A Germaphobe's Guide To Selling Your Home
During Flu Season
We’ll give it to you straight: Open houses are basically ground zero for germs. People milling around, idly touching this and that with their unwashed hands, and carelessly coughing and sneezing all over your sacred spaces, leaving a trail of bacteria in their wake.
Did we gross you out? Good. It’s hard enough to stay healthy without having to contend with hordes of strangers waltzing through your space and bringing their diseases with them. And with cold and flu season in full swing, the threat level couldn’t be higher.
We break down the top tips to keep your home free of germs.
1. Create a shoe-less environment
The real kicker (pun definitely intended)? Viruses survive better on your shoes than on your toilet. And when you keep your shoes on inside the house, you’re unwittingly spreading hundreds of thousands of germs everywhere you walk—from the entryway to the kitchen to your bedroom.
Now that you’re armed with this terrifying knowledge, what’s a savvy seller to do? Start by removing your own shoes every time you enter your home (and wash your hands after you do so). A mudroom, entry bench with shoe storage, or simple boot tray are great visual reminders.
Next, encourage potential buyers to do the same by posting a gently worded directive by the front door (and instruct your agent to guide them accordingly). Stash a set of paper booties where they’re easily seen (and most likely to be used). Then use rugs or mats at all entrances to catch dirt and grit that can build up on floors and carpets.
2. Invest in disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer
Good news, though: It’s easily killed by alcohol-based hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and good old soap and water. After each showing, wipe down all light switches, doorknobs, handles, and cabinet pulls—basically anything you think you would touch as a prospective buyer—with a disinfectant wipe (or five). And encourage would-be buyers to do the same.
Katie Griswold, a REALTOR® with Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty in San Diego, recommends stashing a giant container of hand sanitizer near the entryway and in high-traffic areas. Also make sure your bathrooms are well stocked with soap and disposable hand towels.
“You can’t go wrong with extra health measures, especially during flu season,” Griswold says. “Having hand sanitizer out will help ensure everyone stays healthy.”
3. Stash your toothbrush
4. Wash linens with hot water once a week
5. Skip the hors d’oeuvres
“Don’t put out food for open houses, as this will only encourage the spread of any kind of disease from one person to the next.” says Charles W. Shrode, a gastroenterologist in Asheville, NC.
Griswold agrees—with a caveat.
“No food is certainly the most germ-free option,” Griswold says. “But if you want to wine and dine your buyers a bit, create single-serving portions in disposable containers and choose food that can be eaten with a fork or spoon rather than fingers.”
6. Sterilize kitchen and bathroom surfaces twice a week
Keep the nasties at bay by wiping down all surfaces with disinfectant wipes at least once a day, and be on the lookout for mold and mildew, which are especially problematic in bathrooms. Use liquid household bleach or cleaners with bleach to remove mildew stains from shower doors, shower curtains, and grout between tiles.
And make sure to zap your sponges in the microwave daily (just ensure they’re wet before popping ’em in). You can also put them in the dishwasher; the key is to heat them to a temperature that kills germs.
By: Holly Amaya
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