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  1. Blog
  2. How to deep clean your house before you sell
Add value to your home
08 April 2022

How to deep clean your house before you sell

Sam Edwards
Writer
How to deep clean your house before selling

Table of contents

  1. 1. Take note of your property’s overall state
  2. 2. Declutter your home
  3. 3. Clean your bathroom
  4. 4. Clean your kitchen
  5. 5. Refresh your furnishings and carpets
  6. 6. Wipe windows
  7. 7. Spruce up your front and back gardens
  8. 8. Fireplaces and basements
  9. 9. Summary: Make your house a home you’d buy again!

Congratulations on deciding to sell your home! It’s a long road but you’ve made the first step. The next is making your home marketable.

House viewings are a big part of the homeselling process. Naturally, it’s in your best interests to make your property as attractive as possible.

In this article, we’re going to break down some of the best deep cleaning tips to consider before house viewings. Grab your mop and bucket, and read on for our deep cleaning checklist.

1. Take note of your property’s overall state

Everyone’s home is different, and that means it's up to you to prioritise the features that need the most attention. If you have a large front garden or driveway, you should ensure that they’re both tidy and free of litter. Likewise, if you have a basement or fireplace, these features will attract special attention during viewings.

Above all else, it’s wise to listen to your estate agent’s advice. As experts in marketing properties like your own, they know what matters most to prospective buyers.

Please note: Many of our cleaning supplies we recommend in this checklist can be purchased in your local supermarket. White vinegar and bicarbonate of soda are common features. Those with sensitive skin are advised to purchase a pair of rubber gloves.

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2. Declutter your home

Declutter, declutter, declutter. There’s a reason this term pops up time and time again on cleaning guides and checklists. But what does it actually mean?

When you declutter your home, you’re tidying away and removing unnecessary items that occupy spaces they shouldn’t.

Marketing your home is about showing its potential to buyers and allowing them to see themselves in your home. It’s difficult for buyers to do this when things like kid’s toys, dog toys, boxes, old DVDs and boxes are lying around.

How to declutter

The main thing to remember is this: although decluttering is a big process, you’ll notice how big a difference the small actions make.

To make the job simple and effective, we recommend visualising four separate destinations for each of your belongings:

  1. Keep

If you’re keeping an item, you’re leaving it where it is, albeit with a little spruce and tidy.

  1. Storage

Storing an item is essentially the same as keeping it, but moving it somewhere that potential buyers won’t notice it.

  1. Donate

Whether there’s a local charity nearby, or a friend or relative in need of new clothes, donating is a great way to recycle the items you no longer find useful, but others might.

  1. Bin

The last destination for cluttered items is the bin. Have a black bin bag on hand as you move around your home and throw in anything that you don’t need and cannot donate.

Things to look out for

  • Board games, photographs, magazines and postcards

The above are some of the most sentimental things you can find in a family home. However, they serve no purpose in a property viewing, so store them away for safekeeping, or bin them as you see fit.

  • Make your hallways and small spaces appear less narrow

Porches, hallways and utility rooms aren’t known for being wide, cavernous spaces, but house viewings should be as seamless and as spacious as possible. It’s best to clear these passageways and rooms to ensure maximum mobility and space. Framed photographs, shoe racks, and boxes should be removed and stored somewhere safe.

3. Clean your bathroom

Your bathroom is one of the most important areas in your home. It’s the epicentre of cleanliness, self-care and routine (the next big one is your kitchen, but we’ll cover that later in the article). That’s why your bathroom needs special attention when it comes to pre-sale deep cleans.

How to deep clean your house: bathroom

Cleaning your bathroom: A checklist

  1. Sweep or hoover

First things first, your bathroom floor must be cleaned thoroughly. Hoover or sweep up all of the dust, webs, and detritus littered around your bathroom, including its ceiling. If you have a laundry room, make sure you give it the same treatment.

Make sure you capture anything hidden behind the toilet too - these areas are often overlooked, but you can bet a potential buyer will look here too.

