FYI, Your New Rental Isn’t As Clean As You Think It Is

published Jan 18, 2020
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Credit: Sarah Crowley/Apartment Therapy

Moving into a new apartment can be equal parts exciting and exhausting. You’re probably itching to add your personal touch to the place by filling it with stylish furniture and decor. Or, you’re just tired from all the packing and unpacking and want to get settled as fast as possible.

Before you get to any of that, make sure you’re starting with an actual clean slate. As leases turn over, it’s common for tenants and landlords to conduct only surface-level cleanings in a rental before welcoming a new resident. 

At first glance, your new apartment may look clean, but there are hidden spots that can contain leftover dirt, grime, and germs from the previous occupants. And who wants that

Here’s what you’ll need to dust, brush off, and scrub down first before truly making yourself at home. 

The toilet seat

This one’s a no-brainer. While some people may be satisfied with a bit of bleaching action, Samira Tapia, a real estate agent based in Los Angeles, suggests replacing the toilet seat altogether. “A new one is really only $20 to $30,” she says. Plus, she adds that it comes with a priceless comfort. “You’ll know that only your butt has been on it.”

If you’re not fazed by that, make sure you give the toilet a deep cleaning with something like Kaboom! Oxi Clean cleaner, as it “handles intense dirt but doesn’t have bleach,” according to New York City real estate agent Lesley Clark.

The shower drain

Dealing with a clogged drain is about just as pleasant as getting teeth pulled, and “it’s not something people usually think of until a problem occurs,” Clark says. 

Your apartment’s former tenant may not have been as diligent as you are in preventing clogs, so it’s worth it to use a simple cleaning trick with baking soda and vinegar to clear out the pipes. Before taking a shower, check the drainage flow by letting the water run for a minute. 

If you notice there could be a potential clog, you may have to brave getting in there before the problem gets worse with a plunger or wire hanger to get any extra hair and soap scum out. 

Under the bathroom and kitchen sinks

One of the most common spots for mold to grow is under the sink. “I would check for leaks or dampness under the sink in the kitchen and bathroom,” says Tapia. “And if it does look okay, be proactive and get a plastic mat at the hardware store to protect that area from any water.”

The oven and refrigerator 

Where you store and cook your food should absolutely be hygienic. Clark recommends cleaning your oven before baking or roasting your first meal, as well as giving the inside of the refrigerator a good scrub. 

“And for extra credit, vacuuming around the stove and refrigerator might pick up any old debris the previous tenant and landlord missed,” she says. 

Door handles and faucets

Pay attention to things that get touched very frequently but don’t get cleaned often. “Go through and disinfect door handles and faucet handles with Clorox wipes,” suggests Tapia. 

In the same vein, “I always like to do a quick wipe inside cabinets and drawers,” Clark says.

The air filter 

What’s perhaps more important than the things you touch in your new place is the air you breathe in it. If you have central air conditioning or heating, make sure the air filter has been recently replaced. “It should be replaced every few months, or once a month if you have pets,” says Tapia. “A clogged air filter can cause your HVAC system to not work efficiently and put a lot of wear on it.”