A move out cleaning is just like it says, someone is moving out of a residence and wants someone besides themselves to clean the home or apartment. In other words a move-out cleaning needs doing. 

To do this, you will need additional items besides your regular cleaning supplies:

Large trash bags

Razor blade scraper

Easy-Off oven cleaner

3 step, step ladder

Ceiling fan duster

A large stiff bristle plastic scrubber

Toilet bowl scrub brush

Toilet bowl cleanser. I use Lysol toilet bowl cleaner without bleach.

Recommended: Commercial mop bucket – Like this

Recommended: Commercial mop handle and head – Like this


One day, out of the blue, you’re going to get a call from someone you don’t know asking you to clean their home after they’ve moved out.They want you to do it because moving is hard work and adding cleaning to their “to-do” list makes it almost impossible. They’re also hoping to get their security deposit back and there is a greater chance of that if a professional cleaner does the cleaning. 

Note: It may be the owner who lives in-town that schedules and will pay for the cleaning. If that’s the case, you won’t need to collect a deposit. 

Note: If they have a cleaning checklist from their landlord, take a picture of it and refer to it, so you can do exactly what is needed besides the regular cleaning you’ll do.

How does a professional house cleaner clean a home?

43 cleaning tips and tricks

43 cleaning tips

“You use it to pull out hair and other debris from the slow drain. You’ll be amazed and a little grossed out at what you pull out of there…”

Important: Ensure water and electricity are on. 

Important: Make sure the residents are totally moved out. It’s hard to clean around people, furniture, personal items, and boxes and still do a good job. 

When the person who needs the move out cleaning has called you, you’ll discuss the following: 

a.  Ask how large the home or apartment is in terms of bedrooms and bathrooms.

b.  Tell them you charge by the hour for this type of cleaning. They’ll ask about the time required.

Tell them something like, “I don’t know, but a home the size of yours for a regular cleaning would usually take 2 man hours (or whatever the number is), so a move out cleaning might take us 4 to 6 man hours or more to do this level of work. The total time depends on how dirty the place is. I know you want us to do an excellent job. Not a rush job.” Make sure a definition of man hours is included in the scope-of-work form to be signed.


Important: Move out cleanings can be a source of non-paying customers. If they were renting the home, get a large deposit up front. If they don’t want to pay a deposit, don’t work for them.

If it’s not the home owner, tell them you require a deposit of “X”: Figure out the deposit by bedrooms. If you require a $50 per bedroom cash deposit and the apartment is two bedrooms, you would require a $100 cash deposit when you first meet with the person moving out of the home or apartment.


1.   You meet the customer at the property. Now you can look the place over to get a better idea of how long it might take to clean. Don’t commit to an amount of time. Instead, tell the owner that you will send them a text each time they owe an additional $100. If they were renting, tell them you require a reply or you will need to stop working.

Important: You will want to have something in writing about the scope-of-work to be done, the pay, the deposit, and your guarantee. 

Note: Ask the person who hired you if you should clean the blinds. The answer to this will also be in the scope of work form you and the owner are signing.

Getting ready to clean:

1.  Unless the home is a one bedroom, one bath apartment, make sure there are two cleaners present, so if there is a significant problem, you have a witness. Plus, like I said, it is a hard job and can be overwhelming if only one person was there.

2.  Before you begin cleaning, take pictures of everything. Lots and lots of pictures, including the floors. Take a video well. You’re protecting yourself from being accused of damaging the place. You are looking for damage before you clean. 

Start with the bathrooms:

Super Clean The Bathrooms – You will super-clean everything in the bathrooms to look new.


Shower, shower walls, shower door, and tub:

a.  Clean the shower doors and shower walls to remove all soap scum and hard water stains down to the tile or enclosure. You may need to use a plastic scraper on the soap scum. My cleaners and I use these.

b.  I’ve used a 5 inch razor blade scraper to do this, but there is a risk of damage if you do. Be careful. I’ve turned them so I scraped with the back of the blade.

c.  The walls, floor, and tub must look and feel new.

d.  This may also be where you need to use the scrubber you’ve brought with you. If the bottom of the shower or tub is really bad, get it wet, sprinkle in a lot of Comet or other bleach based cleaner. Then scrub, strongly, with the scrubber. It may take a while to get this area clean, assuming it will come clean at all.

e.  You must clean up all the mold, mildew, rust, and soap scum and hardwater stains (if any) in the cracks and crevices. All of that must be removed. It’s tedious and time consuming, but it has to be done.

f.  it is possible that there will be mildew growing under the tub’s bathroom sealant that runs along the edges of the tub. You can see it, but you can’t clean it. Take a picture and then show the problem to the customer during your final walk through.

To get it clean, the sealant would have to be removed and replaced. Obviously, that’s not something you’re going to do.

Next, clean inside the cabinets:

a.  If there is a lot of debris and hair, vacuum up the debris and then wash the inside of the cabinets the a wet, soapy soapy towel.

b.  Thoroughly clean the inside and outside outside of the cabinet doors.

c.  Now clean the inside of the drawers. How I do this: 

Vacuum the inside of the drawer, then pull the drawer totally out of the cabinet. Turn the drawer upside down to knock out more debris and hair. 

d.  Then use a wet soapy sponge scrubber and comet to scrub the bottom of the drawer and sides if needed. 

e.  Clean the drawer face, including the handle. Drawers are challenging, but try to get them as close to new looking as possible.

f. Clean off the face of the cabinet and handle and then put the drawer back in the cabinet.


