Move Out Cleaning Checklist [A Guide to Keep Your Old Home Neat and Spotless]


Maria DeSouza

| Published September 20, 2023

Moving out can be a real pain, and the last thing you want is to be charged extra fees because you left your old place in a less-than-favorable condition.

So, we’ll walk through the move-out cleaning checklist and help you make cleaning more organized, efficient, and enjoyable!

Keep reading to make your tasks a breeze!

Understanding Move-Out Cleaning

It’s essential to clean your house or apartment thoroughly when moving out. If you’re renting, you can get your security deposit back, or if you own it, you can sell or rent it for a good price.

As you move out of a rented property, you’re usually required to leave it in the same condition as when you moved in. Otherwise, the cost of cleaning and repairs will be deducted from your deposit.

On the other hand, when you sell or rent your property, you want to ensure it’s clean and in good condition to get a better deal.

The Importance of a Move Out Cleaning Checklist

Now that you understand why move-out cleaning is essential, let’s discuss how a checklist can be useful. Having one can:

  1. Help you ensure that you don’t forget anything. A checklist helps you keep track of all the tasks that must be done.
  2. Help you avoid anxiousness. It breaks down the cleaning process into smaller, manageable tasks to make it feel less daunting and more achievable.
  3. Help you get your security deposit back or sell or rent your property competitively. If you clean the property to fair standards, you’ll most likely get your deposit in full or sell/rent your property at a favorable rate.

If you hire a professional move-out cleaning service, a checklist can help you communicate expectations and double-check the work to ensure the service is done to your satisfaction.

Pre-Move Out Cleaning Tips

A move-out cleaning checklist wouldn’t be complete without this information:

How Early Should You Begin Cleaning Before Moving

Generally, we recommend starting to declutter and slowly pack your stuff as soon as you have a move-out date. From there, you can clean and do minor repairs 1-2 weeks before you leave.

For busy households that cannot do these ASAP, you could start the process at least two weeks before your move-out date.

This should give you enough time to get everything done without getting overwhelmed. However, you may need to start earlier if you have a lot of furniture or belongings.

Here’s a general timeline you can refer to:

  • Two weeks before – Start by decluttering and packing your stuff. This will make cleaning easier and save you money on moving costs.
  • One week before – Start cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, and living room.
  • Three days before – Clean bedrooms, closets, and hallways.
  • One day before – Take care of any final cleaning and repair tasks, like patching holes in the walls, repainting, etc.

When hiring a professional cleaning service, schedule it at least a week before your move-out date.

Tools and Supplies Needed for a Successful Clean Up

If you don’t have these cleaning tools and supplies, a quick trip to the hardware store will set you right up:

  • Baking soda
  • Sponges
  • Mop
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Cloths
  • Dish soap
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Window cleaner
  • Squeegee
  • Paint (to touch up any chipping or peeling)

In addition, you may also need specialty supplies depending on your needs. For example, if you have pets, you might have to purchase a pet odor remover.

Remember to read the labels carefully. Always wear gloves and eye protection when using harsh chemicals. Also, test cleaners in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the surfaces in your house or apartment.

primary areas to clean before moving out

Primary Areas to Clean Before Moving Out

Before you start with your cleaning checklist, note that these rooms need extra attention:

  • Bathrooms – Bathrooms are often the dirtiest, so it’s crucial to thoroughly clean toilets, sinks, showers, and bathtubs.
  • Kitchen – The kitchen gets used a lot, so it should be cleaned well. Don’t forget the refrigerator and dishwasher!
  • Living area – This is probably the first thing your landlord or potential renter will see. Make it as spotless as possible.
  • Hallways and doors – These are often overlooked, but they can immediately elevate the whole space when cleaned. Don’t leave it dusty or with chipped paint.

The Ultimate Move-Out Cleaning Checklist

Refer to this comprehensive move-out cleaning checklist to ensure you don’t miss anything!

