Cleaning your old apartment before you move out may be the last thing you want to do, especially when you’ve just closed a great deal on a new place that ticks all the right boxes. However, cleaning is one of the few remaining obligations that you have to your old landlord, and you have no choice but do your best before the move-out inspection.
What should you clean before you move out? Your landlord will likely have provided you with a list of things that they expect you to clean before you move out. Go over the list carefully so that you don’t leave anything out and risk not getting back your security deposit.
It is important to pay attention to the stipulations provided in your lease agreement regarding cleaning in order to do what is expected of you. In some cases, the landlord may have a cleaning company perform a deep clean in your apartment before a new tenant moves in at your expense. Another possibility is cleaning yourself, which requires you to meet the landlord’s expectations.
Cleaning the apartment is important since it is one of the factors that determine whether or not you will get your security deposit back. Furthermore, you might need a reference from your old landlord sometime in the future, so you want to do a good job to maintain credibility. Additionally, cleaning your apartment extends the same courtesy to the new tenant that you would also expect when you move into your new place. Some of the things that you can expect to find on the list include carpets, baseboards, blinds, and many other things you may not clean on a daily basis.
How to clean your apartment before moving out
1. Come up with a cleaning schedule
Since you already have a list of what you need to clean, all you need to do is to come up with is a schedule that will guide you on where to begin and how much time you will need to complete the various tasks. Consider cleaning one room at a time in order to ensure that you don’t miss any crucial spots.
2. Gather the supplies you will need for cleaning
Some of the supplies you will need to get started include:
- Cleaning agents – Toilet cleaner, floor cleaner, window cleaner, white vinegar, disinfectant, oven cleaner, multi-purpose liquid cleaner, baking soda, cleaning spray, spot remover, magic eraser, and spackle.
- Aids in cleaning – Rubber gloves, bucket, paper towels, sponges, scouring pad, scraper, broom and dustpan, mop, washcloths, toilet brush, vacuum, rake, garbage bags, dusters, and brushes.
3. Preliminary Actions
Before you begin cleaning one room after the other, consider doing the following:
- Remove all the nails, hooks, and screws that might be on the apartment walls and cover visible holes with spackle.
- Clean all the grime off the light switches and outlets in your unit.
- Get rid of any visible cobwebs on the walls and ceiling.
- Dust all the ledges and ceiling fixtures.
- If the curtains are machine washable, toss them in the washing machine. Don’t forget to dust the fabric roller blinds and curtain rods as well.
- If you had painted the walls of the apartment, you may be required to revert them to their original color.
- Clean the staircase and the hallways as well thoroughly
- Wipe all the door knobs and handles using a damp washcloth or a paper towel
- Do away with any visible marks on the walls that using a magic eraser
- Clean the windows in the apartment using a window cleaner
4. Cleaning the various rooms in your apartment
Since the kitchen is where you will most likely spend most of your time cleaning, you might want to start there. After you have cleared everything from the kitchen counter, drawers, and cabinets, use a washcloth that has been dipped in warm soapy water to wipe them down carefully, making sure to get into the corners of the various surfaces. Finish up by using the multi-purpose liquid cleaner to disinfect the countertops.
To clean the oven, you can use an oven cleaner to achieve that clean and sparkly look. Before you begin, remember to place an old newspaper or towel in front of the oven in order to protect your floor from any leakage that may drip from the oven as you clean. Use cleaning spray on the interior of the oven, the grates, and broiler sheets and let it sit for a while before using a scraper to remove any grime buildup. If you want to avoid the chemicals in the oven cleaner, you can use baking soda solution to achieve similar results.
Do not forget to clean the stove as well. Use a scouring pad or a tough sponge and spot remover or white vinegar to scrub the stovetop. The next step is to rinse and wipe the stove down with clean water. Soak the removable parts of the stove in warm soapy water before scrubbing them thoroughly.
If you have a dishwasher, making sure it is completely empty before you clean it. Use some white vinegar to disinfect it and then sprinkle some baking soda to remove any odors and stains. If you have a newer model, the anti-bacterial mode should do the trick.
For the sink, use a scouring pad and some warm soapy water, and then pour hot water down the drain to remove any blockage. Clean the faucets and outer rims of the sink using a washcloth and warm soapy water.
Remove any leftover food from the refrigerator before cleaning. Unplug it and let it defrost, remembering to use an old towel to prevent water from accumulating on the floor, as you keep busy with other tasks. After defrosting, start by cleaning the freezer using a sponge dipped in warm soapy water, and then wipe it down with a paper towel. Pull out the refrigerator shelves and wash them, and as they dry, clean both the interior and exterior before replacing the shelves.