  1. Remove limescale

If you live in a hard water area, your bathroom may suffer from limescale. Limescale, or scale, is the visible accumulation of magnesium and calcium. It appears as a yellow or grey stain around taps, drains, mirrors, showers, shower curtains, shower doors, and toilet bowls.

As they’re not exactly an attractive sight, limescale stains suggest to potential buyers that you haven’t put the work into your bathroom. This makes them a priority when it comes to cleaning.

So how do you get rid of limescale?

There are many ways to get rid of limescale, but one of the easiest is buying a limescale remover spray bottle from your local supermarket. Their instructions usually involve spraying the affected area, waiting an hour, and then scrubbing thoroughly.

Lemon juice and white vinegar are also highly efficient at removing scale stains (with the added bonus of lemon juice leaving behind a pleasant scent). For taps, we recommend soaking a rag in either of the above, and wrapping it around the affected area using a rubber band. This will ensure consistent pressure on the affected area and allow the solution to do its magic.

  1. Remove mould

Mould and mildew are two other unsightly stains that accumulate in bathrooms. Much like limescale, they can be removed with either shop-bought or home brewed solutions.

Cillit Bang remains a big favourite among bathroom enthusiasts. A few squirts of liquid and an hour’s wait will help budge the black mould when it comes to scrubbing. If you’re after a more DIY approach, white vinegar (diluted with water) works well too.

To prevent further mould build-ups, make sure you ventilate damp areas well. Open a window or two after a shower or while you’re drying clothes.

  1. Clean mirrors and polish taps

In the best bathrooms, you can find your reflection anywhere you turn. Anything that can be shined or polished must be so. You could use a shop-bought glass cleaner for mirrors, but some home remedies are just as effective.

Combine one cup of vinegar with a squirt of washing up liquid. Apply this solution to your bathroom mirrors and taps, then let it sit for a couple of minutes. Once you wipe the solution away with a clean cloth, your mirrors and taps will shine.

  1. Empty bathroom bins

We put all sorts of rubbish and waste into our bathroom bins. That’s why they need emptying before house viewings. If your bins smell, fill them with hot water and a few drops of washing up liquid. Let it sit for 30 minutes before emptying.

  1. Clean the bathtub

If you have a bathtub, it’s probably the largest item in your bathroom, which means all eyes will be drawn to it. So what’s the best way to clean your bathtub?

For tubs with stubborn stains, fill them with 4 litres of vinegar, hot water and two cups of baking soda and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. Then drain and clean the tub with a wet sponge, allowing the dirt to spill down the drain.

For less stained bathtubs, fill your tub with warm water and a few scoops of bio washing powder to leave overnight. Drain your tub the next day and clean your tub with a wet sponge.

  1. Clean your washing machine

While your washing machine may not actually be located in your bathroom, it slots comfortably within this section. Run a self cleaning cycle to flush out any lurking waste from your machine's interior. Once this has finished, use a dry microfibre cloth to clean between the seals of the door.

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4. Clean your kitchen

Food is the way to the heart. Like your bathroom, your kitchen receives special notice from potential buyers during house viewings. Families, friends, and loved ones gather here to make their meals. It’s also the most expensive area in the house in terms of square feet. Naturally, this means that your kitchen deserves attention during your deep clean.

Cleaning your kitchen: A checklist

  1. Wash your dishes

There’s nothing less appealing than a sinkful of dirty dishes. Get those plates clean and dry before storing them safely away in their rightful cupboards.

The job doesn’t end there however. Your kitchen sink needs to be both clean and shiny. We recommend pouring some bicarbonate of soda onto a damp microfiber cloth and giving the walls of the sink a real scrub to remove any left-over stains.

  1. Remove smelly sink odours

While your sink is the centre-point of all kitchen cleanliness, it’s also the source of your kitchen’s worst smells. Tackling a smelly sink can be gruelling work, especially if the source of the smell dwells far below, but you can make any sink smell good with a simple DIY trick.

