essential furniture and features such as plants and wall frames to allow a variety of buyer types – both investors and homebuyers – to create their dream home.
Roman Peysakhovich – One Desk
1. Empty out and clean cabinets, drawers, and other storage areas.
Completely empty out any cabinets and drawers, and by doing so you’ll probably find items or documents you were looking for.. As you’re preparing to sell your home, make sure that no important documents or items are left behind.
2. Clean the floors and carpets with a vacuum cleaner, mop, and broom
Once you’ve emptied and cleaned cabinets and drawers, the next step is to make sure the floors are clean. To clean floors and leave them spotless, you’ll need a vacuum cleaner, a mop, and a broom. A new cleaning tool called a “mop vacuum” might be a better option instead of buying a vacuum cleaner and a mop separately.
3. Use a wet towel or cloth to clean tables and furniture
Any furniture such as tables or couches left in your home should be cleaned. You can use a wet paper towel or microfiber cloth to wipe away dust and debris from any furniture.
4. Re-organise the layout of the furniture
The current layout of your home might not be very appealing to potential buyers. To maximise the chances of selling your home, re-organise the layout of the home. Specifically, move around the furniture so there’s more open space.
Simon Ru – UpNest
The first thing you’ll want to do is get rid of all the junk you’ve accumulated over the years. Once you’ve donated everything, you can and trashed the rest, the real work can start. You probably haven’t washed your windows in too long, so start on those.
Potential home buyers will look at your windows, possibly opening them up and seeing how good the seals are. You’ll also want to give your bathrooms a real good clean, including scouring your shower/bath.
Make sure there’s no mould anywhere while you’re at it, using some bleach/water mixture if necessary. If you’ve got carpets in the house, clean them thoroughly. You can rent out a deep carpet cleaner or hire a service, but they need to be clean before showing your house.
The most important thing, prior to showing, is to remove anything that looks like you’re living there. From shampoo bottles to phone chargers, to everything in between.
Even if your furniture is doing the staging, you’ll want the buyers to be able to see the home as a blank slate, which they can’t do if it still looks like you’re living there.
Collin Flynn – UniMovers
Get an outside perspective
You’ve been living in this house for years, you know your house inside-out, but that can lead to “refrigerator-blindness….”
In other words, not being able to find what you’re looking for–dirt! Invite friends over for a cleaning party to help you find all the spots you’ll miss.
Don’t Forget The Smell
The smell is our most important sense, so naturally, it holds a lot of weight when evaluating a good place to live. Bake some cookies, or find nice candles to really make your home appeal to the olfactory sense.
Bill Samuel – Blue Ladder Development
When it comes to cleaning kitchen tile we have found that any basic cleaning solution and some elbow grease will get the job done in almost every case.
However, getting stains out of the grout between the tiles is much more difficult and so we discovered an effective method for cleaning tile grout.
First, you should purchase a product specifically designed for cleaning grout so check out the reviews of any retailer to find the right product for the job.
The next step is key to the grout cleaning process and it is finding a drill bit brush to use for the scrubbing part. This will do a much better job of scrubbing the grout clean than you could ever do by hand.
James Bedford – Super Kleen Services
Decluttering is a necessary task for all homeowners, but it becomes even more crucial if you decide to sell your home. When selling your home, you want to emphasise the structure rather than the contents. Or, to put it another way, you want the things to make the house seem its best. In my opinion, presenting your place perfectly is important for buyers.
Here are the tips for organising your home:
Declutter the corridor
They are one of the first spots to make an impact as the entry to your home. Decluttering your hallway will accomplish this, as well as make that tiny space appear larger.
Get rid of any unwanted furniture
Excess furniture is one of the easiest ‘wins’ when decluttering your home for sale, removing a few pieces that aren’t needed will instantly make rooms feel more spacious and highlight the room’s good characteristics. It’s also one less place for debris to accumulate.
Take out the garbage from the garden
‘Breakable garden furniture, old toys, and other waste, such as dead leaves and branches. ‘Perhaps now is the time to get rid of the rusted ping pong table that the kids haven’t used in years.
I think it is important to review everything in your home and donate (or sell) whatever you do not love. It’s important to keep only what you love.
