The proper way to declutter a house

So you have decided to sell your house. Chances are you want a quick sale for the highest possible price. In order to do that, you want to appeal to the most amount of people. The more people that can see themselves living in your home, the more offers you will receive. Have you ever seen a model home? That is the look you are striving for. Staging can be a great help, but no one will see what you have staged if there is a mountain of clutter.

Too much stuff!

Too much stuff!

Decluttering seems so obvious, but I have seen numerous houses in recent months where the homeowner didn’t get the message.

Decluttering is on everyone’s “list of things to do before listing your house”, and for good reason. Those little things that you may have become used to seeing every day can be a major turn-off to potential buyers.

Just because you still live there doesn’t mean your buyers want to see dirty dishes or dirty clothes. Hide your tissue box, tidy up the pile of shoes by the front door, put the toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet.

Let’s go room by room and tidy up.

Bedrooms: Take everything off the floor, unless it is a bed, lamp, bookshelf, toybox or dresser. Preferably you don’t have ALL these things in one room. The less stuff you have lying on the floor, the larger the floor looks. The bed should be made, and a minimum amount of items should remain on top of the comforter. If it is a child’s bedroom, 2-3 stuffed animals may be placed on the top of the bed, but it is best to remove them all. Tidy up the bookshelf, arranging items by size. Each shelf should be no more than 3/4 full. A stuff-to-the-gills bookshelf looks untidy, and since you are moving, you’ll have to pack it up eventually anyway.

Closets: Clothes closets should have room for clothes to freely move around. Remove all out-of-season garments. Linen closets should have neat stacks. You don’t need 25 washcloths and 30 towels. When the closet looks too full, it appears to be small.

Bathrooms: Clean, clean, clean. The mirror, sinks, shower, tub, and toilet should be spotless – no exceptions. The toilet lid will be lifted if it is closed. The shower curtain will be pulled back. The cabinets will be opened. Your first few weeks on the market, your house should get lots of showings. It is a lot easier to keep a clean house clean, than to tidy up an untidy one. Clean the toilet every 3 days at most during the first weeks on the market. Wipe the sink down when you are finished, not right before a showing when the toothpaste has hardened. Wipe down the mirror whenever there is a spot. Wipe the shower walls after every shower.

Living room/Family room: Try to keep everything unnecessary out of these rooms. Keep the couches and chairs ultra clean, put the throw pillows and blankets back where they belong when you are done. No newspapers, books, magazines, or any other reading material on the end/coffee tables. Try to put the tv remotes somewhere hidden. If there isn’t anyplace to hide them, make sure they are neatly lined up.

Dining room: Set the table. Placemat, plate, silverware, cloth napkin, napkin ring, glassware, centerpiece. These are the only acceptable things to keep on the table, and the smaller the table, the fewer items you want on that table. Find a new place for the piles of mail, backpacks, or newspaper clippings.

Laundry room: This room may be the most overlooked when it comes to getting the house ready for a showing. Most come with cabinets. Hide the detergent. Empty the trash. Any dirty clothes should be put into the washing machine or dryer so they aren’t sitting on the floor.

Garage: The garage has the most leeway when decluttering, and the larger the garage, the less decluttering you actually have to do. Make sure any shelves or storage cabinets are tidy. Stack any boxes neatly. Keep chemicals upright and clean up any spills.

Kitchen: The kitchen is the most important room in the house. It should be as free from clutter as possible. That means no appliances on the counters, cabinets in order, floor swept, no dishes in the sink, and as few dishes in the dishwasher as possible. The front of the refrigerator should be free from almost everything as well. Perhaps a magnet or two, maybe one piece of artwork from a child. A small coffee pot is acceptable, as is one decorative item. People are nosy. They will open cabinets and appliances. You want them to look as spacious as possible, so rearrange the contents to look orderly.

Are you looking to buy or sell your house? I would love to help you find your forever home. Contact me at

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2 Responses to The proper way to declutter a house

  1. Great tips. When I show apartments I always worry about all of these things. It is near impossible to re-rent a cluttered apartment until it is empty.

    • says:

      So true, NNLL.
      It is difficult to sell a cluttered house as well. Impossible to get top dollar for it. Thanks for reading!

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