Tips when hiring house cleaners

krissie55May 27, 2011

From my personal experience with house cleaners I advise making a list in DETAIL as to what you expect them to do each visit. Make two copies, one for them and one for you, so there will be no question what you hired them to do. Do not assume they will automatically do "all things" that are necessary to keep a home clean. Make sure they understand there will be no rotation as to what they clean this time or the next time unless you specify that in the beginning.

Hire house cleaners by the job rather than by the hour. Clean your house yourself and see how long it takes to do a good job, then pay accordingly. They have the privilege of accepting or rejecting the job you have to offer, not the other way around. You are the employer and they are the employee.

Be sure they understand your "definition" of clean. My definition is that dust will be "removed", not scattered or left to become aged (brown).

Be sure they understand you expect them to use "clean" cloths to clean appliances in the kitchen and not cloths or other items used on other parts of the house or other clients houses. Also that using one rag all over the house with cleaner is not cleaning, it is just spreading dirt from one spot to the other.

House cleaners have a tendency to do a great job the first few months and then slack off. They will appear to be working, but, look close, they may not be actually cleaning the surfaces and a white glove test will fail.

Question them as to what tools and/or cleaners they will be using in the process of cleaning. You can supply the cleaners of your choice or use what the house cleaners bring.

If you want the floors mopped and rinsed, be sure and tell them or they will leave dirty water on the floors and soon you will have dirty grout on tile floors. A wet mop used on all floors throughout the house without being rinsed off and on will only spread dirt, not clean.

Perhaps this will be of help to others, I learned the hard way. I now have personally cleaned my home back to my definition of "clean" and it feels so great!

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WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a

What great information, Krissee. I had a housecleaner who did a superb job, but she moved to another state. I have done without a housecleaner since then, but am seriously considering hiring one again and have been trying to remember all the things "Mary" did. I will make it into a list, thanks to your info.

Do you have a list that you have made up yourself? If so, I would love to have it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 12:26PM
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Walnutcreek, you were very fortunate to have had an excellent housecleaner that did the things necessary to keep a house clean.

After researching the internet, I found that most housecleaners do the minimum and call it housecleaning. It takes more than the minimum to actually clean a house and keep it "clean". Some people are happy with the minimum, I am not.

I also learned that watching a housecleaner supposedly clean does not always mean they are doing a good job, just looks that way. A feather duster can be flipped here and there and not really remove dust especially when it does not actually touch the objects! Off and on do a white glove test.

When I make a list of things to do on regular basis, it will be so long no one will want the job!!LOL!! It will be in DETAIL and then some.

There are many things that need to be done on a regular basis or some areas will collect and collect dust until they are dirty with brown dust.

Look around your house and list all horizontal surfaces, from door facings/door tops, to floor, all areas where dust collects, areas around/behind furniture, door fronts, appliances (outside & under) large or small, backsplashes, wall hangings, light fixtures, ceiling fans, open shelves, decor items on walls or furniture, artificial plants, refrigerator top/front, outside of kitchen built-in appliances, door fronts, etc. Bathrooms cleaned with cleaner/rinse, inside/outside toilets under rim too), entire mirrors cleaned...not just a lick here and there, bathtub/wall surround/shower clean/rinse, clean walls below where towels hang.

Also specify clean rag for various items to be cleaned. For instance a rag designated for mirror cleaning, another for toilet cleaning, another for counter cleaning. I hate it when a dirty toilet rag is used on a counter top!

I despise feather dusters, they do not remove dust, just scatter it. However, the white static cling type dusters work great (do not scatter dust). A quick swish to and fro on objects and dust is gone. Same with window blinds, and other surfaces to be dusted. Shake ever so often close to the floor (vacumn will collect the dust that falls off). Use one on long handle for things higher and remove from handle for things lower. They do a great job in only a short time. Dust from high to low then vacumn cleaner will take care of the dust on floor. Doing this I never had brown dust buildup. An occasional dusting using a slightly damp cloth is reassurance there will be no missed dust over long periods of time.

Good luck on finding someone who will clean according to your definition of the word "clean".

