The Ultimate Move-out Cleaning Checklist for Tenants

The rental home or apartment you’ve been living in the last 12 months is finally empty. You’ve boxed up your stuff, loaded the moving truck, transferred your internet, and are about to lock up.

But wait, the most tedious task still has to be checked off your moving to-do list. That is cleaning.

Forgetting this contractual duty could mean that your landlord or property manager keeps your security deposit.  

This article aims to ensure that you get your money back in the most efficient way possible.

What’s Expected for a Move-out Cleaning

Check your lease agreement about your landlord’s expectations for moving out. Most leases request that you leave the rental in “broom clean” condition. It’s best to leave the property in a better situation than when you moved in. Doing so will help you avoid any confusion.

That’s why we recommend following a detailed Move-out Cleaning Checklist. Checking off each item as you clean will help you stay organized and mitigate any dust bunnies falling through the cracks.

Kitchen Move-out Cleaning Checklist

  • Wipe down inside and outside of all cabinets.
  • Clean inside and outside of all appliances.
  • Pull the stove out and clean behind, beside, and underneath.
  • Pull the refrigerator out and clean behind, beside, and underneath.
  • Scrub countertops and backsplash.
  • Wash sink and polish fixtures.
  • Wipe down baseboards.
  • Sweep and mop hard surfaces.
  • Vacuum carpets and rugs.

Bathroom Move-out Cleaning Checklist

  • Wipe down inside and outside of all cabinets.
  • Dust air vents, light fixtures, blinds, and all horizontal surfaces.
  • Scrub bathtubs and showers.
  • Shine mirrors until they’re streak-free.
  • Wash sink and polish fixtures.
  • Wipe down vanity.
  • Detail inside and outside of the porcelain throne.
  • Wipe down baseboards.
  • Sweep and mop hard surfaces.
  • Vacuum carpets and rugs.

Living Spaces Move-out Cleaning Checklist

  • Dust air vents, light fixtures, blinds, and all horizontal surfaces.
  • Detail ceiling fans.
  • Wipe down outlets, handles, and light switches.
  • Remove cobwebs from corners.
  • Remove fingerprints from doors and frames.
  • Shine mirrors until they’re streak-free.
  • Windex all windows (interior only).
  • Wipe down baseboards.
  • Sweep and mop hard surfaces.
  • Vacuum carpets and rugs.
  • Remove all trash and debris

Tips from Cleaning Professionals

Don’t pack away your step ladder. You’ll need it when you tackle your ceiling fans, refrigerators, and crown molding.” – Merit Maids

Always complete a post-cleaning walk-through before returning your keys. Cleaning is an exhaustive process and it’s easy to miss items on your checklist.” – Eloise’s Cleaning Service

“Check out your local commercial cleaning supply company for quality, inexpensive cleaning products. You’ll be surprised at what you can find on a budget!” 

Besides cleaning, what else do I need to do?

  • Return all keys. Gate keys, mailbox keys, garage door openers, and other key fobs can be costly to replace. That is a simple step people easily overlook. Schedule a time with your landlord to return all keys.
  • Return the home in better condition than how you found it. Leaving the property in excellent condition may encourage the landlord to overlook minor issues.
  • Remove all your stuff. Leaving personal belongings or bulky items can be a hassle to get back. Your landlord may have to hire someone to remove it. Your security deposit is what your landlord will use to settle the expenses.
  • Complete a move-out inspection. After moving out and cleaning, meet the landlord at the property and walk through the rental with him. It is a great time to return your keys, report any damages, get approval for the property’s condition, and receive your security deposit.
  • Take Photos. Hopefully, you were able to take photos when you moved in. Having move-in and move-out photos is a good security blanket if your landlord tries any funny business.

Tenant Move-out Q and A

How long will a move-out cleaning take? 

According to the cleaning professionals, it typically takes 1 hour for every 250 sq. ft. of living space. So for a 1,500 square foot apartment, we’d recommend reserving at least 6 hours (1,500 sq. ft. / 250) for move-out cleaning.

Should I hire a cleaning company? 

Moving is one of the most stressful life events. Hiring someone to clean after you’ve spent hours bending, stooping, and lifting can be well worth it. Always do your due diligence and work with bonded and insured cleaning companies. Also, check their website to ensure their move-out cleaning checklist covers all your bases.

How much does a move-out cleaning cost? 

Unfortunately, there is not a universally accepted cleaning rate. Move-out cleaning pricing will vary dramatically depending on the size of your rental and your location. Most cleaning companies will charge by the labor hour (per cleaner, per hour) and can range from $20 – $75 per labor hour.

What happens if I don’t clean the property? 

Your landlord will have to spend time and money hiring a cleaning company. They will be less worried about budget and more anxious about turnover time, which may cost you your full security deposit.

A high-quality cleaning can cover some minor wear and tear on your rental. You may follow our detailed move-out cleaning checklist instead of wasting time cleaning as you go. Working off the list will guarantee that your rental is in prime condition before your landlord’s final inspection.