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How Clean is Clean?  

Written by Jill Gargus, CID

Everyone’s perspective on clean is different, as I can attest to after seeing over a thousand properties in my Real Estate and  Staging career over the last 15 years. Even some professional cleaning companies have different views on what they deem as clean, which can make even hiring cleaning companies a bit tricky.

This week’s list is short and sweet.

To sum up the list now, we will cut to the chase and say that your home, when prepared for sale, should be WHITE GLOVE clean.

This means that anyone can wear a white glove and wipe any surface of your home and the glove stays white. Even in areas like the tops of door trims…Sounds complicated? It is, but it’s manageable. It will require a “face to face inspection” of areas that you normally don’t get too close to!

Let’s start with a major once over clean of your home. This will occur after all the de-cluttering, packing updates and repairs. It is the step before the Staging.

So first, having these other items taken care of will make the cleaning process go much smoother. A large portion of what would have normally hindered your progress is now out of the way.  You can begin at the top or back of your house and make your way to the front door, using a room by room process or you can do all similar items at the same time.

For example, all light fixtures, then all window sills…and follow that pattern. Whatever works best for you and your family.

Remember that cleaning will represents hundreds of dollars to your bottom line and it is worth doing to create the best first impression for the buyers.

Take the following list and use it as the guide to make your master list

  • Clean fireplace thoroughly
  • Clean out ashes and remove all firewood
  • Clean off soot stains with soot remover
  • Clean all chandeliers and light fixtures
  • Polish all woodwork, including furniture
  • Clean back splashes in all bathrooms and kitchens
  • Polish mirrors
  • Clean all window screens and storm doors and screens
  • Clean front door hardware
  • Clean the front entryway very well, it reflects the first impression of the entire house
  • Sinks should be free of food, stains and odors
  • Keep dishes done and put away every day
  • Clear off all small appliances off the counter tops
  • Take all items off the refrigerator (top, front and sides)
  • Clean cabinets of all stains and food splashes. This will require getting on your knees in front of the cabinets for a “face to face inspection”. You will be surprised what you find!
  • Clean kitchen exhaust fan, filters, hoods
  • Clean bathroom exhaust fans, they can be easily pulled down, washed and put back up or for a few dollars they can be replaced. You can find them at home improvement stores.
  • Clean toilets using “the face to face” approach
  • Wash all sinks and faucets, including behind them. They should shine.
  • Clean oven, stove top, burners (replace burners if needed)
  • Run a dishwasher load with CLR™ only
  • Empty the refrigerator and wash all drawers, and shelves. Buyers are buying these appliances and will look inside them. Clean exteriors as well.
  • Wash all floors, staircases and closet floors. Keep swept and shiny
  • Wash all baseboards throughout the house. Face to face inspections!
  • Hide all scrub pads, cleaning supplies and soap under the sink
  • Empty pantry by 50% and wash all shelves
  • Keep interiors of cabinets neat, clean and free of smells. This will require de-cluttering the pantry also. Cabinet interiors should reflect storage space and should not look cramped and “too full”
  • Empty garbage daily to prevent odors
  • Eliminate all odors “If you can smell it, you can’t sell it!”
  • Wash walls, especially high traffic areas that have been used and abused
  • Clean ceiling fans
  • Clean and dust everything (doors, mirrors, shelves, baseboards…)
  • Clean carpets or update them to the most current trends
  • Vacuum often, including the couches. Pet hair is a turn off, so stay on top of it.
  • Clean under and behind appliances. This is a dirty job but somebody has to do it
  • Garbage out daily
  • Cat litter cleaned every day, or if you have other pets, keep their wood shavings or “messes” clean 100 % of the time, you never know when you will get a last minute showing (put a soft air freshener nearby)
  • Call an exterminator to deal with any insect problems 

For more information on Preparation for Staging and Selling see www.stageandsell.ca or