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What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your House When You Move Out?


Moving out of a rental property can simultaneously be the most exciting and stressful time. In the midst of all the packing, organizing, and logistics related to moving to a new location, it is pretty easy to let one very important thing slip your mind – cleaning the home well before returning the keys. Many tenants will often question what happens if you don’t clean your house upon moving out. Is it really that big of a deal?


Should I Clean My Rental?

The short answer is yes; avoiding proper cleaning of your rental at move-out will lead to some unpleasant consequences. Most lease agreement documents specifically outline that the tenant is responsible for leaving the property in the same clean condition as when the tenant moved in. That’s more than just a quick sweep and wipe-down.

Negative Consequence Of Not Cleaning Your House Before Moving Out

The very first thing that is going to happen, most likely, if you move out without doing a proper move-out cleaning is that your landlord/property manager is going to be pretty upset when they show up to inspect the property. They will most likely have to wait before showing the unit to new potential tenants until it can be adequately cleaned. This just wastes valuable time and money.

In most cases, if you leave the rental in poor condition, the landlord will hire professional cleaners to do a deep clean and then deduct those costs directly from your security deposit. If the cleaning fees exceed your deposit amount, they can even come after you to recover the additional expenses, sometimes taking the matter to small claims court.


Beyond losing your deposit, turning your apartment over in a mess will tarnish your relationship with the landlord and may hurt your future rental prospects. If you need them as a reference for a new rental, they won’t be as quick to give you a good review. In extreme cases of damage or uncleanliness, the landlord may even resort to legal action against you.

How to Properly do a Move-Out Cleaning of Your Apartment

Okay, so what, exactly, is expected with move-out cleaning? Generally, you should leave the space in as good, if not better, condition than when you moved in. Meaning:

  • Wipe down all surfaces, cabinets, and counters.
  • Clean inside and outside of the appliances, including the oven, refrigerator, and microwave.
  • Scrubbing the bathroom(s), including the toilet, shower, and sinks
  • Vacuuming and mopping the entire floor
  • Dusting light fixtures, blinds, and ceiling fans.
  • Removing all personal items and trash

Check For Any Damage and Organize Repairs if Necessary

If that deep-cleaning checklist sounds overwhelming, you could always hire professional cleaners to do the job.


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It’s an expense, yes, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing the job was done right, and it can help you get all your deposit back.


The bottom line is that skipping the move-out clean is rarely worth the hassle. Sure, it takes some extra time and elbow grease, but leaving your old home spic-and-span is just part of being a good tenant. It’s showing respect for the property, for the landlord, and the following people moving in. With your deposit and rental history at stake, you’ll want to play it safe and break out those cleaning supplies one last time before saying goodbye.