Cleaning… it’s more important than you may think

Cleaning1 When preparing your home for sale don't overlook the importance of cleaning, the third step in the process. After (1) decluttering and (2) fixups/repairs/painting your home should be free of clutter and in good condition, ready for a good, deep cleaning. 

Cleaning you home for sale goes beyond just having your home neat and tidy. It is deep cleaning including things like light fixtures, doors and door handles, drawers, cabinets, closets, under the beds and on top of cabinets, windows, carpets, tile… in other words, cleaning every nook and cranny so it is 'q-tip clean'.

Why is this so important? Because it sets the tone for buyer expectations. You have likely heard the phrase 'you find what you are looking for'. This is a prime example. If buyers come into a home that is sparkling clean and in good condition everywhere they look, they expect the home has been well cared for so they tend to focus on what they love about the home rather than looking for things wrong with it. If the home isn't clean just the opposite happens… potential buyers expect it hasn't been well taken care of and look for things that are wrong.

The cleaning to-do checklist below from spring cleaning tips is a great place to start. You should have already taken care of some of the items in your first two steps of preparing your home for sale, but depending on how long the process has taken you, it may already be time for a refesher!


  1. Clean Inside Of Oven – Follow the directions of the oven cleaner exactly. Make sure the task is done by an adult.
  2. Dust Refrigerator Coils – Remember to unplug refrigerator first! Vacuum and mop in the spot where the refrigerator sits as well.
  3. Clean Out Refrigerator – Although you should clean your refrigerator regularly, this is an opportunity to go through everything, including condiments, to make sure the food has not expired. Scrub the shelves and drawers thoroughly to rid the space of any food residue and bacteria.
  4. Clean Ceiling and Walls – This includes air vents, light fixtures, and switch plates.
  5. Curtains and Blinds – Wash any curtains and dust blinds.
  6. Clean Out Drawers and Cabinets – Remove items that you no longer need, and also wipe down the insides. Take this opportunity to do any needed reorganizing.
  7. Clean Garbage Disposal – You can freshen your drain by pouring down baking soda and a lemon peel with warm water.
  8. Clean Dishwasher – Pick out any food that has been left at the bottom of your dishwasher, and then run it empty with either a little baking soda or vinegar.

Living Area

  1. Clean Ceiling and Walls – This includes air vents, light fixtures, and switch plates.
  2. Dust Ceiling Fan – Be careful not to fall if you are using a ladder.
  3. Shampoo Rugs – Allow a day or two for drying.
  4. Curtains and Blinds – Wash curtains and dust blinds.
  5. Clean Couch – Depending on the material, you may be able to shampoo your couch as well.
  6. Reorganize – Remove any unwanted or no longer necessary items to arrange funiture and improve the look of your living room.


  1. Rotate Mattress – This will distribute the usage more evenly.
  2. Put on Summer Bedding – Time to put away that heavy winter bedding and put on cooler summer bedding.
  3. Wash Pillows – Most pillows are machine washable, but they can also be hand washed in a tub.
  4. Clean Ceiling and Walls – This includes air vents, light fixtures, and switch plates.
  5. Dust Ceiling Fan – Be careful not to fall if you are using a ladder.
  6. Curtains and Blinds – Wash curtains and dust blinds.
  7. Closets – Sort through your clothes, shoes, and accessories. Donate what you have not used in the past year. Chances are, if you have not used it in the past year, you will not use it in the future. Also, store your winter clothes to make room for your summer clothes.


  1. Update First-Aid Kit – This needs to be done periodically, so spring cleaning is a good reminder to do so.
  2. Remove expired cosmetics and beauty supplies – When in doubt, throw it out.
  3. Curtains and Blinds – Wash curtains and dust blinds.
  4. Clean Ceiling and Walls – This includes air vents, light fixtures, and switch plates.
  5. Wash Out Trash Can – Don’t just dump the trash, clean out the inside of the can.


  1. Wash Outdoor Furniture – Get it ready for spring and summer use.
  2. Wash Windows – This includes the screens.
  3. Spray Down House – If your siding looks dirty, spray it down with a hose. Use a pressure washer if necessary.
  4. Pressure Wash Driveway – This is probably not something you need to do yearly, so take a look at your driveway’s surface and make the judgment call.


  1. Check Fire Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Monitor Batteries – Do this every 6 months for home fire safety and protection, and to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  2. Clean Out Your Files – Sort through your filing cabinet, but do not get rid of anything that you may need in the future.
  3. Shampoo Carpets – You can do this yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. Just remember to let them dry thoroughly before putting your furniture back in place in order to prevent furniture stains.
  4. Re-seal Grout – Grout is no fun to clean so protect it with a sealer.
  5. Clean Out Garage – Get rid of your old stuff. Think about having a garage sale.
  6. Shine Doorknobs – Doorknobs are full of germs and should be cleaned regularly. This is the time to help them shine.

Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results – EmailSelling Your Home Minneapolis


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I love what I do! Highly insightful, analytical and creative, there is nothing I love more than helping you find the right solution for your real estate transition. My mission is to serve my clients with honesty and integrity, exceeding their expectations in service and support… and to help others by donating a portion of every transaction to Habitat for Humanity.

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