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How to Clean an Apartment Before Moving Out: Expert Tips

Critical areas to clean up before moving out - the kitchen sink
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By Star Domestic Cleaners on 24.11.2017

You found a new place, notified your landlord about the move, cancelled all your subscriptions, talked to your utility providers, packed your stuff, and left the rest to the movers. Now, all that remains before you turn the page is to clean the property you used to call home. Simple, right?

And that’s when most tenants realise just how much they underestimated this task. Cleaning a property to perfection, especially a house, isn’t easy. But even if you think you did a great job, your landlord can still end up denying your deposit because you’ve missed a few tricky spots.

As we, at Star Domestic Cleaners, provide tenancy cleaning services, we know how and what should be cleaned in your apartment so you can safely get your full tenancy deposit back and have your property ready to astonish any potential buyer.

Whatever your reasons may be, you need to clean your apartment thoroughly, following the right cleaning checklist. Here is ours, covering all the areas and places that should be sparkling clean during a move in or move out process.

Start by planning your apartment cleaning

Going straight to cleaning might sound like a good idea, but having to go back and clean an area you missed will extend this tiresome task longer than if you plan beforehand and follow a step by step checklist.

  • See what your tenancy agreement states about the state your apartment should be left in;
  • Make sure any personal belongings, luggage or other items are moved or stored somewhere where they won’t be on the way of the cleaning;
  • Prepare all the necessary equipment, supplies and your favourite music playlist to go through this process like a true hero;
  • Think of whether there is anything you need to repair or fix, which will require supplies and DIY skills, such as filling holes in the wall, fixing a door handle or a piece of furniture;
  • Think of how much time the cleaning will take you. Depending on the size of your apartment, that may vary from a few hours to a day or two;
  • Include which areas and rooms you’ll clean first and which last. High-traffic areas should be left for last so you don’t have to re-clean them at the end;
  • Write down each area, furniture or surface that we’ll list below and applies to your apartment and begin cleaning.

What to clean in your apartment bedroom when moving

As the bedroom will not be visited often during the last days of the moving, begin your cleaning there:

  • Hoover and wipe all dust from all areas including those hard to reach spots such as behind and under the bed, wardrobe, nightstand, desk and other furniture;
  • Dust and clean the windows, blinders, curtains, curtain rails, door frames, light fittings, picture frames etc.
  • Remove any fingerprints or other stains on the mirrors, doors, window sills, handles and other shiny or reflective surfaces and decoration;
  • Look for cobwebs and remove them, every inch of your apartment should be spotless;

Pro tip: Liberate Windows from Smudges and Dust

Grab a bucket with soapy water, since you can expect lots of hidden dirt to suddenly reveal its true, messy colours. You should also wipe the window sills and their underside area to ensure that your windows pass the “finger swipe” test.

Inspect all exterior areas

If you have a garage, a big terrace or balcony or any other exterior area that you are responsible for, make sure to:

  • Throw out any garbage and unnecessary items;
  • Check for any needed repairs, stains on walls and floors and wipe everything thoroughly;
  • Carefully clean each type of outdoor furniture you have.

Pro tip: Organise the Outdoor Space

If you have a yard or a garden, it’s imperative that you make it look as good as possible prior to your landlord’s inspection. If you added chimes, bird feeders or other decorations, consider taking them with you since your landlord can potentially fine you for leaving clutter behind. You should also consider cleaning the outdoor furniture, at least the dirtiest pieces.

Cutting the grass and pulling pesky weeds that may have cropped up should also be high on your to-do list. Collecting decaying leaves, spraying the deck down, and generally brooming the area are a few extra things you can do to leave your landlord pleasantly surprised.

Here is how to properly clean your dining and living room when moving

Similar to your bedroom, all floors, furniture, windows and other surfaces must be hoovered, dusted and wiped.

  • Check all drawers and clean inside each one;
  • Dust and wipe your upholstery and inspect for any stains you need to clean;
  • Open any foldable furniture and clean all the dust;
  • Mop hard floors and vacuum all carpets and rugs;
  • Take care of any stains on your carpets or upholstery. Depending on the fabric of each, there are different methods and supplies used. Find out how to take care of the 5 most common carpet stains;
  • If you’re unsure how to clean a specific stain, you can always book a professional carpet or upholstery cleaning;
  • Check for skid marks, cobwebs, wall stains, fingerprints and clean them;

Pro tip: Take Care of Dusty Carpet Corners

If small portions of your carpets were previously trapped beneath furniture, it’s very likely that you’ve never disturbed the dust there up until now. So, how do you deal with dirt and grime build-ups that have been sitting there ever since the beginning of your tenancy (if not earlier)?