Room by Room Cleaning Checklist

We broke it down into sections so you’re not overwhelmed when cleaning up:

Bedroom Cleaning Checklist

Here is our complete move-out cleaning checklist for bedrooms:

  1. Cabinets, shelves, doors, mirrors, light switches – Wipe down all surfaces with a damp cloth and a mild cleaner.
  2. Furniture – Dust all surfaces and vacuum underneath.
  3. Floors – Vacuum and mop.
  4. Windows – Wash or wipe inside and out with a mild cleaner and squeegee.
  5. Baseboards – Dust with a feather duster or vacuum attachment.
  6. Mattresses – Vacuum and spot clean.
  7. Sheets, pillows, blankets, curtains – Wash and dry.

Living Room Cleaning Checklist

For common areas like living rooms, make sure these are done:

  1. Shelves, doors, door frames, light switches – Dust all surfaces and wipe spills or fingerprints.
  2. Carpet – Vacuum thoroughly and spot-clean any stains.
  3. Hard surface floors – Mop floors with a mild cleaner and dry with a clean towel.
  4. Windows – Wash the inside and outside with a mild cleaner and squeegee.
  5. Baseboards – Dust with a feather duster or vacuum attachment.
  6. Appliances – Wipe down with a damp cloth and clean any spills or messes.
  7. Furniture – Dust all surfaces and vacuum underneath.
  8. Cushions – Vacuum or shake out the cushions.
  9. Curtains – Wash or dry clean the curtains.

Kitchen Cleaning Checklist

Kitchens are some of the most heavily used rooms in the house. Here’s what you need to clean:

  1. Food – Remove all food from the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry.
  2. Large appliances – Clean inside and outside of the fridge, oven, dishwasher, and microwave. Wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth and a mild cleaner.
  3. Cabinets – Wipe interior and exterior of the cabinetry. Remove any items that aren’t yours and put them away.
  4. Countertops – Clean up spills or messes. Wipe down the countertop with a damp cloth and a mild cleaner.
  5. Sinks – Scrub the sink with a mild cleaner and a sponge. Remove any food particles or grease.
  6. Floors – Sweep or vacuum. Mop floors with a mild cleaner.
  7. Windows – Wash the inside and outside of the windows with a mild cleaner and squeegee.
  8. Baseboards – Dust the baseboards with a feather duster or vacuum attachment.

NOTE: You can also use this as a reference for your laundry room cleanup list.

Bathroom Cleaning Checklist

Bathrooms are notoriously tricky to clean! Here’s our definitive cleanup checklist for moving out:

  1. Toilets – Scrub with a toilet brush and a mild cleaner. Remove stains or build-up.
  2. Sinks – Scrub a mild cleaner and a sponge. Remove soap scum or build-up.
  3. Shower – Clean with a shower cleaner and a squeegee.
  4. Countertops – Wipe down with a damp cloth and a mild cleaner. Clean up spills or messes.
  5. Cabinets – Wipe down the inside and outside. Remove any items that aren’t yours and put them away.
  6. Floors – Sweep or vacuum. Mop with a mild cleaner.
  7. Baseboards – Dust baseboards with a feather duster or vacuum attachment.

Small Repairs

By doing these fixes, you have a better chance of getting your full security deposit back when you move out:

  • Patch holes in the walls – These are usually nail holes from hanging pictures. Use spackle or joint compound, then paint over them.
  • Fix leaky faucets – Tighten connections or replace the washers.
  • Fix broken appliances – Check the fridge, oven, microwave, bathroom fixtures, etc. Repair or replace broken ones.
  • Address stains – Use appropriate cleaners to remove discoloration and restore clean floors, doors, cabinets, countertops, etc. You can also paint over walls.
  • Examine common areas of the house – These areas are the likeliest to accumulate damage. Check them carefully for repairs needed. (e.g., scratched-up hard surface floors, damaged baseboards).

NOTE: If you are unconfident in doing repairs, hire a professional.

Advanced Cleaning: Deeper Clean for An Extra Shine

If you don’t want to hire a move-out cleaner but want that professional deep clean, keep reading!

Professional Cleaning Techniques to Use

Don’t stop with a sparkling sink and toilet when you deep clean the bathroom. Pros like us take time to clean the grout of your tiles to make the entire area look new.

We also use a steam cleaner to clean carpets and upholstery. This ensures that we eliminate bacteria or allergens lurking in the fibers.

You can also use a coffee filter on your furniture. Its fine fibers will pick up dust and dirt without scratching the surface.

