the domestic tales of four sisters

Moving Out: Rental

I am … a landlord. Yes, I know. You want to run away and hide and you’re already filling your head with judgement about where this is going. Hear me out! I can help you! Because not only am I a landlord, but I am also a tenant.

Being a military family we can receive orders at any point in time to move well – anywhere. That very thing just happened to us. Within 2 weeks we found out that we were moving to a new duty station and as I type this we still aren’t sure exactly when. All we were told was, “get ready.” Therefore I’ve been frantically running around our rental trying to fill every nail hole and polish every floor.

Truthfully, as I was cleaning, I discovered that the previous tenant really didn’t clean up that well before she moved. And I WISH I had known this when we moved in 18 months ago. Let’s just say that when I moved the oven and found copious amounts of cat hair  it wasn’t off to a good start. Note: We don’t have cats. As I was cleaning up this disgusting mess it dawned on me – in a 3 year span of time I will have moved 3 times (two rentals), I’m a cleanfreak, AND a landlord. Is there anyone better to write this post? Nope!

If you follow these tips & tricks I can assure you that you will get that security deposit back. But before we get to that point I (as a landlord) need to address a few things.

Part of getting a security deposit back is taking care of the property the WHOLE time you live there. Not just the final month. That means following the lease. Plain and simple. Be careful what products you use to clean with – make sure that it is gentle and won’t cause damage to counters/floors/etc. If you are confused about something within the lease – contact the landlord or property manager. If you have pets be sure you are taking care of them and trying to minimize their damage as much as possible. (This is why most properties require a non-refundable pet deposit. It is assumed that pets in the home will cause more damage than you.)

As long as you are maintaining the home and taking care of it as you would your own property you will definitely get your security deposit back. Plus! If you follow these tips & tricks you’re looking at getting a really good recommendation from your landlord/property manager for your next rental.

I’m going to start off with products you will need! The list is very, very small and entirely affordable.

1) Soap & Water
2) Hydrogen Peroxide & Water
3) Nail Hole Filler & Putty Knife
4) Magic Erasers
5) Floor Polish *make SURE it can be used on your hard flooring surface!
6) Microfiber Flip Mop by OCedar
7) Disinfectant of Choice – I prefer (and love) VitalOxide. It is a serious disinfectant, serious odor remover, and has minimal smell. When dried – the smell is entirely gone. Even while it is drying the smell isn’t even that bad such as bleach, Lysol, etc. I prefer it above everything else I have ever used and I will ALWAYS use it. Please make sure you purchase the DISINFECTANT and NOT the Mold & Mildew Remover. The mold & mildew remover DOES have a bleach-like smell and works in an entirely different way!
8) Baking Soda
9) Vinegar
10) 3-4 lemons, yes – lemons.

Now for “The List.”


This may seem like a lot to you. And it is! But again – you have $500+ dollars that you are looking to get back if you follow this list and get that rental looking brand new.

Because I have little ones and I’m not entirely sure when our move-out date will be at this point, I have been picking small items here and there to accomplish each day. All of our pictures are down and placed in a safe area so the movers can simply wrap them and pack them up. All of the nail holes have been filled. This week the interior and exterior of the cabinets are being cleaned. You see where I’m going with this. If you need to – just pick one thing to do per night and a few on the weekend beginning about two weeks before you move out. The other alternative (and the easiest) is to do it all once all of your items have been removed from the property.

Here’s some cleaning tips & how to use your products listed above!

Walls & Baseboards: Use your generic soap & water. I use the fluffier side of the mop to do the initial cleaning of the baseboards (saves my back!) If you have any smudges on the baseboards and walls that don’t come off go ahead and use your Magic Eraser.

Appliances: For your oven use baking soda and scrub away at it with a wet sponge. Try to get up as much junk as possible then take a lemon that has been cut in half and rub it all over the scrubbed areas. You’ll want to wear gloves when working with this or you’ll regret it! If there are still some baked on gunky spots apply a little more baking soda and scrub harder with that wet sponge until you lift as much as possible. Once it is thoroughly cleaned wipe out with a wet washcloth until all baking soda and lemon residue are removed. Be sure to purchase new drip pans for the range if your lease requires it for move-out purposes. Make sure to wipe even the exterior and sides of your oven with a soap and water mixture.

For your microwave you can place a bowl of vinegar in and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Allow it to sit for the same amount of time that you microwaved. After that period is over CAREFULLY remove the bowl of vinegar and wipe out with a wet washcloth.

Dishwashers are pretty gross so PLEASE PLEASE make sure you clean this very well. Remove all food residue from the drain (it’s there – trust me) and wipe out the dishwasher with a hydrogen peroxide & water mix. (I simply spray the hydrogen peroxide all over the inside of the dishwasher and then wipe with a wet washcloth.) Afterward run your dishwasher on the hottest cycle (most likely pots & pans cycle) and only straight hydrogen peroxide in the soap dispenser. Allow the dishwasher to dry OVERNIGHT and open. Yes, leave the door wide open overnight. If it still has any odor you can spray the inside with VitalOxide and allow it to dry and then run the cycle once more with nothing but water.

