When you move into a rental, you want it to be very clean. When you are moving on to the next place, the last thing you want to do is clean. But this work doesn’t happen by magic, and it must be done, so just throw on some tunes, involve the kids or roommates and get down to it.

The first place to start is by talking to your landlord about expectations. Some places charge a nonrefundable cleaning fee. If this is the case, find out what you do not have to do. Discuss anything in need of repair, and agree on what is your responsibility and what is normal wear and tear (the landlord’s responsibility).

You can also hire someone to clean for you, or do part like the windows.

Spiffing up the place to the condition it was when you moved in (or close to it) is the best way to see the most deposit dollars back. If your landlord doesn’t provide a checklist, here are some typical things expected of tenants when they move out.



  • Take all nails and screws out of the walls and ceiling and fill holes smoothly. Cover with touchup paint if your landlord has provided this. However, don’t go out and buy paint without discussing this with your landlord first.
  • Dust the ceiling fixtures, including lights and fan blades. Ceiling fans are often overlooked.
  • Dust all ledges and scrub basebords.
  • Clean the windows.
  • Clean the door knobs and doors.
  • Clean all light switches and outlets.
  • Clean the walls and baseboards.
  • Vacuum, get any stains out of the carpet, and get it cleaned. Some lease agreements may specify if you need to have the carpet professionally cleaned. Otherwise you can do it yourself.
  • Get rid of all cobwebs, dust and dirt in corners and crevices.


  • Get soap scum off the bathroom tiles and tub/shower. Bleach the grout.
  • Clean out the bathroom drawers and vanity, making sure you get all the hair out. Remove any installed items like shelving.
  • Clean the toilet, sink, countertop and finally the floor (sweep and mop). If the toilet seat is unsavory looking, replace it.
  • Clean the mirror.
  • Vacuum out the surface of the bathroom exhaust fan if dusty.


  • Clean out all cabinets and wipe down with disinfectant wipes.
  • Wash the front of the cabinets.
  • Clean and disinfect all countertops.
  • Clean and shine up the sink and faucet.
  • Remove all food items. Don’t think the next person or your landlord could use something unopened. It’s better to donate usable items. Scrub the refrigerator inside and out. Remove all shelves and clean separately.
  • Scrub the oven inside and out. Remove shelving, drip pans and burners and clean underneath.
  • Clean out the dishwasher if you have one.
  • Clean range exhaust fan if needed.
  • Remove all appliances and sweep behind them. A fridge will generally roll forward for cleaning. A range may be more difficult. Make sure you have help, or ask your landlord if this is required.

Bedrooms/Living Room:

  • Dust, sweep, vacuum and mop these rooms once you removed your items. Don’t forget to clean light fixtures.


  • Should be completely empty and swept.


  • If caring for the lawn is your responsibility, cut the grass and pull weeds.
  • Scrub the lanai or deck and wipe down lanai furniture.
  • Take all garbage and recycling off property.


  • Ask you landlord to come over and do a final inspection. They may give you an opportunity to correct things that may otherwise be deducted from your deposit.
  • Don’t leave any possessions behind or toss things like tires or other hard to recycle materials in the bushes. Your landlord can charge you for storage and/or removal.

Feel good that you left your place in good condition. Say goodbye, lock it up and go to the beach!