I love moving.
When I say that out loud, most people think I'm nuts. But it's true. Moving forces you to take an inventory of all your stuff, get organized, and get rid of things you no longer need. At least that's the way I think about it. And I love getting rid of things (that's an entire topic altogether, but my journey to a more minimal life has made the process of tossing junk & organizing what's left even more fun for me).
In my adult life, I've moved six times: one apartment, one starter home, two single family homes, another townhouse, and a beach house. I guess it was inevitable that my career trajectory shifted from education to real estate and design/organization, huh?
Between all these moves, and in showing and touring homes over the past seven years, seeing which ones sell quickly for the most money and which sit on the market, I've accumulated some "Spring Cleaning" tips that I'm hoping will be helpful to keep your biggest investment in tip top shape... and so that if you decided to sell your house next month, you wouldn't have too much work to do!
So here's my list of spring cleaning & organizing: things you thought of and things you didn't:
EXTERIOR: GET IT CLEAN
Start outside. If there's one thing to pay attention to seasonally, it's the front of your house. It just gets filthy. This is one of the make-or-break areas when selling, but aside from that, it's your visitors' first impression, so make it a good one!
Keep your sidewalk, porch, or driveway clean & sparkling. I discovered this 30 Seconds Outdoor Cleaner last year when I sold my house and needed to clean the algae from my stone patio. I didn't feel like hooking it up to the hose, so I just used the basic spray bottle, let it sit for a little while, and then power washed.
And yes, I love to power wash and you should too! Vinyl siding cleans up beautifully, especially if you have a light color, concrete, stone, brick, pretty much anything you might find outside of your house. Just be careful with decking; composite like Trex is typically fine to power wash, but solid wood decking will splinter. This is a great power washer because it's lightweight and the trigger isn't too hard to squeeze.
SEAL IT UP
So now that everything is clean, it's time to seal things up. Check for gaps where your front porch meets your house, anywhere brick or concrete meet wood, and around your windows and doors. These are spots where caulk or mortar tends to separate or get worn away - and bonus: these are prime areas of entry for water to get inside, so best to monitor this regularly!
This is the kind of caulk I use because my hands are small and I can't control the larger tube with the caulk gun.
* I also use this inside to seal up gaps in my moldings. I just squeeze a little bit along the area I want to seal and smooth it with my finger. It's a bit messy but super easy.
If there's one thing that makes the outside of a home look worn out, it's peeling or fading paint. If the front of your house gets direct sunlight, especially in the morning, chances are the paint has faded. You can easily give your front door a fresh coat of paint every spring for minimal cost and effort. I tend to use Sherwin Williams paints the most, but you can choose a semi or hi-gloss in any brand.
While you're at it, make sure you pick up some exterior paint for the trim around and just inside your front door. This area gets pretty beat up and can use a seasonal freshen up. If you have a front porch or any wood columns, check those for rot as well. Don't let it get so bad that you have to replace the columns like I did with my last house (see pic right); just repair and paint regularly and you should be good to go!
MOVING ON INSIDE
Ok, so now that you've got the outside of your house cleaned up, it's time to move inside. Here are the things you probably forget:
The Great Pantry Purge
Have you checked the expiration dates on your canned goods, boxed rices, or condiments recently? I bet you can find something that's more than two years expired! Go ahead, take a look. I think twice a year is a great schedule to clean out your pantry. And I don't mean just throw away stale and expired stuff. I mean actually get in there and clean the shelves, dust the corners (yes, you probably have cobwebs in your pantry), and think about rearranging, if possible, in a way that makes more sense.
I'm in the process of organizing our beach house pantry, and I'll share the "before" pictures below if you promise not to judge.
Yup, pretty bad. So here's my list of organizational items I'm ordering to get this space in order:
Large baskets for paper towels, crock pot, big pots, etc. on the lower shelves
A few 16-inch Lazy Susans for spices & condiments
Several of these smaller, divided Lazy Susans for granola bars & small snacks
A bunch of these clear, plastic bins for packages, canned goods, bags, etc.
An assortment of these bins with lids
The Rest of the Kitchen
A few other kitchen items you probably don't clean regularly:
The dishwasher. I used to do this all the time when I had well water.
The top of the refrigerator. You can slide it out and give it a good wipe down. I like to use Goo Gone for this, since for some reason it gets really sticky up there, especially if the fridge is close to your stove.
Your trash can(s). If they are built in to your cabinets, take the cans out and really get inside there!
A Few Other Things
Under your bed. There's nothing like seeing how disgustingly dirty and dusty it is under your bed when you move.
Light bulbs! Change the burnt out light bulbs. I literally lived for years in my last house with two bulbs burnt out in a small chandelier in my bedroom. Before we moved, I changed the bulbs... life changing!
Your bathroom drawers or cabinets. Really take an inventory here. What is expired? What do you no longer use? Stuff here tends to pile up, so get out of the habit of keeping things "just in case." If you don't regularly use it- toss it!
Change your HVAC filter! I have seen some filters at home inspections so dirty that they are literally falling apart. Do yourself a favor and check yours.
Obviously, there are a bunch of other, more obvious, things, like cleaning your gutters and washing your windows, but you already know about those. By taking care of a few of the items on this list, you will be ready to go when it's time to sell!
Good luck, and happy cleaning!