11 Essential Cleaning Chores to Complete Before Showing Your House

Get your house looking its best before inviting potential buyers in for an open house or a private showing.
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Crucial Cleaning Tasks


Presenting your house in the best light for prospective buyers requires some minor aesthetic updates, but it’s also integral to devote some time to cleaning the walls, yard, floors, windows, and more. Without this extra deep clean throughout the interior and exterior, the home can appear poorly treated, giving buyers the impression that it’s been badly cared for over the years.

By completing a few crucial cleaning tasks, like washing the windows, power-washing the deck, and using a carpet cleaner to scrub the carpet, the home can look revitalized for showings, increasing the chance that the sale will meet or exceed the listed price.

Yard Maintenance


The yard is the first thing people see when pulling up to your home, so keeping it maintained is one of the most important jobs leading up to the sale. With all the other important tasks, it can be easy to forget about the rapidly growing grass, spreading weeds, dropping leaves, or climbing snow, and each can give the home an abandoned appearance.

Make it a priority to head out with the snow shovel, lawnmower, rake, or weed killer at least once per week, depending on the season, to keep the yard and exterior of the home ready to make a great first impression.

Clean and Polish Hardwood Flooring


Hardwood flooring is a common feature that many people are looking for in a new home, so it’s important to sweep, wash, and polish hardwood floors. Sweeping removes loose dirt and hair from the surface of the floor and washing the hardwood takes off stuck-on dirt and grime.

Put a little extra muscle behind your efforts to clean stubborn stains before using a buffer to polish the floors. The polish adds a glistening sheen over the hardwood that reflects light and protects the floor from dirt and oils. If you don’t want to purchase a floor buffer, these cleaning tools can be rented at a more affordable price.

Related: 19 Affordable Options for Beautiful Hardwood Flooring

Carpet Cleaning


A carpet cleaner is another machine you may prefer to rent instead of buying. But if your home has any carpeted flooring, it’s necessary to properly vacuum and wash the carpet. This is especially true for homes with pets. Get out the vacuum and clean any loose debris and hair from the carpet before using the carpet cleaner to scrub the carpet fibers clean of oil and dirt.

The carpet can also be cleaned with a carpet steam cleaner, which uses high-temperature steam to clean down to the base of the carpet fibers, killing any microorganisms. Homes that have had fleas, lice, or bedbug outbreaks need to use a carpet steamer to clean the floors to ensure any potential infestations are halted before the home is opened for viewings.

Window Washing


Windows are a main selling point in a home. But when you can barely see through fingerprints, dirt, and nose- or paw-prints that have built up on the glass, this feature can quickly become a detriment to the sale of the home. Pick up some glass cleaner, a microfiber cloth, and a small squeegee to properly remove oil, dirt, and other stuck-on grime without leaving streaks behind. Also, don’t forget to wash the window frames, otherwise, the clean glass will only serve to highlight the dirt-smudged frame.

If there are inaccessible windows on the exterior of the home, consider hiring a professional window washing company to clean these hard-to-reach locations so you don’t have to take the risk that comes with working at heights.

Scrub Doors and Walls


Doors and walls get banged up with regular use, so giving them a good scrubbing can help remove shoe scuffs, dirt, mud, oil, and stains. After removing this layer of grime, the true color of the doors and walls is on full display, giving the room a brighter appearance. Make sure to use a soft, microfiber cloth to avoid damaging the paint, but don’t be afraid to press a little harder to clean stains when necessary.

Related: 15 Cleaning Mistakes Everyone Makes

Clean Appliances


The kitchen is home to a number of different appliances including the refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, microwave, toaster, toaster oven, and coffee maker, to name a few. These appliances are used regularly, so it isn’t a surprise they get dirty quickly. Before any showing, use a soft cloth and a streak-free cleaning solution to remove fingerprints, grease, and other gunk from stainless steel surfaces.

The appliances should also be thoroughly cleaned with the proper product at least once every 2 weeks, which means removing the heating elements from the stove to properly clean or replace the drip pans; taking out the refrigerator drawers to reach the inside back, bottom, and sides; and dumping out the toaster over the sink to safely clear out bread crumbs.

Power-Wash Deck and Fencing


Depending on the season, power-washing may not be possible without the risk of coating the deck and fence in a layer of ice. However, if the weather is good, then using a power washer to clean the deck and fence is a good way to revitalize the yard. The high water pressure removes stuck-on dirt, debris, and grime exposing the stained, painted, or natural wood finish below. If you don’t own a power washer, and have no interest in owning one, then these yard tools can be rented from some local home improvement businesses.

Related: 6 Simple Steps to a Refreshed Deck

Sanitize Bathrooms


The bathroom is almost always a priority for prospective buyers. People want to know that a home is equipped with a clean, updated space for bathing, relieving themselves, and completing their daily morning routine.

Break out the bathroom cleaner and start scrubbing the floor, walls, toilet (inside and out), sink, cupboards, mirror, bathtub or shower stall, and the fixtures, including the showerhead, tub faucet, sink faucet, and all handles. Be prepared to spend a decent amount of time to really get the bathroom shining without leaving noticeable streaks behind.

Dust Furniture


Dust accumulates on any flat surface around the home, but it’s most commonly found building up on bookshelves, entertainment units, television stands, and coffee tables because these surfaces are more rarely used than the kitchen counter or the dining table. A layer of dust sends the wrong message to potential buyers, making the home seem neglected and diminishing its appearance.

Grab a soft, microfiber cloth that won’t scratch or otherwise damage the furniture, and consider using a cleaning spray to help remove dust. Note, these sprays are not universally suitable for all surfaces, so carefully choose between wood cleaners, glass cleaners, stainless steel cleaners, and bleach-fortified cleaners to match the cleaning solution to the intended surface material.

Related: Solved! Why is My House so Dusty?

Wash and Replace Linens


Dirty linens can accumulate a strong odor from sweat, saliva, hair, oil, and skin, so it’s necessary to regularly wash and replace them while the home is open for showings. Prospective buyers don’t need to see grimy dishtowels or pillowcases stained with hair dye. In addition, even if it doesn’t reflect your personal style, it’s always a good idea to switch out personalized bath towels or colored versions for simple white ones.

Change the bedding and replace the towels throughout the home with clean linens in a neutral color. This change to a neutral color scheme helps buyers envision themselves in the home, instead of focusing on the ‘Hers’ and ‘His’ towels with your faces plastered on them.

Steam Upholstery


It can be hard to properly clean upholstery and upholstered furniture because the cloth material absorbs oil, pet dander, spilled drinks, and residue from dropped food, leaving unsightly stains behind. For better results, use a steam cleaner to sanitize the upholstery. The heated steam penetrates deep into the fibers to loosen dirt, oils, and stubborn grime and pull it to the surface. This high-temperature steam also kills bedbugs, ticks, fleas, lice, and other insects, protecting the home from an infestation that could chase away potential buyers.