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8 cleaning cheats for your next open house

Getting your home ready for sale can be stressful. With so much to do in a short span of time, you may not know where to start.

It might sound obvious, but cleaning every nook and cranny, drawer and closet, baseboard and crown molding, and all windows and blinds is the first step to a quick sale. Don’t miss a detail with this cheat sheet for turning your home into a marketable house.

1. Declutter each room first

Start by taking photos of each room, wall, ceiling, and floor. Viewing the pictures will give you a fresh look at what potential buyers will see when they walk through the front door. If they can’t see past your stuff, they won’t be able to imagine their own furniture, personal possessions, and family living there.

Go room to room and divide your items into three categories:

  • Keep: Pack as much as you can into boxes for the move.
  • Donate: Give gently used items to charity stores.
  • Toss: Get rid of any broken items that fall into the “Why are we keeping this?” category.

Storage is a big selling point for buyers, so empty or organize your closets and cabinets as much as possible to make the spaces seem bigger.

2. Clean from the top down

Once each room has been purged of excess and unwanted items, cleaning becomes so much easier. Follow the top-to-bottom, left-to-right rule. This system makes sure every surface has been cleaned.

Give each room a deep clean by dusting and vacuuming the ceiling fixtures, then items on the walls, then furniture, and finally, the floors. Move furniture to get at the corners and baseboards.

3. Scrub the kitchen

The kitchen is another focal point of the house. Even if it’s a little outdated, you can still impress buyers by making sure it’s spotless, shiny, and clean-smelling. Clear the counters, too—fewer items on display makes the space look bigger. Don’t forget to clean the inside of the pantry, refrigerator, stove, oven, and dishwasher. Visitors will open them up and look around!

Clean bathrooms regularly

Cleaning the bathroom thoroughly is important, but it can be a big undertaking. Make it more manageable by having everyone in the family clean up after themselves. Keep cleaners and sponges handy so everyone can wipe down and touch up after use. Getting the family in a regular cleaning routine is never a bad thing!

Right before an open house, polish up the countertops, faucets, sinks, bathtubs, and shower stalls. Polish the grout, too—use an old toothbrush and some elbow grease. Finish by hanging up clean towels and a new shower curtain.

5 Use windows treatments to highlight or hide

Got a great view? A thin pair of curtains will frame it nicely and allow plenty of sunshine in. For windows that look directly into your neighbor’s house, camouflage the unfavorable view with light-filtering cellular shades, a partially-drawn Roman shade, or wood blinds (leave them slightly open to let some light in).

Natural light is important for many buyers. Show off it off by making sure your windows are spotless and streak-less inside and out. Be sure to thoroughly clean existing blinds and shades as well. Use the brush attachment to vacuum, then dust them with a lamb’s wool duster. Finish by wiping them clean with an almost-dry sponge.

6. Make the floors shine

If your home is carpeted, wash the carpets—or hire a company to wash them for you. Mop and polish wood and tile floors. Roll up and store any area rugs you have in place, as they tend make rooms look smaller.

7. Maximize your first impression

You only get one first impression, so your house should scream “Welcome!” Paint the front door, repair any screens, sweep the stairs or porch, trim the landscaping, and lay out a new welcome mat.

This goes for the inside, too—declutter the entryway and store shoes, jackets, and backpacks away in a closet.

8. Don’t overlook the small details

It’s the little things that make all the difference. Don’t forget these important tasks:

  • Dust and clean ceiling fans and light fixtures.
  • Dust the light bulbs.
  • Wipe off fingerprints and smudges from light switches, railings, doorknobs, cabinet hardware, and the front of the fridge.
  • Look down and clean any scuff marks from lower cabinets, stair risers, and baseboards.
  • Touch up any chips or smudges on your walls with paint.

Preparing for an open house might seem like a big project at the beginning. The key to success is getting into a daily cleaning routine so you won’t be scrambling when you get that last-minute call for a showing.