Yucky Rental to Home, Clean, Home
We’ve all experienced it: you walk into your new rental house, apartment, or even a hotel room and you just know it isn’t clean. When we’re in places like this we tell our kids not to touch anything, we don’t let our kids crawl around, and we spray disinfectant on any surface before we set anything down.
When this icky place happens to be your rental home for the next several months or years, you have no choice but to roll up your sleeves and start scrubbing. To be fair, let’s not give every rental agency or landlord a bad rep; sometimes properties are pretty much move-in ready, but, if you’re like me, good enough usually isn’t good enough for me, so I clean again.
Everyone has their preferred method for making a “sorta clean” house into a comfortable home. Whether you start in the kitchen, a bedroom, or a bathroom, you have plenty to do before you can get from “Don’t touch that,” to a lemony fresh place that you’re proud to call home.
To help you point your mops and dust rags in the right direction, here’s my list of areas to check over and clean.
- Flooring. Especially if you have little ones crawling around on the floor make sure that carpets have been vacuumed and steamed. You’ll likely want to vacuum again as soon as the movers leave since a lot of the outside comes inside with your stuff. Vacuum or sweep and mop tile, laminate, or hardwood floors. Don’t forget that little area under the cabinets where dust bunnies like to hang out.
- Air filters. You may not think of replacing air filters as a high priority job, but if yours is as disgusting as ours was upon move-in, then you’ll want that thing out of there so you aren’t breathing gross air. And, just a little FYI, a clean air filter makes your air conditioner unit work more efficiently so you can save a little on your energy bill!
- Bathrooms. Inevitably you’re going to need to use the bathroom on your first day in the house. Scrub the inside of the toilet bowl as well as the outside; you know how those sneaky germs like to jump ship. Wipe down showers, tubs, sinks, as well as inside cabinets and drawers so you can begin to unpack. Nothing grosses me out faster than finding someone else’s hair in the bathroom drawer. Disgusting.
- Kitchen. This is a huge project. Start with the countertops since you’ll be using those even before you start cooking. Wipe down the inside and outside of all of the appliances, and wipe down the cabinets before you put your nice clean dishes inside. Don’t forget to clean above the cabinets. During this move-in, I found actual pieces of trash and food storage containers up there!
- Windows, windowsills, window treatments. My poor mom took on the task of cleaning all three window related items. I venture to say that the curtains, blinds, and windowsills hadn’t been cleaned at all by the previous tenant. Needless to say, those curtains that were saturated in dust are now getting some air outside, which is where they’ll stay as long as we live here.
- Ceiling fans and light fixtures. These are notorious dust collectors that are often overlooked. Full truth? We cleaned the fixtures upon move-in, but a month and a half later we found a beanbag on top of our living room ceiling fan. Apparently a kid with really good aim used to live in this house!
- Miscellaneous gross. Mold or mildew in the washing machine? Yep, me too. Run a vinegar cycle (without adding any clothes to the basin) to neutralize the odor followed by a bleach cycle to kill the growth. You may also want to vacuum out the lint trap in your new-to-you dryer.
- Landscaping. In my experience, renters are more likely to neglect the yard work because they don’t want to pump a bunch of money into a yard that isn’t really theirs. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a yard that you can be proud of. Just water, mow, weed eat, and edge when necessary. It can’t be that hard if I can do it. Trimming hedges, pulling weeds, and removing dead plants don’t cost you anything and I’ve never met a landlord who disapproves of tenants doing any of these things.
If your family is halfway as destructive as mine is, then you had your fair share of cleaning, spackling, and repairs before you left your previous residence, so I’m guessing that the last thing you want to do is start all over cleaning someone else’s mess in your new house. It seems almost criminal to have to do a cleaning double whammy within just a few days, but if you think about it, we can all do a little less work if we all agree to leave a rental property as good as or better than we found it.