The cleaner a house the easier it is to sell. In particular, background smells can really turn a buyer against a property. So it's essential to make sure your carpets, soft furnishings, fridge and the bathroom are free of nasty odours. Masking smells with room freshener isn't the answer.

There is a product for virtually every cleaning problem known to man. Whether the house smells of cat and dog, or there is soap scum build up in the bathroom, someone has invented a solution to fix it.

Whatever your cleaning problem, it is worth researching before buying expensive products. There has been a comeback of old-fashioned cleaning products such as vinegar and baking soda. They work, and can be bought in bulk.

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Spraying a warm solution of one part vinegar to three parts water on bathroom surfaces loosens grime. Keeping a spray bottle of vinegar in the shower to clean the glass and walls means you won't need the likes of sometimes expensive commercial products. Your shower will stay mould and soap scum free permanently.

Other traditional products such as borax, washing soda, epsom salts, lye (caustic soda), sugar soap, methylated spirits, and bleach are useful, as are favourites such as Brasso to polish metal and Jif for just about everything.

Mildew is a real problem in anything but new bathrooms. Unsurprisingly many companies sell products to deal with the problem. But try a damp sponge and baking soda first.

A number of well-known brands such as 30 Seconds and Dettol market products for mouldy and mildewy bathrooms.

If the children have been drawing on the walls in crayons or you have other hard-to-move marks, use a magic eraser. These are made of very dense melamine foam and act like incredibly fine sandpaper.

For curtains and other furnishings suffering the same problem consider De-Solv-it. In a last ditch attempt to salvage stained furnishings apply a light spray of hydrogen peroxide.

Blocked or smelly drains can be sorted out with a mix of baking soda and vinegar dropped into the u-bend. If that doesn't work, try one of the many drain unblocking concoctions on the market.

As well as cleaning products, there are many relatively new gadgets that make cleaning easier and more effective. The most basic of those is the micro fibre cloth.

Although invented in the 1950s, micro fibre cloths didn't become known for cleaning until the 1990s. They are more effective at cleaning than traditional cloths, thanks to the shape and tiny size of the individual filaments.

Good quality steam cleaners make light work of cleaning floors, carpets, walls and many other surfaces. Self-shining floor polish makes wooden floors sparkle.

An electric window vacuum, such as the types sold by Karcher, takes the drudge out of keeping windows sparkling clean.

If you can't keep on top of the vacuuming needed for your open home, a robotic vacuum could be the answer. It vacuums your rooms and returns to base without you lifting a finger.

Or if the outside of your windows are hard to reach try using a magnetic cleaner that follows your movements with the matching pad on the inside of the window.

If you have more cash to splash, a window cleaning robot works like robotic vacuums. Or for dirty recesses in the window and door joinery get a recess groove cleaning brush.

For stone and stainless steel surfaces try hardware stores such as Mitre 10, Bunnings, Hammer Hardware and others. For rusty paths try a calcium, rust and lime remover.

Degreasers can work well on garage floors and driveways that have oil drips or spills on them.

If you need real elbow grease, try investing in a cleaning brush tool set for your electric drill. The modern version of that is a sonic scrubber — a rechargeable cleaning brush that looks like an oversized tooth brush.

Persistent cat and dog smells sometimes break house sales. Cleaning surfaces and soft furnishings to within an inch of their lives with baking soda and/or commercial products will get rid of most of that smell.

If not, Odarid could be your saviour. Heavy duty carpet deodoriser such as No Vac may also help. Although not new, Wet & Forget, competing products, or simple bleach really do clean paths.

It's important when choosing cleaning products to think about the environment. Some are made of harsh chemicals or materials that aren't biodegradable.