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Apartment Cleaning Move-Out Checklist for Max Security Deposit Return

It’s time to move out of your apartment, and hopefully, you haven’t spilled anything on the carpet or scratched any of the wood. If you haven’t damaged anything, you can get your entire security deposit back just by cleaning. It takes time to clean an apartment, but if you do it yourself, you’ll give yourself the optimal chance of recouping your cash. So, whether you’re moving long distance into a new house that you just purchased, moving into a better apartment, or even downsizing into a smaller apartment, here is a checklist for cleaning out your old place first:

1. Check for Personal Items

Make sure that you check all areas of the apartment and its outdoor space. It’s easy to forget a frying pan in the drawer underneath the stove, so be sure to check everywhere so that you don’t leave anything behind.

2. Dust Ceilings, Woodwork, Vents, and More

There are many areas of the home that most people don’t clean regularly. Here are a few things you look for as you clean-up:

  • Cobwebs: Corners, such as ceilings and near the baseboards are places that spiders like to spin their webs.
  • Dust: It collects on almost all surfaces, but places you should check include light fixtures, baseboards, tops of cabinets, and air vents.
  • Small Wall Holes: Remove nails and putty any holes that you have made by hanging pictures and artwork.
  • Dirt on Floors: Thoroughly mop all hard-surface floors, making sure to get into the crevices and corners. For carpets, make sure that you use a carpet cleaner, taking care to remove all stains.

You will also want to go through, room by room, to ensure that you don’t forget anything. Kitchens and bathrooms tend to require the most work, but don’t neglect bedrooms, either.

3. Clean Out the Garage

Many apartments come with garages, either attached or detached. Make sure that you don’t forget this critical space. You should thoroughly empty all personal belongings, take out any garbage, and sweep the floor. Also, clean up anything that your car might have left behind such as an oil spill or other vehicle fluids.

4. Clear Off the Patio

If you have a deck, balcony, or patio, don’t forget to take any furniture such as deck tables, chairs, planters, potting soil, or anything else that you’ve used to decorate or furnish. If you don’t want to take it with, consider selling it on Craiglist or donating it to a local thrift shop. Also, be sure to sweep the floor.

If you have an outdoor area that was solely yours, such as a small lawn area or a garden, make sure that you remember to take out any lawn ornaments or anything in the trees, like your string lights. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also powerwash the concrete, cut the grass, and pull out any weeds.

5. Wipe Down the Laundry Room or Closet

A laundry room or closet is a place that is easy to overlook, but it may have a few detergent spills and lint balls lurking around. Wipe down both the washing machine and dryer. You should also sweep and mop, taking care to pull the appliances away from the walls so that you can clean behind and underneath.

6. Tackle the Kitchen

The kitchen and the bathroom are two areas that you’ll want to schedule extra time for because it’s easy to miss items that are hidden way back in a cabinet. Plus, the kitchen will take extra prep time.

At least a few weeks before you plan on moving, start cutting back on the number of groceries that you buy. If you’re making a short distance move, it’s not that hard to carry some condiments and dry goods over to the new place, but an entire freezer and fridge of stuff could pose some problems. If you’re transporting the appliances, you’ll also want to clean out and unplug your fridge and freezer at least 24 hours in advance so that the freezer has time to thaw out. When you’re cleaning the inside, pull out all bins and racks so that you can get to the back of the fridge.

Make sure that check all your cupboards and Lazy Susans. Also, make sure that nothing has fallen out of your line of sight. Clean up all crumbs, grease, and spilled liquids with a damp cloth.

Oven and Range
Most people don’t like to clean their oven, but if you do it ahead of time, you won’t be so strapped for time during the final hours of your move. If you’ve only lived in your place a short time, it’s possible that you’ve never cleaned it, so you’ll have to figure out if it’s a self-cleaning one, or if you need to buy oven cleaner. Also, if you have an electric range, you can scrub the drip pans that collect spills underneath the burners, or you can buy new ones.

7. Move on to the Bathroom

Clean all the soap scum and limescale from the shower or bathtub area. This is another project that you might want to do ahead of time so that you only need to do a cursory scrub after your last shower at that place. You’ll also want to clean the toilet and double check in all cabinets. Wipe down the cabinets with mild soap and water, wipe out the sinks, medicine cabinet, and the mirrors.

8. Double Check the Bedrooms

Double check all storage areas, and then sweep, vacuum, mop, or shampoo the carpets.

9. Scope Out Closets and Storage Areas

It’s easy to miss things in these areas because you might have forgotten that you even owned the items that you have, so triple check them.

10. Don’t Forget Fireplaces and Other Bonus Features

If you have a fireplace or another bonus feature in your apartment, don’t overlook it.

There are many tricks to getting everything done right, but you can also check your lease or see if your apartment manager has a cleaning checklist online. But the general rule of thumb is to make sure that you’re leaving the apartment in the same condition it was when you moved in. Once the apartment moving company has loaded up your things, make sure to give the place a final vacuum and walk-through before handing over your keys.


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