After the long, arduous process of packing up everything you own and driving a moving truck to your new house, the last thing you want is another task. However, there are benefits to cleaning a house before moving in. A move-in cleaning clears your home of hidden grime and pollutants that could affect your family’s health. And as Molly Maid points out, cleaning before you unload the moving truck ensures you can access every nook and cranny for a truly deep clean.
When it comes to move-in cleaning, some tasks are more important than others. Here are four jobs to prioritize when moving into a new-to-you house.
Change the Air Filter
It’s possible the prior owner changed the air filter recently, but you shouldn’t count on it. In a consumer survey, 25 percent of US adults admitted they don’t change their air filter on time, and 11 percent said they’ve never changed the air filter. Among the people who have changed their home’s air filter in the past two years, 89 percent found dust, 40 percent spotted pet hair and dander, and 18 percent saw insects — all signs of an air filter past its prime.
Putting off air filter changes doesn’t just lead to unpleasant discoveries. It also exacerbates asthma and allergy symptoms because dirty air filters can’t effectively filter pollutants out of the air. Change your filter upon moving in and schedule a recurring event in your calendar so you know when it’s due for replacement. If family members have asthma or allergies, you may want to add an air purifier to your clean air arsenal.
Dust High and Low
Look up. Are your ceiling fan blades, lighting fixtures, and crown molding bug- and dust-free? If not, it’s time to grab the step ladder and do some serious dusting. Neglecting this chore leaves nothing but dust, dander, and other household pollutants above your head, where they float down and affect indoor air quality. Microfiber cloths are the best tool for dusting, but if you run out of clean clothes, try Bed, Bath, & Beyond’s tip and use a sock or dryer sheet. Remember to start dusting high and move low as you work so you don’t knock dust onto freshly-cleaned surfaces.
Scrub In and Under Appliances
There’s a downside to keeping the prior owner’s appliances in a sale: You have to clean them. Pull out the refrigerator, oven, washer, and dryer to clean under and behind them. Then, wipe down the exterior, paying special attention to vents, where dust build-up can prevent proper ventilation, and controls and handles, where dirty hands leave bacteria and grime.
In addition to cleaning on and around appliances, you also need to clean inside them. Scrub the range hood filter, wipe down the inside of your refrigerator, and run a load of bleach and hot water to sanitize the washing machine. The oven and dryer are the toughest jobs: Cooking Light explains how to clean your oven, and you can learn how to clean a dryer here.
Reduced odors and a tidy appearance are great reasons to clean appliances before moving in, but they’re not the only ones. Dirty and malfunctioning appliances also contribute to indoor air pollution and create fire hazards that affect your family’s health and safety.
Clean the Carpets
Carpeting traps dust mites, pet dander, and smoke, among other household pollutants. Even if your purchase agreement stated the seller was to clean the carpets before move-out, it’s worth cleaning them now for peace of mind. Hire professionals to complete this job, and request non-toxic cleaners if anyone in your family has a respiratory health condition. If there are severe allergy issues in the family, consider switching to hardwood in your next remodel.
Not everyone has the option of buying a brand-new home. When moving into a previously occupied home, there’s no way to be 100 percent certain what the previous owner did or didn’t clean. By completing these four projects before move-in, you’ll be confident that your new home is a clean and healthy environment for your family.
Suzie Wilson is an interior designer with more than 20 years experience. What started as a hobby (and often, a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. While her goal always includes making homes look beautiful, her true focus is on fashioning them into serene, stress-free environments that inspire tranquility in all who enter. The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House is filled with tips, tricks and other advice based on Suzie’s years of experience in interior home design that will set you up for success.