How Clean Does My Rental Property Need to Be When I Move Out?

So your lease is up and you’re ready to move out? Congratulations! It’s an exciting moment when you can move out of your old place and into a new one. The last thing you want is to focus on the annoying parts of moving, like cleaning. It’s tempting to just leave a mess and be done with it all! Unfortunately, that plan comes with unpleasant consequences. You could lose a big chunk or all of your deposit. You’d also be going against the basic decency that comes with renting. Tenants are obligated to leave their rental as clean as they found. Here are some rental cleaning tips to make sure that your leasing karma is as secure as your deposit return.

1. Make It Look As New For Them As It Did For You

When you moved in, you were met with a spotlessly clean space. If it had been messy, you either wouldn’t have moved in or you would have had some choice words for the landlord. It only makes sense to leave the rental as clean for the new tenant as it was left for you. It’s natural to see a little wear and tear – especially on the floor and carpet. It’s not natural, however, to leave the floor with a big gross stain. If you don’t want a deduction from your deposit to pay for stain removal (or other unacceptable wear), make sure you leave things in good condition.

2. What to Clean: A Cleaning Checklist

First, remove all of your stuff. Then focus on deep cleaning. It’s much easier to give your rental a thorough wash when there are fewer items to worry about. From there, you can start with the following


• Clean all appliances, cabinets, and liners with the appropriate cleaners

• Clean and shine up the sink and faucet

• Clean and sanitize all countertops with surface cleaner

• Wipe the outside of the dishwasher (if you have one), and run it while empty with dish soap to make sure that it’s clean on the inside

• Unplug and move all appliances to make it easier to sweep underneath and behind them

• Scrub the floor and walls with a gentle cleaner that won’t strip the paint



• Clean and disinfect all of the toilets, sinks, faucets, bathtubs, and showers. Be sure to remove all soap scum, and bleach the grout

• Scrub the bathroom floors; removing scum off bathroom floor tiles, and bleach the grout if needed

• Vacuum the surface of the exhaust fan to remove any dust

• Clean the mirror with a glass cleaner. Don’t leave streaks!

Bedroom/Living Room

• Dust, sweep, vacuum, and mop every single inch of the living room and bedroom, and wipe down the baseboards if you have them

• Wipe down the windows with glass cleaner and the walls with a gentle cleaner that won’t strip the paint

• Remove any and all floor or carpet stains

Don’t forget to remove all of the trash. Otherwise, your landlord will charge you for its removal.

3. Revisit Your Rental Agreement

It could contain all of the information that you need regarding move-out responsibilities. Review your rental agreement to see if it provides you with a move-out checklist. If it doesn’t, consider asking your landlord or the management company if they have a list of their cleaning requirements.

Most landlords require a final walk-through with the tenant to make sure that the condition of the property is acceptable. Familiarize yourself with what they’ll be looking for to make sure you have met their expectations.

4. I Don’t Have Time to Clean-What Options Do I Have?

There’s so much to do when moving from place to place, and the whole process can be overwhelming. Especially if you have work, studies, or a family to tend to. If this is the case, you could opt to hire a cleaning crew to take care of the job for you. Hiring a Carpet Cleaning Houston company is a good start! The carpets are essential to everything else as it’s the first and most viewed thing when they do the walkthrough. These companies use a truck-mounted cleaning system that thoroughly cleans, disinfects, neutralizes odors, and bacteria that accumulates. Stains also need the TLC and experience these companies provide by default.

Just make sure that you provide the cleaning company with a copy of your landlord’s move-out cleaning checklist. If you aren’t given one, create a cleaning checklist yourself. Additionally, if you’ve accumulated too much stuff to actually take with you, you may consider having it hauled away. Click here for an example of a company that will do this for you. Whether you’re hiring a cleaning or haul away company, do your research to find a reputable company that can do the job for a price that you can afford.

If you choose to clean the rental yourself, do it as close to your move-out date as possible. This ensures that the space is as clean as it can be when you do the final walk-through and key return.

5. Will I Get My Full Deposit Back When I Move Out?

Yes, but only if you have cleaned up the property in accordance with the management’s specifications. The goal is to return the rental to its former glory. If you leave the place messy or any damaged, the landlord can cut your deposit to pay for the repairs, including cleaning the whole house/apartment, carpet cleaning, repairing broken appliances, or repainting the walls.

Every state has rental laws regarding what a landlord can and can’t deduct. Make sure to confirm with your state to ensure that your deposit is not unfairly reduced.

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