Cleaning up

It never fails. After packing up everything you own and getting it out of your home, you have to face one more task: cleaning. Whether you’re moving from a rental and want that security deposit, or you’re moving out of a house and don’t want a delayed closing, you’re going to have to make sure your former residence is nice and clean.

The way to make this easier on yourself is simple. Clean as you move! Breaking this major task into many small tasks will give you the time and energy to do everything you need to do, and do it well.

Go One Room At a Time

This is good advice for packing in general, but you should tackle one room at a time. If you know your move-out date, schedule time over several days until then to pack everything and clean up. For example, tackle a difficult cleaning first, like the spare bathroom. Once everything’s out of the room, spray down the counters with all-purpose cleaner and use stronger cleaners on the toilet and tub. Give it 10 to 15 minutes to soak in while you sweep the floors, then come back and wipe everything down. You can one of those disposable-wipe mops as well. Even if it’s not a deep clean, it’s a good start.

Other rooms can be even easier. Check the walls for nails, staples, or stains as soon as the furniture’s out of the way. Throw deodorizer on the carpet and give it a quick vacuum. The idea is to get the basic stuff out of the way now. Next time you’ve got to look at your to-do list, it’s significantly shorter.

Get Rid of Stuff As You Pack

Always look to condense your belongings. A great rule of thumb is to think about whether you’ve used or even looked for a given item in the past year. Your old sweater might be comfortable, but did you pull it out of the drawer last winter? Are those papers stacked on your desk really important, or can they be shredded and tossed? Besides making it so you have less to pack and move, this gets more things out of the way while you’re cleaning. It can also be a nice moment of satisfaction to cut down on the unnecessary items.

Wipe Things Down As You Go

Even if you can’t easily go room-by-room (maybe you have roommates or there’s not much time), you can still keep a bottle of all-purpose cleaner and some wipes or sponges nearby. When everything on a shelf or in a drawer is packed up, wipe it down right away. You have a few idle moments? Hit hard floors with a Swiffer or run a vacuum over a patch of carpet. You’ll find this will lead to the place feeling clean once everything’s out of the house and you need to give it a thorough going-over.

If you can go room-by-room, it’s a good idea to occasionally check on the rooms you’ve finished and see if there’s something you’ve missed. Maybe you forgot to wipe the baseboards, or dust the ceiling fan.

Clean Twice

This sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. Leave the intense cleaning chores until everything’s nearly done. Because it’s so laborious to clean the oven, schedule that for one of the last days. Since you’ve been wiping down the rest of the kitchen, you can look for hard-to-spot stains and get them out of the way while you’re waiting for the oven cleanser to set in. Mopping or serious vacuuming (or steam cleaning the carpet) is easier if you’ve gone over these areas earlier. This “second cleaning” will focus on the real problems, because you’ve already handled the light stuff.

Also, consider what you missed the first time. Did you know that most stovetops can be lifted to clean under the cover? Is it possible to reach the light fixtures and dust them? If you’ve gone through at least once, you have an idea what you still need to do.