Do it Myself or hire a Crew?

jeriJune 26, 2009

Hi

My husband and I just purchased a 3,300 sq ft single story home. The place is a mess. I think several families had been living is this place simultaneously as well as breeding dogs.

How do I clean this place? Should I hire a company? Can I do it myself? Would you?

If I do it myself  can you all tell me the best and fastest way to clean and sanitize *everything*? The oven is so gross, I just want to rip it out, but then I wouldnÂt be able to cook!

Thanks for all the help.

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graywings123

In my opinion, you should only do it yourself if you have a whole lot of time available and the experience and knowledge of how to tackle each project. Because that's what it is - a series of projects. There isn't one best and fastest way to clean and sanitize everything. You need to be making a series of decisions, such as whether to clean or replace carpeting, whether to sand the hardwood floors, whether to replace the oven.

There are two ways to sanitize, with chemicals and with heat.

Without more information, that's about the best I can suggest.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 3:04PM
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annie1971

If I were in a position to hire help, I wouldn't hesitate to do so. However, I would do it on a project by project basis. Line up your priorities and start on a list of projects. You might want to get some help initially with cleaning the bathrooms, kitchen, floors, etc. -- whatever can be done to make it livable while you're working on that list.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 3:42PM
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jeri

There are only 2 rooms with nasty carpeting that we will pull up and trash immediately. DH also plans on replacing the 3 toilets ASAP. The rest of the floors are a mix of tile and linoleum that we plan to live with until we are ready to replace with hardwood floors.

The entire house will be a DIY project (DH calls it an adventure) that I expect to take years to fully complete. Fortunately, DH is very skilled  itÂs time he is short on.

I just want the place to be as clean and sanitary as possible so that we can move in.

The double wall oven does have a self clean mode  so I can start there I suppose. But just touching the oven door handle leaves my hands sticky (yuk). The built-in 48" refrigerator (that is still on thank goodness) might not be in bad shape once I can clean all the spills and mess out.

IÂm tempted to hire a crew. I "think" there are companies that do this sort of cleaning  right? IÂm just not sure I shouldnÂt roll up my sleeves, grab some thick gloves, and get a bucket of - - hot soapy water with bleach in it?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 3:45PM
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jeri

Should I use a service such as Molly Maids?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 4:01PM
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graywings123

I would start with a bucket of Mr. Clean mixed with water, a pair of rubber gloves, and microfiber cloths - purchased in bulk, 24-30 clothes, in the automobile section of Costco, Wal-Mart, and other stores. Skip the bleach, since the Mr. Clean or a similar product will disinfect.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 5:09PM
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graywings123

That should be 24-30 cloths, not clothes.

I did this very thing a couple months ago when I moved into a new-old house. It wasn't as dirty as yours seems to be, but it was dirty enough. I used the microfiber cloths for cleaning and saved a fortune in paper towels. The reason you need so many is that you really do use them for everything and they shouldn't be washed with other fabrics.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 6:42PM
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annie1971

My hubby and I cleaned my MIL's home that had been neglected for about 10 years. It wasn't trashed -- just neglected. I used buckets of water/vinegar/rubbing alcohol on all cleaning surfaces that did not need rinsing. Floors and tubs, etc. that needed rinsing I used the same mix plus a few tsps of Charlie's Soap liquid cleaner. Don't panic! It will take time and will be worth it in the end. You don't need bleach -- I don't even own a bottle anymore. PRIORITIZE! You'll do good!
Annie

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 7:30PM
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darenka

If you have a friend or relative, try get them to help and repay them in time. For some reason, these tasks are less dreadful if you have a friend who can help you laugh, about the whole thing. I don't really like thick rubber gloves because they are too bulky, but for a job like this, I'd buy a box of latex gloves and change out as needed. For some reason, your own dirt is less scary than strangers. That way you don't have to come into contact with the foreign crud. Promise yourself that you will devote 1-2-3 days (whatever you can mentally tackle), and if it's too much, you can call in the crew. I think I can handle ANYTHING as long as it is for a limited duration. I don't think you'll need them, but if you do, call around. The prices vary tremendously, and the best help is usually a small 1-3 private outfit. And while it's not likely, if you live in Phoenix I could actually recommend a few people. (We've had to hire people to help my mom keep up with her house.) Honestly, unless you have lots of money, this really is a job you can tackle--in stages, with a back out plan for sanity sake.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 9:09PM
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sewhappy_2007

