Posted in: Selling a home

Quick cleaning tips for a last-minute showing

Basket storage for under the bed

Key insights:

  • Refresh and organize your home for a big effect — even a quick pick-up can create major visual improvements.
  • Pack a go-bag for your kids or pets, so you can keep everyone comfortable and entertained when a last-minute showing pops up.
  • Work with a REALTOR® to create a communication system that works with your lifestyle and preferences.

Unlike an open house — which can be marked in your calendar well in advance — a showing appointment may pop up last minute. While you’ll want to take advantage of opportunities to show your home, a perfectly clean space may not be in the cards if you’re simultaneously living in and showing the property.

But don’t let that stop you from showcasing your amazing space! Here are hacks that help home sellers show off their home’s best features... without deep-cleaning every other day.

Last-minute cleaning tips by room


Because the kitchen is used throughout the day, it may accumulate more clutter than other areas. When preparing for a last-minute showing, be sure to:

  • Clear off kitchen countertops.
  • Stash all snacks in the pantry.
  • Hand-wash and dry all dirty plates, or run a dishwasher cycle if there’s time.
  • Have a small tray or basket where you can place miscellaneous items. (Even better if you can stash this tray into a cabinet so your clutter is truly put away.)

A sense of organization is key. After everything has been stowed away, simply spray and wipe the countertops clean. Then, you’re ready for your showing!


Your room should be de-cluttered well in advance, but it might not be realistic to expect the space to remain completely mess-free. To manage last-minute messes, invest in storage baskets to house any loose items before a showing, including laundry (clean or dirty), charging cables, valuables that you want out of sight, and other personal items. Stash them away or take them along in your car if you don’t have a place to store them in the short-term.

Next, make the bed by fluffing your pillows and pulling the covers tight. Open the curtains if it’s a daytime showing, or turn on the side lamps if the potential buyers will arrive after dark.


No matter whether you remodel your bathroom before selling, you’ll want to refresh your bathroom prior to every showing. When cleaning in a pinch, be sure to:

  • Spot clean the floors and the base of the toilet.
  • Wipe down the vanity.
  • Windex the mirror.
  • Spritz a subtle air freshener.
  • Empty uncovered garbages

Pro tip: Stash folded towels under your sink to set out when a showing pops up. Matching hand and shower towels creates a cohesive and clean look. It will take two seconds to toss your dirty towels in the hamper and swap them for your fresh showing-only towels, but it will make the space look more put together!

Shared spaces

In the family room, make stacks purposeful. There's no quicker way to bring order to a cluttered coffee table than a few neat piles of books or magazines. Reposition throw pillows and fold blankets to create instant symmetry. Once again, open the blinds for a daytime showing or turn on floor lamps or side lamps for evening showings.

How to show a home with kids

Showing your family’s home can be manageable if you plan ahead and stay creative. Begin by placing an empty laundry basket in each child’s closet. Then, create a clean-up game where they toss loose laundry or toys into the basket before a showing— you may even offer an incentive or treat at the end for a job well done. If the messiness of the basket is noticeable, you can toss them into the trunk of your car as you leave the house. (Just be sure to bring in and unpack the baskets after each last-minute showing, or you may be unable to locate soccer cleats or a prized stuffed animal when you need it.)

People with kids may also want to keep a go-bag packed and ready. When a showing pops up and the tidying up is complete, you can grab the bags and be on your way. Here are some things to pack for your kids:

  • Snacks and water
  • Puzzles or games
  • Books
  • Tennis shoes for the park
  • Diapers and wipes

How to show a home with pets

If you know that your pets tend to create a stink, invest in odor absorbers, odor spray or essential oil diffusers. You can also boil vinegar (and then pour it down the drain) to eliminate a strong smell, or bake a tray of cookies so your home smells inviting.

For the duration of time that you expect to show your home, keep litter boxes and pet toys in the garage, if possible. While an organized basket of toys or a new scratching post may go unnoticed to you, it may be a turnoff for buyers who don’t plan to have pets.

People moving with pets may also want to put together a go-bag. Whether you bring your pet to a sitter during showings or you plan to bring your furry friend with you, be sure to assemble a bag with:

  • Treats, food and water
  • Collars and leashes
  • Pet waste bags
  • Toys or distraction items

Partner with a professional to show your home

If you’re ready to show and sell your home, it’s time to get connected with a real estate professional. When working with a REALTOR®, you can focus on the last-minute cleaning as they maintain and communicate your home showing schedule.

Moving forward, reach out to Edina Realty or your agent to sell your home and make the showing process even smoother.

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Status Definitions

For sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

Active contingent: Properties which are available for showing but are under contract with another buyer

Pending: Properties which are under contract with a buyer and are no longer available for showings

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Coming soon: Properties which will be on the market soon and are not available for showings.

Contingent and Pending statuses may not be available for all listings