Moving Out: A Cleaning Checklist You Need to Finish Before You Hand Over the Keys

When you move out of a house or an apartment, you’ll want to give the place a thorough cleaning. First of all, it’s the right thing to do. Secondly, if you’re renting, you want to get your deposit back. If you’re selling, cleaning the house may have been included in your real estate contract. Here is a cleaning checklist to help make sure you don’t forget anything important.


People often hang up pictures and other decorations while they’re living in a home. However, the minor wall damage this leaves behind needs to be fixed before you move. New owners and future tenants don’t want to deal with these holes. Carefully pull out all of the nails, patch the walls up, sand the patches smooth, and paint over it. You may have also had to put up extra towel racks and other items. Remove these too, and patch up the holes. You can get a small can of paint to match the walls at a hardware store.


Having the carpets cleaned is especially important if you have children or pets. You can do it yourself, but a professional carpet cleaning service is often surprisingly affordable and can do a better job. You might want to save this cleaning job for last to ensure the carpet stays fresh and clean for the new residents. Don’t forget to also give the kitchen and bathroom floors a good mopping.


Neither your ex-landlord nor the new owners or residents want to deal with any crumbs you’ve left behind. They also don’t want to deal with any old roach traps. While you should of course throw out everything you’re not taking with you, make sure you also give all of the drawers and cabinets a good cleaning. Remember that dirt and oils can build up on the outside of cabinets as well, especially where you touch the doors to open them. These areas should be cleaned as well.


You don’t really think about it, but there are a lot of areas throughout the house that can build up a lot of dust. For example, a ceiling fan will pick up dust on the top of its fins. Dust these off before you go. Areas like the top of cabinets, the unused parts of shelves, and the top of baseboards, window sills, and door frames can also be dusty, so take a moment to wipe down these areas.

Kitchen and Bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms can get messy quickly because they are used so much. That means that they may require a little extra elbow grease when you move out. Make sure the sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets sparkle. Wipe down all of the counters, and sweep and mop the floors. Cleaning these areas thoroughly can earn you good will with the owners or future residents.

Cleaning is an expected part of moving out of any home, but there are still some areas that you might forget. To leave the place looking great for the new owners or future residents, remember to prioritize these areas before you hand over the keys. You can take care of these on your own, or you can hire a cleaning company to take care of it for you.

Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University and now enjoys writing about health, business, and family. A mother of two wonderful children, she loves traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can find her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.