If I were you, and decided to hire help, I WOULD NOT use a "Molly Maids', 'Merry Maids', etc. type of service. My experience with those types of services are that they only do light surface cleaning - even when hired for routine cleaning of an already reasonably clean house. You would be much better off hiring a firm that specializes in disaster cleanup - like for after a fire or a flood. They are better equipped for the big jobs.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 9:27AM
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lindac

Jeri, you don't sound like you are ready to dive in....so I would hire a crew of the sort that cleans up after a fire or flood...
But the advice from all is good....just dive in...start in one corner and continue....
Remember....if you start and get overwhelmed, you can always hire a crew to finish.
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 11:01AM
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jeri

For some reason, your own dirt is less scary than strangers

Exactly! :-)

Thanks for all the great replies.

At least the house is empty  for some reason that helps. We signed loan docs today, so the place should be ours by Tuesday or Wednesday. :-)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 8:19PM
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norcalpeetnik

Congrats on signing the loan docs - you are getting close!

I would recommend hiring a crew to clean before you move your belongings in if your budget permits it.

You'll have plenty of work to do with all the DIY projects ahead of you (not to mention all the work moving from one house to another). If you hire a crew to do the cleaning, then you can put your time and energy into your house projects.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 1:40PM
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jeri

How would I go about looking for a crew? IÂve Googled "Disaster Cleaning Newbury Park" and "Move-In Cleaning Newbury Park"  but IÂm not finding anything. I have a friend who owns a beauty shop and recommends the girl who cleans her shop  but I wonder if this is too large of a job for just one gal?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 9:22PM
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dilly_dally

From what you have posted it sounds like it would be too big of a job for a one person "cleaning lady" or one of those maid service places.

Try Googling *disaster clean up* and the state you are located in. Also try asking your realtor (or any realtor) for recommendations. They usually know of places that do big clean ups for properties before they go on the market. They will come in with the right equipment and industrial strength products.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 4:41PM
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annie1971

I really don't think you need disaster cleanup. You haven't had a disaster, you have a dirty house! Check your local cleaning companies; ask around for independent cleaning people. It doesn't have to be done all at once. Just give yourself time to get it done before moving in. Disaster crews will charge you unnecessarily (and it may go on your house's record for future insurance issues. (yes, it happens). Calm down; one step at a time. Congrats on the new house -- you will make it a home.
Annie

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 9:06PM
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norcalpeetnik

Great suggestion by dilly to ask a realtor for suggestions. Oftentimes contractors also have cleaning crews so if you know any GCs or people in the construction business you can ask them for a recommendation too.

As for the gal who works for the beauty shop, perhaps she knows some experienced people that can come with her to help? Or ask your friend if anyone she knows has a cleaning crew that specializes in homes.

Make sure, whoever you hire, that you spell out exactly what needs to be cleaned and what your expectations are for the finished product (in writing).

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 10:30PM
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eteinne

Why don't you just open your phone book and call Service Master? They are coming to my place this Fri. I have cleaned as much as I was able and own a cleaning service and had the entire crew here of 3 days. I have vaulted ceilings and skylights and they are going to do what we were unable to reach. They have a cleaner for everthing.

I know this is off topic but I know that there have been posts about Cigg. smoke. I smoke and was unable to stand this place! I would choke when I came in the door. The source of the problem was the window frames and the wooden clothes poles in the closets. The window frames were stained and never sealed with varnish, poly, or what ever they use. I sent all of the mini blinds out to a blind cleaning service whom I have use for years. I started to wash the frames around the windows and it reeked of smoke. I had a painter come in and seal them and the smell went away. I just thought that I would pass this on.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 10:34PM
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dilly_dally

"I really don't think you need disaster cleanup. You haven't had a disaster, you have a dirty house!"

