Home Maintenance Guide: Kitchens and Bathrooms

One of the best ways to maximize how much you get when you sell your home is to maintain it so that everything is in working order. While issues may sneak up on you, there’s less risk of everyday items needing repairs if you properly care for them. This article is the first in a series of guides for homeowners on proper home maintenance and care.

The work of home maintenance starts in bathrooms and kitchens, where there’s a high concentration of items used every day. A clogged faucet, toilet that won’t flush, or a burner that won’t light can impact daily life. They can also impact your ability to sell your home. For these reasons, consider following these helpful strategies.

Keeping kitchen appliances in top form

Each appliance in your kitchen has an average shelf life. Luckily, most of them last decades rather than a few years. As long as everything functions well, you should be fine when it comes time to sell your home, regardless of the age of your appliances.

Giving your kitchen appliances proper care means keeping an eye out for things that aren’t working properly and keeping your kitchen clean. Having a regular schedule where you inspect your appliances for dirt and grime can make a huge difference. This means looking behind the refrigerator for dust on the condenser coils, and giving your microwave a deep clean with extra hot water. Don’t forget to periodically run the self cleaning feature on your oven as well, and wipe up spills on your stove top as soon as they happen. To keep your disposal clean, flush it with soapy water at the first hint of a foul odor. Placing a cup of white vinegar in your dishwasher before running a hot-water cycle is a great, hands-off, way to keep it clean as well.

Here are some other Do’s and Don’ts for maintaining your appliances:

  • Do: Cover everything you put in the microwave, especially items with a high potential to spatter or explode
  • Don’t: Microwave items like aluminum foil, utensils, or take-out containers
  • Do: Place a baking sheet under anything in the oven that can spill over while cooking
  • Don’t: use harsh chemicals on your stovetop (especially if you have gas burners)
  • Do: Keep plastic and flimsy dishes on the top rack of the dishwasher to avoid them coming apart and damaging the heating element and sprayers below
  • Don’t: Overload your dishwasher so it can run at its highest efficiency

If you move into a house with an appliance you’re unfamiliar with, make sure to read the user’s manual. They’re often easy to find online if you don’t have a hard copy. When an issue comes up you can’t address yourself, call a professional whose expertise centers on the kitchen.

Further reading: Home Renovations With the Highest ROI

Best practices for sinks

It’s unlikely you’ll have an issue with your sink while you’re living in your home. This is primarily because sinks have an average lifespan of 50 years. Your kitchen sink is most likely stainless steel, which is durable but shows wear and tear easily. To keep it sparkling like new, use common household items like baking soda, undiluted vinegar, and olive oil in your maintenance routine.

If you have porcelain sinks in the bathrooms, the most likely issue you’ll face are cracks. The good news is, if a crack isn’t too large you can repair it instead of replacing the sink. You can even do the repair yourself with the right materials, including:

  • Porcelain repair kit
  • Compressed air
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Microfiber cloth

You can pick these up cheaply at a hardware store. You may also want to wear a face mask to keep your nose free of any fumes.

The other issue you’ll likely encounter when it comes to sinks is a clogged drain. Most clogs can be removed with a simple drain declogger. Know what your drain pipes are made of and be careful to avoid harsh chemicals that can eat through them.

Simple faucet maintenance

Regardless of whether they’re in the kitchen or bathroom, most faucets last about 15 years, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to fully replace them. In general, faucets don’t really need daily maintenance other than to keep them clean. Wipe away water stains and hard water deposits. Small components inside the faucet, like springs and seats, may need occasional replacing. But you can usually find a repair fit at your hardware store to address such issues yourself.

The maintenance task you may want to do annually is clean the aerator. This is the little screen inside the faucet. It helps with water flow and is subject to build-up. Just clean the screen with a toothbrush and water and you’re good to go. Worst case scenario, you’ll need to replace the aerator, which shouldn’t cost you more than a few bucks.

Also consider: 4 Home Maintenance Tips No One Talks About

Bathtub care is a regular job

Nobody likes to clean their bathtub. It’s awkward to reach over and get every last spot to sparkle. These tips can help you keep your bathtub in good condition, without having to break your back scrubbing away.

  • Rinse the whole tub after every use
  • Use a white vinegar and water solution as a routine spray
  • Apply a scrub when you clean rather than a spray. The thicker cleanser gets into the nooks and crannies of your tub and tile easier
  • Consider using a tub wax to polish your bathtub. Make sure you use the right type of wax
  • Repair damaged tile, grout, and cracks as soon as you can
  • Use silicone caulk to seal up any areas where water may be leaking out of the tub and around the bathroom

It’s also important to not neglect your drain since a clog usually creates a messy issue. Bathtub (and shower) drains can clog faster than those in the sink because the usual culprit is hair. There’s also no disposal to break things up. Pulling a tangled ball of hair from a tub drain is no fun, especially when mixed with other bits of dirt and debris. At the first sign of a decrease in water drainage, use a declogger, whether it’s a homemade recipe like baking soda and vinegar or something stronger from the store.

Showers require constant cleaning

General maintenance for your shower is relatively similar to that of your bathtub. You should keep it clean, and consider using a daily shower spray. Use a thicker cleaner when going in for a deep clean.

The dirtiest spot in a shower is the glass (unless you have curtains). Water stains can pile up on the door or paneling. Most glass cleaners just don’t do the trick, but a one-to-one mixture of water and vinegar will work. The vinegar softens the mineral deposits so you’re able to wipe the spots away with little to no effort.

If you have shower curtains, wash them once every month or so. Clean shower liners regularly to prevent dirt buildup, soap scum, and mold. Replace curtains and liners when they start to wear.

Keeping your shower clean is really all you’ll need to do, since shower doors should last 20 years or so. The enclosure itself has a lifespan of 50 years on average. You’ll probably want to remodel your bathroom before you need to replace the shower.

Making a maintenance-free sale

Tending to the basic care of your kitchen and bathrooms keeps them working well and improves your quality of life. It also helps make your home more salable when the time comes. Fewer potential red flags from homebuyers can make the sale experience easier.

However, should anything arise that makes it a challenge to list your home for sale, consider getting an off-market quote from Sundae. Our quick, professional and painless process can have an offer in your hand in less than 48 hours.

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Kyle Spearin

Kyle is Sundae's Real Estate Editor. As both an investor and content marketing professional, Kyle combines his passion for real estate investing and educational background with his love of helping others. His experience with real estate tech companies, including contributing to BiggerPockets Pro, gives him insight into markets across the United States.