What has to be done/cleaned when moving out of an apartment?

My father in law has built the house we live in, it contains eleven apartments and I am running it more or less with the help of an agency who is responsible for all the paper work. Living like normal tenants in this house, gives me insight to both sides  -as landlady as well as tenant. I should also  add that living in the Canton of Berne I can list what is more or less often required here. It can vary a great deal from Canton to Canton!


Well then, you have found the house of your dreams, handed in the notice to leave the apartment timely and are now asking yourself: ’What the hell do I need to do now? So that the day of turning over the apartment will be as smooth as possible.’


After you have emptied the apartment, the BIG cleaning starts. This is the most dreaded part of any move in my opinion, and many ask themselves how on earth will they be able to meet the required squeaky cleanliness. Well, it might be a tiny consolation to you, your predecessor in that apartment had to go through the same steps……………………. I am trying now to list the required demands to meet as well as hints and tips on how to achieve it, with a normal effort and maybe some elbow grease.

Did I tell you, before I landed here, where I am living now for the past 10 years, I moved house 14 times (in 9 years)!!!



The part that’s IMHO very important is the kitchen!


-          Oven has to be cleaned, as well as the metal baking sheets

-          Ventilator above the stove has to be cleaned of grease, if required the filter has to be replaced as well, if you have a metal filter you can pop it in the dishwasher

-           Water taps have to be cleaned of lime scale, if need be, replaced

-          Hob will need a scrub as well

-          Fridge has to be thawed and all shelves and indoor containers must be cleaned with soapy water

-          Kitchen cupboards have to be washed with soapy water inside and out, as do the shelves

-          Surfaces are also best cleaned with a soapy water, or a special cleaning product for chromium-steel or granite surfaces

-          Dishwasher should be cleaned with one of these special tablets for thorough cleaning

-          Make sure that all the door handles or knobs are fitted and not broken

-          The brownish ‘smear’ in the kitchen sink and on the valve, can easily be brushed away



Hints and tips on kitchen cleaning:


A very handy thing is a steam cleaner, if you have one, you already know it’s benefits, if you haven’t got one, then try to get a friend to lend you theirs or maybe you can rent one somewhere………They are incredibly useful for cleaning the ventilator of all the grease! And come in handy for cleaning the oven and hob too.


The day before the big cleaning starts, put the water taps (neoperl) in plain vinegar, Putzessig or special lime scale cleaner BUT bear in mind that the special cleaners (Durgol, Cillit Bang, Bref etc) can be so strong that they not only clear the lime scale off, but also the chrome……………


Spray the oven and baking sheets with a special cleaning product and let sit overnight.


ATTENTION: CHECK MANUAL about cleaning!!!

If the oven is a catalystic one (selbstreinigend /auto-nettoyant)!! Then you have to remove the special elements on the inside, possibly on the back also, BEFORE spraying!!

These special elements can, once removed from the oven, be soaked in warm soapy water and then brushed with a soft brush. Refrain from using anything hard or sharp to grate off the dirt, you’ll destroy the special surface!! And are liable to pay for replacements!!

When replacing the elements after cleaning, make sure the rough side is towards the oven and the smooth side towards the oven wall.



Remove the filter of the ventilator, and spray the ventilator also with a cleaning product, one I can recommend is called, INTENSIF Fettlöser M10, you can use the same product to spray the hob as well. Let sit overnight as well!

Switch off the fridge and defrost, remove the shelves and indoor containers.


Prepared like this the cleaning shouldn’t need too much elbow grease the following day.



To get rid of a possible smell in the fridge, after you’ve cleaned it with soapy water, rinse with a mix of half vinegar and half water. I don’t know why, but it really gets rid of any smell that sits sometimes in fridges.


A Ceran hob/ Glaskeramik, profits from a wash with a special detergent, it not only covers tiny scratches very well, it also puts a layer on the surface protecting against scratches etc.


The old style hobs, with three or four black electrical plates, can be made look like new with a special blackening paste for the heating plates. This paste is widely available in supermarkets, Drogeries etc in Switzerland


Remove all sticker residues, a good cleaner for that is WEGA NOF, http://www.scjohnson.ch/de/products/wega/nof/index.php

Dab some of it undiluted onto the stubborn sticky bitJ and let sit for a moment. It should almost peel off after some, then you can wash the spot with some soapy water and won’t have any scratch marks left.


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Also something we look very closely at, are the walls and the carpets/flooring. Because obviously these can look old, before their time, when heavily (ab)used.


We had a tenant recently, who managed to drill umpteen large holes in EVERY single freshly painted wall (including the bathroom!!), needless to say the apartment looked terrible, despite his best efforts to cover up the holes, we had to repaint the whole apartment again after just ONE year, of him and his wife, occupying it !!!!



At very latest the day before the general cleaning;


Fill the holes in the wall with mastics or plaster and make sure you choose the right colour of the paste, give it a chance to dry overnight and should it shrink too much, you can still add some more and even it out the next day.



