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PCS Cleanout: Tips & Tricks from Real Military Spouses

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reaching out to seasoned military spouses on the topic of PCS cleaning, packing, and other “military move hacks.” These are the experts! Some of them have moved over ten times, and they have it down to a science. Here is a collection of the wisdom I’ve gathered:


“We work our way from the top to bottom. Non essential rooms get cleared and cleaned and then the door stays shut until the final sweep.”

“Pull out all the worn out towels and rags to use for cleaning once movers are gone.”

“For me, the last thing I clean is the kitchen, since it’s the room I will end up using it right up until the very end...but that doesn’t mean the whole room. I will move everything I can in the kitchen to one section and begin clearing out cabinets and wiping them down. Once the cabinet is done we don’t open it again. I mark the ones we are still using with painters tape and a little note about what’s in it.”

“Start deep cleaning by room (clean baseboards, scrub tubs, wipe windows, mop floors, etc) a week or so before packout. That way when it comes time to clear housing, all you have to do is wipe down surfaces and vacuum.”

“@gocleanco account on Instagram has AMAZING cleaning tips and videos.”

“Make sure to allow time to run your oven on “self clean” in order to have enough time to clean it thoroughly afterwards.”

“Do NOT let the packers take your vacuum or mop because you’ll need them for a final clean and will most likely want them when you arrive at your new residence.”

“Put all cleaning supplies in a caddy so they’re all in one place and you can carry them around to each room.”

“Whenever I moved I always bought a new mop and broom - I never moved my dirt from one home to the next.”

A list of frequently suggested cleaning tips & products:

  • Start early! Think of things you can get done ahead of time (i.e. filling holes in the wall, damage repairs, paint touch ups, organizing spaces, and purging!). Try to get some deep cleaning checked off in the weeks leading up to your PCS so you aren’t overwhelmed when the time comes to do cleanout.

  • Suggested cleaning products: Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (erases even the toughest grimes such as built up soap, scrum, grease, dirt, and stains from dyes or paints on hard surfaces), Old English (use to cover scratches on hardwood floors and cabinets), foam wall cleaner, and Clorox gel cleaner.


“Get into the routine of thoroughly cleaning you inside trashcan(s) on a regular basis. Then, a deep clean the day before movers arrive. It’s not the most optimal situation but items such as vacuum attachments can be placed in your can with the lid taped shut. If you keep it clean, you’ll be more willing to use your trashcan to store those small, but necessary items that easily get lost during moves.”

“String one side of your necklaces with regular straws (smoothie straws for chunky necklaces). Saves time and headaches trying to untangle them when unpacking.” On the same subject of necklaces, another spouse said “Pack necklaces by rolling them individually in tissue paper to prevent tangling.”

“Put all of the items you want to take with you personally in a designated area with a sign that says ‘DO NOT PACK’”

“Put all hazmat items in one box to transport personally because the packers won’t be allowed to pack those items.”

“For toy bins and the utensil caddy plastic wrap them. Then all you have to do on the other side is pull the plastic wrap off and slide the toy bin into its cubby and pop the utensil caddy in the drawer.

“Pack your junk drawer or whatever drawers in ziploc bags - that way packers will pack the ziplocs and then when you unpack, all the items that go in the assigned drawer are already together.”


“Unplug/unhook your washer a day or so before the movers come so it has time to dry out.”

“Be nice to your packers/movers and they’ll be nicer to you and your things. Fill a cooler with water, Gatorade, and soft drinks and let them know to help themselves. Feed them! I usually ask what they’d like from Subway and order on the app so I can pick up the sandwiches quickly. Buy individual bags of chips and cookies beforehand.”

“If you’re doing a partial DITY...don’t forget to weigh your cars empty and then full.”


If you have any other tips or tricks to contribute, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments. I know I’m thankful to have these ideas in my back pocket for our next PCS!


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