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    It Takes a Family: Tips for Keeping Your Home Clean When it’s for Sale

    Written by Kris Louis

    It’s tough being a busy parent with a full-time job trying to keep things in order at home and at the office. It gets even harder when you put your house up for sale (as if you didn’t have enough on your plate already). Now you’ve got to pull off what may seem like a magic act – keeping your home squeaky clean while it’s on the market. Obviously, you need help – and that has to come from your family, including your kids.

    Focus on the big stuff

    When you’re trying to find a buyer, there will be times your realtor will want to bring people over within an hour or two of calling. If you’re hustling home from work to get ready, be prepared to apply the “big stuff only” rule. That means you don’t have enough time for a basement-to-attic cleaning and have to focus on the superficial stuff. Clear off counter space, get rid of dust bunnies, vacuum the living room carpet, and straighten up anything else a potential buyer would notice right away.

    Have your carpeting steam cleaned, and bring in a professional cleaning service early in the process. If the really heavy-duty cleaning has been done in advance, you should be in a good position to impress buyers. Bring in a professional stager to make sure your house is in ideal condition if you have the budget for it. The average cost for a professional staging is $955.

    Getting the kids involved

    If your spouse or partner is also a busy professional, time is probably in short supply for both of you. To keep the place in “new-home” condition, you’ll need to get the children involved. Unless they’re very young, kids know what it means to keep their own stuff picked up. Providing structure and setting expectations will help, because yelling, “Clean up your room!” tends to become white noise after a while – and it doesn’t take long for kids to tune that out.

    Give the children a cleaning checklist with specific tasks, like putting toys in their proper containers, placing stuffed animals where they belong, returning books to shelves, and keeping shoes in the closet. Make it a rule to clean up toys as soon as they’re done playing to get them in the “clean-as-you-go” habit. If you can turn cleaning into a game or competition, with the winner getting to choose what’s for dinner, you might find it easier to get the kids accustomed to cleaning on a regular basis.

    Clean as you cook

    If your house is on the market, evenings are probably all about tidying the house while you have a few free hours. Clean the kitchen while you’re cooking dinner so there are no dirty pots and pans to hand wash, and no dirty stove to clean later on. Consider using disposable plates and plastic cutlery to save time and, if possible, cook dinner a little earlier than usual. You might like the routine so much that it becomes a nightly habit.

    One bathroom

    In general, the less there is to clean, the better off you’ll be, especially when you’re faced with prepping the house on short notice. If you have more than one bathroom, restrict everyone to using just one so you’re not continually cleaning rooms unnecessarily. The one-bathroom method can be a big help when you’re in a hurry, especially when you consider how difficult it can be to keep a bathroom shiny clean.  

    It’s hard to keep a house clean all by yourself, especially when it has to be immaculate every day. It takes a group effort with everyone pulling together. A well-staged house will make it easier to keep your home clean and arranged so it appeals to buyers.   

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