Moving can be quite a project. There is a lot of planning, preparation, and heavy lifting involved. Organization is vital when relocating to a new home, so the first step should be to make a schedule for the move.

Once all pertinent documents are signed and sealed for the new house, plans for the move are set in motion. People begin to think about how to decorate their new place, like where they should place all their furniture, or they might consider buying new items to fill the new residence.

Before you get too excited about your next home, though, think about how you want to leave the old one. Not many people consider what needs to be done in their soon-to-be former residence before they leave.

Exit cleaning is crucial for homeowners moving on to another home. For those renting, making sure their old place is spic and span is necessary to get the deposit or bond back from the landlord. On the other hand, for people who bought their former abode, a spotless residence will help them find buyers for it.

If you have an entire week free, and you have friends and/or family on hand to help, below is an exit cleaning schedule and checklist to prepare your former home for its new owners.

Exit Cleaning Schedule

1. Six to Seven Days Before the Move

About a week or so before your move, invite people over for a farewell party (especially if you are moving somewhere far or maybe even abroad). It is best to have a last get-together at least a week before you move, with the people you care about in a place of fond memories.

Usually, homeowners want one more memory with their former abode, especially if it holds special moments. After all, lots of beautiful memories can happen in a home; the master bedroom could have been where your child took his or her first step. In another part of the home, markings on a column or wall could reveal how much your child has grown.

Make a final memory. Make a mess one last time because once you start the exit cleaning process, there will be no turning back.  You’ll have one foot out the door by then.

2. Four to Five Days Before the Move

After you’ve given the place a last hoorah, get your cleaning essentials, some helping hands, and get to work. Start with the exterior of your home, like the patio, garage, gutters, and the yard (both front and back), if you are in a house. If you are in an apartment, start with the balcony if you have one.

Once you are done with the outside of the house, start on the interior. This early before the move, just do some general cleaning. You may want to sift through your belongings at this point and pack any small items as well. Decluttering the rooms in your home will make the whole process easier later.

3. Two to Three Days Before the Move

Now it’s time to clean the inside of the house thoroughly. Work your way through each room. Give each space attention. Use proper cleaning products on the floors and fixtures of your former home.

You could pack as you go through each room as well. For instance, if you started with the kitchen, pack the glassware first. Make sure they are wrapped and put away safely. Then, start wiping down or scrubbing the empty cabinets and countertops.

4. One Day Before the Move

Rest for the big move the next day. By now, you should have most of your possessions packed and the place restored to the way it was when you moved in (or at least close to it). The last night in your old residence should be reserved for quiet reflection on the memories you made while you lived in it, as well as looking forward to the future.

5. The Big Day

Today is the start of a new beginning. Because everything has been cleaned, all you need to do is orchestrate the move. Guide the removalists as they take your belongings and put them in the moving truck.

As everything is being loaded into the vehicle, pack any remaining goods and check each room for any forgotten items. Then take one last look at your now empty former home, walk out the door, and securely lock it before giving the key to your former landlord.


1. Patio

  • Wipe furniture.
  • Sweep the deck clear of leaves and other debris.

2. Garage

  • Sweep corners for cobwebs.
  • Scrub floors.
  • Clear shelves of possessions.

3. Yard (Front and Back)

  • Mow grass.
  • Get rid of any weeds.
  • Water plants and flowers.
  • Rake leaves (if any).
  • Clean the gutters.

4. Balcony

  • Wipe down any furniture.
  • Scrub or sweep the floor.

5. Bathroom

  • Clean the entire toilet, including the tank and base.
  • Scrub the tile floors and shower area.
  • Scrub or wipe the faucet, sink, and any surrounding countertops.
  • Wipe the mirror.
  • Remove the used shower curtain.
  • Remove items in the medicine closet and drawers, then wipe them clean.

6. Kitchen

  • Wipe any appliances you are leaving behind (i.e., range, oven, cooktop, fridge).
  • Scrub floors.
  • Clear vents of debris.
  • Wipe down cabinets, drawers, and countertops.
  • Clean sink, faucet, and surrounding areas.

7. Living Room

  • Remove any nails, screws, or other paraphernalia used to hang decorative items on the walls; fill the holes.
  • Wipe any fixtures (i.e., ceiling fan, sconces) in the area.
  • Fumigate carpets and any furniture you are leaving behind, especially if you had a pet.
  • Scrub floors if they are made of marble or tiles.

8. Bedrooms

  • Follow the same instructions for cleaning the living room (as above).

Bonus Tip

As you may be able to tell from the schedule and cleaning checklist above, exit cleaning is no small task. Consider hiring professional exit cleaners who have extensive experience. Getting some help will leave you free to concentrate on the packing. When it comes to moving, the more hands are working, the better.

Craig Jones is the Managing Director at Aussiemove, Australia’s largest independent moving alliance. Craig is a respected member of the removalist network in Australia, having served in senior positions, including the President of the removal industries governing body, the Australian Furniture Removals Association (AFRA). With 23 years of experience at Aussiemove, he has the skills and the highly trained team to move families safely and reliably, in Adelaide, across Australia and around the world.