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How To Clean A House Before Moving In (Step-By-Step)

When we first moved into our new home, we didn’t know where to start cleaning. The previous owners had left the place in a bit of a mess and it was up to us to clean it up before we could really start enjoying our new home. Thankfully, we had some help from our friends and family who showed us how to clean a house before moving in. If you have friends or family that are nice enough to help you out, consider yourself lucky!

Empty home

Sure, you could hire a professional cleaning company to come in and do the job. But if you’re on a budget (like we were), then cleaning the house yourself is definitely doable. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know your new home and make it truly yours. You may find some quirky hidden features of your home that you never knew were there!

I would suggest finding a good pizza place or takeout restaurant in the area. It’s going to be a long day of cleaning and you certainly don’t want to cook! Stock up on some snacks and drinks for the day as well. If possible, opt to clean on a warm and sunny day so you can open the windows and let in some fresh air.

New house cleaning supplies checklist:

You just spent all this time packing up your things. Hopefully, you left some cleaning supplies handy! I ended up having to run to the store to pick up some last minute things before we did our deep clean. Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Bathroom cleaner
  • Glass cleaner for windows
  • Stove cleaner
  • Dish soap
  • Sponges
  • Scrub brush
  • Toilet brush
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Hand dusters and towels
  • Mop
  • Trash bags
  • Hand soap for the bathroom and kitchen
  • Hardwood floor cleaner and carpet cleaning (depending what you have)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Step-ladder
  • Paper towels and toilet paper
Homemade bathroom and kitchen cleaner

How to clean a house before moving in

Now that you have all of your supplies ready to go, it’s time to start cleaning your new home!

Step 1: Remove any unwanted items

This is the first and foremost thing to do when you start cleaning your new home. You don’t want to be moving any unwanted items into your new home, so get rid of them before you start cleaning. This includes anything that the previous owners left behind that you don’t want, as well as any trash or debris that may be lying around. If you don’t have time to do a deep-cleaning before moving your own things in, try to stack all your boxes and furniture in one place.

Step 2: Form a plan

Once you’ve removed all the unwanted items, it’s time to start cleaning. But before you start scrubbing away, it’s important to form a plan. This will help you stay organized and avoid any unnecessary work. Make a list of all the rooms in your home and what needs to be done in each room. Depending on the size of your home, it’s possible you may need more than one day to clean the whole thing! Create a schedule for each day leading up to your move-in date. This will help ensure that everything gets done on time. Decide who will be doing what task and make sure to assign specific roles.

woman cleaning kitchen sink

Step 3: Start with the ceilings

This why you need your step-ladder! When you’re ready to start cleaning, it’s always best to start with the ceilings. This way, any dust or debris that falls will land on the floor, which you’ll clean last. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the ceilings. If you have any hard-to-reach areas, use a step-ladder to get them. Move room to room until you’ve cleaned all the ceilings and walls in your home.

Things to clean:

  • Ceiling fans
  • Bathroom vents
  • Trim and corners
  • On tops of appliances (fridge, microwave)

Even if you can’t see the dust, it’s important to get rid of it so that it doesn’t settle onto your furniture or floors.

Step 4: Clean the walls

After you’ve cleaned the ceilings, it’s time to move on to the walls. Again, use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe them down. You can also use a magic eraser but be mindful of any paint. Start with the ceiling and work your way down. Wipe in a circular motion so that you don’t miss any spots. Again, move room to room until all the walls have been cleaned.

Don’t forget to clean the cabinets, too! A good all-purpose cleaner should do the trick. At this time, you may also want to line your cabinets. This will help keep them clean and prevent any dirt or grime from building up. I like to use non-sticky liner, which also helps prevent the dishes from sliding around.

Things to clean:

  • Cabinets
  • Built-ins and shelves
  • Wood paneling and dry-wall
  • Wallpaper

Step 5: Clean the windows

Using your favorite glass cleaner, clean all of the windows in your new home. Don’t forget to clean the windowsills as well! The last thing you want is for your new home to look dirty from the outside. To prevent streaks, be sure to use a lint-free cloth or paper towel. You can also use black and white newspaper along with vinegar or glass cleaner. I would suggest doing all of your windows at the same time to streamline the process.

