The Best Way to Clean an Apartment or House Before Moving Out, According to an Expert

Knowing the best way to clean an apartment or house before moving out can make a world of a difference. That is especially true if you want to get all (or most of) your deposit back. That said, cleaning before moving isn’t just about Swiffering the floors and making sure your countertops look sparkly — though it does help — it’s about knowing what areas to focus on (aka deep clean) and what your landlord might check once you’re all moved out.

We tap a cleaning expert to learn the best way to clean an apartment before moving out, ahead.

Dust cleaner

Make sure to wipe down all countertops and other surfaces before moving out. | DutchScenery/Getty Images

Wipe down countertops

It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it gets overlooked. According to Mary Gagliardi, Clorox spokeswoman and stain expert, “easily cleanable surfaces should be cleaned even if not required to make a positive impression and increase the chances [of getting back] most, if not all, of the deposit.”

Stack boxes in the middle of the room

Moving can be messy — and boxes always tend to get in the way. To ensure you can get to some of the top-priority places, Gagliardi suggests stacking boxes in the middle of a room “so you have access to window blinds and baseboards for dusting, as well as the floor perimeter for sweeping or vacuuming.” As for the center of the room? Gagliardi says don’t worry about that until after the boxes are out.

Request preliminary walkthrough

One of the best ways to clean an apartment or house before moving out is to get some insight. “Midway through packing, get your landlord to do a preliminary walkthrough to help you identify any areas you will need to address,” suggests Gagliardi. “This is a good time to figure out if he considers the picture hook holes ‘excessive’ and you need to spackle them,” she adds.

Deep clean your stovetop and exhaust fan

Don’t wait until your last day to “deep clean your stovetop and exhaust fan,” says Gagliardi. “Stagger these more labor-intensive cleaning jobs with the packing as you go, and then on move-out day they will only need a quick wipe down.” Since these areas tend to err on the side of greasy, Gagliardi suggests using a heavy-duty formula like Formula 409 Antibacterial All-Purpose Cleaner.

Clean your refrigerator last

You might be anxious to clean out our fridge as soon as possible, but Gagliardi says to wait until move-out day. “Since you need to remove everything from the refrigerator to clean it, this is a great job to do on the last day as you pack up the contents.”

Cleaning shower or bathroom grout with a scrub brush

Don’t overlook your shower or bathtub. | Eike Leppert/iStock/Getty Images

Take a closer look at your shower and bathtub

Soap scum and mildew love bathrooms and you might have looked past some of it, but your landlord won’t. According to Gagliardi, “excessive mold and mildew can cost you some of your deposit.” With that in mind, it’s important to tackle this cleaning project with full force. Gagliardi suggests starting with the soap scum. Once you’ve lifted away the residue, turn your attention to the mold and mildew. “Depending on the severity of the problem, don’t wait until move-out day,” says Gagliardi. “Cleaning the bathroom the week before means it should only need a quick wipe down as you head out the door,” she adds.

Clean your toilet bowl

Think your toilet bowl doesn’t matter? Think again! Whether the toilet bowl has mildew buildup or not, cleaning it with a bleach connection can help get it sparkling again. Gagliardi suggests mixing ½ cup of bleach into the water in the bowl then “scrub with a toilet brush and wait ten minutes before flushing.”

Don’t forget the bathroom

In addition to your toilet bowl, your whole bathroom could benefit from a deep clean. “Don’t forget the bathroom sink, toilet exterior, and floor,” says Gagliardi. “Wiping down these surfaces with a bleach and water solution and then rinsing with clean water gets them ready for inspection.”

Save the floors for last

Cleaning the floors with boxes and furniture still inside can be troublesome. Instead, Gagliardi suggests saving the floors for last, “once everything else is cleaned out.”

Pack up cleaning supplies as you go

Lastly, Gagliardi says to keep an empty box nearby and pack up cleaning supplies as you go. Just be sure to keep the box open in case you need a product before moving day.

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