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How To Clean A House Before Selling

How To Clean A House Before Selling

Planning on selling your home? A home sale can be a big step for anyone to take. Not only do you have memories wrapped up in those four walls, but you also have the stress of making sure it's presentable to prospective buyers, so you get every penny's worth of your property value, right?

Hiring a professional cleaning service is one option, of course. And we here at the Cleanup Team can help with that if you still require assistance. But we also know many people will want to at least know what's in store for them if they decide to tackle the pre-sale cleaning themselves.

So, if you need a deep cleaning checklist to help you get the most out of your pre-sale cleaning, then read on below. We'll provide you with all the best professional tips, tricks, and advice so that your potential buyers are blown away by the pristine home they're about to buy!

Ready to get started? Then let's jump right in!

Why Deep Cleaning Your Home Before A Sale Is A Good Idea

Everybody knows that they should carry out deep cleaning of their house before selling, but it's easy to make excuses and put off this mammoth task because it 'won't make that big a difference' or 'they're looking at the house for what it could be, not what it is'.

These excuses, though, just don't ring true.

There are plenty of reasons why a deep clean can make an enormous difference during a home sale - but below we'll talk about the three most important...

Cleaning Home Before Sale

Great First Impression

It's amazing the difference you can make to your property with even just a few minor touch ups in your home. But if simply removing a few stubborn stains and bad smells from your house is enough to make a good first impression, imagine what can be achieved when you approach a clean like professional cleaners do.

That extra shine that shows your house is sparkling clean is the perfect way to entice potential buyers. If you walked into a property and saw it was cluttered and dirty, you wouldn't want to buy the house, regardless of the size or features on offer.

Remember, the key to selling a house is making sure your potential buyers can see themselves living there. And a clean house is the perfect way of doing that because a clean house is all anybody really wants, right?

Better Chance Of Getting Your Asking Price

An asking price is just that - the price you think your house is worth. But remember, you love this house. Your potential buyers don't. At least not yet, anyway.

For them, your house's worth is all about perceived value. What they think it's worth to them.

Well, if potential buyers come into a property that is dirty, cluttered, or has a funky smell, then that will be the focal point for them. It will be the thing they remember most after they leave, and it will reduce the perceived value of your house in their minds.

But a house that is clean with simple decorations showing off the space and the features will always have a higher value in the minds of potential buyers because they'll be able to see themselves living there.

Really, you're not selling a house. You're selling a dream. And the best way to help the potential buyer's dream is by providing them with a house before selling that looks like it could be their home.

You'll stand a much higher chance of getting your asking price if they can see themselves living there. And all you have to do to help them do that are some simple cleaning and organising tasks.

Give Your Estate Agent Things To Talk About

It's also really important to remember that you aren't selling your house - your estate agent is. So, you need to provide them with obvious talking points.

If they can make the focal point of the house tour they're delivering your house's key features (and not have to waste time telling the potential buyers to ignore the mess or the clutter), then the buyers will be able to spend more time focussing on your home's best qualities.

When your estate agent makes their final remarks, it should be about how beautiful your home is, and how wonderful a home it could be for the new buyers. They shouldn't have to close their tour with an apology for the dirty dishes in the sink or the wires from phone chargers the buyers just tripped over...

What You'll Need To Get Started

Now you know why deep cleaning your house before selling is a great idea, you need to know how to do it effectively, right?

Well, to get started, you'll need some cleaning supplies and equipment that will make a big difference to your deep clean.

For a basic deep clean supply kit, we recommend:

  • glass cleaner
  • generic cleaning spray
  • vacuum cleaner
  • microfiber cloth (multiple so you can keep a damp cloth and dry cloth)
  • sponge
  • undiluted white vinegar (to create the same solution as a cleaning spray if you don't have one to hand: just mix one part white vinegar to three parts warm water)
  • disinfectant wipes
  • carpet cleaner (if possible)
  • polish

You may have other cleaning products you would like to use in place of the ones suggested above, or in addition to them.