Buy special organisers including over-the-door hooks, shoe organisers, clear plastic boxes for shoes, and boots which you can put under your bed. Put away ALL the clutter and keep each room as fresh and airy as possible.
I also recommend using healthy cleaning products without chemicals.
Ana Andres – Tidy Choice
One of the fastest wins when cleaning your home for sale is to organise your cupboards. Storage space is a huge selling point and if your cupboards are full to bursting, buyers will get the impression that you have no space.
Buyers will look everywhere to make sure your home is ‘’the one’’ and to avoid embarrassment make every inch of your house look sparklingly clean.
When your home is clutter-free, buyers will be able to focus on the actual space instead of on the knickknacks that crowd the home.
To create the impression that your space is bigger and more inviting, banish those piles of coats, accessories, and shoes, that stack of paperwork from the desk, and anything else that makes your home look cluttered.
To help buyers envision themselves in your space, remove any décor or personal items that might turn off people with different tastes. Many sellers only do this on the inside and forget to clean the yard around the house.
Starting at the front of the house, get rid of any extra or oversized items that could make your space look smaller. Then work your way to the back and make your landscape look spacious and organised.
Dmitri Kara – Fantastic Cleaners
To prepare a property for a sale means to give it the best looks possible.
If you’re about to sell a house, we strongly recommend pressure-washing the front door walkway and tidying the near-entrance areas. If you have an apartment, then wipe-clean the front door and polish it up to the condition of a fine glaze.
Once you have the first appearance of your entrance covered, the next best thing is to clean your windows inside and out. The high-end professional practice is using the purified water water-fed pole type of cleaning gear as it guarantees outstanding shine and long-standing results.
Using purified water just keeps windows cleaner for longer. If that’s not on your toolbelt, you can still apply to DIY solutions, such as scrubbing with newspapers to achieve a truly spotless glass or DIY detergent mixtures.
If you are to sell your furniture along with the property, we’d recommend performing hot water extraction for both upholstery and carpets. If fabrics can’t withstand the HWE treatment, you have dry chem powder procedures.
Richard Petrie – Thomas Sanderson
Prospective buyers want to check inside cupboards, check the water pressure in the shower and have a nosy everywhere, so if your cupboards are full of clutter and your shower is full of limescale this could really put a buyer off.
Deep clean your home from top to bottom and then keep on top of this throughout the viewing process. Many others won’t bother and your home will stand above all the rest!
Likewise, the bathroom and kitchen can be a huge deciding factor when buying a home, if these rooms in your house need some work it might be worth considering a tiny facelift to revitalise them.
Painting cupboard doors and replacing door handles can completely transform a kitchen to seem brand new!
A simple but effective tip is hiding clutter. If you have boxes or clutter these might reduce the chances of your home getting sold quickly.
De-personalise your space by removing family photos, organising your desk, and clearing counters. This will help a buyer imagine themselves using the space with their things instead.
John Monte – Elegant Simplicity
If I had one single tip that would determine the outcome of helping you get organised it would be this: Plan your work, then work your plan.
Truthfully, whether you’re organising to stay in place or put your home on the market and move, what you need is clarity in what your goals are and then mapping out a process to get you there.
First: ask yourself, what does having an organised home on the market look like? Organising is subjective. For some that’s everything unorganised is behind closed doors so that the home presents well. For others, that’s groupings of activities behind those closed doors.
Second: Based on what you need for this home to feel organised before selling, make an actionable list of areas that need to be decluttered. Outlining the areas in a simple list format helps to create clarity in the scope of the project.
Third: Work on the decluttering plan. Begin by removing everything and deciding whether or not you want or need each item. If you’re struggling with some items, consider how you’ll use it or why you love them.
Alexander Fraga – Frisco Maids
First, I like to start by removing all furniture from a single room. This not only makes cleaning easier, but it also helps you think twice about what you’re going to put back inside when you’re done cleaning.
Next, I start by sweeping floors, walls, and ceilings, vacuuming, and sanitising all surfaces. They always need to be spotless when someone else comes for an open sale, especially bathrooms and the kitchen. Preferably with a subtle fragrance or scent.
