Arts & Culture

This is What Happens When a New U.S. President Moves In The White House

It's basically organized chaos.

Photography: Shutterstock/Sean Pavone (main)

With Joseph R. Biden finally sworn in as the 46th President of the United States,he  would now be moving in the living museum that is the White House. But while he was taking his oath of office in front of the Capitol, there have been a lot of things going on behind the scenes—a sort of organized chaos led by the White House chief usher as soon as the outgoing family leaves the premises (traditionally, to head to the Capitol for the swearing in of the new president).

According to a feature on the Washington Post, residence staffers only have around five hours to clean and change everything. While their day begins at around 4:00 a.m., it is typically around 10 in the morning of Inauguration Day that everything bursts into action. Outgoing families already have their things packed and ready to go, and moving trucks park at the west side of the residence to pick them up. Trucks containing the incoming president’s belongings pull up into the east side. All this is monitored by the Secret Service.


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In the meantime, all rooms are scrubbed from floor to ceiling. Prior to the inauguration, the incoming first family is asked for their living preferences—from furniture pieces from the White House’s collection to the kind of soap they usually use—and all these are taken into account and are prepared for their arrival.


There are also some last-minute repairs that would go on. A slew of trusted plumbers, electricians, and engineers make sure that the White House is up to spec, checking everything from lighting to TV cable connections.

Even the incoming family’s closets are filled, with their clothes neatly pressed and stored, ready for use once they come in. New curtains, rugs, and bedsheets are fitted and placed, and bathrooms are supplied with each family member’s choice of products (even shower heads are replaced, should the first family wishes them to be).


Back in the Oval Office, the National Archives and Records Administration makes sure that all documents of the past president have been accounted for, whether physical or digital. Depending on the new President’s recommendation, furniture, draperies, and other items are changed.

In a New York Times feature, White House curator Betty Monkman says, “It’s a mad dash. Sometimes beds have to be brought in, sitting rooms are converted into bedrooms.” This year’s inauguration is also a bit more complicated as well, considering that there is an ongoing pandemic, people are limited, and a lot of precautions are put into place.


Never the less the organized chaos goes on, with fresh flowers being brought in, food prepared, and the kitchen stocked. The Oval Office is set up with what the new President need as he hits the ground running.

By around 3:30 p.m., after all the pomp and circumstance is over, the new residents will officially arrive to and settle in a White House that is ready for them.

Other sources: The White House Historical Association, The Hill, ABC News

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