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Moving out? Here’s how to leave your apartment in good condition

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Maybe you’ve just bought a new house, are moving closer to family or just want to move to live in a new state. Whatever your reason for relocating, you'll want to leave your old place in a good condition. If you're selling up, you'll want to leave a good impression on new buyers. If you're leaving a rented property, you'll want to end your tenancy in peace with your landlord, should you need a reference down the line. In addition, leaving your apartment, condo or house dirty can be a deal breaker for getting your full deposit paid back.

Moving out? Here’s how to leave your home in good condition.

Deep-clean the house

A thorough house cleanup is one of the most underrated tasks when moving out. Always clean from the ceiling and work your way down to the windows, walls, floor, baseboards and carpet. The best time to clean is when you’ve removed all the furniture and boxes, which makes it easier to identify any dirty areas.

Cleaning lady cleaning the window of an old house

Here’s a simple move-out cleaning checklist that you will find useful:

  • Use a broom or vacuum cleaner to remove cobwebs from the ceiling and ceiling fans.
  • Next, move to the windows and vacuum them. Launder the curtains before hanging them back up. You can also use a microfiber cloth to dust the glass panes. Finally, wash the shutters using warm water and dishwashing liquid.
  • Use a slightly damp cloth to wipe the switches to remove fingerprints and stains accumulated over time.
  • Wash any wood items in the room such as baseboards, doors and windows to determine whether repainting is needed.
  • Check the walls for scratches and stains or any spots, as necessary. Depending on the walls’ condition after cleanup, it might be time for a fresh coat of paint. Just ensure you use the same paint used in the house. If unsure, ask the management for the name and permission if needed.
  • Clean the floors or vacuum carpeted surfaces. If you have stains on the carpet, try using baking soda or carpet cleaner. Hard surfaces might need steaming.
  • Don’t forget the bathrooms and kitchen – you might want to scrub the sinks and wipe cabinets and pull out the drawers and wash them thoroughly.
  • If you stay in a furnished rental, be sure to empty the fridge and wipe it down with warm soapy water. Also, don’t forget to thoroughly clean all other appliances, including the microwave, washing machine, and dishwasher.
  • Start cleaning the shower and tub days before moving out, because one cleaning may not restore the surface completely.

Let’s agree, this list of cleaning tasks is not a one-day job, and might be overwhelming if you are moving out at the last minute. As a result, you might want to hire a cleaning service, because this is the same thing the property manager will do. The only difference is they will charge you more for it. You can secure more of your deposit by hiring the service yourself.

Fix what you broke

For you to get your full deposit back, you must undo the damages you caused in the apartment. For example, if you drilled any holes for wall mounts, you will need to fill them with paste. As for large holes, you can get a mesh repair patch at the hardware and use it with spackle.

Additionally, check to confirm if all fixtures, plugs and light bulbs are working as they should in the fixture and fitting foam. Another common type of damage is bent, cracked, and broken window blinds. If you can’t straighten them, replace them with the same color and size at your hardware store.

Be sure to check any damage to the floor. Apartments with hardwood floors tend to be more prone to scratches than carpeted homes. Fortunately, the walnut method can help to fix shallow scrapes on the hardwood. The technique involves rubbing raw walnut over the scrape to try and blend it into the rest of the floor.

A woman over 60 in work clothes drilling a piece of wood in her workshop

If you have deeper scratches, a wood-colored marker at your hardware store is enough to disguise the scrapes.


The cost of dirtiness and minor damages can take a huge chunk of your security deposit. While some wear and tear should be deducted from the deposit, fixing the damage will certainly cost you less if you do it yourself before moving out. But apart from salvaging your deposit, you’ll stay on good terms with the property manager or landlord.

A couple over 50 sitting on the couch as they just moved into their new apartment

One last tip: Be sure to take a picture when you are done with cleaning and fixing to avoid the “she said, he said” stories. You can even go ahead and drop a photograph inside the closets and drawers to show you left everything clean and empty. If there are stains you think are normal, be sure to speak to the management about them.