Home Living: Rental Series #1 Cleaning

9:00:00 AM

rental living, clean apartment, landlord responsibilities, tenant responsibilities, painting a rental

A  C L E A N  S L A T E .

The first step to makes your new place feel like home is giving it a good clean.

Every rental I have moved into has needed some sort of cleaning except one. Some have been really dirty, some not too bad.

I always start with 5 things:
  1. cleaning/re-cleaning toilets and wiping down bathrooms
  2. cleaning/re-cleaning fridges and microwaves
  3. wiping out all kitchen cupboards and drawers and putting liners in if needed.
  4. cleaning out under the stove and fridge
  5. check for bugs/pests
After those tasks are finished, I move on to inspect other areas. I move through each room and determine appearance conditions and smell conditions.

L O O K   A T   T H E
B A R E  B O N E S

  • Walls- Are they dingy/dirty? I then determine if a wipe down or magic eraser is all that is needed, or if a paint job is needed.
  • Baseboards- Maybe the wall paint is okay, but the baseboards are beat up. I wish I could properly express what a difference freshened up baseboards make. It freshens up the room and amazingly makes it feel so much cleaner.
  • Ceilings- Dingy ceilings are bad news especially if you live in a darker place.
  • Floors- Do the floors need cleaning? It's my personal belief that landlords should professionally clean the carpets between tenants. If this has not been done, it needs to be.


Throughout my moves, I have learned to be quick to paint if needed. I lived in one apartment for 3 years. Each wall had 3 different colors of cream from patch jobs. When we learned we'd be there for another year, I couldn't take it and finally asked to paint. Looking back, I can't believe I waited that long! Painting makes such a difference!


Living spaces all have potential to be really smelly. Pets, smoking, mold, pests, age and filters can all be culprits. Some people tolerate smell, but I canNOT.
  • Pets- Carpet cleaning, thorough wiping down, dusting and vacuuming should help this problem. We have cat allergies, so we have been especially sensitive to this.
  • Smoking- I've heard that it is hard to completely get smoking smell out of a place. Repainting and re-carpeting do the best job of getting the smell out.
  • Mold- If you SEE mold in a wall, action should be taken immediately. There is likely a bigger problem. If mold pops up in the bathroom sometimes because of lack of ventilation, or an area that always feels/smells damp and musty. Damp Rid effectively helps the problem.
  • Pests- If there are pests/rodents it is important to take care of the issue ASAP. Attics and crawlspaces should be vacuumed thoroughly and the pest problem should be taken seriously by your landlord.
  • Age- Old houses smell. A variety of tactics can be used if the smell is intolerable. Carpet cleaning, repainting and de-humidifying (like using DampRid) all can help.
  • Filters- Replacing the HVAC system filters can also improve smells throughout the whole house.

A  W O R D   O N

Carpets are likely the single most smell-containing objects in any living space. The pad and carpet both do a wonderful job at soaking up smell. If the smell is significant, consider asking your landlord to replace the carpet. The landlord SHOULD pay to do this. However, some landlords won't. If I feel that smell is going to be a problem, I have asked landlords if they would be willing to replace carpet. If they are not, this is a deal-breaker for me. Check before you rent!

F I N A L  T H O U G H T S

This all sounds like a lot, and by-golly it is! Moving is not easy!

When we first started out, I thought that most things weren't worth worrying about or fixing, but through the years, I've found that it makes a big difference in how comfortable I am at home. Everybody needs a comfortable space to decompress, ponder, and rejuvenate.

ALSO, good landlords are usually willing to help you make the place more live-able. They want good tenants who will take care of their rentals. If you show that you care, they will trust you more.

Happy Cleaning!


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