Whether you’re vacating a rental or selling your old home, you are expected to clean the place before you go. After all the other tasks on your moving to-do list, cleaning can seem like the last priority. When the last days of your move arrive, this last thing on the list can seem like a big deal. Here are some tips to help you make cleaning simpler and easier for you.

Talk to Your Landlord

Find out what your landlord or the housing agent expects for your standard of cleanliness. Some places expect a home to be “broom-clean,” which means you’ve kept up with basic cleanliness like sweeping, occasional mopping, dusting corners, and wiping counters and the stovetop. Others may expect professional-level cleaning, with nary a speck of dirt to be found afterward. Know what you’ll need to do before it’s too late make it happen.

Do It Yourself or Get Professionals?

As with packing and loading trucks on your own, while it may seem cheaper to clean everything yourself, especially if you can recruit family and friends to help, think about whether it would be better to hire professional cleaners. If the landlord expects that level of cleaning, you should at least see if you can get free in-home estimates about how much professionals would cost. If it comes to about a hundred dollars, that’s probably a better investment than your own time and effort over you’ve got so many other things to handle.

Get Cleaning Materials

If you’re cleaning on your own, then make sure you have all the products and tools you’ll need. Check to make sure you’ve got all the proper sponges, scrubbers, brooms, mops, and so on. Do you have a good all-purpose cleaning solution, window cleaner, bathroom cleaners, and carpet or rug treatments? Don’t forget things like drain cleaners, toilet brushes, and dusters.

Go Room-by-Room

A way to avoid feeling overwhelmed is to clean just one room at a time. This can integrate well with packing. Once everything’s in boxes and either moved to storage or at least easy to get out of the way, clean in that room. Not only does this break up the work, but it gives you a sense of accomplishment. “The bathroom is packed and cleaned,” feels better to say than “It’s packed, we’ll clean it later.” If you’re packing a room at a time, a day at a time, this also means you’re not overwhelming yourself by cleaning everything at once.

Clean Twice

This seems counter-intuitive, but it’s a good idea to clean every room before and after packing. Before packing, you can take care of small things and identify the most problematic spots to clean later, or even take a shot at it early and see if you’ll need to change your approach next time. It also means that once all the boxes and furniture are out of the way, you don’t have as much work to do afterward. Overall, your home will look and smell nicer, because you’ve cleaned it more thoroughly with less effort.

Make Lists

Give yourself a checklist of things to work on in each room, so that you and anyone helping you knows what needs to be done and what still needs to be cleaned. For example:

  • Basic cleaning for every room (list them out)
    • Spot clean walls, cabinets, shelves, doors
    • Dust and wipe down baseboards and windowsills
    • Dust light fixtures, corners, ceiling fans, vents
    • Wipe down windows and mirrors
    • Dust and wipe down closets
    • Vacuum or mop the floors
    • Take out the trash
  • Bathrooms
    • Scrub toilet
    • Clean shower and tub. Don’t forget the plumbing fixtures and space above the tile
    • Clean medicine cabinet and interior
    • Scrub and wipe down countertops
  • Kitchen
    • Dust tops of cabinets, and clean out the interior shelves. Do this thoroughly, especially where food was stored
    • Clean drawers
    • Dust and wipe down appliances
    • Clean interior of appliances, especially the fridge. Oven cleaning can be difficult and use toxic chemicals; plan for this to be its own project
    • Wipe counters and space behind sink
    • Clean sinks and plumbing fixtures carefully
  • Laundry Room
    • Clean exterior of washer and dryer. Remember that sometimes lint and water can escape your appliances, so check behind and beside them and be ready for a mess
    • Dust and clean cabinets and/or drawers
    • Clean sinks and plumbing fixtures
  • Entrance and/or porches
    • Dust for cobwebs, especially in corners
    • Wipe down doors and handles
    • Clean windows, wipe down screens
    • Wipe down stair rails
    • Remove and wash entrance rugs or welcome mats
    • Sweep everything, mop if tile
  • Garage
    • Dust for cobwebs, especially in corners
    • Dust shelving or equipment hooks
    • Wipe down door to house, spot clean garage door
    • Clean windows in garage door, if any
    • Sweep and put down cleaners for any stains