cleaning an empty home

People often make the mistake of thinking that when a house is emptied of all its “stuff”, then cleaning it will be a snap.

Cleaning an Empty Home

Downsizing and moving from a longtime home can be a long slog.  Months are spent sorting, hauling and moving all of the contents of the home until… at last!  It is completely empty and you are ready to turn the keys over to someone else.  But, did you make a plan to clean it before you leave? 

Even those who keep a spotless house will find that when furniture is removed, drawers are emptied and shelves are cleared, the job is much bigger than they thought. 

In our downsizing business, the deep cleaning step of preparing a house for market is often one of the biggest last-minute stressors we see. The simple fact is that cleaning your empty house may be more work than you realized.  

In real estate, it is recommended that any property that is offered for sale should be “Q-tip Clean”.  Let’s think about that for a minute: every inch of every surface in every room should be clean enough that if you swipe a Q-tip across it, it will come up clean.  Are you picturing it?  Now, let’s all agree that this is not something you are going to try to accomplish on your own, especially when you are already exhausted from the move.

Professional cleaning companies are very familiar with frantic last-minute calls from people who were planning to do their own move out cleaning only to discover at the 11th hour that it is an overwhelming job.  That’s why we recommend that the final cleaning of your home is a step that is built-in to your overall downsizing plan.  

Move-out cleanings are  an extensive top to bottom cleaning that will cost more than routine cleanings.   However, we feel a professional cleaning is more than worth it under typical circumstances.

Marnie Hammel, Owner of Two Maids and a Mop in the Washington DC area offers this helpful advice for those tasked with cleaning an empty home:

DO hire professionals.  The low rate for an unlicensed individual may seem great, but there’s a lot that can go wrong. The final cleaning is often performed on a tight deadline.  We have had many clients call us at the eleventh hour  to say their cleaning service cancelled or didn’t show up.  With an open house, a rental deposit or a settlement on the line, no one has time for that.  

DO choose a reputable and established cleaning company that is fully licensed, bonded and insured.  Make sure they do background checks and test their employees for COVID.  

Go over the expectations in advance of the cleaning day.  In addition to all of the floors, ceilings and walls, a thorough move-out move will include:

  • Baseboards and other trim
  • Cabinetry inside and out
  • Windows inside and out
  • Light switches and plates
  • Light fixtures dusted (ceiling fan blades too!)
  • Air vents should be vacuumed
  • All appliances should be deep cleaned and shined

No one loves moving, but it doesn’t have to be a completely terrible experience.  Taking the right amount of time and making the right choices can make all the difference.  Partner with reputable and experienced moving and cleaning companies and give yourself plenty of time to pack and plan for the move.  In the end you will be glad to have a professional cleaning your empty house.

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