Moving into a new home or moving out of your current one can be an exciting yet stressful time. You want your new place to feel fresh and clean or your old place to be spotless for the next residents. A thorough move in/move out cleaning is key to making sure your home is ready for its next chapter. Follow this guide to learn how to get your home sparkling from top to bottom.

Assess What Needs Cleaning

The first step is walking through your entire home and making a list of what needs to be cleaned.

Check Every Room

Go through every single room and look for areas that need attention. Examine walls, floors, windows, cabinets, appliances, fixtures, and furniture. Make notes on what needs to be wiped down, scrubbed, dusted, or disinfected.

Examine High Traffic Areas

Pay special attention to high traffic areas that see a lot of dirt and wear like entryways, hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms. Don’t forget often overlooked spots like baseboards, door frames, ceiling fans, and light fixtures.

Look Inside Cabinets and Drawers

Open up cabinets, drawers, closets, pantries, and storage areas. See if the inner surfaces need cleaning and if there are any dust bunnies or crumbs lurking inside.

Check the Exterior Too

Head outside and scrutinize areas like porches, patios, decks, windows, siding, and outdoor furniture. Make note of any exterior cleaning that needs to be done before the move.

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Once your cleaning list is made, gather all the necessary supplies to tackle the job. Having what you need on hand will make the process go faster and smoother.

Cleaning Solutions

Stock up on cleaning products like all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, scrubbing spray, and disinfectant. You’ll need an arsenal of solutions for all the different cleaning tasks.

Cleaning Tools

Assemble your cleaning tools like mops, brooms, vacuums, dusters, sponges, rags, buckets, and scrub brushes. Having the right tools makes cleaning easier.

Protective Gear

Get rubber gloves, face masks, and other protective gear to keep yourself safe while using harsh chemicals. Proper protection is a must during heavy duty cleaning.

Waste Receptacles

Have plenty of garbage bags, recycling bins, and waste baskets on hand. You’ll produce lots of waste so be prepared to discard things properly.

Clean from Top to Bottom

With your list in hand and supplies gathered, it’s time to dive into cleaning. Go systematically from top to bottom to make sure every last inch gets addressed.

Clean Light Fixtures

Start at the top with ceilings and light fixtures. Use a duster or vacuum extension to remove any dust and cobwebs clinging to lights and ceiling fans.

Dust Walls and Blinds

Work your way down by dusting walls, wiping down switch plates, and cleaning blinds and drapes. Use a microfiber cloth and all-purpose cleaner.

Scrub the Kitchen

The kitchen is often the dirtiest room so do a deep clean of the appliances, sink, cabinets, floors, and countertops using degreasers, disinfectant and elbow grease.

Clean the Bathrooms

Bathrooms also need heavy duty cleaning. Sanitize and disinfect toilets, showers, sinks, mirrors, floors, and storage areas until they shine.

Mop and Vacuum Floors

Carpets, rugs, tile, laminate, and wood floors all need to be thoroughly vacuumed, mopped, or steam cleaned from corner to corner. Don’t forget edges and baseboards.

Dust and Disinfect Furniture

Wipe down furniture inside and out. Lift and clean under cushions and seats too. Use a disinfectant to kill germs and odors on upholstered pieces.

Clean Windows and Doors

Make sure windows, screens, doors, and sliding door tracks all get cleaned until streak-free and spotless. Pay attention to inner and outer surfaces.

Freshen Outdoor Areas

Sweep porches and decks, hose down patios, and wipe down outdoor furniture. Make your outdoor areas welcoming.

Examine Closely for Stains

Inspect for any lingering stains on surfaces or fabrics that need extra attention. Use stain removers and scrubbing to erase tough marks.

Take Out the Trash

As you clean, take the trash and recycling out frequently so it doesn’t pile up. Discard unneeded items and clutter while you’re at it.

Check It Off

Refer back to your checklist as you go to make sure every area on your list gets adequately cleaned. Check tasks off one by one until the list is complete.

Focus on Key Areas

Certain areas deserve special focus because of heavy use or their role in first impressions. Go the extra mile to make these spaces really shine.


Entryways set the tone when entering a home. Sweep and mop floors, dust surfaces, remove cobwebs, and clean windows and doors inside and out.

Living Spaces

Where you relax and entertain should look spotless. Clean sofas, chairs, rugs, floors, décor, and electronics until guest ready.


The kitchen takes a beating so make this room sparkle. Clean inside cabinets, drawers and pantries, sterilize sinks, counters and appliances until germ-free.


Bathrooms harbor lots of germs. Disinfect toilets, sinks, showers, mirrors, floors and storage areas until bacteria-free. Replace shower curtains.


