Area Guides for Philadelphia and the Surrounding Counties in Pennsylvania & New Jersey
Yes, you really do need to do this to your dishwasher once in a while. Photo courtesy of

It’s easy to find tips on what to spiff up before your list your home for sale. Clean your windows; de-clutter your attic, basement, garage and closets; get rid of dead houseplants; and keep your home looking spotless. Here at Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty, our agents frequently give clients a punch list of items to do to make sure the property looks its best when it debuts to the market. Writing as Val Patterson, the marketing director here at Kurfiss SIR, I give our clients a lot of credit: Many of them go above and beyond to make their homes shine, often working long hours and investing real money to tackle those lists.

Sometimes, however, there are little things that just need a little extra scrub or vacuum. While I’d never call myself OCD  about cleaning, these are things I occasionally notice when I’m looking at a new listing (and at my own house!)

1. Switch plates. The most frequently used light switches in your home usually end up being a little grimy. Take some time and do a walk-through of your house with some paper towels and basic household cleaner. I have seen this with conventional light switches and the newer Lutron systems.

2. The insides of kitchen drawers and cabinetry. Most people clean their cabinet doors (if you don’t, you probably need to), but it’s a good idea to take a vacuum to the crumbs and bits that find their way into drawers in particular. This seems especially true of homes where small children live. 🙂

3. Vent grills. In your bathrooms, be sure to vacuum or wipe the grills covering the vent. The humidity they suck out of the room also makes them excellent dust collectors.

roof algae
A roof and algae growth, before and after.

 4. Roof stains. Ever notice how many asphalt roofs show dark, streaky stains? The culprit is gloeocapsa magma, an algae that arrives on the roof surface via wind or animal transport and then thrives on humidity and the lime that is used as filler during the manufacture of many asphalt shingles. For the most part, the algae is harmless, but to a home buyer, it might look like your roof is more worn or damaged than it really is. To remove it, have a professional apply a commercial cleaner BEFORE your home is photographed for marketing purposes. Zinc or copper strips applied along the roof’s peaks can also discourage the algae long term.

5. Gaskets, gaskets, gaskets. The rubber, vinyl or plastic strip that seals your dishwasher door has a knack for attracting mildew and accumulating unidentifiable gunk from detergents and food debris. Try your best to get in there with a mild household cleaner and start wiping. Similarly, the gasket around your refrigerator door often collects dust, crumbs and pet hair in those tiny crevices, and it an also become mildewed in the right circumstances. Use a soft brush or vacuum to remove the worst of it. Most owner’s manuals advise against using chlorine bleach to clean the gaskets, but if the mildew is stubborn, you might consider a light bleach solution and rinse the area well.

And last but not least:

6. Garbage cans. Yes, it may sound odd — clean the receptacle you use to put trash in, but it’s one of those items, like an attic or basement, that when it’s clean, your whole house seems cleaner and better maintained.  And that’s the impression you want to make on potential buyers.

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