You can hire a professional cleaning service for a good deep clean and then maintain your home as clean as possible.
Then, I bring back the furniture for that room or area, adding decoration pieces such as paintings, wicker baskets, maybe a board for the kitchen, sculpture items, mirrors, flowers/plants, and candles.
Of course, at this point, the furniture has already been vacuumed/cleaned/sanitised earlier. If possible, empty out as much as you can from your cupboard/pantry/other storage areas.
You want to keep a few items in there to tell people “this is a cupboards/this is a pantry”, while leaving the space as empty as possible so they can see how much storage they would have available.
Remember to place brand new towels and bedsheets. All white linen works great and will give it a boutique hotel-ish look. Add some blankets and a breakfast table for your bedroom.
Cristina Chirila – FCI London
Selling a property can be a long and hard process but if a little “fairy dust” is added, it can make the difficulty disappear and transform the experience into a pleasant and enjoyable one.
Start with decluttering the place: make room for the possible buyers to imagine their own furniture in place – create the idea that they can come along with their belongings and feel at home in a blink of an eye.
Leave all hard floorings on the show so they could appreciate all the finishes. Allow for the natural light to wash the main areas and use mood lighting in the bedrooms, splendid side lamps will also do the job. Tips: have all the bulbs working, check them before every open day.
A new paint coat throughout the house will revive the space and along with professional deep cleaning, it will create the idea of a well-maintained property and a home that’s ready to move in straight away. Tip: choose a neutral light colour, the accent walls to be left to everyone’s imagination.
Stage the main spaces: usually, a basic dining table set up will work wonderfully. Tip: buy inexpensive fresh flowers from the market and spread them around the house.
Playing with people’s imagination is the ultimate trick that will assure you of a positive result. Tip: leave all storage spaces empty so the possible buyers will understand exactly what they have available during their short viewing.
Heather Lange – Heart of the Lakes Team
Running a Real Estate team and Interior Staging & Decorating Company go hand-in-hand.
Our on-staff stager consults with every seller to prepare their home by decluttering, depersonalising, and creating beautiful photographs drawing a buyer in.
Our rule of thumb is to create a space a potential buyer can picture themselves in; remove 50% of the items in cupboard, professionally clean or replace carpet, paint a neutral colour throughout, and clean, clean, clean.
A home should look more like a model home than a personal residence. If size and space appropriate furniture is not in the home, consider hiring a staging company.
The flow and feel of the spaces will ultimately be what creates the “feeling” a buyer needs to fall in love with a property.
Alex Varela – Dallas Maids
To prepare your home for sale, take a step back first. Realise that the way you live right now might be very different than your goal, which is to make potential buyers see themselves occupying your house.
Because there might be a lot of different families with different needs that you don’t know yet, you need to create rooms that are as neutral as possible.
Find a balance between giving your buyers a clear functionality for each of the rooms and removing as much furniture and unnecessary decoration as possible.
For example, you don’t need 6 chairs for a dining room. You will achieve the same result by using 4 chairs (letting the users know that this is a dining room), but it will feel so much lighter and bigger. A bigger room will give potential buyers creativity and options to adapt the space to their preferences.
For cleaning: it’s all about the details. Keep your surfaces as empty and spotless as possible (especially the kitchen). Vacuum, deodorise, and mop all floors. Display some fruits in the kitchen and/or dining room, place some plants around, light some candles but don’t go too crazy. And keep your toilet seats down!
I strongly suggest hiring professional cleaners, they offer moving in/out cleaning services.
Luke Hancock – Bin There Dump That
Having to work on properties meant for sale is a common case in our practice and one of the robust tips established as the protocol is making sure there’s no build-up of trash both in or out.
That means that you should make sure that there are no bags of rubbish on the street or near the house as that could make a negative impression on prospective buyers before they enter the property.
The next tip applies to trash containers you have throughout the house, like the kitchen and bathroom being a standard. The trick is to make sure trash cans are not only empty but sparkless, clean, and fresh.
The point here is to build up the impression that the property is not occupied on the visual level, regardless of its actual status.
An empty and appealing trash can makes any property feels fresh & new. An extra trick is to clean cans with a detergent that has a strong and welcoming scent. My personal favourite is citruses.
