Not every DIY home project is worth it. When your security deposit is on the line or when the job involves specialty equipment and products, you’re better off (and may even save money) hiring a pro to help. Here are three times DIY cleaning doesn’t end well.
When Your Carpets and Upholstery Are Stained
Sure, you can rent a carpet and upholstery cleaning machine at the grocery or home improvement store for $30. But then you have to lug it home, set it up, and use the thing. And as someone who’s used one, it’s the using of the thing that’s a real bear. It’s much more physical labor than you might expect, and I say that as someone who is petite but quite strong.
You could, of course, buy a small portable carpet and upholstery cleaner for $80-$130, but those are better for smaller cleanup jobs — if you tried to clean an entire carpeted room with one, your back would never forgive you.
When you consider the cost and labor involved, it becomes a lot easier to make the command decision to hire a professional. Go for it!
When the Plumbing is Clogged
Average national cost to hire a plumber: $100
Here’s a truth about me (really, it’s even in my book!): I will not snake a drain. It’s just a place where I draw a line in life about what kind of nasty job I will and will not do. I’m perfectly capable of going to the hardware store and plunking down anywhere from $25 to $3000 (seriously, there are $3000 drain snakes! In fairness, those are for, like, industrial jobs.) and doing the snaking myself. But I choose not to.
The same thing applies to many other plumbing jobs, like replacing a faucet or fixing a leak. Plumbing is specialized work, and many times it’s simply better to hire a professional rather than risk making a bad situation worse because you overestimated your handiness with a wrench.
When You’re Moving Out
Average national cost for a deep clean: $120
The most common question I get when it comes to hiring someone to clean a home is, “Is this okay for me to do?” The answer is yes, yes yes yes! But also, I understand why people are asking: Cleaning your home is something that many of us feel we ought to take care of ourselves. And so, what they’re really asking me is, “Jolie, do I have your permission to outsource this work that you do yourself, and that you tell us how to do ourselves.”
Yes, you have my permission. You don’t need it, of course, but I know it makes people feel better to get the go-ahead from their friendly neighborhood cleaning expert!
But here’s one specific time when I want you to REALLY THINK SERIOUSLY about hiring a cleaning service: Before you move out of a rental apartment or home, in order to get the security deposit back. Moving is already a huge undertaking, so outsourcing the work of deep cleaning can absolutely be worth the money, especially if you think you’ll be at risk for losing a much larger chunk of change in the form of your security deposit because your tub looks like it’s coated with old butter.
Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist for Lifehacker. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling book My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag … And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha. Her weekly cleaning advice podcast appears on Deadspin.com and is available on Acast and iTunes.
* All pricing in this blog post reflect the national average cost for each category at the time of post writing. For current cost estimates specific to your location, please use our pricing tool.