Step 6: Clean the kitchen appliances

Your kitchen appliances are some of the most important things to clean when you’re moving into a new home. After all, you’ll be using them to cook your food! Start with the refrigerator. Be sure to clean both the inside and outside. Next, clean the oven and stovetop. These can be a little bit more challenging, but a good oven cleaner should do the trick. Finally, clean the dishwasher. You may want to run it on an empty cycle with vinegar to get rid of any lingering smells. You can also clean out the drawers and line them at this time if you prefer.

Things to clean:

  • Refrigerator
  • Oven and stovetop
  • Dishwasher
  • Microwave
  • Small appliances
Sponge on stove with soap

Step 7: Tackle the bathrooms

Bathrooms can be one of the most challenging rooms to clean. But if you start with the basic, you’ll be well on your way to having a sparkling clean bathroom. Be sure to use a bathroom cleaner on the tub, shower and sink. A good toilet brush is also essential for getting rid of any stubborn stains. Always start at the top and work your way down. Vacuum out the vents on the ceiling, then work your way down the walls to the windows.

Things to clean:

  • Toilet
  • Bathroom mirror
  • Bathtub and shower
  • Sink area
Bottle of clorox

Step 8: Clean the garage

The garage is often one of the most neglected areas when it comes to cleaning. But if you’re planning on using it for storage or for parking, it’s important to take the time to clean it out. Be sure to sweep the floors and remove any cobwebs. You can also blow it out with a leaf blower to make the process a bit easier. Inspect for any holes that need to be patched up at this time as well. We typically like to replace and lay down our rodent traps after a good clean out too.

Things to clean:

  • Floors
  • Walls and ceiling
  • Windows
  • Doors and door frames
  • Cobwebs
  • Pests

Step 9: Tidy up outdoor spaces

Don’t forget to tidy up the outdoor spaces, too! If you have a porch or deck, be sure to sweep it off and remove any debris. If you have any outdoor furniture, now is the time to clean it off and put it away. You may also want to consider planting some flowers or shrubs to add some color to your outdoor space. This is a good time to inspect the gutters and downspouts as well. Make sure they’re free of any leaves or debris so that they can function properly.

Things to clean:

  • Porch or deck
  • Patio
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Trash cans
  • Mailbox
  • Yard
Woman sweeping porch outside

And there you have it! A nine-step guide to cleaning your house before moving in. By following these steps, you can be sure that your new home will be clean and ready for you to enjoy and start decorating.

Things to do after cleaning your new home

Now that you’re all cleaned up, there are some things to consider. You have a big empty house without any furniture or wall decorations (ideally). This is an excellent time to do all those things you may think about later.

Woman sitting in empty apartment
  • Re-finish hardwood floors – You may want to re-finish your hardwood floors after you’ve cleaned them. This will give them a fresh and new look. It’s a lot easier to do this before you move all your furniture in.
  • Paint the walls – You may also want to paint the walls before you move your furniture in. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting paint on your furniture. Plus, it’s a great way to personalize your new home.
  • Change the locks – Don’t forget to change the locks on your doors. You never know who has a key to your new home.
  • Patch up holes and cracks – Be sure to patch up any holes or cracks in the walls and ceilings. It’s a lot easier to do this before your move all your things in and start decorating!
  • Make a run to the grocery store – After you’ve finished cleaning, you’re going to need to restock your pantry and fridge. Make a run to the grocery store so you have all the essentials. Don’t forget simple household items like paper towels and toilet paper!

Getting your new home ready for move-in should be an exciting process. But I know it can be overwhelming, too. Just take it one step at a time and soon enough you’ll be all moved in and settled into your new place. Hopefully these tips will help you stay organized so you can get to the fun stuff, like decorating!

If there are any supplies or steps I forgot to mention, leave a comment and let me know below! I’d love to hear about your new-home cleaning routine and what worked (or didn’t!).