How to Clean for Easier Moving


PrintIcon45How to Clean Unit for Healthier Living and Easier Moving
Landlords of Iowa, Inc.

For monthly/periodic cleaning any tenant who follows the suggestions provided should be maintaining a clean and sanitary household.  Moving time will also be much easier after having kept up with periodic cleaning during tenancy.

After giving the 60 day notice to move (in writing and dated), a Tenant knows it is time to start planning.  Moving takes time and work.  Besides cleaning and organizing Tenant’s new home, Tenant must clean old home, too.  Start early!  Start collecting boxes, sorting through belongings, packing and cleaning now!<

To Tenant Moving In Or Preparing to Move Out:  Remember These Points:

  1.  Moving out is easier for Tenant who cleans regularly and takes care of unit during tenancy.
  2. Set a scheduled cleaning day and stick to it!
  3. Landlord will charge Tenant for cleaning and repairs that Tenant has not done and which Landlord must do before new Tenant can move in.
  4. To avoid charges Tenant must leave unit in as good a condition as when Tenant moved in.
  5. Landlord will charge Tenant for hauling away any items such as: cars, furniture, toys, clothing, bags of trash, etc. left on premises after Tenant leaves.


Start in any of above rooms, leaving the kitchen and bathroom till last.  Remember to empty and clean the closets.  In above rooms/entry areas, do the following:

  1.  Sweep cobwebs down from ceilings, walls, drapes.
  2. Wash all hand-prints and any other marks or dirt from the walls, woodwork, doors, stairways, light switches, etc.
  3. Wipe down woodwork, baseboards, closet and cupboard shelves.  Consider waxing unpainted wood unless it’s to be painted.
  4. Check for broken windows, screens, doorknobs, window locks, dripping faucets, running stools, etc. Make a list of items broken or in need of repair.
    1.  Give landlord a copy of your list.
    2. Landlord and Tenant together can make arrangements for the necessary repairs or replacements.  Make no repairs without landlord’s written approval.
  5.  Obtain Landlord’s written permission before washing curtains or drapes (if they are provided).
  6. Clean windows – glass inside/out, frames, sills, and ledges.
  7. Replace smoke detector batteries, broken or missing curtain rods, etc.
  8. Light fixtures – Carefully wash fixtures; carefully remove glass gloves/covers & wash; replace broken, missing, or burned-out bulbs with like bulbs of same wattage as originally furnished.
  9. Ceiling fans – Dust and wash top of fan blades
  10. If Tenant made small holes in the plaster, ask for patching compound and instructions for use.
  11. Carpets were clean when Tenant moved in and are to be clean when Tenant moves out.  Check with Landlord for regulations pertaining to cleaning carpets.  If cleaned before moving, keep them covered with sheets, towels, rugs, or something.  Carpet-cleaning businesses are especially busy at the end of the month.  Call early for cleaning date so cleaning can be completed on time – preferably immediately after you have moved out and prior to the move-out inspection, if possible.


Tenants with basements/attic are wise to get each cleaned out early in preparation for moving.

  1. Sweep down cobwebs from walls, rafters, ceilings, etc.
  2. Clean out all trash; put it in approved bags; carry out in time for garbage pickup.
  3. Sweep the floors.  Vacuum if necessary.
  4. Do not leave anything behind for Landlord to haul away.
  5. Call Goodwill or St. Vincent to pick up furniture or other large items.  Carry items to curb for pickup.
  6. Your city may also have a large-item scheduled pick-up, which you can arrange and pay required fees.


  1.  Sweep cobwebs from ceilings, wall, etc.
  2. Wash woodwork, ceilings, and walls.
  3. Scrub sink, tub/shower, tub enclosure, shower doors, track, and faucets.  Clean lime on faucets.
  4. Scrub toilet bowl using industrial strength cleaner and good bowl brush.  Clean outside of stool also.
  5. Scrub/wax floor paying special attention to behind and under tub/around stool.  Do not use string mop.
  6. If Tenant caused small holes in walls or ceiling, ask for patching compound. Don’t try to patch large holes because you could easily create a bigger problem.  If large holes are not property patched, the removal of your patch attempt can create much more expense for the landlord and ultimately for you.


Kitchens can hide more dirt than all of the other rooms put together.  Much of this cleaning should be done with a good grease-cutting cleaner such as 409, Target, Fantastik, or Spic N Span ammonia.

  1. Sweep cobwebs from ceilings, walls, etc.
  2. Wash ceilings, walls, woodwork, window frames, ledges, sills, doors, baseboards, and cupboards thoroughly until ALL grease is gone.
  3. Wash window glass with cleaner containing ammonia.  Wash windows twice if necessary.
  4. Clean cupboards one at a time.  Throw out anything not wanted for easier packing.
    1.  Empty contents of cupboard onto counter.
    2. Scrub whole interior; back walls/sides; top/underside of each shelf; doors – inside/outside.
    3. Scrub tops of any exposed cupboards.
  5. Clean stove/refrigerator.
  6. Next scrub/wax floor using property cleaners & wax.  Do NOT use string mop.

Clean Refrigerator & Stove last days before moving.


Cleaning the refrigerator at moving time is not such a horrendous job if done periodically during tenancy.

