Owning a home isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Sure, you get to build positive equity and have the freedom to renovate however you want.

However, with these perks come long-term commitments. The average home in America costs just under $270,000. Paying that off will take a long time, not to mention a couple hundred thousand extra in interest payments.

Renting a home is the ideal situation for people who aren’t ready or willing to commit to a mortgage. Yet, moving out means forfeiting your deposit, unless you leave the place exactly how it was when you moved in.

We can help you there. If you’re moving to a new home and want to get your rental deposit back, keep reading for a cleaning checklist that will make it happen.


First, deep cleaning your rental will be much easier if it isn’t cluttered up with all of your stuff. If possible, begin moving your possessions to your new home. If you don’t have a new home yet, declutter as much as possible.

You can rent a temporary storage unit or simply get rid of stuff you no longer use, need, or love. Jumpstart the moving process and start separating things into boxes:

  • Keep
  • Sell
  • Donate
  • Throw away

Then, take the necessary action based on how you’ve separated your things. For the items you keep, move the boxes into an area where they won’t be in the way. Aside from making your cleaning project easier, you’re also one step closer to moving out.

Take Everything Off the Walls and Patch Holes

Next on our cleaning checklist, remove all pictures, art, and other hangings off the wall. How were these items fixed to the wall? If you want to get your full rental deposit back, you can’t leave any holes or other damages.

Take out screws, tacks, nails, and mounts. Then, fill the holes in with plaster.

If you don’t know how to patch drywall, get help from a friend, family member, or contractor. Doing a poor job patching drywall will be more noticeable than leaving holes.


If you’ve left any major holes or damage in the walls, it might be necessary to do some painting. After patching up the drywall, match the color of the paint at the local hardware store. Then, paint over the areas that were repaired.

Test the paint in a small area to make sure it matches before moving forward with the rest of the painting. And remember, it will change color as it dries. It will probably look like the wrong tone while it’s wet.

Clean and Sanitize Kitchen and Bathrooms

Cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms will take some of the most work. The kitchen is prone to food messes, stains, baked-on grease, germs, and bacteria. If you want your full rental deposit back after moving out, your duties will include cleaning out the appliances, cupboards, and cabinets.

The bathroom, on the other hand, is prone to soap scum, mold, urine stains, grime, germs, bacteria, and more. It’ll take a lot of elbow grease to remove built-up stains and messes in the bathroom.

If you’re not up for the task or don’t think you can do an adequate job, hire professional cleaners to do it for you. They have the tools, experience, and materials to get the job done right. In fact, many cleaners have a guarantee that you’ll get your deposit back (based on things they can control).

Clean All Vertical and Horizontal Surfaces

With the two biggest projects on our cleaning checklist out of the way, it’s time to move on to simpler tasks. Start by wiping down all the vertical surfaces. This includes:

  • Walls
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Mirrors
  • Door frames

Use a dusting solution and more powerful cleaning agents when necessary. If there are scuffs on walls or doors, try using a magic eraser to remove the scuff. However, don’t be too aggressive with your scrubbing or you’ll start to eat away at the paint.

Additionally, use cleaning solutions specifically made for glass on mirrors, windows, and reflective surfaces. Using traditional cleaners will likely leave a hazy residue.

Then, move on to the horizontal surfaces. This includes:

  • Countertops
  • Tables
  • Furniture
  • Ceiling fans
  • Tops of door frames and window frames

Use the most appropriate cleaning agent for the material. For example, wood doesn’t react well to harsh chemicals. Conversely, dusting agents won’t remove stains or sticky messes. 

Give the Floors Some Love

Cleaning the floors adequately is one of the most important steps before moving out. If there are carpets in the rental unit, vacuum each carpeted room carefully and slowly. Vacuuming shouldn’t be approached like a time trial.

Go over each carpet slowly north to south. Then, redo the entire area east to west. This should maximize the amount of dirt, hair, dander, and debris you pull out of the carpets.

Once the vacuuming is done, move on to a shampooer or steam cleaner. If you don’t have either, hire professional cleaners who provide deep cleaning for carpets. Presenting your landlord with fresh, like-new carpets will immediately show them that you put in the work to clean the place before moving out.

For hardwood floors, linoleum, laminate, and other hard-surface floors, sweep each room thoroughly. Make sure you get under tables, chairs, and other furniture.

Then, using a floor cleaning solution, mop the floors. If there are any stuck-on messes or stains, it might require scrubbing on your hands and knees.

Do You Want to Get Your Deposit Back After Moving Out?

As you can see, conducting a move-out cleaning takes a lot of work and attention to detail. We hope our cleaning checklist helps you get your full deposit back after moving out. And if the work starts to get tedious, remember, you have other options.

If you need help deep cleaning your rental unit, we’re here for you. Contact us today to get a free quote for our moving-out cleaning services. We would love to help you get that money back.