Don’t let mess get in the way of your deposit

This is a guest post from Joanna White of Property Principles. To write for our blog, please contact us.

Moving house is stressful enough - finding a suitable flat, packing up your things, trying to avoid paying double rent for too long. And then there's the question of whether you'll get your deposit back.

According to the Tenancy Deposit Service, 56 per cent of deposit disputes are about cleaning. Many of these end with tenants losing all or most of their deposit. It's in everyone's interests to reduce the number of cleaning disputes. Here are my tips for avoiding disagreements when you hand over your keys:

  • Please be sure to check what products can be used so as not to damage anything. Always consult manufacturers manuals. If you do not have these, talk to the landlord or agent or seek specialist advice before using any product that may damage the surface that you are working on. If in doubt, ASK.
  • Do not attempt to move heavy items of furniture without help and professional safety advice.
  • At the end of the tenancy, move all your personal items out of the house before you attempt to clean.
  • Always work from top to bottom when you start to clean in any room. Dust and cobwebs are likely to fall from ceilings, walls and shelves and twice.
  • Paintwork can be wiped clean with warm soapy water. Treated wood should be dusted and wiped with a damp cloth and given a spritz of polish.
  • Carpets should be steam-cleaned by a professional carpet cleaning company. You can prepare for this by vacuuming well and making sure you lift rugs and get under furniture to get as much dust up as possible.
  • There are lots of types of hard flooring and, unless a specific product has been provided, most hard surfaces like tiles, vinyl, wooden floorboards and stone can be vacuumed to remove dust and then mopped and dried to remove stubborn dirt and marks. Leave this job (and the cleaning of the kitchen sink) until just before you leave the property.
  • The inside of a banana skin is great for polishing a slate floor. Wax can be removed from most surfaces by placing brown paper over the wax and then ironing with a warm iron. This will melt the wax onto the paper. Do not use an overly hot iron as this may well melt the surface below the wax.
  • There are many different types of work surface that may need specific products, so always ask.
  • The kitchen will be the most time-consuming room to clean so leave yourself enough time to do a proper job.
  • When you have cleaned the house, don’t forget to clean the vacuum cleaner (especially if it’s the landlord’s). Wipe the body and wheels of the vacuum down all over with a little warm soapy water. Dry them with paper towels and do the same for the hoses and metal tubing. You can clean the brushes and attachments in warm soapy water and replace them when they are dry. Replace the bag and change the filter. remember to clean switches, lamp bases, plugs and flexes as you go.

I’ve put all this and more in my video Cleaning the Professional Way which you can download from


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