To Do List for Cleaning Service

lov2gardenJuly 26, 2007

I once had a perfect cleaning service. They came in a group of 4, stayed about 2 hours I paid $80. and I never saw any dirt in my house over, under or behind anything. Years later I read Speed Cleaning and realized they wore those aprons. Then I moved and have never been as satisfied with any service or person including myself!

It has become clear that I need to fire myself for doing a crummy job and not being at all dependable. In the past, I've found that the more specific the expectations are from the beginning, the more likely I'll get what I want. However, if you try and add something after a while, it's seen as an "extra" or taken as criticism.

I'd like to have a comprehensive list to give the service or person to follow, which would include the once a year, seasonal, monthly and regular things that need to be done to keep a clean house.

Do you know of a source, book, online article, etc that gives such a detailed cleaning list and schedule? If you don't, can you help me make one by sharing yours?

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Opps! I forgot to say that I want to avoid the need to sit down and make a to do list for the cleaner(s) every time they come. I wouldn't mind making up a checklist notebook for them to follow. I just want to be sure I don't leave anything off the schedule!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 12:30PM
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I cleaned houses for 15 years, and I think you got a great deal for your money before you moved. You will probably never get this type of package again.

I would do a check list, one for regular service, monthly service and yearly service. I would make it very clear to who ever you interview that you are doing this and what you expect, and that you will check things to make sure they are done. If the service says that they provide their own list, ask to see it and alter it to meet your needs.

I would also purposely leave things around or take notice of specifics to see if they get cleaned or found (like leaving something behind the couch or chair).

If you don't tell the service initially that you have the list and what you expect, adding to what must be done down the line will cause problems.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 9:56AM
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SG, You are awesome! Thanks for letting me know I seem to be on the right track. Best of all, I would have never thought to purposely leave things around or take notice of specifics to see if they were cleaned or found!!!

I am working on "The List" and, as you suggested, making it for regular, monthly and yearly service.

I am going to try out a cleaner who I will pay by the hour rather than by the job. I'm hoping I get more done for the money but I also realize that by counting on one person, I can run into the problem of reliability easier since one person usually does't have substitutes for times they are not available.

Does anybody know of online links to good cleaning shedules or checklists?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 11:50AM
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Merry Maids has a list of what they clean right on their website. I printed it out and use it as my own guide to housework. My SIL has a cleaning lady (one person). She leaves her cleaning lady notes of all the extra jobs she wants done, such as clean the oven, clean the refrigeratir, wash walls, etc. I'm not sure how she pays her, by the job or by the hours worked.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 7:32PM
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Getting back to the list,

Personally, when I found a bunch of notes that I wasn't expecting, I got annoyed. Keep in mind, that the person doing the cleaning is on a schedule. There are all sorts of things that enter into the day, traffic and other delays all come into the big picture. If you ask someone to clean your fridge and they were not planning on doing that, then scheduling could be thrown off. When I clean mine, it takes about 30-45 minutes or longer. That is a chunk of time out of a busy day.

Weekly, monthly and yearly schedules give the cleaner something to plan with. That way, there are no big surprises.

Payment by the hour is not something I did. It was always by the job. I'm curious how this goes.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 6:50AM
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spiritual gardener, I really appreciate having the other point of view. I want to have a good relationship with my future cleaner and I don't want to be unknowingly inconsiderate. The beauty of having a fixed schedule means I don't have to leave new lists and notes every cleaning day. I figure if I find I would like something done off the list, I will schedule it with the cleaner as an extra or do it myself.

The reason I want to pay hourly is because my house is NOT in shape to clean. I had cleaners for 15 years, moved and didn't have very good luck. I went with one service and after two years I found they never did get around to things like vacuuming the baseboards behind or next to furniture. I had a little more time back then so I learned to speed clean and did it myself for a while until I got too busy with outside work again. The next cleaning service sent young girls who really didn't know how to clean at all and missed so much of the basic jobs that it was just silly to keep them. Since then, I started my own business, took on a sick daddy & had two sons heading for college. My business took tons of time, my daddy got better and off went the boys to school. My dad then became seriously ill and I took care of him until he passed away in April. I've since been taking care of getting his possessions sorted and distributed & getting his place ready to sell. At the same time, I've been trying hard to catch up with my business.

Long story short, my house has more years of accumulated clutter than dirt and it has stayed that way. I was hoping by having a cleaner to do the actual cleaning, I could work on the clutter and eventually I'd have a home with clutterfree, clean, presentable rooms! I am also going to have some remodeling done. I figure, it is going to take a cleaner and I a while to get the house to the point of being able to use the schedule to keep it clean. In the meantime, I'd like to be able to pay a cleaner for a set number of hours per week to help me get the house in shape by doing the regular weekly cleaning and then concentrating on one room at a time. The idea is that I would declutter the room first and the cleaner would then be able to deep clean it the following week.

I found that when I paid by the cleaning, the cleaner would stay for about 2-3 hours maximum and be gone. It would cost me $80. and I still had to clean behind the cleaner. I'm trying to avoid this.

As it stands right now, my house isn't "cleanable". There are too many cluttered rooms to be tidied before they can be cleaned. But, without the help of a cleaner, I'll never be able to get the house back in shape.

