Before You Move In: Make Your New Home Spotless
How To Pre-Clean Your New Home
One of the nicest things about moving is the opportunity it gives us to start fresh and clean. Fresh paint, perhaps; freshly organized, stored and sorted possessions; and clean floors, walls, windows, and cabinets. Even the air seems to smell better without the dust and debris of our daily lives. But that clean feeling doesn't just happen: especially if you are moving into a newly-constructed home, you'll need to pre-clean it before the moving van arrives.
Organizing your pre-cleaning: prioritize
Take stock of your new home once it is emptied of the previous owner or tenant's possessions, or of any construction debris. Divide your pre-cleaning tasks into those that can and should be done early and those that can wait. Floors, walls, windows, cabinets and counters should be cleaned before your possessions arrive, because it's much easier to clean an empty space. Cleaning with strong chemicals should be done at least a week in advance of your move-in date. Spot cleaning and some repairs can wait until just before or after you've moved.
For new construction or a remodel: Make sure all finish work is completed well in advance of your moving date. For example, paint work in each room should be completely dry; newly finished and sealed wood and tile floors need time to dry and cure for best results; carpeting and roll vinyl may release unpleasant odors after installation (called off-gassing), which will dissipate within days or weeks.
Your newly constructed or remodeled home will have a quantity of
construction dust (probably a combination of wood sawdust and wallboard or sheetrock dust) in the air and settling on every surface. The dust will take a long time to settle, so don't be surprised if you've wiped a surface one day and find it dusty again the next day. You just have to keep at it, with damp mops or electrostatic dry mops for the floor, followed by vacuuming, as often as every day.
Consider buying or borrowing a large HEPA air filter and installing
it in the empty house as soon as you have access. Keep it running for a few days after your early clean-up to capture the remaining airborne dust that much faster. With a strong air filter you're not waiting for the dust to settle before removing it. Clean the filter every day or so.
Early tasks include vacuuming and damp-mopping floors and walls (remember, you're chasing construction dust); Removing lingering construction messes (overlooked and forgotten dried clumps of joint compound; Paint mistakes on or near windows or floors; clumps of grout; anything loose that should be tightened; electrical plates, switches, fixtures not properly installed or replaced; smears or fingerprints from workers around lighting fixtures or other installations.
Late tasks (just before moving in) include complete kitchen and bathroom cleanings; window cleanings; vacuuming and wiping inside closets, cabinets and drawers.
For a home or apartment where there was a previous occupant
Keep your fingers crossed that the previous tenant, owner, or landlord took care of the basic cleaning. In many cases, you can insist on it, along with a fresh coat of paint, before moving in.
In previously occupied homes the main cleaning task is dirt and
stain removal in all areas, especially bathrooms and kitchen. Look out especially to spot-clean or replace high-traffic carpeting or flooring; wiping or vacuuming out closet and cabinet corners and shelves; cleaning, disinfecting and polishing countertops. Here are some more specific things to consider before you move in:
Check for insect or rodent inhabitants, and if you suspect you're
not alone in your new home, hire a pest-control expert to inspect and if necessary fumigate your place well before your moving date. If you are renting, you can expect the landlord to hire an exterminator, but if you want the best job done, research and hire the firm yourself. It's worth it.
Kitchen appliances: Now, while the kitchen is empty, is the time to
pull the stove and refrigerator away from the wall and clean behind and around them. If the oven has a self-cleaning setting, use it. Disinfect and thoroughly scrub the inside of the refrigerator with an antibacterial liquid or spray cleaner, such as Mr. CleanŽ Antibacterial cleaner. Leave in an open box of baking soda, or try an opened can of ground coffee, to remove any lingering odors, including those from the cleaner.
Bathroom fixtures: Seek out and clean those ignored places in
the bathroom, such as behind the sink and toilet, inside the medicine cabinet while it's empty, and all around shower surrounds and shower door frames. Use an anti-mold spray cleaner everywhere you think mildew may grow. Follow that up with a wetted Mr. CleanŽ Magic EraserŽ Bathroom Scrubber for clean tub and sink corners and drains. Freshen up your bathroom instantly by installing a new toilet seat.
Change the exterior door lock; you don't know how many extra
keys were made and handed out by the previous occupants; with a new lock that's all yours, you'll sleep more soundly.
The ultimate solution: Hire professionals
Although not for the budget-minded, professional cleaning services will do a more thorough job than you can do on your own, and may be a better choice if your time is short. Tell yourself that you're only going to hire professionals once-and now is the time to do it.
You can hire professional cleaning services to deep-clean upholstery, carpeting and floors; repolish composite countertops; disinfect, remove mildew, move heavy appliances, and clean hard-to-reach windows.
Make sure to agree on a detailed list of the tasks you expect of anyone you hire, and at the end of the job check carefully to make sure everything on the list has been accomplished to your satisfaction.