How to Clean Up Fast and Get Your Security Deposit Back

When it’s time to move, the final step before beginning life in your new home is to clean up the old one. If you’ve been renting, a good cleanup is essential if you expect to get your security deposit back.

Of course you have a ton of other things to do, so you want to get the job done as quickly as possible. With a few simple tips and tricks, you’ll have your old house or apartment spotless in practically no time.

Clean Your Place Before Move Out

What You’ll Need

First, get your tools and supplies together. You are going to need the following:

  • A good vacuum cleaner, plus attachments
  • Two buckets
  • A mop
  • Sponges
  • Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
  • Paper towels
  • Mineral oil
  • Spray cleanser
  • Oven cleaner
  • Rubber gloves
  • TSP (trisodium phosphate) substitute
  • Oil soap or dishwashing liquid

The Procedure

There is little point in attempting to clean your home before the movers have taken everything out – you will just stress yourself trying to maneuver around boxes and packing materials. Once everything is packed up and gone, take a look around and see what has to be done. Also, take pictures – these are the “before” shots that show the condition of the apartment or house before your cleaning spree, in case you end up in a dispute with your landlord over the security deposit.

Now, to avoid duplication of effort, clean from the top down. You’ll be dislodging quite a bit of dirt, and it makes no sense to start with a clean floor and just have to re-clean it thanks to debris you’ve knocked down. So, start by using the vacuum cleaner to get at the edges and corners of your ceiling, where cobwebs can accumulate. Make sure to get the tops of the door and window frames as well. Once you’ve thoroughly vacuumed everything above floor level, you can get down to dealing with special areas, as follows:

Sinks and Tubs

Use the sponges and the strongest spray cleanser you can buy to get sinks and tubs sparkling. Make sure to get all the gunk out of the soap dishes.

The Oven

Here is where you use the oven cleaner. It is usually best to spray it on and leave it overnight; then wipe it away. Put newspaper under the stove to avoid getting a mess on the floor.

Of course if you have a self-cleaning oven, you can skip the oven cleaner. Just run the cleaning cycle, and be sure to wipe out all the ash.

Kitchen Appliances

Mineral oil works wonders for loosening greasy dirt in places where it tends to accumulate, like the top of your refrigerator. Put a bit of mineral oil on a paper towel, and wipe. This will take care of most of the grime, and then you can follow with your spray cleaner.


Much of your wall space will have been hidden by furniture and artwork, and once that’s all been moved, you’re really going to see the dirt. This is a job for your TSP substitute (your hardware store can recommend a good one) and the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. First apply the TSP substitute to any scuffs or stubborn dirt. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrub using your sponges and clear water. Anything that’s left will be easily taken care of using the Magic Erasers.

This is the most important part of your cleanup – if the walls are in bad shape, your landlord will want to re-paint, and will most likely take the cost out of your security deposit.


Finally, vacuum your floors, and get your mop and your oil soap or dish soap. Fill one bucket with hot water and soap, and the other with clear hot water. Mop and rinse. Change water as needed.

Good Luck in Your New Home!

You’re good to go! Take “after” pics, and head off to your new home. Chances are, your former landlord will have no issues with refunding your security deposit.

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Moving Tip

  • Get rid of the junk! Get rid of anything you don’t need or want, it will make packing that much easier and save you money.The more stuff you have will increase the time and or weight of the move and will cost you more money!
  • Do not move jewelry, money, coin collections, etc. Keep these items in your possession.
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