Deep Clean like You Mean It: Your Exhaustive House Cleaning Checklist

Preparing your home to sell can be an exhausting process, especially when your home hasn’t

Preparing your home to sell can be an exhausting process, especially when your home hasn’t had a deep clean in years.  Though deep cleaning your home to sell may be a daunting task, it needs to be done.  Dozens of people are going to walk through your home, nose around in your storage areas, and decide if your home is worth purchasing.   With every square inch of your home being viewed, a thorough deep cleaning is the only way to get your home looking its best. Though the work to deep clean your home may be tiring, it could add an additional $2,000 to your home’s resale value when it is done correctly.  Here is an extensive house cleaning checklist that will have your home in tip-top shape for potential homebuyers.  

Control the Clutter

Before you dive into cleaning, you need to remove excess clutter so that your clean counters and polished floors can be seen.  Over 98% of real estate agents encourage homeowners to declutter before trying to sell their home.  Luckily, removing excess clutter is relatively easy.  Within each room, breakdown what you need to declutter into categories. Start with clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous, and momentos. Each category can be broken down further into subcategories.  For instance if you are decluttering your linen closet you can break your linens down into pillowcases, sheets, fitted sheets, blankets, heavy blankets, comforters, etc.  Go through each subcategory and decide what you absolutely need to keep.  If you do not immediately feel the need to keep the item, get rid of it by donating it to charity or tossing it in the trash.  Each room should be decluttered in this manner.  Don’t worry, you are going to find quite a few things that you can part with.  But that is the point of decluttering.  

Extra knick-knacks often show up in our living rooms.  From momentos to stacks of papers our living rooms collect clutter very quickly.  While your figurines from your trip to Hawaii may be adorable to you, a future homebuyer will most likely see them as a distraction.  Remove the excess and pack it away or throw it away.   While you are in your living room take a look at your furniture.  Are there extra chairs, extra foot rests, or unmatching useless end tables that simply clutter space rather than serve a purpose?  If this is the case you should remove those pieces of furniture that are not needed.  This will create a cohesive style to your living room which will open up the area and give it a larger and more inviting feel.  

Storage Areas

If a cabinet or storage area is attached to your house, it needs to be cleaned and organized to perfection.  Doing this will make the storage area look bigger and more attractive to potential homebuyers.  You’ve already removed excess items and now your cabinets, closets, and sink areas are empty.  This is the perfect time to clean the far away corners of these storage areas.  Use a multipurpose cleaning spray and rag or paper towels to wipe down each shelf as well as the corners and walls.  Once your storage areas are clean you should return the remaining items to the shelves, but in a very organized fashion.  Neatly fold items such as clothes, towels, sheets, etc.  When you put them back in your storage areas, stack them or hang them neatly so that the area continues to look open and clean. You can follow this same process with your kitchen cabinets.  Organize and stack pots, pans, plates, dishes, cups, and even arrange your spices and cooking supplies.  

Gather Your Supplies

Everyone has a go-to multi-purpose cleaner that they use on just about every surface in the house.  But a deep clean needs to be a bit more detailed than a basic cleanup, which means you’ll need more cleaning supplies.  Essential supplies include a bucket, reusable rubber cleaning gloves, microfiber cleaning cloths, a shower/bathroom cleaner, an all purpose cleaner, multi-surface floor cleaner, glass cleaner, oven cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, cook-top cleaner, a non-scratch sponge, paper towels, vacuum, mop, broom, dustpan, and carpet and upholstery stain remover.  Special materials such as leather, brass or granite might require a specific type of cleaner, so take note and find the recommended product if you have any of those materials.  

