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The Only Move Out Cleaning Checklist You'll Ever Need

The Only Move Out Cleaning Checklist You'll Ever Need

Cedric Thomas
May 11, 2021

Many times, moving out of a dorm or apartment can be more stressful than moving in. Not only do you have to pack up your things and arrange to get them transported wherever you’re headed next, but you also have to worry about getting your full security deposit back and you're probably thinking you need to hire a cleaning company for professional cleaning. 

In order to get back every penny you put down, you and your roommates will need to make sure that every crack and crevice of your place is spotless or hire a move out cleaning service. To help make sure you’re not missing anything important and help to avoid arguments between landlords and tenants about your lease agreement, we’ve put together a comprehensive tenant move out checklist that will walk you through each step of the process, including the move out inspection, so not a single detail gets missed. 

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Moving out of a rental property can be an exciting and stressful experience, especially when it comes to cleaning. As a tenant, you are expected to leave the property in pristine condition to ensure the return of your security deposit. 

A move-out cleaning checklist can help ensure that you don't forget any essential cleaning tasks.

Why is a move-out cleaning checklist necessary?

A move-out cleaning checklist is essential to ensure that you clean every area of your rental property thoroughly. Landlords or property managers can be meticulous about cleanliness, and any missed cleaning task can result in the deduction of your security deposit. 

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A checklist also helps to ensure that you don't forget anything in the cleaning process, especially when you're already stressed about moving.

Cleaning checklist for the kitchen

The kitchen is one of the areas that require deep cleaning before moving out. Ensure that you clean the inside and outside of all appliances, including the refrigerator, oven, and dishwasher. Clean and disinfect the countertops, sink, and faucet. 

Don't forget to wipe the inside and outside of the cabinets, drawers, and shelves. Lastly, sweep and mop the floors.

Cleaning checklist for the bathroom

The bathroom is another area that needs a thorough cleaning. Scrub and disinfect the toilet, bathtub, shower, and sink. Clean the mirrors, countertops, and faucet. Don't forget to wipe down the cabinets, drawers, and shelves. Lastly, sweep and mop the floors.

Cabinets – You can start cleaning by emptying the bathroom cabinets and cleaning them out, just like what you did for cleaning the kitchen. 

Toilet – Remember to clean the toilet. Thoroughly scrub both the bowl and the seat for deep cleaning and ensure everything's working in order.

Plumbing – Verify sink and shower drains are not congested. If they are, either clear it yourself or hire a plumber.

Sink, Bathtub and Shower – Scrub away soap scum, discolouration and mildew from bathroom surfaces. Water spotting can accumulate if not regularly taken care of, so you may have to do a few thorough cleanings to get a spotless look. 

Cleaning checklist for the living room and bedrooms

The living room and bedrooms require a thorough cleaning as well. Dust and clean all surfaces, including light fixtures, ceiling fans, windowsills, and baseboards. 

Vacuum or sweep and mop the floors, and don't forget to clean the windows.

Other essential cleaning tasks

In addition to the above areas, some other essential cleaning tasks include cleaning the blinds and curtains, removing cobwebs, cleaning the light switches, and cleaning the walls for any scuffs or marks.

Fill in holes and scratches – Fill nail holes with putty, and patch any dents/scrapes with paint. Home Depot/Lowes can match paint if you bring samples, or ask property managers for color used.

Don't forget to consult your property management or landlord prior to taking action; otherwise, you may be responsible for additional costs in the future.

Remove paint, decals and wallpaper – Revert walls to original condition, whether repainting accent walls or removing decals/wallpaper. Take caution to not damage walls when removing!

Clean windows and mirrors – Clean windows and mirrors with glass cleaner, then wipe down blinds, fans, and sills.

Door handles – Door knobs are usually filthy, but rarely get cleaned when moving out. Give the next tenants a nice surprise and take a few minutes to sanitize your doorknobs, inside and out.

Light fixtures – Light fixtures such as sconces tend to accumulate dust, so make sure to clean the light bulbs and also ceiling fans.

Tips for a successful move-out cleaning

To make your move-out cleaning process more manageable, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. Start early: Begin cleaning at least two weeks before moving out to ensure you have enough time to complete all the necessary tasks.

  2. Gather your cleaning supplies: Make sure you have all the cleaning supplies you need before you begin cleaning. This can include cleaning solutions, sponges, scrub brushes, and garbage bags.

  3. Focus on high-traffic areas: Pay extra attention to areas that receive a lot of use, such as the kitchen, bathroom, and living room.

  4. Don't forget to clean the walls: Walls can easily become dirty or marked, so be sure to clean them thoroughly before leaving.

  5. Hire a professional cleaning service: If you're short on time or feel overwhelmed, consider hiring a professional cleaning service to help you with the move-out cleaning.

Common move-out cleaning mistakes to avoid

While a move-out cleaning checklist can be helpful, it's important to avoid common cleaning mistakes that could result in a deduction from your security deposit. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

  1. Ignoring small details: Failing to clean small details, such as light switches, door handles, and baseboards, can result in a deduction from your security deposit.

  2. Not cleaning appliances properly: Make sure to clean all appliances thoroughly, including the oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher. Any leftover food or debris can result in a deduction from your security deposit.

  3. Leaving behind items: Don't forget to remove all personal items, including furniture, decorations, and cleaning supplies, before leaving the property.

  4. Not cleaning the floors properly: Make sure to sweep, mop, or vacuum all floors thoroughly. Leaving behind any debris can result in a deduction from your security deposit.

  5. Not following the lease agreement: Make sure to follow any cleaning guidelines outlined in your lease agreement to avoid any issues with your landlord or property manager.

Final thoughts

Moving out of a rental property can be overwhelming, but with a move-out cleaning checklist, you can ensure that you leave your home in excellent condition. Be sure to follow the checklist to avoid missing any essential cleaning tasks, which could result in a deduction from your security deposit.

 By leaving your rental property spotless, you also increase your chances of getting a good reference from your landlord or property manager.

In conclusion, cleaning your rental property before moving out is crucial, and a comprehensive move-out cleaning checklist can help ensure that you don't forget any essential cleaning tasks. Following the checklist above can help make your move-out experience less stressful and increase your chances of getting your full security deposit back.

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