Your Ultimate Apartment Cleaning Checklist

Before moving out of your current rental and into your new apartment, there's a lot to do: sign the lease, plan the move and pack your stuff. But you also need to do a deep clean of your apartment before you move out. While you're tempted to walk away as soon as the last box is gone, failing to clean your apartment before officially moving out may cause you to lose a portion, or all, of your security deposit money.

Before handing over the keys to your old apartment, your landlord will do a walk-through to inspect the unit to look for damage and check that the apartment is clean. 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 to give your apartment the deep cleaning it needs. 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 aren't in the way. To make sure you don't miss anything, use this move-out cleaning checklist to leave your apartment spotless.

Cleaning supplies

First things first: you'll need to have a range of cleaning supplies ready to tackle this cleaning job. You'll likely have most of these items on-hand anyway for your regular cleaning. But you'll want to ensure that these supplies haven't already made the journey to your new apartment. Put your cleaning arsenal aside and make sure they're the last items to leave your apartment so you have everything you need to keep your apartment tidy and spotless. Your supplies should include:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Paper towels
  • Rags
  • Various cleaners (all-purpose, toilet, etc.)
  • Toilet brush
  • Broom
  • Mop
  • Duster
  • Sponge

cleaning refrigerator

Kitchen

For many, the kitchen is one of the most-used rooms in any apartment. For this reason, make the kitchen a priority during move-out cleaning.

Refrigerator

Remove all shelves and drawers from your fridge and clean the interior with a cleaner and paper towel. Clean all the shelves as well before putting them back in. Then move the refrigerator and sweep behind and under it.

Stove and oven

Use an oven cleaner to remove interior grime. Then, spray the oven's interior and use a scraper to remove grease and grime. Remove and clean the drip pans. Don't forget to clean the exhaust fan, as well.

For the stove, clean the stove using an old sponge and/or scouring pad, then rinse and wipe down.

Cabinets, drawers and countertops

Remove all items from kitchen cabinets and drawers and wipe both inside and outside with a wet paper towel. Wipe down and disinfect all surfaces with cleaner or disinfectant wipes.

Dishwasher

Disinfect the dishwasher by putting a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container and running a hot cycle. Wipe down the exterior door, as well.

Sink

Clean the sink basin, faucet and handles. Clean the drain by dumping a tablespoon or two of baking soda on it and then pouring white vinegar over it.

Floor

Sweep or vacuum and mop the floor.

cleaning bathroom

Bathroom

If you want to make the bathroom sparkle and shine when moving out, an all-purpose cleaner is your new best friend. Be sure to clean every nook and cranny in your bathroom to guarantee you'll get your deposit back.

Toilet and toilet bowl

Use a toilet brush to scrub the toilet bowl, then wipe down the toilet lid, tank and handle.

Sink, countertops, etc.

Use an all-purpose cleaner to clean all the countertops and surfaces around your bathroom. Thoroughly clean the sink, faucet and handles. If your bathroom has an exhaust fan, don't forget to clean that, as well.

Faucet and showerhead

Fill Ziplock plastic bags with a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar. Secure each bag around the faucet or showerhead so the head is fully submerged. Leave them to soak for several hours or overnight. Once done, remove the bag and turn on the water to flush it out. This will remove, grime, mold and other nasties.

Soap scum

Soap scum is the milky-white residue left behind on surfaces by materials like calcium stearate and magnesium stearate used in soap. It leaves stains similar to hard water stains. To remove soap scum from the different fixtures in your bathroom, you can use a commercial cleaner. But you can also make your own with distilled white vinegar and baking soda.

Mirrors

Use a glass cleaner and microfiber cloth to clean mirrors without leaving residue or streaks.

Floors, tiles, etc.

Use bleach and other heavy-duty cleaners to remove grout, stains and mold from floors and other surfaces. An old toothbrush will help you really get into the cracks and fine lines between the bathroom tiles. After a thorough scrubbing, vacuum and mop floors.

Shower and bathtub

Wash and wipe down the shower and bathtub. If necessary, scrub with a sponge and cleaner to remove stains.

Cabinets, drawers, etc.

Wipe down the interior and exterior of all drawers and cabinets.

cleaning fan

Bedroom

Once you move out all of the furniture from your bedroom, it should take no time at all to clean the room. If you painted your bedroom walls something other than a neutral color while living there, be sure to ask your landlord if you're required to paint them white before moving into your new apartment.

Walls, baseboards, surfaces, etc.

Dust the ceiling and wipe down all walls, doors, baseboards, light fixtures, ceiling fan blades, shelves, closet floors and any other surfaces.

Windows

Use a cloth and glass cleaner to wash the windows.

Floor

Sweep the entire room before vacuuming and mopping.

apartment cleaning checklist scrubbing floor

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!

  • Vacuum carpeting and remove stains
  • Sweep and mop hardwood floors
  • Dust baseboards and ceiling fans
  • Wash windows with a glass cleaning spray and cloth

apartment cleaning checklist people cleaning windows

Other apartment cleaning tips

Don't forget to scan every inch of your apartment for final touch-ups before you move out. Keep these things in mind as you're cleaning.

  • Remove all nails from the walls
  • Patch holes and repair any drywall damage with spackle
  • Dust all ledges, light fixtures, ceiling fans, staircases and window frames
  • Get rid of any scratches or marks on the walls by using a magic eraser
  • Vacuum all carpeting and sweep and mop hardwood and tiled floors
  • Wipe down baseboards, doors, doorknobs and light switches
  • Clean windows and remove smudges and stains with a glass cleaner
  • Dust and inspect the smoke detector to ensure it's in good working condition for the next tenant
  • If you have a lawn, mow and remove any items that weren't there when you moved in
  • If you have a porch or balcony, sweep and hose them down
  • With a broom clean out the garage and hose it down
  • Take out the trash and anything to throw out

Hire a cleaning service

Have too much on your plate while moving out to properly and thoroughly clean? Hire a cleaning company to do the dirty work for you. Cleaning services are experts in deep cleaning and will make your apartment perfect for the move-out inspection. Hiring a move-out cleaner will take one task off your moving checklist, save time and help ensure you get your deposit back.

Printable apartment cleaning checklist

Use this printable move-out cleaning checklist to clean your apartment from top to bottom.

The cleaner your apartment is when you leave, the greater the likelihood of your entire security deposit being returned to you. Making a big move? Be sure to check out our ultimate moving checklist for more great tips.

Zoe BaillargeonZoe Baillargeon is an award-winning writer and journalist based in Portland, Oregon, where she covers a variety of beats including travel, food and drink, lifestyle and culture for outlets like Apartment Guide, Rent., AFAR.com, Fodor's, The Manual, Matador Network and more. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, reading and spoiling her cat.

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