Your Move-Out Cleaning Checklist to Get Your Deposit Back

Moving out of a rental property can be a stressful experience, especially when it comes to getting your security deposit back. According to a survey by, 26% of renters did not receive their full security deposit when moving out.

This is often due to not meeting cleanliness standards set by landlords or property managers. To avoid losing your hard-earned money, it is important to have a thorough move-out cleaning checklist in place.

Understanding the Legalities of Security Deposits

Before diving into the cleaning checklist, it’s crucial to understand what a security deposit is and how it works. A security deposit is an amount of money that you pay upfront when renting a property as security for any damages or unpaid rent at the end of your lease. When the lease ends, the deposit should be refunded to you, minus the cost of any charges during your tenancy.

In many states, landlords are required to return the full deposit within a specific timeframe if there are no damages beyond normal wear and tear. This makes it important for tenants to document any pre-existing damages in writing or through photos before moving in. If you’re worried about a dispute arising, familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations regarding security deposits.

How To Get The Full Deposit Back

To avoid losing your money, enlist the following tips:

  • Document Everything: Before settling in, take a detailed inventory of any existing damage and document it with photos and videos. This will serve as proof of the property’s condition when you moved in.
  • Clean Thoroughly: Before moving out, clean the property thoroughly. This is often the most important part! Don’t forget to clean inside cabinets, closets, and other often overlooked areas.
  • Remove Personal Belongings: Make sure to remove all of your personal items, trash, and belongings from the property when you move out to avoid fines.
  • Stay Current on Rent: Always ensure your rent is paid on time and in full. Any unpaid rent could be deducted from your deposit.
  • Maintain the Property: Keep the property in good condition throughout your lease. If damage occurs, try to fix it immediately or report it to the landlord.
  • Provide Forwarding Address: Ensure your landlord has your new address to send your deposit to after you’ve moved out. If you don’t, some contracts will void your right to receive the deposit at all!

The Move-Out Cleaning Checklist

The best way to ensure you get your security deposit back is by leaving the property in the same condition as when you first moved in. To make this process easier, here is a checklist to help guide your move-out cleaning:

Living Room

  • Dust and wipe down all surfaces including windowsills, baseboards, and light fixtures.
  • Sweep and mop hard flooring, and vacuum any carpet.
  • Spot clean any stains on walls or furniture.


  • Scrub and disinfect the toilet (inside and out!), sink, bathtub/shower, and all surfaces.
  • Wipe down mirrors and any other glass surfaces, avoiding streaks.
  • Clean any mold or mildew present in the bathroom.


  • Thoroughly clean inside and outside of all appliances including fridge, oven, microwave, and dishwasher.
  • Remove any food particles or grease from the stovetop and inside the oven.
  • Wipe down all countertops, cabinets, and drawers.
  • Clean and disinfect the sink area.


  • Clean out all closets and drawers, making sure to remove any personal belongings.
  • Dust and wipe down all surfaces including windowsills, baseboards, and light fixtures.
  • Vacuum carpets and sweep floors.

Other Areas

  • Don’t forget to clean any additional areas such as the laundry room, garage, or patio.
  • Dust vents and check doors for any last spots to scrub off.
  • Make sure to remove any trash and dispose of it properly.

Don’t Forget the Pictures!

In addition to photos taken when you first moved in, taking pictures before and after the cleaning process can prove that you did everything in your power to return the property in good condition. These photos serve as evidence in case of any disputes with the landlord regarding damages or cleanliness.

Guarantee Success With The Cleaning Squad

If you are short on time or feel overwhelmed by the move-out cleaning process, consider hiring a professional cleaning service like Cleaning Squad. Not only will this save you time and energy, but it also ensures that your property is thoroughly cleaned by professionals to meet the landlord’s standards.

At Cleaning Squad, we offer move-out cleaning packages tailored specifically for rental properties, so contact us today to make sure you get your deposit back in full! Don’t let the stress of moving out cloud your judgment when it comes to cleaning—use this checklist as a guide and ensure a smooth move-out process.