It's time to move out of your rental. You've packed your things and scheduled a final walk-through with your landlord, but there's one last thing to do. You'll need to do some serious scrubbing if you want your security deposit refund. It's essential to repair damage and ensure everything is tidy before your move-out inspection.
After all, losing your damage deposit over basic cleaning is like handing your landlord free money. Before you start cleaning, check your state's renter's laws to determine what you can be charged for.
Nobody wants to see smudges, fingerprints, or the crayon marks your kids made on the walls, and your landlord will charge you if they have to repaint. Remove all stains with a damp cloth, and test your cleaning solution first to ensure it won't take off the paint. Remember to scrub the baseboards to remove dirt and stains too. If there are stains you can't remove, consider painting over them instead.
Use a carpet cleaner or spot cleaner to remove stains from carpeting. Choose a urine-busting cleaner if you're tackling pet stains. To remove spilled candle wax, try rubbing it with ice and scraping it off as much as possible. Then, place a paper bag over the remaining wax and press it with a warm iron. Finish by spot-cleaning the entire carpet, as needed. You may need to hire a professional carpet cleaning company to remove deep stains.
Leaving holes in the walls of your rental is a big no-no. Remove art or fixtures from the walls. Remove nails or screws, then patch holes with spackling paste (joint compound). After the spackling has dried, sand it down until it's even with the wall. Small holes usually don't need to be painted over after repair, but larger holes should be touched up with matching paint.
Sinks, countertops, and toilets are the first things your landlord will notice. Clean and scrub them to remove any built-up residue. Treat specialty counters like stainless steel, wood, and stone with an appropriate solution. If you have tile countertops, clean the grout with a paste made from baking soda and vinegar.
Many renters overlook these essential areas before moving out. Be sure to scrape burnt-on food from the oven and clean the glass door. If your oven is self-cleaning, run the cycle two days before your walk-through to avoid a burning smell. Empty the fridge and wipe down all shelves, drawers, and handles. If you're struggling to clean off food residue, unplug the fridge. It's easier to remove stuck-on food at room temperature.
Take a duster to shelves, windowsills, and doorframes or wipe them down if needed. Look in the corners of each room for cobwebs and remove them. You should also wipe the insides of all cabinets and drawers in the kitchen and bathroom(s). Don't forget the light fixtures and ceiling fans; dusting them might be fine, but they usually need a wet cloth too.
Break out the glass cleaner to make your windows sparkle. Start by cleaning the inside surfaces, including the frames and sills. Be thorough, and remove grime and mildew, if any, from the cracks. Clean the outside glass and surfaces too, if possible, and don't forget to check for streaks and smears. Then, carefully wash all mirrors and glass shower doors, including the track.
As a renter, you shouldn't be required to fix damage to window screens caused by regular wear and tear. If your pets (or kids) caused the damage, though, you're responsible. Purchase a window screen repair kit and patch any holes or runs you can see. For extensive damage, look for a window or screen door replacement kit.
Before the pandemic, you probably didn't call your door knobs and light switches "high-touch surfaces." Now you know they gather major grime, so you should clean them. Wipe down all door knobs, light switches, drawer pulls, and outlets, and the area around them that may be stained. This finishing touch will impress your landlord and make the space look great.
Landlords often complain that they're left hauling away trash after a renter moves out. Don't put your deposit in peril over a few trash bags. Make sure you've emptied all garbage from your rental before the final walk-through. Look in easy-to-miss areas like cupboards and under sinks. Don't forget to check your porch and yard too.