The Ultimate Move Out Cleaning Checklist, According to Experts

Moving to a new home can be an exciting and stressful experience. Between packing, sorting out clutter, and hauling heavy boxes, it’s easy to forget to clean your old home before handing over the keys. But leaving a clean and tidy space is crucial for new residents, and if you are a tenant, it will also help ensure your deposit is returned. That’s why we’ve put together an expert-approved move-out cleaning checklist for anyone leaving their home or apartment. So whether you’re moving out of a house in Albany, NY, or an apartment in Birmingham, Alabama, our cleaning checklist will help you clean every inch of your old space so it looks like new.

1.Highlight key areas

Moving can be a headache in itself. When you add the hassle of cleaning your house or apartment, it can be even more stressful. Carl Christian of Atlanta’s Green Maid shares, “I recommend that homeowners focus on the key areas that new tenants are likely to notice. Instead of spending valuable time scrubbing baseboards and windows, focus on ensuring appliances are secured and the interiors of the cabinets are immaculate. No one likes to find dirt or belongings from the previous occupants during the move-in process.”

2.Pay attention to your carpet

When cleaning your carpets during move-out, it’s a good idea to hire a professional cleaning service to ensure your carpets are thoroughly cleaned and any stubborn stains are removed. However, if you prefer to do it yourself, start by vacuuming to remove loose dirt and debris. Then, use a carpet cleaning machine with a cleaning solution to deep clean the carpet. Make sure you spot-treat any stains before running the machine and allow enough time for the carpet to dry completely before moving the furniture back into place.

On-Time Steam Cleaning offers tips on what to look for in carpets when moving to your next location. “If you notice a black line on the wall, in the corner of the rug, or at the end of the rug, that can help indicate something. Black lines appearing on the rug mean that the air isn’t circulating well throughout the house, which can lead to soot buildup. If this is the case, the air ducts may need to be cleaned.”

3.Organize your clothes

Josh from Morris Cleaning recommends paying attention to your clothes. Start by organizing your clothes by season and family member, then donate or sell any clothes you no longer wear. To save space, vacuum-seal packaged clothes in suitcases, and to protect your clothes, opt for local dry cleaning plastic bags or garment bags from the store.

4.Clean the inside and outside of windows

“Crystal clear windows make a huge difference and make everything in your home look cleaner, not to mention they let in more natural light,” says Geek Window Cleaning.

To effectively clean your windows, start by dusting or vacuuming the window frames and sills to remove any loose dirt and debris. Then, apply the window cleaning solution and use a squeegee to remove the cleaning solution and any dirt or grime from the surface of the window. Finally, use a microfiber cloth or newspaper to wipe down the windows and remove any remaining streaks or water spots. Don’t forget to clean your window frames and sills, as they can collect dust and dirt over time.

5.Consider having your roof professionally cleaned

If you are selling your home, Pacific Exterior recommends having your roof professionally cleaned before putting it on the market. “Since the roof is a major aspect that potential homebuyers see first, a roof cleaning can optimize their first impression. The results are stunning and last for years to come.”

6.Clean the exterior of the house

“Pressure washing the exterior of your home is a critical step in move-out cleaning,” says Mark Dye of M&D Power Washing. “Not only does it remove dirt, grime, and other debris that may have accumulated over time, but it also helps restore the original shine and color to your home’s exterior surfaces. Make sure to focus on high-traffic areas, such as sidewalks and driveways, and any areas of mold or mildew growth that may be present. A clean exterior can make a huge difference to the overall appearance and value of your home.”

7.Give yourself plenty of time to plan your move-out cleaning list

“Designate more time than you expect,” says Clean Arrival. “You might think move-out cleaning is simpler than regular maintenance cleaning because you’ve moved out all the furniture and belongings and don’t need to work around them. However, you’ve now exposed all that previously hidden surface area, and trust us, walls and ceilings are going to get dirty.”

8.Scan your room from right to left

Daniel Olin of Easyway Maid Service says, “Walk around your home and check everything from right to left. Most people naturally scan a room from left to right, which can cause your brain to stop recognizing certain objects because they become ‘part of the background.’ When you scan in the opposite direction of what you’re used to, things like light switches, dirty blinds, andwall marks become more noticeable. This technique can help you identify areas that need extra attention during your move-out cleaning process.

9.Don’t forget about appliances

Cleaning appliances is an essential part of move-out cleaning. Start with the refrigerator and remove all the shelves and drawers. Clean them thoroughly with warm soapy water, then wipe down the interior of the refrigerator with a mixture of water and vinegar or a mild cleaning solution. Make sure to also clean the dishwasher, oven, microwave, and any other appliances that came with the house or apartment.

10.Clean the bathroom thoroughly

The bathroom is another key area that requires thorough cleaning. Scrub the toilet, bathtub, and sink using appropriate cleaners. Pay attention to any mold or mildew growth and use bleach or a mold and mildew remover to eliminate it. Clean the mirrors, countertops, and cabinets, and don’t forget to wash the shower curtains or replace them if necessary.

11.Dust and clean all surfaces

Dust all surfaces in your home, including shelves, countertops, baseboards, and light fixtures. Use a microfiber cloth or a duster to capture the dust effectively. Wipe down all surfaces with a mild cleaning solution or a mixture of water and vinegar. Remember to clean inside cabinets and drawers as well.

12.Sweep, mop, and vacuum the floors

Before you leave, make sure to thoroughly clean the floors. Sweep or vacuum to remove any loose dirt and debris, then mop hard floors using a suitable cleaner. Pay attention to corners and hard-to-reach areas. If you have carpets, vacuum them thoroughly or consider hiring a professional carpet cleaner for a deep clean.

13.Check for any repairs or damages

Finally, before you move out, make sure to inspect the property for any repairs or damages that need to be addressed. This includes fixing any holes in the walls, repairing broken fixtures, and replacing any items that were damaged during your tenancy. Taking care of these repairs will help ensure you get your security deposit back and leave the space in good condition for the next occupants.

Remember, this is a general move-out cleaning checklist, and you may need to adapt it to suit your specific situation or the requirements of your lease agreement. It’s always a good idea to refer to your lease agreement or consult with your landlord or property manager to ensure you meet all the necessary cleaning obligations before moving out.