Maybe you’re ready to sell and it’s time to put your house on display. Or you’re preparing your home for the new owners to take possession. Or, heaven forbid, you’ve just bought a house and the last owner left a disaster (check with your realtor ? you may be able to receive some sort of compensation depending on your contract). Maybe you’re just really overdue for a spring cleaning, and you’ve been putting it off because you don’t know where to start. Whatever the reason, you want to do a thorough

One option to consider is hiring someone to do it for you, if you can afford it. It’s good to get a referral from a friend or family member ? after all, you will be trusting this person with your home. However, if a professional cleaner is an unneededunwanted expense, or if you just love the satisfaction of a job well done (and no one can do it as well as you can) then let’s get going!

Like any job, you need to be prepared. There’s nothing worse than getting into the flow, and then having to take a break because you’re missing supplies. My clean kit is composed of an extendable duster or dust mop (for hard to reach places), a wet and dry cloth (for general dusting), a sponge or scrub (for tougher spots), cleaner (in a spray bottle), a bucket of warm water (for rinsing my cloth), a broom, mop, vacuum cleaner, and three boxes or bins (one for things to put away in other rooms, one for things that can be recycled and one for garbage).

A quick note about cleaning products many commercial cleaners are made with harsh chemicals that can be toxic to your family and pets (some have warning symbols on the bottle, but many are unlisted). Not only are these toxic concoctions expensive, bad for our health and often unnecessary, they have negative effects in the environment, which is where the residues will eventually end up. There are several eco-friendly choices available that are biodegradable and free of harmful ingredients. For non-toxic, cheap alternatives to commercial products, you can also create your own cleaners using ingredients like vinegar, borax, lemon juice, and baking soda. There are lots of DIY cleaning recipes online. Also, consider choosing a multipurpose cleaner that will cut down on the clutter under your sink.

Now we’re ready to begin, but where to start First, think about which rooms have the highest traffic and start with those. This is especially important if this cleaning is for your personal use or for a home showing. Whichever room you choose to work in, you might want to open the windows to air it out. Also, put on some music! I listen to something with a beat to keep me moving, but some people prefer a more relaxing selection.

Always start at the top of a room and work your way down. Start by dusting any light fixtures or ceiling fans first, and then sweep a duster around the ceiling corners, molding, ledges, curtain rods, and blinds. Dust wall hangings, art, etc.

Take down the curtains, blinds or drapes and clean them according to direction. Some may be washed at home, but some may require professional cleaning.

Windows should be washed with a vinegar and water solution. Spray it on and wipe off using newspaper. This method also works well for mirrors.

Wipe down built-in shelves, cabinets, paneling, windowsills, doors and door jams. Don’t forget the light switches, outlet covers and baseboards. Vacuum or sweep and mop the floor.

Repeat this in each room. In the bathroom you will also need to clean the toilet, tubshower, sinks and counters, as well as the bathroom mirror. And the kitchen will require extra attention to the appliances, inside the cupboards (in addition to the outside), the counters, and finally the sink (no dirty dishes).

And voila! You’re done. Doesn’t it feel good And it will feel even better to the new owners, or the potential buyers who will appreciate your hard work. Now give yourself a treat ? maybe a nice cup of coffee or a glass of wine ? sit back, relax and take a moment to appreciate your accomplishment.

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