clean sweep

Living in a house while it is on the market can be a surreal experience, as you are – for all intents and purposes – residing in a model home. But how do you keep it looking like a model for open houses and drop-by prospects? While the Realtor can advise you on what you need to do in the way of staging, it’s up to you to keep your residence clutter free, clean and pristine – three terms that seldom apply to an active family home.

This can be complicated by the fact that we see past the familiar things in our life, such as the chip in the sink or the stain on the carpet. Thus, you have to first change your view, looking at everything as a potential buyer who has never seen it before. There can be a lot to do or have done, but this blog centers on the critical aspect of cleaning.

Here are a few tips for getting, and keeping, your home neat and tidy for those strolling through.

Opening Statement:

  • Check all doors, external and between-room, wiping away smudges and cleaning the hardware.

Four-Way Stop:

  • The American Cleaning Institute (yes, there’s an institute or association for everything) advises use of the top-to-bottom, left-to-right approach to cleaning, so no surface is overlooked.

Potty Prep:

  • Give special attention to bathrooms to assure they are spotless, mold- and mildew-free, towels are fresh, toilet lids are down and the area clean smelling.
  • Wipe down shower walls and doors after every use.

Food for Thought:

  • The kitchens are another key area that prospects examine closely for cleanliness and space. For that reason, remove anything you don’t really need from the counters and keep surfaces clean. Hint: Don’t trust your eye; wipe them down every day. Flat surfaces can look different in different lights.
  • While you’re at it, take all the personal notes, souvenir magnets and bottle openers off the fridge.
  • Neutralize any unpleasant cooking odors as quickly as possible.

Look Out!

  • You may not have looked out your windows for a while, but others may check every view. So keep the windows clean, which will also make rooms brighter.


  • When dusting or cleaning wall areas, don’t forget to wipe down light switches, as well.

Mail Call!

  • Don’t let your mail, newspapers and periodicals pile up.

Bedroom Ayes

  • Beds must be made, preferably with new(er) coverings and decorative pillows, if you use them.

See the Light

  • Dust off light bulbs, lampshades and lighting fixtures to help make the room pop.

That’s Garbage!

  • All trashcans need to be empty for a showing, and garbage cans should be washed and disinfected regularly to minimize orders.

Operating in a Vacuum

  • Keep rugs vacuumed and fluffed, especially in the entry and living room.

Pet Peeves

  • Don’t forget your pets’ “furnishings,” as well. Wash dog beds, keep the litter box clean and store pet food in plastic containers. Scratching poles, toys and other related items should get a look, as well.

Let the Sunshine In

  • This means window shades up and draperies open.

To Paint or Not to Paint

  • Many experts suggest painting interior walls a neutral color, which, they say, brightens the home up and makes it look larger.

Extra Credit

  • A clean, orderly garage can be impressive to prospective buyers, who can get the sense that they’re purchasing from people who take cleanliness and home maintenance seriously.

We’ll talk more about the actual staging in a later blog. For now, we bid you good day and encourage you to call Yarnall for all your moving needs.

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