How to prepare for Passover or Pesach
In a nutshell, preparing for Passover or Pesach involves meticulous searching for any traces of chametz ("leaven" in Hebrew) throughout the entire household and disposing of the chametz when found. The entire household must be free of chametz not only by the time Passover or Pesach begins, but at the latest by the evening before Passover or Pesach begins. This means that preparing for Passover or Pesach may take weeks of cleaning and inspecting before one can declare their household to be free of chametz. On the evening before Passover or Pesach, the ritual of Bedikat Chametz is performed to ensure that the household is free of chametz and when confirmed as such, a blessing is made in Hebrew - known as Kol Chamira - to declare that the household is physically-free of chametz. One must also be mentally-free of chametz, and so another blessing is recited - known as Bitul Chametz - to declare that if one happened to miss disposing of some chametz, one is nevertheless mentally declaring at that point that to his/her knowledge, the household is free of chametz. The issue of whether or not to recite Bitul Chametz has been debated among authoritative rabbis, and so Jewish people choose to either recite or not recite Bitul Chametz based on the authoritative rabbinical opinion each one follows.
Since Jewish laws for Passover or Pesach state that no leaven or chametz must be in a Jewish person's possession during Passover or Pesach, the household - both inside and outside on one's property - must have no leaven or chametz in it and on it whatsoever. So, how do we prepare for Passover or Pesach in order to achieve this chametz-free or leaven-free environment? A few weeks prior to the festival, in the household, we can go room by room, preparing each room using various cleaning methods that are outlined either in booklets or in a small guidebook that is prepared a few months prior to the festival by authoritative rabbinical organizations in the stream of Judaism one follows. This preparation includes, for instance, cleaning out bookcases, closets, computers and their keyboards, cabinets, briefcases, luggage, bed frames; in short, any and all items, electronic equipment, furniture, laundry hampers, and appliances in each room. If one owns an attic and/or a basement, then those areas are prepared for Passover or Pesach as well by removing all leaven or chametz. Outside on the property, if one owns a backyard and/or front yard, then those areas - including any porches and windowsills - are prepared by searching for and cleaning out all possible traces of chametz or leaven. In addition, all infant and children's items, including school bags and toys, are cleaned for Passover or Pesach by removing all traces of leaven of chametz. All pet items are prepared for Passover or Pesach as well. Even school lockers are prepared for Passover or Pesach. Although not located in one's household, if a Jewish person has a school locker, it is in his or her possession, and following the laws of Passover or Pesach, no leaven or chametz can be in one's possession during the festival. Therefore, the school locker should be prepared for Passover or Pesach as well.
The exact cleaning methods used to make the household kosher for Passover when preparing for Passover are also outlined either in the aforementioned booklets or as part of a small guidebook that covers the standard Passover or Pesach rituals. These booklets or small guidebooks cover many issues that can occur in the process of cleaning one's household for Passover or Pesach. In North America, these booklets or small books are usually distributed to Jewish organizations and to businesses that primarily sell Jewish products in cities throughout North America where Jewish populations reside, and are created, authored, edited, and published either by a Jewish community council (known in Hebrew as "Va'ad Ha'ir"), or by various other local, regional, or national rabbinic councils, agencies, or assemblies representing different cultural and religious streams of Judaism, about a couple of months before the start of the Passover or Pesach festival. The same generally applies for Jews living in countries outside of North America. It is best to consult these Jewish organizations for the exact information to prepare for Passover or Pesach according to the cultural and religious stream of Judaism you follow.
Here is a link to a list of major Jewish organizations where you can either obtain or get information about obtaining a Passover cleaning instruction manual: