The Mark of a Clean Home, by Sarah McAllister

A question I get a lot is: What really is the mark of a “clean home”? 

I wanted to write a blog post about the things we “look” for on our walk through of homes when we first arrive at a client’s home. I have my markers and I am happy to share them with you.

I want to start with a gentle reminder that every single person’s level of cleanliness is different. What feels clean to you may feel filthy to someone else.  I think it all boils down to how we were raised, our different levels of comfort and if anyone stopped and taught us how to clean things properly. Sometimes it is clear that something else is happening below the surface. We never know what might be going on in someone’s life, so it’s important not to judge a person based on the cleanliness of their home. It’s our job to get s*&t done, so we assess, roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Anyways, what do we look for when doing a walk through of a home?


The first thing we notice is the exterior of the house because that can truly be a huge marker for how the day is going to go. 

  • Is the grass cut? 
  • Is the driveway shoveled? 
  • Is the porch swept? 
  • Are the windows dirty? 

Generally speaking (and I’m not making blanket statements about humankind so bare with me), if the exterior of the house is not taken care of, the interior is in the same shape. 

Common Areas:

Once inside, the first thing we look at is: 

  • Walls. Dirty walls are a huge marker because they are so noticeable. And if they are dirty, it usually means the smaller detailed things have not been done in a long time and it’s going to be a long day! 
  • Baseboards are another thing we notice right off the bat. Baseboards are often overlooked and while someone can mop every single day, if you overlook your baseboards, your shiny clean floors can easily go unnoticed. 
  • Floors. Are they free of debris and have they been vacuumed or mopped in the past week?


Bathrooms are generally pretty gross across the board. I always think about a guest sitting on the toilet and looking around and what they can see from the throne! 

We look at: 

  • Walls around toilets and baseboards. Are they being wiped down regularly?
  • Exterior of the toilet (most people clean the inside bowl of the toilet and overlook the exterior). 
  • Shower floor and glass.
  • Doors, door handles and light switches. People touch these with wet or unwashed hands (shudder), and they can be very disgusting.


In the Kitchen, it’s pretty straightforward, we look at:

  • Fronts of the cupboards, 
  • Kickplates (the bottom of your cupboards where they meet the floors). It is very common for kick plates to be overlooked because who gets down there and looks!? Spoiler alert, we do. This is where a lot of food spills splash up and harden. We see a lot of damage to cabinetry finishes because they are not cleaned properly. If the kickplate has never been cleaned….it is a good bet the tops of the cupboards have also not been cleaned in ages, or ever. 
  • Floors: Do they have hardened food on them? A lot of people mop but do not look at the floor while they do it (I know, right?!) so they think one swipe with the mop means it’s clean, but there is food still stuck on the floor for months. Look at where you are cleaning and see if your method actually worked. We always vacuum, mop and mop again. Then we vacuum AGAIN in case any pet hair or dirt was kicked up and is stuck to the floors after you got them wet. Surface cleaning is not fully cleaning. If it makes you feel like it’s clean so you can go on living your life, all the power to you. Personally, I think it is a huge waste of time. 
  • We also like to open a couple of drawers for an eyeball on how organized the house is. (We do not open any bedroom drawers; those are private places). 

One thing to note here: A well-organized house does not mean it is a clean house.

This is a common misconception and one I want to debunk forever. You have to clean before you organize or it’s pointless.  It is great to have systems in place so your family can function and the house stays organized, but you still need to clean it regularly and deep clean it a few times a year.

Some of the dirtiest houses I have cleaned are minimal, organized houses! I think because they look tidy, it is easier to overlook the dirt.  Is it easier to clean them? Yes. Less clutter = Less time cleaning. Period. On the flip side, I have cleaned houses that look like a bomb has gone off with so much stuff everywhere that even I feel overwhelmed, but damn the baseboards are clean! Personally, I am a very clean person but I am not a very tidy person. I love everything to be put away at the end of the day but I am definitely guilty of leaving a trail of destruction behind me. Especially when I am busy with work or kids or plain old life.

REMINDER: Anyone who comes over and judges your house is not a real friend. If I go to a friend’s house and notice things are looking awful, I offer to help. Even if they refuse, I usually still clean up. Sometimes there are things going on  they do not want to share… but they need help and are maybe too embarrassed to ask. Or maybe they are just too damn busy to DO IT ALL. 

Guess what… most of us are. 



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