How clean does your home need to be?

Should the place be spick and span or do you just need to give it a good sweep? Which repairs do you need to do and what kind of worn items should you replace? Here’s an overview.

As if moving house weren’t stressful enough, at some point the landlord will make their way over to you with a long checklist in hand and a desire to check switches, fittings, cupboards and windows.

The rental agreement will state how thoroughly you need to clean a residence. When sending confirmation that the contract has been terminated, many landlords will add a to-do list of cleaning and repairs for you to complete.

Landlords may only request cleaning work that you can complete yourself; if they demand that you pay for a professional cleaning service (e.g. for a carpet or parquet floor), you can ignore it.

How clean does your home need to be?
Which cleaning items you’ll need when preparing to move out depends on your landlord (image:

Minor maintenance

Moving out is a prime time to see exactly where repairs – large or small – are needed. The majority of rental agreements in Switzerland oblige you to take care of minor repairs if they cost up to CHF 200 (e.g. replacing baking trays, soap dishes or kitchen extractor filters).

‘Minor maintenance’ also covers a few typical activities you need to take care of when moving out:

  • Tightening screws
  • Oiling door hinges
  • Cleaning out drains

Expect to take care of minor maintenance at older addresses, too

You’ll also have to do a bit of maintenance even if where you’re living is as old as time itself. Still, this only applies to rooms used by you alone – you can ignore shared bike storage areas or laundry rooms, for example.

Giving the place a good sweep

A good sweep means taking a pan and brush around the house or apartment. In short, it means you need to sweep all the floors and give the kitchen and bathroom a once-over with a cloth.
The majority of rental agreements that only require a sweep set out a flat rate that the landlord will collect to cover the cost of a deep clean for the rest of the home.

A deep clean

If the rental agreement doesn’t indicate the standard to which the residence should be cleaned, that means you’ll have to do a deep clean. A good sweep with a pan and brush is not enough in this instance.

How clean does your home need to be?
Professionals are more thorough in their methods and will clean those areas that you’d prefer to forget. (Image: Wikipedia)

Generally speaking, a deep clean means you’ll have to thoroughly clean the entire residence along with all the spaces that come with it (the attic, cellar, garage and letterbox).

Here’s what is expected in more detail:


All the floors need to be vacuum-cleaned and cleaned using appropriate cleaning products. Wooden floors may require special treatment depending on the landlord’s requirements. Any carpet stains should be removed to the best of your ability.


Any marks or outlines from picture frames, etc. should be wiped off. That also goes for signs of wear on and around light switches and plug sockets. All posters, adhesive tape and self-adhesive hooks need to be removed without a trace.

Here’s a tip: buy a special cleaning sponge to take care of this – they work wonders at giving walls a brilliant white finish again.

Screw holes

Any screws will need to be removed. Ask your landlord if that’s enough or whether you need to plug the holes using filler or repair putty. Have them confirm this by email so that you aren’t left to foot the bill for any additional painting work after the fact.


Window panes need to be cleaned inside and out. That also goes for ledges and sills (inside and out). Be sure to clean the shutters, too.

Built-in cupboards

These need to be cleaned inside and out.


You need to clean the toilet, sink and bathtub and descale the taps. You should also clean the pipes and confirm that none of them are clogged.

If one is clogged, be sure to unclog it – if you can open the pipe by hand, that is.


You need to clean all items that are a fixed part of the kitchen. The dishwasher, hob, oven and refrigerator/freezer all require special cleaning products and implements. Check the user manual and consult a specialist retailer for more information on what to use.

Balcony/craft room/cellar/garage

These rooms usually only need a good once-over. Giving them a thorough scrub is generally enough.

Reasons to pay for professional cleaning

It can sometimes be a good idea to pay for a professional cleaning company to take care of the cleaning when you move out. These are experts who know exactly where a landlord will cast their eye to see if the place is really gleaming.

Still, there are some bad apples out there. To find a good provider, keep the following in mind:

  • Serious companies have a postal address and a fixed location. Be wary of providers who only own a van and are based just over the border
  • Serious companies will give you a purchase guarantee. This means you will not have to pay until you hand over the apartment. If the company has forgotten anything, they are responsible for cleaning it afterwards.
  • Serious companies will give you the choice between cash payment and an invoice. Be wary of companies that pressure you to pay with cash, as there is always a risk they might disappear with it