Moving can be a daunting task, and one question that often comes to mind is how clean your house should be when you move out. It’s important to leave your former home in a good condition, but where do you draw the line? Should you scrub every surface or just do a quick once-over? In this article, we will explore the appropriate level of cleanliness to ensure a smooth transition between homes, without stressing yourself out unnecessarily. So, let’s get started and find out just how clean your house should be when you move out.

General Cleaning Guidelines

Moving out of a rental property can be a stressful experience, but following some general cleaning guidelines can help make the process smoother. Understanding your lease agreement, consulting with your landlord, and following local regulations are three important factors to consider when preparing to move out.

Understanding Your Lease Agreement

Before you start cleaning, it’s crucial to thoroughly understand your lease agreement. This document will outline the expectations and responsibilities for cleaning and the condition in which you need to leave the property. Take the time to carefully read through the agreement and make note of any specific requirements or guidelines mentioned.

How Clean Should Your House Be When You Move Out?

Consulting with Your Landlord

Once you have a clear understanding of your lease agreement, it’s a good idea to consult with your landlord about the cleaning expectations. This will allow you to clarify any doubts or questions you may have and ensure that both parties are on the same page. Your landlord can provide valuable insights and offer guidance based on their expectations.

Following Local Regulations

In addition to your lease agreement, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with local regulations regarding move-out cleaning. Different cities and states may have specific rules and guidelines that need to be followed. These regulations can vary in terms of cleanliness standards, disposal of waste, and other related aspects. By adhering to these local regulations, you can avoid potential penalties or issues.

How Clean Should Your House Be When You Move Out?

Cleaning Checklist

To ensure that you cover all the necessary cleaning tasks before moving out, it’s helpful to have a comprehensive cleaning checklist. This checklist will guide you through the different areas of the property and help you keep track of your progress.

Dusting and Vacuuming

Start by dusting and vacuuming all the surfaces in the property. Dust accumulates quickly, so it’s important to thoroughly dust shelves, cabinets, window sills, and other areas. Vacuum carpets, upholstery, and drapes to remove any dirt or debris.

Cleaning Windows and Mirrors

Clean the windows and mirrors, both inside and outside, to ensure they are streak-free and clear. Use a window cleaner and a lint-free cloth to achieve the best results. This step will improve the overall appearance of the property and allow natural light to flow in.

Wiping Down Surfaces

Wipe down all surfaces, including countertops, tables, and cabinets. Use a mild cleaner or a mixture of water and vinegar to remove any stains or grime. Pay attention to high-touch areas, such as light switches, door handles, and kitchen appliances.

Removing Cobwebs

Inspect every corner of the property for cobwebs and remove them using a broom or a vacuum cleaner with an extension nozzle. Cobwebs can create an unappealing look and should be addressed before the final inspection.

Cleaning Appliances

Take the time to clean all appliances thoroughly. This includes the refrigerator, oven, stovetop, microwave, and dishwasher. Remove any food particles, grease, or stains, and ensure that these appliances are left in a presentable condition.

Sanitizing Bathroom and Kitchen

The bathroom and kitchen are two areas that require special attention. Scrub the toilet, bathtub, and sink with appropriate cleaners to remove any stains or mold. Clean the kitchen sink, countertops, and cabinets, ensuring that they are free from grease and grime. Additionally, sanitize any frequently used surfaces, such as doorknobs and faucets, to ensure a hygienic environment.

Sweeping and Mopping Floors

Sweep and mop all the floors throughout the property. Pay particular attention to high-traffic areas where dirt and dust tend to accumulate. Use a suitable cleaner for the flooring material, whether it’s hardwood, tile, or carpet, to achieve a clean and polished look.

Cleaning Carpets

If your rental property has carpets, it’s important to address any stains or spots before moving out. Use a carpet cleaner or spot treatment to remove marks caused by spills or accidents. Consider professional carpet cleaning services if the carpet requires a deeper clean.