The OP mentioned that the house has been used for breeding dogs and if so that might mean urine stains in the carpeting all the way down to soaking the wood floors. This project sounds like it is more than just cleaning a "dirty house". It may even need things to be ripped out and replaced.

One of the first things I would do is have an inspector come in and check for signs of fleas from the animals, and for roaches and rodents. The house may need to be tented and bombed before doing anything.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 1:27AM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

I once bought an old Victorian that had been repo'd (got it for a song). The old owners had of course left it in terrible condition - ruined everything they could. They had also breed big dogs that had also ruined lots of things. So, I was faced with what you seem to be facing now. I was not able at that time to pay anyone to come do any of the clean up. And, dilly dally is right, the urine will have soaked through everything. But - a cleaning crew is not going to rip up the carpet. So, my opinion is just hire a cleaning crew (the suggestion of a crew that cleans new homes is a good one), get everything as liveable as possible, and the stuff that is not liveable (carpets, etc) you and DH can do. I think you will have better feelings about the home and the work that will be needed if the home is as clean as possible when you move in, instead of cleaning it THEN having to start ripping out dirty things also. Good luck! Sounds like this house will be hard work - but it will be sooo worth it.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 1:40PM
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socks

I'd do a combination--working along with a helper/helpers. Sounds like there is enough work to go around. Agree with previous poster--skip the cleaning companies. They just want to dust and mop the floor. Ask other people you know (painters, gardeners, etc.) if they have friends or family who need work and don't mind working hard. Depends on your area, but sometimes high schoolers are good.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 2:09PM
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albert_135

When we bought such a house the Realtor had a list persons to do such things. We eventually employed a cleaning company, a heating and AC company, a handyman and a plumber.

The AC people found a problem with the plumbing we would have never found cleaning it ourselves.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 11:03AM
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Frankie_in_zone_7

Most of the chain cleaning services will do this kind of cleaning; they will come out and give a price, and you can expect to pay more for it's being a first-time/dirty job. For example, while they might charge something like $150 for a regular, biweekly cleaning where they've just been there 2 weeks ago and are "keeping up", they may charge twice that or more for a grunge cleanup.

Some won't do ovens or windows or various stuff, and others will have a surcharge for certain items, so to get the most good, I would try to find a service that will really do most everything, or hire a combination of services--cleaning service + window washers, etc--if you can afford it. Remember, it will be time for you to do regular maintenance cleaning before you know it, and extra cleaning every time you do a project or rip something out, plus you'll want to spend time organizing your stuff. So it can be a real help to get the initial basic cleaning done professionally.

You will want to make a list of stuff that they should NOT d--no point in cleaning carpet you're ripping out-- or even to wait to hire your cleaning after some things, if for example, you're planning to rip out the carpet as soon as you take possesion, but before you move in, you might take a few days to do that and have the cleaners scheduled to clean after. Depends on where the most grunge is.

If you have loads of time and less $$, then it will be more important to do it yourself. That's also important if you will go crazy if a cleaning service "misses a spot" and you feel gipped. Also, cleaning the house from top to bottom yourself can be a good way to "get familiar" with current state of affairs of all the surfaces, finishes, nooks and crannies and update your to-do list, but you may already feel you've done that at inspection and preparation for your offer.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 6:16PM
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graywings123

Also, cleaning the house from top to bottom yourself can be a good way to "get familiar" with current state of affairs of all the surfaces, finishes, nooks and crannies and update your to-do list, but you may already feel you've done that at inspection and preparation for your offer.

I second this. You learn a lot about a house by cleaning it.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 9:18AM
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jaybird

We used a restoration service. It cost about $700 to completely clean and even repair a couple of things. Best $700 ever spent!!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 11:07AM
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