Parvathy Pothan – Smart Home Guide
You don’t sell a house. You sell the lifestyle that the house can give you. So, it is important to present the home as a happy and peaceful place.
When it comes to cleaning if you don’t have the budget to paint the walls, at least wash them to remove any dirt and smudge marks to give a presentable appearance.
Mould is a huge turn-off when it comes to buying a home. Wipe areas with mould or prone to moulding using a rag soaked in a solution of bleach and water in a 1:8 ratio.
Similarly, rust underneath the kitchen sink should also be taken care of. Apply a thick coat of baking soda paste on the rust spots. Leave it for 30 minutes and scrub it with a nylon brush.
Susanita De Diego – Complete Real Estate
Choose one room and remove the bulky furniture to make a room for you to sort through everything in your home. It is best to choose a room that has a door so you can shut it between your sorting sessions and keep the mess contained.
To set up your sorting room you will need a table, chair, camera, photo albums, plastic bins, cardboard boxes, garbage bags, markers, tape, pens, and a binder of lined paper.
Create a Process
Map out how things will come into your sorting room, go through it, and leave the room.
Assign a place in the room where stuff will be deposited before being sorted into different piles. Where will the sorting table goes and which piles (bins) need to be set up to hold the stuff before it leaves your home.
Lucinda Curran – Eco Health Solutions
When preparing your home for sale, it is easy to focus on aesthetics.
But, smells are important to us – and quickly trigger memories, thoughts, and feelings.
They remain important when selling a home, too.
While it is easy to reach for scented reeds or plugins, there are much safer and healthier ways to go.
Now, you might think, it’s not going to be my place for much longer, so who cares?
However, you are actually immediately losing a percentage of buyers by having artificial fragrances wafting through your home and clinging to them.
Instead, capitalise on the ability of smells to trigger memories.
Bake bread or a cake, brew coffee and open the windows and doors to ventilate your home.
Simple, healthy, and happy tips to prepare your home for sale.
My best cleaning and organising tips to prepare a home for sale ADD LIGHT—to ensure that the rooms are well lit.
Often times homeowners forget this small but crucial detail. They are accustomed to how to navigate the space in their home so they don’t need the light.
But as for buyers, it’s the first time they are seeing the property — you can ensure that the first impression is a pleasurable experience by increasing the wattage of the bulbs when presenting the home for sale.
Andra DelMonico – Trendey
Do not wait until the last minute to clean your home and get it ready for showing. This will have you feeling stressed and rushed. You’ll make decisions that you haven’t given full thought to and eventually regret.
Work One Room At a Time
Tackling a project that’s too large will feel insurmountable and overwhelming. This results in most people either rushing or avoiding the project completely.
Avoid this by deciding to clean and organise one room at a time. If you have an especially large room or one that’s especially full, you can even divide the room into smaller quadrants. When you complete your task for the day, quit. This prevents burnout.
Wash the Windows
Dirty windows block the light coming into your home. This can make your home feel artificially darker.
Wash the inside and outside of the windows to remove dust, dirt, mould, or mildew. This will allow a maximum amount of light into the home, making your home look bright and feel bigger.
Dori Turner – This Full Life 5
1. Declutter – Remove anything from your home that makes it feel busy or cluttered.
You may need to ask a friend or family member to help you see what should go since we tend to have an emotional connection to our belongings. This includes family pictures and trinkets on shelves and tables. Buyers want to be able to picture themselves in the home.
It may be beneficial to rent a storage unit to remove excess furniture, as well, to give your home a more spacious feel.
2. Make sure kitchens and bathrooms are sparkling clean. These spaces are the money makers and no one wants to walk into a kitchen with dirty dishes in the sink and filthy appliances or a bathroom with a grimy toilet and shower.
3. Dust – Wipe down trim and baseboards and any light fixtures like ceiling fans that can show layers of dust. Replace any burned out light bulbs.
4. If time is an issue, consider hiring a cleaning company to come in and deep clean your home before it goes on the market. The return on investment will be worth it in the end.