Pour one cup of baking soda and one cup of white vinegar down your kitchen drain. Leave the sink for at least 10 minutes. Avoid running any water down the drain during this period. After 10 minutes have passed, pour a kettle full of boiling water down your drain. This will flush out the solution and break up any smelly residue along the way.

  1. Clean and polish kitchen surfaces

Before you get stuck into your kitchen surfaces, it’s important to declutter your counters. Recipe books, everyday appliances, bottles, and ingredients need to be stored safely away in their respective cupboards. If something hasn’t got a home yet, make one.

Once everything is tidied away, you can now turn your attention to the kitchen counters. Depending on their material, you may have to adjust your cleaning method:

  • For granite countertops, don’t use any harsh cleaning solutions. Just warm water, dish soap and a microfibre cloth.
  • Same as above for marble countertops. Some have reported positive results by mixing warm water with baking soda to create an effective stain-removing paste.
  • For quartz countertops, use warm water and dish soap. For heavy stains, a spray with a surface or glass cleaner will do the job.
  • For laminate countertops, mix warm water with a quarter cup of white vinegar, before adding a tablespoon of washing up liquid. Use a non-abrasive sponge, cloth or soft brush.
  • For wooden countertops, use warm water, washing up liquid and a microfibre cloth. To sanitise the countertops, spray them with undiluted white vinegar and let the vinegar sit for several minutes before washing off with the same solution as before.

Last but not least, remember to clean every area. This includes beneath kitchen appliances like your kettle, toaster and bread bin, as well as your cupboards and drawers. Any loose bits of food waste, like garlic shells or onion peels, need to be chucked in the bin.

  1. Clean your kitchen appliances

Your kitchen tools and appliances play a big role in your kitchen’s presentation. Cleaning them may take a bit of time, but the end result is worth it. Shining appliances bring out the best of your kitchen and may boost your property’s value.

Some items to look out for:

  • Fridge (chuck any loose vegetable waste and ensure your shelves are spotless)
  • Microwave
  • Toaster
  • Hanging utensils (spatulas, tongs, garlic crushers and metal spoons)
  • Pots, pans, and woks
  • Extractor fan
  • Stove
  • Oven
  1. Mop and disinfect floors

To complete your kitchen’s spotless look, it’s time to give your floors a good scrub.

Begin with sweeping and hoovering your floors. If you have wooden floors, make sure you hoover between the cracks, and scan all corners for loose dust and food crumbs.

When it comes to disinfecting and mopping your kitchen floors, it’s imperative that you pick the right cleaning regimen for your floor type:

  • For ceramic tiles, give them a good scrub with a rag mop, using warm water mixed with liquid dish soap. Don’t leave the tiles to air dry, but instead dry them down with a lint-free cloth.
  • For laminate flooring, use a gentle cleanser with a moist (not soaking) mop. Too much water will seep behind skirting boards, while bleach can damage the floor’s finish. Dry the floors with a microfibre cloth.
  • For vinyl and linoleum flooring, use a non-abrasive mop or sponge with an all purpose cleaning product. Or just mix a cup of white vinegar with a bucketful of warm water.
  • For wooden floors, use a hardwood mop and a diluted wood cleaner product. Make sure your mop is wrung almost dry before mopping at the floorboards. Wipe up any excess liquid to prevent standing water, as this can damage wood surfaces.
  1. Open your windows

Last but not least, open your windows and allow some fresh air to circulate through your spotless kitchen. This will help clear the chemical fumes left over from your big clean.

5. Refresh your furnishings and carpets

Having decluttered your home and removed all unnecessary items from your living areas, it’s time to refresh the furniture that matters. Put some extra love into the chairs, sofas and coffee tables left in your home.

Each type of furniture warrants a different type of treatment to remove dirt and grime. If you don’t use the right type of treatment, you could damage your furniture beyond repair!

