Preparing for Showings: Comprehensive Cleaning Guide for a Spotless Apartment

When you’re preparing for a showing, it’s important to tell a story and present the apartment as a cozy, inviting home. Rental apartments in big cities with a competitive rental market need an additional edge, so you can invest in décor pieces and details that will provide a stimulus for the senses.

However, even before you reach that point, you need to have a crystal-clear canvas — and, for that, you need to make sure you clean every speck of the apartment. So, to help you make sure you don’t forget anything, we put together a comprehensive cleaning guide that landlords can use when cleaning and preparing an apartment for a showing.

Note that, if you’re preparing a house for a showing, there are extra things you need to take care of that are not on this list — such as exterior cleaning (garden, gutters, etc.) and non-living areas like the garage, attic or basement. In those situations, consider this list as a foundation upon which you can build your cleaning process. Without further ado, let’s take a look at what needs to be cleaned:

apartment rental cleaning entryway

Entry

The entry to an apartment is essential as it creates the first impression.

  • Clean the door and dust the walls for cobwebs and anything else that might be easily forgotten.
  • Add an entrance mat just inside the door for a warm feeling and to protect the floor from muddy footprints.
  • Stand in the doorway and see where your eyes are drawn. Make note of those areas for later. They should be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Consider adding accent pieces in certain areas to attract the eye.

apartment rental cleaning kitchen

Kitchen

  • Remove all items from the kitchen cabinets, refrigerator and other storage spaces.
  • Have on hand a vacuum cleaner, microfiber or cotton cloths, a sponge, disinfectant and cleaner, and a mop. Then, focus on the following:

Appliances

  • Clean and disinfect the fridge and freezer, microwave, oven, stovetop, faucet and sink.
  • Wipe down any interiors. If there are any unpleasant smells coming from them, use baking soda and vinegar or a lemon solution to remove the odors.
  • Clean the exterior of the fridge and freezer, the microwave, and the oven, and go over them again with a microfiber cloth to eliminate any smudges that may be on the reflective surfaces.
  • Clean the top of the refrigerator and behind it. While you’re there, be sure to check that it’s functional, as well.

Cabinets

  • Vacuum inside the cabinets and then disinfect them to remove all dust and dirt.
  • Wipe the exterior of the cabinets and clean the handles, especially if they are made of metal and get dirty easily.
  • Clean above the cabinets to remove all dust.
  • Clean the countertops, as well.

Windows

  • Keep the windows spotless by wiping them with an anti-static solution and cotton cloth to prevent smudges.
  • Wipe the windowsills — both on the inside and outside of the window.
  • Clean the mirror, if there is one in the kitchen.

Walls, Floors & Trim

  • Wipe the backsplash near the stove and dust the rest of the walls with a microfiber cloth.
  • Remove all dust from the trim.
  • Vacuum and then wipe the floors with a mop. If there is an area rug, have it cleaned and remove it to clean the floor underneath it, as well.
  • Remove all cobwebs from the top corners of the room and clean the light fixtures to remove all dust.

Miscellaneous 

  • Change out all lightbulbs, especially if some are not working or it’s been a long time since you last changed them.
  • Double check that all the appliances work properly.
  • Decorate the kitchen with a vase of freshly cut flowers or a bowl of fruits for a splash of color and a nice touch.
  • Add something that will dispense a pleasant and fresh fragrance, like some lavender or a rosemary and lemon candle.

bathroom cleaning apartment rental

Bathroom

  • Make sure there are no leftover items in cabinets or objects that have fallen behind something.
  • Use the same tools and products as you did for the kitchen, plus a solution for cleaning the drain (baking powder combined with vinegar is a natural alternative that also works well).

Drains

  • Pour the cleaning solution down the drain carefully and let water run over it for five minutes. This will remove buildup from the drains and prevent clogging. It will likely bubble up and release some fumes, so leave the windows open and ventilate the room well.

Toilet

  • Pour toilet cleaner in the toilet and let sit for five to 10 minutes. Make sure to get under the rim of the seat to remove any buildup.
  • Spray the toilet with disinfectant and wipe it properly, cleaning the sides, as well, to remove any dust.
  • Brush the inside of the bowl and then flush the excess detergent.
  • Add an air freshener to keep the toilet clean and smelling good.

Shower/Tub, Faucet & Sink

  • Spray the surface of the shower or tub with cleaner and let it sit for a bit. Rub the surfaces well with a sponge and rinse thoroughly.
  • Do the same for the faucet and the sink, making sure to wipe the sides of the sink, as well as the area behind it.
  • Check for mold or mildew, especially in the corners, and make sure to remove any trace of it.

Walls, Windows, Mirrors & Floor

  • Wash the walls to remove any splashes or buildup of soap, especially around the sink, the shower and the toilet. It’s best to use a microfiber cloth for this.
  • Spray the windows and mirrors with cleaner and wipe them down with a cotton cloth to prevent smudges.
  • Sweep or vacuum the floor and then mop it.
  • Clean any rugs or mats in the bathroom, and refresh their smell and softness with fabric softener.

Miscellaneous

  • Wipe the door handles and the cabinets.
  • Clean the light switches and the light fixture to remove all dust.
  • Allow the room to ventilate properly.
  • Add a vase of freshly cut flowers or some lavender for a nice fragrance and an extra pop of color.

window cleaning apartment rental

Remaining Living Space

  • The same applies for the rest of the living space and the bedroom.
  • Check for any leftover items in closets or on shelves and properly dispose of them.

Ceilings, Walls, Floors, Windows & Mirrors

  • Clean the ceilings and the corners to remove cobwebs and dust.
  • Dust the ceiling fans and clean the light fixtures and lamps.
  • Check the walls for smudges or stains and remove them.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down all walls, especially along the rim, to remove all dust.
  • Clean all windows and mirrors with a cotton cloth.
  • Vacuum and mop the floors.

Furniture, Carpets & Curtains (if applicable)

If you’re renting a furnished apartment:

  • Dust every piece of furniture and clean behind and under them, as well.
  • Use a cleaning product that adds shine to wooden surfaces to revive them, if needed.
  • Remove all carpets and clean them. You can either do this yourself or take them to a cleaning company. If you do it yourself, make sure to dry them properly and also use a nice softener or conditioner to make them feel brand new.
  • Wash the curtains. When they’re damp, hang them to dry in place to prevent creases.

move-in cleaning for new tenant

After you’ve cleaned the whole place, change the batteries in smoke alarms and any other safety gadgets the apartment is equipped with. Then, exit the apartment and enter again, looking for any spots that you may have missed. As you enter, notice how much light comes in and what it reveals. An important aspect of preparing an apartment is how it smells, so make sure that you’re met with a pleasant —but not overwhelming — fragrance as you open the door.

This guide will carry you through all of the major areas of the apartment, but remember that it is a general foundation. You know the apartment better than anyone. As such, if there are areas that you know need special care, write them on a list and keep it with you at all times to make sure you don’t miss a spot.

Preparing a rental for a showing can be overwhelming, especially if you own more than one apartment. However, you can always trust professionals like Pro Housekeepers to take care of the job for you so you can rest assured knowing that your tenants will move into a perfectly clean apartment.

About the author: Mihaela Buzec is a passionate reader and writer with an affinity for language and linguistics, as well as the latest technological developments. She discovered her passion for real estate at RENTCafé, and you can read more of her articles on their blog.

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