Much has been written validating the importance and value gained from properly staging a home for sale. Adjunct to the staging process is a thorough cleaning before showing the home.

The first step to staging and cleaning the home is removing the clutter. If the house is filled with personal items and overcrowded with furniture, buyers may feel the house is too small. Removing this clutter makes the house appear larger and more inviting. Plus, once the clutter is removed, there’s less to clean.

After the possessions have been minimized, it’s time for cleaning. Keep in mind every buyers’ and sellers’ definition of clean is different. For some, vacuuming and dusting symbolizes a deep cleaning. Others will polish, scrub, wax and wash in preparation for an inspection. In the case of selling real estate, the cleaner, the better.

To begin the cleaning process, focus on the rooms of greatest importance to buyers. These high priority rooms include the kitchen, bathroom, living room and dining room. Kitchen and bathrooms deserve the greatest attention and will likely take the most time and energy.

In the kitchen, clean all surfaces of the appliances — large and small — including the range hood, microwave, toaster, blender and mixer. Remove the grease and dust that tends to accumulate over time. Whether the stove top is gas, electric or glass top, make it shine. Not only will these appliances all look newer and cleaner, buyers will also be less likely to deduct the cost of new appliances from their offer.

Although bathrooms are relatively small rooms, they play a big role in a buyer’s perception of the home. Beyond the normal light cleaning in the bathroom, make sure the shower and tub walls are free of soap scum and build-up. Many buyers will likely pull back the shower curtain. If what they discover is clean and organized, their perception of needed improvements and financial costs will be minimized. Give the bathroom a fresh start by removing all products, wiping down all surfaces and shelves and returning only the items used on a daily basis.

With the high-priority rooms cleaned, make sure the window sills and glass are clean. Windows are a glimpse into the outside world, provide natural light and allow spaces to feel bigger. Be sure to use a glass cleaner to achieve a streak-free, top-to-bottom cleaning. Consider cleaning the built-up dust and grime from the tops of window frames.

Wall-mounted light fixtures, ceiling-mounted fans and table lamps can accumulate an immense amount of dust over time, which can dull the home’s surfaces and block light from illuminating and brightening spaces. Be sure to clean these devices so they are free of dust and cobwebs.

Doors and their knobs and handles are the gateway to the home and most rooms. The front door, especially, deserves some extra attention. Be sure to sweep the front entryway, clean off welcome mats and add fresh flowers to the entryway. The front door is the buyers’ first impression of the house, so make sure it’s a good one.

While too many family photos can impede the buyer from picturing themselves in the home, having a few photos and pieces of artwork can help the home appear to be well-loved. Clean the picture frames and mirrors of any left behind. Use a barely dampened glass-cleaning cloth instead of spraying directly as liquid can seep through the frames and damage your prized photos.

Making the effort to make your house clean may make the difference between a buyer making an offer. It may also impact how much a buyer offers. Although these cleaning tips may seem a bit daunting, you’ll be glad in the end.

For more suggestions on preparing a home for showings, talk with your trusted, expert Realtor.

This column is produced by Rick Bisson and his family, who own Bisson Real Estate with Keller Williams Realty of Midcoast and Sugarloaf.

They can be reached at: [email protected]