Jan Rutgers – JANGEORGe Interiors & Furniture
When designing your home in preparation to sell, it is important to remember that your job is to make the space coveted by potentially a range of different personality types. You want buyers to be able to imagine themselves in your space.
Stick to neutrals like whites, tans, and greys. It is hard to go wrong when you are not being overwhelmed by too many patterns and colours. This also allows for potential buyers to more easily imagine how they might create their own space.
Additionally, less is more. Choose a few quality pieces to define the space but don’t overwhelm buyers. Consider using accessories like coffee table books to make the space feel more personal and welcoming.
Lastly, make sure you’ve got enough lighting around the home. Chic table and floor lamps can elevate the space and allow buyers to see the whole picture.
Lauren Haynes – Star Domestic Cleaners
When you want to make the most out of a sale, a few minor touch-ups can make a huge difference in how prospect buyers perceive a property listed for sale.
A detail as minor as attention to smells can make or break the mood of people entering the abode. You wouldn’t like it to have the stench of grilled meat or fried foods, right?
In case of heavy odours, I recommend using air fresheners, air purifiers, and diffusers armed with essential oils to get rid of unpleasant smells throughout all rooms.
A minor but effective touch is scattering plants or, at the least, flowers. The psychological effects of greenery are immense.
Moving forward from overall appeal comes the bathrooms and the WC. Tiles, washbasins, shower cabins, water fixtures, everything needs to shine! Go heavy on bleach, elbow grease, and do your best.
Austin Miller – Spruse Clean
The best home cleaning and organising tips for prepping your home for sale:
1. Surfaces are a priority, as photos become walk-throughs. So make sure counters aren’t just cleaned but buffed and polished for that extra shine. (Use glass cleaner on Quartz or Marble after the initial cleaning for that gloss effect )
2. Instead of hiring stagers, minimise what you have and stage it using your own furniture. Less is more and saves you tons of money.
3. Use baby shampoo on ALL stainless steel appliances – this will give it a temporary vibrant shine and glisten. Again allowing your photos of your kitchen to catch the eye of all buyers.
When it comes to selling your house, having it clean is critically important!
If someone is walking into your home and sees a dirty oven, they’re not going to be able to imagine themselves cooking Thanksgiving dinner in that oven. If there are food crumbs all over the inside of the fridge, they’re not going to be able to envision their food in that fridge.
Cleanliness is so important when a buyer walks into a home.
You can paint, replace carpets and so many other things, but if it isn’t clean, you are going to turn away buyers for sure.
Having a home that isn’t clean also shows buyers that a seller might be bad at maintenance. If they can’t even clean out dead bugs from a light fixture, did they do regular maintenance on their air conditioner? There are a lot of leaps in judgment that can be taken.
If a seller were to focus on cleaning one thing, I would say it should be windows. a seller wants to let the light shine through the windows, allow buyers to look out at their backyard, or look at what their neighbours are up to.
If a window is riddled with handprints or dogs saliva or bird poop, that really sours the mood. Cleaning a window is easy, fast, and doesn’t cost a thing!
Plus, if it is dirty, every ray of sunshine is going to show just how dirty it is!
Benjamin Nguyen – Full Color Cleaners
The best cleaning service that can get your home selling fast and get multiple offers is window cleaning and pressure washing.
Window cleaning can instantly make the property fee refreshing and brand new. Not to mention, when you’re preparing a home for sale, you need to have pictures taken. Nothing makes a home more appealing to users when they’re viewing the property than crystal clear-looking windows that display the outdoor views.
When it comes to pressure washing, it’ll increase the curb appeal and property value instantly. Driveways, porches, walkways, and sidings accumulate dirt, dust, and mould growth over time.
This debris causes a home to look old and dishevelled. With proper pressure washing, the driveways, porches, walkways, and sidings will make the exterior look brand new and pop out.
The combination of window cleaning and pressure washing will give the best first impression when you have walk-ins and photos of the property when selling.
Abe Navas – Emily’s Maids
Our mission is to make families happier by creating a clean and healthy home environment. First impressions are always important. We put a lot of effort into the first rooms into homes.
If the first thing you see when you are entering a home is pristine, then the rest is a bit easier to take. Another thing that I love working on is the windows.
