Ready at a Moment’s Notice: Cleaning Tips for Parents with a House on the Market

In House Hunting, Selling Your Home by Dawn Dolan

by guest blogger Cindy Aldridge

The goal for a home seller is to keep your home as appealing to potential buyers as possible. That means keeping it clean and decluttered for what can be a period of weeks, even months. If you’re a busy parent with active children, that’s a daunting prospect, but it’s very important. Discriminating buyers won’t be impressed with a dirty, cluttered, and disorganized property. They’ll see a space that looks too small to accommodate their belongings. Forgetting to pick up the kids’ toys before leaving for work the morning of a showing can produce unfortunate results, especially if a prospective buyer has to walk around objects that haven’t been put away.


A disorganized and cluttered living environment isn’t going to win over many people given the importance that home buyers place on space and flow these days. Be careful to purge your house of anything that’s no longer needed. A good rule of thumb is to get rid of belongings that haven’t been used within the past year. Pay special attention to your closets, attic, basement, garage, and any other storage space in your home.

A clean, well-organized closet is a good sign to a potential buyer who’s looking into every corner and crevice he or she can get to. Prospective buyers have even been known to look into drawers and private spaces, so rest assured they’re paying attention to detail. Go room by room and make separate piles of what you’ll donate, throw away, or try to sell.

It’s important to get your kids on board. As a busy parent with a full-time job, you’re going to need their help. Institute a reward system where your kids are rewarded with a movie or a new video game for keeping their bedrooms picked up and organized. How about a trip to the zoo or an amusement park for helping keep the kitchen and bathroom clean? It’ll establish a healthy sense of competition and the kids will gain a sense of accomplishment from helping you out.

Quick Clean

As a busy parent, you’ll find yourself doing a lot of last-minute cleaning once your home is on the market. Prospective buyers may ask to view your home at a moment’s notice, so being prepared is essential. Have a plan in place that allows you to clean quickly and efficiently in a short amount of time. Use lots of disposable wipes so you can do a quick cleaning of faucets, toilet bowls, sinks, and bathtub areas. Let hot water run in the shower for a few minutes each day to make the dirt and mildew easier to clean up with a tile-cleaning spray, which should be done after every shower or bath. Always keep blinds and shutters open to maximize natural light.

The dishwasher is a great asset when buyers are expected on short notice. But pots, pans, and other large kitchen objects are another matter. Save time by filling your sink with hot water and dish soap before you begin cooking dinner so you can just drop in those cooking implements and reduce your pot-and-pan handwashing time. Invest in a second vacuum cleaner so someone can be vacuuming upstairs while you’re cleaning like a whirlwind downstairs, and don’t forget to place throw or area rugs in your front and rear entryways to make vacuuming easier and less time-consuming in other parts of the house.

For a busy parent, keeping your home looking attractive can be an overwhelming task. That’s why being prepared for the unexpected well ahead of time can make the difference between a sale and a disappointed potential buyer who’s not impressed with what he sees.


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