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May 2003 National Cleaning Survey

Clean Homes Catch a Buyer's Eyes. Survey Says

SDA Offers Cleaning Tips for Adding Value to Home Sale

Washington, DC - May 20, 2003 - A clean home may have the biggest influence on the first impressions of a potential home buyer, according to new consumer research.

When asked what makes the biggest impact when walking into a home for the first time, respondents ranked the property's cleanliness at the top, with 51% of the vote. The independent survey of 1,000 Americans, commissioned by The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA -, ranked cleanliness as more important than scents/odors (22%), style of décor (13%), furnishings (6%) and the home's architecture (1%) as to what makes the most positive impact on a potential buyer.

"Home buyers notice clean homes," said Brian Sansoni, Vice President of Communication for SDA, which examines cleaning habits and behaviors through its National Cleaning Surveys. "During this season of brisk home sales, sellers shouldn't underestimate the value of a clean, clutter-free home."

"A home that is thoroughly cleaned will give buyers confidence that you have taken pride in your home," said top-producing real estate broker and syndicated columnist Dian Hymer, author of House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers and Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyers Guide. "The main reason to clean is because buyers will pay more for a house that they feel has been well maintained."

Keep Clutter Under Control

In the same survey, people were asked, which one part of the house sellers should keep clean to make someone more likely to buy their home. Overwhelmingly, respondents said the kitchen (46%) was the most important room to keep clean. Other top answers included the whole house (12%), the living room (12%), the bathrooms (12%), the front façade (8%) and the family room (4%).

"Smart sellers will keep clutter under control," said SDA's Sansoni. "That way, if an unexpected buyer drops in, the property will be ready to show."

Clear off the kitchen and bathroom countertops, SDA advises, and sort and store non-essentials in storage containers. Wipe all surfaces clean. In the kitchen, keep out only those appliances that are used every few days.

"Don't let newspapers and mail pile up," Sansoni added. "Sort through them every day; file away what you need and discard what you don't need. Consider placing a few baskets in strategic locations around the house. When the real estate agent calls, everyday clutter can be quickly scooped up into the baskets and hidden away. And get into the habit of making a nightly sweep just before bedtime."

Additional Info Online at

For the benefit of home sellers, the SDA's website,, offers cleaning tips from room to room, as well as advice in choosing the right cleaning products and their safe usage. Some SDA additional cleaning tips for home sellers include:

  • Say "I Do Windows." Let buyers see your house in the best light! Don't forget to clean the windows and your window treatments to let the sun shine in bright.
  • Stock Up on Right Products. Be sure to use the right products to ensure your cleaning is done most effectively. SDA recommends that at the very least, you have all-purpose cleaners for the bathroom and kitchen, as well as specialty products for your floors, furniture, appliances and windows.
  • Great Smells - A Powerful In-"scent"-ive. SDA's survey shows that only 1/3 of potential home sellers actually clean their homes to ensure their house smells fresh. Consider choosing cleaning products that offer natural or exotic scents, to help deodorize and make your home smell great.
  • Fighting Grease, Mold and Mildew: For extra cleaning power, use an abrasive cleanser to remove grease residue in sinks, being careful to avoid using them on surfaces that are easily scratched. Liquid bleach is most effective at removing mold and mildew from bathtubs and showers.
  • Wipes = Time Savers. For everyday touch-up cleaning, keep a selection of cleaning wipes handy near the kitchen sink, ovens, toilet bowls, showers and other odiferous areas of your home. Also useful are cleaning cloths, dust mitts or furniture wipes for dusting and furniture touch-ups. And ask all the members of your household to pitch in, to help share the workload of selling your property for maximum value.

For additional cleaning tips to help get your home, apartment or condo buyer-ready, visit

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The independent consumer research was completed for SDA by International Communications Research (ICR). ICR questioned 1,000 American women and men regarding their cleaning attitudes. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus five percent.