If they are dirty they affect everything, because you would want to cover them up and that would make the house much darker and therefore harder to see and sell.
With clear windows, you would have a much easier time illuminating your home. Little effort for a huge win.
Andrew Fortune – Great Colorado Homes
The #1 cleaning tip when listing a home for sale is to have the carpets professionally cleaned. Dirty carpets are one of the biggest turnoffs for homebuyers. If your carpets still look dirty after you have professionally cleaned them, it’s probably time to replace them.
The next step is to clean all of your windows, including the outside part of the window. This will make your home appear fresh and cleaner than the other homes on the market.
It’s also important to have your HVAC system cleaned and any gas fireplaces on the property. These are items that are likely to show up on your buyer’s inspection report.
Proactively cleaning these items will convey that you take pride in your home and keep up with routine home maintenance. This helps homebuyers relax and know that your home is in top condition.
Ryan Jones – Land of Rugs
My best tip for preparing a home for sale is to remove any non-essential items in your home before the estate agent/real estate agent coming into your home to take photographs. When it comes to looking at homes, clutter will make your home look smaller than it actually is!
Available space is key when it comes to maximising how much you make from a house sale, so investing in a small storage lockup will end up bring a great decision as you will be able to maximise your home’s sale value.
Another trick when it comes to getting a home ready for sale is fixing any cosmetic damage before the valuation.
Cracks in hardwood flooring, walls, and counters will all give buyers room for negotiation, so ensuring these are fixed prior will give your buyers less room to make money from the purchase price.
If the cost is uneconomical, then investing in smaller items to hide damage (such as rugs to hide damage in hardwood floors) can also be another option. This will get as many people as possible through the door initially, and then negotiations can commence from there!
Shirley Langridge – Maggie’s Cleaning Services
If you wish to sell your house, you have to prepare and present It in the best light possible, as you want it to be fresh and inviting for the buyers.
The first impression of your home is vital. So clean your windows thoroughly and replace your doormat(especially If It’s worn out). This way you’ll avoid potential buyers from being put off even before walking inside your home.
Polish the appliances and taps, remove dust from the top of the fireplace mantle and fan blades.
Move your shoes away from the entry, remove the mail and papers off the kitchen table along with anything else that may detract the potential buyer from your beautiful home’s features.
It’s a great idea to turn your bathroom into a mini-spa as well. Stack a couple of good-looking washcloths tied with a ribbon, add a couple of faux plants and scented candles, and get some towels and bathmats in tone with your bathroom’s colour.
An important thing to remember is to remove personal items. Remove anything overly personal as the potential buyer needs to envision themselves living in your home.
Open the windows in order to let natural light in. You can also add floor or table lamps in the dimmer areas of the house. A bright room feels more comfortable and inviting.
Some buyers might be interested in a more stylish setting. For example, you can set the table with a bright-coloured dinner set and some pretty napkins as well as a couple of flours for extra colour. Another good tip is to open the windows ahead of a viewing, which will additionally freshen up the room.
Kim Jones – Lock and Key Home
The first thing I always tell my clients when prepping their home for sale is to remove personal items. Buyers will overlook details of the home if their eyes are drawn to a large family photo or their favourite sports team.
The second thing is less is more. Even though the seller may still be living in the home, they need to declutter so the buyer can walk into the home and envision living there.
If there are toys everywhere, that can be more of a challenge to vision. In addition, remove any bold colours or wallpaper that is specific, make it more neutral.
Once the home is decluttered and personal items are removed, it is time to style. Every room needs to have a designated purpose.
For example, if there is a spare room with just a bunch of random items in it, stage this to be either an office or home workout area. Both of those were huge selling points during COVID because many people had to adapt and a lot of people plan to continue to work from home going forward.
For the styling piece, pull in greenery and items to give the space a fresh and clean look. Also, don’t forget the outside. First impressions set the tone for the buyer to fall in love and to be willing to overlook the small quirks of the home.
Angela Hall – Friar Tuck Home
Start the packing process as soon as possible! The easiest place to start is by packing off-season items or things you know you will not need between now and your move. From there, identify items you know you aren’t planning on taking with you to your new home and have them removed/donated ASAP.
