5 Cleaning Tips for Moving Out and Moving In


REALToDo Real Estate Blog Cleaning Tips

You've packed and unpacked, coordinated and planned. Whether you're moving across the street or across the country, there's no denying it's a time and labor intensive process. The last thing you want to do when you've finally arrived at your new home is do a deep clean, or have to worry about leaving a less than pristine house behind - both for the sake of the new owners or for your potential security deposit. Below are five cleaning tips to help you minimize your cleaning time and maximize savings, all with little hassle and big results.

1. Magic Eraser Sponges Are Truly Magic

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It may sound like a gimmick, but magic eraser sponges are an incredible cleaning invention worthy of the name. Whether you're cleaning a new-to-you kitchen or scrubbing the bathroom, these supplies are invaluable in taking off stains and grime with much less effort than a typical brush sponge. Just make sure to do a test spot before going to town on a new surface; their cleaning power means they can be abrasive on things like painted walls or glass-top stoves.

Though these little pads are amazing, they can also be expensive. Instead of buying them in-store, try searching on Amazon - not only do they tend to be available on Prime if you're in a moving rush, but they also offer similar products with excellent reviews that often cost less than the name brand.

These eraser sponges are useful when tidying up your new home, but they can also be a lifesaver when it comes to vacating your old one, especially if you're trying to get back your security deposit on a rental space. These sponges can erase scuffs from walls, pick up stubborn grime from hard surfaces like kitchen tiles, and take the soap scum or dark marks right off a tub - all tasks that become even more vital when each success could result in more money back in your pocket.

In your new home, keep a few in each area where you might need them: some under the sink in the bathroom, some in your kid’s closet, a few tucked into a drawer in the kitchen. This way you can reach for them with ease when you need them - and without having to worry if you're taking marker off the wall with the same one you used to scrub the base of the toilet last week.

2. Baking Soda and Vinegar Aren't Just for Science Projects

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For most people, items like baking soda and vinegar likely call up memories of school science experiments gone wrong, or at least just sound like ingredients to keep in the back of your kitchen pantry. However, when used correctly these common supplies can be a surprisingly powerful additional to your cleaning arsenal.

Because it is just slightly abrasive, baking soda can be a great tool for the tightrope walk task of cleaning the cooked-on stains that often mar glass-top stoves without using anything potent or rough enough to permanently etch the glass. Just wipe down the stove and then sprinkle on some baking soda. Wet it with lemon juice or vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes to soak into the stains, and then scrub lightly and wipe clean. Remember - always test a small area before cleaning to see how it will impact your specific item!

Baking soda and vinegar can also be combined to clean other parts of your new kitchen. Because both are cooking ingredients, you can feel good about giving the entire area a solid scrubbing without having to worry about harsher cleaning solvents being spread over every surface that your food will eventually touch. Baking soda can be a great addition to your dishwashing routine as well. Sprinkle a good amount on stuck-on food in your pans, add a little warm water, and let soak. Then scrub with your normal sponge and watch the stains come off with much more ease - and without the worry of scraping up your pan with a more abrasive scrubber like steel wool.

If there's even more of an upside to these cleaning helpers, it's that most places that sell groceries offer baking soda and vinegar, and often at a much lower price than many other “green cleaning” products.

3. Plan Your Packing

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There's always that point at the end of the move where all of the things you planned to figure out later are sitting in a pile, waiting for you to inevitably stuff them haphazardly into some final boxes and deal with them at the new place. There is one surefire way to minimize your cleaning time at your new home, and that is to have less that you have to clean in the first place! I know - easier said than done, right? But it can be achieved with a few strategic packing moves.

First, and preferably early, pack a “clean bag.” This should include all of the things that you will need clean for the first few days you spend in your new place. Think about what you'll want - at minimum, include a set of clean sheets, a few sets of clothes and pajamas, and a towel. In another pocket, add toothbrushes, soap, and a roll of toilet paper. Then - and this is the hard part - don't touch this bag again until it's sitting in your new place! This way you know exactly where to find your essentials, and don't have to worry that your newly-washed sheets ended up in a bag with your work boots at the last minute. This may seem obvious now, but it will seem genius later when you're relaxing after your move instead of frantically trying to find your washing detergent and learn how to use your new appliances so that you can sleep on a clean pillowcase on your first night in the new house.

Next, have another box just for cleaning supplies. This serves two purposes - it allows for easier clean up on both ends of your move, but it also ensures that your bleach cleaner won't ruin your favorite shirt because the two ended up next to each other in a last-minute box.

