Complete NYC Apartment Cleaning Checklist for Moving Day

You’ve decluttered, packed, and figured out all the logistics of the move. Everything is done, right? Wrong! If you want any chance of getting your security deposit back from your NYC apartment, you will need to put in a good faith effort to clean your apartment before you leave. Doing a deep clean is easiest once everything is already in boxes, so make sure everything except the cleaning supplies are all packed up a day before moving day. That way, you can really take your time and get your apartment as close to its original condition as possible.

Not sure what to do? The apartment cleaning checklist below can take you through all the cleaning steps to ensure your apartment is ‘broom-clean’ before moving out. Luckily, NYC apartments tend to be on the smaller side so it shouldn’t take you too long to go through every item on the list.

General Cleaning

Dust First

Start with the ceiling and clear out any cobwebs and don’t neglect dusting things like your light fixtures and blinds. These can accumulate a surprising amount of dust, especially if you have pets. You don’t need a fancy duster for this step. Use a broom to take down the cobwebs from the ceiling and a damp sock for your light fixtures and blinds. While you might not have noticed the accumulation of dust during your stay, you can bet your landlord will when they inspect the apartment after you leave. And it might even inspire you to dust your new apartment more when you see how black your paper towel gets with a single swipe!

Wash Windows and Mirrors

Use a window or glass cleaner if you have it. If you don’t have any store bought window cleaner you can mix together one part distilled vinegar to ten parts warm water in a spray bottle. If that’s not an option, you can also mix a few drops of dish soap with water in a bowl. You’ll just have to make sure you use a microfiber cloth or similar to avoid leaving lint behind.

Most apartments don’t have too many windows and mirrors, so this should be a relatively short step. Don’t skip it!

Clean Walls and Baseboards

With the brush attachment on your vacuum, clean up any remaining dust or dirt on the baseboards. Use a damp microfiber cloth to clean up any stains. If the stain doesn’t come out, cover it with a bit of paint.

Speaking of paint, if you painted your walls, you will need to paint it back to its original color. Don’t leave this to the last minute! Try to get this done a few days before your move out date so the place doesn’t have an overwhelming fresh paint smell when you leave. That might mean you have to move your packing timetable up. While painting, don’t forget to put down a drop cloth to avoid paint splatter on the floor.

Revert any changes you’ve made

With how small apartments are in NYC, you need to maximize all the space you can. For most people, that means utilizing vertical space. Adding extra cabinets and shelves is common for most renters. While you might think you’re doing the next tenants a favor by leaving in your shelves, you should always remove anything from the walls if you want to make sure you get your security deposit back. Don’t forget to caulk the holes and touch up the areas with a bit of paint.

Besides the walls, you should also remove any light fixtures you’ve changed back to the originals, remove any extra appliances such as mini fridges (unless it came with the apartment), take down any artwork, and so on. Your apartment should be completely empty when you move.

Vacuum and Mop

Once you’ve done all the dusting, repairing, painting, etc. now is the time to vacuum and mop. With all the furniture removed, you can easily get all those dust bunnies and crumbs. Make sure to get the corners and move any appliances out of the way so you can clean behind these areas. You’d be surprised by how much junk makes it way under the fridge and stove! If you have carpets, now might be a good time to hire someone to do a deep cleaning to remove any stains and odors.

Room by Room

The above steps are great for every room, but certain areas might require a bit more work than others. It can be overwhelming if you try to do everything in one day, so try to spread the work across multiple days if possible. For example, you can do the general cleaning first, and then do the more in-depth room cleaning on another day. The most important part is that you don’t skip any rooms.


Depending on how long you have lived in the apartment and how often you performed routine cleanings, your bathroom might take a while to get clean. Luckily, since most of the bathroom tends to be tile or porcelain, there are plenty of cleaners available that can make it look like new. Clean your bathroom the day before you move as you’ll probably need to use this room right up until moving day. When cleaning make sure to:

  • Scrub off any soap scum from the tiles and shower
  • Bleach the grout to get rid of mold
  • Clean out the bathroom drawers and vanity
  • Scrub the toilet, sink, countertop, and floor


The kitchen tends to be the place that collects mess since you’re cooking and eating here. For most NYC apartment dwellers, the kitchen often doubles as an entertainment room and/or office. It’s no surprise that this area tends to need the most elbow grease. Try to clean out the kitchen a couple days before your move. That might mean spending some money on takeout, but you don’t want to wait until the last minute. Some areas to focus on in the kitchen include:

  • Cabinets – remove any shelf liners and wipe the inside of every cabinet. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any food debris. Wipe down the outside of the cabinets, too!
  • Refrigerator – scrub the inside and outside well. Many people don’t bother cleaning their fridge often, so you might find you have a lot of spilled sauce and other grime. Clean everything up.
  • Oven and stove top – give every inside and outside a good scrub. You can find oven specific cleaners in your local hardware store. Use that to get out any baked-on debris inside the oven. Make sure to scrub all the corners and crevices and don’t forget to clean the burners.
  • Exhaust fan – if you’re lucky enough to have one, take the time to clean this area out. The exhaust fan loves to collect dust and if you use oil in your cooking the dust combined with the oil creates a sticky film. Spray the fan down with some soap and warm water.
  • Counter tops – sanitize all countertops and pay special attention to where your appliances were as those areas tend to collect stains.

Bedroom/living room

While you might spend the largest parts of your days here, chances are you won’t have to veer too far from the general cleaning tips above. If these rooms came with preinstalled cabinets or shelves, make sure dust and properly sanitize them. You should also pay close attention to the corners of your room when vacuuming as these locations tend to collect dust. If you have a closet, don’t forget to vacuum and mop in there as well! Remember to remove any extra shelves, coat hangers, or closet rods you might have added.

Get Ready for Your Move

While the bulk of moving involves packing and actually getting your stuff from your old place to your new one, you really don’t want to neglect cleaning your apartment. After all, you wouldn’t want to move into a place that was dirty either, would you? If you don’t have time to clean yourself, you can always hire a professional to do the work for you.

Speaking of professionals, don’t forget to hire NYC movers! They’ll take care of all the logistics of moving your things. Not only will you be stress-free, you’ll also be pain-free in your new place as the movers will literally do all the heavy lifting. Once you’ve moved all your boxes in, don’t forget to give your new place a good cleaning before you start unpacking.