How to Tackle a Move-In Clean Like the Pros

A new house or apartment presents so many possibilities. Bare walls, an uncluttered space, and a blank canvas ready for you to make into a home. Get off to a great start by cleaning your new place before moving in your belongings. With a new construction home, you can expect a lot of dust and debris to have settled in unexpected places. And if you’re moving into an established home, the previous occupants (no matter how well-intentioned) have probably left behind dust, dirt, and grime that you’ll want to take care of before settling in. With some old-fashioned elbow grease and determination, you’ll be able to get all the cleaning done before the furniture arrives. But if you have to wait until after you move, that’s fine too. Just don’t skip a move-in, deep clean entirely. This is one corner in the moving process that you don’t want to cut! 

Clean High Before Low  

Dust isn’t relegated to floors and countertops. Ceiling fans, overhead lighting fixtures, shelving, and other features close to the ceiling are just as prone to getting dirty and grimy, but they don’t get cleaned as often. Since cleaning these higher-up features will inevitably lead to dust falling down below, start at the top in each room, then work your way down. Ceiling fan blades are notorious for falling dust. Try this nifty trick: Slip an old pillowcase over each blade, then wipe away from the center of the fixture using the inside of the pillowcase’s top layer. Most of the dust will get trapped inside the pillowcase, which you can just clean or throw out once you’re done.

Clean the Bathrooms

The bathrooms are a good place to start because you are likely to need to use one during the cleaning process. Use disinfecting cleaners for best results. 

  • Start at the top of the space and move down. With a duster, clean out the cobwebs, dust, and dander from the ceiling, corners, vents, fans, and light fixtures. Use your vacuum’s telescopic wand to reach high and tough-to-reach areas.
  • Wipe down windows and mirrors – Use window cleaner on the glass and general-purpose cleaner for the windowsills. 
    • To tackle mold or mildew, you may spot the window sills or around the window frame with a bleach cleaner. You can also make a mixture of one part chlorine bleach to three parts warm water and scrub away the mold with an old toothbrush or other abrasive sponge. Secure the brush after cleaning the mold in a plastic bag and throw it out to keep spores from spreading.
    •  If there are window coverings, such as roller shades or blinds, first vacuum them to remove dust. Sponge them with a mix of liquid dish detergent and water to clean off any lingering dirt.
  • Clean cabinets and closets – Wipe down the inside and outside of the medicine cabinet, linen closet, drawers of the bathroom vanity using paper towels or a clean cloth dampened with an all-purpose cleaner. Don’t forget hardware such as handles, knobs, and pulls.
  • Scrub the shower, tub, and enclosures. The method you will use depends on how dirty or damaged the area may be, or if the tub is new or resurfaced. An all-purpose or tub cleaner will do a good job to remove surface dust and dirt. Use a non-abrasive cleaner for a new or resurfaced tub. 
    • Shower door – To battle cleaning lingering soap scum on a glass shower door, use a vinegar solution that will dissolve minerals. Mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part dish detergent in a spray bottle. Let the solution work for about 30 minutes, then rinse clean with a cloth or sponge (use an abrasive sponge for tough scum). If the shower stall is tile or stone, always use a specially formulated stone cleaner, even to remove soap scum.
  • Clean and disinfect the toilet – Scrub the toilet with a toilet brush. Use sponges or paper towels to clean the outside, back, and handles of the toilet. Use disinfecting cleaner all around, inside, and out. Cleaning the toilet tank when moving into a new home can help cut down on the mildew, rust, mineral, and grime build-up that can damage the parts and cause odor.  Wear rubber gloves and take these steps: 
    • Pour vinegar directly into the tank’s water to just below the top rim, and let the solution sit there for 12 hours to dissolve the gunk. 
    • Flush a few times to remove the vinegar. Fully drain the vinegar by turning off the toilet’s water valve near the back of the toilet, then flush. 
    • Turn the water back on, flush a couple of times until the water is clear in the tank and bowl.
    • While the tank is empty, scrub the inside of the tank walls with plain water or if dirty, a gentle all-purpose cleaner.
  • Clean the sink area – Wash down the sink and fixtures using non-abrasive cleaners. Use an old toothbrush to dig into seams and openings. Buff the faucet dry using a clean cloth. Clean the bathroom mirror with glass cleaner.