As you read our deep cleaning guide below, you'll be able to think of more products that might help you keep things clean in your home. Whatever works for you is fine, this guide to cleaning your house before selling is a starting point for you to jump other ideas off of.

Deep Cleaning Supplies

A Quick Note On Baking Soda

Baking soda sprinkled on a carpet overnight and then vacuumed up the next day is just as effective as removing odours from carpets as a carpet cleaner is.

So, if you don't have a carpet cleaner or don't feel like hiring a team like ours to come out and deep clean your carpets for you, then use this trick.

If you are going to use this trick - make sure you have a lot of baking soda in for all the carpets in your house.

1. Decluttering Your Home

The first step you should take when cleaning your house before showing it to buyers is decluttering. Think about what they will see when they first come into your property.

Any visual clutter should be removed as a priority. Not only will it help create the right first impression, rooms feel larger with less stuff in as a rule. Keeping your house dust free for the next visit is much easier too when you don't need to remove dust from lots of furniture.

So, your first step should be decluttering every room in your house.

Home Decluttering

Think About Space

Your main reason for decluttering is creating more space so the buyers can appreciate the size of your property.

Shoe racks in narrow hallways will make it feel narrower, for example. The key here is removing as much excess furniture and belongings as possible, so that when buyers enter your property, they can see the potential.

In terms of square feet, buyers won't be able to appreciate the true size of a room, even if they can see the numbers for themselves, if the room is full of stuff. Old magazines piled up on different surfaces or kitchen counters littered with small appliances can make a space feel smaller.

The more clutter is reduced, the more the buyers can appreciate the true size of the room.

Showcase Your Larger Rooms

To that end, your largest rooms should be your focus. If you're able to show off their true size by reducing clutter and removing furniture that isn't necessary, then buyers will be more impressed by the property.

If your largest rooms are your living spaces or main bedroom, then focus on these spaces. Remove dust from the larger furniture pieces you have to keep as you go, so you don't need to worry about cleaning them later.

Think about furniture placement in your larger rooms too. It doesn't matter if you like the way your furniture is set up right now: simply ask yourself 'is this showing off the room at its best?' - if the answer is no, reconfigure the room to make it feel larger and flow better.

Remove Unnecessary Furniture

Remove unnecessary furniture from every room and space in your house - not just the larger rooms.

You can make your hallways feel bigger by removing shoe racks, you can make the kitchen shelves look more plentiful by placing some objects in the cupboards. Think about the furniture and items that are on show right now and really ask yourself if they need to be.

You can make even the smallest room in your house feel more spacious by removing clutter and using simple decorations to show it off at its best.

It may take extra time to move around old furniture, donate furniture you no longer need, or throw out broken pieces, but it's all worth it in the long run, because decluttering is one of the best ways to show off the size of the rooms in your house.

The spacier your place feels, the more people will fall in love with it and the more money they'll be willing to spend on the property.

2. Deep Clean Your Kitchen

Once the decluttering is over, it's time to start the cleaning. Get your cleaning spray (white vinegar or regular), microfiber cloth, and warm water ready, because it's time to get your hands dirty.

And our first stop is the kitchen - it's the heart of every home, after all.

You'll need to take care of all the usual cleaning tasks - washing dishes, organising your cabinets and sanitising the room - but there are two HUGE tasks you will need to tackle in the kitchen to ensure it is ready for potential buyers to come and take a look around your home.

Making your kitchen look great by keeping it sparkling clean and staging it with a presentable cookbook or freshly baked cookie scent is a surefire way to make the buyers fall in love with the space.

Getting your kitchen right is vital, though, so you'll need to use more than just some special tricks to help it sell your home...

KItchen Deep Cleaning


Once you've taken care of the typical tasks like cleaning the kitchen sink and making sure when you run the taps there isn't any standing water (if there is, you will need to think about unblocking the drains), it's time to start cleaning your kitchen appliances.

Kitchen appliances are some of the most important things to clean in your entire house. Buyers won't usually look in kitchen cabinets and drawers, but they're well within their right to see what's inside the fridge, freezer, oven, or washing machine if they come with the house.

