Property Management Blog

Move Out Cleaning: Hire a Cleaning Service or Do it Yourself?

System - Friday, April 22, 2022

Tenants can be filthy. As a landlord, you probably have heard plenty of horror stories (hopefully not from personal experience) about some seriously funky messes left for the landlord to clean. People do not value things that aren’t theirs - it’s called The Endowment Effect.

Essentially, “the endowment effect” is a phenomenon where you overvalue things you own simply because those things are yours. That is why it’s a good idea to include a clause in your lease agreement that renters should hire a professional cleaning service before they leave. 

But what happens when tenants ignore the fine print and move out without cleaning?

Do you hire a cleaning service or do it yourself? It’s only cleaning, right? How hard can it be?

Today will tackle this sticky question and conclude on the best option for you as a busy landlord.

How Long Will The Cleaning Take Me?

There’s no solid answer to this question, only best guesses. 

It all depends on the condition that your tenants left the property. Eviction of a large family with pets will likely take you much longer to clean than a couple with no kids or pets who forgot to clean when they moved out. 

On average, it takes one labor hour to clean 250 sq. ft. With this, we know the total time it takes to clean your rental property.

Let’s say you have a 2,500 sq. ft. rental. If it’s left in the average condition, it will take you ten labor hours to clean your property (2,500 / 250). 

mopping the floors

What Is Your Time Worth?

Calculating your opportunity costs is extremely helpful when determining whether you should hire a cleaning service or not. You’ll need to calculate your hourly rate and then compare it to how much hiring a cleaning service would cost. 

To determine your hourly rate, you divide your annual salary by the number of hours you work per year (the average is 1,920). 

For example, an individual with an annual salary of $60,000 would make $31.25 per hour (60,000 / 1,920). Now let’s add that calculation to the last section’s example of your 2,500 sq. ft. home. Since it will take you ten labor hours to clean the property, it would cost you $310.25 for the labor.

This equation does not consider the cost of cleaning supplies and equipment.

Do I Have All The Equipment?

You may not need a degree to be able to clean, but having the right supplies and equipment will make a huge difference. Scrubbing grout with a generic cleaning solution and a toothbrush will take boatloads of elbow grease. You can cut your cleaning time and efforts in half if you have the right tools.

Here’s a professional cleaning supply list from Merit Maids:

  • Vacuum (with beater brush for carpet)

  • Flat mop

  • Microfiber cloths

  • Microfiber mop heads

  • Steel wool

  • Round-headed brush

  • 2-foot step ladder

  • Extender pole

  • Spray Bottles

  • Cleaning caddy

  • Tilex

  • Saniquat disinfectant

  • Bullseye degreaser

  • Earth Sense floor cleaner

  • Windex

  • Mr. Muscle oven cleaner

  • Paper towels

  • Duster heads

  • Toilet brush

  • Trash bags

Gathering all these supplies and equipment will save you time, but these items can be costly. A cleaning service fee would include them bringing their cleaning supplies. 

cleaning products

How Much Does A Cleaning Service Cost?

Cleaning companies have a few different pricing options. Some companies charge by the hour, some by the square footage, and some charge a flat rate based on size and other variables.

No matter the pricing structure, a cleaning company will cost between $40 and $80 per labor hour. So your 2,500 sq. ft. home could cost anywhere from $400 - $800 to hire a cleaning company. 

That seems like a lot. Until you start thinking of all the other opportunities you can create with those ten labor hours if you outsource the cleaning?

With ten labor hours, you can improve your property, increase the rental’s value, find tenants, and research other potential property investments.

Should I Hire An Independent Cleaner Or A Franchise?

After considering the opportunity, equipment, and energy costs, it makes more sense to hire a cleaning company instead of the DIY solution. Plus, having a vetted cleaning team as a part of your vendor list will make your life much easier. 

Independent Cleaner Pros/Cons

  • Pro - Less expensive
  • Pro - More flexible schedule
  • Con - May not carry insurance
  • Con - No guarantees
  • Con - Harder to find
  • Con - Typically solo and will take longer to clean

cleaning the kitchen

Established Companies Pros/Cons

  • Pro - Easy to find
  • Pro - Bonded and insured
  • Pro - Carry a quality guarantee
  • Pro - Faster cleaning with a team
  • Con - More expensive 
  • Con - Rigid schedule

When it comes time to clean your property, it’s always best to outsource the cleaning to someone with the experience and equipment. That gives you the freedom to perform more essential landlord duties that you can’t always outsource.

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