The 5 Cleaning Mistakes Renters Make When They Move Out

Moving is stressful. You’ve got boxes to pack, U-Hauls to rent, and IKEA furniture to disassemble. And that’s BEFORE the cleaning mandated by almost every lease. Not only do you have to take apart everything you own and fit it into the back of a 10’ truck, you have to clean the apartment after it’s empty.

If you don’t? Be prepared to fork over that security deposit.

Every day at ABODO, we help dozens of renters find their new New York apartments. And working with property management companies, we hear a lot about the mistakes those renters make when they move out. Here are the five most common things people forget to clean — and some tips on how to clean them.

  1. The Oven
    Ovens are hard to clean. That’s probably why so many people get charged for cleaning them incorrectly or incompletely. You can use regular household cleaners and sprays on the range top. Be sure to remove all grates and burner tops and soak them in hot water to loosen caked-on grease and oils.

    But normal cleaners won’t do much inside the oven, and that “self-clean” feature will only do so much. For a proper cleaning, you’ll need industrial-strength chemicals like Easy-Off or Mr. Muscle. First, brush out any debris from the bottom of the oven, then soak each shelf in hot, soapy water. Then apply the oven cleaner, being sure to open windows and circulate air to diffuse the fumes. Put on a pair of gloves, and wipe everything down. Repeat as necessary — sometimes it can take a few tries.

  2. The Dishwasher
    “The dishwasher washes my dishes,” you might be thinking. “Surely I don’t need to wash it.”

    Wrong. Dishwashers can get nasty. Think about it — they’re moist, enclosed, dark environments with bits of food waste.

    To clean your dishwasher, remove the filter and soak it in warm, soapy water, then pour a cup of white vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher and run a low cycle. After that, leave a cup of baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher overnight to remove the odor of vinegar. Run a normal cycle, and you’re done. (Now that you’ve put all this work into cleaning the dishwasher, don’t forget to wipe down the seal, too.)

  3. Cabinet Fronts
    You’ll probably be so focused on emptying out your cabinets and cleaning the shelves inside that you forget about the forward surfaces. But cabinets can get surprisingly dirty, especially if they’re near stovetops. Plus, you often open them when you’re cooking, which means stains and fingerprints are common.

    To clean, use a mild all-purpose spray and a sponge. For particularly stubborn stains, Magic Erasers are your best friend.

  4. Top of the Refrigerator
    Ah, a classic. You’ve been putting cereal boxes and pans on top of the fridge for so long that you haven’t even thought about what else could be up there. Usually, it’s a lot of dust. Be sure to wipe it down. If you use a Swiffer, use a wet sponge afterward to make everything shine.
  5. Holes in the Wall
    Sure, you probably remember reading in your lease that any holes you make in the wall will have to be refilled. But what’s one nail? Okay, two. Okay, three. Okay, a whole system of brackets. Where else were you supposed to hang your flat-screen?

    Don’t get charged for each hole you leave. Be sure to fill every hole, no matter how small, with spackling or wall joint compound. Allow it to dry, then sand it down. Depending on the size of the hole, you might need a patch, which you can then cover with more spackling. Touch up and cover the area with paint, if you know the shade used on your wall. If not, leave that to your landlord.


Overwhelmed? Remember — you can always outsource your cleaning duties to a team of professionals. Visit Maid Sailors for a quote.

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