Now clean the rest of the bathroom:

a.  Clean the sink, toilet, countertop, and the mirrors (the entire mirror surface – use your step ladder if needed). Wipe off the light fixture while you’re up there. All must look new. Move out toilets can really suck. Use gloves and maybe eye goggles and a pandemic type mask. 


b.  Clean the floor to look new. No debris, hair, mold, mildew, etc. in the corners or along the edges. Do a partial or full “hands and knees” cleaning of the bathroom floor.

Next, you will concentrate on the kitchen.


Clean the inside of the oven with Easy-Off.

To do this:

a.  Remove the oven pan drawer under the oven door and set it aside.

b.  Lay down plastic all around the oven on the floor. Large trash bags will work or you can use a plastic painter’s floor cover. Overkill of laying down floor covering is important. If you get Easy-Off on vinyl flooring, the flooring will be damaged.

c.  Heavily spray the inside of the oven with Easy-Off, including the inside of the door. Spraying Easy-Off sucks. Hold your breath as best as you can. If you wear glasses and the Easy-Off mist gets on them, it may damage your glasses. Wear goggles or put them out of the kitchen.

d.  Now close the oven door and turn the oven on and set it to 200 degrees. When the oven reaches that temperature, turn off the oven.

e.  Next, spray the inside of the oven with water to get it damp. Close the oven door and clean the rest of the kitchen.

f.  When you are done with cleaning the kitchen, put on vinyl or rubber gloves and wipe out the inside of the oven with a wet towel. Rinse the towel frequently.

g.  When you have removed all the Easy-Off, dry the inside of the oven with a clean towel. Then spray window polish (this is like Windex but not as nasty) all over the inside of the oven. Wipe it dry with another clean towel.

f.  You’re done with the oven. I might consider throwing the plastic away if it has gotten Easy-Off on it.

g.  Clean the outside of the oven door and oven handle.

Preliminary cleaning the top of the stove:

a.  This area needs to look as new as possible. If the stove is electric and has replaceable pans under the burners, they may be too cruddy to get clean. Do your best and make a note of it to show them to the person who hired you.

b.  You will clean the stove top as usual, making sure it is spotless. If it’s electric, you will need to remove all the electrical burners if possible or, if not removable, prop them up to clean under them. Usually, with electric stoves, you can lift the top of the stove up to clean under the burners.

c.  If the stove is gas, you may need to use your scrubber to clean off the stove top grates. Do this outside to avoid getting black spots on everything.

d.  Pull off the burner temperature knobs to clean under them. Clean the knobs while they are off.

Cleaning the stove top to look new:

1.  For this part of the cleaning I use a lot of soapy water.  It’s quite likely that there is burnt on food still in rings around the burners. You can do one of two things here (or both): 

a.  Get the stove top very soapy and then gently and slowly razor blade off the food rings. 

b.  Spray the rings with Easy-Off. Then go do some other cleaning while you wait for the Easy-Off to work. When you come back, maybe the burnt on food will wipe right up. It is likely that you will need to use both a razor blade and the Easy-Off.

Now that the stove is clean, it is time to clean the fridge.


This isn’t a normal fridge cleaning. This is a “make it look new” cleaning. The inside, the outside, and the top will be shiny-clean. Use your step ladder to clean the outside top of the fridge.

a.  If you followed my suggestion earlier, you will have turned off the fridge, propped open the doors, and thawed the freezer.

b.  Now to clean the inside of the fridge.

c.  Consider taking a picture of the inside of the fridge so you know how to replace everything properly.

d.  Pull out and remove all the drawers and shelves. Most are removable with a bit of finagling.

e.  Now, holding each inside piece of the fridge over the sink, use soapy water to clean each fridge piece. Then dry and polish all the drawers and shelves to look new.

f.  Clean and polish the inside of the fridge to look new, then replace the shelves and drawers. Use the picture you took if needed.

g.  Hopefully, the freezer is thawed out enough to clean it to look new.

h.  Important: Now pull the fridge out far enough to clean the floor where it was sitting. Close the door, plug in the fridge, and push it back into place.

Now you will clean the rest of the kitchen.

a.  Pull out and clean out the inside of the drawers. Clean inside the cabinets, the cabinet doors and handles and the drawer faces and handles. You will need your step ladder for this.

b.  Clean the rest of the kitchen as you normally would, then clean the floor so it is spotless.

Final Cleaning Tasks

a.  Baseboards throughout the home might need to be cleaned either by hand with a wet rag or with the ceiling fan duster.

b.  Check the ceiling fans. Clean them using a ceiling fan duster if needed.Check for cobwebs as you’re doing this. Of course, remove the cobwebs if you see any.

c.  If the owner has requested it, clean all the blinds.

d.  Clean all the window sills.

e.  Now it’s time to vacuum. For each room, carefully vacuum around the edges of the carpet in each room using a hose and attachment. Then vacuum to show a pleasing pattern.

f.  Clean anything not mentioned here that you noticed needs doing or that the owner mentioned. Examples of this include clean ashes out of the fireplace, clean a sliding glass door that’s dirty, etc.


Walk through with the owner:

When you are close to being done, call the person that hired you and ask them to join you to inspect the job you did. If they won’t do the final inspection while you’re there, you can’t provide them with a guarantee, plus there is a chance you won’t be paid.


Get paid the rest of the money that is owed to you.  


That’s what we need to do when doing a move-out cleaning.