Before planning your apartment clean up and repair, you might also look through our other insightful articles so you will be better prepared to plan your move. See these articles on how to find an apartment to rent.
Getting back most of your Apartment Security Deposit
If you are not careful, moving out of an apartment could mean losing much of your security deposit. Often times you can be charged hundreds of dollars for cleaning and repairs that you could easily do yourself (or even better with a few friends) in just a few hours! Avoid losing too much of your security deposit when you move out by keeping in mind these easy, but often overlooked, basic cleaning and repairs when you move out of your apartment.
Step 1: Identify what you will need to repair and clean in your apartment.
As a tenant, you are responsible for "leaving the apartment the way it was before you came in." This means repairing any damage that you did not note in the apartment checklist when you originally signed the lease. Below are some often overlooked and easy repairs that most people can do.
Find out how much your Landlord charges for cleaning and repairs
Most large apartment complexes will have a list of
charges for different repairs and cleaning activities. You should request a list of these to find out where you can best spend your time cleaning and repairing your apartment when you move out. Then decide which of these you should do yourself to save yourself the cost. Depending on your schedule and timeframe, you may choose to do some, and pay for the rest. But often times, the charges for apartment cleaning and repairs are quite steep (It can cost you over 100$ for an un-vacuumed carpet!) These charges are designed to make sure tenants properly clean their units.
For individual landlord and smaller owners, you should consult directly with them to see what their expectations for cleaning and repairs on move out are.
Filling holes and pin-pricks in your walls
If you've nailed or screwed anything to the wall during your apartment stay, you will need to fill in the hole you've made into the dry-wall or wood surfaces. If you don't you can be charged up to $60 for a repair you could do in minutes! Fill dry-wall hole with dry wall filler (it's a paste that comes in small buckets at your local hardware store) and your wood holes with wood filler (similar to dry-wall filler but designed for wood) follow the directions on the package as to how long to wait for it to dry.
Fixing Broken Blinds
Blinds will wear and tear; often times its just dust that makes those old blinds look unsightly, but sometimes the blinds will be cracked or just outright broken. Avoid charges by replacing any blinds that have been damaged. Measure your blinds and find the color - then go to your local hardware store and find the replacements. If you make this trip along with
all other household cleaning supplies, it won't take much more time to save a good sum of money.
Replacing Burned out Light Bulbs
Very easy task, but if overlooked you will be paying for a very expensive light bulb. Make sure you get replace all burnt out bulbs.
Wall Painting Touch-Ups
Consult your landlord or lease before touching up any wall paint stains etc. This may already be paid for if you have stayed in the apartment long enough as a periodic cost.
(You should talk to your landlord about any major repairs, and confirm who will make the repairs - major repairs can often come with possible liability on your part if anything should happen while you make the repairs)
Common Cleaning Tasks
Below is a list of common cleaning tasks that can be easily overlooked, especially if you are in a rush to move out of your apartment. As will all moving activities, making sure you have plenty of time (don't plan to clean on the same day as your move-out) to get things cleaned.
Bedrooms / Living Room:
- Wiping down blinds
- Wiping dust off baseboards and windowsills
- Vacuuming the Carpet
- Windexing Mirrors
- Cleaning Scuffs and Marks from Walls
- Wiping down Lighting fixtures and cleaning out any insects that may have gotten stuck in them
- Cleaning the refrigerator of items
- Wiping and disinfecting refrigerator shelves, drawers, etc
- Cleaning the microwave, oven, and stovetop of all debris and grease
- Cleaning Countertops and Sink
- Wiping down the insides of cabinets and shelves
- Mopping the Floor
- Removing shower curtains and rings
- Scrubbing the shower walls and tub free from mildew
- Cleaning the toilet, sinks, and countertops
- Windex Mirrors and clean lighting fixtures
Step 2: Gather Cleaning and Repair materials
It is important you make a thorough list of all the cleaning articles and repair products you will need before you go shopping. The list often long and extensive and items are very similar. Making sure you gather all your cleaning materials in one go will make sure that you don't spend excess time having to constantly go back to the store to get items you need.
Below is a list of commonly used effective cleaning products. Make sure you find out the ones you have and the ones you need.
- Windex (for mirrors, windows etc)
- Magic Eraser (for wiping off scuffs and stains)
- A Kitchen Grease Cleaning Powder (Comet, OxyClean, etc)
- Towels and Sponges
- Mop and Bucket
- Vacuum Cleaner
- Carpet Cleaning Solution (for stains)
- Paper Towels
- Latex Gloves (especially for those with sensitive hands!)
- A Duster (like Swiffer Cloths)
Below is a list of commonly needed repair products. Make sure you write down the ones you need.
- Light Bulbs
- Dry Wall repair putty
- Wood repair putty
- Putty Knife (if you are repairing holes)
- Sandpaper (for cleaning and smoothing your repair surface)
- Replacement Blinds (as needed)
- Paint or Primer as needed - (brushes, masking tape and coverings as well if you are doing the repaint)
Step 3: Planning for and getting your place clean
Finding help to clean your apartment is always a viable option. You might enlist friends or family (but make sure to make it up to them since you are asking them a favor.)
If you are very busy, you might also consider hiring cleaning people to professionally clean your apartment. It is costlier than doing it yourself, but often might not be as costly as paying your landlord to do it.
Plan to have moved out a bulk of your articles before you clean your apartment. It makes the cleaning job much easier and you will make sure you don't have to clean twice! Also clean from the inside to your doorway and top down - and do all your repair tasks first! Cleaning top down means anything that ends up on the floor will be vacuumed up when you clean the floor so you don't have to do it twice. Cleaning from the inside out make sure you don't track any extra dirt back to places you've already cleaned.
Pick the low hanging fruit and get the easy bang for the buck cleaning and repair tasks done. Often times its not about getting all of your security deposit back but not getting charged for the easy stuff. Some repairs can be very time consuming, especially if you don't know what you are doing. If you are short of time, you might consider leaving some things undone, knowing you will be charged for it. Just ask yourself, is it worth paying someone else the amount you'd lose on the security deposit to do the job for you?
Next Step: Check out our other helpful apartment guides
Now that you have read our DIY - Apartment Moving, you might want to refer to our other great apartment renting resources.
Or start your apartment search