Friday, April 4, 2014

Seven Tips for Maintaing a Clean House while it's On the Market

Maintaining a clean home with four small children is never an easy task.  Add to that having your house ready for showings while it's on the market, and you could easily get pretty stressed out.  To tell you the truth, actually selling our home doesn't have me worried.  Someone will either like our house or they won't; I can't make someone place an offer.  The part that makes me nervous is the daily maintenance to make it presentable for potential buyers.  In order to eliminate this stress, I've put seven practical things into place.

1. Store toys strategically for quick and easy clean up.  Our two oldest girls share a room that is full of dress up clothes, Barbies, stuffed animals, and random assortments of other teeny tiny pieces.  We use plastic bins with lids and keep toys organized by type.  Hanging up the dress up clothes was always a chore and time sucker for all of us {usually we would end up just wadding them up on the floor}.  A quick trip to TJMaxx and $30 provided us with a stylish basket for keeping all of the dress up clothes.

Bins that hold smaller pieces {jewelry, random toys, etc.} have been placed on the top shelf in their closet and can only be accessed with permission from Mommy and Daddy right now.

In the nursery, fabric covered boxes store Legos, trains, and baby toys.

Our general rule is to only allow one or two types of toys out at a time, and this has helped with clean up, as well as with maintaining focus for the girls during their play time.  We also boxed up some extra toys and stored them in the attic for now.  They have not been missed. :)

We timed clean up the other day and it only took us 5 minutes to put everything away.

2. Straighten up daily.  This might sound like a no-brainer, and probably many of you do this anyway.  I'll just be honest with you, though, that by the end of the day I'd much rather be in my pj's relaxing than cleaning up the kitchen and putting everyone's clothes away.  However, just taking 10 extra minutes after dinner or after the kids go to bed has helped to keep some of the busiest spaces in our home free of clutter.  I wipe the kitchen counters, sweep the floor, put the dishes away, pick up toys, and make sure dirty clothes are in the hamper.  I can go to bed with peace of mind knowing that it won't take as long to pick up should someone want to see the house the next morning.

3. Keep certain rooms/spaces off limits.  This  might not be necessary for everyone, but we have a guest room, dining room and piano room that aren't necessary for our everyday use.  So, once these rooms were cleaned and organized we asked the kids not to bring toys in there.  My only tasks for showings in these rooms are to vacuum and dust.

4. Make a house showing bucket and checklist.  Deep cleaning your home is just not practical for every house showing.  It would take hours and really, no one is going to eat something off of your floors, so it's not necessary to have everything absolutely spotless.  I've kept to my normal cleaning schedule {this is a weekly thing for me--bathrooms, mop floors, dust}, and in my little $4 bucket from Wal-Mart, I have some supplies that allow me to do a quick wipe down of some of these places.

-Windex wipes for bathroom mirrors and glass doors
-Clorox wipes for sinks and countertops
-Dusting gloves and brush for a quick swipe and feathering of furniture.
-Trash bags to empty all the trash cans around the house
-Air freshener to spray as you exit
Whatever else you think will help for your quick clean up

Type up and print out a checklist for yourself so that in the midst of frantically cleaning your house, you don't forget any of the essential steps.  Like that dirty diaper pail that needs emptying.

5. Have one or two empty bins under the bed for extra stuff.  I know myself well enough that there are surfaces in my home that will collect junk no matter how hard I try to keep it clean.  My dresser, the desk in the kitchen, one of my kitchen counters...Because I know this, I have two bins under my bed that I can use for these things should I need somewhere to put them in a pinch.

{After inspection of my two bins when I snapped the above photo, I suppose I should have three or four.  My two are already full!}

6. Utilize the tub, dishwasher, and microwave.  I didn't want to do this, but at the beginning of my shopping trip the other day I got a request for a house showing two hours later. I knew there were clothes that hadn't been folded, and a pile of hand me downs on the floor of my bedroom.  It only took a few seconds to put them in a laundry basket and hide them in the tub behind the shower curtain.  I had started to make bread that same morning, so I stuck the dough in the microwave {it rises faster in there anyway}, and loaded up the dishwasher.  If people choose to look in these spaces, I think they will be understanding, at least I hope they will.

7. Involve everyone in the family.  Our oldest children {ages 5 and 4} have heard us talking about moving, selling the house, and keeping the house ready for showings.  They don't fully understand it all, but they do understand that we need to be able to clean up quickly.  This communication with them has helped their attitudes when I need to scurry around.  They enjoy wearing my dusting gloves, so sometimes they even do this task for me.

Yesterday morning my four year old came downstairs and said, "Mommy, I cleaned up the sink in my bathroom.  I knew you had to feed both of the babies and clean up all of the other rooms, so I figured I could do that to help you."

She blew me away with her servant's heart, initiative, and ability to articulate why she thought I needed help.

Helping our older children to be aware of what's going on has given them a desire to be involved.

Keeping a home clean and organized while on the market can be a daunting task.  With just a few key steps, though, you can maintain your sanity and stay relaxed through the process.

Does anyone else have some tips for keeping your house ready for showings?  Please, share in the comments below!

Linking to:  Home Stories A to Z, Tutorials and Tips


  1. I am thinking these tips would be great whether showing your house or not. I do agree who wants to clean house when the couch and tv call!


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