To finish up, sweep the floor of the kitchen, and then use your favorite floor cleaner and a mop to leave it squeaky clean.
After ensuring that you have cleared everything from the bathroom, start by wiping down the counters and walls using an all-purpose liquid cleaner. Use it in combination with a sponge to scrub the shower or tub as well to remove any grime and water spots.
Wipe down the mirror using a clean rag and window cleaner, and then move on to the toilet. Remember to put on your rubber gloves before proceeding to scrub inside the toilet bowl with a toilet brush. Use a toilet cleaner to get that sparkle and remove odors.
Clean the bathroom sink using disinfectant and a clean washcloth, or opt to use vinegar and some baking soda on tougher spots. Don’t forget to wipe down the drawers as well after removing any remaining toiletries.
Conclude by mopping the floor and wiping down the ceiling. To get the stains out of the nooks and crannies between tiles, use an old toothbrush and soapy water.
The bedroom shouldn’t be too hard to clean once you take out all your belongings. Kick things off by dusting the ceiling, walls, and door tops. Make sure that you use a gentle cleaner and a soft cloth so as not to damage the fixtures or cause peeling of the paint on the wall.
To clean the windows, use a window cleaner and a paper towel, and when the surfaces are clean, wipe them down with a soft and dry washcloth to avoid streaks. Remember to clean the window pane and frame as well to remove any lingering dust particles. If there are window blinds in the room that need cleaning, soak them in warm soapy water, rinse, and then hang them to dry.
If you have hardwood or the floor, sweep using a broom and then use a damp mop to finish cleaning up. If there is a carpet covering the flooring, use a spray-on carpet cleaner first before vacuuming in order to remove tough stains.
The living room
Since you probably spent a considerable amount of time in the living room, there is bound to be grime that built up in the upholstery and carpet.
Start by thoroughly wiping down bookcases and coffee tables that came with the apartment. Use a soft washcloth dipped in warm soapy water. Don’t neglect to clean behind the TV cabinet to remove the dust particles that may have settled in the area.
The next step is to clean the couch upholstery. Use a steam cleaner and a handheld vacuum cleaner to reach all the hidden spots where food crumbs or pet hair might have accumulated. Move on to the floor, sweeping it and then mopping up to finish. If there is a carpet, make sure to vacuum, moving any furniture in your way if necessary.
5. Cleaning the garage and the outside of your apartment
Once you have finished up with the interior of the apartment, don’t forget to deal with the exterior since it is just as important to clean during the process of moving out.
Start by removing any items that you may have forgotten such as toys, personal deck chairs, bird feeders, or chimes. After clearing the balcony or porch, use a floor cleaner and a hard brush to scrub the floor if the floor is extremely grimy and dirty. Otherwise, a mop and warm soapy water should work just as fine. Turn your attention to the yard, ensuring that you rake any fallen leaves and uproot any visible weeds in order to make the area more presentable.
After clearing out the garage, sweep it, ensuring that you pay attention to the corners. To finish up, hose it down.
Although cleaning the interior of your apartment is the main priority, making the effort to clean outside it may earn you favor from your landlord and a stellar reference letter when you need one in the future.
Finally, collect all the garbage bags that you may have used to collect trash both inside and outside the apartment and take them out to the designated area. Take pictures as proof of your efforts to show your landlord.
6. Taking care of repairs
During the cleanup process, you will probably encounter one or two items in the house that need repair. You don’t need to take care of the repairs yourself, especially if you’re not too sure of how to go about it. Seek the help of a professional to get the job properly done. Keep in mind that visible damages to household items and devices may affect your chances of getting your security deposit back as well.
7. The move-out inspection
After you finish cleaning up, your landlord will perform a final walk-through inspection to ensure that your cleaning lives up to his/her expectations. Make sure that you receive a signed off inspection report from the landlord so that you have additional evidence other than the photos you took earlier showing your efforts.
8. Handing over your keys
Your landlord will then ask for any copies of keys made to access your apartment. Make sure you hand in all of them to avoid any trouble in the future. Furthermore, some landlords may opt to charge you for each day that you keep the apartment keys past the day they were meant to be returned.
- What if the cost of cleaning and repairs exceeds your security deposit? In cases where the security deposit cannot cover the cost of cleaning and repairing your apartment when you move out, your landlord will send you a bill that indicates exactly what you are paying for.
- What is considered to be normal wear and tear in a rental unit? This is damage that occurs to the household items naturally due to aging. As a result, it is not the responsibility of the tenant to pay for these damages or fix them.
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