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The Only New-Home Cleaning Guide You’ll Ever Need


Moving can be an exciting adventure.

However, your home, apartment, condo, or dorm is bound to have an “add-on” you’ll want to address right away: lingering dirt. Never fear, though. This guide will help you kick out the grime so you can relax in comfortable, clean surroundings.

I went through this same experience not long ago. My husband and I bought a house and moved during winter. It was snowy, icy, and cold. In other words, the conditions were perfect for tracking in a big mess from outside. Furthermore, we didn’t hire movers, so we didn’t have the advantage of their tarps and floor coverings.

Nevertheless, we industriously brought everything indoors — only to realize that we had some major cleaning efforts ahead of us. It was overwhelming enough to realize that we had so much to do, everything from shoveling the exterior stairs to stocking the fridge. But when we started investigating all the nooks and crannies, we realized that we hadn’t thought about all the debris, dust, and built-up gunk the former residents left behind.

This isn’t to blame them. Moving is stressful, and most people don’t give their places a deep clean before they leave. They just do their best to pack up their boxes, grab all their treasures and clutter, and go. Accordingly, you’re left with the duty of restoring the new space to a livable, clean condition. Following a cleaning checklist can help ease some of the worries that come with the task.


A Checklist to Clean Your Anxiety Away

Creating a list not only helps you organize your time and efforts, but also ensures you don’t overlook something. As you’ll see below, I’ve shared my personal list with you. Yours might be different after undergoing a brain dump, though. Believe me when I say that your anxiety about scrubbing your new abode from top to bottom will seem less intimidating when you lay out an achievable roadmap to get it all done.

Ready to get started? Great! I’ve laid out this list by item or area. I’ve included some suggested cleaning products as well. That way, you can stock up on all the equipment, solutions, and tools you need to make your next home sparkle!

1. Shower Heads

Even if you paid for an inspector to check out your new place, you can’t be sure your shower heads will work correctly until you turn them on. Frequently, you’ll discover that your water pressure is weak or the shower head has a really strange spray pattern. As long as your faucet and fixtures aren’t terribly old, the problem is probably buildup on or in the shower head.

Before assuming you need to hire a plumber to help you install a replacement, try some CLR® Calcium, Lime, & Rust Remover. (Check the website to make sure it can be used on your specific shower head.) You can either take the shower head off and soak it in the solution or put some of the solution in a freezer bag and tie that over the shower head. Either way, plan to let the shower head soak for several minutes. (Some people like to wait longer. Experiment to see what works for you.) While you’re waiting, spray down your glass shower enclosure with CLR® Brilliant Bath and wipe it off with a soft rag to banish water spots.

After removing the shower head from the solution or the solution bag from the shower head, grab an old toothbrush. Gently scrub along the face of the shower head to loosen the tough, caked-on buildup. Rinse off the shower head and test it out. You should see an immediate difference.

Bonus: If you do this on the day of your move, you can look forward to the nicest hot shower in the world!

2. Bathroom, Kitchen, and Laundry Room Drains

As someone who moved not long ago, I can attest that no one assumes their drains won’t work. Quite the opposite. You expect your drains to function normally. When they don’t, you end up in a panic as you either watch some water slowly gurgle away or, worse yet, taunt you with filthy standing water.

Take a deep breath and try not to get too shocked by what you’re seeing. Drains get clogged with gunk over time. It’s inevitable. It’s also fixable. CLR® Clog-Free Drain is a pressurized drain opener that works on all sorts of clogs. It’s easy to use and instantly unclogs drains. I’ve used it again and again.

Once your drains are running freely, you can use CLR® Clear Pipes & Drains to avoid future problems. This product is meant to be used monthly. You just pour it down your drain and let it dissolve all those sources of clogs like residual oil, soap scum, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, shaving cream, kitchen waste — you name it. That way, you’ll be less likely to ever have to deal with stopped-up drains again.

3. Kitchen Appliances

Obviously, you’re going to spend a lot of time cleaning your kitchen. But unless you’re replacing all the appliances in your house or apartment, you likely aren’t planning to move them out of the way. I’m here to tell you that you should. You’d be amazed at how much grease and food particles (and who knows what else) can be caked under and behind an oven or refrigerator. It’s kind of shocking, honestly.

This is where CLR® Grease-Free can become your best friend. Just spray it liberally on the sides of your oven, your floor, and all those hidden, neglected surfaces that are just screaming to be treated. You might as well spray the inside of your oven, stovetop, and hood vent filter while you’re at it.

I’m going to be honest here: This project isn’t a “15-minute and done” one. It takes time to scrub each surface with a sponge, rinse it down, and polish it to a shine. However, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the nooks behind your appliances won’t attract bugs and vermin or become the latest grimy science experiment.

Helpful hint: Some floors require you to use special cleaners. (Looking at you, wood floors!) Check the CLR website to make sure Grease-Free can be used on your specific flooring.

4. Cabinets, Shelves, Bathroom Vanities, and Pantry Spaces

Our kitchen doesn’t have a vent hood. No big deal, right? Wrong. Without a hood, airborne grease has no place to go. So, it clings to cabinet doors, hardware, the refrigerator door, the dishwasher handle, the light fixture ... you get the picture. Worse yet, the grease then attracts dust, making a nice filth sandwich.

