An End-of-Lease Cleaning Checklist to Get Your Deposit Back

Many renters worry about getting their security deposit back at the end of their lease, and not cleaning an apartment thoroughly can often be a reason for a landlord to keep all or part of the deposit. While some normal wear on the carpeting and other areas might be expected, you want to think about cleaning out the rest of the apartment before you leave. Consider a quick checklist of items that are often overlooked, to ensure you get this cleaning done properly.

1. Nails in the wall

When you take down pictures, shelves, and anything else you've put up yourself, be sure you remove the nails and hooks. Cover these over with caulk or wood putty as needed so they're no longer visible. You probably don't want to paint them, as having mismatched paint might make them more visible than if you simply left the caulk exposed.

2. Stove and oven

Invest in a good oven cleaner and clean out the oven a day or two before you move; since you often need to let the oven cleaner sit for several hours for it to work, you don't want to leave this chore to moving day. Use steel wool on the stovetop and, if necessary, replace the drip pans. The few dollars you spend on new drip pans can be much less than what your landlord might keep from your deposit if he or she needs to replace these themselves.

3. Fridge

Be sure all food items are out of the fridge and give it a good wipe down. Take out the lower drawers and clean under these for a thorough job; you might need to use a little bleach on the drain in the middle of this lower shelf if some mold has developed, which isn't uncommon in a fridge.

4. Bathroom

Be sure you clean the grout of the shower with bleach or grout cleaner. If there are hard water stains, address these with muriatic acid, or a cleaner meant for lime, calcium, and rust. Make sure you clean the area behind the toilet and also clean out any drawers of the bathroom vanity as well as shelves in the linen closet; if there are makeup stains or residue from other products, this might mean a deduction from your security deposit.

5. Ceiling fans

Don't forget to clean off the tops of the blades of ceiling fans and dust around the light fixtures. If necessary, replace any bulbs.

For help, consider contacting a cleaning service specializing in end-of-lease cleaning.