Cleaning tools and moving boxes in an apartment living room.
Moving Tips

Cleaning Checklist for Moving Out of an Apartment


There’s a lot of excitement when moving apartments. Whether you’re starting life in a new town or moving to another place within your current city, once you’ve found a home, it’s hard to be patient with the process of getting into it.

But for a successful move-in, you first have to have a thorough apartment move-out from your current apartment. This means following the terms of your current lease agreement and performing a focused house cleaning, leaving your apartment as close to its original state as possible.

There are printable checklists from reliable sources you can use to guide your moving journey. If observation leads you to believe the cleaning necessary is more than you can do yourself, it’s understandable if you want to hire a cleaning company to do the work. Be sure to closely read your lease agreement to understand your cleaning responsibilities and how much of your security deposit you may be eligible to get back if you do a thorough enough job. Some property management companies will waive charges for normal wear and tear and others may charge a nominal fee for general cleaning. Almost all companies will charge a move-out fee for cleaning or repairs above and beyond a normal scope of work to return the apartment to its original condition.

From cobwebs to baseboards, read below for some handy tips on how to best clean your apartment from top to bottom!

Your Move-Out Cleaning Checklist: A Blank Slate

The first thing you want to do is make sure you can return your old apartment to a sort of blank slate. This means clearing out all personal items – even shelving and over-door hangers you brought in, which will help you continue your deep cleaning.

Clearing out your items will come in handy, for instance, while you’re vacuuming every square inch of your space you can reach. You want to detail the living room, sure, but you also want to get the laundry room, hardwood floors, and even your closets. It’s ideal to do this after the movers clear your place, but it’s also possible to do it beforehand and do a touch-up afterward.

Wiping Down

After you vacuum, you’ll want to dust and wipe down every (every) surface. It can be good to have a variety of cleaning supplies on hand, but for this, all you need is a paper towel and some all-purpose cleaner, or you can try your hand at creating your own non-toxic household cleaning solutions. You can use the cleaner to clean the ledges and windowsills, and other hard surfaces around the house.

There are other things to dust you might not think about. Your exhaust fan collects a lot of dirt, along with the blades of any ceiling fans you may have. All of these need to be wiped down and so do your light fixtures in addition to the light bulbs inside them. Just make sure the lights are off and cool before you attempt a cleanup.

You want to make sure you’re keeping an eye out for signs of grime, grout, and mildew you’ll need to dedicate special attention to during your time cleaning.

Business as Usual

Once your apartment has gone through a deep clean, you’re probably already familiar with a lot of what is left to do. A good way to start is to scrub the baseboards and countertops with a basic disinfectant.  This will also work for heavily touched areas like light switches and doorknobs.

You can get a lot done by simply looking around each room and seeing what you notice. The inside of your kitchen cabinets will probably have some stray crumbs for you to scrape out and your windows might also need some glass cleaner. Even after vacuuming hardwood areas, it’s an excellent thought to put some time aside to mop the floors.

The general idea is to clean with more careful attention than you usually do to be sure you get those hard-to-reach areas you might otherwise ignore in your regular day-to-day.

Don’t worry — you don’t need to have every top-of-the-line cleaning bottle and spray. In fact, you can use the opportunity to get more creative as you clean.

Find New Solutions with Old Tools

It’s common to think you must rely on specialized cleaning solutions, but often stains and spots can be removed with pastes and sprays made of things like vinegar, baking soda, and warm water. For oven cleaner, you can scrub your drip pans with baking soda and water to get them sparkling clean, and you can use a similar mixture to get food particles off the stovetop.

While in the bathroom, vinegar can be used to take hard water stains off faucets and the inside of the toilet bowl. Soap scum is a menace, but it’s no match for a spray concoction of equal parts vinegar and water.

The Bother with Bleach

Like other chemical-based cleaning products, bleach as a solution is an effective disinfectant. However, it’s good to keep in mind it isn’t effective at cleaning mold and mildew on wood-based, fabric, or other porous materials.

It might be in your favor to skip chemicals like bleach entirely and try a more natural cleaning solution based on things you may already have on hand. You can look online for the right mixture for your cleaning needs, and you’ll probably be surprised by how useful household ingredients can be.

It’s also important to be aware of what household chemicals can and can’t be safely mixed. For example, you should never mix bleach and vinegar! Take a look at this list to ensure you stay safe during your cleaning by never concocting a dangerous combination.

Before You Go

After you’ve put in all the work to ensure your apartment is thoroughly cleaned, make sure you take photographic evidence of how you left each room. Taking photographs creates proof of the state you left your apartment in, should you need it for any reason in the future. Once complete, ask for your move-out inspection.

Apartment living can be dreamy. At Essex Apartment Homes, we believe we’re the right people to help your apartment dream come true. We’ve given advice before on what to consider when renting an apartment, and if you’re looking for a new place to live, we want to be a part of your consideration.

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Explore our nearly 250 apartments, such as Mission Peaks II or Stevenson Place in Fremont, and learn more about current leasing or move-in specials and pricing.