End of lease cleaning is probably the most important cleaning you’ll ever do. It’s important because, as part of your lease agreement, your landlord requires that you return the property in the same or better condition as when you found it. When you do that, you’ll make your landlord happy…and a happy landlord will return your bond.
With all this riding on your end of lease cleanout, the task may seem intimidating, especially when your hard-earned cash is on the line. But with some planning and our comprehensive checklists, you can do it efficiently, put a smile on the landlord’s face, and get your bond back.
What exactly is an end of lease clean?
You could say it’s spring cleaning on steroids. An end of lease clean is the process you go through when your tenancy concludes, and it’s far more detailed than the occasional clean you’d give your rented home (or rented office/commercial premises) while you were occupying the property. The final result must meet the terms of your lease agreement so that the vacant property can be offered in good condition to a prospective new tenant.
Take a Boy Scout approach to your cleanout: Be Prepared! By planning ahead, step by step, you can transform a daunting cleanout into a series of easily manageable tasks. This schedule shows how to put such a plan into action:
- One month before your end of lease
Book professional services that need to be completed before you vacate. For example, your lease will almost certainly state that carpets need to be professionally cleaned. To satisfy this requirement, book a carpet cleaner to come in the day before you hand back the keys.
Other services might include pest control, lawn mowing, or gardening. Go through your lease agreement to check what’s required and, as they say in the classics, lock ‘em in.
You may also want to consider using a rubbish removal service to quickly remove any unwanted junk. This is a great way to save time and effectively clear out any waste that can be challenging to move or throw out. The best part of this solution is that the rubbish is removed from your home within a few hours.
While you’re in thinking ahead mode, cancel utilities like power, gas, and internet.
- Seven days before your end of lease
Clean the exterior of the property
A week out, and your end of lease clean should head outdoors. Tidy the exterior of your rental property by removing rubbish e.g. cigarette butts, bottle tops, toys, dead leaves.
Hose and sweep exterior walls to remove dirt and cobwebs.
Replace dead plants and weed the garden. Trim untidy trees and shrubs, mow the lawns (edging the lawn borders will make the area look extra neat) and apply weed killer if required.
Scrub your driveway (or commercial carpark) with warm, soapy water. You might need to invest in oil and grease remover from the hardware store to remove residual oil spill or tyre marks.
That oil remover will come in handy if there are similar stains on the garage floor. While you’re in there, sweep the floor, remove cobwebs and spray the interior and exterior with insect spray.
Clean inside your rental property
Remove and wash light fittings. To avoid water spots, dry them properly before you put them back. Check all light globes are working, replace those that aren’t.
Wipe air conditioners, ceiling fans and smoke alarms.
Clean exhaust fans in the kitchen, bathroom, and toilet. They collect a lot of dust, which will be noticed by your property manager or landlord. It’s imperative you remove and clean them.
Venetian blinds also attract dust, and each slat should be wiped clean.
Check curtains for dirt and marks. Check if curtains can be washed or drycleaned. If not, a vacuum cleaner might remove dirt and dust.
The final task today is to check the ceiling for fly or inspect spots. Sponge clean the ceiling with a mild detergent in warm water. Test clean a small section to check paint doesn’t come off.
- Three days before your end of lease
Three days out, and you’re feeling on track. That’s because you’ve already done a lot of cleaning and booked the professional services you require. Planning ahead is good!
At this point, it’s time to clean interior and exterior windows. For a landlord-pleasing result, consult our specific cleaning tips in the next section of this guide.
It’s not just the glass you should pay attention to. Remove cobwebs from the window frames. Clean dirt from window tracks by carefully running a screwdriver along them, before vacuuming with a narrow nozzle. For a final wipe clean, use a damp cloth.
If you have fly screens, use a vacuum cleaner to remove loose dirt and dust. For stubborn dirt, place a screwdriver under the screen, gently lift up and slide to the left or right, before removing. This will let you hose down the fly screen.
- Two days before your end of lease
This is a milestone. It’s your final day of cleaning. There’s still a bit to do but the finishing line is within sight.
Living areas, bedrooms and corridors
Vacuum inside wardrobes and cupboards, and wash with warm, soapy water. Keep doors open afterwards to speed up the drying process.
Remove any hooks, posters or sticky tape you put up during your tenancy, with no tell-tale marks left behind. Remove cobwebs and wipe painted walls with sugar soap or mild detergent. Don’t overlook light switches – wipe off grime and fingerprints.
The biggest job is cleaning your oven and cooktop, including removable parts like the range hood, stovetop, and knobs. The oven glass probably hasn’t been washed too often during your tenancy, so do it now. Check the oven’s instruction manual for removal and cleaning directions.
Benchtops need to be wiped down, and cupboards washed inside and out. Wipe down walls, particularly around cooking areas.
Calcium or rust build-up in the laundry sink and cupboards can be removed with a crème cleanser and sponge. Wipe all tap fittings and wall tiles and scrub stubborn marks off the floor with the cleanser.
Don’t clean the bathroom too early. As it’s the most used room in the house, leave this job towards the end of the day.
Vacuum the bathroom floor to remove hair and loose objects. This will make it easier to mop later.
