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Move Out Cleaning Checklist for Tenant to Get Your Deposit Back

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 16 May 2017 22:35


When it comes time to vacate your rented apartment or house you want to be sure to do a thorough move out cleaning. This is one step that is absolutely necessary if you want to avoid these end of lease cleaning mistakes and get your security deposit back. Your landlord may have a list of things he or she requires. If not, use this move out cleaning checklist for tenant as a starting point.

Before you do your cleaning, pack up all of your belongings and either move them to your new living space or store them in the garage, if you have one. This way you won’t miss any spots.

Tenant Cleaning Checklist

All Rooms and Hallways

  • Remove all trash.
  • Empty all closets and built-ins, including shelf and drawer liners. Wipe shelving and rods clean.
  • Remove nails and screws form the walls. Spackle the holes in walls and putty the holes in woodwork. Sand smooth when the spackle and putty have dried.
  • Clean all windows inside and out.
  • Wipe down all windowsills.
  • Wipe down doors, door trim, window trim, and baseboards.
  • Dust or wipe clean all ceiling fixtures and fans. Replace bulbs if necessary.
  • Wipe clean all light switches, outlet covers, and door knobs.
  • Clean any smudges on walls.
  • Remove any cobwebs.
  • Wipe down radiators.
  • Vacuum rugs and remove stains. Consider hiring a professional steam cleaning company to perform deep cleaning services on stained carpets.
  • Vacuum air supply and return registers and grills. Replace filters if they are dirty.
  • Sweep and mop all resilient and hardwood flooring. This may be the last thing you do.


  • Clean the inside and outside of the range, cooktop, and wall ovens. Replace the light bulbs if necessary.
  • Clean the range hood and change the filter if necessary. Be sure to remove all grease.
  • Defrost the freezer. Wipe clean the inside and outside of the refrigerator and freezer, including shelves and drawers. Replace the light bulb if necessary.
  • Scrub the dishwasher and trash compactor clean to remove any mold and grime. Clean the outside of both.
  • Clean the garbage disposal to remove odors. You can purchase cleaning tablets that will handle this.
  • Completely empty all cabinets and drawers, including shelf and drawer liners. Wipe the insides and outsides clean, including knobs and handles.
  • Clean and sanitize all countertops and backsplashes.
  • Scrub the sink clean and shine the faucet.
  • Clean sink drain with a white vinegar and baking soda solution.
  • If possible, sweep and mop behind and under rolling or sliding appliances.


  • Clean and disinfect toilets, tubs, showers, and sinks, including faucets, showerheads, and valves. Shine after cleaning.
  • Clean drains with a white vinegar and baking soda solution.
  • Scrub all tile surfaces.
  • Clean and disinfect countertops.
  • Empty all cabinets and shelves, including removing shelf and drawer liners. Wipe clean inside and out, including knobs and handles.
  • Clean the mirror.
  • Wipe clean the exhaust fan.

Laundry Area

  • Empty all cabinets and shelves, including shelf liners. Wipe clean inside and out, including knobs and handles.
  • Clean the washing machine inside and out. Consider using a washing machine cleaning product that you can pick up at any market.
  • Wipe clean the dryer. Empty the lint filter and clean the vent if accessible.
  • Scrub tile floors if applicable.


  • Empty the fireplace of ashes.
  • If there is creosote build-up, consider having a chimney sweep in to clean it.

Basement and Attic


  • Remove any stored items that belong to you.
  • Vacuum attic floor.
  • Sweep and mop basement floor.


  • Empty and sweep or hose the slab if there is a drain.


  • Cut the grass, unless there is a lawn service.
  • Weed the gardens.
  • Hose off decks, patios, and walkways.
  • Hose out garbage/recycling cans and refuse bins that are remaining on the property.
  • Replace any light bulbs as necessary.

Final Items

Before you return the keys:

  • Make sure all trash has been picked up or taken to the dump. Donate or sell any items that you don’t want in your new place.
  • Be sure to call all utility and cable companies to have any services you pay for terminated or transferred back to the landlord.
  • Leave water main turned on, heat set at 58˚F so pipes don’t freeze, and leave some oil in the tank, unless the landlord has stipulated otherwise for these items.
  • A good practice is to document conditions when you first move in with photographs or videos and do the same before you lock the door and say goodbye. This may come in handy when you are asking for the security deposit to be returned.

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Sarah Smith

Sarah works with many real estate business owner to upskill their current license to further their employment prospects.

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