It’s finally time: the plans are in place to sell your home and move, but there’s a remaining step: decluttering and cleaning! Making your home look like a picture in a glossy magazine can feel like a tall order, especially if you have children, pets, or just friends and family coming in and out. So what’s the best way to prioritize as you move through the staging and showing process? Here are some tips to help you through, suggested by some of the top real estate agents in the United States!

Begin With Storing Away Unnecessary Items

One step that has to be done by your family is decluttering. While this is less about whether every surface is clean, it’s more about what items are on side tables, shelves, or other visible locations in the home. Consider how you can store away as much of your personal bric-a-brac as possible for the duration of showings. Remember, the goal for staging isn’t usually for the space to look particularly ‘lived in,’ but rather more like a hotel room or a magazine shoot of a furniture set.


By starting with decluttering, you clear off surfaces around the home, which makes really getting in and cleaning easier. Remember, if things need to be easily accessible, they can live in drawers or cabinets, but anything that really didn’t need to be cluttering your space can be donated or stowed in totes in an attic or basement.

Decide Between Professionals or a DIY Deep Clean

Some folks in the thick of selling a home simply don’t have time to do a deep clean, so hiring professionals is a good next step after decluttering (the professionals will have to spend less time moving things if you declutter, which saves you money). If you can carve out some time to do it yourself, though, you’ll save money and really have the control over your cleaning process. Assemble your tools, make a checklist in case you need multiple sessions, and go to town! Remember, the focus in this case is on making everything as clean and sparkling as possible, especially any spaces that will be seen on a showing.

Make a Daily Checklist to Maintain Your Home

The hard part comes after the deep clean: living your daily life without messing it up! The real strategy here is to create a pick-up and wipe-down plan that you can execute in a neat half-hour before the family goes to bed. A well-cleaned home just needs a few plans and rules in place to make it work long-term – focus on wiping up spills and treating stains ASAP if they happen, and putting things back where they belong at the end of the day to avoid letting messes pile up on top of messes. This way, you’re never more than a couple of minutes from being able to show the home.

Remember: This is Temporary, but Inspirational!

This may feel like a lot of work, but remember, curb appeal and first impressions matter a lot in how a buyer perceives your home, and emotional appeal is a big part of how people choose their home. That being said, if you get into a rhythm that leaves your home looking better than ever, why not bring your favorite aspects of the process with you to the new home? After all, most of us love to live in a clean space!