MOVING OUT: Getting your security deposit back.

Every community around the country has its own rules about how clean your apartment has to be to get your security deposit back. Here are some helpful guidelines from around the web.

Apartment Living’s Move Out CleaningChecklist includes:


  • Take all nails and screws out of the walls and ceiling and putty them smoothly.
  • Dust the ceiling fixtures.
  • Dust all ledges.
  • Clean the windows.
  • Clean the door knobs and doors.
  • Clean all light switches and outlets.
  • Clean the walls and baseboards.
  • Vacuum (get any stains out of the carpet, or get the carpet professionally cleaned).
  • Get rid of all cobwebs. 


  • Get soap scum off the bathroom tiles and tub/shower and bleach the grout.
  • Clean out the bathroom drawers and vanity, making sure you get all the hair out (and remove any liners).
  • Clean the toilet, sink, countertop and finally the floor (sweep and mop). If the toilet seat is unsavory looking, replace it.
  • Clean the mirror.
  • Vacuum out the surface of the exhaust fan if super dusty. 


  • Clean out all cabinets and liners.
  • Wash the front of the cabinets.
  • Clean and disinfect all countertops.
  • Clean and shine up the sink and faucet.
  • Scrub the refrigerator inside and out. Remove all shelves and clean separately if necessary.
  • Scrub the oven inside and out. Remove shelving, drip pans and burners. Use steel wool, it is your friend.
  • Clean out the dishwasher if you have one.
  • Clean exhaust fan if needed.
  • Remove all appliances and sweep behind them. 

Bedrooms/Living Room:

  • Dust, sweep, vacuum and mop these empty rooms.


  • Should be completely empty and swept. 


  • Cut the grass.
  • Pull the weeds.
  • Remove all of your stuff that might be stuck in the ground or hanging in trees.
  • I recently quickly scrubbed the porch stairs to remove all of the grass stains — it looked a million times better

And the last thing you should do is mop from the furthest point out to the door. Say goodbye, lock it up and go get a drink!

Or if you can splurge on a move-out cleaner, then just forget this whole list. For me, I recently saved clean out money to help pay for movers. Good luck!

Meanwhile, OhMyApt has a great article on What Cleaning and Repair Charges Can a Landlord Deduct from Your Security Deposit? It includes this handy table about what’s a landlord’s responsibility and what’s the tenant’s.

If you’re not sure what’s your responsibility to fix or clean, arrange a walk-through with your landlord, giving yourself enough time to handle whatever mess or repair needs your attention.