Leave Your Apartment Spotless with This Essential Move-Out Cleaning Checklist
Congrats! Your move-out day is just around the corner, but there's still one thing left to do. Follow our ultimate apartment cleaning checklist to scrub your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and more, and get your rental deposit back in full.
The last of your belongings are packed, but there's one box you can't tape up just yet: cleaning supplies. A dirty apartment or condo can be a deal-breaker for getting your deposit money back, but you don't have to hire a cleaning service to get the job done. Our complete apartment move-out cleaning checklist has everything you need to deep-clean your space before you head out and turn in your key. Now grab your cleaning tools, turn on your favorite playlist, and get cleaning!
Apartment Move-Out Cleaning Checklist
When cleaning an apartment, always work from the top (ceiling fan, windows, walls) to the bottom (floors, baseboards, carpet). This allows dust and dirt to fall to the ground as you clean, so you don't have to sweep or vacuum multiple times throughout.
1. Clear Cobwebs from Ceiling
You might have abandoned this step throughout your entire lease, but remember to clean the ceiling before moving out. Use a broom or vacuum to help pull down cobwebs. Have a popcorn ceiling? Roll a damp high-nap paint roller over the ceiling to pick up dust and cobwebs. It won't knock down pieces of the popcorn finish as a broom might.
2. Dust Blinds
Grab an old pair of socks and put one on like a glove. (Trust us, this cleaning hack seriously works!) Dip it in water until it's damp, then run your hand across each rung to rid the blinds of dust. This method works great to clean heaters, too!
3. Wash Windows
Use a window or glass cleaner to wash your windows. Simply spray the solution onto the window and wipe quickly with a lint-free cloth to avoid streaks. Make sure to dust off the handles, locks, and between the sliding tracks if your windows have them.
4. Remove Any Nails and Patch Walls
The gallery wall looked great while it lasted, but now it's time to patch up your walls. Use commercial putty and paint in the same color as your wall (sometimes your landlord will provide this) to restore it to its original state. Be sure to use a putty knife to properly apply the product.
5. Check Lights
Check if any lightbulbs have gone out, and replace them as necessary. Dust the fixtures, and use a cleaning wipe to sanitize light switches. A duster with an extendable arm ($8, Target) will help you reach tall ceiling lights.
6. Check Smoke Detector
If your smoke detector is beeping, the battery likely needs to be replaced. But even if it's not, you should ensure all smoke alarms have working batteries, especially if they came that way when you moved in. Most come with a test button you can press to indicate battery life; a weak or nonexistent signal means it's time for new batteries.
7. Clean Walls and Baseboards
Use the brush attachment on your vacuum to remove any dust lingering on your baseboards or trim. If you have stains on your walls, grab a microfiber cloth and wash the walls using an appropriate cleaner for the paint finish.
8. Clean Carpet
Carpet stains are bound to happen. Remove them by applying commercial carpet cleaner ($4, Walmart) and letting it sit for a few minutes. Use a microfiber cloth to blot the stain away. Some common carpet stains require a specific solution for removing, so be sure to use the right product for your apartment carpet cleaning.
9. Vacuum and Mop Floors
Last but not least on your apartment move-out cleaning checklist: Vacuum and mop the floors. Save this one for last as dust and chemicals have likely fallen while cleaning elsewhere. Let family members know not to walk on the floor until completely dry, and keep pets in another room.
Room-by-Room Apartment Cleaning: Kitchen
Your kitchen is one of the hardest working rooms in your home, but it's also a magnet for grease, crumbs, and stains. Make sure to give your apartment kitchen a deep clean before your move-out inspection.
1. Clear Out Cabinets and Pantries
Start by removing everything from your cabinets and pantries (this is a great time to toss expired foods, too!). Remove any shelf liners and wipe down the shelves with a damp cloth. You can also save time by using the brush attachment on your vacuum to suck up any crumbs in a snap.
2. Wipe Down Fridge
First, remove all fridge contents and throw away any expired items. Pack food into a cooler until you're finished cleaning. A spray bottle with one part baking soda and seven parts water will work wonders for cleaning your refrigerator interior and exterior. Be sure to wipe the drawers, doors, and handles using the DIY cleaning solution, too.
