a house cleaner in a green shirt wiping down a kitchen island with a cloth

Get Your Deposit Back: Move Out Cleaning Checklist

Moving is stressful. On top of having to book movers, pack your things, and disassemble furniture, you also need to ensure the place you’re leaving is clean for the next occupants. If you’ve sold your house, you want everything to be clean for the new owners as a courtesy but, if you are leaving a rental, a well-scrubbed place means getting your damage deposit back in full. There’s a lot that needs to be remembered in all of the moving chaos. In order to help you have your home well prepared for a move, we’ve created this cleaning checklist to use as a starting point and ensure that nothing gets missed. We’ve broken it down room by room to help streamline the cleaning process.

Clean out all closets and cabinets. Ensure that all of your personal items are removed, then wipe down the inside of cabinets, closet shelves, and hanging rods.

Scrub the bathroom. Beyond your regular bathroom clean, you’ll need to scrub down the shower walls and behind the toilet. Don’t forget about the fan, either, as that will likely need dusting or even a quick wash.

Unclog drains. It’s gross, we know, but you’ll want to ensure that sink and bathroom drains are clear and draining properly.

Clean out and wipe down the fridge and freezer. You’ll need to pull the fridge out and wipe down the walls and cabinets around it as well as clean up any crumbs and dust bunnies lurking there. Some landlords also require you to defrost the freezer so be aware of this.

Clean the stove and oven. This includes the rack inside and the drawer at the bottom. Take out the elements and wipe them down or, if you have a flat top stove, use the proper stove top cleaner to make it shine. Don’t forget to clean out the drawer underneath as well. Pull the stove out from the wall and clean the cabinets on either side as well the floor underneath.

Clear out the lint traps in the dryer. Not just the big external lint trap, but the one inside the dryer will need to not only have the lint removed, you’ll want to give it a good scrub to remove any laundry soap buildup.

Scrub the walls. Look for marks, oily hand prints, and anything else on the walls that can be cleaned off. The bathroom in particular tends to be susceptible to towel lint and dust as the walls accumulate condensation from hot showers.

Patch and paint any holes, scratches, and markings. Any marks on the walls that don’t come off from cleaning the walls should be touched up with paint. If you are renting, discuss with your landlord to see if they’d prefer to patch and paint themselves or if they have leftover paint that you can use.

Wipe down the baseboards. Remove the dust from any baseboards and baseboard heaters with a damp cloth or paper towel.

Clean the windows. Ensure that your windows, both inside and out—if you can, are clean and streak free.

Don’t forget balconies and patios. You’ll likely just need to wash windows, wipe down the window sills, and sweep off the deck, balcony, or patio. This is something that can likely be done in advance of your final clean. If you have a deck that needs some stain touch ups, be sure to do those well ahead of time.

Take out the trash and recycling. Now that you’re done with the parts of the checklist that require rags or paper towels, take out the garbage to leave yourself with a nice, empty space.

Sweep, vacuum, and mop. If your floors are all tile and/or wood, sweep the edges of the walls to get dust and dirt out into the open for easy vacuuming. Once vacuumed, mop the floors, ensuring that you don’t mop yourself into a corner but rather towards an exterior door. If your floors are carpet, you’ll need to vacuum and likely rent out a carpet cleaner to deep clean any stains.

While this checklist may feel exhaustive, it’s important to ensure every inch of your home is properly cleaned in order to receive your full damage deposit back, or even just as a courtesy to the new homeowners. To complete this list you have two choices: add it to your ever expanding list of things to complete for your move, or hire Cleaning With Love for our move out cleaning service. We’ll help take some stress out of your move by arriving once all of your items are removed and taking care of all the deep cleaning for you—from unclogging drains to deep cleaning the carpets. Give us a call or click here to request a quote to let us handle the cleaning while you focus on your move.