Landlording & Rental Properties

9 Tips for Cleaning Your Rental Between Tenants

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics, Personal Finance, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Real Estate Marketing, Mortgages & Creative Financing
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One of the biggest stresses that comes with owning a rental property is when the tenant moves out. At this time, it’s your responsibility to check the property, order maintenance, and clean everything for the next tenant. Sometimes, this process is a breeze. Other times, you’re left with a lot of work on your hands.

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Even if it’s a pain to achieve, a clean property yields many benefits. A pristine rental comes with higher rent prices, so it’s very important to actually get things clean after a tenant moves out. What’s more, cleaning the property thoroughly between tenants adds longevity to each unit. To reap the rewards, try some of the following tips.

1. Require Tenants to Clean Thoroughly

Give your tenants a detailed checklist covering both the major items and the smaller details you expect them to take care of. Ideally, providing a checklist minimizes the amount of cleaning you’ll have to follow up with. If your tenants follow your checklist to the letter, your final walkthrough will be a breeze.

2. Replace Old Furnishings and Appliances

You can clean things for awhile, but after a certain point, it’s simply better to replace them. Refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, and other appliances should be replaced once they start to become grimy and difficult to keep clean.

If you have furnishings in your apartment, it’s a good idea to consider replacement items. A mattress, for example, can only be cleaned so many times. If it’s old and dirty, you’ll have a harder time showing properties and collecting a decent amount of rent. It’s better to replace an old mattress with one that fits your budget.

Related: 3 Practices Landlords Should Use During the Move-In Inspection

3. Stock Up on Magic Erasers

Magic Erasers work miracles. When your tenant doesn’t clean something to your standards, a Magic Eraser can shine things up in no time.

As a landlord, you can also stock up on a number of industrial cleaning supplies. These commercial supplies work much better than what you can get over the counter, but they’re not readily available to the general public.

4. Hire a Company to Clean the Blinds

It’s good for tenants to dust the blinds before they leave, but you’ll want them to be careful. It’s easy for blinds to break, depleting your reserve savings. You could spend hours working on the blinds yourself, but a blind-cleaning company can do them in no time with special equipment, and they’ll be much cleaner in the end.

5. Check for Maintenance Needs

Before the next tenant arrives, quickly check your property for any maintenance needs: Think repair damage (such as holes in the walls), broken window locks, or leaky sinks. It’s rare that a tenant will leave a property in perfect condition, and you want it as clean and inviting as possible.

6. Consider an Inspection

Depending on certain factors, like your city’s laws and the last tenant that resided in the unit, you may want to have an inspection done. An inspector will look for health and safety concerns and certify that things are in good condition. At the end, the inspector will issue a certificate of occupancy, which can make your property more marketable.

7. Clean Forgotten Places

Even if tenants follow your meticulous checklist, they’re likely to forget a few places. It’s understandable for tenants to miss a few things, but if these spots are not cleaned, grime will build up over time and make the property less attractive to renters.

Check places like outlets and light switch covers, under the lip of the counter top, the tops of the baseboards, and other nooks and crannies. A careful inspection of the property can reveal these missed areas.

Related: Tenant Turnover Can Wreck Your Profits: Here’s the Simple Solution to This Costly Issue

8. Don’t Forget the Outside

The property’s exterior is often just as important as the interior, especially if you’re renting a single family home or a small apartment building. Dirty sidewalks, driveways, porches, gutters, siding, windows, and doors can leave a bad impression. Rent or buy a pressure washer to handle the outdoor grime and keep the landscaping fresh and neat.

9. Clean Carpets and Paint

Although you may not need to paint or clean the carpets after each tenant vacates the property, you should do so regularly. Carpet can collect germs that can be hazardous to your next tenants. Paint will also cover marks on the walls, tiny holes, and other wear and tear common with rental properties.

Do you have any tips for cleaning your rentals that I forgot to mention? Share them in the comments below!

Larry is an independent, full-time writer and consultant. His writing covers a broad range of topics including business, investment and technology. His contributions include Entrepreneur Media, TechCrunch, and When he is not writing, Larry assists both entrepreneurs and mid-market businesses in optimizing strategies for growth, cost cutting, and operational optimization. As an avid real estate investor, Larry cut his teeth in the early 2000s buying land and small single family properties. He has since acquired and flipped over 30 parcels and small homes across the United States. While Larry’s real estate investing experience is a side passion, he will affirm his experience and know-how in real estate investing is derived more from his failures than his successes.

    Mark Kennedy Real Estate Investor from Clemmons, North Carolina
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Thanks for the nice article. A couple tips: keep all your paint colors the same through all your different units. Also, I highly recommend an 18 inch roller from Sherman Williams and it cuts the rolling time down dramatically. We used 12 inch rollers for years and once I heard about the 18 inch roller it saved a ton of time. Use plastic toilet seats instead of wood. Use the Kwikset SmartKey locks and you can Re-key the doors in minutes. Those are a few tips that I hope helps.
    Michael DeYoung from Holland, MI
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Fridge cleaning tip: Fill up the bathtub with hot water and cleaner. Take out all the shelves, drawers, dividers, etc. and soak them in the the tub. Whip down the now empty fridge. Give all the soaking items a wipe and a rinse and put them back. You can soak vinyl blinds in the tub too to clean them. But no matter what you do, cheap blinds only last for so long. Another tip, make sure the cleaners you’re using on painted surfaces say “Safe to use on painted surfaces!” You would be surprised what you shouldn’t be using on paint. These cleaners will take the sheen of the paint and make dirt and grime build up even faster in your units. Make sure your tenants know this too!
    Kathleen Belarge from Yonkers, New York
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I had to remove the blinds in the apt. Whom ever the last tenant or two were couldn’t see well and had no clue what they were doing. I replaced the blinds with curtains but used extension rods instead of more permanent type hooks. One of the tenants helped me with a lot of the ladder climbing efforts. I still need to sand and paint where the old hooks were to make it look nice.
    Karen Rittenhouse Flipper/Rehabber from Greensboro, NC
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I have the greatest cleaning crew! They go in and touch EVERYTHING! The place looks like new when they leave. I pay more to use them than to use a “normal” cleaning crew, but my properties rent and/or sell so much faster because buyers want a home that is clean and new. The money I save by having less vacancy time more than makes up for what I pay the cleaners. Thanks for the post!
    Robin Quick
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Don’t forget to pull out appliances and clean sides, back and underneath. So often when taking over a property (especially older ones) I find, or so it appears, the appliances have never been cleaned underneath.
    Robin Quick
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Don’t forget to pull out appliances and clean sides, back and underneath. So often when taking over a property (especially older ones) I find, or so it appears, the appliances have never been cleaned underneath.
    Replied over 1 year ago
    My contracts stipulate that my tenants leave the place clean and they usually do. In addition I hire local cleaning companies to help out and, just in case, I drive by with my own people and do one last check up. This system has been working for me for years. Thanks for the post!