Cleaning Your Apartment When You Move Out

You won’t live in your apartment forever, no matter how much you like it. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American moves more than 11 times in a lifetime. 

Since you’re going to be moving so many times, you better learn the art of thoroughly cleaning the place before you go. When you’re moving from an apartment, your landlord likely has a strict cleaning policy for you to follow – otherwise, he/she will deduct cleaning costs from your deposit. 

According to Houston property managers, Green Residential, this standard cleaning policy is often called “white glove.” This term “refers to an extreme cleaning wherein ‘immaculate’ and ‘spotless’ are the standard. It means cleaning all of the spots off of the blinds, wiping baseboards until they shine, and even polishing the individual slats of the air vents.”

This standard of clean may be more stringent than you’re used to, so if you want to keep your full deposit, you’ll want to follow these four steps to impress your landlord upon final inspection of your place. 

1. Gather Your Supplies 

It’s hard to clean properly if you aren’t armed with the right tools. You’ll be able to clean faster, more efficiently, and more thoroughly with a full cleaning caddy. Here are a few things you’ll want to own: 

  • All Purpose Cleaner: Much of the job can be done with a good all-purpose cleaning spray. You don’t need to purchase an expensive bottle, but make sure you rinse away leftover residue. 
  • Microfiber Cloths: This material is much better suited for cleaning because it absorbs moisture and dirt without spreading it or becoming soiled too quickly. It also makes a great dusting cloth! 
  • Pumice Stone: No, this is not for your feet after a hard cleaning session – it’s for the rings in your toilet. A separate stone can also help with tough spots inside your oven. 
  • Oven Cleaner: Even if your oven has a self-cleaning function, there will likely be grime leftover. A good quality oven cleaner left to soak on said grime will make wiping it up a cinch! However, oven cleaner contains harsh chemicals, so if you’d rather avoid those, find a recipe for an all-natural oven cleaner that likely uses baking soda and vinegar. 
  • Clorox Wipes: It’s more expensive to use Clorox wipes, but it’s more convenient! 
  • Magic Erasers: These are perfect for polishing any white surfaces in your place, like baseboards, the bathtub, or the bathroom sink. 
  • Window Cleaner: It’s nobody’s favorite chore, but it has to be done, and you can’t do it without window cleaner. Rubbing alcohol mixed with water also works wonders for cleaning glass. 

You can accomplish most cleaning tasks with the items listed above, but if you want to add anything else to your caddy, feel free! The more tools you have to work with, the faster you can accomplish the task to perfection. 

2. Hit the Key Areas 

Your landlord may or may not provide a checklist of areas that he/she wants to see be cleaned. If not, pay attention to the big-ticket areas first. These will result in the biggest deductions from your deposit if they’re missed. These areas include: 

  • Kitchen: This will be a huge job, but it must be done! Pay special attention to the appliances, as they’re often the most-missed spots. Once that’s done, wipe down all the cabinets inside and out, and mop the floor. 
  • Bathrooms: Nobody wants to clean a dirty bathroom, especially your landlord. Thoroughly scrub the porcelain and tile surfaces with a bleach-based cleaner if possible. Don’t forget to wipe around the floor of the toilet in case of splashes or misses!
  • Floors: Ask your landlord if he/she plans to clean the carpets after you move out at no cost to you. Some apartments offer this service, and you don’t want to pay for it if you don’t have to. Otherwise, consider having the carpets cleaned. You can rent a carpet cleaner for less than $50 per day and do it yourself. Sweep and mop all floors as well. If you don’t know how to tell if your carpet is moldy, check out Dan Dan the Carpet Man’s guide

3. Don’t Forget These Spots!

Although the kitchen, bathrooms, and floors are the key areas of concern for any landlord, many will also want other areas of the apartment spotless as well. If you don’t give the following spots proper attention, you could rack up a hefty cleaning deduction from your deposit! 

  • Windows
  • Window wells and frames
  • Blinds
  • Baseboards
  • Vents
  • Light fixtures
  • Walls
  • Outlet covers

Visually inspect the space, and if you see dirt and grime anywhere, give it a quick polish! 

4. Attend Your Final Inspection 

Ask your landlord to do the final move-out inspection when you’re present. Have an all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloth with you. When he/she points out a spot that needs to be cleaned, attend to it right away. That way, there will be no reason to make cleaning deductions from your deposit!