Cleaning a Korean Apartment: A Shared Experience

Believe it or not, if you’re moving into a South Korean apartment, chances are very high it will be very dirty. Nate and Megan Finch, expats who have been living in South Korea for years, share their own experience to help you prepare.

Many expats are shocked to find some Korean apartments so dirty. This post is quoted directly from their blog:  – Enjoy, but don’t lose your lunch!

The Arrival Store - Nate and MEgan FinchSo, you might have noticed, but there has been a significant passage of time since our last update. That’s simply due to the fact that 1) I am lazy and 2) I was dreading the next entry. It is an experience that I never hope to relive and I have nightmares about if I dwell on too much. Trying to dredge up the horrible memories took a good deal of gearing up and mental preparation. So here goes nothing.


As the spoiler in our last post told you, we did not get to stay in our big, beautiful apartment. The situation, in brief, was that my school was originally renting it out to a a bunch of students who went to the school. The students all left and the school was left with a huge apartment and no one to live in it. So they gave it to us, hoping we wouldn’t mind living there with the other English teacher. But that didn’t really work. Not only were we hesitant (and a little weirded out that they would ask us) to live with a complete stranger, but she was too! So while we didn’t have the guts to tell my school no, she did. (whew!) But that meant they were getting rid of the big, beautiful apartment and sticking us both in separate, smaller places. So we moved.

Now, something about moving in Korea. It’s gross. In America, when you move you have to clean your apartment or else you won’t get your damage deposit back. It is a BIG pain in the butt, but something that we all just suck up and do. In Korea, that is not the case at all. The cleaning duty falls on the new tenant to clean out the last tenant’s nastiness. It is a tradition that I could live without. But we had no choice, we had to move. We weren’t dreading it though. My school told me that they had already gone and cleaned it for us, so that we would get to skip the usual dirty-Korean-apartment initiation. Great!!! So the day comes and…

Yuuuuuuup. Lies!! It was SO dirty!



The bathroom walls. They were a beautiful dingy orange which required hours of scrubbing. This lovely film covered pretty much every surface in the apartment.

2012-09-01 19.41.44

(Click to enlarge… But be careful… It might get ya!!!)

The hair. We got to clean the previous tenant’s thick, black hair from every crevice including the shower, the drains, and the fridge?!?!

2012-09-01 18.01.34

The freezer. At first we couldn’t open it because it was broken but once that was fixed we were greeted with…a huge block of ice!! Our freezer has drawers and someone decided it would be a good idea to fill them with water and freeze it!! Because, well, why not?



We would also like to give a shout-out to the mountains of mouse poop under our sink that Nate got the honor of cleaning out and the black mold that has found its way into every crevice of the bathroom and was overtaking the fridge. And how can we forget the “baseboard” border of black dirt (soot?) that bordered our tiny studio apartment… as well as the window sills… and the windows…

Thank you to all participating forms of grime for giving us a total of 12 hours of intense, deep-cleaning fun. We appreciate all that you added to our move-in experience.

Stay tuned for the new tour!!