Spray stains on carpets with a special, not too strong stain remover and let sit overnight, before you ‘deep clean’ the carpets, either with a HOST ™ dry clean system or a HAGERTY™ shampoo cleaner.


If you are not sure about the product you bought for stain removing on carpets interacting with the colour of your carpet J, try it out a couple of days before hand on a hard to detect small spot. Otherwise you could get a nasty surprise, if you use it without testing………………………….




HOST extractor vac Cleaner:


This is a large vacuum brush cleaner; very often you can rent it in a furniture store, respectively at specialized carpet stores.

The method of cleaning with this system is easy and quick!

You purchase the special HOST sponges, tiny sponges that are soaked with a cleaning liquid along with it.  At first you Hoover the carpet with the HOST, the special brushes will remove dirt and prepare carpet for cleaning. Then the sponges are strewn on the carpet and you kind of massage them into the carpet, where they clean and bind the dirt. After about 30 minutes you pass over the carpet again and Hoover the sponges out. This system ensures that furniture marks are lifted and less visible, also you can step on the carpet immediately afterwards, no need to wait. The machine is a bit heavy to handle at first, but you get soon the knack of it, also the sponges can cause a bit of a mess (look like sawdust), so have a small hoover ready to clean up the rest.





HAGERTY spray-ex system


This is almost solely offered to rent from Drogeries in Switzerland. Along with the machine you can purchase the special shampoo.


Hoover the carpet normally before you start cleaning, then mix the shampoo with water as required, and you can start to work away, by spraying the shampoo on the carpet and extracting it with the next move. You might need to go over the carpet twice……………………

IMHO, the downside on this system is that it gives the carpet less of a lift, see furniture marks, and you need at least 24 hours wait until you can step on the carpets again.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find a website for HAGERTY, only a variety of web pages of various Drogeries popped upJ







Must be cleaned inside and out as do the window frames, some agencies also ask that the shutters respectively outside blinds have to be cleaned as well……………………..







Here as well, make sure the water taps (neoperl sieves) are cleaned of lime scale, if necessary; replace them as well as maybe the rubber-sealing ring. Make sure the set of soap and toothbrush glasses is complete, ask your janitor if he has replacements, saves you time and money and you will have the right size and ‘brand’ to fit the already fitted holding device.

Pour a sink cleaner (Abflussreiniger) into the siphon of the lavabo and toilet bowl, and let it sit overnight.

Also remove all self-installed stick-on hooks, if the sticky tape won’t come off use WEGA NOF ( see above)

Bathroom cabinets also have to be cleaned inside and out.











Fittings, such as lamps, wall mounted kitchen roll holder etc.


If you want to leave back for example a lamp because you have no use of it anymore, some landlords accept that without problem, but be prepared to fall onto the worst agency clerk ever, who wants everything done by the bookJ J and asks you to remove EVERYTHING!! Same goes for wall-mounted kitchen roll holders and similar things.

If you can, ask the janitor, the agency or the landlord himself about how they handle this, before turning over the apartment.



Other rooms etc


We ask that the attic compartment and the cellar have to be swept and of course cleared of any clutter, same counts for the garage or parking space in a garage.

If you have a fresh oil stain on the parking space, a good means to soak it up, is cat litter box sand.


Balcony and terrace have to be swept and on a balcony the sieve of the drain should be cleaned as well.




I am sure I have forgotten some bits ad bobs, but this seems already quite a lot of requirements to meet or fulfil, so I leave it at that. And I’d like to point out that I have listed more things than one possibly has to do, according to the saying forewarned is forearmed……………………




Some general information



 When turning over the apartment, make sure you have the Protocol of when you took over the apartment on hand, so you can see, if damages have been done by you or if they already existed when you took over the place and can’t be liable for them.

Also make sure that the agency clerk, landlord or whoever is present, notes everything onto the new protocol!

Be that new damages, or be that stuff like walls =Ok or Miserable or freshly painted or general statements of the state of the apartment/house


DON’T SIGN anything, unless you are sure you are really liable for it! Some landlords are abusing their powers and you could end up paying through your nose for damaged stuff you are not fully responsible!


By example walls, have a lifetime (as they call it) of 10 years, so if you moved in when the appt, was new and are moving out after 5 years and one wall has to be re painted you have to pay only for THAT wall and not the whole room and you pay only 50% of what it’ll cost to paint ONE wall!!!

And this cost is most likely to be paid from your insuranceJ




Caution Money


See separate article



Taking over the new apartment


A bit like turning over your old one, when taking over the new apartment make sure that everything is on the protocol, topics such as damages, state of the walls and floors, how many keys belong to the apartment and other such things.

Then in the span of ten days make a so called Mängelliste, of things you found not in order, that could be a water tap that’s leaking, the sun stores on the balcony can not be lowered, a large scratch in the floor tiles, simply everything as minor as it may seem and send this (preferably with registered mail) to the agency, landlord or whomever is responsible for your lease of the apartment.

They then have time to repair these faults, or depending what it is, at least put them on the protocol, so that you won’t be held liable should you move out of the apartment.



I hope this helps a little to all those who face the task of moving house……………….


©sylv 2005