Now, cleaning all kitchen appliances will take some time, but the key is to take it one appliance at a time. Clean one appliance, then move on to the next. And rinse and repeat.

To give you an idea about how to clean the appliances, here's how we'd approach cleaning your fridge.

How To Clean A Fridge Like The Pros

  • Remove everything from the fridge.
  • Use disinfectant wipes and elbow grease to remove stubborn stains, food crumbs, and other debris you'll typically find in the fridge's shelves and bins.
  • Wipe down the doors and the rubber seals with a wet sponge soaked in warm water and soap.
  • Use a stainless steel cleaner if the fridge has a stainless steel exterior.
  • Place lemon juice in the fridge to remove bad smells. Water with a few drops of fresh lemon juice will work a treat.
  • Organise the products in the fridge as you replace them to show the size of the fridge.

You'll want to follow a similar process with each appliance. Warm water and soap on the exterior, and a kitchen spray or specific appliance cleaner on the interior.

With items like your oven, be sure to tackle oil stains, grease marks, and any stubborn burnt food. Be mindful of the areas surrounding your appliances, too. Splatter is common, and although you may have got used to it whilst living there, a new buyer will notice it right away whilst touring your home.

Remember, tackle each appliance one by one, and you'll soon have them ready for new buyers to look around.

Fridge Cleaning

All The Surfaces

Another important task is cleaning all the different surfaces in your kitchen. From kitchen shelves to countertops, walls to the inside of cabinets, all the surfaces need to be cleaned here to help the room smell fresh, but also look desirable.

If your old wooden cabinets and drawers are looking particularly tired, you might even consider a fresh lick of paint - but that's a call you'll need to make for yourself. For now, let's concentrate on getting all the hard surfaces in your kitchen clean.

The homemade white vinegar and warm water spray (with a ratio of 1:3, white vinegar: water) will work a treat in your kitchen because it tackles odours as well as messes. And your kitchen can be one of those places that emits smells we're used to as homeowners, but others will pick up on immediately.

Whatever you use, take your spray and make sure you spray down every hard surface:

  • doors and drawers
  • walls
  • cabinets
  • countertops

You can also use two buckets - one with warm water and soap, and one with just warm water. Once you've wiped down the hard surfaces using the soap mixture, come back along with just water to help clean the surfaces. Then dry using a microfiber cloth or fresh towel.

Concentrate on food messes, splatter, grease, and oil. Once the surfaces look clean, make sure you place any small appliances back in the cupboards, so new buyers can see how much counter space is on offer. This will make your kitchen appear even larger.

3. Clean Up Your Bathroom

If the kitchen is going to be one of the main selling points of your property, then your bathroom(s) has to be a close second.

Spotless bathrooms are a must if you're showing your house to new buyers, and that means tackling everything in it. From cloudy mirrors to mould and mildew, from large items like bathtubs and sinks to the little things like the grout between tiles - they're all really important and must be sparkling if you want the new buyers to fall in love with the property you fell in love with when you first bought it.

Not only must it look and smell clean, but it's really important that you declutter this space too, as we mentioned earlier. Old magazines sitting on the side, or old empty bottles of shampoo just clutters up the space.

A bathroom should be crisp, clean, and minimalistic when showing your house to new buyers. That way, they can see how great it looks before everyday usage clutters it up.

Bathroom Cleaning 1

Tackle Mould And Mildew

You will probably have to remove mould and mildew from at least one place in your bathroom. It's an inevitability because when you take hot showers on cold days, condensation happens, and condensation can create mould and mildew.

Take a look around your bathroom and look for signs of dampness. You can use a mixture of bleach and water to remove it, but it's usually best to just buy mould and mildew cleaner, which is designed to remove all signs of it.

Of course, if the mould issue is more than just condensation damp, then it's important you have this looked at. It could be structural and therefore affect the sale of your property. If there are bigger problems at stake, consult a damp specialist who will be able to tell you the type of damp you have and the possible reason for it.