3. Clean the Oven
Look to the auto-clean setting on your oven to do the dirty work while you knock other items off your apartment cleaning checklist. Prefer to clean the oven yourself? Combine water and baking soda to form a paste, then brush the mixture onto the inside of the oven, avoiding the coils. Once dry, spray distilled white vinegar on any remaining residue and wipe clean. Make sure to wash the grates and racks, too.
4. Sanitize the Sink, Drain, and Disposal
Clear out a slow drain with the help of one part baking soda and two parts white distilled vinegar. First, add the baking soda do your disposal, then slowly pour in the vinegar. Let the bubbly mix sit for at least 15 minutes, then rinse it out with hot water. Next, clean the kitchen sink basin with a little dish soap and hot water. Dry with a microfiber cloth.
5. Clean the Dishwasher
Use a sanitizing wipe to rid your dishwasher's door of any soap scum and hard water spots. Then follow our handy dishwasher cleaning guide to learn how to scrub the accessories and tub.
6. Sanitize Countertops
A simple sanitizing wipe or all-purpose cleaner will make easy work of cleaning countertops. If you have stains or discolored grout, make a paste of baking soda and vinegar and apply it to the area. Let it sit for a few minutes before using a scrubbing brush to help restore countertops to their original state. Wipe clean with a warm, damp cloth or paper towel.
Room-by-Room Apartment Cleaning: Bathroom
Before cleaning your bathroom, box up all cosmetics, toiletries, and towels that you don't use on a regular basis. Keep only the items you'll need for your final days before moving out.
1. Polish Mirrors
Yes, your landlord will notice if you leave your mirror covered in streaks and fingerprints. To polish a bathroom mirror, spray an ammonia-based glass cleaner ($3, Walmart) directly on the mirror, then use a dry lint-free cloth to wipe the surface from top to bottom. Wiping in a circular motion will ensure your mirror is streak-free!
2. Sanitize the Vanity
Use an all-purpose spray to wipe down the surface of your bathroom vanity. If the faucet has water stains, spray distilled white vinegar directly on it and wipe dry using a microfiber cloth to polish. If applicable, wipe out any drawers or cabinets within your vanity.
3. Disinfect the Toilet
Visible toilet rings are a definite no-no when it comes time to move out. Get rid of them using an all-purpose bowl cleaner, or try one of our surprising toilet cleaning hacks. Once you've finished scrubbing the toilet bowl, wipe down both sides of the seat and the tank with a bleach-based cleaning spray. Be sure to open a window or turn on your bathroom fan when cleaning with bleach.
4. Scrub the Shower or Bath
Vinegar and dish soap are your best friends when it comes to cleaning the bathroom, especially if you've got a grimy tub or shower. Follow our bathtub cleaning how-to to get rid of buildup and mold, and don't forget to clean under shampoo and conditioner bottles, where soap scum builds up fast. If you have a shower, squeegee the surround after you've used it when dirt and grime have loosened up.
5. Dust the Vent
Remember the bathroom fan! If you don't have access to the circuit breaker, use a stepladder and a can of air to dust off your exhaust fan. For a more thorough clean, remove the cover and dust the interior following our steps for cleaning a bathroom fan.
6. Mop the Floor
Once you've finished cleaning all bathroom surfaces in your apartment, focus on the floor. First, pick up any loose items, and clean up debris using a vacuum or broom. Then, mop bathroom floors with soapy water.
Optional: Balcony and Outdoor Space
If your apartment or condo has access to a private outdoor patio or balcony, make sure to remove all personal furnishings before you begin cleaning.
1. Clean Sliding Door
Leaves and dirt have likely made their way into the tracks of your sliding door. Use a vacuum to quickly pick them up or a broom to help brush them away. Removing any dirt or debris will help sliding doors easily open and close.
2. Clean Balcony
Apartment and condo balcony cleaning is a simple but necessary move-out task. First, sweep off the space using a stiff-bristled broom. Then, spot-clean your balcony as with an all-purpose cleaner as needed until the surface is clean of stains or residue. Wipe down any railings.
Optional: Laundry Room
Clean Washer and Dryer
If you have a washer and dryer in your unit, you’ll want to make sure any lint or detergent spills are removed. Scrub laundry messes away using a damp microfiber cloth dipped in warm water.
Once you're familiar with all the necessary apartment cleaning tasks, run through this move-out cleaning checklist before you leave. After these chores are done, you'll be officially ready to move out!