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Get your deposit back: The ultimate Move-out cleaning checklist

Moving out from a rented house or apartment is never simple. You have to plan what to move, pack everything up, and organize the transportation of all your belongings. But, you also need to ensure the entire place is immaculate and in the same condition as when you moved in. That’s the only way to get your security deposit back entirely and avoid any additional fees from landlords. Having a detailed move-out cleaning list is the way to make sure you don’t forget anything important.

The ultimate Move-out cleaning checklist for renters

Move-out cleaning is often a demanding task, mainly because it strikes you right between other concerns. In most cases, you are worried about preparing your new place, the transition process, and you are busy with all the paperwork. With so much on your mind, it’s easy to forget and neglect some of the tasks that require your attention. Of course, you can always discard cleaning concerns by hiring professional cleaners to handle this exhausting process. But, if you have enough time and means, you can complete everything yourself. However, you will need a comprehensive move-out cleaning checklist to make sure you have got everything covered.

Plan to clean after everything is moved out

Generally, cleaning the entire place is much easier without all the furniture standing in your way. All the walls, corners, and surfaces will be much more accessible if you first move everything out. So when you think about it, cleaning when you are moving out is easier that regular cleaning. This is an excellent way to avoid creating a mess while cleaning, so schedule your move at least a few days before the deadline. Only after you have removed any remaining personal property, from furniture to decorations, will you have plenty of free space for maneuvering.

Consider hiring a cleaning service

Now, depending on the situation, most people have two options for cleaning:

  • you can prepare all the supplies and clean everything yourself
  • you can skip this part by hiring a professional cleaning service to do it for you.

If you have financial means, hiring reliable cleaning experts is probably the best choice, especially because you are renting and your security deposit depends on it. After all, it’s one of the preferable options for real estate agents for a reason. On the other side, if you really need to save as much money as you can, and the property is not so big, cleaning on your own might be a more practical option.

Prepare the cleaning supplies

The first thing on a cleaning checklist is to get all the proper cleaning supplies you will need. While the amount will depend on the size of the property, here is what you will most likely need:

  • various cleaning solutions
  • glass cleaners
  • baking soda
  • vinegar
  • disinfectants
  • regular and paper towels
  • sponges and cloths
  • dustpans, brooms, and mops
  • buckets
  • protective cleaning gloves

However, if you want to minimize the harmful effect of different chemicals, try to find and use natural cleaning products. Also, you probably already possess some of them in your household, so it will save you money as well.

Be careful when choosing cleaning solutions because some of them are powerful chemicals.

Start with your home interior

Finally, after you have everything ready, you can start cleaning everything from top to bottom. If you are renting a house, this also means you should start from the top floor.

Ceilings – Dust and clean your ceilings first to prevent the dust from falling on your clean surfaces later on. This includes fans, chandeliers, even shelves.

Walls – If possible, you can use a vacuum cleaner to gently clean all the wall surfaces. While doing this, you should leave the windows for later and focus on flat surfaces, light switches, and shelves. Basically, anything that is a part of vertical surfaces.

Countertops – these are the next in the line. You will use some of your supplies to clean and wipe the rest of the horizontal flat surfaces inside your home.

Furniture – if a part of the furniture is left behind, that is, if they belong to the landlord, make sure to thoroughly clean them as well. Bear in mind that this is what landlords will probably inspect, so make sure they are in perfect condition. If necessary, read the cleaning instructions on the labels to avoid damaging anything in the process.

Floors – the final step, in general, is to clean all the carpets and floors. But only after everything else is completed.

Focus on the kitchen

The general cleaning can be overwhelming, especially for larger places. To make it easier, you can clean room by room. The first room on the list should be the kitchen. It’s usually one of the most challenging rooms to clean due to its regular usage.

Empty everything – you have probably moved everything out, but it’s doesn’t hurt to double-check if anything has been left behind.

Clean your appliances – your oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, drawers, everything that stays behind will require thorough sanitation.

Behind the appliances – once your appliances are clean, you should make sure everything behind and below them is clean as well. Leftovers and dirt usually pile up in unapproachable places like this.

Make sure to check every corner of the kitchen when cleaning. It’s an essential point in the move-out cleaning checklist.

Proceed to the rest of the place

Closets – again, double-check if everything is empty and clean everything inside out.

Check your walls – if, after removing all the picture frames, and even shelves, some nails are left, make sure to remove them. Also, patch up the holes and other damaged spots right away to avoid deducting the costs of repair from your deposit.

Paint – if it’s necessary, you can even check the local store for the right color and paint the entire wall by yourself. It will look new, and you won’t get any complaints from the landlord. The same goes for doors and other wooden parts – inspect them and repair any damage.

Clean every detail – window panels, blinds, sliding tracks, doorknobs, light switches, cabinet handles, faucets, alarm buttons, stair railing, baseboards, and even HVAC systems must be clean before leaving.

Mop floors – complete the cleanup process for the rest of the place by cleaning all the floors.

Pay close attention to the bathroom

In general, for obvious reasons, the bathroom requires additional attention. You have to clean and sanitize it thoroughly before leaving the place.

Clean the cabinets – all the cabinets, drawers, and shelves need to be empty and clean.

Toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and showers – this requires thorough scrubbing. Not exactly a popular task, but it’s pretty necessary during the cleaning procedure. Make sure to remove all the dirt, mold, and potential rust before you move out.

Glass surfaces – mirrors, shower glass, and all the other glass surfaces often have water stains and trails of rust. Either try to clean them well or replace them.

Bathrooms require complete sanitation before you leave the place for good.

The final step

The ultimate move-out cleaning checklist is not complete without the home exterior. If you are renting a house, there will be plenty of things to clean and fix before you leave the place. From mold through the water to structural issues, you have to inspect everything. Professional service is probably the most viable option for this if you want to get your deposit back for sure.

This blog post was writing in a collaboration by Beth White with our partners at Moving Offices San Diego.