15 Tips for Staging and Cleaning Your House to Sell Faster

Leah Lopez Cardenas
Updated November 12, 2021
Man cleaning glass window in living room
Maskot - stock.adobe.com

Why not give your home a gracious “leg up” in today’s competitive market

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Ask any real estate agent, and they’ll say it’s the details that tend to sell homes. Cleaning and staging with furniture and accessories to sell your house takes more than your standard, everyday home cleaning checklist.

Tidying and organizing that much space can sound overwhelming at first, but these easy tips to clean and stage your home will help get your home ready to show potential buyers.

Tips for Cleaning Your Home

1. Gather an Arsenal of Cleaning Supplies

The overall goal when staging any home is to make it look clean. Compile the supplies you need to ensure your home sparkles and shines. Start with this list below:

  • Vacuum

  • Mop

  • Floor cleaner

  • Paper towels or rags

  • All-purpose cleaning spray

  • Sponges

  • Bleach

  • Baking soda

  • Toilet brush

  • Storage containers

  • Duster

2. Focus on the Kitchen

When in doubt, start in the areas where people spend most of their time. Orderly kitchens can sell a home in seconds. Wipe down every appliance inside and out with a rag and multipurpose cleaning solution that’s safe for your appliance material. Next, hit your cabinets, drawers, and knobs. No smudge left behind.

You should also consider “staging” your refrigerator and pantry. Wipe all surfaces and shelves and organize the food items neatly. Containers that span multiple shelves can look chaotic. Lining up every spice like soldiers is a little overboard, but a subtle shelf rearrangement is key.

3. Make the Bathroom a Showpiece

Your toilet should shine after you've cleaned the bathroom for a home showing, right down to the bolt cap covers behind the seat. Scrub around the base of the toilet, carefully wiping any residue. The tub and faucet should look as clean as those in the bathroom of a top-rated hotel. 

Buyers notice every little detail, so give your showerhead some attention, too. If your grout is a little grungy, consider having your grout cleaned and sealed before welcoming any visitors.

4. Freshen Windows, Blinds, and Window Treatments

Break out the vacuum to clean blinds, curtains, or drapes. Depending on the material of your blinds, you can use a microfiber cloth or a mix of gentle dish soap and water for grimier blinds. Launder your fabric curtains and drapes either at home or the local dry cleaner according to the care instructions on the tag.

5. Steam and Shampoo the Carpet

Calling in a professional floor cleaning service can save you some time spent with a soapy bucket of shampoo, but if a pro isn't in the budget, vacuum thoroughly and pay special attention to corners. Consider renting a carpet cleaning machine from the hardware store to combat the most settled stains and caked-in dirt. A simple deodorizer like baking soda can combat any pet odors lingering in the fibers.

6. Examine the Doors

A dirty front door can leave a lasting impression, but not the one you want. Get rid of all lingering cobwebs and dirt present on your exterior doors. As for updating interior doors, a coat of paint and new doorknobs can go a long way in making your home feel fresh, clean, and modern.

7. Address the Walls, Too

You might want to vacuum walls and ceilings to remove dust from moldings, picture frames, trim, and air vents. Use a vacuum brush attachment and an extension wand to reach up high without having to lift the vacuum. If you have any markings on the walls, dip a rag in baking soda to scrub them off more easily.

8. Dust Every Surface

Wipe down the baseboards in every room. Then tackle your ceiling fans and light switches. A clean front door, washing machine, and coat closet can help present a tidy home.

9. Leverage the Smell Test

Invite someone who doesn’t live in your home to take a big ol’ sniff upon arrival. Your nose becomes immune to pets, cooking scents, and air fresheners over time, but new nostrils will help find the source and eliminate odors that can make your house off-putting to buyers.

You can also leverage fresh potpourri, scented oil diffusers, or freshly baked cookies when you know a showing is on the books. And, of course, always take out any trash before a buyer stops over.

Tips for Staging Your Home

10. Rent a Storage Unit

Whether you choose to stage your home yourself or hire professional home stagers, clearing out as much open space as possible will make the space more spacious and appealing. Renting a storage unit costs anywhere from $50 to $300 per month, depending on the size you choose.

Pack up non-essential items you won’t use every day and take them to the storage unit. Every trinket you transition to storage is one less thing you’ve got to keep clean during showings.

11. Decorate in Neutral Tones

Bright or bold colors can be overwhelming for some buyers. When staging your home for buyers, create a calming environment buyers can visualize themselves living in, with neutral tones accented by tiny pops of color here and there.

12. Make Your Home Feel Welcoming

Think about details that make you feel at home and play them up during staging. For example, you could place healthy plants or fresh flowers in vases throughout the most high-traffic rooms and fluff some decorative throw pillows to arrange on the couch. If you have a fireplace, light it up to create a cozy vibe and make it feel like a unique selling point.

13. Let the Light In

Light makes your home feel bigger and helps highlight its best features. When you’re prepping for a buyer to do a walkthrough, open all the curtains or blinds to let in as much natural light as possible. Also turn on all the overhead lights in every room.

14. Declutter All Rooms

Cluttered homes look smaller and dirty. Throw away or donate items you don’t want to transition to storage and place miscellaneous items in stylish storage containers. For example, throw blankets can lie in a decorative basket, and toys can hide in a storage ottoman.

Using these strategically placed storage solutions in the highest traffic areas of your home can also help you tidy up at a moment’s notice (more on this later).

15. Create a Plan for Last-Minute Showings

Natural grey living room interior
photographee.eu - stock.adobe.com

Write up a checklist of top-line cleaning tasks to complete each morning to ensure the house stays spotless while on the market. Examples of these daily cleaning tasks include:

  • Wiping down counters and tables

  • Running the dishwasher and putting away clean dishes

  • Folding and storing all throw blankets

  • Making the beds

  • Closing toilet seats

  • Removing unnecessary items sitting on counters and in entryways

  • Keeping all dirty laundry off the floor and in a hamper

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