Clean the Kitchen  

Once the bathrooms are in order, you’ll want to clean the kitchen. The kitchen tends to be where icky and sticky things collect, and you’ll want to get rid of the former occupant’s cooking smells. Just as you did with the bathroom, start at the top of the space and dust the ceiling, corners, vents, fans, and light fixtures. Use your vacuum’s attachment to reach high spots.

  • Clean the walls – Check for fingerprints around light switches and corners. If you have various paint finishes or wallpaper on the walls, take care to use the proper cleaning methods:
    • Painted walls – To clean walls with flat paint, sponge on a mix of liquid dish detergent and water, scrub, rinse, and dry the surfaces with a towel. For tougher stains, use disposable cleaning erasers, but be gentle when using them so you do not take the paint off the wall.
    • Wallpaper – Clean wallpapered walls first by removing surface dust with a microfiber cloth, then wiping them down with liquid dishwashing soap and water. 
    • Sticky walls – If you encounter sticky patches, apply a small amount of fabric softener to a sponge and rub it on the area, let it sit for 10 minutes, then rinse with a sponge and clean water. A fabric softener can dissolve adhesive residues.
  • Clean the Cabinets –  Use a mild all-purpose cleaner on paper towels to wipe down the inside of cabinets, especially if they’re painted or lined. If they aren’t lined, consider installing shelf liners to ensure that the insides are ready for your dishes.
    • Clean the top of cabinets and cabinet doors. If the surface is wood, use a cleaner formulated for wood cabinets.
    • To clean greasy cabinets, use either an all-purpose orange oil cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and water. Make a paste and apply it, letting it sit for a few minutes. 
    • Clean handles and inside of the drawers using a gentle all-purpose cleaner and paper towels.
  • Clean the counters – Counters usually require less work to clean, though marble and granite counters may require extra care.
    • Make sure you pay attention to cleaning between cracks (check the areas between the stove and countertop) using a putty knife to remove any debris.
    • Clean tile backsplashes with a mild cleaner or baking soda and water.
  • Clean the major appliances – There may be lingering spills and crumbs inside major appliances. Follow the detailed instructions below to clean the stove and refrigerator. If there is a built-in microwave, clean it with a grease-cutting cleaner. Depending on the state of the dishwasher, you may need to conduct a thorough cleaning on both the exterior and the interior of the appliance.
  • Scrub the sink – Clean the kitchen sink by putting chlorine-free bleach in a spray bottle cut with some water. Spray the sink well and let it soak for a while. Then rinse thoroughly. Also, bleach the plugs by placing them in a small amount of bleach and water and letting them sit for a few minutes. Rinse well. Sink odors can be removed by mixing baking soda and water, then pouring it down the drain. If you have a garbage disposal, it’s a good idea to freshen it up to eliminate any lingering odors.
  • Sweep and mop the floorCleaning the kitchen floor may unearth hidden crumbs and sticky spills left by former residents or moving crews. If the floor is in good shape, all you will need to do is an overall sweeping and damp mopping to freshen it up. Dirty or scuffed stone, vinyl, linoleum, or hardwood kitchen floors will need a bit more elbow grease to clean it up.
  • Clean the stoveYou may need to use a heavy-duty cleaner for the oven. Baking soda and water work well, too, along with sponges or a heavy-duty cloth.
    • Remove elements, drip pans, and racks – If your stove has removable elements and drip pans, remove them and set the elements aside. Soak the drip pans and racks in a sink full of hot, soapy water while you clean the rest of the stove.
    • Clean the oven Interior – Cleaning the inside of an oven is often overlooked, but there could be lingering grease or spills that need attention. Look inside the oven, and if need be, apply an oven cleaner. Most take approximately 20 minutes to work. If it is a self-cleaning oven, you can set it to run the cycle.
    • Clean the range hood – You will likely have some type of range hood that needs cleaning inside and out, including the filter. For surfaces, use a grease remover if you find the regular cleaner isn’t getting off the tough stuff. Lay down a sheet of brown paper or newspaper over the cooktop to collect any drips. If it is a lighted hood, see if the bulbs work or need replacing.
    • Clean the top and front  – Clean the stovetop, especially the grimy drip pans, and the front panel and temperature dials of the stove using an all-purpose cleaner. Use the proper methods to clean a glass cooktop or gas burner so the appliance works efficiently.
    • Clean under the stove – Remember to clean underneath the stove. Once you’ve cleaned the top and front of the stove, remove it from the wall and clean beneath it. If possible, clean the sides, as they may be very dusty. Don’t forget to wipe down the pull-out shelf.
    • Clean the drip pans and racks – Scrub the soaked drip pans and racks clean. Use a brush that won’t scratch the surfaces of these elements. Replace the drip pans and elements back into place
  • Clean the refrigerator – Cleaning the refrigerator will eliminate grime, germs, any festering problems that could lead to odors. Unplug the appliance before cleaning it. It’s easier to clean a refrigerator that is not cold. Next: 
    • Remove and wash drawers and bins – Take the drawers, bins, and shelves out of the refrigerator and freezer and wash them with hot, soapy water in the sink or bathtub. Set them aside to dry.
    • Wash interior walls – Wash the inside walls and any non-removable shelves with an all-purpose cleaner and paper towels. If you prefer to wash the inside of the appliance with something more natural, fill a spray bottle with a cleaning solution of two tablespoons of baking soda and hot water. Or, fill a spray bottle with an equal mix of white vinegar and water. Then, use a sponge or microfiber cloth to wipe the surfaces clean.
    • Check the freezer to see if it needs to be manually defrosted – If the fridge has been unplugged, wipe down the inside, or clean it thoroughly if it needs it using an all-purpose cleaner. If you prefer, use the baking soda and hot water mixture, or the vinegar and water mixture, to clean the inside of the freezer.
    • Dry and replace shelves and bins – Once you’ve finished cleaning the interior walls, replace dried shelves and bins.
    • Clean the back and sides – Move the fridge out from the wall and clean the back, top, and sides. You will likely find a lot of dust built up that you can vacuum. Dust and dirt also gather on handles and within the plastic seal that encases the doors. 
    • To clean the plastic seals, use a toothbrush with a mild all-purpose cleaner or DIY mixture (baking soda or vinegar with water). Wipe the seals with a dry cloth.

