Now that Purim is over, you can begin really thinking about your Pesach preparations! I know, right? We all love Pesach (Passover) preparations! ...Not.
If you haven't prepared for Pesach before, I suggest taking it slow. Last year, I didn't kasher my kitchen because I had just decided to be orthodox and didn't know what I was doing. However, I did all the cleaning, including the kitchen. Pesach is possibly the original spring cleaning. Unfortunately for you, Pesach cleaning isn't optional or on your own schedule.
(Side note: I did help kasher the synagogue kitchen for Pesach, and if you're given this opportunity, I highly suggest taking it. I learned a great deal about kashering from it!)
So let's talk about cleaning.
The GOAL: Rid the house of all edible chametz (foods made of leavened grain flour). Remember that edible is defined as anything a dog would eat. If you have questions whether something is either chametz or edible, ask your rav.
The process: Clean your house one step at a time, and once a place has been cleaned, don't bring any chametz in there anymore. To be safe, don't take any food in there afterwards. Of course, this is more difficult in some areas than others.
Begin with the least-likely offenders: the bathrooms, the closets, the garage.
Move to the places where you sometimes have chametz: bedrooms and the car. Remember that you can't bring chametz in there after that!
Delay as long as you can on the living room and kitchen. Yes, you need to move the couch and vacuum under it. You even need to remove the couch cushions and clean there! Shampooing would be ideal.
And don't forget the halls, entryways, windowsills, light switches, door knobs, porches, dresser drawers, shelves, bookcases, and your nightstand.
While you're in the bathroom, throw out your expired toiletries, medicines, and make-up. Set aside any that are kosher for Pesach. Separately set aside toiletries that will need to be sold for Pesach. Talk to your rabbi about his rulings on this issue because there are significant differences of opinion. It's even possible that you may not have to separate anything.
What's more complicated? You need to clean your workspace. Any place that you own, rent, or lease needs to be free of chametz. You have a cubicle at school? Locker? You probably need to clean that too. And yes, your co-workers will think you're insane if you explain this to them. My advice? Pretend you're stressed and/or bored and on a cleaning streak. If you have only shared workspace and you're able to take off all of Pesach, I suggest speaking to your rabbi. You should probably speak to your rabbi about your workspace anyway.
And the most practical note of all: Start eating all that chametz in your pantry, fridge, and freezer! Sure, you can sell it to a non-Jew for Pesach, but it's better if it doesn't exist.
Happy chametz hunting! At least this gets me one step closer to moving, right? Right. And as annoying as Pesach cleaning is, you feel amazing afterwards when you sit back and admire your handiwork.
More Pesach steps will be discussed soon. If you want a more advanced discussion, google it or check out this Aish article: Passover Cleaning Made Easy. Note that it goes into kashering issues.