The Ultimate Rental Cleaning Checklist for Property Managers

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: April 25, 2024

It’s an absolute necessity. You have to make a rental property shine in between tenants. As the landlord or property manager, you’re responsible for making sure the place looks its best before the next move-in. It’s a big project especially when you’re dealing with multiple units.

When it’s time to clean, sanitize and repair, do you tackle the job yourself or hire a rental cleaning company?

We take care of residential clean-outs all across Chicago and the suburbs, so we’ve developed a solid set of guidelines over the years. If you feel confident doing it yourself, we can help. We offer this compact, comprehensive guide as your convenient end of tenancy cleaning checklist.

Your Rental Cleanout Checklist

This overview works as both a property management checklist and vacation rental turnover checklist. It’s easier to prepare a unit for long-term tenants or short-term guests when you break the cleaning down into three main areas. Kitchens and baths are usually the toughest jobs, so get them out of the way first.

rental cleanout checklist

1. Conquer the Kitchen

• Clean out cabinets, and be sure to get back into dark corners that can hide crumbs and attract pests. Check shelves for any spills, polish outside doors, and shine hardware.

• Scrub all surfaces including countertops, tables, backsplashes and sinks. Go back over everything a second time with a sanitizing mixture of bleach and water or cleaning products specially formulated to kill germs.

• Check behind and under the stove and refrigerator for accumulated dirt and debris. These areas can be hard to reach, but you need to eliminate grimy build-up that breeds bugs and bad odors.

• Run ice cubes and rock salt through the disposal to sharpen its blades and break up coagulated grease. Put the dishwasher through several heavy cycles to make sure it’s fresh, and clean its exterior.

Power Tip: Save sweeping and mopping for last. Otherwise, your work inside cabinets and on countertops will scatter dirt across freshly cleaned floors.

2. Make Bathrooms Sparkle

• Wash and sanitize sinks, fixtures, countertops, tubs and shower walls. Use separate scrub brushes and cleaning cloths for disinfecting toilets to avoid spreading germs across other surfaces.

• Make sure sinks, tubs and toilets are running freely. Take care of clogs, and follow up with a drain cleaner to clear traps of any leftover debris.

• Quickly and efficiently dust inside vanity cabinets and drawers with a hand vac. Many professional rental property cleaning services use this technique on hard-to-reach areas in small spaces.

• Polish mirrors and shower doors with an all-purpose glass cleaner. Wipe away stubborn film with a mixture of warm water and clarifying shampoo.

• Check under sinks and behind toilets for any signs of leaking water. Make necessary repairs to reduce the chance of unhealthy mold growth in damp bathroom environments.

Power Tip: Wipe out mildew in tight spots by scrubbing affected areas with a damp toothbrush dipped in baking soda.

3. Clean and Detail the Rest

• Turn end of tenancy cleaning into an opportunity to dust the property from ceilings to floors. Start with overhead fans and fixtures, work down to door frames and windows sills, and finish with trim and baseboards.

• Polish and sanitize touch points including door knobs, switch plates and outlet covers. Use magic erasers to remove smudges and fingerprints from doors and walls.

• Dust light bulbs, replace any that have burned out, and test smoke alarms. Turn everything on and off to make sure there aren’t problems with the property’s electrical system.

• While you can clean hardwood floors with DIY techniques, don’t try to polish them. You can do more harm than good, so call in a professional.

Power Tip: Freshen up carpets by dropping a vanilla-soaked cotton ball into your vacuum cleaner’s bag before you get started. This trick belongs on your rental house cleaning checklist year-round.

Maintenance Strategies: Inside, Outside and Seasonal

maintenance strategies

While it’s not technically considered cleaning, regular maintenance keeps your rental in top shape and helps preserve its property value. Put these three strategies on your property management checklist as chores to take care of between move-outs and move-ins.

4. Inspect Interiors Carefully

• Check water, gas and electric connections coming into the property. If you have any concerns about their integrity, have them inspected by a professional.

• Take a good look at appliances. Washing machines and hot water heaters can develop small leaks that go unnoticed, so check them now to prevent a water disaster later.

