When you vacate a rental, it is usually expected to be clean. Each property manager or rental agency has its own requirements, and if you don’t meet them, you can be subject to fines or security deposit deductions. With all the hard work and hassle that come with vacating a unit and moving, sometimes the last thing you want to do is clean it. However, the costs of professional cleaning crews can be a budget buster. Here are four things to consider when debating whether you should DIY or hire out your move-out cleaning!

What Are the Expectations?
First and foremost, fully understand what the expectations are. Some places conduct a professional cleaning between residents regardless of the unit’s condition; in this case, a few hours of your own time may be sufficient. Others will conduct a “white glove inspection” and expect the unit to be immediately ready for new residents. In this scenario, a professional company will likely do a more thorough cleaning so that you pass the final inspection. Before hiring a cleaning crew or committing your own time, ask your property manager/agency for clarification. Ask specifically what will be checked and how clean it needs to be. Consult your lease for details and even ask neighbors what they’ve heard and seen with other residents moving out.

What Is Your Timeline?
Move-out cleanings typically need to be done once the unit is completely empty and can take up to a full day (depending on how big and dirty the unit is). As such, your moving timeline may play into your decision. If you have the hours to put toward cleaning your old unit before moving into your new one, the DIY route may be worth the cost savings versus a cleaning crew. If the moving truck comes one day and you have to be in your new town and new apartment in very short order, hiring it out can save you precious hours. The old adage, “Do you have time or money?” certainly applies here. If you have the hours in your moving timeline to get it done, consider DIYing to save the cost. If there is just too much to do and not enough time to do it, hire it out.

What Is Your Access to Cleaning Supplies?
Take into account how inconvenient it is to hold onto your cleaning supplies. If you’re moving across town, keeping back various supplies isn’t that big of a deal. But if you’re moving out of state or across the country, those things may get packed into a moving truck before you have a chance to do the final cleaning. Hiring a crew will allow you to transport, use up and/or give away cleaning supplies before your big move. If you need to do the cleaning yourself, keep back a few disposable items and ask friends or neighbors to borrow heavy-duty items like vacuums, mops, brooms and steam cleaners.

Do You Like to Clean?
Lastly, consider how much you enjoy the hard and dirty work of deep cleaning. The cleanliness expectations certainly come into play here. If your unit just needs to be “generally clean,” a quick dusting and vacuum is easy enough for most people to handle. However, if the inspection goes under the oven, inside refrigerators and to stovetop burner plates, blinds, landscaping and light fixtures, be sure you’re up for the task. Professional cleaning crews typically have the supplies, equipment and know-how for tackling common inspection “hot spots,” but if you love (or at least don’t mind!) tackling dust, dirt, grease and grime, doing it yourself will save you a good chunk of change!

A Note About Carpets
Quite often, carpet requirements will be outlined in your lease separately from the rest of the cleaning details. Many rentals will require a professional carpet cleaning before vacating, and they may even demand proof by receipt before returning your security deposit. Other agencies/property managers may do a professional cleaning at their discretion between residents, meaning a simple spot clean and vacuum will clear you. Like with the rest of the cleaning requirements, get clarification from your lease/manager/rental agency. If a professional carpet cleaner is required, ask for recommendations, book early and take advantage of “move out” promotions when possible.

Doing the cleaning yourself will save money but will require supplies, sweat and time. Hiring a crew will save you those things but can cost a pretty penny. Whether you hire it out or DIY, it’s a decision that is influenced by many factors. No matter what you decide, be sure to get clarification on the requirements and set aside the necessary time and money to get it done right!

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