Why You Need a Move-in Cleaning


Photo credit: Apartment Guide
Photo credit: Apartment Guide

When I moved into my first apartment in Los Angeles, there was still dust all along the baseboards.

It drove me nuts. I had spent the day flying across the country, had a moving van’s worth of stuff illegally parked on the street, needed to unload and take the van back before I incurred extra charges, and there was this dust on the baseboards.

There was also dust on top of the ceiling fan.

And someone else’s smudges on the sink.

Sure, the apartment was “clean,” but it hadn’t been cleaned. And because I needed to move my furniture in right away, I didn’t have time to give it the full scrub-down and mop treatment that it needed.

I’ve never moved into an apartment since without hiring a house cleaning company to do a deep clean (sometimes called a move-in cleaning) before I get there. It’s one of the essential parts of moving for me, and I recommend it to all potential renters.

What is a move-in cleaning?

A move-in cleaning is a professional apartment or house cleaning, paid for out of your own pocket, that you arrange before moving into a new apartment. You can talk to the landlord in advance about letting the cleaners into the apartment before you arrive, which is especially important if you are making a long-distance move.

But isn’t the previous owner responsible for cleaning the apartment?

Technically, the landlord is responsible for having the apartment clean and ready for new tenants. However, many landlords pass that responsibility off to the previous owners, including something in the lease along the lines of “the apartment must be fully cleaned before move-out.”

The truth is that for most people, “clean” means “empty.” Yes, the previous tenants and the landlord are likely to empty all the trash cans, wipe the hair out of the sink, etc. You aren’t likely to see a lot of visible debris. But did they mop the floors? Dust on top of the ceiling fan? Wash the windows? Hardly ever. Apartment renters are routinely advised to “do the bare minimum” when it comes to the move-out cleaning. That means that the new tenant — you — moves into a dirty home.

How much does a move-in cleaning cost?

The cost of these types of house cleaning services will vary from location to location, and will also vary depending on what company you use. However, I recommend investing as much money as your budget allows into your pre move-in deep house cleaning. Some cleaning companies don’t take the time to truly scrub everything, and you want your house cleaning service to be as thorough as possible.

Take the time to research cleaning companies, and don’t be afraid of asking them about their cleaning procedures and what they think a move-in clean entails. When I moved from Los Angeles to Irvine, I talked to about ten house cleaning companies before deciding on CleaningOrangeCounty.com.

What do you need to discuss prior to your professional house cleaning?

Before booking your cleaning service, you need to discuss expectations. If you want your windows washed, for example, you need to say “I want my windows washed.” Specify that you want mopping in addition to vacuuming or sweeping, or that you need the oven or refrigerator fully cleaned. Imagine starting a new life with someone else’s old food stuck to the bottom of your oven! The truth is that most cleaning services are happy to be as thorough as you need, but that means you need to be very specific about what you want. “Broom clean” is not enough; you need a complete, deep clean.

What about keeping the apartment that clean?

Nobody is suggesting that you’re doing anything other than cleaning up after yourself. Even with our best efforts, though, things can build up. That doesn’t mean I don’t want my space to be as clean as possible.

(Need some tips about what to ask for? Look at Buzzfeed’s list of items most people forget to deep clean.)

This is why, a few times a year, I find the cash for a proper deep house cleaning. Professional cleaners can look at my space with an objective eye and see things that I’ve been procrastinating on and forgotten about (and subsequently gotten used to). They’ll get out the ladder and clean the ceiling fan and moldings (as long as I pay them properly and am clear about what I want). For me, hiring house cleaning services is worth the expense to have the peace of mind that I get from knowing my space is sparkling.

You can also hire house cleaning services to do a deep clean on your apartment when you move out–between when you move out your belongings and when you turn in your keys. This way the next tenant will have a nicely cleaned space and you’ll increase your chances of getting back your whole deposit.

I hope I’ve encouraged you to get a thorough and professional home cleaning before you move into your next apartment. It’s the only way you’ll be sure to start your new life in a fully cleaned, like-new home.

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