How Clean Should My House Be When I Move Out?

May 7th 2019 by Paola Strazzer

Selling Your Home Renovation and Decoration

Cover: Article > How clean should my house be when I move out?

Whether you're upsizing, downsizing, sea- or tree-changing, before handing over your keys, you need to clean up your space. You expect to find your new home in the condition it was in when you inspected it, and whoever has purchased your home will expect the same.

If you pride yourself on keeping a clean house, you may be disconcerted to discover that it doesn’t look quite so clean once it’s completely empty. So, just how clean is a vendor supposed to leave a house after settlement?

Legal Requirements for Cleaning a Home After Move-Out

While the question of how much to clean a house after moving out is more of a moral one than a legal concern, a buyer may have the right to delay settlement or make a claim against the vendor if, during final inspection, the property is not in the same condition as when they signed the contract.

The buyer may also request that special conditions are inserted into the contract of sale stipulating the extent of cleaning that you are contractually bound to do when you vacate. This may include, for example, whether all of the previous owner’s possessions and rubbish have been removed; or that the garden has not become overgrown in the time since they agreed to purchase the property.

A Case of Good Manners

Even in the absence of a legal requirement to clean the house before moving out, there is an unofficial standard that most people adopt when they have sold their home.

Typically a courtesy, not an obligation, it is generally just a customary case of goodwill that the majority of sellers will want to provide the same level of cleanliness for the buyers of their property as they would like a newly purchased home to have when they moved in.

Your Home is Already ‘spotless’?

You might assume that because your property is currently pristinely clean, it will not be in need of move out cleaning; however, you may be mistaken. Even if you have cleaned regularly throughout your residency, areas that are normally hidden, such as under the fridge or the carpet where your beds usually go may not have seen the light of day for some time. Sellers often overlook the fact that the process of moving reveals spots in their home that rarely have the opportunity to be cleaned.

How Clean is Clean Enough?

While regular cleaning throughout your occupancy will go a long way towards simplifying your move out cleaning, even then, you will still need to put in some elbow grease before you vacate.

To deep clean your house with that top-to-bottom, take-no-dust-bunny-prisoners type of cleaning that will leave an everlasting impression on the new owners, we suggest the following ...

How to Clean your House After Move-Out

Plan Ahead

In the same way that leaving all your study for the night before an exam can give you poor results, attempting to clean your whole house on the day you move out is a recipe for disaster.

When it comes to cleaning, starting early is easiest. You may even want to give your home a good scrubbing and declutter before you put it on the market to show it at its best. But if you didn’t make an early start, don’t panic. To reduce the chance of feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand, attack the job with a plan.

We suggest that you tackle one room at a time, ensuring you have all the necessary supplies before you begin.

Get your Cleaning Supplies

Before you roll up your sleeves, make sure you have all your cleaning supplies on hand. The last thing you want is to have to stop cleaning to make a dash to the grocery store.

Supplies to stock up on include:                                                                              

  • Cleaning cloths and dusters
  • Non-scratch scrubbers and brushes
  • Rubber gloves
  • Detergents and disinfectants
  • Sugar soap
  • Glass cleaner
  • Furniture polish
  • White vinegar
  • Mop and bucket
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Dustpan and brush
A vacuum cleaner on a carpet

Move-Out Cleaning can be Fun!

There are many things that you can do to make the task easier to deal with. One of them is to find a great playlist, podcast, or audiobook to listen to while you clean. According to research, listening to music increases work output and helps us feel more energised. Your favourite tracks will make the time go faster and can make you forget you’re cleaning at all.

Clean Room by Room

Try to work methodically on one room at a time, working from the top down. We suggest starting from the back of the space and moving towards the front door. You'll get there eventually, and that way, you will know that everything has been taken care of.

Be Thorough

Cleaning the floors and walls is a good place to start; however, if you want to leave the property in the condition you would like to find it in if you were the buyer, you’ll need to do much more.

Deep cleaning involves the kind of tasks a homeowner would generally carry out regularly but goes far beyond. After all, how many of us wipe down curtain rods, light fittings, or ceiling fans on a weekly basis? A bit like detailing your car, it involves not just the major stuff but also the inconspicuous areas that we often put off or don’t have time for.

Take Everything with You

Sellers often leave personal belongings behind in the mistaken belief that they might come in handy for the new owners, but unless the buyer has specifically asked for something to be left, take everything with you. Double-check the attic, basement, wardrobes and the garage for anything you might have missed. Take care to also remove all rubbish from the property, including garden clippings, and clean the garbage bins.

