The tradition of spring cleaning is as old as indoor living. During the winter, we're more likely to keep our doors and windows shut tight and the holidays always result in a few more possessions than you really need. When the weather starts to warm up and it's finally nice outside, most people enjoy the chance to let in the fresh air and get the house really thoroughly clean for the first time in months. Spring cleaning is especially important for renters because it's your best opportunity to give the property a thorough scrub and inspection. Two or three really deep cleanings every year is the key to getting your security deposit back in full.
Not sure where to start? The best way to make sure your rental home gets cleaned from top to bottom with nothing missed is to build a checklist. With the weather getting nicer, you can spend a weekend or a couple of afternoons getting your house sparkling clean for spring.
1) Upper Corners and HVAC Vents
The first rule of cleaning is always start at the top. That way, any dust or debris that gets knocked loose falls down to an area that hasn't already been cleaned yet. Therefore any spring cleaning starts at the top. In each room, cover your furniture or move it out, then use a clean broom or special corner broom to sweep the upper corners of the ceiling. Climb up to each vent and give it a good polishing at the very least. If it seems clogged with lint, pull it down, clean it thoroughly, and put it back up.
2) Garage Sale and Give-Away Boxes
Spring cleaning involves a lot of tidying and sorting for most people and one of the things almost everyone discovers in the midst of spring cleaning is a collection of items they don't need. Some of these you might be able to sell for a small profit in a fun garage sale or selling online, whichever is your preference. Others like second-hand clothes might be better as charitable donations. Have two big boxes ready to help you sort out items you don't need.
3) The Big Wipe-Down
Now that your ceilings and surfaces are clear, it's time to wipe everything in the home down with at least a damp cloth if not a little glass cleaner or dish soap. Start at the top with cabinets and the things inside the cabinets. Work your way down to counters and tables, then coffee tables and lower surfaces. Don't forget the walls. Do a small spot sponge-test and if the paint survives a little damp sponge rubbing, mop them with a clean sponge mop. You might be surprised at the results, walls can get pretty dirty. And, of course, don't forget to sweep and mop the hard floors.
4) Vacuum Everything
Now that you've got the smooth surfaces clean, vacuum absolutely everything including the furniture and the hard floors. Use the hose to get into corners, between furniture, and underneath computer and entertainment center cables. Get underneath all the furniture either with the hose or by moving the furniture. Anywhere you think might be hiding dust, start with the vacuum hose and follow up with a damp rag rubber-banded to the end of a broom handle for sticky spots like the area between the sink and the tub.
5) Steam Cleaning
Finally, it's time to tend to the health of your carpets. A home's value can often be judged by how clean and fluffy the carpets are and the key to luxurious carpeting is steam cleaning. A steam cleaner first shoots hot cleaning solution into a carpet then beats and vaccums it back out. You can see the amount of grime you're pulling up in the color of the outflow tank and it often takes more than three or four full rounds with the steam cleaner before the solution comes back only slightly gray.
6) Spring Inspection
As your final act, with the home completely clean, do a full inspection of the house. Check for cracks in the walls, chips in the bathroom grout, leaks under the sink, discoloration in the carpet or signs of damp spots. Take some time to clean and inspect your appliances and write down anything that concerns you. If you're not sure what to look for or find something that needs attention, contact your property manager. They'll be happy you're taking such good care of the house.
As a renter, how well you keep your home determines both your own quality of life and the safety of your security deposit. Simply by doing one big clean every spring from top to bottom, you can ensure that the property will be in top shape when you're finally ready to move on.