Fleas in the basement … dirty marks on the carpet left behind by heavy furniture … fingerprints on the walls … grimy light switches … an oven caked in muck. You never know what you will face when you move into your new house, but one thing is for sure – you will need to clean it (preferably before your stuff arrives). Even if your home is new construction, some debris may be left behind, such as construction dust, dropped nails, discarded Styrofoam coffee cups, papers, etc.
Before you move, be sure to schedule a day (or at least several hours) for cleaning. Arriving well ahead of the moving trucks will give you time to survey what you’ll need to do and get started (if necessary, clean one room thoroughly and have the boxes stacked there until you are done). If you are moving to a different state, this may take a little pre-planning as you’ll want to take basic necessities (and possibly an air mattress) with you until your belongings arrive.
Pack the following cleaning supplies in your car and take them with you to your new home:
- garbage bags
- a broom and dust pan
- a mop and bucket
- toilet brush and cleaner
- rags, a sponge, and a scrubbing brush
- spray cleaners, oven cleaner, bleach, vinegar, baking soda and your other go-to cleaning supplies
- Vacuum cleaner (you may also want to rent a steam cleaner from your local home improvement store)
First, walk through the house and look in every cabinet and drawer and in every corner for stuff left behind (an old, stale sponge under the kitchen sink, an abandoned barrette in the bathroom cabinet, that box of old papers in the attic, etc.) Don’t assume the sellers took everything with them and left you with a pristine, empty space – they were in the process of moving, as well, and things are often overlooked during such a hectic time.
As you move through the house, examine the rooms carefully for signs of infestation – fleas jumping on your legs, ants on the windowsills, evidence of termites, roaches, mice or other rodent droppings (especially in the basement and attic) and take care of these issues immediately. Once you’ve cleared away all of the stray debris and have taken care of any unwanted guests, it’s time to start cleaning.
Start with the bathrooms. Especially if you have children, the bathroom facilities will probably be used first so get them up to your cleaning standards. You’ll want to sweep and mop the floors – probably repeating each step a couple of times. Then wipe the walls down with warm, soapy water to remove the layers of hairspray and perfume that has likely collected there (unless the room is freshly painted). Replace the old toilet seat with a new one and thoroughly scrub the toilet bowl. Scrub the bathtub and shower. Remove the shower head and either replace it or soak it in a mixture of warm water and vinegar for a couple of hours before scrubbing it with a small brush. Wipe down the cabinets, clean the vents, and clear the corners of any cobwebs.
The kitchen is another high-priority area, so tackle that next. First, spray the oven with a heavy-duty oven cleaner, then use a mixture of baking soda and water and a soft sponge or rag to clean the range top. Remove the oven racks and drip bowls and soak them in warm, soapy water. If possible, pull the oven out and clean behind it.
Wipe down the countertops and the insides of every cabinet, as well as the pantry shelves. Line the shelves with shelf paper. Scrub the walls, the range top, the tops of the cabinets, and the top of the refrigerator – anywhere that grease may be built up. You may need a strong de-greaser, especially under the range hood.
Next, clean out the refrigerator and wipe the entire inside down with warm, soapy water and a soft cloth. Remove the shelves and bins and wash those by hand. Clean the spaces before sliding the shelves and bins back in place. Pull the fridge out from the wall and clean behind it. Wipe down the sides of the refrigerator before moving it back.
Clean the sink thoroughly. You might want to use bleach to tackle set-in stains. If you prefer a greener method, use a mixture of baking soda and water or even vinegar. Whatever you decide to use, let it sit for a while before scrubbing. (The baking soda and water will clean the drain as you rinse, as well.)
Sweep and mop the floor, then wipe down the baseboards. Be sure to clean the vents and check for cobwebs in the corners, then clean the light switches. Once you’ve cleaned the kitchen thoroughly, it’s time to move into the living room.
The living room, dining room, and bedrooms will all require the same care. Check the carpets for discoloration from furniture. Depending on the age and wear, you may want to steam-clean the carpets (or have them professionally cleaned). Wipe down the walls and baseboards, clean light switches and vents, and give the room a thorough vacuuming. Don’t forget the closets – wipe the walls and shelves down and vacuum (or sweep) the floors.
Wipe down all light fixtures and ceiling fans, clean the windows, and look carefully for anything that may need to be replaced or repaired. (You may want to keep a list of everything you find as you move through each room so you don’t forget.)
That’s it! Now that your new house is a clean, fresh slate, you can move your belongings in and make it your home.