Refrigerator & Freezer – also gross! Remove those drawers and let them get a good soak with some soap and water. While they’re taking a bath scrub away at the inside with soap and water. Any gunk buildup? Baking soda & lemon just like we did up above for the oven. Once you’ve wiped everything out thoroughly you want to disinfect. You can use simply hydrogen peroxide and water for this, or you can use VitalOxide or bleach (that you’ve diluted down to food safe levels – I recommend you stick with VitalOxide which is food safe without dilution). After you’ve followed the disinfecting directions place a bowl of baking soda in the refrigerator & freezer overnight. Remove this bowl prior to your final walkthrough. (I use a paper bowl just so I can easily toss the whole thing.) The baking soda will help absorb any excess odor should there be any.

Cabinets: Think about how frequently you touch your kitchen cabinets. Think about all of the times you dripped raw chicken juice all over the floor while trying to throw a package out into the trash can. Better yet – think about all of the nasty, gross stuff you’ve dripped all over your kitchen. Ponder with me your husband, or son, and how somehow when they pee it goes 8 different ways and not a one of them are in the toilet. All of that stuff that is hitting the floor? Most likely splashing onto your cabinets too. Would you like to move into a property where the cabinets by the toilet had a nice layer of pee and the cabinets in the kitchen had some leftover chicken juice? Can you say YUMMY!? Please, please, please clean the cabinets! Using a vinegar and water mixture wipe all of the exteriors and interiors. I vacuum the inside of the cabinets and drawers out simply because its easier and then I give it a quick wipe. I use VitalOxide again to disinfect following the bottle directions.

Washer & Dryer: If you were blessed with a rental property that has a washer and dryer you will definitely need to clean these as well. Every vacuum comes with the skinny, angled attachment. Use that sucker to vacuum out your lint trap. As far as your washer is concerned if it has a fabric softener dispenser pour straight hydrogen peroxide in this. Additionally pour more hydrogen peroxide in your bleach dispenser. Wash this on the hottest and largest cycle with NO clothes in it. You can allow it to soak for a few hours if you wish. I find that it doesn’t need it. Again allow the washer to dry overnight with the lid open. If it still has a little bit of a smell repeat the process. Wipe the outside of the washer & dryer with soap and water. Try to make sure there are no marks or smudges.

Door Frames & Handles: This is a big one for me. In fact, I’m going to share a secret with you, I’m kinda freaked out by door handles in other people’s houses. Especially bathroom door handles. I am just terrified the Bubonic plague is one door knob pull away. You’ll also notice that around most of your doors – especially at the bottom – you have smudges and dirt build up. You don’t realize it when you’re doing it but you kick your door closed a lot when your hands are full. And the only time you really USE the door knob is when you’re opening it. Every other time you’re slamming that sucker shut with whatever free body part you have on whatever free space of the door you hit. Something about that sentence seems dirty. I digress. Soap and water will wipe off those smudges and after you’ve wiped down the door handle give them a good disinfecting with your disinfectant of choice.

Garbage Disposal: *gags* UGH. I HATE my garbage disposal. It’s wonderful when I want to crush up the leftovers, but I clean that thing daily because if I don’t the smell is JUST AWFUL. And we use it the right way! I HATE GARBAGE DISPOSALS! And people use these as selling points for homes? Gross. Gag. NO! Anyway … you better clean that sucker. And well. I dump a whole crap ton of baking soda down the garbage disposal and then take a bottle cleaning brush with a handle and scrub away at the inside. I then squeeze some lemon juice or vinegar down there and let it bubble for a few, followed by more scrubbing. I turn the water on as hot as it will go and let the disposal run until all of the baking soda is cleared out. Afterward I take the leftover lemon and cut it into small pieces and allow the disposer to crush that baby to smithereens. After it is well cleaned I spray some VitalOxide down there for good measure. And then I don’t use it anymore prior to moving out.

Other things are pretty self explanatory such as dusting your blinds and A/C and heat registers. Cleaning & disinfecting your bathroom. Polishing the floors according to the product instructions. You get it.

I will make note of the carpet cleaning, however. While living in the rental property I have been doing my own carpet cleaning with a Rug Doctor rental. At final, moveout, however I want it to be a job well done. You should, too! Shop around! I was a Stanley Steemer customer until I was quoted $480 for 2 bedrooms, a hallway, a set of stairs, and an area rug. Uhm – no thanks! I was pleasantly surprised when I called a local company with great reviews and they only charge $240 for the same thing! (Stanley Steemer – you hear me, bro?) As a landlord I know that we will most likely have to replace the carpet at our property after our current tenants move out. This makes me incredibly sad. It’s not that our tenants are at all bad! Normal wear and tear each year is a lot on a carpet and after our tenants move the carpet will be almost 6 years old. If you can save your landlord from having to replace any carpeting after you move out they will appreciate you immensely!

Well, that’s all she wrote, folks! If I fall off the face of the earth the next few weeks I must apologize. Second move in 2 years with 2 kids under 2 equals 8 times the stress. (See what I did there? See?! HAHA!) It’s about to get interesting.

Happy Hump Day!


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