Giving your new house a thorough cleaning before you move in your belongings will get you off to a great start. New construction can leave dust and debris in unexpected places while buying an established home will mean that dirt can lurk in many places. In the cleaning process, you might identify some things that need to be repaired or replaced. You'll want a full collection of cleaning supplies to get the job done right.
Equipment / Tools
- Dust mop
- Step ladder
- Toilet brush
- Putty knife (optional)
- Spray bottle
- Rubber gloves
- Non-abrasive sponges
- Abrasive sponges
- Old toothbrush or cleaning brush
- Paper towels
- Cleaning rags or microfiber cloths
- Liquid dish detergent
- White vinegar
- Window cleaner
- All-purpose kitchen and bath cleaner
- Toilet cleaner
- Shelf lining paper
- Wood cabinet cleaner
- Baking soda
- Chlorine-free bleach
- Floor cleaner
- Oven cleaner (optional)
- Degreasing cleaner
- Sheet of brown paper or newspaper
- Carpet cleaner
- Disposable cleaning erasers (optional)
- Cleaner with chlorine bleach or chlorine bleach (optional)
- Tile or stone cleaner (optional)
- Wood soap cleaner (optional)
How to Clean the Bathroom
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
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 the Windows
Use window cleaner on the glass and general-purpose cleaner for the windowsills. Tackle mold or mildew you may spot in the window sills or around the window frame with a bleach cleanser. 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.
Wash Inside Cabinets and Closets
Wipe down the inside of the medicine cabinet, linen closet, drawers of the bathroom vanity using paper towels or a clean cloth dampened with an all-purpose cleaner.
Scrub the Tub and Shower
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 reglazed. 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 reglazed tub.
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.
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.
Though optional, 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 and flush.
- While the tank is empty, scrub the inside of the tank walls with plain water or if dirty, a gentle all-purpose cleaner.
- Turn the water back on, flush a couple of times until the water is clear in the tank and bowl.
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.
How to Clean the Kitchen
Once the bathrooms are in order, move on to the kitchen. The kitchen tends to be where icky and sticky things collect, and you'll want to get rid of the former tenant's cooking smells.
Clean From the Top
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 telescoping 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.
For 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. Fabric softener can dissolve adhesive residues.
Clean the Cabinets
Use a mild all-purpose cleaner on paper towels to clean 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. Also 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 festering 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 cleanser. 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 Floor
Cleaning 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.
How to Clean the Stove
You 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 the 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's 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 a 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 of the Stove
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 burners so the appliance works efficiently.
Clean Under the Stove
Remember the no-man's land underneath the stove that needs cleaning. 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.
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.
How to Clean the Refrigerator
Cleaning a refrigerator will also eliminate any festering problems that could lead to odors. Unplug the appliance and let it warm up before cleaning it. It's easier to clean a refrigerator that is not cold.
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. (You can use less vinegar and more water if you prefer.) Use a sponge or microfiber cloth to wipe the surfaces clean.
Clean the Freezer
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.
Roll the Refrigerator Away From the Wall
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 along 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.
Dry and Replace Shelves and Bins
Once you've finished cleaning the interior walls, replace dried shelves and bins.
How to 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 carpet, consider hiring a professional cleaner to steam clean them before moving in. If that isn't possible, or the previous occupants claimed they had the carpets cleaned, then your new home probably needs a thorough vacuum. If the previous owners had any pets, you might 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 wood-like floors, sweep well, making sure to clean under heating vents and appliances. Use a mild soap to clean its surface; wood soaps, such as Murphy Oil Soap, work well to remove dirt and give it a polished shine and fresh fragrance.
Sweep and Mop Other Floor Types
For tile, linoleum, stone, and concrete floors, sweep or vacuum to pick up debris. Then mop using the appropriate cleaning solution for the type of floor.