Move-In Cleaning Routine (Moving Series Part 3)

In my over ten years of experience in running a cleaning business, I know exactly what buyers, agents, and tenants are looking for in a potential new home and also what they don’t want to see when they actually move into it. So, I am going to cover off exactly what to clean when you receive your new space—a perfect move-in cleaning routine.

Some Advice From Personal Experience

Just a quick note on timing – plan to do your cleaning after all renovations, installations, and paintwork have been completed. Ask your trades to tidy up after themselves.

  • The cleaning should take place just before the movers arrive
  • Keep in mind, you’re going to create a huge mess unpacking so you’ll need to do a cleaning afterward too. This is just a cleaning designed to prime the space for you to settle in (and feel comfortable enough showering, sitting on the toilet and eating in the kitchen).
  • Consider bringing in professionals to handle certain tasks such as steam cleaning carpets, duct cleaning, fireplace cleaning, etc. (all are highly recommended). There are some tasks which are better handled by a pro and should be factored into the cost of moving.

Before We Get Started…

We are going to work zone-by-zone for this so that we make sure we cover off all areas.

  • There will be certain tasks which should be done all over the home (see: Do this everywhere) and everything else will be specific for each room in the house
  • I am assuming we are starting in an empty space, so a ‘room’ would qualify as a bedroom, office, or dining room
  • Always work from the top to the bottom, and clockwise around a room to save yourself time and effort and to make sure you don’t miss any areas.
  • Have a step-ladder handy to get into those high-reaching places (and consider a high reaching long-handled duster).

Cleaning Tasks For Every Room

Front Hallway & General Open Spaces

  • Clean the front hall closet – shelves, exterior door/mirror and sliding door track
  • Wipe handles and spindles of staircases
  • Consider adding a deodorizer in the event that the house has a funny smell when walking in or walking through


  • Vacuum exhaust fan
  • Change out the shower curtain
  • Clean mirror and medicine cabinet
  • Wipe sink, faucets, vanity top and interior/exterior vanity cupboards and drawers (consider cleaning drain)
  • Clean and disinfect toilet and area surrounding toilet
  • Clean tub, tiles, glass doors, shower fixtures (consider cleaning drain)
  • Wipe towel bar and toilet paper holder

Laundry Area

  • Wipe exterior laundry appliances (including tops and sides, you’ll usually find dust mixed with laundry detergent)
  • Clean laundry sink
  • Clean interior laundry appliances (consider cleaning ductwork as well, for dryer – you never know how the previous homeowners left the house)

Rooms (bedrooms, offices, living, dining, den)

  • Clean interior closets (wipe shelves, corners, and baseboards)
  • Give fireplace mantle a good wipe and consider bringing in a professional to clean the fireplace (you never know the condition it has been left in)


  • Wipe the interior, exterior of cupboards and drawers including doors, shelves, hinges and underside (yes – surprise!).  Deodorize if necessary with baking soda or vinegar left in a small bowl for a few days
  • Clean the backsplash to remove any grease, stains or build up.  Be sure to treat it appropriately given the type of finish it is
  • Wipe the counters well, consider sealing counters if they are natural stone
  • Clean dishwasher
  • Clean stove (self-cleaning or non-self cleaning), the oven racks, and be sure to pull it out and clean the area behind the stove too
  • Clean the overhead exhaust and consider changing the filter out if it’s too grotty to rescue
  • Clean the fridge, be sure to pull it out and clean the coils as well as the drip pan underneath
  • Clean the sink and faucet well, consider cleaning the drain

Garage & Basement

I know it seems like a lot to do, but with focus and a plan of action you got this!  I’ve laid out a ton of resources for you to learn exactly what products, tools, and techniques you need to accomplish each task.  Remember to keep it fun and focussed; specifically focussed on cleaning the brand new space which you get to move into!  Start to visually plan out where you would like to put things and how you’d like to organize your space (my spices would fit perfectly on this shelf).  These cleanings tend to happen on a tight timeline, and since many of us tend to work better when we’re a little pressed for time, I have faith that you’ll be able to get this all completed. Good luck with your moving journey!

The Clean My Space Moving Series:

Part 1: Preparing for a Sale

Part 2: How To Tidy Up Before a Showing and Sell Faster!

Moving 3 title


AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases on

Looking for a BETTER & EASIER Way to Clean Your Home?

Cleaning Expert Melissa Maker is here to help with her game-changing 3 Wave Cleaning System that will help you clean your house faster and easier than you ever thought possible!

Learn More About The 3 Wave Cleaning System

Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. I am moving into a forclosed home that has been vacant for 9 months. Toilets are badly stained from standing water and minerals. Best and safest for plumbing to clean?? Was thinking CLR ???

  2. Excellent tips on a move-in cleaning. My closing and move were on such a tight schedule that I wasn’t able to clean before hand. And the place was filthy. We had to clean as we unpacked and it took much longer than it should have. *I* had my cleaning lady do a move-out cleaning on my old place but there wasn’t time to have her clean the new one. Well, at least I shouldn’t have to go through that again. When I leave my current condo, they’ll have to be cleaning me out, feet first.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here