Along with your clean bag, it helps to keep a second set of boxes with opposite items to the same effect. Use these to keep things like shoes, messy work clothes, or anything else that doesn't meet the “dish test” - if it isn't something you would feel good about packing with the plates in your kitchen, put it aside in these boxes. Do this early as well. It makes packing easier because you can plan for all of these items to go together, rather than leaving some of your boxes half empty near the end because you can't find things that can be packed next to each other (everyone knows that there's nothing worse than carrying a thousand half-filled boxes at the end of a move), and it also prevents you or anyone else in your house from accidentally packing things together that you don't want to touch - just picture your kitchen plates with your husband's still-muddy boots from last winter thrown on top and you'll see why this can be beneficial, even if it might be more of a hassle upfront.

4. Divide and Conquer

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If there is one word that can accurately describe the process of moving, it would be “overwhelming.” Even if the move itself is - in theory - easy, well-planned, and exciting, there seems to come that one moment where it just feels like too much. Whether it's at the beginning when you're staring at your half-packed material possessions strewn across your house, in the middle of trip seven of who knows how many more to transport your furniture to the moving van, or at the end when the relief of being in your new space is tempered by the realization that you now have to unpack everything, there comes a time when it is easy to feel overwhelmed and ready to just sit down on your stuck-half-way-out-of-the-front-door couch and give up.

With all of this going on, make a plan ahead of time to divide and conquer your cleaning so that it doesn't add to that frustration. This doesn't necessarily mean divvying up the work, although it can. What it should include is having a clear list of what needs to be cleaned and in what sequence.

Consider what has to be done in order to facilitate your moving process. For instance, maybe you want to make sure you vacuum the carpets at your new place. This would best be done before your furniture is moved in, so it should be near the top of the list. Cleaning items you'll want to use right away - for example your toilet, shower, and microwave - should also be at the forefront. This will give you a clear outline of what needs to be completed, which can be invaluable when you're in the midst of a haze of moving concerns. It will also prevent you from that cleaning spiral when just as you think that you might scream if you have to clean one more inch of counters or scrub the inside of one more drawer, you remember another area that has to be completed right away and need to start the whole process from the beginning.

5. Stock Up on Seltzer

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If you thought that baking soda and vinegar were the only pantry items that could help you in your move to your new home, think again! Plain seltzer, or really any clear sparkling drink like club soda or tonic water, can aid your cleaning process at both your old and new homes. The bubbles in the water help to lift out stains from carpet or fabric more effectively than regular still water, and for often far less cost than the fancy cleaning solutions that work the same way.

Use this trick on your new carpets to pick up existing stains that might have been missed, or on your old carpet to reduce stains that are already there, even if they have been sitting for awhile. Because the carbonation in the seltzer allows you to avoid scrubbing, something that can actually make carpet stains worse as you can easily spread the soil to a wider area, the ideal way to clean with it is to pour liberally onto the stain, then press with a rag or paper towel to soak up the excess water. Repeat as needed to watch your stain fade away. Because this pantry solution is really just carbonated water, it also lets you clean without the worry of staining your carpet with cleaning products that might have bleach or other harsh materials.

Seltzer, though, is not just helpful to have around for carpet cleaning. Picture this scenario: it's your first night in your new place. You didn't plan your divide and conquer route, so you've ordered a pizza to avoid having to clean the kitchen before cooking. You trip over a box that you've left out, and your pizza slides out of your hand and right down onto your favorite moving shirt. You didn't pack your clean bags, so you have no idea where the spot cleaning stick you would usually use could be in all of your things. Sound like it could happen to you? Just grab a bottle of seltzer and the shirt. Hold it over the sink and slowly pour the seltzer over the stain, letting it strain through the fabric. If necessary, rub the fabric together between your fingers to loosen the pizza sauce, and then repeat pouring the seltzer through both sides of the shirt until the stain is gone!

Image of a House
Photo by Scott Webb / Unsplash

Whether you're moving into a new home that you want to spot clean as you make it yours, leaving an old place that you need to make sure is spotless so that you can get your security deposit back, or maybe some combination of the two, these cleaning tips can take a move from miserable to manageable. With a little planning and a few common supplies, you can be relaxing in your new, clean home in no time.


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About Taylor Threadgill

Licensed Real Estate agent. A manager in the construction industry with a degree in Architecture. Works in-depth on projects for design, photography, and digital editing.