Move Out Cleaning Checklist So You Can Get Your Deposit Back

Moving out? You’re probably feeling a mix of emotions as you prepare to leave your old apartment and start anew. Before you do, make sure you clean your place thoroughly so that you can receive your full security deposit back. Making the space match its original move-in state can be a tough task. So, we have compiled a list for you to tackle your space from top to bottom. Here are a few ways to help get the job done:

Focus on the Kitchen

The kitchen can be one of the most difficult places to clean, but one of the most important. All those nights when the pasta water boiled over, the sauce splattered on the wall, and the crumbs dropped between the cabinets can make for a very dirty space. Here are a few items to remember when cleaning the kitchen to make sure you clean every spot:

  • Scrub every area of countertop surfaces and backsplashes.
  • Deep clean the oven, stovetop, and microwave inside and out.
  • Wipe down all cabinets on both the exterior and interior.
  • Clean off grease from cupboard handles, refrigerator door handle, range hood fan, etc.
  • Sweep the floor with a broom or mop (depending on your floor material) & vacuum when needed.
  • Clean off any residue left on walls.
  • Remove all food items and debris from inside, outside, and around the refrigerator.

Don’t forget to clean the dishwasher

This sounds counterproductive, but it is important when cleaning your kitchen and ensuring you get your deposit back. Your dishwasher over time can fill with small bits of food, grime, soap scum, and grease. A quick DIY hack is to place a dishwasher-safe bowl on the top rack filled with 1 cup of vinegar and run it on high heat. This easily deep cleans and gets your dishwasher back to its original shine.

Remove all nails and re-patch walls

Your constellation of holes in the wall from your art collage is sure to get the Landlords attention if left alone. One of the most common ways to get fined is by leaving holes in the wall with nails or tacks. It’s important to remember to patch any holes that you have made and use spackle to make it look even. You can use a damp cloth to remove any adhesive left behind from posters or pictures and repaint using the same color.

Vacuum carpets and rugs

You’ve probably been vacuuming your carpets on a regular basis since you moved in. Now is an important time to do a thorough job of it. Vacuum from wall to wall, paying special attention to corners that get missed often. Make sure you move out any furniture or appliances that could potentially hide dirt when not cleaned thoroughly. Don’t forget about area rugs too; make sure both sides are vacuumed. A quick tip is to leave the vacuuming for last, so everything is out of your way!

Wash the windows

Cleaning your windows should be a priority, especially if you live in an area with frequent rain or snow. Make sure to scrub the window frames and sills as well, as these can accumulate dirt over time. Use a glass cleaner spray and paper towels for spotless windows every time!

Clean, yes scrub, the walls.

You’d be surprised at how much dirt accumulates on walls if you don’t keep them regularly wiped down throughout the year. Make sure to use an appropriate cleaning solution for wiping down your walls depending on what type of paint you have used in your home. Doing so will help ensure that you get back as much of your security deposit as possible! After all this, you still may need a repaint.

Repaint the walls if needed

If your walls are scuffed, stained, or have been repainted without the landlord’s permission, you may be asked to pay for a fresh coat of paint when you move out. In most leases, it is required to return the walls back to their neutral colors. Refreshing the paint in any room can make a big difference and will also help to boost your chances of getting back all or most of your security deposit.

Clean and disinfect the shower, bathtub, and sink

The bathroom may not be the most pleasant place to clean, but it is one that you need to pay close attention to—especially if you want your full deposit back! Give all of the fixtures a good cleaning including sinks, toilets, tubs, and showers. Using a simple soap-scrub combination can greatly help you in cleaning your tub and shower. Make sure to use a cleaner specifically designed for showers, bathtubs, or sinks as this will ensure that everything is cleaned properly. The sink should also receive special attention, as it is the focal point of the bathroom. Wipe it down with a cleaner, paying special attention to the drains and garbage disposal area. Once completed, make sure to rinse off all surfaces with water before moving on.

Here is a list of bathroom basics to check off:

  • Scrub down all surfaces in the shower and bathtub area (including tiles). Make sure you don’t leave behind any soap scum or mildew!
  • Wipe down mirrors with glass cleaner.
  • Wipe down cabinets, sink, and toilet with disinfectant cleaner.
  • Vacuum & mop flooring (depending on your floor material).
  • Clean out drains to make sure they are free of any clogs.
  • Clean and polish faucet fixtures.
  • Clean windows, if present.
  • Wipe down walls and baseboards with an all-purpose cleaner.

Take out all garbage or debris

While this seems like a no-brainer, you would be surprised how many people accidentally leave trash behind. Any garbage or debris left in the space will likely lead to fines from your landlord. Make sure to take out any furniture, electronics, or other items that don’t belong to the apartment. Additionally, check for areas around the house (e.g., closets, drawers) that may contain forgotten items like old batteries or food containers that must also be disposed of. Don’t lock up until you have checked every room!

Take Pictures!

Once you’ve completed your move-out cleaning checklist, take pictures of the entire residence. This will give you proof that you left the apartment in a clean condition and can help get back any deposits or fees that may have been withheld. Additionally, it will also serve as a reference point when you are checking into your next place and compare if any damage has occurred in the meantime.

Not that hard, right? Sure, it may seem like an extensive list, but if you follow it closely, you can guarantee that your security deposit will be returned in full! Before you leave, it’s a good idea to make note of any major issues that you may have not resolved. That way, you can discuss them with your landlord prior to moving out. This will help ensure that there are no surprises at the end of your lease agreement when it comes time to return the security deposit. Be sure to take some time to wave your sparkling place goodbye one last time before moving on!

Good luck, and happy scrubbing!

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