Before moving out of your current rental and into your new apartment, there’s a lot to do: signing the lease, planning, packing, and yes, cleaning. While you may be tempted to get the heck out of there as quickly as possible, failing to clean your apartment before moving out may cause you to lose a portion, or all, of your security deposit. Make sure to go over your lease agreement and make note of the stipulations of moving out. If there’s nothing mentioned, you may need to check with your landlord to gauge their expectations. Once you’ve done that, you can come up with a move-out cleaning checklist. If you can manage it, it’s best to clean your apartment after you’ve already moved into your new place, as furniture and boxes won’t be in the way. To make sure you don’t miss anything, follow this moving-out cleaning checklist:

Quick Moving-Out Checklist

  • Remove all nails from the walls and cover the holes with spackle.
  • Dust all ledges, light fixtures, nooks and crannies, including ceiling fans, staircases and window frames.
  • Get rid of any scratches or marks on the walls by using a trisodium phosphate substitute and a magic eraser.
  • Vacuum all carpeting, and sweep and mop hardwood and tiled floors.
  • If necessary, hire professional cleaners to remove stains from carpeting.
  • Wipe down baseboards, walls, doors and doorknobs with a wet washcloth or paper towel.
  • Use a glass cleaner to remove smudges from your windows.
  • Clean kitchen appliances using gloves and oven cleaner.
  • Wipe down all surfaces in the bathroom, including the sink, toilet, bathtub and shower.
  • Don’t leave leftovers in your refrigerator. Clear out the fridge and allow the entire unit to defrost before scrubbing it down.
  • Clean the exterior: Mow the lawn and remove any items that weren’t there when you moved in. If you have a porch or balcony, sweep and hose them down.
  • Sweep out the garage and hose it down.

In-Depth Moving-Out Cleaning List


If you want to make the bathroom sparkle and shine when moving out, all-purpose cleaner is your new best friend. Use it, along with a sponge, to scrub the floors, sinks and toilet bowl. To get any mold or stains out of nooks and crannies, use a toothbrush. If the grout in the bathtub is stained, apply some bleach. Don’t forget to clean the mirrors, wipe down the counters, and clear out all the drawers (be sure to remove any lingering hair as well). Finish off the process by vacuuming, mopping the floors and wiping down the walls and ceiling.


After removing everything from your kitchen cabinets and drawers, use a wet paper towel to wipe them out and clean the outside. Next, use your all-purpose cleaner to disinfect the countertops and clean the sink. Don’t neglect your oven! You can purchase a simple oven cleaner to make it sparkle. Before you begin, put down an old towel or newspaper in front of the oven. This will catch any leakage that drips from the oven as you clean. Spray the interior of the oven, and once it sits for a while, use a scraper to remove grease and grime. Clean the stove using an old sponge and/or scouring pad, then rinse and wipe down. Then, move large appliances like your refrigerator (you’ll want to wipe that out as well) so you can sweep behind them. If you have a dishwasher, you’ll want to disinfect it. Newer models may have an anti-bacterial mode, but for older models, a cup of vinegar in the top rack can do the trick. Finish the process by sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor.


Once you’ve removed all of the furniture from your bedroom, it should take no time at all to clean. Begin by dusting the ceiling and wiping down the walls and baseboards. If there is a radiator in your room, be sure to dust that, too. Make sure to wipe down the ceiling fan and walls, using an appropriate cleaner for the material. Use a cloth and glass cleaner to wash the windows. Don’t neglect the window pane and frame. Next, sweep the entire room before vacuuming and then mopping. If you painted your bedroom walls something other than a neutral color while living there, ask your landlord if you are required to paint them white before moving into your new apartment.

Living Room

Make sure to give the living room a good scrub down, too. Just follow the same process you used for your bedroom and you should have no trouble at all! If you have carpet in your living room, vacuum and deep clean to remove stains. If your living room floor is hardwood, you should use a wood-cleaning agent to bring out the shine. If your furniture left dents in the carpet, here’s how to remove them.

The cleaner your apartment is when you leave, the greater the likelihood of your entire security deposit being returned to you.


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