To Clean Or Not To Clean?

Typically, I’m a “do it myself and save money” type of person, but I think I may have just run into a situation where I may actually hire someone to complete a task that I could do myself instead.

Here’s the deal: when we move out of our apartment, we’ll have about a week during which the apartment needs to be cleaned up for inspection, at which point we hand over our keys and walk out the door. No problem, right? Well, if you’ve ever moved, you often discover that when you’ve emptied things out, there’s a pretty sizeable mess left behind. The carpet needs shampooed, the shower needs very carefully scrubbed, the baseboards need cleaned, the closets need cleaned, and so on – just little things that you don’t notice living in a place.

Since my wife, who will be well into her eighth month of pregnancy at the time, will be basically unable to help with many pieces of it due to the work and the cleaning chemical fumes, this becomes a task primarily for me to accomplish. I estimated that it would take me about six to eight hours to get everything in tip-top shape (I’m not particularly efficient at tasks like this).

At the same time, I have a friend who actually cleans houses as an individual maid service. I asked her about her rates and she said that she could get that done for $60 while providing her own chemicals and cleaning supplies. Given that doing it myself would incur some cost in this department, this reduces the overall expense for her down to $55 or so.

So, let’s say it would take seven hours for me to clean the apartment and I would effectively be paying her $56 for the service. This would mean that effectively my time was worth $8 an hour during the cleaning time. Another thing to note is that we will receive our deposit back after the inspection, equal to a month’s rent, that could be used in part to pay the cleaning service.

I’ve decided to go for the service, and here’s why. First of all, my time is simply worth more than $8 an hour, particularly when that $8 is not directly part of my budget at the moment (it will come from the refunded deposit that we paid several years ago). Second, I work full time and also devote a few hours a day to this site, which means that my remaining time is precious – I can think of many better uses for that time than scrubbing the floor of an apartment that I’ll never set foot in again.

Is this the most cost-efficient option? Clearly it isn’t. But given that we’re also settling into a new house, my wife will be near her due date, and I’m working full time and also focusing on this project, my time is much more valuable than the time spent cleaning out the shower.

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