Disposing of Garbage

Properly dispose of any garbage or waste accumulated during the cleaning process. Be sure to follow local regulations for waste disposal and recycling. Leaving any trash behind may result in penalties or a negative reference from your landlord.

Outdoor Clean-Up

Lastly, don’t forget about the outdoor spaces. Sweep porches, patios, and walkways and, if necessary, wash them down with a hose. Remove any debris or leaves from the yard and ensure that everything is tidy and presentable.

Hiring Professional Cleaners

While cleaning your rental property yourself is feasible, there may be cases where hiring professional cleaners is appropriate. Consider the following factors to determine whether professional help is needed.

When to Consider Professional Help

Professional cleaning services are particularly useful if you lack the time, energy, or necessary expertise to clean the property to the required standard. Additionally, if the property is significantly larger or has extensive cleaning requirements, it may be more efficient to hire professionals.

Finding Reliable Cleaning Services

When searching for professional cleaning services, it’s essential to find reliable and trustworthy providers. Seek recommendations from friends, family, or your landlord. You can also read online reviews or contact local cleaning companies for quotes and further information.

Getting Quotes and Comparing Prices

Before finalizing your decision, request quotes from multiple cleaning companies to compare prices and services. Make sure to communicate your specific cleaning requirements to receive accurate quotes. Compare the prices, services offered, and any additional benefits or guarantees provided by each company.

Scheduling the Cleaning Appointment

Once you have selected a cleaning company, schedule the cleaning appointment well in advance. Plan for a suitable time when you can be present at the property to supervise the cleaning process if necessary. Consider giving yourself enough time between the cleaning and the final inspection to address any potential issues.

Supervising the Cleaning Process

If you decide to hire professional cleaners, it’s a good idea to be present during the cleaning process. This allows you to address any specific concerns or provide additional guidance. However, be cautious not to interfere with the professionals’ work and respect their expertise in carrying out their duties.

Fixing Damages and Repairs

Alongside cleaning, it’s important to address any damages or repairs needed in the rental property. Follow these steps to ensure that everything is in proper working order before the final inspection.

Small Repairs and Maintenance

Take care of minor repairs or maintenance tasks yourself if you possess the necessary skills. This may include fixing a loose doorknob, replacing a broken light fixture, or patching small holes in the walls. By addressing these smaller repairs, you can demonstrate your diligence and responsibility.

Major Damages and Renovations

If the property has major damages or requires extensive renovations, it’s advisable to consult with a professional handyman or specialized contractor. They have the experience and expertise to handle complex repairs effectively. Make sure to inform your landlord about any significant repairs that need to be carried out.

Consulting with a Professional Handyman

When in doubt about the severity of certain repairs or the extent of necessary renovations, it’s best to seek advice from a professional handyman. They can assess the condition of the property, provide recommendations, and carry out the necessary repairs.

DIY vs. Hiring Contractors

Deciding whether to tackle repairs yourself or hire contractors depends on your skills, time availability, and the complexity of the repairs. Simple tasks such as painting walls or patching small holes can often be done by individuals with basic DIY knowledge. For more complex repairs, it’s better to hire professionals to ensure the best results.

Keeping Records of Repairs

Throughout the repairs and maintenance process, it’s crucial to keep records of all the work done. This includes invoices, receipts for materials, and any relevant documentation. These records serve as evidence of the repairs made and can be useful in case of any future disputes.

Preparing for the Final Inspection

Preparing for the final inspection is essential to ensure that you meet the landlord’s expectations and avoid any deductions from your security deposit. Keep these points in mind to make the process as smooth as possible.

Understanding the Inspection Process

Familiarize yourself with the inspection process outlined in your lease agreement. This will help you understand what the landlord will be looking for and allow you to address any potential issues in advance.

Reviewing Your Initial Move-In Assessment

Refer back to your initial move-in assessment to refresh your memory of the property’s condition when you first rented it. This will provide a baseline for comparison during the final inspection and help identify any damages or discrepancies.

