How to Keep Your House Clean While it’s for Sale

Karin Carr, Owner
Published on December 6, 2016

This has seriously got to be THE HARDEST THING about selling your house, am I right?  Unless you love to clean and you’re one of those people who has a schedule of tasks on your fridge (I would love to be like that but it will never happen in this lifetime, I’m afraid) then this is a nightmare.  If you have kids and dogs, it’s like being asked to climb Mt. Everest.  Tomorrow.  In flip flops.  Can’t do it.

For example, these are the things you absolutely must do each morning before you leave the house or before showings.  You have to put dirty clothes in the hamper and put away clean clothes.  You have to make sure the floors are swept and/or vacuumed.  The bathrooms must sparkle.  And for crying out loud, FLUSH.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone in with a client and cringed because of this.

You cannot leave dishes in the sink.  You have to make all the beds.  And you have to make the house smell clean.

It’s no fun but it is doable!  Here are 7 tips for how to keep your house clean while it’s for sale.

How to keep your house clean when it's for sale

Lysol Wipes (or similar)

For those of you that are uninitiated, they’re baby wipes but they use cleaning solution instead of baby soap.  Keep a container under each bathroom sink and in the kitchen.  Wipe down the counters every day before you leave the house.  (Use a granite friendly product if you have granite counters.)

If you would prefer to make your own out of nontoxic ingredients, here’s a DIY post for you from The Chicken Chick: Kitchen Cleaning Hack DIY Disinfecting Wipes

I have an entire Pinterest board of DIY cleaning solutions for those of you who like to save a few bucks while reducing the amount of chemicals in your home.  Check it out here.

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers

I use these for everything.  They’re amazing!  However, the generic ones work just fine and they’re a million times cheaper.  Search for “melamine foam” on Amazon or eBay and buy them in bulk for peanuts.  I use them to wipe dog slobber off the walls.  (Ever seen the movie Beethoven?  My dog does that.)

  • I use new ones to scrub pots and pans that have baked on crud.
  • I use them to remove scuff marks off doors and baseboards.
  • They remove crayon and pencil from walls like nobody’s business.
  • I have successfully removed permanent marker from walls and furniture using them!
  • I clean the window tracks with them.
  • I clean the inside of the dishwasher door around the edges where all the nasty guck likes to settle.
  • You can clean the inside glass of your oven door with no cleaning solution, just a wet magic eraser.
  • I even use them on glass shower doors.

A few magic erasers and a bottle of Simple Green will clean just about your entire house.


One/Two Punch with Welcome Mats

Our floors get dirty because of what we track in on our shoes from outside.  Have a welcome mat outside the door and another one inside.  Wipe your shoes on both mats and whenever possible, take them off when you enter the house.  Less vacuuming is always a good thing.


Use Paper Plates and Plastic Silverware

I started writing this one as a joke, but then I realized it was actually not a bad idea!  You CANNOT leave dirty dishes in the sink when you leave in the morning.  You just know that the one day you don’t, you’ll get three calls from agents wanting to come show the house.

So if dishes are the bane of your existence (I’m looking at a sink full of them right now in my own kitchen, but I’m not selling my house) try using disposable stuff for a few weeks.  Better for the environment?  No, but it may be a better option for you if you hate doing dishes all the time.


Keep Baskets in the Living Areas

Our island is the place where all clutter loves to congregate.  In fact, the island is always cluttered with purses, backpacks, and laptops.  Add toys into the mix and it looks like a bomb went off in my kitchen.

So I have a large wicker basket that I keep in the family room.  Each day I can go around, scoop up everything that belongs upstairs, and shlep it up there before I go to bed.  If you were super organized you could have a different basket for each family member and make them collect their own stuff.  Good luck with that.


If You Don’t Make the Mess, You Don’t Have to Clean the Mess

This is the hardest for many people to stick with but the easiest way to figure out how to keep your house clean while it’s for sale.  If you take it out, put it back.  If you dirty it, wash it right then and there.  If it’s lying around out in the open, put it away.  Now.  Don’t wait till later, don’t wait till there are several things to also be put away.  Just do it now.


When All Else Fails, Have a Hiding Spot

You will have those days where you’re running late and the house is messy but you need to go.  Have a place to hide the clutter, such as in a cabinet in the garage or a shelf in the coat closet.  Toss everything in a basket and stash the basket in your hiding spot.  This way if anyone looks in the closet they’ll think, “Wow, they’re so organized!”  Shhhh, I won’t tell if you don’t.


Here are some other cleaning and staging tips when selling your home:

How to Get Rid of Cigarette Smells in Your New Home

3 DIY Décor Tips Guaranteed to Delight Homebuyers


5 Easy ways to Increase Your Property Value Before Selling


About the Author:  How to Keep Your House Clean While it’s for Sale was provided by Karin Carr, an authority on Cherokee County real estate and a leader in the field of real estate blogging.  Karin has helped literally helped more than 200 families buy and sell homes since 2005.  If you are in the market to BUY or SELL a home, she can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 404-855-1807.

If you need help buying or selling outside of the Atlanta area, I can help you find a great Realtor®.  Just ask!

I help people buy and sell real estate in the following north Georgia cities: Acworth, Ball Ground, Canton, Kennesaw, Woodstock, White, Roswell, Milton, Alpharetta, Dallas, Powder Springs, and the surrounding areas.


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