Start in the Kitchen

Now that your home is fully decluttered you can start to deep clean.  Begin in the kitchen since this is the room that gets the most use and deals with the largest amount of messes.  A deep clean in the kitchen should begin with your appliances.  Use a multi-surface antibacterial spray for your refrigerator, dishwasher, and cabinets. There may be a few sticky areas that need to be pre-treated so let the cleaning solution sit on these areas for a few minutes before you scrub.  Most refrigerators have removable shelves and drawers making it easier to scrub and clean the entire refrigerator.  You’ve cleaned the inside of the refrigerator, but what about the top?  And what about that pesky vent on the bottom?  Climb up on a chair and get down on your hands and knees to scrub both areas so that your refrigerator looks brand new.  Next, move to your stovetop and oven.  If your stove top has removable ranges you can soak them in a sinkful of dish liquid and warm water before scrubbing with a non-scratch pad.  If your stove top does not have removable ranges you should use a specialized glass cooktop cleaner and polish.  Your oven can be cleaned using the automatic setting or you can scrub it yourself with an oven cleaning solution and non-scratch sponge.  Finally, wipe down your cabinets, cabinet hardware, and countertops.  

Bathroom

Just like your kitchen, the bathroom has many hidden nooks and crannies that can be neglected during day to day cleaning.  Your deep clean in the bathroom should begin with your bathtub/shower.  First, assess the state of the caulk around the joints of your tub/shower.  Is the caulk cracking, stained, or spotted with mold/mildew?  If it is, now is the time to remove the old caulk using a utility or putty knife.  Next, apply a fresh bead of caulk around the joints, taking care to smooth the caulk after applying.  A fresh layer of caulk is a simple project that will immediately brighten up your bathtub.  If your caulk does not need to be replaced you can clean it and the rest of your bathtub/shower with a basic shower cleaner.  Move on to your toilet, following basic cleaning with a toilet bowl cleaner, toilet bowl cleaning brush to clean the inside of the toilet.  Use an antibacterial cleaner and paper towels to disinfect the toilet seat.  Don’t miss the area behind and around the toilet where dust can collect.  Finally, use an antibacterial cleaner to spray and wipe down the vanity, sink, faucet, and showerhead.  Last, wipe down the mirrors and windows using a glass cleaner.  

Whole House Clean

You’ve cleaned the toughest areas of your house and now it’s time to do a whole house deep clean.  The best way to approach this is not to divide these cleaning tasks by room, but to conquer the whole house one task at a time.  To begin with, clean the walls of your house.  Every single wall from the very back laundry room wall to the front entryway.  Use a bucket of warm soapy water and a washcloth.  Don’t forget the baseboards, door frames, and window frames.  After every single wall is sparkling clean you can move on to dusting.  Ceiling fans, shelves, and light fixtures can collect quite a bit of dust.  Use a multi-surface dusting cleaner and microfiber cloths to trap dust and wipe it away.  You should also clean all of your windows, mirrors, and glass doors with a glass cleaner and paper towels.  After every last dust bunny has been removed and your windows and mirrors are glistening, you can move to your floors.  If your home has carpets or rugs you should have them professionally cleaned.  This will not only remove stains, it will also freshen your carpets and rugs and remove lingering odors.  Your other floors should be scrubbed and polished.  

Finishing Touches

Every single room in your house is sparkling.  Your storage areas are organized to perfection. Your floors are so clean you can eat off of them.  What do you do now?  You wait.  This is the time when you will live in the glass bubble of home selling.  You’ll need to keep your home clean and organized until you find a buyer.  Make this time a bit easier by following an evening cleaning checklist.  Each night, wipe down the bathroom surfaces, put away clean laundry, wipe down kitchen surfaces, dust nightstands, shelves, bookcases, and floors.  With this evening checklist, you can keep your home spotless so that if a showing pops up you won’t be rushed to clean.

In addition to your evening checklist, you should put a few finishing touches on your rooms.  Before every showing you should straighten your throw pillows and make all the beds.  Wipe down countertops and surfaces that need extra attention.  Vacuum carpets and finally, open your blinds and curtains.  Give every room a final look to make sure your house looks and feels warm, inviting, and well-cared for.  While deep cleaning is a bit time consuming it is well worth the effort and will increase your home’s value and marketability.