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Cleaning Out Your Apartment Before Moving: 5 Helpful Tips

woman cleaning with bucket

MOVING DAY! Everyone’s favorite major life event!


What’s that – you find moving stressful, overwhelming, and exhausting? Well, you’re certainly not alone. It’s a big job and one that sends procrastination into overdrive. Between packing, organizing, and getting from Point A to Point B, cleaning is often the elephant in the room.

More often than not, cleaning your place becomes a haphazard thing done at the last minute. If you’re renting it’s particularly important to clean your place as many tenant agreements may limit your deposit return if things aren’t left in good shape.

Believe it or not, there’s a better way. You don’t need to save everything for a mad dash, begrudgingly scrubbing and cramming things into bags without even looking at them first. We have a few tips for cleaning out your apartment before moving.

1. Tackle Clutter First

This step is one that you should take before anything else. That includes packing, too. Do a sweep of your house and go through any clutter that has collected around. Don’t worry – it happens to all of us.

woman in clothing pile

That includes stacks of papers, old receipts, boxes for appliances you don’t have anymore, junk mail, and basically anything that you no longer need. It also includes anything that has wandered into a room that it doesn’t belong, like coffee cups cluttering your desk or clothing hanging on the back of the bathroom door. 

By taking care of your clutter, you’ll not only have a much more harmonious feel at home, but you’ll also have a better idea of how much stuff you have to pack. You’ll also find plenty of things to donate, sell, throw away, or recycle.

2. Collect Your Garbage and Recycling

And with that, the next tip we have is to start with deliberately collecting your garbage and recycling. Sort through all of the things to get rid of and be sure to send them to their rightful place. Donate old clothes, dispose of electronics in a proper way, and recycle what you can.

Handling this one early also saves you from just stuffing things in bags at the last minute. It will also clear up some space at home so you know exactly what you’re working with.

3. Handle the Laundry

Why pack dirty clothes? And why start your life in your new home by shoving piles of laundry in the machine? Give yourself some time and tackle any laundry baskets before you move. This step is a great one because you can multitask. Unless you like hanging out in the laundry room during the process, you can put your clothes, bed linens, towels, and other laundry in the machine and get back to the rest of your tasks.

4. Start with the Kitchen and Bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms tend to be the most tedious part of cleaning. That’s why we recommend tackling them first. Why? Because you’ll feel great afterward. Trust us.

Start with the toilet and work your way out. Floors, then the shower, and finally the sink, countertop, and mirror. Starting with the least pleasant part of the room lets you finish on a high note.

man cleaning bathroom mirror

In the kitchen, give some TLC to your sink then move on to giving your cooktop a good scrub. From there you can wipe down countertops and cupboard doors. Don’t forget to wipe down the refrigerator, front of the oven, and clean the microwave if you have one. Make sure to mop or Swiffer the floor to get any food particles, crumbs, and dust that collects in corners or between cupboards and appliances.

5. The Magic Key: Make it Fun

We’re not going to go step by step on all of the little bits, but we will let you in on a secret for getting through your cleaning tasks: let yourself have a little fun.

family with box faces

Yes, we know. It sounds like the advice your mother would give you while trying to convince you to get to your chores. But trust us, it makes a big difference. Blast some good music. Put on your favorite podcast or an audiobook. Carry your laptop around with some guilty pleasures on Netflix. Whatever you like, just don’t make it into such a chore. You’re allowed to have fun along the way.

You can also gamify the task by lining up a reward for yourself. Whether that means having a sneaky snack each time you finish a room, or taking yourself out for a nice dinner or drinks once you complete the job, give yourself a bonus. You deserve it!

6. Bonus Tip: Clean as You Go

We’ll say it again: don’t save your cleaning for the last minute. Clean as you go with your sorting, packing, and preparing for your move. Spreading your tasks out will save you some energy and stress and make things flow much more smoothly when moving day arrives.

About the author

Unpakt Team