Move-Out Cleaning Checklist for Renters + Template
Moving is stressful. There's no way to describe the process of switching homes without acknowledging the frequent chaos, scheduling issues and lengthy to-do lists that stand in the way of you and your next rental. Both landlords and tenants alike have to manage multiple tasks, making it easy to forget simple details in the process.
One of the more common tasks to miss during a move-out is cleaning. Sometimes, you'll only have to deal with replacing a few light bulbs, but other times you'll be stuck with unscrubbed toilets or blackened ovens that must be tended to. To ensure that everything gets done and nothing is overlooked by either parties, consider crafting a move-out cleaning checklist.
Here's what you need to include. Use our template for a move-out cleaning checklist to help you format your own.
Required professional services
Some tenants or property management companies hire companies to do professional move out cleaning. This typically involves cleaning carpets or re-painting walls. Determine your specific rental's move-out preferences and make note of any professional services in your lease so you're aware of what you need to clean and what is covered after you move out.
These are all the tools and supplies you'll need to clean your apartment before you move-out. Before your tackle this list, make sure you have your essential cleaning items.
- Broom and dustpan
- Vacuum (with attachments for carpets and floors)
- Mop and bucket
- Microfiber mop or cloth
- Sponges and scrubbers
- Window cleaning tools (squeegee, window cleaner, and microfiber cloths)
- Dusting cloths or dusters (microfiber or disposable)
- Rubber gloves to protect your hands
- Trash bags (both regular and recycling)
- A ladder or step stool for reaching high areas
- All-purpose cleaner or multi-surface cleaner
- Disinfectant wipes or spray
- Bathroom cleaner
8 areas to clean before you move out
It's easy to get ahead of yourself when moving out. Work your way through this list to ensure your apartment is in the best condition.
1. Windows and ceilings
When utilizing a move-out cleaning checklist, make sure to read details about ceiling fixtures and windows. If blinds are included in the rental, they'll also need to be cleaned.
Begin by replacing any burnt out lightbulbs in fixtures and dispose of the old bulbs properly. Then dust window sills and wall ledges with either a duster or damp paper towel, for a fresher, dust-free look. Window washing and ceiling fans cleaning may be needed, so determine to the best of your ability if these areas are in need of attention. Utilize a damp microfiber cloth, paper towel or duster for these areas as well.
2. Floors and stairs
Perhaps the most noticeable detail in a move-out cleaning checklist is making sure floors and stairs are restored correctly. Many landlords prefer that carpets be handled by a professional cleaning service, but hard flooring can typically be cleaned by the tenant. For hard surface floors, utilize a broom and dust pan to clean the initial crumbs and dust and then follow up with a mop to get a deeper clean. Note that tiles and grout need to be clean and free of mold or mildew as well, which is easily done with all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth or toothbrush. Additionally, linoleum should be well washed and swept. Hardwood or luxury vinyl should be cleaned as directed by the manufacturer and is better left up to professional cleaning services, but double-check with your landlord.
Consider cleaning walls as they can get dirty too. Think scuff marks, small holes and paint damage which are common marks that are able to be fixed or patched easily. If any of these marks are too large, let the landlord know they can note that instead of attempting to tackle it yourself, which could potentially result in more damage.
Some walls may need to be repainted when the lease concludes, which comes down to the personal preference of the landlord. Make sure to cross-reference damages covered in the security deposit as well so you're aware of what's needed to be cleaned.
4. Kitchen area
Don't worry if your appliances have wear and tear associated with use, that's common. Use all-purpose cleaner to clean out the fridge and microwave (if provided in your rental), with paper towels or a microfiber cloth. All-purpose cleaner wipes should be utilized to clean the outside of appliances along with a clean counter swipe as well.
Kitchen cabinets should be free from dust or debris as well as any food residue. Take a moment to also check for signs of pests such as ants or rodents while they're empty. Food residues can be especially hard to remove from refrigerators, cooking appliances and cabinets, so make sure to spend extra time in these areas.
Dishwashers typically don't need much tending, aside from a quick wipe of the outside surface. For your oven, check to see if there is a clean mode. If there is, utilize this tool to clean your oven without any manual labor.
Underneath the sink and drains should also be both clean and in working order. Tenants should remove personal cleaning supplies from this area as it's often easy for them to leave without taking these items. Turn on faucets to check for both cleanliness and potential repairs. And lastly, trash and recycling should be emptied, once cleaning concludes.
5. Bathroom area
Bathrooms are prone to mold and leaks, making a final deep clean necessary. Regular cleaning and maintenance updates through a lease term normally prevent these issues from ever becoming serious, but this area is still worth time and detail when it comes to cleaning checklists.
A bathroom checklist should include tub, tile, shower surroundings and/or curtains, sinks, drains and toilet including the tank and toilet bowl along with all other surrounding surfaces. Utilize bathroom-specific cleaner or all-purpose cleaner to clear the bathroom of soap scum, hair and dirt along with mold and mildew.
6. Laundry room
Laundry rooms are also prone to mildew and mold. In the laundry room, make sure washers and dryers are opened and a cleaning cycle is run to determine if there is a mildew smell present. Make note of any smell to your landlord. All easily accessible filters need to be cleaned as well. Lastly, clean out the contents of the shelves in this room as these items are easily left behind.
7. Garages and patios
If your rental home has a garage or patio — you should also expect these to be part of your move-out cleaning checklist. While clearly, outdoor facilities cannot be spotless due to weather and use, the basic cleaning standard is still expected All debris should be removed and sweepable areas swept with a simple broom clean.
A larger concern with outdoor spaces is that tenants leaving any trash or belongings behind. Don't forget to include proper disposal of unwanted or damaged items in your checklist so you aren't tasked with hauling junk later.
There isn't too much to clean but this is an important spot to double check before you head out. Yard maintenance should be done according to your lease agreement, typically surrounding pets. Clean any pet-associated debris to assist in ensuring a smooth move-out process.
A clean home is a happy home
There are so many different areas that should be cleaned and inspected upon move-out. Remember to double-check any cleaning responsibilities with your landlord before you complete a thorough walk-through during the move-out. Lastly, keeping detailed records and photographs of the apartment's condition before you leave can provide extra peace of mind in case of any disputes over the security deposit come up.