Take time to clean bedrooms thoroughly including windows, walls, closets, and under bed areas which often get overlooked.

Laundry Room

Laundry rooms attract dust and lint. Clean machines, floors, cabinets and ensure vents are free of debris to keep air flowing.


Don’t neglect the garage during cleaning. Sweep and mop floors, wipe down storage shelves, clean windows and organize clutter.

Handle Special Cleaning Projects

Some cleaning tasks take a bit more effort and a targeted approach. Be prepared to tackle these special projects:

Clean Ovens and Fridges

Ovens and fridges get grimy. You’ll need grease-cutting sprays and scrub brushes to scour away baked-on food and spills in these appliances.

Descale Fixtures

Shower heads, faucets and sinks often have limescale buildup. Use white vinegar or descaling solutions to remove stubborn mineral deposits.

Clean Windows

Windows may have dirty streaks and dust. Use proper window cleaning tools and solutions to make the glass gleam inside and out.

Clean Out Closets

Closets easily become disorganized clutter zones. Take everything out and clean shelves before organizing and returning only what you need.

Clean Out the Garage

Like closets, garages attract lots of clutter over time. Completely empty, sweep and mop the floor, then organize and return only essentials.

Deep Clean Carpets

Carpets trap dirt, dust, hair and allergens. Rent a steam cleaner or hire a pro to deep clean carpets until fresh.

Clean Behind Appliances

Don’t forget the areas behind and under the refrigerator, stove, washer and dryer. Vacuum away dust bunnies and debris from these often neglected spots.

Freshen Air Ducts

Air ducts can gather dust, pet hair and allergens. Use a vent brush to clean vents so air flows fresh and free.

Make a Sparkling Impression

Putting in the elbow grease for a thorough whole home clean prior to moving in or out ensures your home looks its absolute best. Follow these tips and steps to get every nook and cranny shining. The sparkling clean results are sure to make a great impression, whether you’re moving on to new homeowners or settling into a new abode yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions About Move In/Move Out Cleaning

1. Should I clean before moving out or after?

It’s best to clean both before and after moving out. Do a thorough clean before moving your belongings so the empty spaces can be cleaned easily. Then do a second clean after you’ve removed all items to get areas like shelves and corners sparkling.

2. What supplies do I need?

Having all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, disinfectant wipes, a vacuum, mop and broom, rags, scrub brushes, gloves, and plenty of waste bags on hand will allow you to tackle all cleaning tasks.

3. How do I clean carpets?

To deep clean carpets, rent a steam cleaning machine or hire professional carpet cleaners. This will remove embedded dirt, odors, and allergens that regular vacuuming leaves behind.

4. How should I clean walls and ceilings?

Use a microfiber cloth or duster on an extension pole to remove dust, cobwebs, and surface debris from walls and ceilings. For scuffs, gently clean with mild soap and water.

5. How do I clean windows?

Use a specific window cleaning solution or mix equal parts white vinegar and water. Wipe with newspaper or a microfiber cloth. Squeegee the panes for a streak-free finish.

6. What’s the best way to clean the kitchen?

Disinfect countertops, cabinets, appliances, sinks, and floors. Use degreaser to clean ovens and stove tops and descaling solution for lime buildup on fixtures. Don’t forget inside cabinets and appliances.

7. How should I prepare the yard and outdoor areas?

Clean porches, sidewalks, patios, and decks. Sweep away debris, remove weeds, and wipe down outdoor furniture and grill. Neatly organize garden tools, hoses, and recreational equipment.

8. What should I do with leftover cleaning supplies?

If usable, cleaning supplies can be donated to local charities and community centers. Be sure to thoroughly label opened products. Unusable or expired items should be disposed of properly based on product instructions.

9. Is it better to declutter before cleaning?

Yes, decluttering before cleaning makes the process faster and more efficient. Eliminate clutter and only keep essential items. Organize and store these properly after cleaning so spaces remain clutter-free.

10. How can I save money on move out cleaning?

Supply costs can be reduced by using homemade cleaning solutions like vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. You can also save on labor costs by recruiting help from family and friends in exchange for pizza and drinks.

Final Thoughts on Move In/Move Out Cleaning

Thoroughly cleaning your home before moving in or out takes time and diligence but is well worth the effort. Follow this comprehensive guide to ensure you cover all areas and create a sparkling space ready for its next chapter, whether you’re moving on or welcoming new homeowners. Don’t cut corners or leave anything unfinished that might cost you your security deposit. With attention to detail and these helpful tips, you can get every last nook and cranny looking pristine.