Streamlined House Prep For Sale

how to organize cleaning up the house for sale

If you're selling your house, you'll want to make sure it's clean and tidy for viewings. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

- Set aside time: Depending on the size of your house and the amount of clutter, you may need to set aside a few days or even a week to get your house in order.

- Make a plan: Decide which rooms need the most attention and create a cleaning schedule. Focus on high-traffic areas such as the living room, kitchen, and bathrooms.

- Gather supplies: Make sure you have all the cleaning products and tools you need, such as a vacuum cleaner, microfiber cloths, and an all-purpose cleaner.

- Declutter: Go through each room and sort items into keep, donate, or trash piles. Get rid of anything you don't need or use, and find a place for everything else.

- Deep clean: Once you've decluttered, it's time to deep clean. Start from the top and work your way down, dusting surfaces, wiping down appliances, mopping floors, and cleaning bathrooms.

- Organize: Find storage solutions for the items you're keeping, such as baskets, bins, or shelves. Label items and put them back in their designated places.

- Maintain: Once your house is clean and organized, try to maintain it by tidying up regularly and doing small cleaning tasks often.


Declutter and group items into keep, donate, and trash piles

When preparing a house for sale, it's important to declutter and group items into keep, donate, and trash piles. This process can be overwhelming, but it's essential to make the space more appealing to potential buyers. Here are some detailed instructions to guide you through the process:

Step 1: Allocate Time and Create a Plan

Before you begin, allocate dedicated time slots for the task. Decluttering an entire house can be time-consuming, so spread it out over several days or weeks. Create a plan and schedule specific days for tackling each room. This will make the process more manageable and help you stay motivated.

Step 2: Gather Supplies

Ensure you have the necessary supplies, such as trash bags, cardboard boxes, labels, markers, and cleaning essentials like brooms, mops, and disinfectants. Having the right tools will make the process smoother and more efficient.

Step 3: Start Sorting

Begin sorting your belongings into three distinct piles: keep, donate, and trash. Be ruthless and honest with yourself during this process. If you haven't used an item in the last six months and it doesn't hold sentimental value, consider letting it go.

Step 4: Focus on One Room at a Time

Start with a single room and work your way through the entire house. Clear out closets, cupboards, drawers, and any hidden storage areas. Sort through each item and decide whether to keep, donate, or trash it. Group similar items together to help you decide what to keep and what to part with.

Step 5: Assess the "Keep" Pile

Just because an item makes it into the "keep" pile doesn't mean you should definitely keep it. Re-evaluate these items and ask yourself if they are truly necessary or functional. Consider whether you use them regularly and if they hold sentimental value. If an item doesn't spark joy or serve a purpose, it might be time to let it go.

Step 6: Donate Gently Used Items

Donating is a great way to give your unwanted items a second life while helping those in need. Look for local charities and thrift stores that accept donations. Ensure the items you donate are in good condition, gently used, and free from stains or damage.

Step 7: Sell Valuable Items

If you have items that are in high demand or good condition, consider selling them. This could include furniture, appliances, electronics, clothing, or accessories. You can use online platforms like Craigslist, eBay, or local Facebook marketplace groups to find interested buyers.

Step 8: Dispose of Trash Responsibly

As you sort through your belongings, set aside items that are broken, damaged, or no longer functional. Dispose of them responsibly, following local guidelines for recycling or proper waste management. Remember to shred important documents containing personal information to protect your privacy.

Step 9: Maintain a Clutter-Free Space

Once you've gone through the entire house, take some time to put everything back in its place. Find a designated spot for each item and always return it there after use. This will help you maintain a neat and organized space for potential buyers to view.

Remember, decluttering and organizing your house for sale is a process that takes time and dedication. Be patient with yourself and celebrate the progress you make along the way. Good luck!


Wipe down surfaces and appliances

When preparing a house for sale, it is important to ensure that all surfaces and appliances are thoroughly wiped down and cleaned. This includes clearing and wiping down countertops, sinks, and appliances in the kitchen, as well as paying special attention to the inside of the refrigerator, stove, oven, and dishwasher. It is also essential to clean and polish faucets, sinks, bathtubs, and shower stalls in the bathroom.

To effectively wipe down surfaces and appliances, follow these steps:

  • Gather your cleaning supplies, including microfiber cleaning cloths, a heavy-duty all-purpose scrub brush, rubber cleaning gloves, a clean and shine spray, and a cooktop and stove cleaner.
  • Start by clearing the countertops and putting away any items that are not regularly used. This will make the space look bigger and more inviting.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down all appliances, including the refrigerator, stove, oven, and dishwasher, both inside and out. Pay special attention to removing fingerprints and streaks.
  • Apply a suitable cleaner to the cooktop and stove and use the scrub brush to remove any stubborn stains or burnt-on food.
  • Use a mild detergent or all-purpose cleaner to wipe down countertops, sinks, and backsplashes. Ensure that you get into the corners and crevices to remove any built-up grime.
  • Polish the surfaces with a clean and shine spray to give them a sparkling finish.
  • Don't forget to wipe down smaller appliances, such as the microwave, coffee maker, and toaster.
  • Move on to the bathroom and wipe down all surfaces, including the countertops, sink, bathtub, shower, and toilet. Use a disinfectant cleaner and ensure that you remove any soap scum, toothpaste residue, or hard water stains.
  • Pay special attention to high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, and faucet handles, as these areas are often overlooked but can harbour a lot of germs.
  • Finish by polishing the surfaces with a microfiber cloth to give them a streak-free shine.

