The Ultimate Move-Out Cleaning Guide for Getting Your Security Deposit Back!

Getting your rental unit or house back to the same condition it was in when you first moved in is part of a standard lease agreement. In this article, we will go over the steps you’ll want to take to prepare your rental for a walkthrough with your landlord so that you get your security deposit back, or at least most of it. Remember, the better the move-out cleaning, the less work, and money for your landlord, which means more money back for you. You don’t have to follow these steps in any particular order, though we recommend doing the floors last:

Remove any nails from walls and patch holes. 

Before you move, you’ll need to take out all the nails and remove any extra fixtures like towel hooks, hat racks, TV mounts, clocks, furniture anchors, shower caddies, etc. Be sure to fill in the holes, then touch up the paint. 

Touch-up or repaint as needed. 

Most rentals use standardized paint colors in their units. If you’ve changed the paint color, you’ll need to repaint it back to the original color. Most leases will include this as a requirement to get your deposit back. 

Wipe down all doors and switch plates.

Doors and switch plates often get neglected in routine cleans. Wiping down the doors and switch plates, especially if you have kids, has a big impact on the sparkle factor for your walk-through. 

Check smoke detectors.

Makes sure all the smoke alarms have working batteries, especially if they came that way when you moved in. Most come with a test button to indicate battery life; a weak or nonexistent signal means it’s time for new batteries.

Dust all ceiling fans. 

If you’re like me, you avoid dusting ceiling fans as much as possible during your normal cleaning routine, but it’s a must-check area to clean before you move out. 

Clean inside windows and mirrors. 

It’s such a small detail, but spotless windows and mirrors give a totally new vibe to any place. Use newspaper to get a streak-free finish, and don’t forget to dust any blinds and clean the sills. 

Clean out all cupboards and cabinets. 

Empty every single cupboard and cabinet in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, and closets. Remove any crumbs or gunk and then wipe them down. Don’t forget to remove any roach bait, sticky traps, or air fresheners. 

Clean sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets. 

Deep clean the shower and tub, removing as much muck in the drains as possible. Scrub down sinks and faucets until they shine. Toilet bowls should be scrubbed, lids lifted and cleaned, and the outside of the toilet wiped down. 

Make your appliances look as good as new. 

Appliances can get pretty grimy over time so you’ll probably need to give them some elbow grease. Be sure to remove all the items from your refrigerator and put some effort into making the inside and outside of your stove, oven, microwave, refrigerator, and dishwasher look clean and like-new.

Clean behind the appliances.

You’ll want to pull out appliances from the wall and sweep or vacuum behind them – where dust and dirt like to hide. Mop or wipe down the area with soap and water if grimy.

Clean the washer and dryer.

If your place came with a washer/dryer, make sure to remove any lint or detergent spills using a damp microfiber cloth dipped in warm water. You may also want to run the washer empty with 1/2 cup of bleach to get rid of any mildew or odors.

Dust and clean baseboards and trim. 

A lot of people moving out forget to clean the trim and baseboards.  What a difference a little cleaning in these areas can make for the final look. Run a wet rag or duster along all the baseboards and trim.  

Take out the trash. 

Don’t forget to dispose of all your trash. You’d be surprised how many people just leave that annoying bag behind for someone else to deal with. Pick it up and take it with you as you walk out the door for the last time. 

Sweep, vacuum, and mop floors. 

Most rental cleaning checklists might tell you to leave your floors in “broom clean” condition, which means you just sweep and that’s it. However, it’s best to thoroughly vacuum all carpets and mop any tile, hardwood, vinyl, or laminate hard floor surfaces.

If you have pets, be sure to remove any pet hair that may have collected in the corners and around the edges of the carpet. You’ll also want to spot clean any pet ‘accidents’ that may have occurred during your lease.  

The takeaway 

Be sure to take photos of your apartment or rental house after it’s been cleaned, preferably during the walk-through with your landlord or property manager. That way, you’ll have a record of the move-out condition of your place that can be referenced if there are any issues when it comes time to get your security deposit back.

Dread the idea of having to clean the place you’re leaving or pinched-for-time between work and moving to get it all done? You may want to consider hiring a professional cleaning service.  A reputable cleaning service is well worth every penny, especially at the end of an exhausting move!

You move. Cleanstart will handle the rest.

Let the professionals at Cleanstart take some of the load off by handling the move-out cleaning for you. We’ll make sure that your rental is left in the same condition as it was when you first moved in. We promise!  

Professional Move-out Cleaning Service

Call Cleanstart today for more information about our detailed move-out cleaning service at 253-921-2593.

In addition to tackling any visible dirt and dust in your rental, we will clean the hidden areas that often get missed such as trim, baseboards and those hard-to-reach spots like ceiling fans, light fixtures, high cabinets, above the door, and behind the toilet. Our cleaners will bring to the job whatever cleaning supplies and equipment are needed for a thorough move-out clean.

Each of our cleaning crew members receives a background-check before they are hired, is bonded and covered by worker’s compensation insurance. We train our team in all aspects of professional cleaning and always strive to provide the best cleaning services possible!

Our customer satisfaction guarantee

Our consistently high standards and attention to detail are what our customers appreciate most about our services.  If, for whatever reason, you are unhappy with our cleaning service, please call us within 24 hours so we can reclean the area or resolve the issue at no additional cost to you.  

Cleanstart proudly offers: 

✓ Over 25 years of experience in the commercial cleaning and janitorial industry
✓ Thoroughly trained and vetted cleaning professionals
✓ Commitment to the highest quality clean
✓ Local, licensed, insured, & bonded
✓ 24/7 cleaning options & support
✓ Customized cleaning solutions
✓ One-time deep cleaning and recurring house cleaning services 
✓ 100% satisfaction guarantee
✓ OSHA, HIPAA, EPA, CDC, AORN compliant
✓  A+ BBB-rating

For more information about our comprehensive move-out cleaning service or to schedule a cleaning visit, please give Cleanstart a call today at (253) 921-2593 or request a free online cleaning quote now! 

We service the following Greater Puget Sound locations:

AuburnBellevueBellinghamBonney LakeBremertonFactoriaFifeGig HarborKentLakewoodOlympiaPuyallup, RentonSeattle, TacomaTukwilaUniversity Place, King CountyKitsap County, Pierce County, and Thurston County.


5013 Pacific Hwy E unit 16 Fife, WA 98424 • Phone: 253.921.2593 • Email: Caleb @