Tawra had to show her house a couple more times this weekend, which is a good thing, but that also meant more quick cleaning and preparing the house to show. We used a couple of cleaning tricks that I thought you guys might be interested in. These work well whether you are showing your house to move or you have someone call saying, "We are 5 minutes away and coming for a visit."
- Sweep your front porch. It is the first thing people see when coming to your home and the only thing many people see of you and your home. People used to sweep their porches every day, mostly because they didn’t have "yards" with grass so the porches could get messy quickly. They also spent more time out on their porches. A porch was like another room of the house so people kept them clean. If you can’t sweep it every day, do it at least once a week.
- Tawra cleaned the bathroom with some nasty smelling stuff just a few minutes before the people were supposed to arrive. It was awful and the smell wouldn’t go away. I sprayed some Pledge on the wooden door of the bathroom. It really helped. It was the first thing they would smell when entering the bathroom. Now we use our homemade all purpose cleaner which doesn’t have a smell.
Certain smells make a house smell like it has been cleaned. Furniture polish is one of those smells. I always spray some on the piece of furniture right by the front door. This also makes people think you were just cleaning.
- Baskets – We couldn’t clean without them. The kids normally have a cabinet to put their shoes and backpacks by the front door, but right now these items are just lined up by the door. So we have a laundry basket there and when we’re getting the house ready to show, we toss everything within a 6 foot area of the door into that basket. Not only does it help for quick clean up but when the people have left we know where to find everything that was in that area.
- Speaking of finding things. When we first started cleaning to show houses, we would toss things into any little hole we could find. Now we try to "hide" things close to where they are used. Previously, I would get calls for hours after we showed the house from someone asking if I knew where this or that item had been stashed. The cat and dog eat by a dresser, so I just slip their bowls and food into one of the dresser drawers. The toaster and other odds and ends on the kitchen counter get tossed into the dish drainer and are carried to the garage, where they are neatly covered with a towel or blanket.
- Surface clean only the rooms the company will be seeing. Quickly gather up things like dirty socks, last night’s ice cream bowl and anything else that looks really bad.
If you don’t have time to pick up all the kids toys or magazines, that’s okay. These items are "everyday living" mess that are to be expected in most homes. It’s the pile of cat barf or teenage son’s stinky socks you will want to remove. Even though those are normal everyday things for some people, it isn’t the type of thing company likes to see.
- In the bathroom, simply run a rag over the sink and counter, shut the shower curtain or door and straighten the towels and rugs. Voila! You should be good to go. If you have clutter all the time like on the counter by the sink and you often expect company, you might consider keeping an empty basket under the sink to dump things into to hide.
- The kitchen can be a challenge, but just fill the kitchen sink with hot soapy water and place all the dishes into it. Don’t worry about carefully rinsing and scrubbing. This is just to sort of "hide" them. This is sometimes faster then trying to put them in a dishwasher. (This is not a good idea for showing the house!
Wipe off the counter and stove and call it good. People will think they just caught you in the middle of doing the dishes.
- Last, but not least- when all else fails… I read a joke many years ago where a woman’s house was a mess and she saw their pastor walking up the sidewalk. She ran to the closet, pulled out her vacuum and placed it in the middle of the floor. Quickly, she tied on an apron and a scarf around her hair and answered the door. When the pastor walked in, he thought he had caught her in the middle of spring cleaning and that was why the place was such a mess. : ) : )