You have a new lease on an apartment for rent and while your new landlord certainly tidied up between tenants, their idea of “clean” might be sweeping the floor, while you’re more of the scrub-it-until-you-can-eat-off-it type. There’s no better time to tackle a deep-cleaning checklist than when your apartment is completely (or at least relatively) empty.
So now’s the time (before you’ve moved in any of your stuff) to make sure your new apartment is truly clean. Here are ten apartment areas that get overlooked between tenants, along with tips on how to make them sparkle.
1. Dust everything above your head
If you’ve ever tried cleaning ceiling fans, chandeliers, or blinds once fully moved in, then you know this can result in a dust cloud floating down and landing all over your favorite furniture. For a no-mess solution, use a pillowcase to dust the ceiling fan blades. Simply slip an old one over the blade, pulling it toward you as you go, collecting dust inside. Case closed.
2. Don’t forget the bathroom exhaust fan
More of a hidden danger, this is something most people don’t even think to clean. Left to collect lint, a ceiling-mounted exhaust fan can become a serious fire hazard. Luckily for you, it’s an easy fix with a few bursts of canned air, which you can find at any office supply store.
3. Wipe down the walls
It’s hard to ignore the fact that walls can get just as grimy as floors — we lean on them, we bump into them, we test the doneness of our pasta on them. Luckily, there’s a relatively painless way to wash painted walls. Using a high-quality large-pad mop and a spray bottle of warm, soapy water, work your way from ceiling to floor in a side-to-side motion, using a rag where needed to clean hard-to-reach crevices and corners.
4. Scrub those cabinets
Before your kitchen cabinets are filled with plates and cups, clean them! Depending on the shelf liner/contact paper situation, you might want to put some down or replace what’s already there. (Just make sure it’s easily removable or get your landlord’s blessing first.) For superstubborn stains, create a paste with baking soda and water. Let it sit in the cabinet for 10 minutes before wiping it away with a damp sponge, then follow up with a dry cloth.
5. Make the floors shine
Never again will you have such unhindered access to what lies beneath your feet. A steam mop is ideal for vinyl, laminate, and tile floors but will wreak havoc on hardwoods. There are surprisingly strong and opposing views when it comes to cleaning hardwood floors — even Martha Stewart has flip-flopped on whether it’s OK to use vinegar. The general consensus: Make sure the mop head is damp rather than wet, and use a cleaner that works well with the floor’s finish (polyurethane is the most common). Not sure about the finish? Just ask your landlord what cleaner they use and go with that. For the carpets, you can rent steam cleaners from grocery stores, superstores, and hardware stores — your landlord might even reimburse you for your work.
6. Disinfect touch points
After all, this was someone else’s home before it was yours. There are obvious places you want germ-free (think sinks, toilets, tubs, and the fridge), but did you ever stop to think about how many germs live on light switches, doorknobs, and deadbolts? If it’s something your hands touch daily (thermostat, alarm pad), then it’s been touched a lot by others too. Be sure to give it all a good wipe-down.
7. Replace the toilet seats
You don’t want to feel as though you’re in a public restroom when you’re on your new home turf. It’s worth it to start fresh with new toilet seats, for obvious reasons. Check with your landlord first; they might be willing to tackle this one for you.
8. Wash the dishwasher
Yes, the appliance that washes your dishes needs washing too. On the hot water setting, run a cycle with a cup of white vinegar in the top rack (and nothing else). Then sprinkle a cup of baking soda in the bottom and run a second hot, short, but complete cycle. Wipe down the seal if it’s grimy, and voilà! Your new-to-you dishwasher will smell fresh and sparkle.
9. Deep-clean the fridge
A cleaning crew may have done a surface clean on the refrigerator in your new apartment, but if you really want to start fresh, this is a good place for a deep dive. Start by removing everything you can, from shelves to drawers, and let them soak in the sink — or bathtub, if your sink isn’t big enough — while you spray down and scrub the inside. (Note: If those shelves are made of glass, let them come to room temperature before you submerge them in hot, sudsy water, or you might end up with a mess of shattered glass.) Do the same for the freezer. If you’re feeling really ambitious, pull the fridge away from the wall, unplug it, and gently vacuum the coils with a brush attachment — chances are, that hasn’t been done in ages (or ever).
10. Scour the bathtub
Speaking of that bathtub, even if it looks clean, you’ll probably feel better about taking a shower — let alone sinking into a nice, warm bath — if you’ve taken the time to de-funk it yourself first. To tackle the job without harsh cleaners, mix up your own scrubbing powder with equal parts of baking soda, borax, and kosher salt. Sprinkle it on, scrub lightly with a damp sponge, and rinse. (Be sure to test a corner first to make sure you won’t scratch the finish!)