If it appears to just be naturally damp from condensation, though, then it's fine to go ahead and use a cleaner to get rid of it.

Pay special attention to old shower curtains here. The bottom of these can get mouldy quick, so throw it out and replace it before buyers start looking around your home.

Remember, your bathroom should be a sanitised haven - all mould and mildew will need to go.


Cleaning the grout between tiles is also important. Here's what we recommend using:

  • an old toothbrush
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • baking soda

Wet the grout first, but make sure it isn't soaking - it only needs to be damp to allow the baking soda to sit. Then sprinkle over the baking soda and leave for 10-15 minutes.

Next, dip your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide and scrub along the grout.

Finally, rinse with clean water and the grout will look like new again.

Shower, Bath, Toilet, Sink

Of course, your bathroom sink, shower, bathtub, and toilet bowl are all items that need to be sparkling when you show your house to new buyers.

You can buy bathroom specific cleaning spray to help with the task, as well as window cleaner for the shower's glass doors. Make sure you clean every inch until it shines. Your toilet bowl should be a crisp white and the whole bathroom should smell fresh and inviting.

We'll leave talking about cleaning windows and cloudy mirrors until later, but these should be tackled too.

Your bathroom(s) will really help sell your home, so take your time here.

4. Deep Cleaning Your Carpet And Hard Floors

So, we've dealt with general decluttering, and arguably two of the most important rooms in the house: your kitchen and bathroom. But what else do you need to tackle during this deep clean to show off your home at its best before you try to sell?

Well, one of the best ways to convince new buyers your home is for them is by making sure the carpets and hard floors are spotless.

But why does that help?

Typically, when potential buyers are looking around a new place, they're thinking about more than just the price of the property. They need to think about redecoration costs, any renovation work they want to complete to make this house their home, and the cost of the move itself.

Whilst you can't do anything to make their budget stretch further, you can clean your carpets and hard floors so that they feel there are less expenses involved in moving in.

If you can make the carpets and flooring look like new, then that's already a huge plus in their eyes, right?

But how do you do that?

Carpet Cleaning Machine VS Baking Soda

You could use a steam cleaning carpet machine if you have one, or else hire one from someone who does.

You might even consider having the professionals come in to carry out this one part of the clean. Here at the Cleanup Team, we can offer a one off carpet and flooring clean for a more than reasonable price.

But if you are planning on doing it yourself without the machine, then you can always sprinkle baking soda on your carpet overnight. Simply vacuum the next morning, and any old smells should be gone.

Tough stains will remain, though, so don't forget to spot clean, too.

Carpet Cleaning 1

Don't Forget Your Skirting Boards

In addition to the floors, all skirting boards should be washed clean using soap and water too. This will help highlight the floor at its best.

It's also painfully obvious when the floor has been cleaned and the skirting board hasn't, so make sure you tackle this as a priority too.

Skirting Boards

5. Windows And Mirrors

ALL windows and mirrors throughout your property should be cleaned. It will help let the natural light in and reflect that natural light around the room too, making it look and feel like a much nicer space.

You might consider hiring a professional window cleaner to tackle the windows if you aren't keen on the idea of doing it yourself up a ladder, but that's really up to you.

Use a glass cleaner on your mirrors to help remove smudge marks and that cloudy effect. A simple mix of soap, water, and a soft sponge ought to fix the windows.

Window Cleaning

6. Freshen Up Your Furnishings And Upholstery

Any soft furnishings that can be put in the washing machine to be freshened up ought to be. This includes bedding and cushion covers, but also any soft pet beds you have too. It's really important that your home has an inviting smell.

You can vacuum curtains and sofas to remove dust and debris using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum, and you can use fabric refresher sprays afterwards to make it smell great.


7. Check All Light Fixtures

Light fixtures are such an important task to handle. Ceiling lights and desk side lamps - all of them need to be thoroughly cleaned.

If there is a glass covering, use a glass cleaner to help remove fingerprints. Dust all light bulbs and covers to ensure the light fixtures are able to show off the light in the right way.