Well, one way to do this is to use a slightly damp cloth and meticulously wipe the dirt away. If your carpet is made of non-water-resistant fabric, be on the safe side and set your vacuum cleaner on the highest setting to unstick the dust and grime hiding deep within your rug’s fibres.

How to clean the bathroom in your apartment during an end of tenancy cleaning:

Your bathroom is the most humid place, making it susceptible to mould and mildew. Also, limescale, soap scum or even rust are what makes the bathroom one of the least desired places you’d want to clean.

  • Clean the floors and walls;
  • Clean and remove limescale from the bathtub, shower screen, sink tap, drainage, strainer;
  • Clean drainage from hairs or other debris;
  • Polish all chrome surfaces;
  • Wipe all mirrors and shower doors;

How to properly clean your apartment kitchen when moving:

The kitchen is the most complex area you’ll have to clean, there are many things your landlord will inspect, so put some extra effort here.

  • Clean behind and under all furniture and kitchen appliances
  • Clean the oven, use vinegar and baking soda to de-grease all dirty areas, then wipe and repeat the process if necessary;
  • Defrost and clean your fridge and freezer, thoroughly clean the walls, panels, doors inside and out;
  • Clean all drawers and cupboards inside and out as well as the bottom and top
  • Clean all tiles, granite, metal and rubber surfaces in the kitchen;
  • Remove limescale from the tap, drainage, tea and coffee machines by using baking soda and white vinegar;
  • Clean and wipe soap dispenser, rubbish bins;
  • Remove and clean any food and dirt leftovers and deposit;
  • Clean the dishwasher,  change the filters if needed;
  • Clean any other kitchen appliances such as toasters, fryers, mixers etc. Remove all mildew, grime and other debris;
  • Wipe and polish all surfaces, drying and shining them properly;

Pro tip: Descale the Kitchen Sink

When cleaning the kitchen, we usually rinse all dirty surfaces and sponges in the sink, but forget to do the same with the sink. If the walls of your sink are covered in gunk and your faucets are rather greyish in appearance, then you’ll need to don your rubber gloves and get down to work.

Use a bit of liquid soap, a soft cloth, and warm water to wipe all grime from the faucets, drain, and the sink’s exterior away. You can also use a soft toothbrush to polish the edges of the sink. If by that point the stains haven’t already raised the white flag, use the good old baking soda and lemon juice formula and carefully scrub them into the soiled areas, then rinse away

How to deep clean the stairs, hallways and corridors

When cleaning those area during your end of tenancy cleaning, make sure to pay extra attention to the high-traffic areas and any stains you might usually miss:

  • Dust and hoover all carpets and rugs;
  • Mop all hard floor surfaces;
  • Wipe the dust of all skirting boards, cupboards, chandeliers, picture frames, hangers;
  • Clean wardrobes, cupboards and other furniture inside, beneath, behind and on top;
  • Remove any stains from the carpets and other cloth materials;
  • Wipe any cobwebs, inspect each corner carefully.

Pro tip: Deal with Stains and Holes on Walls

Nails. Hooks. Skidmarks. After already moving all your paintings and family photos to your new nest, what used to be your walls may now look more like the landscape after an epic battle. This, however, can be easily fixed with a bit of putty, a putty knife, and a small painting brush.

If you are facing skid marks, spilt coffee stains, or just accumulated dust that has been hiding behind the furniture all this time, you can try out any of the eraser-like products on the market. These contain melamine foam which, combined with water, can dissolve almost any stains.

Final cleaning tips for your apartment:

  • Baking soda and white vinegar are your best, eco-friendly home detergents you can use to clean a variety of surfaces and stains. Use them to your advantage;
  • When you’re unsure of the type of fabric a rug, carpet or upholstery is made of, try cleaning an invisible area and see how the fabric is affected, before commencing to clean the whole surface.
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