- Use microfiber cloths for cleaning kitchens and bathrooms, dusting, cleaning mirrors, and polishing. Microfiber cloths actually pull dirt to itself, and they don't streak or leave behind lint. They can be washed hundreds of times. Just do not dry in dryer with anti-static cloths, as the anti-static molecules coat the cloths, cutting down on their effectiveness. Air-dry instead..
- Clean from the top to bottom. Because dust settles, start with dusting the ceiling, including fixtures or fans, then walls, then objects on furniture, then furniture and molding. Then vacuum and wash the floors.
- To reach the high spots, use a long-handled telescoping pole with attachable tools. I attach a lamb's wool duster to the telescoping pole to reach high spaces. Have two dusters available; one for inside and one for outside work like taking cobwebs off the house and for other really dirty areas.
- Clean hanging lights and chandeliers. Dust and clean off bulbs.
- Remove and clean ceiling mounted fixtures that accumulate dust and bugs.
- Dust ceiling fans. Use a lubricating spray if squeaky. (See Resources section for non-toxic products.) If a fan is still noisy, tighten any loosened parts.
- Use a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner. Spray floor, counter tops—whatever—makes cleaning fast.
- Replace your mop with a Microfiber floor mop. They glide over floors making washing easy. Remove cloth, wet it, put back on mop, and spray a bit of cleaner on it. When it gets dirty, rinse and repeat. These are great on all hard floors.
- If you have a mold problem or have black mold, consult an expert.
- Clean the creosote on glass fireplace windows with rubbing alcohol and a straight edge razor, see chart. When I moved into my home, the creosote was so thick on fireplace doors that I didn't think I could remove it. Rubbing alcohol really cut through the grime. Alcohol does leave a film, so follow up with a glass cleaner like vinegar and water.
- Clean curtains in washing machine or at dry cleaners.
- Blinds can be cleaned fairly easily in the bathtub with warm soapy water. Allow them to dry outside or on some old towels or a drop cloth.
- Dust everything on walls and all woodwork, including picture frames, banisters, molding, baseboards, around windows and sills and above doors.
- Clean all glass surfaces, including glass picture frames and mirrors with glass and mirror cleaner.
- Don't forget to sweep or vacuum an unfinished basement, attic and garage. Wipe down handrails and hot water heater, furnace and other stationary objects.
- Clean cobwebs inside and outside house, garage, and on any other buildings.
- Keep cars in your garage clean.
Kitchens and Bathrooms Must Sparkle!
- If you didn't clean inside cabinets and pantry when removing clutter, do so now.
- Clean vents and hoods.
- Get in the habit of regularly cleaning counters and walls.
- Clean refrigerator. First, turn off the refrigerator. Fill a container with warm, soapy water and begin with shelves inside doors. Going shelf by shelf, remove and wipe down all contents, wipe shelf, then put food back. Throw away anything that is past due or that looks nasty. Remove drawers and wash. Remove everything that can be removed and clean. The interior of the refrigerator is easy to clean once the moveable parts are removed. Turn refrigerator back on. To prevent odors, keep all food covered, and add a container of baking soda to be on the safe side.
- Clean freezer. Turn off the freezer and remove contents. Allow freezer to warm up a bit then clean as you would refrigerator. Replace contents neatly. Put freezer back on. Note: If you have a freezer that does not self-defrost, it's time to buy a new one. Put a container of baking soda in freezer.
- Remove the grill from the front of refrigerator and pull out the pan that collects excess water and wash. Unplug refrigerator and vacuum coils. Pull refrigerator out and vacuum floor.
- Keep sink empty and spotless.
- Clean the kitchen from top to bottom.
- Clean lighting fixtures. Remove bulbs to clean them and wait until they are thoroughly dried before screwing them back in. Keep fixtures off when removing and replacing bulbs.
- Unless room was painted recently, a fresh coat of paint is recommended. Unless wallpaper is in pristine condition and is a neutral color or pattern, remove and paint.
- Clean curtains or get new ones. Better yet, remove to allow more sunlight into room.
- Keep floor spotless.
- Clean oven and stovetop. If the stove has stains, or baked on food that cannot be removed, or is damaged, consider replacing those dirty parts or buying a new stove.
- If a garbage can must be in sight, use one with a cover and change regularly to prevent odors.
- Empty recyclables regularly and keep neat.
Natural wood cabinets should be polished and any marks or spots removed. Handles, pulls and any other hardware should be cleaned or polished.
Cabinets with washable surfaces should be clean of all marks with an all-purpose cleaner.
Tile and Grout
If tile is in good shape, simply keep it clean. If not, consider replacing. Grout can be "cleaned" with paint meant for this purpose.
Once the kitchen has been thoroughly cleaned, maintenance is fairly easy. Get in the habit of keeping kitchen clean at all times and ready to show.
Like the kitchen, everything must be spotless.
If toilet, vanity or tub is a funky color, stained or damaged, replace with new.
Walls and Ceilings
While you might not notice how dingy the walls in your house look, buyers will see walls that need to be painted immediately. How to choose paint and repair walls and ceilings will be discussed later in Step 6 and paint colors in Step 9.
Your windows need to be absolutely clean and in good condition. Seriously consider replacing windows with new ones if windows:
- are too old to get clean
- fog up with condensation
- have cracks
- open and close with difficulty or not at all
Either hire a professional window washer or clean windows yourself.
If you clean windows yourself, buy a professional squeegee. I used to buy squeegees from the big home improvement stores, and they drove me crazy, because they would leave streaks. I found affordable, professional-quality ones in The Clean Team Catalog and they work great! (See "Resources" under Cleaning Supplies. They also carry microfiber cloths and other good cleaning supplies.) Makes cleaning windows almost painless!
Wash windows with a microfiber cloth or rag or window scrubber using solution shown on page 92.Try an extension pole instead of a ladder to make work easier. Dry the top inch of the window with a rag and then run squeegee down window, starting at the top on the dry section. Wipe squeegee dry with a clean, dry cloth. Continue until window is finished, then wipe rag along three sides of window to mop up any remaining water.
Don't forget to clean around sills, frames and hardware. Squeaky or hard to open and close windows can be lubricated with eco-friendly BPL™, Bio-Penetrating Lubricant by Renewable Lubricants. WD-40™ works, too, but isn't eco-friendly. (See Resources, under Lubricant.)
If you are selling your home when screens are in windows, make sure they are in great condition, too. You can easily clean screens with a microfiber cloth and water. Just wipe them and the dust and dirt comes right off.
Flooring should be free from debris, clean, odorless, and in great shape. Replace or restore any flooring that is not in good condition. (More details on replacing flooring in Step 6.) After vacuuming, wash floor.