When to Consider Hiring a Professional Cleaning Service

Cleaning services make the job so much easier. Properly cleaning the bathroom alone takes so much time and effort.

Additionally, professionals use advanced equipment, manage time efficiently, and produce results worth their fee. That said, their expertise could be costly.

We suggest working with pros if you can’t make time to clean the property thoroughly AND have some cash to spare.

Cleaning for Landlords and Property Managers

Here’s a quick guide on who’s responsible for what when moving out:

The Landlord’s Cleaning Responsibilities

If the apartment is part of a larger complex, the landlord may be responsible for cleaning the hallways and stairwells, while the tenant is responsible for cleaning their unit.

If the house is detached from other properties, they may be responsible for cleaning the entire property, including the exterior.

They are NOT responsible for cleaning the tenant’s personal belongings, such as furniture and appliances.

However, landlords are responsible for cleaning the rental property AFTER the tenant moves out, especially when the tenant leaves it dirty or damaged (e.g., peeling paint).

In this case, the cost of cleaning and repairs is usually deducted from the tenant’s security deposit.

It’s important to note that these are just GENERAL guidelines. The specific cleaning responsibilities of landlords vary depending on the leasehold estate and state laws.

The Tenant’s Cleaning Responsibilities

Both parties need to know what tenants need to clean when moving. They often use the term “broom clean,” but what does this mean?

There is no agreed-upon or legal definition, but generally, tenants should leave the property in more or less the same condition as when they moved in (with justifiable signs of wear).

It should be free of personal items, trash, and debris. For example, if the paint on the walls is severely damaged, you should take care of it before handing over your keys.

Though sometimes a complete cleanup job isn’t needed, many prefer to be cautious. Speak to your landlord to get clarification.

Here are additional tips for tenants when moving out:

  • Pay special attention to the areas most likely noticed by the landlord.
  • Don’t forget to clean the light fixtures and ceiling fans.
  • Make sure to clean up any pet hair or smells.

How a Clean Property Attracts Quality Tenants

A clean property is a big draw for quality tenants looking for a fresh start.

A property that’s clean inside shows new owners that you are a responsible landlord who cares about your tenants and their experience.

Potential tenants are more likely to be interested in a clean, well-maintained property that makes a better first impression.

Furthermore, you can make more money on your investment as tenants are willing to PAY MORE for a pleasant and comfortable experience within those four walls.

Frequently Asked Questions

To complete your move-out cleaning checklist, here’s more helpful information:

Why Is a Move Out Cleaning Necessary?

Move-out cleaning is necessary to avoid losing your security deposit, make a good impression on your landlord/new homeowners, and make the future tenant’s move-in process much easier.

Getting a cleaning service to ensure the property is left tidy might be a good idea!

How Much Does a Professional Move-Out Cleaning Cost?

The cost implications for professional services can depend on the property’s size, the level of cleaning required, and the location.

It can cost from $150 to upwards of $500. Each cleaning company computes the cost differently, so it’s best to get quotes to find the best deal.

Can I Do the Move Out Cleaning Myself?

ABSOLUTELY! But make sure that the condition is up to your landlord’s standards. Otherwise, you may be charged for additional cleaning costs.

Check out professional cleaning services in Boston if you’re unsure.

How Long Does It Take to Clean a House Before Moving Out?

It depends on the property’s size, how many people are helping, and how clean you need it to be.

As mentioned, we recommend dedicating at least two weeks to accomplish all the tasks. When working with a professional cleaning service, give them at least a week.

How Can I Ensure I Get My Deposit Back after Moving Out?

Here are some steps you’ll want to take:

Understand your landlord’s expectations for cleaning and repairs before you move out.
Take pictures or videos of the property before you move out to protect yourself if the landlord tries to claim that you damaged it.
Clean floors, walls, appliances (especially the fridge, oven, and microwave), and fixtures thoroughly. You may want to hire a cleaning company.
Repair any damage that you caused and return ALL keys to the landlord.
Request a move-out inspection and ask the landlord to sign off on the property’s condition.


In this article, we did a walk-through of a move-out cleaning list to make moving less overwhelming and more efficient.

Remember, it’s more manageable to do the job by rooms so that everything is cleaned thoroughly. If you can’t dedicate enough time, getting cleaning services from PROFESSIONALS is a good option.

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