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Moving House Etiquette

Katie Cullen
Written by Katie Cullen
29th March 2017

When it comes to moving house, it’s easy to forget that there is a ‘moving house etiquette’ that should be followed. This isn’t law... The etiquette police won’t throw you in jail or anything, it’s more of a moral obligation really… like a list of unwritten rules. We often pride ourselves on our manners and courtesy and most of us like to consider ourselves good people so why does that sometimes go out the window when vacating our homes for the new occupants? Here at Compare My Move, we have heard some real horror stories about the state people have found their new homes in. From grubby toilets to greasy kitchens…. So, what should you do when you are moving out?

You don’t need to roll out the red carpet for the new owners but surely, they deserve a toilet roll, a vacuumed floor and a clean oven? Let’s take a look at what’s expected of you when leaving your house, from deciding what to leave behind, who to tell, what’s the deal with wheelie bins and the ultimate question… To clean or not to clean. The unwritten rules are about to be written.

This article will cover the following points

Should I Clean before Moving House? General Cleaning Over the Top Pets Wheelie Bin Etiquette Moving House - Fixtures and Fittings What stays and what goes? Inventory Legal vs Moral Obligation What about the neighbours? Nice Touches

Should I Clean before Moving House?

Yes!.... Yes, you should clean before moving house. Moving Day should be a happy experience. It really, really sucks when someone gets into their new home and they have to clean it before they can move their things in. You wouldn’t like it. Unfortunately, not everyone does this so you might find that you’ll take the time to leave your house in a good condition but when you get to your new place, the former owners haven’t been so kind and it’s grubby and gross….. But, if that happens, you’ll just have to comfort yourself with the knowledge that the people in your old house aren’t left thinking of you in the same way you are now thinking of the old residents of your home.

General Cleaning

So, the short answer to the ‘to clean or not to clean’ question is simply yes, but let’s be real… You do not have time to scrub the place from top to bottom, in all corners and inside cupboards. The general consensus is to:

  • Clean the kitchen (the counter tops, appliances and the fridge)
  • Clean the oven
  • Vacuum or mop all the floors
  • Clean the sinks and baths
  • Quickly wipe down the other surfaces

Over the Top

Some people feel they need to do more than this but most think that this is a perfectly acceptable level of courtesy. There are people that clean everything… They will get into the kitchen cupboards and clean them, they will scrub down all the walls, pressure-wash the front door, clean the windows and so on and so forth. This is a little overzealous… If you’ve got the time and you want to do a good deed then go for it but remember that you already have a gargantuan workload on your hands with your packing and getting your new house in order so don’t over-do it.


As much as we love our pets, it’s fair to say that they add extra mess to our homes and those of us that have them often have to do a little extra cleaning than those without a dog or a cat. If you do have a furry companion, you should probably think about doing a little extra before you move out. If you have carpets, then a deep clean is advised. You can get the carpets professionally cleaned or hire/borrow a carpet cleaner and do it that way. It’s also important that you remember to pick up the poops in the garden before you leave… You don’t want the new guys having to do it. That would be pretty rubbish for them… and they’ll call you from your hole to your pole.

Wheelie Bin Etiquette

When it comes to the wheelie bins, you should not take them with you. You will have them at the new place and the odds are, the people moving into your house won’t be bringing theirs so they will be left in the lurch. As for rubbish… The general feeling is that ‘some’ rubbish left in the wheelie bin is acceptable… The normal level of rubbish to be expected during the garbage cycle for the area. That way, the new guys can just add to it as there should be enough space left in the bin to cover the rest of the cycle (until the next garbage collection). It isn’t nice to stuff the wheelie bins from all the decluttering you’ve done before the move… any excess rubbish should be taken to the tip or go in a skip if you have one.

Moving House - Fixtures and Fittings

Next, we need to think about what you should leave behind and what it’s OK to take. A good rule of thumb is if you need to use tools to remove it from the wall and it’s going to leave big gaping holes in the place then you should probably leave it... But let’s be more specific.

First thing’s first… What are we referring to when we say fittings or fixtures? Here are just a few of the basics:


  • Light fittings and switches
  • Boiler
  • Radiators
  • Plugs
  • Bathroom Suites
  • Kitchen Counters and Cupboards


  • Carpets
  • Curtain Rails and Curtain Poles
  • Lampshades
  • TV Ariels and Satellite Dishes

What stays and what goes?

Listen up, it is not cool to take things like the toilet roll holder, towel rack, doorbell, light fittings and plug sockets… that’s pretty harsh on the new guys. You are expected to leave things like this along with the carpets and curtain poles. You can take your curtains if they are going to fit in your new place. If they’re not going to fit, it’s best to ask the new occupants if they would like you to leave them. They may have their own curtains that they expect to fit.

If you have mirrors or pictures on the wall that have been screwed or nailed in, it is OK to take them but be a doll, fill the holes and paint over them. Generally, mirrors in the bathroom have been put there as part of the bathroom suite and tend to stay. It wouldn’t be nice for the new guys to tip up and find there’s no mirror. Oh, and about bathrooms… Leave them a shower curtain and a loo roll at the very least.

You’d be amazed at the things people take. Some people are tight! Why would they take the toilet seats? People have even been known to take the flowers, plants and trees from the garden! That’s so unfair!.... Don’t be that guy.


To avoid conflict, tears and resentful disappointment, a nifty option would be to draw up an inventory of items expected to be included in the property and attach to the sales contract. You can create a Fixtures and Fittings Inventory Agreement yourself through This is a good idea to do with the people taking over your house and the people you are buying your new house from.

Legal vs Moral Obligation

None of this falls under any legal obligations or responsibilities… It’s just about being nice. It’s a good test of your moral compass… If you really want to leave people with a greasy oven, a dusty floor and exposed wires where the plug sockets should be, then go for it... But that’s not very polite, now is it? Tut tut…. In all fairness though, it’s entirely up to you.

What about the neighbours?

There are plenty of people you need to inform of your change of address and about your upcoming move, but what about your neighbours? They don’t really need to know but it is considered polite, as it will become increasingly clear once the ‘for sale’ sign goes up. It could be an idea to tell them a little about who is moving in, are they a family with children or dogs for example. Telling them about the move might also give you the opportunity to ask them to leave space for removal vans on moving day and maybe even babysit your children and pets while you take care of everything.

Nice Touches

Now, if you want to be super-duper sweet and lovely, there are some real nice touches you can add to the usual etiquette that might really make all the difference to someone else’s moving day. Some people like to leave a bottle of wine and a welcome card or maybe some chocolates. You could leave a card for a recommended removal company. It’s also really nice and useful to leave out manuals for any of the appliances and even little notes telling them any tricks on how to use things… Like if they need to wiggle a door to get it to shut tight.. little things like that.

If you have children and there are children moving in after you then it’s a lovely touch to have your kids write a letter to their kids telling them what a lovely home it’s been for them and wishing them a happy time there.

This is all really a kind of ‘pay it forward’ scheme. It doesn’t always work out because although you might be decent, someone else might leave your new home in an awful state... But you never know.. One day the universe might repay you for your good deed some other way and if we spread the word on this Moving House Etiquette, eventually it will become common knowledge and more and more people will play nice.

Last updated on Monday 13th November 2017