How To Clean Your House Before Moving Out

May 12, 2020

How To Clean Your House Before Moving Out

Moving can be an exciting yet stressful and oftentimes demanding experience. You may be reminiscent of leaving your current home/apartment or you may just want to get the hell out and move into your new home. Either way, it is important to leave your old residence clean and in order.

According to the United States Census, it is estimated that the average American will move 11.7 times in their lifetime. Whether this is your first or eighth time moving, it can be a daunting task if you don't have a plan.

The rest of this article is going to help make it easy for you by explaining how to perform a move out cleaning, hopefully answer any questions you may have about a move out cleaning, and provide you with the tips you need to make your next move a success without a headache.

Why It's Important To Clean Your House Before Moving

When moving out of your house, how well you clean the place is going to play a major role in how potential buyers view the property and you. If they see that the house hasn't been maintained or cleaned, then that tells them that they are going to be the ones doing the bulk of the cleanup when they move in and most people don't like the idea of having to do more work.

Also, when you or your realtor are showing the home to potential buyers, you want to present it to them in the most professional way possible which means dusting those countertops and vacuuming the tortilla chip crumbs in the living room.

If you are moving out of an apartment, it's also very important to clean before you leave as it can be the determining factor for whether or not you get your security deposit back from the landlord. I've admittedly been burned by this and got a small portion of my deposit back and there were other times where I took it seriously and got a good chunk of change for putting in the time and cleaning it properly.

Landlords are typically very picky and will take money out of the security deposit for any small discrepancy between their expectations and how well you clean up the apartment which is why it's key to put in the effort and do an excellent job.

How To Execute A Move Out Cleaning

Below are the steps that Minute Maids use when doing a move out cleaning. The steps may vary in order depending on the layout of your house/apartment but overall these steps should cover all that you will need to do.

1. Apply Long-Acting Solutions

This is mainly targeted toward the oven/stove areas as we found that the best solutions to combat grease, burnt, and stuck-on grime on stove tops and inside the oven take at least an hour to really work their magic. Depending on what products you are using, you will want to read the directions to see how long each one needs to be applied for especially if you plan on using specialty products to clean rust, mildew, or other harsh areas. You can check out our article on how to clean an oven.

2. Start With The Bathroom(s)

Bathrooms are usually the toughest and oftentimes the most time consuming rooms of the house which is why we recommend to start there first. Start by removing any items out of your way, such as any floor-mats, shampoo bottles, toothbrushes, trash cans, plungers, etc. and placing them out of the room so that they are out of your way and you can clean in and around all areas. The order of operations should be:

  1. Shower/Bathtub
  2. Toilet
  3. Cabinets And Mirrors
  4. Sink
  5. Counter
  6. Floor

3. Clean The Kitchen

Again, we are recommending to work in order from the most tedious rooms to clean, with the kitchen and the bathroom generally being the two biggest. The kitchen typically has a lot of cabinets which make it a great candidate to use our 'Work Top-Down' principle as all the dust from on top the counters/fixtures will fall down to lower areas and eventually the floor for us to vacuum up.

We suggest picking one side of the kitchen counter and working your way around the room. Another good practice is to clear off the counter space and to wipe down the items as you place them back onto the counter.

  1. Dust/Wipe Top Surfaces
  2. Wipe Counters/Cabinets/Windowsills
  3. Sink
  4. Stove/Refrigerator/Microwave/Dishwasher
  5. Tables
  6. Floor

When cleaning appliances, it's important to unplug the appliance if you can and for cleaning the stove, be extra careful as you don't want to accidentally turn a burner or the oven on. For stainless steel appliances such as the refrigerator or the dishwasher, we recommend using a product specifically made for cleaning stainless steel surfaces and to use a micro-fiber cloth to not leave any hairs.

If you applied a long-acting cleanser to the oven/stove top, then you may want to wipe those surfaces down before you finish the floor. If it hasn't been at least an hour or the said product's acting time, then wait to vacuum and mop the floors until that time is reached.