To rid yourself of this type of grime, try Grease-Free and CLR® Everyday Clean. (Be sure to spot-check all surfaces in inconspicuous places first, just in case.) Spray it on, wait a few minutes, and then scrub with a sponge. Rinse everything one last time with a different sponge and wipe.

Every few days, apply Everyday Clean on those same exposed surfaces. You’ll see a big difference and avoid having to do a significant dirt-oil attack again.

5. Refrigerator

Restocking the fridge is a must-do after a move. However, before figuring out where to put your provisions, give some attention to your fridge inside and out. The last thing you want is for all your food to mingle with germs and mold.

Take a close look at your refrigerator. Pay attention to the doors, the rollers, the gaskets, and other spots. Are they clean? Or do they have lingering crumbs, stains, and maybe even some crusted-over mold? Chances are good that they don’t look (or smell) their best. As a result, do everyone in your household a favor by applying CLR® Active Clear to the insides of your fridge.

Active Clear is a daily cleaner that harnesses the natural cleaning power of probiotics. Its bio-based ingredients offer a greener way to fight dirt, buildup, and odors. Routine use of Active Clear helps remove any chance of sticky messes becoming major problems in your fridge. You can use it or Everyday Clean on the outside of most fridges, too. And if you want that polished showroom appearance, you’ll want to finish off with CLR® Spot-Free Stainless Steel.

You might encounter mold or mildew growth in your fridge. Don’t panic. Grab CLR® Mold & Mildew Clear. This product is designed to remove not only surface mold and mildew, but also related stains. I think my food stays fresher and better tasting because I concentrate on keeping the fridge spotless and mold-free. I also vacuum the fridge coils to collect any dust and pet hair that’s accumulated. You’d be amazed at how this simple task can affect the efficiency of your fridge and possibly lower your energy bill, too.

6. Doors, Handles, and Other High-Touch Surfaces

After living through the pandemic, you’re probably more aware of the importance of cleaning high-touch surfaces. Yet, most of us can get lax about removing the grime lurking on door handles, appliance knobs, and other surfaces in our homes.

When you move into a new place, you’re inheriting all the dirty surface residue from the other people who lived in and visited the residence. Never assume that the former owners of your cool new pad thought about using Active Clear on their doors. Maybe they did — and maybe they didn’t. So, get out your bottle, spray it on, scrub away the dirt, and dry with a towel or rag.

Remember: The tiny but mighty probiotics in Active Clear are powerhouse cleaners that use enzymes to break down dirt and grime for up to three days!

7. Dishwasher

Did you clean the outside of your dishwasher along with those other appliances? Awesome. Now, it’s time to move on to the inside. This is somewhat ironic because the whole point of the dishwasher is to clean dishes, utensils, pots, glasses, and other dishwasher-safe items. Unfortunately, the dishwasher itself can get pretty gloomy and stinky.

Take a multistep approach to clean this important machine. First, remove the filter. It likely contains food particles and other gunk. You can’t clean anything if you have old food particles and other debris floating around your dishwasher. If necessary, use Active Clear to clean the filter.

Next, inspect the dishwasher for mold or moldy smells. You can spray Mold & Mildew Clear if you find a few hotspots. Then remove hard water buildup by pouring Calcium, Lime, & Rust Remover into the base of your dishwasher. Run it through a regular cycle without anything inside. Finally, refill your Rinse Aid. And voila! You have a wonderful dishwasher that will get the job done and not leave streaks.

8. Carpets

It’s not always feasible for you to pay for replacement carpets. Plus, if you’re a renter or college student living in a residential dorm or apartment, you might not be able to legally rip up an old carpet and put down a new one. Nonetheless, you’re not forced to live with stains from pets, guests, or everyday spills and thrills.

CLR® Stain-Free Carpet, Floor and Fabric Cleaner is a much more affordable way to freshen your carpets than paying for new flooring. Saturate stains well, allowing the solution to penetrate the full stain surface. Afterward, blot well. Stain-Free Carpet, Floor and Fabric Cleaner is meant to handle tough stains from sources like wine, blood, mud, and urine. If you notice a lingering odor even after the stain is fully or mostly removed, use CLR® Sports Stain Remover. Though the product was designed for sports apparel, it works on most carpets.

9. Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals collect a lot of gross stuff. Why wait until yours has a bad smell and becomes a breeding area for drain flies? A product like CLR® Fresh & Clean Garbage Disposal is engineered to clean all parts of the garbage disposal and leave behind a lovely scent.

Disposal best practice tip: You might think hacks like tossing lemon or ice in your garbage disposal will get it clean. These can work, but they can damage your disposal blades. CLR Fresh & Clean Garbage Disposal is a better, safer resource.

Before you throw on some music and start scrubbing, I have just a couple more notes and tips to give:

  • Gather all your supplies before you get started so nothing will interrupt your flow.
  • Assign different cleaning tasks to your family members or housemates to make the process more efficient.
  • Tackle what you can do each day rather than trying to do everything at once.
  • Set up a regular cleaning schedule after your moving “deep clean” to keep everything spotless, sparkling, and germ-free.

Happy cleaning!