Spring Cleaning 101 (Or Pretend to Sell This House)

Thought I'd repost this since I started my spring cleaning method this week!

Here's how I spring clean:
1. I buy a notebook.
I make a heading for each room. Even closets.
I imagine that I'm a potential buyer of this house. You know...PRETEND!...and see the room through someone else's eyes.
I stand in each room and look around and see all the imperfections.

2. Then I write down what needs to be done if I were to put it up for sale. Every single thing.
Yes, this is scary.
But it works.

For example, in my master bath, the shower really needs to be recaulked because some of it is peeling off and it looks messy. One of the towel bars is coming out of the walls. (Hmmm, someone swinging perhaps?) And I think the closet in my bath needs to have some reorganization...bigger plastic bins for medicine and so forth are in order. It looks messy.

I write that all down. Numbered.

And proceed to the next room.
No matter how small OR big, I write down what needs to be done.
That's my Master List for the year.
I go through it once or twice a year, and sometimes it doesn't get all done, but that's OK.
Because when it's written down I know it will be, eventually.

I came up with this method when I had to show our past two houses in order to move. I learned this: It's super super annoying to have to do all those little things you procrastinated for years, for SOMEONE ELSE! My houses never looked so good as when they were ready to be put on the market. This really annoyed me.

But this way, I don't feel overwhelmed about all the little repairs and improvements that need to be done, because I know I'm working on them-they are accounted for and on a list.

3. When my list in my handy dandy notebook is done, I carry it with me to the first room, when I'm ready to get to the "cleaning" part. This way, I can write down what I need, the measurements, and so forth, and put all that on a separate sheet in the notebook. I can go to the store with my list, maybe 3 rooms out, and get everything I need, without making constant errand runs. If I need a new curtain, or organization bins, I have the measurements right there.

4. Then I scrub like I'm showing the place.

Sometimes, I know I will get just one room done a day. Or maybe even one a week. I set a realistic goal for myself so I won't burn out and I can still keep up with my daily happenings.

I relegate to a separate page, those BIG projects...painting a leaky ceiling, finding a new chair for the den, so I don't get too slowed down. This list can also serve as a "to-do list" through out the year if I can't get it all done right away.


  1. My husband and I are getting ready to list our first house, and man oh man, I am SO OVER making the house nice for someone else!!! I think I will employ this method right after we move into our new house. And then I will slowly work my way down the list to make the house nice for US! :)

    1. Ditto! We are doing the same. Getting ready for a sale is daunting! Good luck to you!

  2. I absolutely LOVE this idea! With the sun shining brightly today, it is giving me hope of spring! Right now, my house has just TOO MUCH STUFF! If I recall correctly, you did a 40 days/40 bags purge for Lent a few years ago. I plan on doing that this year!! I can't believe Lent starts in a week! Thanks for your continued inspiration!!

  3. Ahh I remember when you first posted this YEARS ago - another amazing nugget of wisdom I have been so fortunate to glean from you in the last 10 years! I have done this most years since, and man - game changer! Love you Sarah, you have been such a gift in my life. 💕

  4. I love this idea!! I'm definitely trying this out this year!

  5. My kids are grown and on their own. I am doing the Swedish Death Cleaning so they won't have to get rid of things I don't use or need anymore. I read in my AARP magazine that you should not leave it to your children to get rid of your stuff (JUNK) after you are gone. A lot of my friends houses are bulging with things they don't need or use. They absolutely will not get rid of their junk. I am also making of list of things that need to be taken care.

    I love your blog and your ideas for getting rid of things.