Clean the Floors 

Use these tips to clean different types of floors and floor coverings throughout your new home:

  • Clean the carpets – If you’re moving into a home with carpeting, consider having a professional cleaner come and steam clean the carpet before moving in. If that isn’t possible, or the previous occupants state they had the carpets cleaned, then your new home probably needs a thorough vacuum. If the previous occupants had any pets, you may also want to protect against possible fleas, especially if you have pets of your own.
  • Clean wood floors – To clean wood floors, whether they are hardwood, engineered wood, or laminate floors, sweep well, making sure to clean under heating vents and appliances. Use a mild soap to clean the flooring surface. Wood soaps will remove dirt and grime and give your floors a polished shine.
  • Sweep and mop other floor types – Sweep or vacuum to pick up debris for tile, linoleum, stone, and concrete flooring. Then mop using the appropriate cleaning solution for the type of flooring you have.

Whether you are moving from across town or from another city or state, the process of moving can be very stressful, especially with so many different tasks that need to get done. A professional cleaning service like Clean Nation Company can help ease the burden of your move by handling the move-in cleaning for you!

Clean Nation Company Professional House Cleaning Services

Give us a call today at (509) 217-4729 to learn more about our detailed move-out / move-in cleaning services.


Our experienced cleaning PROS will give every inch of your new place the kind of professional, detailed cleaning it deserves! We make it our mission to offer the highest level of clean and customer service possible. Our 100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee:  If you are ever unhappy with an area in your home we have already cleaned, just give us a call within 24 hours and we’ll gladly re-clean it at no additional cost. Our integrity, dedication, and attention to detail are why our loyal customers stay with us year after year!

We proudly offer:

  • Over 50 years of experience in the cleaning industry
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  • Professionally-trained cleaning technicians
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  • Commitment to the highest quality of clean
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Give Clean Nation Company a call today at (509) 217-4729 to learn more about our professional move-out / move-in deep cleans or request a free, no-obligation cleaning estimate online! We provide high-quality cleaning services in Liberty Lake, Post Falls, Spokane, Spokane Valley, and the surrounding area.