A clean and empty room

What to Leave Behind

Finally, put together a folder with any instruction booklets, current insurance or warranties, along with remotes for fixed units such as air-conditioning systems and automatic gates.

If you’re the seller, you can take advantage of a pre-settlement inspection to run through how things like the security system and pool filtration unit work; the new owners may not find out otherwise.

How About the Garage?

As the garage is part of your home, you will want to make sure it is in tip-top shape also. In addition to removing all personal items, take care to properly dispose of toxic chemicals as well as any paint cans or building materials no longer in use.

Sweep the floor, clean inside any cupboards and wash down the garage door. If the garage or driveway has oil stains, you can scrub them using a stiff brush, detergent and degreaser.

House Cleaning Services

You may be handy with a mop and a scrubbing brush, but if you're short on time to clean the entire property, you can always hire professional cleaners to come in and make sure your home is up to scratch before you move out.

Experienced cleaners are likely to have the right tools and cleaning products to do a great job, and if you choose one with a guaranteed service, you can always have them come back until you are satisfied. In addition, you may decide to hire a power washing service to clean the outside of your home or any hard to reach windows that may involve ladders or scaffolds.

Choosing a Cleaner

The easiest way to find a cleaner is often through word of mouth from family or friends. You can also ask for a recommendation from your selling agent or do an online search. Check out any reviews or client feedback available for the cleaning company or ask them for testimonials.

Find out whether they will supply their own cleaning products, if they are flexible with availability, and crucially, whether they are fully insured as your household insurance may cover injury to visitors but not someone you hire to do work on your property.

Cost of House Cleaning Services

The average cost to hire a professional house cleaner in Australia varies between $25-$35 per hour or a flat fee ranging from $120 for a studio apartment to $500 for an intensive cleaning of a 4- bedroom home.

Before deciding, get a free estimate from several cleaners and make sure these clearly outline what services are included – some companies will charge additional fees for certain tasks. Keep in mind, the cheapest service may not necessarily be the best!

Your Ultimate House Cleaning Move Out Checklist

If you’re looking for house cleaning tips, these are the moving out cleaning tasks for a sold house you'll want to make sure to check off:

Inside

Walls – wipe down all walls with sugar soap and remove cobwebs from corners. Gently scrub off marks and fill holes with putty, repainting if necessary.

Windows – use alcohol and vinegar to wash all windows and glass doors inside and out. Don’t forget to include the window tracks, fly screens and blinds.

Cupboards – empty and wipe clean the shelves and drawers inside wardrobes and cupboards, taking care in the bathroom, laundry and kitchen where spills may have occurred.

Ledges – wipe clean all ledges and sills with cleaning solvent and a wet cloth, including skirting boards, top of doors, and sliding door tracks.

Lights – thoroughly clean all light switches, light fittings and replace non-working bulbs.

Floors – sweep or vacuum all floors before mopping with a specialised cleaner for wood or tile, and steam cleaning carpets.

Bathrooms and laundry – clean all mirrors, scrub and disinfect toilet, remove mould from shower, clean basin and drain. Wipe down all bench tops, vanities, taps, soap holders, and towel rails.

Kitchen – wash all countertops and surface areas, clean the sink and taps, empty the garbage disposal, clean dishwasher inside and out, shift the fridge to wash the walls and floors usually covered, give the oven and cooktop special attention, remove all dust and grease from the range hood.

Outside

Yard – mow lawn, weed garden, trim edges, make sure bushes and trees aren't overgrown, clean the shed, sweep away any leaves on walkways by hand or with a blower.

Patios – use a pressure washer to properly clean and hose down all outside verandas or decks before scrubbing with a wood-friendly cleaning agent. Clean any appliances including barbecues.

Pets – remove all signs of animal mess and repair any damage.

Pool and spas – clear out any leaves or debris, and check that the water and filter are clean and healthy.

Garage – sweep the floor, clean inside cupboards, and wash down garage door. Remove any oil stains from the floor or driveway.

Rubbish bins – if outdoor garbage or recycling bins are dirty, clean them. Remove all rubbish from the property.

A wheelbarrow in a garden

So there you have it ...

How clean should your house be when you move out? Ask yourself what would you expect if you were the buyer, and leave your home in the condition that you'd like to be greeted by if you'd just purchased it.

Looking to sell your home? At Sellable, we invest our own money into preparing the property for listing. This includes renovations to the property (often bathroom and/or kitchen), painting and professionally staging it. We do this because we know these things improve the sales price by more than we have to invest. Find out more at sellable.com.au.

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