How to deep clean your house: furnishings

Wooden furniture

Use a slightly damp cloth to remove lint and dust. Don’t leave the surface wet, wipe it with another dry cloth. Any spots or sticky residue can be cleaned with a soapy microfibre cloth. Again, don’t let the surface air-dry, but wipe it dry with another cloth.

Some harder stains or sticky areas may require mineral spirits, but these can damage your wooden furnishings. Test with a small area first by applying a little bit of spirit to a clean microfibre cloth. If this works without issue, feel free to continue with the rest of the stain.

Some homeowners apply wax to their wooden furnishings to protect them and improve their glossy appearance.

Upholstery

First and foremost, check the manufacturer’s label on your upholstery before you begin cleaning. Different types of materials have different rules.

Remove dirt and lint

  1. Use a hoover or vacuum cleaner to suck up all dust and debris from the surface of your furniture. For cushions or sofa sections, take them out individually, and bash them against a wall. You’d be surprised at how much dust and dirt expelled. If you have a dog or cat, watch out for loose pet hair.
  2. Make sure you clean between the crevices, flipping each cushion or sofa piece in turn to comb the undersides for dirt and lint.

Tackle stains

For linen upholstery, use a clean, damp cloth and gently rub the stain. Don’t rub too vigorously - this will only serve to push the stain further into the material. For more stubborn stains, use a mild dish soap or detergent.

For velvet upholstery, use a microfibre cloth, and warm soapy water. Leave the velvet to air dry after you have removed the stain. Applying too much heat can damage the material.

Remove smells

For removing the funkiest smells, your best friend is bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda). Fabrics absorb a lot of stink from our homes, but once this powerful powder is sprinkled on your furniture, cushions, blankets and throws will relinquish their must and grease. The longer you let the soda sit, the more effective it becomes.

How to clean your carpet

Like your fabric furnishings, carpets don’t just stain easily, but absorb a lot of odours from your home. To get rid of the worst, sprinkle baking soda across your rugs and carpets, and leave it to sit. Hoover the powder up once a few hours have passed.

To clean your carpet thoroughly, you have a number of options:

  • Hire an electronic carpet cleaner: These tools scrub carpet fibres free of oil and dirt. Once you’ve properly hoovered your carpets, use the carpet cleaner to tackle the rest.
  • Hire a carpet steam cleaner: These tools use hot high-pressure steam to blast down to the base of the carpet’s fibres and kill any microorganisms lurking there.

Light fixtures

Light fixtures often escape our notice during spring cleaning. But if you're hosting house viewings, you should ensure lampshades and components are clean and dust-free. Make sure your lights are switched off while you work.

6. Wipe windows

One of the first things potential buyers will do when they arrive at your home is look through your windows. Glossy windows can add a lot to the perceived value of your home. There are several ways you can achieve this.

How to deep clean your house: windows

How to clean your windows without streaks

If you’re thinking of washing your windows yourself, you’ll need a ladder, a bucket, a sponge, a squeegee, and a bunch of newspapers.

Mix warm water with a cup or two of white vinegar in your bucket. Then, wipe your windows with the soaked sponge. Squeegee the solution away, and dry with the newspaper. Newspapers (not cloths or rags) don’t leave lint or dirt, allowing your windows to dry without streaks.

Hire a professional

Fear of heights? Hire a professional window cleaner to do the cleaning for you!

7. Spruce up your front and back gardens

If you’re lucky enough to have a patch of green on your property, don’t leave it be! Gardens provide a massive bonus to your property’s market value - tidy gardens, all the more so. A bit of TLC can go a long way in unearthing the best of your yard.

  1. Collect and remove all litter and debris

Whether it’s mouldy autumn leaves, stray Kitkat wrappers, or abandoned kid’s toys. It’s best to get rid of any rubbish or clutter in your garden.

  1. Mow the lawn and trim down the hedges

Long grass and unruly hedges don’t just suggest a lack of care - they actually reduce the amount of visible space in your garden. Mowing and trimming your garden is the same as decluttering your home interio - they’re fast and efficient ways to boost the value of your home.

