How to Clean an Apartment and Get Your Deposit Back

Cleaning an Apartment

Moving season is upon us, kids coming home from college, bigger and better places on the market. If you’re renting and moving to an awesome new place, you can clean up the old digs yourself and well enough to get your hefty deposit back. Let me be the first to tell you, microfiber will be your best friend. Microfiber will pick up dirt and dust you didn’t know existed. For reals. They’ll make cleaning your apartment easier and help you get your deposit back.

Check Your Apartment Cleaning Policy

Some apartment complexes are perfectly fine with you leaving your old digs just vacuumed and swept because they have a cleaning crew that will get it ready for the next tenant. Some other places will get as specific as what tool they want you to use to clean the light switch. The point is, know how detailed you’ll need to get when cleaning so you can plan how long you’ll be there cleaning.

Clean Apartment

Clean Smarter Not Harder

Identify the big projects, the oven, bathtub, fridge etc. so you can plan what needs to soak while you do the little chores. Coating the oven in a soft scrub and letting it break down the grease will reduce the amount of time you will have to scrub the oven. Same goes for the bathtub, tile and fridge; the longer you let it sit with cleaning solutions, the easier it can be to wipe away the mess.

Pay attention to the details

More than likely, it was the details that made you fall in love with you old place and cleaning the details will get that deposit back. Start cleaning your place from top to bottom, literally. Do all of the high dusting first, followed by wiping, replacing/cleaning light fixtures. Cleaning your apartment this way will help eliminate the need to redo tasks.

  • Light switches- it’s the first thing you touch when coming inside an apartment and there should be no fingerprints, Cheeto smudges or grime in site. Take off the faceplates and wash them in the dishwasher for a no scrub approach. Wipe down the switch with a damp cloth or a toothbrush for a more detailed clean.
  • Baseboards- run a vacuum or duster along them to pick up loose dirt then wipe down with a damp cloth.
  • Wipe down the walls- as you’re cleaning the baseboards wipe the walls from waist height down.
  • Fridge handles, dishwasher, microwave– As there is grime pretty much everywhere you touch, wipe these down with a magic eraser. I find it a shame that we can’t just easily remove these parts and thrown them in the dishwasher too.
  • Faucets- You can apart, if you feel comfortable, to clean grime in those hard to scrub places.How to Clean an Apartment
  • Tub Area- If there’s tile, scrub that tile and grout in addition to the caulking. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda can remove stains, mold, and mildew making your tub shine. It also helps if you take the shower curtain down before you clean so you don’t try and clean shadows. I’m guilty of this on several occasions.

  • Toe kicks- Once upon a time, I wrote a post on cleaning these, super easy warm soapy water. But seriously, with the amount of things that spill on the floor, some is bound to get here.
  • Ceiling fan blades- Dust left on a ceiling fan can make a place look neglected and ain’t nobody got time for that. You can use the pillow case method or the regular high reaching duster.
  • Doorframes, near door handles- I don’t know about you, but for some reason right around the door handle and on the frame, dirt gathers like crazy. Clean it with warm water and soap, or a magic eraser.
  • Blinds- Take blinds down and soak them in the bath tub while the tub is soaking, double duty!
  • Dryer vent- Simply vacuum and wipe down as you desire.


I’m absolutely sure that this is not a complete list of all the details you should pay attention to when cleaning to move out of an apartment. However, I do think I covered all of the main bases. Removing dirt and grime from details will really make your apartment shine.

Happy Cleaning!


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How did you clean your apartment and get your deposit back?
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