Moving house is a hassle – there’s no denying that one. There’s not just the hassle of packing everything up into boxes (and getting them out again at the other end and trying to find new homes for them) and the problem of finding new shops in the neighbourhood, new schools, new gyms, etc. There’s also the problem of tidying your old place up, either to keep the landlord happy or to make it more likely that the old place will sell more quickly.
Cleaning is Very Important
Things get worse if the place you’re moving into hasn’t been adequately cleaned. Then you to clean at both ends. Don’t believe that this doesn’t ever happen because it’s happened to me about three times in the past 20 or so years. It usually happens, in my opinion, if you’re moving into a house that belongs (or belonged) to a relative, who will be a bit less fussy about cleaning before you move in “because you’re family”. It also happened when we bought a lovely little cottage that was being sold as an estate sale, and all the relatives lived out of town and just wanted it sold ASAP and hadn’t bothered cleaning up after taking out the furniture.
The good news is that you can make this arduous task (the moving out cleaning or the moving in cleaning or both) a bit easier. Don your rubber gloves, grab your buckets, rags and mops, and let’s get started.
Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can clean the drawers or cupboards as you empty them and pack the contents. This might seem logical, but it ends up being relatively inefficient. Consider packing and cleaning as separate tasks. It’s easier to do the cleaning in one big hit than lots of minor hits.
Don’t pack your cleaning gear, as you’re going to need it. If you’ve got a team of friends and relatives helping you with the packing, moving and cleaning, then don’t pack the kettle – it’s nice to make sure that everyone can get a refreshing cuppa.
Work Top To Bottom
Any professional cleaner will tell you that if you need to deep clean a whole room, it’s best to start at the bottom and work your way down rather than the other way around (or, in my experience, separating tasks into wet and dry tasks). The laws of gravity still apply, even if you feel that everything else in your life is in chaos and nothing is normal. This means that dirt dislodged from high places (e.g. ceiling fans) will fall onto lower things, and you don’t want to have to clean something twice.
Get Rid Of Grumpy Kids
It would be nice to be able to draw a line by age when it comes to which of your offspring will be helpful and which are going to be stubborn, sulky nuisances, but you can’t really. Sometimes, five-year-olds are super-excited about moving to the new house and love having the cheerful chaos of the fun uncles giving them rides on the furniture moving trolley. They can be handed a vacuum cleaner or a duster and set to cleaning skirting boards easily enough. However, some younger children will dissolve into tears and throw tantrums because moving house and having everything familiar vanish does feel like the end of the world.
On the other hand, you can have teenagers who are upset about having to move schools and leave their friends who will stubbornly refuse to help, possibly in the half-hearted hope that if moving is too hard for you, you’ll give up and won’t do it (slight chance of that when you’re moving from a rental to your property!). You can also get enthusiastic teenagers who are happy about the move who will pitch in and do an entire adult’s job.
Get rid of the grumpy nuisances one way or another. They will frazzle your nerves and slow you down dramatically. OK, small children who are enthusiastic and happy will slow you down, but their enthusiasm is contagious. Ask an auntie or grandma to take younger grumps out to the movies, the park, or something else that they’ll enjoy to get out of your hair. In the case of teenagers and pre-teens, who are more open to reason, try bribery and offer to pay them for doing some cleaning work. Yes, this is annoying, as it’s their mess as much as yours, but it does get the job done.
Have A Checklist
It can be mortifying if the landlord sends you a photo of the bathroom drawers that still had old hairs in them because you thought you’d cleaned it, but you hadn’t (not that this has ever happened to me or anything like that…). The best way to ensure that everything gets cleaned and nothing gets overlooked, or that nobody wastes time by cleaning something that has already been cleaned, is to use a checklist of all the places in the house that need that bit of last-minute cleaning. This doesn’t have to be fancy. The back of an old envelope will do, although I prefer using a whiteboard or chalkboard listing the tasks and areas, especially if the relatives help with the move. All the professionals use checklists.
Check What’s Expected
In the case of moving out of a rental property, there may be things that you don’t have to clean to keep the landlord happy. For example, you might not have to wash the exterior windows or trim the garden hedges. Have a wee look at the fine print on your rental contract to see what you do and don’t need to do, and keep this in mind when you create your checklist (see above). You could also talk to your landlord about what they are planning. For example, if they hope to redecorate, you may not need to be quite so fussy about removing all the scuff marks from the walls.
If moving out of a property you own and a real estate agent is involved, talk to your real estate agent about what they recommend. Adjust your to-do list accordingly. There’s no need to clean something you don’t have to unless you want to and feel like it (and have the time to do it).
Bribe, wheedle or bully as many friends as possible to help you with the job. Some of them will be volunteering anyway. Accept all offers of help that are going, even if it’s just the offer of a van and a trailer to help you shift gear from A to B or a babysitter for the day.
If you get friends and relatives helping, keep them well-fed as a way of saying thank you. This is why you don’t pack the kettle. It can be nice to have a decent cake or similar on hand for morning tea breaks in the middle of the process. Treat the helpers to pizza or fish and chips or the reasonably takeaway of your choice afterwards.
Hire A Professional!
The best way to take care of all the hard work and get the lot off your shoulders is to hire a professional end of tenancy cleaning company. They aren’t working under stress, although they’re usually pretty good at meeting deadlines. They also don’t have the emotional attachment to the old house (or what’s in it) that you do, so they won’t get all sniffly about discovering a forgotten and outgrown baby shoe at the back of the wardrobe. You can just pack up, get out and leave the professionals to do it all.