Go ahead, lick the floors

Mel and I were off last week. We each took vacation time for the express purpose of cleaning the apartment downstairs in preparation for a new tenant. I’m talking the sort of deep cleaning that’s necessary after three years. More like property maintenance cleaning than actually being for the benefit of the new tenant. Not very many landlords ever did that for me, cleaning was always the first thing I did when I moved into a place. Still, this new tenant is getting a super clean apartment.

My former tenants only ever did minimal cleaning, they weren’t the sort to do anything beyond that. Quiet and paid the rent on time, yes. Really clean, no. Lazy? Absolutely.

They spent one whole day moving and had several truck loads. The next day they spent cleaning. Clearing out garbage mostly, but they also swept and cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen. After they left, the real work began.

The first question was whether or not to paint. My mother turned me on to Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponges. Those things rock! They work like you wouldn’t believe. Because of these sponges, we were able to get away with just washing the walls, so my mom and I did that. Fortunately, there’s no cracks and the tenants hadn’t put too many nail holes in the plaster. What a job though.

In the meantime, Mel scrubbed every floor in the place. They were filthy. The wash bucket water went really muddy very quickly and she ended up using several buckets to get each room done. It was obvious the tenants had never actually washed the floors during their stay. Gross. It’s hardwood throughout and in pretty good shape, so once the floors were cleaned and then oiled they looked super nice. We’d have liked to get a buffing machine for the floors but ran out of time, energy and money.

I ended up having to paint the bathroom because the paint was bubbling and peeling in some areas. I’d had the tub enclosure tile redone about 2 years ago and the bathroom was painted then but it seems that it probably wasn’t properly primed and/or the tenants didn’t wait until it was fully dry before steaming up the space. It seemed like it took forever to paint (primer plus two coats with dry time between) but it looks fabulous now.

Mel also washed every window and screen too. She’s a dynamo given to heroic efforts, and boy, am I ever lucky! There’s no way I’d have gotten it all done without her help.

Aside from the very dirty floors, everything else was in fairly good shape. Just normal wear and tear. There wasn’t any willful damage, just two problems in the kitchen that seemed like they would be accidental.

First, they must have had some type of green liquid leak or spill where the wall meets the floor. It seeped into that space and the ceramic kitchen tiles (which are porous on the back) wicked up some of it. So, about four tiles near the floor are now green instead of light yellow. No way to clean that, and I have no extra tile to even begin to think about how to replace those tiles.

The other thing is just plain stupidity. They’d cleaned the oven. Nice, right? Except, they used oven cleaner on the face of the control panel where the dials are. That made the black paint bubble and flake, exposing the metal beneath. It looked like hell. We ended up scraping and sanding off as much of the rest of it as we could. Then we taped it carefully and spray painted with glossy black automotive paint. It came out great! The only problem is that all the control panel markings are gone now so it will be difficult to tell which settings the dials are at. Not a problem for the stove top, you can tell by looking how high a gas flame is. But the oven… As I recall, the oven mark was at 90 degrees, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.

I still have to send the deposit back to my former tenants. I’m seriously thinking about keeping part of it because of the tiles, the stove and the work it caused me.


  1. I’ll bring over my steam cleaner next time I’m driving through. It’ll clean the green off the tiles for sure. You’re totally gonna want one of these!!!

  2. Wow. And I thought *my* new lesbian landlords (landladies?) were great, and they "only" hired really good cleaning people to give my new pad a thorough going over. Your tenant is VERY lucky that you guys rock so hard!

  3. God bless the Magic Eraser! I swear that thing is the best invention EVER. Finally, the handles on my fridge are clean. I’d tried everything! (hey – it’s the little things…)

    As for the rest of it… It serves as a strong reminder. I am SO glad I am not a landlord anymore… You are a saint!

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