The Ultimate Move-Out Cleaning Checklist: 20+ Things You Don't Want to Forget

Renters, double-check this list on move-out day.

No matter if you're relocating to a new apartment or buying a new house, moving can be pretty stressful. When you have a lot on your mind—packing up, picking renters insurance plans, changing your mailing address—cleaning the place you're moving out of can quickly fall down to the bottom of your to-do list. While hiring a cleaning service can help you check off this task, handling it yourself will save you some money and lets you tackle the cleaning on your own schedule. Decided to do the cleaning yourself? We've compiled the move-out cleaning checklist below so you can quickly make sure you have all of the frequently forgotten spots covered.

Renter's Guide to Move-Out Cleaning

If you're a renter, cleaning before you move out is important in order to get your security deposit back and to avoid a cleaning fee from your landlord or the building's management company. Before you start scrubbing, confirm what the expectations are. Sometimes management will provide their own cleaning list for you, and some leases will even state upfront what the costs will be if the place isn't properly cleaned before you move out. Below are the move-out cleaning basics you should be sure to cover.

Cleaning Tips

  • Clean from top to bottom. Just like we recommend for your regular cleaning routine, dust surfaces high up in the room, like ceiling fans or shelves, before cleaning lower surfaces, like floors. This way, you won't accidentally waft dust onto just-cleaned areas.
  • Work in stages. Depending upon how large the space is, cleaning all at once may be overwhelming. Break it up into chunks of time, starting with the areas you'll use the least between now and move-out day, such as a guest bedroom.
  • Allot time for last-minute cleaning. Even if you clean in advance of move-out day, there are some things you'll have to clean right before you leave, like the bathroom. Remember that once the furniture is moved out, you'll likely have to sweep up the dust bunnies that are uncovered.

Move-Out Cleaning Checklist

  • Dust the ceiling fans

    Try the pillowcase trick or this looped duster.

  • Remove any nails or screws from the walls

    If you used hardware to hang up artwork or shelves, now's the time to remove them and fill the holes with putty.

  • Wipe down walls and molding

    A dry microfiber mop will make quick work of this. Grab a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get out any scuffs or marks.

  • Clean the windows and wipe window ledges
  • Wash the doors

    Wipe them down with a damp microfiber cloth

  • Sweep and vacuum, then mop the floors
  • Dust any vents or exhaust fans
  • Dust blinds or window treatments (if you're leaving them)

In the Kitchen

  • Empty out and clean the refrigerator

    Have a cooler ready for any food you want to transport to your new place.

  • Clean the oven and stovetop

    Time to scrub all of the grease splatters off of your stovetop.

  • Refresh the dishwasher

    Grab some white vinegar and follow these steps.

  • Scrub and disinfect the sink (and the garbage disposal, if you have one!)
  • Wipe down and disinfect the countertops
  • Clear out the cabinets

    Once emptied, vacuum up any crumbs inside the cabinets, then wipe down the cabinet fronts and knobs.

In the Bathroom

  • Scrub the shower
  • Clean the sink and faucet handles
  • Don't forget the toilet!

    First, scrub the bowl, then wipe down the outside, including the tank.

  • Clear out and clean any cabinets.

Outside

  • If you have a lawn, mow the grass.
  • Sweep the patio, porch, stoop, and front walkway.

Laundry Room

  • Clean and deodorize the washing machine

    Follow these steps to make the washing machine look (and smell) brand-new. Then clean the outsides of both the washer and dryer.

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