How to Clean a House Before Moving Out

Zenyx Griffiths
Written by Zenyx Griffiths
4th November 2019 (Last updated on Friday 15th November 2019)

Cleaning your house can be time consuming, so make sure you don’t leave it to the last minute. Moving house is already a stressful and chaotic time, so it's important to do as much preparation as possible to make the process easier for you and your family. 

The best time to clean your house is when the furniture you’re moving has already been dismantled and packed. However, as some companies offer it as an additional service, you can also hire a removal company to help you. 

Here at Compare My Move, we suggest you tackle each room individually and with all the necessary supplies available for when you need them. To help you prepare for the tedious task of cleaning a house before moving out, we’ve created this guide to provide you with all the helpful tips and tricks you need to make the process easier.

This article will cover the following points

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies How to Successfully Deep Clean Your House Cleaning Your Kitchen Cleaning Your Living Room Cleaning Your Bedroom Cleaning Your Furniture Cleaning Your Bathroom How to Clean Your Walls How to Clean Your Windows Cleaning the Outside of Your Property End of Tenancy Cleaning Explained What Increases the Risk of Losing Your Deposit? Cleaning Your House When You Sell It What if the Seller Hasn't Cleaned the House? Hiring Professional Cleaners Saving Money on Your House Move

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Before starting, you’re going to need an assortment of cleaning supplies to ensure your property is left sparkling. It may seem obvious, but a thorough clean needs the appropriate supplies to reach and scrub all the necessary places. Whether you’re selling the property or impressing your landlord, it’s important to complete the well-needed deep clean with the right equipment. 

Here are some of the supplies you’ll need to include:

  • Disinfectants
  • Glass cleaners
  • Duster
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Plastic/nylon soft scrubbers
  • Brushes
  • Furniture polish
  • Mop
  • Hoover
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Bucket
  • Rubber gloves

Keep in mind that removal companies won’t transport cleaning chemicals like bleach so you need to know how to transport them. You can read more about this in our guide to non-allowable removal items.

How to Successfully Deep Clean Your House

When researching how to clean your house, you’ll find the phrase ‘deep clean’ often repeated, but it can be difficult to understand exactly what that means when there’s so much information to take in. You’ll need to thoroughly clean your property when moving out to ensure it’s in perfect condition for the next homeowners or if you’re renting, the landlord. It might be worth looking into a variety of techniques to help you through the process.  

Cleaning is often seen as a chore and it can definitely feel like it. However, it is a necessity, especially when moving out. The key to deep cleaning your house is to plan early, break it down room by room and to give yourself enough time to finish the job. Marie Kondo is a popular choice for those looking for help as she explores the idea of how "tidying orders and relaxes the mind", helping you prepare for the move. To help you get started, we’ve created a list of things to clean when moving out for each specific area of the property. 

How to Clean Your Kitchen

First things first, you’ll want to empty your kitchen of food before cleaning it. Removal companies generally won’t transport perishables and certainly won’t move a defrosting fridge. 

When it comes to moving heavy kitchen appliances, it might take some time to prepare, so make sure you clean before moving day to reduce delays and make the process easier. If you follow our free moving house checklist, you’ll have a good basis for how to start. 

Here’s a good list of things to clean when moving out to get you started in the kitchen:

  • Empty your shelves and cupboards as much as possible to lower food waste.
  • Once the fridge is emptied, give the interior a deep clean and don’t forget to move it to get those hard-to-reach places. 
  • Pack away any kitchen appliances, cutlery and dishes and clearly label the boxes. Clean the areas they were once placed to get every part of the room. 
  • Get rid of crumbs and stains by cleaning cupboards with bleach and then wiping them with a damp cloth.
  • Clean all appliances thoroughly, including parts like the dishwasher's filter. 
  • Clean and disinfect all the counter-tops. 
  • Don’t forget to give the taps and faucets a good wipe down.
  • Give the oven a good scrubbing! Remember to wipe down the hob, switches, racks and air extractor too. Try using steel wool for a better result.

How to Clean Your Living Room

Living rooms tend to be some of the most used areas of any house. You’ll be surprised by the amount of grime that builds up over time, especially in upholstery and carpet. As you pack your living room away, wipe everything down to remove any dust and cobwebs. Once you’ve fully decluttered and packed, you’ll have cleared the space enough for a serious cleaning session.