You would be surprised by how many people never touch their lamps or lights when cleaning, but the moment you do, you'll see what an effect it has. Because there is no longer any dust or smudges blocking the light from being emitted effectively, your room will automatically look brighter and more inviting.

Lighting is key in selling a home too. People want to feel like they're living in a bright, cosy space. By tackling your light fixtures in every room of the house, you can help a new buyer envision themselves living in your property.

Light Fixture 1

8. Clean Up Your Outdoor Space

It isn't just the inside of your home that needs to be prepared for new buyers to look at. The outside of your property can be just as important when selling.

More and more, outdoor spaces come at a premium, so if you can show them outdoor spaces that look inviting and feel like a great place to relax and take in some fresh air, then it can certainly be a huge selling point for your home.

Outdoor Space Cleaning

Mow The Lawn

The first thing you'll want to do is mow the lawn and tend to your garden. Dig out dead plants, weed your flower beds and make it look presentable.

If your garden looks well kept, then new buyers can envision themselves keeping up with it and having a relaxing outdoor space, too.

Tidy Your Garden

You also need to tidy your garden. If there is any old garden furniture, debris you've been meaning to get rid of, or children's toys that are no longer used but could easily be donated, then take care of that.

Much like your home, a cluttered garden will make it feel smaller and less inviting, and the goal here is to make everything feel bigger and move in ready!

Declutter your garden space too, if you want to impress new buyers.

Organise Shed/Garage Spaces

When touring your home, the new buyer might want to look at the available outdoor storage spaces. Well, you guessed it, to make them feel as though there's plenty of storage space on offer, you'll want to organise and declutter again.

Remember, you're trying to show off your property at its best, so the more space there is and the cleaner/more organised it is, the better it will be for the potential sale.

9. Check Out Your Roofing

Finally, your last big task to finish off the deep cleaning is the roofing.

First of all, you should make sure that your roofing is sound. Any loose roof tiles etc, should be dealt with by a professional. This will ensure the roof is ready for the next owner and there aren't any complications after the sale.

But you can also carry out some cleaning too.

Your gutters in particular should be a focus. Any debris or weeds growing up there need to be removed. New buyers will be looking at your gutters as they approach to ensure there aren't any potential damp problems that could be caused by blocked gutters, so clearing them of debris is a really important task.

Roof Cleaning

Last-Minute Checks Before Potential Buyers Arrive

The above list is really a deep cleaning guide for the weeks prior to a house tour where you're hoping to sell. But what do you do on the day?

Well, there are a number of tricks and tips for making your house look and smell much cleaner on the big day. That's right, take out your baking equipment (or place that apple pie order), because we have some great house selling tips below:

  • stage your home - simple decorations like a presentable cookbook or cosy throw over the sofa can help make a house a home, without being cluttered.
  • open up the windows - fresh air will help remove old smells and give your home a fresh feel.
  • pull back the curtains - natural light needs to flood your property on the day.
  • bake - if you aren't going to place that apple pie order, then baking, or at the very least lighting some scented candles, can help make the home feel cleaner.
  • cleaning checks - dusting might be necessary, and a quick spray in the bathroom and kitchen to top up on the cleaning you've already done.
  • vacuum - a quick vacuum will remove any debris from the floor.
  • clutter check - one last clutter check will help make your home more presentable.

Professional Cleaning Service VS DIY

Worried about tackling all of the rooms in your house yourself? Well, there is another way.

You can use our checklist yourself for the house clean, or you can leave it to the professionals. Here at the Cleanup Team, we offer great one off services to help you clean your home in a thorough way, and we can certainly make sure it's house sale ready.

Simply contact us today for a free, no obligation quote if you think tackling the clean yourself might be a little too much. We've already worked with customers just like you in the past, so we'd be happy to help and put your mind at ease.

Final Remarks

Whether you choose to tackle it yourself or feel working with us is your best bet, we hope our post has provided you with a great starting point for the clean.

Remember, clean houses will always sell quicker than cluttered or dirty ones, so if you want to sell your property quickly, start planning your pre-sale clean today!

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