By following these steps and maintaining a consistent cleaning routine, you can ensure that your house is spotless and ready for potential buyers. A clean and well-maintained home will create a positive first impression and make it easier for buyers to envision themselves living there.

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Vacuum and mop floors

Vacuuming and mopping floors are essential steps in cleaning your house, especially if you're preparing it for sale. Here's a detailed guide to help you get started:

Step 1: Prepare the Area

Before you start vacuuming and mopping, it's important to clear the floor of any obstacles and large debris. Move furniture, toys, rugs, and other items that may hinder your cleaning process. This will ensure that you can easily manoeuvre the vacuum and mop without tripping over anything. Additionally, if there is any loose dirt or dust on the floor, use a broom to sweep it away before vacuuming.

Step 2: Vacuum the Floors

Vacuuming is crucial to remove dirt, dust, pet hair, and other debris from the floors. Here's a suggested procedure:

  • Choose the Right Vacuum: Select a vacuum that is suitable for your floor type. If you have hardwood or tile floors, an upright or canister vacuum with a hard floor setting is ideal. For carpets, a vacuum with strong suction and a beater bar is recommended.
  • Adjust the Settings: Ensure that your vacuum is set to the appropriate height for your floor type. For hardwood or tile, adjust the height to the highest setting to avoid damaging the floor. For carpets, lower the height to allow the beater bar to agitate the fibres and lift embedded dirt.
  • Vacuum in a Systematic Pattern: Start vacuuming in one corner of the room and work your way across the floor in overlapping rows. Go slowly and use back-and-forth motions to ensure that you pick up as much dirt as possible. Pay extra attention to high-traffic areas, such as hallways and entryways, as they tend to accumulate more dirt.
  • Use Attachments for Hard-to-Reach Areas: Most vacuums come with attachments like crevice tools and dusting brushes. Utilise these attachments to clean tight spaces, such as under furniture, along baseboards, and around stairs.
  • Empty the Vacuum Bag or Canister: Once you've finished vacuuming, remember to empty the vacuum bag or canister. This will ensure that your vacuum maintains its suction power and prevents dirt from being redistributed onto the floor.

Step 3: Mop the Floors

Mopping is the final step to achieve a sparkling clean floor. Here's a suggested procedure:

  • Choose the Right Mop and Cleaning Solution: Select a mop that is suitable for your floor type. For hardwood or tile floors, a flat mop head with a microfiber pad is ideal. For linoleum or vinyl floors, a sponge mop is a good choice. Use a cleaning solution that is safe for your floor type and follow the manufacturer's instructions for dilution.
  • Fill the Mop Bucket: Fill a mop bucket with clean water and add the recommended amount of cleaning solution. Ensure that you have enough solution to cover the entire floor.
  • Start Mopping: Dip the mop into the cleaning solution and wring it out to remove excess water. Start mopping in the farthest corner of the room and work your way backwards towards the exit. Overlap your mop strokes to ensure that you don't miss any spots. Rinse and wring out the mop frequently to avoid spreading dirt.
  • Pay Attention to Details: Don't forget to mop along baseboards, in corners, and around fixtures. These areas tend to collect dirt and dust, so give them some extra attention.
  • Dry the Floors: After mopping, use a dry mop or towel to dry the floors. This will help prevent water spots and ensure that your floors are ready for foot traffic.

By following these steps, you'll be able to effectively vacuum and mop your floors, leaving them clean and ready for potential buyers. Remember to maintain a consistent cleaning routine to keep your house in tip-top shape!

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Clean and organise closets and drawers

When it comes to selling your house, it's important to make your home look as appealing as possible to potential buyers. A clean and organised home will help buyers imagine themselves living in the property.


First, you'll want to declutter your closets and drawers. This will make the space look tidier and more spacious. Start by sorting your belongings into three piles: one to throw away, one to donate or sell, and another to box up or put in storage.

  • Pick everything up off the floor.
  • Clear off your closet shelves.
  • Remove excess clothing from hangers.
  • Sort through clothing and decide what to keep, donate, or throw away.
  • Throw away old menus and receipts from drawers.
  • Put hairbrushes and combs in a basket under the sink.
  • Buy drawer organisers to make your drawers look neater.
  • Fold clothing and linens.
  • Give away books you've already read.
  • Remove personal photos and knick-knacks from shelves.


Once you've decluttered, give your closets and drawers a good clean.