Some of the ways to clean your living room thoroughly are to:

  • Shift all bookcases and cupboards and thoroughly wipe them down with a wet cloth.
  • Move your TV cabinet and give it a good wipe all around.
  • Use a steam cleaner to kill any germs in your carpet, floors and upholstery.
  • Wipe down the skirting boards and dust those hard-to-reach places. 
  • Hoover and dust your curtains and blinds as they often gather a lot of dust and grime. Get a wet cloth and run it along each section of the blind from bottom to top.
  • Vacuum the room once you’ve finished, collecting any fallen particles.

Cleaning Your Bedroom

Bedrooms generally have a lot of furniture and personal items to work around. Again, make a considered effort to start packing and decluttering your bedroom ahead of cleaning, to make everything easier to reach. You can use our handy guide to making wardrobe boxes to safely store and move your clothes out of the way during this step. 

Things to clean in the bedroom when moving out include: 

  • Chuck your bedding in the wash before packing it away. 
  • Thoroughly wipe down cupboards and bookcases. 
  • Use a steam cleaner on carpets and curtains, mop any hardwood floors.
  • Hoovering around every piece of furniture, especially behind and under things like wardrobes, beds and tables. 

Once you’ve cleaned the floors around the bed, remember to shift it so you can easily clean underneath too. Check out our guide on how to move your bed in 4 steps for when your ready to begin dismantling.

Cleaning Your Furniture

When it comes to cleaning furniture, vacuum and wash everything with a dry-wash product to get rid of any possible smells and hair. If you have any pets, are a smoker or have small children, you'll likely want to get a steam cleaner to help wash any upholstery and carpets for those more stubborn stains and smells.

  • Wooden surfaces and furniture will need to be wiped down and checked for scuffs and scratches. 
  • Remember to shift furniture so you can clean behind them.
  • A steam cleaner is the best option for revitalising carpets. They can be quite cheap to hire and come with different attachments for windows, furnishings and walls, so could be worth the money. 
  • Give your items a quick hoover to remove any dust and hair.

Cleaning Tips for Your Bathroom

Bathrooms often carry a large number of germs, so make sure all surfaces and fixtures are thoroughly scrubbed with disinfectant. Remember to ensure your bathroom is well ventilated when using bleach. 

  • Scrub any mouldy sealant and the areas around your shower and bath. Leave the bleach on overnight and wash it all off the next morning for any stubborn grime. 
  • Clear the plugs and drains of debris.
  • Submerge your detached shower head in white vinegar to remove limescale. 
  • Spend a decent amount of time cleaning your toilet, including the tiles below and behind it. Remember to use cistern blocks.
  • Replace the toilet seat if needed. 
  • Clean any mirrors or reflective surfaces in the room.
  • Clean out any drawers and make sure you don’t leave anything inside.

How to Clean Your Walls

Firstly, level the playing field by removing any nails, hooks and screws. Clean around any remaining holes, then use filler to fill them and any cracks to make it smoother. Make sure there aren’t any stains on the surfaces and then wipe the walls, doors and door handles with a wet cloth (unless they have non-water resistant wallpaper, in which case, simply dust them).

A quick timeline for cleaning your walls would include:

  • Starting with a mild cleaning solution to remove stains so as not to damage the paint or wallpaper.
  • Scrub in circular motions to reduce the risk of watermarks and further damage. 
  • Dry the walls once you’re finished and before moving onto the next task. 
  • Add dish soap to your cleaning solution to give it extra strength or find a more powerful product. Again, ensure it won’t damage the walls first. 
  • For more stubborn issues or seriously damaged walls, consider repainting or matching the current paint to go over the obvious problems. 

When cleaning your walls, it’s important to check the paint type used so that you’re not damaging them, making the condition worse. Gloss paint is often the easiest type to clean as the shine makes it a perfect, smooth surface to wipe down. Be aware of any satin paint used as this is often the most difficult to clean. It’s the type of paint that is very unforgiving, showing any discolouration and stains. 

If you have any particularly stubborn stains and if your filler is slightly discoloured, give the dirt-free wall a layer of emulsion. If you’re renting, any painting you do now will save you from a costly redecoration bill from your landlord.

If there’s any mould, don't paint over or hide it, use bleach and immediately tell your landlord about the issue. If you’re selling your property, then the mould or damp should have already been discovered during the buyer’s property survey. However, it may still be worth mentioning it. 

Don’t forget to use gloves when working with bleach and to use dry towels or cloths when wiping down the walls to catch any dripping water, reducing the risk of water damage. 

How to Clean Your Windows

Use alcohol and vinegar to wash the windows, mirrors and glass doors from inside. Wipe down the window sills and frames with cleaning solvent and a wet cloth. Can't reach outside? There’s always the option of calling a professional window cleaner to help.

