When moving into a new home, the most important step begins before you start putting away your belongings. Getting in there and removing all dirt, dust, and grime left behind by previous residents is settling in nicely to a new space. Melissa Maker, host of the CleanMySpace YouTube channel, is here to share her move-in cleaning tips.
“There is that unseen dirt that we all know is there from ‘the other people,’” says Maker, who is also the founder of Toronto-based cleaning company Clean My Space. “Any time I’ve moved, I’ve always wanted a clean slate so that I don’t feel like someone else was living there. I don’t see a hair and wonder if it was mine or someone else’s. We want to start in a home that feels like our own, and setting the stage for that experience is cleaning.”
This is especially true if the previous residents didn’t leave the place in great condition.
You’ll need to dedicate some serious time to cleaning if the previous occupants of your new home were smokers, if they had pets, if they weren’t particularly good at keeping the house clean. “There are maintenance things that perhaps they weren’t doing that you want to be mindful of,” says Maker “If they hadn’t cleaned their dishwasher filter the whole time, or if they hadn’t had their ducts cleaned in 10 years, those are all things that you would want to check off your list before you settle in.”
In the best-case scenario, you want to clean your new home from top to bottom before you move in your stuff.
“You want the space to be empty because an empty space is the easiest to navigate,” says Maker. “Having access to all of those areas that would otherwise be covered up by furniture, that’s really an opportunity you only get when you’re moving. So we want to take full advantage of your space being empty. And when it is empty, you can get work done more quickly and more efficiently.”
Because the space is empty, a deep clean should take way less time than cleaning a furnished home would. Think about your spring cleaning efforts. Doing the same work in an empty home should take about 50 to 70 percent of the time. But, even if you can’t get everything clean before moving in your stuff, there are still ways to keep the cleaning process nice and smooth.
Living rooms and bedrooms
With an empty room, you’re not focusing on dusting furniture, but rather the features of the room, says Maker. “[Focus on] the windows, the blinds, inside the cupboards, the baseboards, giving the floors a really good cleaning,” she says. “If you have an air vent or a radiator, you can access that and clean that really well, too.”
Getting these tasks done is especially important if you can’t clean the entire home before you move in. In this case, Maker says to clean the spaces where big furniture will land first.
“You’re not going to be able to move your giant sofa or your king-size bed or a dresser. Once it’s in there, it’s in there,” says Maker. “So baseboards, floors, anything that would be otherwise inaccessible or difficult to get to once furniture has been moved in, I would say to focus on that and then everything else you can do piecemeal, but with the caveat, it will take more time.”
Additionally, you can try to move all of your boxes to one area of the house so you have access to clean everything else. “Then once that was done, you could unpack the rooms that you used for storage last, and you could clean those right before you unpack them,” says Maker.
Kitchen and bathroom
Next, you’ll want to tackle your kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen is going to take the most amount of time to clean. Depending on the size of your kitchen, it can take one to four hours to give your kitchen a really thorough clean, meaning that you’re cleaning all the appliances and all of the cupboards. Pay extra attention to the stovetop, sink, microwave, oven, refrigerator, and floors, as these tend to be the dirtiest things in your kitchen.
Depending on the state of your bathroom, cleaning that shouldn’t take too much time. “If I had to take all of my products out of the bathroom right now, it would take time,” says Maker. “But if it was just an empty bathroom, to open up a drawer, vacuum the drawer, give it a wipe down, clean the counters, clean the sink. That stuff doesn’t take tons and tons of time.”
Once your space feels nice and clean, you can focus on unpacking and organizing. Just be sure to take your time and move in a way that makes sense for the way you want to live.
“The nice thing about moving is that it really does give you a blank slate opportunity. You can use it as a time to think and mindfully approach the way that you organize, study, unpack, et cetera,” says Maker. “You can go through your items again and say, ‘Do I need those? Is this going to serve me well in my new home?’ And it might not, but I would say rather than just mindlessly unpacking to get the job done, to try and put on your critical thinking cap while you’re doing it. You’ll set yourself up for success in your new home.”
And as you continue to shuffle around boxes, Maker says you’ll want to keep cleaning as you go. “Just vacuum every day. Moving and unpacking kicks up a ton of dust and dirt and mess,” says Maker. “Doing a bit of tidying each day after you’re finished unpacking will really help to keep your house clean.”
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