  • Wipe down hanging rods and shelves.
  • Measure the depth and width of your shelves to determine which storage products will fit.
  • Vacuum and/or mop the floor.
  • Wash floors with a mop, bucket, and the recommended floor cleaning solution.

Strategise storage

Now it's time to think about storage solutions.

  • Invest in a closet system to design and customise your space.
  • Stock up on containers to separate and organise your belongings.
  • Invest in space-saving hangers, such as slender velvet hangers.
  • Optimise vertical space with hanging shoe storage or hanging shelves.

Organise your clothes

  • Organise your clothes by frequency of use, with the most frequently used items at eye level.
  • You can also organise by theme or occasion, or by style.
  • Colour-code your closet to make finding items easier.
  • Fold sweaters and place them on shelves, or fold them over a hanger to maintain their shape.
  • Face all clothing in the same direction and order from short to long.
  • Place empty hangers at the beginning of each section.

Space-saving techniques

  • Roll T-shirts, tanks, and other small items to save drawer space.
  • Use vacuum bags for out-of-season clothing to save space.
  • Rotate out-of-season clothes and store them elsewhere in your home.

Store accessories

  • Display your purses and handbags, and stuff them to keep their shape.
  • Hang statement jewellery pieces and store more delicate pieces in stacking trays.
  • Place shoes on shelves or in drop-front shoe boxes.
  • Fold or roll socks and store them in drawers or baskets.
  • Roll belts and place them in a drawer or basket to avoid warping.
  • Display hats on shelves or hang them on the wall.
  • Roll ties and place them in a drawer.

Stay organised

  • Commit to regular maintenance to keep your closets and drawers organised.
  • Don't let laundry pile up – do small loads more frequently.
  • Continue to edit your belongings and create a designated donate/sell bin in your closet.
  • Only buy new items when you need them, and consider a one-for-one policy where you donate an item for every new item you bring in.
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Use storage solutions for seasonal items

When preparing your house for sale, it's important to declutter and stage your home to make it more appealing to buyers. While some items can be discarded, you may want to hold on to certain things until you move into your new home. This is where storage solutions come in. Here are some tips for using storage solutions for seasonal items:

Organize and Declutter

Start by sorting through your belongings and deciding what to keep, store, donate, or discard. This will help you identify the items you need to store seasonally. Go through your wardrobe and identify the clothes, shoes, and accessories that you won't need for the upcoming season. For example, during summer, you can store away winter clothes, coats, and boots. Wash or dry clean the items you plan to store, and inspect them for any damage or stains. This ensures that they are in good condition when you take them out next season.

Choose the Right Storage Containers

When packing seasonal items, use sturdy storage containers to protect your belongings from dust, moisture, and pests. Vacuum-sealed bags, clear plastic bins, and cardboard boxes are great options. Avoid using plastic bags or cardboard boxes for long-term storage, as they can trap moisture and cause damage. Look for stackable storage bins with clear panels or labels to easily identify the contents. You can also use breathable garment bags or boxes for delicate items like wool coats.

Protect and Preserve

Add cedar blocks, lavender sachets, or essential oils to your storage containers to deter moths and other pests that can damage fabrics. For leather items, such as shoes, purses, and jackets, clean and rub them with conditioning oil to prevent drying and cracking. Fur items should be stored in a cool, climate-controlled environment. For string lights, wrap them around pieces of cardboard to prevent tangling.

Label and Organize

Clearly label all storage containers with the contents and the season. This will make it easier to locate specific items when the season changes. You can also create an inventory list of all your stored items and their locations, especially if you are using multiple storage solutions like a shed, garage, and storage unit.

Choose a Storage Location

Consider your storage options, such as a storage unit, a friend or family member's house, or peer-to-peer storage. If you opt for a storage unit, choose one that is conveniently located and has the right size and climate-controlled options to meet your needs. If you're storing items in your garage or basement, ensure that the space is dry, well-ventilated, and properly sealed to protect your belongings from humidity and pests.

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Frequently asked questions

First, set a realistic cleaning schedule that works for you and your home. Then, list all the rooms and areas in your home that need regular cleaning, including hallways, stairways, and entryways. Next, visit each room on your cleaning schedule and list all the cleaning tasks you need to perform regularly, ordering items from top to bottom (ceiling to floors) in the same order you’ll use to clean.

Here are some tips for cleaning up the house for sale:

- Make a pile of the stuff that is trash, a pile for laundry, a pile for things that belong there, a pile for things that don't, and a pile of things that you'll be giving away.

- Start by doing the simple cleaning first.

- Clear off flat surfaces.

- Make a plan to keep the room tidy.

- Follow the 80/20 rule – generally speaking, you only wear 20% of the clothing you own 80% of the time.

- Clear out clutter from your countertops.

- Use storage bins and baskets to organise items with shelving.

- Use a damp cloth to wipe off dusty surfaces.

It is helpful to remember that things will get worse before they get better. You can also set a timer for 60 minutes and work in one space per day. It is also important to take breaks so that you do not burn yourself out or get discouraged.

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