4. Tackle The Rest Of The Rooms And Hallways

Bedrooms are usually pretty straightforward and only require a few steps, but again this may vary depending on your unique situation. This is a good time to put any laundry away and organize the room a bit more. Organizing will also be useful to you when packing as your things will be more consolidated.

  1. Dust/Wipe
  2. Windows/Mirrors
  3. Furniture
  4. Floor

5. Do A Walk-Through

Once all the rooms have been cleaned and the floors vacuumed/mopped, then do a quick walk-through throughout each room of the house to make sure you didn't miss any spots. You are probably tired and ready to take a nap, but this step shouldn't be skipped as it brings to light anything you may have missed which a landlord/potential buyer will notice and it provides you with the reassurance that you did a fantastic job!

Areas To Focus On

  • Corners
    • Corners attract a lot of dirt/dust. Sometimes, it's hard to clean them with just a cloth, so use the appropriate tool to reach them whether that be a toothbrush, small duster, or an extension wand for the vacuum.
  • Doorframes
    • Prime spots for dust bunnies. Make sure to dust the top and sides of the doorframes.
  • Light Fixtures/Fans
    • These can sometimes be easy to miss, but tend to have a lot of built-up dust. Use a duster with an extension or use a step-ladder.
  • Baseboards
    • Baseboards do a great job at making your floor and walls less bare, but if not cleaned regularly, one can reasonably assume they were designed to catch dirt and dust as they can accumulate a film of grime pretty quickly. When dusting, run your duster along the baseboards when moving around the room and look for stains or scuff marks that you can wipe off with your cloth and multi-purpose cleaner. If you have an adjustable head on your mop, then run your mop head along the baseboards as well when you get to mopping the floors to really make them shine!

More Tips

  • Don't just clean around items/furniture. It's tempting to just vacuum around that chair, but it really pays off if you go the extra mile and move the chair to clean underneath. When you go to move all your furniture out and you didn't clean under the items, it's going to be pretty evident and landlords will ding you on that.
  • Use the right tool for the job. Unfortunately, you can't just clean everything with a cloth and a multi-purpose cleaner(at least it won't turn out very well). For example, if you are cleaning a stainless steel appliance, then use a product meant to clean stainless steel as it really makes a huge difference in both the quality and appearance. If you are really struggling with getting a touch stain, opt in for your magic eraser or a tougher brush. There are different levels of messes and tiers of tools used for each level. Butterknives are great for spreading butter on toast but not so much when you need to slice an onion.
  • Be careful of mixing the wrong chemicals together. For example, never mix bleach and vinegar together. You might think this could create some ultimate disinfectant but instead it produces chlorine gas 🙁
  • Put on some good tunes. Cleaning may not be most people's ideal way of spending a weekend, but nonetheless it's a vital part of the move out process, so we recommend to play some good music to help make it seem a little bit more enjoyable and can make it seem like the time goes by a little quicker.

How Clean Should You Make It?

As clean as you would want your new home to look like before stepping foot inside. Better to do the work and clean spectacularly rather than doing a sub-par job and getting dinged for it.

When Should You Clean Your House Before Moving?

In this case it may be better to wait until the last minute, okay maybe last week! But you'll want to pick a date close to your move out date and just block out some time. It's best to do it as close as you can to your move out date as this will prevent any further debris/messes from appearing.


Moving is so many times a chaotic challenge for most people and cleaning may be one of the most undesirable and biggest contributors to that challenge, but is most certainly not something you want to skip out on. Getting it done allows you to move forward in the process with confidence.

If this still seems like a nightmare you don't want to face or simply don't have the time, Minute Maids is here to help make sure your home or apartment gets cleaned properly, efficiently and results in a clean and beautiful space by the time you are ready to move out.

Please call (312) 285-0478 or schedule your next move out cleaning with Minute Maids!