When you’ve started the packing process, you ideally want to pack items in a pod or on-site storage unit so they’re not seen by potential buyers. If that is not a possibility, make sure boxes remain stacked nicely in one central location like a garage.
The ultimate goal is to downsize the remaining items in each drawer, cabinet, and cupboard by 2/3. Potential buyers want to be able to envision their items in your space and it’s difficult to do that when every nook and cranny is stuffed to the brim!
Consider hiring a cleaning company to do a deep clean of your home top to bottom before putting your house on the market. From there, you can either choose to have help with weekly maintenance or do it yourself.
Before any open houses or having photographs taken, make sure to clear all flat surfaces of clutter, paperwork, etc.
You also want to empty any trashcans and remove any pet items like bowls and litter boxes.
Liberty Riggs-Nichols – Studio Riggs
The goal when staging a home for sale is to highlight the best features of your home and to make each room feel spacious.
Removing area rugs can instantly make rooms feel larger.
Make sure windows are clean, blinds are open and any heavy draperies are removed.
I don’t think it’s necessary to remove all traces of personality from your home before you show it, but reduce family photos and personal items by about 75%.
Jeff Johnson – Simple Homebuyers
Keep the Décor Simple
Make sure the décor is not over-the-top. Buyers want to imagine themselves in the space, so having a simple décor will allow them to create a good mental picture.
Avoid putting too many decorations around the house, as it can become overkill. Moreover, remove any paintings that you feel might not cater to the tastes of the buyers.
Organise Your Cupboards
Storage space is a huge selling point, so it’s a good idea to keep your cupboards organised. If they are filled to the brim, buyers might think there is not enough space. Invest in some boxes and dividers to make your stuff look more organised, and remove any items that you feel look out of place.
Clear all of your kitchen surfaces of appliances and utensils.
Less is more! Declutter as much as possible. Hide cords as they just end up looking messy.
Pare down your bookcases. Leaving them stuffed makes them look overwhelming and the room smaller and heavier.
Put away all personal photos.
People want to be able to envision themselves in your space.
Finn Pegler – Deluxe Maid
Try to move all of your own belongings to a storage area as prospective homeowners prefer to imagine everything in the home is theirs. If random items are lying around, it will unsettle the homeowner and they may find it hard to picture the home as their own.
Make sure all surfaces are clear and shining and that all drawers/cupboards are cleared out. If drawers and cupboards are scattered with miscellaneous items, it may give the buyer the impression that there is not enough storage space for their items.
How the property smells is also important so make sure garbage cans are taken out and that the house smells fresh. A natural smell from something like fresh flowers can help to make a buyer fall in love with your home.
Emily Perez – Kitchen Infinity
Homebuyers envision what their life could be like when they first walk into a new home.
Having everything clean, tidy, and organised can make home buyers see the best version of themselves in the home.
If you are preparing for a sale, make sure all of your items have a specific place in drawers and cabinets so the homeowner can imagine where they would put their things.
Kelly Marohl – The Greenspring Home
Preparing a home for sale can be a daunting and overwhelming task, but don’t let it consume you..
First, focus on giving your home a deep clean so that it looks (and smells!) it’s best.
For the exterior: power wash your siding, wipe down the outside of all windows, and make sure your landscaping is freshly manicured.
On the interior: steam clean all carpets and floors, wipe down the inside of all windows, dust underneath furniture, and scrub the inside of all appliances. You keep your home clean on a regular basis, but going the extra mile will get noticed!
Second, hone in on purging and organising your home. Potential buyers will envision themselves better in your home when it’s clutter-free.
Be sure to organise your pantry, cupboards, garage, and basement – because they’ll be gawked at regularly during showings. Having these places not packed to the brim tells buyers that the home has plenty of storage space.
As you’re going through each area, make three piles – one for keeping, one for donating, and one for trashing.
When you’re finished, you’ll end up with a third of the amount of stuff! Neatly organise everything you’re keeping back into place, using shelving and baskets to easily corral items.
Thank you so much to all the cleaning experts, interior designers, and home decorators that have contributed to this expert roundup! If you learnt at least one helpful thing then, please, share this post on social media with your friends and followers!