Replace broken panes and make sure the windows are sparkling. It's one of the more noticeable things if left dirty. Remember to clean around the edge of the open window, as a lot of grime can build up.

Cleaning the Outside of Your Property

Working on the surrounding areas may seem like a big task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Clean your shed or garage, declutter your garden and sweep away any leaves. You may want to rent a pressure washer to clean your decking and patio. You can then pressure wash your decking before scrubbing it with a wood-friendly cleaning agent. 

Fix and oil any stiff or squeaking gates and remember that you may be held responsible for any breakages not listed in the inventory. Honesty is always the best policy, so if you find something you can’t fix, make notes.

If you have any plants you would like to move with you (whether household or external), you can check out our guide on moving your plants from house to house.

When cleaning your garden, things to consider doing are:

  • Cutting the grass.
  • Removing any weeds.
  • Scrub any items or flooring that currently have obvious grass stains.
  • Remove any decorative items or remaining rubbish from the area.

End of Tenancy Cleaning Explained

There are different rules when it comes to rental properties as you’re legally obliged to clean them. Leaving a rental home unclean or in a terrible condition can lead to you losing your deposit. It’s also important to keep in mind that if something broke whilst you were a tenant, it needs to be repaired or replaced before you leave.

Generally, though, your contract will state that you have a duty to leave the property in the same state that you took it over. This means doing a deep clean and taking many photos to help with any end of tenancy disputes. Reference your inventory to gauge the condition you found the home in.  Invite your estate agent over ahead of moving day to assess any troubled areas, as it’ll most likely be cheaper to sort out any stains or marks yourself than for it to be taken out of your deposit.

What Increases the Risk of Losing Your Deposit?

A major consideration for any tenant who is moving out is getting the deposit back from their landlord at the end of the agreement. If you’re moving out of a property you’ve been renting, it’s important to know that your landlord will inspect the condition of the property and compare it to how it was originally. If you encounter any deductions from your deposit after this inspection, you are within your rights to dispute it and come to an agreement with your landlord.  

When moving out, cleaning should be your top priority. A messy, damaged or unclean property can increase the risk of losing your deposit and is one of the biggest reasons for tenants losing out. Other reasons may include decorating costs, damaged furniture and the state of the garden. Always keep the condition of the property in mind when getting ready to move out and give each room a thorough inspection. 

Don’t forget to consult the property’s inventory throughout your cleaning as it’s the best indicator of how the home was originally maintained. If anything has been lost or broken, you should either consider replacing it or simply mention it to your landlord before leaving. The cost of replacing the item may be deducted from your deposit but it’s important to remain honest. 

Tips to help you keep your deposit include:

  • Taking photos of the property before and after moving out as evidence of its condition.
  • Constantly review the inventory. 
  • Give the property a deep clean before leaving.
  • Be upfront and honest and report any damage.
  • Be there for the inspection.
  • Keep in constant communication with your landlord.

Cleaning Your House When You Sell It

If you're selling a property, there’s usually an agreement to leave the property in a fairly clean state. We cover this in-depth in our moving house etiquette guide, but the golden rule is that you should leave your home in a state that you would find acceptable if the roles were reversed. The majority of the cleaning should be finished before you sell it to encourage viewings. 

Spruce up the garden, get the windows professionally cleaned, steam clean the carpets and floors and add fresh paint throughout the house. These cleaning tips are small and easy ways to add value to your home. A clean and freshly painted house is always more attractive to prospective buyers.

What if the Seller Hasn't Cleaned the House?

If you move into your new house and find that the seller did not clean it beforehand, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do. There’s a chance that you may not find the new house to be as clean as you’d like it to be, so it’s a good idea to take some products with you to freshen up each room before your removal company unloads your items.

If the house is in terrible condition, you can contact your estate agent and let them know the condition the property is in. Supply photographs as evidence if possible so that they’re aware of the issue and are then more inclined to send in professional cleaners.

Hiring Professional Cleaners

If you're short on time, you can always hire professional cleaners to come in and ensure your property is left spotless. It will cost money but it’s better than potentially losing your deposit or potential buyer because of a messy house. Arrange the cleaners to come in the day before the moving date when your home is fully cleared and ready for a good clean.

Saving Money on Your House Move

With some planning and preparation, cleaning the house you’re moving out of won’t be too much effort. With the right supplies and our guide to help, the house will be left spotless. When the time comes, use Compare My Move to get connected with a network of reputable removal companies and to save up to 70% on your removal costs. Just fill out our quick and easy form and get moving with Compare My Move today.