Wet down your shower then clean using a crème cleanser and sponge. Concentrate on corners, door frame, and the top of the walls. These areas are often neglected during your usual cleaning routine, and soap scum, mould and rust stains can accumulate.
Remove mould from tiles, grout, ceiling and walls. For tough mould, dip an old toothbrush into bleach and scrub.
Unclog the drain, before rinsing the shower with water.
Clean your toilet like its never been cleaned before. This includes fittings, cistern, behind your toilet, wall tiles and the pipes. Scrub the bowl with an antibacterial toilet cleaner.
You’re nearly there. The last thing to do today is clean the floors. Vacuum the entire house so it’s ready for the carpet cleaner tomorrow. Sweep and mop hard floors.
- One day before your end of lease
Thanks to your forward planning a month ago, your carpet cleaner will turn up today. Keep a copy of the invoice as proof that the job has been done by a professional.
Finally, one last walk-through. Use this guide as a checklist, as well as your lease agreement, and tick things off room by room. Be fussy! You want to minimise the chances of tenancy disputes and maximise the chances of getting your bond back.
End of Lease Cleaning Checklists and Tips
Now you know what to do, and when to do it, here’s some more detailed advice on how you should do it.
- Before you start cleaning, go through each room and write down what you’ll need e.g. oven cleaner for the kitchen, crème cleanser for the bathroom, etc. Keep everything together so you don’t waste time hunting down stray cleaning products.
- Be methodical when cleaning so you don’t miss a thing. e.g. clean from left to right, or from back to front.
- Do the dry cleaning first, like dusting, vacuuming and sweeping, then wipe surfaces with a damp cloth, or mop floors.
- Don’t forget about the mess left by your pets. This might include fleas so fumigate the property if required.
- Print off the following checklists and tick each task off during your final walkthrough.
End of Lease Cleaning Checklist and Tips: Exterior
- Clear letterbox and compost bin.
- Check outdoor lighting is clean and in working order.
- Sweep garage floor and driveway. Remove dirt or oil marks.
- Hose down the garage door. Check the door opener is working.
- Remove all rubbish, wash out household bins.
- Clean exterior windows. Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water and use a sponge to remove dirt build-up. Finally, squeegee the window with firm pressure. After each stroke, dry your squeegee. To avoid lines, make sure each stroke slightly overlaps the last.
- Mow lawns, tidy, weed and water the garden, replace dead plants.
End of Lease Cleaning Checklist and Tips: Interior
- Empty, vacuum and wipe wardrobes, cupboards, and drawers.
- Check all light globes are working, clean fittings and switches.
- Wipe window ledges, architraves, skirting boards, picture rails and doors.
- Clean interior windows. Use the same method as exterior windows but with less water on your sponge. Place a towel under the window.
- Wipe down the air conditioner unit. Clean vents, and wash and dry the filter.
- Clean the top of ceiling fan blades.
- Clean Venetian and Vertical blinds slat by slat.
- Wash or dry-clean curtains and re-hang.
- Wipe door hardware and surrounds.
- Eliminate traces of cigarette odour, clean nicotine stains off walls and ceilings.
- Clean any furniture provided by the landlord, ensure it’s in its original position.
End of Lease Cleaning Checklist and Tips: Kitchen
- Clean oven walls, racks and grill, and leave cleaned trays inside. For an alternative to harsh chemical-based cleaners, try this simple formula. Mix half a cup of baking soda with three tablespoons of water. Adjust this ratio until you have a smooth paste. Spread the paste on oven walls, taking care to avoid heating elements in an electric oven. Leave overnight before removing the paste, then spray with vinegar. Wipe away the resulting foam.
- Remove stovetop stains and clean.
- Wash filters and clean range hood. Check the overhead light is working.
- Clean dishwasher, including rubbers, door and filter. To kill bacteria and leave the machine looking and smelling fresh, add a small cup of vinegar to a wash cycle.
- Clear food and debris from sink holes, plugs and taps. For a sparkling stainless-steel sink, wipe down with two drops of mineral oil on a sponge.
- Wipe countertops, benches and surface areas.
- Wipe cupboard interiors and exteriors.
End of Lease Cleaning Checklist and Tips: Bathroom & Laundry
- Clean baths, basins and toilets. Follow up by disinfecting these areas.
- Clean the showerhead. Fill a plastic bag with enough vinegar to submerge the nozzle and tie the bag in place. Leave overnight to remove residue.
- Clean glass shower walls and doors. For sparkling results, make a smooth paste of baking soda and vinegar, apply to the walls and leave for an hour. Remove with a damp cloth.
- Wash all surfaces, including tiled areas, walls and benchtops.
- Dust and polish towel rails and toilet roll holders.
- Clean sinks, drain holes, plugs and taps.
They’re comprehensive checklists. But with a plan in place, you can break them down into easily manageable sections. Without a plan – and without a checklist for that matter – you’ll resort to last-minute panic cleaning, and the results will be disappointing – especially for the landlord. Even more disappointing will be the grief you’ll have to go through to fix things up and get your bond back. So, when it’s time to do an end of lease clean, plan to do it properly, and plan to do it just once.