You probably already know where this is going, but we're going to take a detour first.
The previous tenant also apparently had a fruit fly problem. Not having proper refuse disposal or cleaning supplies, Mr. Moon being here for a week before these systems were in place only made the fruit fly issue worse. IT WAS BAD. There are no pictures. Just me freaking out for weeks. We ended up putting out bowls of vinegar with a drop of soap, and after a few days of less-than-entirely-proper cleaning and refreshing the vinegar, the fruit flies seem to have died off. Thank goodness.
We did scrub the cabinets in the kitchen. The area around the handles was nasty, and the shelves were dusty and dirty. We also wiped out the fridge, though that had pretty clearly been cleaned with bleach. The landlord said they may have missed a couple smaller things since they thought the former tenant had been smoking inside, so they spent a lot of time scrubbing walls. They patched a lot of tiny holes, too, but didn't paint over them, so the walls have these kinda white polka dots on cream. Highly entertaining. The lighting in here is just so bad that you can't really tell. Please don't take that as me complaining; we love our cave.
Without further ado, things I wish I had done before we moved our stuff in:
- Walls: Ok, they did that, but they'd missed some spots. Like the wall area above the shower, which is now dripping cigarette tar from the top windowsill. And the door frames. So maybe let's count that under
- Trim: Lots of dusty baseboards, which were the only proof that the walls had been scrubbed; you could see sprays of cleaner in some spots.
- Fridge: They did that, we did a cursory wipe down, but it's worth putting in the list. And on that note a quick reminder about
- Cabinets/shelving: We did great on the kitchen ones, the hall closet and bathroom ones somewhat less so.
- Dishwasher/drains: We didn't have one, but I wish we had done a nice drain volcano in the sink, maybe it would have helped with the fruit flies.
- Windowsills: For a landlord that was so super obsessed with how mold grows in windowsills, they didn't do a great job of cleaning them.
- Floors: They had the carpets shampooed, but the wood laminate flooring had a lot of footprints and dust on them still, even a couple small shards of glass. It would have been nice to have had a broom and mop available to take care of that straight away rather than tracking it all over the carpet.
- Light switches: I can't believe these haven't been done yet. I'm turning a blind eye to them but only for so much longer. They're GROSS! Like, obviously the plates were wiped down with the walls, but the switches themselves need some attention with a q-tip and some rubbing alcohol.
- Windows: I really don't know how these always get skipped in the tenant turnover process.
- BATHROOM! We wiped the toilet seat and the counter down. Trusted the landlord that the brown stuff in the shower was staining. Sprayed down the tub and shower walls with vinegar and let it go. LESSON LEARNED! SCRUB THAT TUB! When you want a bath at the end of a long day moving or unpacking boxes, the last thing you should need to be worried about is whether you are bathing in someone else's filth. You don't need a bunch of bleach or stinky cleaners, just a bottle of baking soda, some soap, vinegar, and a scrubby. Let me illustrate:
Y'all...... that wasn't staining. That was soap and body scum. And I took a bath in a tub that had that in it. It took Mr. Moon a combined two hours of scrubbing (including the cleanup fro the scrubbing) to do the entire tub and shower enclosure. GROSS. But when it was done, oh, the difference is a sparkling, glorious shower.
So my advice: The day you pick up your keys, head on over with a bucket of cleaning supplies and spend a day going to town. Trust no one*. Assume the last tenant (or owner!) was a slob who never picked up a cleaning cloth in their life, and that the landlord is too incompetent to have cleaned the place properly. A good half a day to a full day of work, depending on the size of the place, and you are starting from a good base point to keep the place clean from there forward. Also, much easier to do before you move any of your stuff in!
* Okay, if you have the receipt from a cleaning company and can confirm when they were there, what as was cleaned and with what products, you can probably safely skip those things if you're comfortable with the products. I still think a good wipe-down wouldn't hurt, just to get any dust that has settled since being kicked up in the cleaning process.
Also, we've had some "eco cleaners" come into our old apartment and they had been used in the parental units' house and I bet in this apartment too. The cleaner the eco-friendly companies use a) only gets the top 1/4 inch of the carpet, attracts dirt like a magnet, and has to be gone over with a cleaner like peroxide or vinegar that can safely rinse out and break down their organic compounds. We've been here a month and the carpet looks horrid, but shampooing and steam cleaning are specifically prohibited in our lease. If I were purchasing a home, the first thing I'd be doing is ripping out the carpet and laying either hardwood or laminate flooring, for a whole lot of reasons. But failing that, a good "shampooing" with hot water and peroxide or vinegar will do wonders.
That being said, don't forget to leave yourself a day to clean up behind you in the old place. A little putty and sanding action for holes in the walls, dusting and vacuuming at the very least, and wipe down the handprints from the walls. Be considerate to the people coming in behind you, ESPECIALLY if you've leaving behind roommates. We made sure to put a shower head in the bathroom when we took ours (though we had to do it when we returned the next week because the old one was missing and we needed to find it), and even knowing that we would probably be the next ones sleeping there in the now-guest room I made sure to make the bed with clean sheets and blankets. (That ended up being a good thing because we arrived at almost 3am when we went back down.) I had one of my helpers vacuum the bedroom, hallway and dining room which had dirt and dust and box shedding pieces traipsed through it for a week. This also illustrated to me how important it is to move furniture regularly to dust/vacuum behind and under it. Speaking of dusty baseboards.
We're making progress on the unpacking process, though nowhere hear as quickly as I had anticipated. We've lowered our expectations from 20 boxes a day to 5, and 10 on days Mr. Moon has off work. We've stopped putting off the daily cleaning habits "until we're done unpacking," because the process is taking so long and the bad habits were making the place unlivable in other ways! I'm pleased to say we have the daily checklists updated for our new space and hung on the walls, in hopes they will help keep us on task. Focusing on just keeping the dishes caught up makes a HUGE difference.