• Don’t ignore musty odors. They might be caused by hidden mold growth in damp spots behind walls and inside crawl spaces. Call in a restoration company that specializes in mold inspections and remediation.

• If you allow pets, always make sure the last tenants didn’t leave you with a flea and tick infestation. This problem can get out of hand in furnishings, carpets and drapes and quickly spread to adjacent units.

5. Check Property Exteriors

• Don’t let dirty sidewalks, porches and driveways affect your property’s curb appeal. Hire a rental cleaning company that specializes in exterior pressure washing and takes care of graffiti removal too.

• Clean out gutters and downspouts, and give the roof a good visual inspection while you’re up on the ladder. These chores can prevent water damage when our Chicago weather turns stormy.

• Check your property’s foundation for signs of cracks or peeling. Make any necessary repairs to keep basements from becoming damp and ruining tenants’ stored belongings.

• Make sure doors and windows fit snugly in frames and tracks. Test the security of locks on all exterior entrances and windows as well as any outdoor storage buildings.

6. Develop Seasonal Strategies

• Maintain healthy indoor air quality by having the ductwork in your rental property professionally cleaned once a year. This type of maintenance also extends your HVAC system’s mechanical life.

• Treat windows to regular spring cleaning inside and out. Hold down unit heating and cooling costs by checking and repairing worn caulking and replacing any cracked panes.

• Annual steam cleaning helps carpets stay fresh, resist stains and hold up to heavy traffic. Many carpet manufacturers’ warranties require this kind of yearly maintenance.

• Apply that same deep cleaning strategy to upholstery and drapes. New tenants appreciate a furnished apartment that smells as fresh as it looks.

• If your rental has a basement, put its sump pump on your seasonal property management checklist. Keep pumps working and basements dry with regular maintenance and cleaning twice a year.

Beyond Brooms and Mops: An Equipment List

Whether you’re working up a vacation rental turnover checklist or developing end of lease cleaning services for multiple properties, you have to be well equipped. Today’s technologies elevate basic brooms and mops to rental-cleanup star status. We recommend these additions to your collection of rental property cleaning tools.

• Wet-Dry Vacuums – Count on heavy-duty shop vacuums to jump-start DIY carpet cleaning especially after water damage.

• Steam Mops – These handy floor cleaners save time and take the elbow grease out of scrubbing grimy floors.

• Cordless Spot Lifters – Get on top of carpet stains with handy battery-powered spot lifters.

• Magic Erasers – They’re spongy, pre-filled with cleaning products and simple to use. They really work too.

• Micro Cloths – These smart cloths trap dust, they’re washable, and they safely clean all kinds of surfaces.

Hiring a Commercial Cleaning Company: Real Advantages

commercial cleaning

When landlords and property managers call us about our property management cleaning services, they’re often surprised at the different plans and range of services we offer. While the work is residential, we consider rental cleanups an extension of our full line of commercial cleaning services.

If you’ve always taken care of property cleanup on your own, we’re available to help with one-time projects, and we handle seasonal work too. Sometimes, that rental cleaning checklist adds up to more than you have time for, so think about the advantages of hiring a professional cleaning and restoration contractor.

• You don’t have to invest in equipment and products.

• Our technicians are highly trained and industry certified.

• Our services include duct cleaning, carpet steaming, hardwood floor polishing and more.

• We’re on call 24/7 for water and fire damage emergencies.

• Our teams take care of small repairs, and we’re backed by a solid network of trade professionals.

• When we handle your rental cleanup jobs, you save time, and that saves you money.

We Do the Heavy Lifting

We know first hand how much work goes into end of tenancy cleaning. We’re happy to share our landlord cleaning checklist so that you can develop detailed checklists for all your rental properties. If you have any tips or tricks for cleaning up in between tenants, we invite you to share with our online community through our Comments Section.

When your schedule gets too full or you just want someone else to do the heavy lifting, give our teams a call here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba. As Chicago’s most trusted commercial cleaning company, we offer a complete line of services for all types of rental properties across the city and suburbs. We’re always here to help, and we’re always ready to make your job a little easier.