Apartment cleaning 101
Depending on your personality, cleaning can be revitalizing or a dreaded task. To help you stay on track, we’ve broken down the apartment cleaning process into 8 easy steps. Whether you're getting ready to move into or out of an apartment or just need to clean your living space, our moving experts have researched the best tips and tricks to help make your place shine. Keep reading to learn what supplies to gather and how to deep clean your apartment!
Cleaning supplies checklist
Before getting started on any project, it’s a good idea to have the right materials on hand. Don’t get started without these essentials:
- Microfiber cloths
- Sponges or paper towels
- Disinfectant wipes
- Rubber gloves
- Mr. Clean Magic Erasers®
- Trash bags
- Baking soda
- All-purpose cleaner
- Dishwashing soap
- Glass cleaner/distilled white vinegar
- Wood polish
- Fume-free oven cleaner
- Toilet cleaner
- Scrub brushes (a toilet brush and an old toothbrush will be helpful)
- Duster (microfiber or feather)
- Broom (with a dustpan)
8 steps for thorough apartment cleaning
Tidying up an apartment can be easy as long as you have a plan. Just follow these 8 steps, and your place will be squeaky clean!
Note: Don’t mix any cleaning products containing bleach, vinegar or ammonia because it can be dangerous. And make sure to wear your rubber gloves to avoid irritating your skin!
Consult your landlord
Before getting started, it’s best to talk to your landlord or building manager about the specifics of the apartment. This is especially important if you’re moving out so you’ll understand what’s expected of you to get that deposit back. Plus, if you’re moving in, you don’t want to waste time or money cleaning something that the previous tenant already took care of (like shampooing carpets).
Declutter the space
Before you can clean, start by removing clutter and trash from the rooms. This is easy if you’re moving in or out. If you’re living in the space and don’t have time to put everything away, grab an empty laundry basket and fill it with stuff to deal with later.
Start at the top
You’ll want to start by cleaning things like door and window trim, crown molding, and light fixtures since dust will naturally fall as you go. Use a duster or broom covered with a microfiber cloth to knock down any dust or cobwebs from ceilings and lights.
If you have ceiling fans, wipe the blades using a small amount of wood polish on a rag to make them shine or go over them with a feather duster if they’re not too dirty.
Wash rugs and curtains if possible or take them outside for a good shaking.
Polish flat surfaces
Once the hard-to-reach places are clean, it’s time to tackle those lower areas. Break out that dust rag with wood polish, glass cleaner or all-purpose cleaner depending on the surfaces and get ready to make your space sparkle. Start with flat surfaces that collect dust and dirt like windows, windowsills, blinds, baseboards, shelving and tables.
Next, wipe down the walls with a dry microfiber cloth. Most scuffs can be removed using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser® or a damp cloth with dishwashing soap.
Use disinfectant wipes on commonly touched places like light switches and doorknobs. But don’t worry about the floors just yet — we’ll get to that soon.
Scrub the kitchen
A dirty kitchen can make an apartment unsightly and smelly. Focus on these areas for a deep clean:
Sinks and garbage disposals
Give the sink a good scrubbing with a paste of baking soda and water, then disinfect it with an all-purpose cleaner, vinegar or dishwashing soap. You can freshen a garbage disposal by running it with a combination of ice cubes and baking soda (throw in some lemon juice or slices if you have them for a citrus scent).
Loosen any stuck-on foods in the microwave by heating a mug full of water on high for one minute. Then wipe the inside with a dry cloth or paper towels. If your microwave has a glass turntable, you can remove it to hand wash or run it through the dishwasher.
Ovens and cooktops
Spray the inside of the oven with a fume-free oven cleaner and let it soak to loosen any grime before wiping it away with a damp sponge or paper towels (check out the cleaner instructions for more information). Remove any leftover food debris from the stove and then wipe it clean with an all-purpose cleaner or a disinfectant wipe. For burnt-on spots on cooktops, you can soak the area in all-purpose cleaner or warm soapy water for several minutes and scrub it away later with a sponge or scrub brush. For glass cooktops, avoid using anything abrasive that might scratch the surface like powdered cleaners or steel wool.
Refrigerators and freezers
Start by removing everything from inside and clean off one shelf at a time with disinfectant wipes or all-purpose cleaner on a cloth. Once the inside is clean, wipe down the outside and the handles. Don’t skip the top of the fridge because it can get really dusty up there!
Clean the dishwasher by placing a cup of white vinegar on the top rack and then running it on the hottest cycle. When the cycle is finished, wipe down the inside with a microfiber cloth or paper towels. Clean the outside of the dishwasher with an all-purpose cleaner or disinfecting wipes.
Note: If you have laundry machines in your apartment, you can clean the washer by running it empty on the hottest cycle with a cup of vinegar in place of detergent. Wipe the outside of washers and dryers with disinfectant wipes or all-purpose cleaner on a cloth. Don’t forget to clean out the dryer’s lint trap!
Cabinets and countertops
Remove any built-up grease and dirt from cabinets and drawers by scrubbing the outsides with warm soapy water and drying with a microfiber cloth. Wipe down inside shelves and the knobs with the same cleaning solution for a thorough clean.
You can polish grout lines on tile countertops and backsplashes by scrubbing them with an old toothbrush and a paste of baking soda and water.
Most countertop can be cleaned with soapy water, all-purpose cleaner or disinfectant wipes. We recommend checking with the landlord to find out the proper cleaner if you’re unsure about the surface material.
No one wants the aroma of an overflowing trash can in their apartment, so take out that garbage as soon as you’re finished cleaning. Wipe down the inside and outside of the trash can with disinfecting wipes and then place a clean liner inside.
Get rid of bathroom grime
The first step of cleaning a bathroom is disinfecting the porcelain throne. Coat the inside of the bowl with toilet cleaner and give it a good scrubbing with a toilet brush, making sure to clean under the rim. Use disinfecting wipes to clean the entire outside, the handle, and the toilet seat.
Next, spray down the tub, shower and sink with an all-purpose cleaner to let it soak while you wipe down the vanity and mirror. Go back to the sink and tub to remove any grime using a scrub brush, and then mop the floors on your way out with all-purpose cleaner.
Freshen the floors
Apartment floors can get dirty fast, so they’ll need some attention toward the end of your cleaning spree. Start by sweeping and vacuuming to remove any dirt and dust. If the carpet has stains, you can spot clean those sections or use a carpet shampooer (available for rent at many home-improvement stores). Don’t forget to check your rental agreement to find out if professional carpet cleaning is required before moving out.
For solid floors, it’s time to break out the mop. Tile, vinyl, linoleum and hardwood floors are durable and can handle most all-purpose cleaners with a damp mop. If the place has wood laminate, it’s best to ask the landlord about the proper cleaner to avoid damaging the floor.
Tidy up outdoor spaces
Don’t skimp on outdoor spaces when you’re cleaning. Sweep off balconies or porches and scrub any outdoor furniture with your all-purpose cleaner and a brush. Wipe down the front door and doorknob with disinfectant wipes and use a Magic Eraser to remove any stubborn scuff marks so it’s inviting for you or any guests.
Don’t let apartment cleaning overwhelm you
Cleaning a whole apartment can seem overwhelming, so consider breaking down the chores into a few each day if you can. Or play some dance music and call in a friend to help tackle the mess! We’d love to hear what helps motivate you to clean. Share with us in the comments!
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