A broom, cleaning spray, ladder and moving boxes in an empty home with a Move-in Cleaning Checklist superimposed over the cornerPin

Move-In Cleaning Checklist: For a Fresh Start in Your New Home

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Moving into a new home is an exciting journey, but it’s also a time to roll up your sleeves and deep clean. I’ve moved several times, both cross country and overseas, and I’ve learned that a clean slate is key to settling in.

From homes so filthy I couldn’t sleep, to just needing that extra bit of sparkle, here’s my go-to move-in cleaning checklist to make your new house feel like home.

Gather Your Supplies

Let’s start by gathering all the cleaning essentials. Hopefully, you planned ahead and kept a box of your favorite cleaning supplies and equipment separate so you’d be ready to start. If not, you may need a trip to the store.

  • Cleaning supplies: Bathroom disinfectant, toilet bowl cleaner, glass cleaner, floor cleaner. (See my recipes for homemade cleaners to make your own green cleaning products.)
  • Cleaning equipment: Rubber gloves, microfiber cloths, vacuum cleaner with attachments, long-handled duster, toilet brush, drain snake, mop and bucket or spray bottle.
  • Miscellaneous: Plastic drain snake, garden hose, furnace filter.

Bathrooms

It goes without saying, clean bathrooms are critical. There are simply too many potentially hazardous bacteria like staph and strep hanging around on bathroom surfaces, and not just the toilet.

So, start from the top: clean the exhaust fan and light fixtures, and then work your way down to the walls, and floors. Don’t forget to treat the drains to eliminate future hair clogs

Then, I always disinfect the shower, shower head, tub, and toilet. (Plus, I note the toilet seat shape and size so I can replace it ASAP. I’m weird that way.)

Pro Tip

If your new home has a jetted tub, thoroughly disinfect it before bathing. Jetted tub lines never completely drain, so they’re full of everything from soap scum to the previous owner’s dead skin cells and hair. 

Kitchen

Between the family gathering and food preparation, the kitchen is your next stop for move-in cleaning. It’s often just as messy as the bathrooms, too. 

Start with cleaning the appliances and not just inside and out: get the often-overlooked areas behind the fridge and oven, too. That’s where I’ve found unpleasant surprises in almost every new home I’ve had.

Then, while they’re empty, tackle the cabinets and drawers. Be sure to disinfect the handles, light switches and doorknobs. Now your kitchen is ready for your family to make memories and meals!

Ducts & Vents

Next up, let’s make sure your new home’s HVAC isn’t blowing around a bunch of nasty stuff. This is especially important if someone in your home has allergies. As a bonus, you’ll help reduce the dust in your new home, too! 

If it’s warm out, shut off the circuit breaker to the outdoor AC condenser and hook up the garden hose. Angle a gentle stream of water downward to wash any pollen and debris off the fins. Now you can flip the circuit back on.

Indoors, you’ll want to vacuum inside each air vent and cold air return. I always found weird stuff in there—including the biggest spider I’ve ever seen! Run the blower for 10 minutes to filter any debris you loosened, then replace the filter with a fresh one.

Next stop: the dryer vent. Use your vacuum or the long-handled duster to remove any debris you find. For multi-story vents, you may need a telescoping dryer vent brush. You can find them online or at most major hardware stores.

Other Rooms & Closets

At this point, you could call it good enough if you wanted. But when will you get another chance to clean every room so easily? Take advantage of those big, empty spaces while you can!

So, give each room a once-over by using the long-handled duster to clean the ceilings, corners, and light fixtures first.

Then polish the inside of the windows and inspect the screens for holes, checking that the windows fully shut and lock. (I seem to remember a movie where a home’s former owner broke in that way.)

Finally, move to cleaning the walls, doors, and floors—out with the old owners, in with the new ones! 

Final Touches

Remember, this is about more than just cleaning—it’s about creating a safe haven. Report any undisclosed issues you find to your Realtor promptly, and make notes about minor tasks or DIY projects you want to work on.

Now that everything’s clean, you’re ready to call it home!

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