How the White House Will Be Cleaned Between Donald Trump's Exit and Joe Biden’s Arrival

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Sean Neumann
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Alex Brandon/AP/Shutterstock Cleaning at the White House on April 13, 2020

Soon after Donald Trump and his staff vacated the White House on Wednesday morning, a whirlwind move-in process and a deep clean was beginning.

In just a five-hour window, while Joe Biden took the oath of office outside the U.S. Capitol building and then proceeded inside with his family for presentations by Congress, White House workers were powering through a carefully orchestrated move-in routine—honed over decades—to ready the executive residence for the incoming First Family.

But, like all things during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the novel coronavirus posed another challenge: Sanitizing a building that was the epicenter for multiple COVID-19 outbreaks during Trump's residency.

A spokesperson for the General Services Administration tells PEOPLE that cleaners will aim to wipe every inch of the executive mansion's interior. The White House wipe down will cover "all furniture, flooring, window treatments, handrails, door knobs, light switches, countertops, elevator buttons, restroom fixtures and dispensers, door handles and push plates, and lighting fixtures," a GSA spokesperson says.

Win McNamee/Getty White House cleaning

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty White House cleaning

Biden, 78, has taken pandemic precautions seriously throughout 2020 — so much so, that he became the butt of jokes from his predecessor, who brazenly flouted safety precautions, downplayed the pandemic's seriousness, paid only intermittent attention to its management, ultimately contracted the virus, and was hospitalized with serious respiratory symptoms.

A spokesperson for Biden's incoming administration did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment about the White House cleaning process, but the new president has said combatting the pandemic is his administration's primary goal.

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The federal government took the novel step of hiring outside contractors to help with the massive, and time-sensitive cleaning project at the White House.

CNN reported that about half a million dollars will be spent on the scrub, including a payment to one private company in charge of cleaning the air.

The "disinfectant misting services" will cost about $29,000, according to a government contract, offering a glimpse into the unusual — and pricey — precautions being taken to purge the centuries-old White House of any lingering trace of COVID-19.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty A White House custodial staffer in October 2020

Kate Brower Andersen, a presidential historian who previously covered the White House as a reporter, told ABC News that she's "never seen this" level of careful cleaning being done between presidents coming and going.

"There's always been a deep clean between administrations, but we've never seen anything like this," Andersen said.

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Roughly $127,000 will be paid to Didlake, a Virginia cleaning company that hires people with disabilities. About $44,000 will be spent on carpet cleaning, while another $115,000 will be spent on installing new carpet and floor repairs throughout the complex, according to the outlet. Another $30,000 will be spent on cleaning curtains throughout the 55,000-square-foot building.

In addition to cleaning, residence staff will move the Bidens' belongings into the building with the hope of having things in place when the new First Family arrives from Inauguration Day ceremonies.

The New York Times reports that the Bidens' personal items have been waiting in a storage facility in nearby Maryland, ready to be hauled over to their new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But having already served eight years as vice president, it's not likely Biden or his family will need much time to adjust.