Paying Attention to Detail

During the final cleaning and inspection process, pay close attention to detail. Check for any missed spots or areas that require further cleaning. Address any specific cleaning requirements mentioned in your lease agreement to ensure compliance.

Restoring the Property to Its Original Condition

The goal of the final inspection is to restore the property to its original condition when you initially moved in. This includes not only cleanliness but also ensuring that any damages or changes made during your tenancy have been addressed. Make any necessary repairs or fulfill any agreed-upon conditions to meet these requirements.

Legal and Financial Implications

Understanding the legal and financial implications of moving out is crucial to ensure a smooth transition and avoid any potential disputes. Keep these points in mind to protect yourself legally and financially.

Security Deposit Regulations

Familiarize yourself with the security deposit regulations specific to your area. Different jurisdictions have varying rules regarding the return of the security deposit and allowable deductions. Knowing these regulations will help you understand your rights and the landlord’s obligations.

Documentation and Photographs

Maintain thorough documentation and photographs of the property’s condition before and after your tenancy. This evidence will be essential in case of any disputes regarding damages or the return of the security deposit. Ensure that the photos are clear, well-lit, and capture all areas of the property.

Avoiding Disputes with Your Landlord

Maintaining open and clear communication with your landlord throughout the move-out process is essential in avoiding disputes. Keep them informed of any repairs or cleaning you have conducted and address their concerns promptly. Clarify any misunderstandings to resolve potential conflicts amicably.

Understanding Deductions and Penalties

Be aware of the deductions that can be made from your security deposit and the penalties you may face for not meeting the cleaning and repair requirements. Understanding these consequences will help you prioritize tasks and ensure compliance with the lease agreement.

Tips and Tricks

Consider the following tips and tricks to make your move-out cleaning process more efficient and stress-free:

Start Early and Plan Ahead

Start the cleaning process as early as possible to allow ample time for thorough cleaning and repairs. Plan your tasks and set realistic deadlines to ensure that everything is completed before the move-out date.

Enlist Help from Friends or Family

Moving out can be a daunting task, so don’t hesitate to ask for help from friends or family members. Dividing the workload can make the process more manageable and enjoyable.

Organize and Declutter Before Cleaning

Before beginning the cleaning process, take the time to organize and declutter your belongings. This will make cleaning more efficient and ensure that you don’t overlook any areas.

Use the Right Cleaning Products

Using the appropriate cleaning products for each surface will enhance the cleaning process and help restore the property’s original condition. Research or consult professionals to determine the best products for different materials and surfaces.

Pay Special Attention to High-Traffic Areas

High-traffic areas, such as entryways, hallways, and living rooms, tend to accumulate more dirt and require extra attention. Spend a little more time cleaning these areas to ensure they are in pristine condition.

Addressing Pet Odors and Stains

If you have pets, it’s essential to address any odors or stains they may have caused. Use appropriate cleaning methods and products specifically designed for pet-related issues.

Taking Care of Outdoor Spaces

Don’t forget about the outdoor spaces when preparing for a move-out inspection. Clean and tidy up patios, balconies, and garden areas to ensure they are presentable.

Double-Check Everything

Before leaving the property for the final time, conduct a thorough final check. Verify that all cleaning tasks and repairs have been completed, and nothing has been overlooked. Take note of any last-minute touch-ups that may be required.


Moving out of a rental property involves a significant amount of cleaning and repairs to ensure a smooth transition and the return of your security deposit. By understanding your lease agreement, following local regulations, and consulting with your landlord, you can establish clear expectations and avoid disputes. Use the comprehensive cleaning checklist and consider hiring professional cleaners for a more efficient and thorough clean. Take care of any necessary repairs and keep records of all work done. Prepare for the final inspection by understanding the process, reviewing your move-in assessment, and paying attention to detail. Be aware of the legal and financial implications, and follow the tips and tricks provided to make your move-out process as stress-free as possible.