For grass, buy or hire a lawn mower. Go up and down the length of your garden, ensuring that all corners are cut. Remember to dispose of the grass afterwards in your compost or local garbage facility. Grass gets mouldy fast, becoming ideal food for creepy crawlies.

For your hedges, there are two types of hedge cutters available: manual or automatic. You can also get different lengths of cutters depending on the size of your hedges. Check out B&Q or your local tool shop for further information.

  1. Attend to your sheds and garages

If you own a shed or garage, you’ll be the first to know that they can quickly become homes for everything you can’t fit inside your house.

While this isn’t a bad thing, it’s important that your outdoor facilities do not become cesspits. Spruce up your sheds and garages to ensure that they look both neat and tidy. Remove cobwebs, dust, and mould from their interiors, and assort any tools or items as needed.

If the walls of your shed or garage are particularly filthy, give them a good scrub and possibly a fresh lick of paint.

  1. Hide your wheelie bins

Last but not least, don’t let your rubbish and recycling bins be the main attractions of your front and back gardens. Wheel them out of the way so that visitors are unable to see them without a bit of effort.

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8. Fireplaces and basements

The last features you need to prioritise in your deep clean are your fireplace and basement. These areas are unique enough that they don’t appear in most properties - hence their position in this list. However, if you do own one or the other, you can expect these features to fetch a lot of interest from potential buyers.

Fireplaces, specifically working log burners, can add up to 5% to your property’s value. Nothing beats a crackling fire on a cold winter’s night. Likewise, basements offer a huge realm of possibilities to potential buyers because of the indulgent extra space they bring.

So, if you own a fireplace or basement, it’s time to give them some extra TLC before your house viewings.

How to clean your fireplace

Every fireplace is different - make sure you double check with your manufacturer about their cleaning instructions.

How to clean soot and dust

It goes without saying that you should wait until your fireplace has cooled before you attempt to remove soot and dust. Once the fireplace is cool, spread towels over the hearth, as well the surrounding furniture. Coverings will prevent them from being contaminated with soot and dust.

Using a handheld broom, sweep soot and ash from the floor and walls of your fireplace into a black bin bag. Be careful with your technique - too much force can send ash billowing into the air.

Once you’re all done, bag the ash up and toss it in an outdoor bin. Make sure to set aside a bowl of ash - this will come in useful when cleaning the glass.

Remember to hoover your furniture to ensure no dust or ash remains.

How to clean fireplace brick

Unpainted areas of fireplace brick can be cleaned with a simple home remedy. Please note that this trick might not be suitable for all brick types.

  1. Purchase Cream of Tartar from your local supermarket
  2. Mix two tablespoons of paste with a bit of water to make a paste
  3. Spread the paste on dirty areas of fireplace and allow it to sit for five to ten minutes
  4. Rinse the paste with warm water. Repeat as necessary

How to clean fireplace glass

As with brick, your fireplace glass may have specific cleaning instructions and warranty. Please consult both before following these instructions.

To clean the glass, ball up a piece of newspaper and dampen it in a bowl of warm water. Next, dip this newspaper in some of the leftover ash. Scrub the glass until the stains come away. You might have to put extra muscle into the scrubbing.

Once you are finished, wipe the glass dry with a non-abrasive towel.

Cleaning your basement

How you clean your basement depends on how you’ve utilised the extra space.

If your basement is a messy storage area, you will need to follow a similar route to clearing your shed or garage. That means using a brush, broom or hover to remove dust and webs from the ceiling, walls and floors, as well as organising your belongings so that they’re nice and tidy.

However, if your basement contains an extra bedroom or en suite, it’s best to treat it as an extension of your bathroom and living areas. That means refreshing your furnishings and cleaning your bathroom with the same gusto as the rest of your home.

Summary: Make your house a home you’d buy again!

Remember when you first saw your property? The feelings you felt during your first house viewing are the same feelings you want to elicit from potential buyers.

A clean house is one that's maximised its saleability. Make your house a home you’d buy again.

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