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 5:36PM
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To be able to determine if a certain house cleaning company can be trusted, you need to do a little background check. Browse through their client list and if possible call some of them to check if they are satisfied with the services of that particular cleaning company. Ask the company for references so that you can contact them and conduct a background check.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 3:49AM
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I've never known anyone who was truly hsppy with a house cleaner. My Mom hsad one, who broke things and threw them away. a friend had one who intimidated her so much the friend either left home while the cleaner was working or stayed upstairs while she cleaned downstairs and vice-versa. Another friend's housecleaner put a hand-painted vase in dishwater and the paint came off. So i've decided-only YOU know what to clean and how. I do all my own housework, thank-you. I have a close friend who cleans houses for a living. She charges $100 per cleaning, too expensive for me. If I spend a whole day cleaning my house, I consider it $100 in my pocket.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 11:11AM
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"I've never known anyone who was truly hsppy [sic] with a house cleaner."

I once had a house cleaner with whom I was truly "hsppy". She was from Columbia and her spouse would drop her and her child off. She had the most beautiful blanket and the child always played on that blanket. Her instructions were to do whatever she thought necessary and to take whatever she felt she deserved from the cash in a cookie jar in the kitchen. Sometimes she would even wash the outside windows. The price was always fair.

The INS came and took her away. They left the kid with here mother. I often wonder whatever happened to him and that blanket.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 2:09PM
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Here is a great "list" for house cleaners. Hope it is o.k. to post the URL. If not o.k., moderator please remove this post.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 4:24PM
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I shortened this response up- I agree with the original post other than the list idea didn't work for me and my housekeeper. I got tired of trying to enforce it, unsuccessfully.

It's great to come home from work and smell the pinesol, but it's not worth it for me. When I let my housekeeper go, I added to the kids chore list and spent her salary on plants for my garden as a thank you to myself for a doing more than my share of jobs I hated and getting it done right!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 7:58AM
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Sorry for my typo above "hsppy" yes, of course, was supposed to be "Happy." Oh, I met a woman once in a store, we were waiting in a line to exchange some purchases. She told me she worked as a housecleaner, told me how hard she worked, what she did and how tired she was. I was amazed at the things she told me. She did so very much for her customers, spoke excellent English (tho she looked Spanish) and was quite a bit older than me. She told me she was going to buy one of her customers a soap dish because the kids always left the soap in the tub. Amazing! If I'd had any sense (and the money) I would have hired her!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 12:04PM
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I love this post! To begin with the "List" will not do U any good if they are unable to read "English!" Leave notes, they will B unread! What R U thinking? I have a Master's in French and clean houses, because it is satisfying to me. Plus the fact that I charge a lot of $, $250 to $300 a house and they fly me to open their, "Winter," and
"Summer," homes before they arrive. I have had my clients 4 over 25 years and have a waiting list.

As far as the rags go, buy your own, an wash them yourself. I wash all of mine in 2 cups of bleach, but have my own washer. If they R cleaning, they live in apts, and that will cost them $ so God knows, what will B washed with what?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 4:49PM
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We had terrific house cleaners who I found on Angie's List. They were a married couple and did a great job. One day they brought their daughter to "help." She looked to be in her early 20s and did NOT look happy to be there. When we got home, our Persian rug's fringe was half ripped out. I called and told them I would not be needing their services any more. I suspect the daughter did it and they didn't even realize it.

I work full time and have several disabilities, so I really need to find someone to clean my house. Thank goodness it is small!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 5:38PM
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Here are some tips from someone who has cleaned a few houses in my time:

Remove unnecessary stuff off of surfaces. I once cleaned a house that had 28 bottles in the bathtub/shower combo. Removing and replacing those 28 bottles took a LONG time!!

Get adequate lighting, especially in bathrooms -- have you ever tried to do a good job cleaning a shower that is as dark as a cave?

Pick up dirty clothes, dog toys, and other stuff off the floor. Again, a time waster for the person cleaning your house. Make counters as clear as possible so the person cleaning is not wasting time moving stuff instead of doing "real" cleaning.

