How (and Why!) to Clean Your Rental Before Moving In

How (and Why!) to Clean Your Rental Before Moving In

There’s a lot to do when moving into a new apartment: turn on utilities, change your address, meet the neighbors. The list goes on. But the one thing you shouldn’t leave off your to-do list is a move-in cleaning. While any good landlord cleans between tenants, your landlord’s idea of “move-in ready” might not match yours. Doing your own cleaning ensures your new place is exactly how you want it.

Why clean before moving in?

A move-in cleaning is more than a chance to bust odors and dust bunnies left behind by the previous tenant. It’s also an opportunity to get a closer look at your new apartment. If you notice damage you didn’t spot during the walk-through, you can notify the landlord and get it fixed without impacting your security deposit. Plus, your new place will never be easier to clean than when it’s completely empty!

A deep cleaning is especially important if you have allergies. If the previous tenant had pets or smoked indoors, you can eliminate lingering allergens before they trigger symptoms.

DIY deep cleaning vs. professional cleaning

A DIY deep cleaning is the most cost-effective choice. If you have access to the new place before your old lease is up, you can spend a few days cleaning before moving your stuff in. Unfortunately, not everyone can delay moving in. If you need to move in ASAP, hire a cleaning service instead of trying to work around piles of boxes and furniture. A one-time apartment cleaning will get your place move-in ready without taking a big bite out of your budget. It’s always a little worrying letting strangers into your home, but you can use this helpful tool to find highly-rated, trusted apartment cleaners in your area.

Move-in cleaning checklist

So what exactly should you clean before moving in? Let this checklist guide your deep clean:

     Sanitize surfaces
     Wipe down door and cabinet handles
     Wash mirrors and windows (don’t forget the blinds!)
     Vacuum and/or steam clean carpets
     Clean the walls and baseboards
     Move large appliances and clean underneath
     Clean inside the oven, refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher
     Wipe down cabinets and drawers and apply cabinet liners
     Scrub the bathtub or shower
     Dust vents and replace the air filter

Think twice about the cleaning products you use for your deep clean. A lot of household cleaners use toxic chemicals that are harmful to breathe. Choose fragrance-free cleaning products and always open windows and run exhaust fans while cleaning.

Tips for keeping your apartment clean

The real challenge isn’t getting your new apartment sparkling clean — it’s keeping it that way. When life gets busy, chores lapse, and before you know it your perfect apartment looks a little too lived-in.

     Schedule routine chores, using daily, weekly, monthly, and annual lists to cover everything.
     Organize so all your things have a place and clutter doesn’t accumulate.
     Use a handheld vacuum for small messes so you don’t have to drag out a full-sized vacuum for a few crumbs. (Handheld vacuums are also great for furniture and hard-to-reach spaces.)
     Stock up on stain remover, especially if you have pets or like to eat on the couch.
     Run exhaust fans while showering to prevent mold and replace HVAC air filters every two to three months to keep indoor air quality high.

Are you wondering why you should put so much effort into a place where you’re just a temporary resident? For one, taking good care of your apartment ensures you get your security deposit back — but that’s not the only reason. A clean home is also a more pleasant, healthier place to live. And whether you plan to be in your apartment for one year or 10, that’s always worth it.

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