  1.  Pull refrigerator out and vacuum or sweep dirt and dust balls underneath and behind.  Remember to vacuum coils under and/or on the back of the refrigerator.  Scrub the sides, top, back, and door(s) of the refrigerator.
  2. Scrub/wax floor under and behind the refrigerator.
  3. Turn off both refrigerator and freezer.
  4. Empty refrigerator and freezer for defrosting.  Put frozen items in cooler or cardboard box with ice or blue ice.  Cover frozen food with a towel or newspaper.
  5. Remove shelves/racks/crisper drawers to wash.
  6. If freezer is not self-defrosting and there is a thick ice build-up, place a bowl/pan of very hot water in freezer to help melt ice.  Also use hair dryer to blow hot air on ice.  Do NOT try to break up the ice with any implement such as a knife or ice pick.  This could result in serious damage to refrigerator.  Put cake pan, dishpan, towels inside to catch defrost water.
  7. Wash shelves and crispers; dry thoroughly but don’t replace them yet.
  8. Completely wash inside of refrigerator, shelves, and compartments in the door.  Clean door gasket very thoroughly.  Clean top and bottom of coor and gasket on door.
  9. Wash outside of door(s); remember the handles.
  10. Remove grill vent across bottom of refrigerator and wash well.  Get down on hands and knees to locate and remove drip pan.  If it’s full, remove it carefully and then empty it.  When freezer is defrosted, wash up the drip pan and replace it.
  11. After freezer is defrosted, remove any bowls/pans, etc; wash interior and wipe dry.
  12. Remove any pans from refrigerator.  Wipe up spills on floor, checking behind and underneath.
  13. Carefully push refrigerator back in place.
  14. Replace shelves/crispers.  Be sure drip pan is back in place.  Replace bottom grill vent.
  15. Check that refrigerator is plugged in; turn on controls for both refrigerator/freezer.
  16. Return usable food items to refrigerator.
  17. Admire your clean refrigerator.  Promptly and properly dispose of throw-away food items.
  18. Keep refrigerator clean.


Cleaning stove and oven at moving time also will not be such a horrendous job if done periodically   during tenancy.    

  1.  Carefully pull out stove.  If gas stove, be wary of breaking gas line.  Sweep up the dirt; scrub under/behind; wax floor.
  2. Scrub the side/back of stove, wall behind stove and cupboards beside stove.  Push stove back in place after floor is dry.
  3. Clean burners, drip pans, under burners and inside stove top under burners.  If burners are extremely dirty, remove and place with oven racks for cleaning or place in oven, spray with oven cleaner when oven is cleaned or spray with oven cleaner and set in sink overnight.
  4. Clean oven.  This is not really hard.  Follow instructions on oven cleaner container and/or below:


     If oven is self-cleaning or continuous cleaning, do not use oven cleaner inside of oven nor on oven door.  Follow manufacturer’s instructions for self-cleaning ovens.  For continuous cleaning ovens, clean thoroughly and carefully, but do not use any harsh abrasive cleaners nor oven cleaner.  If oven is not self-cleaning, follow the instructions below:

  1. Following items are needed for oven cleaning; rubber gloves to protect your hands; one quart of ammonia; 2 extra-heavy garbage bags; Easy-Off or Dow oven cleaner; one can of Slip-Off spray silicone; plenty of rags and newspapers; a putty knife and/or no scratch scraper.
  2. Spread newspapers on floor in front of stove.
  3. Remove everything from oven – broiler pan, racks, side rails, other pans, etc

GAS STOVE – Heat oven to 200 degrees for 10 minutes; shut off; spray heavily with oven cleaner;      close  oven door.  Let stand 15 minutes to soak and cool.

ELECTRIC STOVE – Spray oven heavily with oven cleaner; shut oven door; heat oven to 200 degrees for 10 minutes; shut off, cool.

  1. When oven is cool enough to proceed, wash out with a throw-away rag.  Scour with a scrubber, use putty knife or scraper to scrape thick spots that remain.  If oven is not clean, repeat spray procedure.  Finish with clean wet rag.
  2. While oven cleaner is working,
    1. Place one garbage bag inside other; place opened newspaper flat inside bag.
    2. Put oven rack inside bags on newspapers and cover with more newspapers.
    3. Place broiler pan and rack next covering with more newspaper.
    4. Continue layering items to be cleaned and newspapers.
    5. Do NOT put in drip pan from the stove burners; soak these in hot soapy water or in oven with oven cleaner.  Rinse.
    6. Carefully place bags in bathtub or outdoors.
    7. Holding garbage bag ends up a little, pour bottle of ammonia into bag on top of newspapers.  Quickly seal bags and let stand 5-6 hours.  Be sure bags don’t leak.  DO NOT move bags.
  1. When time is up, these items will clean like new with little effort!  Use scraper on stubborn spots.
  2. Put the oven back together, spray heavily with “Slip-Off” and close the door.


  1.  If broiler pan wasn’t placed in bag with oven parts, soak in hot soapy water 15-30 minutes.  If broiler pan doesn’t fit in sink or dishpan, try the tub.
  2. Use putty knife or spatula for heavy build-up.
  3. Use scrubber/SOS pads to clean.
  4. For a gas stove, clean top, bottom, and sides of broiler compartment thoroughly.


  1.  Remove all trash and personal belongings from the building including above the rafters.
  2. Sweep down cobwebs; seep up the floor and/or concrete driveway.
  3. Use degreaser to clean oil stains.


  1.  Pick up trash; place in bags or garbage cans at curb.
  2. Rake areas if necessary.
  3. Bag refuse and dispose of properly.



            After Tenant has moved out completely is the best time for final vacuuming, shampooing carpet, and cleaning bathroom and kitchen floors.  Study the Security Deposit Agreement and double-check this document to see that everything is completed.  When unit is completely cleaned to satisfaction of Tenant, call landlord for final move-out inspection and return copies of all keys.  Provide forwarding instructions or address to Landlord.