Have adequate supplies in EVERY room. At one house we went to the person owned ONE toilet bowl brush and expected us to carry it throughout the house -- yuck! Moving supplies from room to room (especially bathrooms) wastes time.

Make sure your vacuum is clean and in good condition every time. Your house cleaner should not have to service your vacuum. Even the best Dyson is not going to clean well when the beater bar has dog hair completely wrapped around it...

Expectations are important. For instance I would not move heavy furniture to vacuum behind it or remove heavy rugs to clean floors under it -- but that is just me...

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 9:40AM
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Stir Fryi:

You have excellent suggestions, however, some house cleaners still will not do a good job. They appear to be busy, however, results says otherwise.

Do you have suggestions how to hire a house cleaner that will actually clean the house and not just pretend to?

My house has no pets, only a few things on top of furniture because I do not want to pay for house cleaner's time to move stuff, want the house cleaned. Bathroom counter items in basket or on a tray, no clutter on the floors. Bottles on bathtub contained. Toilet brushes in each bathroom, vacuum cleaners 2 upstairs and 2 downstairs. Moving furniture not expected. Cleaning supplies/rags in all bathrooms and kitchen. However, house cleaners preferred to use their own cleaning supplies. Probably used one cloth per day for all customers just smearing dirt from one place to the other.

An employer should never have to "clean" the house after the house cleaners leave. Crumbs under the dining table should be gone, floor swept/vacuum and mopped. Mop should be rinsed during the mopping in order to not just spread dirty water and leave to dry. There should be no "brown dust" on anything (dust allowed to remain over period of time will turn brown).

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 3:57PM
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My MIL had a maid service chain cleaning her house. They would break stuff and hide it. She ended up firing them. Guess the service is only as good as the individual branch manager.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 9:36PM
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If you click on jokcoen's link, it brings you to a housekeeping service. Not spam, but does provide lists of what their housecleaners do-in both a "regular" and "deep" cleaning. I printed both lists as a guide for myself. I do my own housecleaning. There's no shame in doing all your own housecleaning-Did you know Lucille Ball cleaned her own house? It helped her relax.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 6:57AM
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I didn't mean that link about bad children and being single, I mean the one called "Professional House Cleaning." Sorry for my goof.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 10:48AM
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I recall a thread here, maybe a year ago, close to this topic. My takeaway then was: the poster did a pretty poor job of negotiating and decision-making in this area. It might be new for some (never hired or fired an employee, wasn't clear about expectations and price, etc.) and there's always an unknown variable even if the person cleans all your friend's homes.

I think the benefit of a chain like Merry Maids is some (perceived) accountability but that means nothing if they're terrible. I've found that personal recommendations and long-standing local companies, at least, offer the most fair shot. I would totally provide the potential cleaner with the list and ask how much it will be. If it's not reasonable to you, don't hire them or cut your list. This is a human being who deserves good, kind communication (you benefit from it more actually) but is also an employee who can be fired at-will. There are a ton of options out there.

GW is almost all posts inquiring about a product or service instead of buying blindly. Why would you hire someone to clean your house without doing the same? I've had the same lady cleaning my apt for over 10 years. It's a pretty simple business to start, which is why she did it while she pursued citizenship. (We even went to her oath ceremony.) After using a few friend's cleaners at my weekend house for six months, I ended up going with a local service who manage the people and give me single contact for all my questions. It's worked out great, but costs about 15% more. It took a while to find someone I liked, but I wouldn't settle for less than what I want. It seems that people do for some reason.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 9:52AM
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I love my housecleaner. She has cleaned our house for probably 15 years. I think she does a great job but I must say I don't obsess over what rag she uses for what. I'm at work when she cleans so I'll never know. She's also never damaged anything in all the time she's worked for us. She's a delightful woman and has become like a friend over the years. I sometimes wonder when she's going to retire. I'm afraid I'll never find another person like her. I've had a few housecleaners over the years and English is the only language any of them speak. I don't think it's very common to have non English speaking housecleaners where I live - though I've noticed that more with commercial cleaning people.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 12:59AM
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