If there is a better approach, I'm all ears!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 9:26AM
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I had a great cleaning lady for several years. We had worked out a system for rotating a couple of bedrooms that weren't being used as well as an additional bath. I was so sad to loose her. She was dependable and i could count on her to know what to do. I always would pick up stuff and do the laundry the night before so that when she came she could not waste time with that stuff. Plus since I was off during the summer (I was a teacher), I did all the BIG cleaning myself so my house was never terribly dirty.

When I tried to hire another, I made a list as you wish to do and one of the people who came highly recommended, looked at it and told me, "If this is what you expect, you should do it yourself cause no one in their right mind would agree to it. It was basically what my previous person had done without complaints! I ended up with someone else for a while but every couple of weeks, she would break something or "forget" and would use her cleaning products instead of mine. I am allergic to ammonia and she would use some combination of stuff that was strong with it. Almost sent me to the hospital one night with allergic reaction.

Now that I am retired, I do my own. Just finsihed cleaning the tile and grout by hand. Ever try Tile Lab, found at Home DEpot? Great stuff, not as expensive as Finazzle and not as smelly. Took me a couple of weeks to do it but I know its clean. My carpet leaning guy was goning to charge me $380.00 to do it!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 11:24AM
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Wow mboston! I never thought someone whould refuse to do what I ask if I am paying them. But I'd rather they tell me than act like they would do it and not do it.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 11:54AM
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Looking for a housekeeper is a process, not to be rushed in to. Some you might like, other you might not. All for various individual reasons.

When first talking on the phone with a new person, casually ask how they feel about the list. Make it a point to say that this is a very important issue for you. If they don't like the idea, you need to move on to someone else. This is going to save everyone involved lots of time.

Someone who has been in the business a long time might not like the idea. Everyone has their own way of doing things and a list might not be something they want to deal with.

Now the clutter issue. Since you have this mess, you just gotta get rid of it if anyone is going to clean your house. You probably have numerous layers of stuff, all of it collecting dirt.

I have always suggested that people take about 15-20 minutes each day to declutter, or, as Heloise suggests, deal with 5-10 items in 5-10 minutes. Limiting your time decluttering helps keep you from feeling overwhelmed, and the job will eventually get done. Toss stuff you will never use. If you have not used an item that's laying around for the past month, you must decide if you are going to toss it, give it away or use it in the near future.

I think of clutter as something that takes away from your serenity. How can you have peace in your home with all of this mess??? The answer is, you can't. I can't tell you how many people I have worked for that have a messy house. When you have clutter, you have dirt and lots of it.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 6:51AM
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Spiritual gardener, thank you so much for your advice. I'm hanging on every word. I am going to print this thread out for reference before I make THE call.

My house isn't huge, it's about 2300 sf. I am pretty much an empty nester with my youngest away at college. It's just me & my kitty cat. It may sound crazy but it's cheaper for me to live in this house than move since my mortgage payments are so low. Besides, I'd like to keep this as the "family home" for holiday gatherings. And, once it's in shape, I'd like to start entertaining again.

Right now I have no visible clutter in all bathrooms, the kitchen, laundry, mudroom, family room & Florida room (really just another family room with lots of glass walls, no tv and where I have my home office) and I have been keeping these areas reasonably clean. I was hoping that just these rooms could be regularly cleaned at first (maybe one of them deep cleaned at a time) while I focus on decluttering the other rooms. I'd have the cluttered rooms skipped by the cleaner since it would be a complete waste of her time. Then by having a cleaner and not having to clean any cleaning myself, I'd have the time to be able to declutter the overstuffed garage, attic and tackle a big long neglected flower garden that it nothing but a jungle of giant weeds.

This is why I can't just sign on with a service for "routine" cleanings and I am looking for a cleaner who is willing to be paid by the hour. Nothing is going to be routine about my house for quite a while! I am figuring on having enough work to guarantee a cleaner 7-8 hours every other week. In the beginning, I would want the cleaner to focus on deep cleaning the "ready rooms" and gradually turn other rooms over to her as I finish them. By the time all of the rooms are decluttered, 7-8 hours every other week would be enough to maintain the house, especially since half of the rooms will only be used occasionally.

I'm hoping that by guaranteeing a cleaner $70-100 for 7-8 hours every other week, using my equipment and supplies (guaranteeing meaning if I don't have my act together and they can only do 4-6 hours of work when they get here, they still get the minimum agreed upon amount) I'll be able to find somebody willing to be flexible about how their time is spent. I also give a Christmas bonus equal to one cleaning.

Do you think I have a prayer of actually pulling off this pipe dream? What adjustments do I need to make? Would I be expected to provide lunch? If so, what?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 12:17PM
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Glad to hear you are making some progress! I know the feeling well about having a house and not an apartment. My mortgage is substantially less for my house than anything I could rent. (Although the upkeep funds keep on going).

I think you should just tell people who you talk to what you need. That way there are going to be no surprises. Since you are willing to pay by the hour and furnish supplies make this a special point. If you have flexible scheduling this might also help (for instance if they could break the cleaning up into two or three days). I don't think lunch is necessary, but be sure to offer a designated break (or breaks).

Deep cleaning is extremely time consuming. When I do it at home, I always wind up spending more time cleaning a room than I anticipated, my eyes just see things that need to be done, and I figure while I've got the room torn apart why not clean it. I can spend the biggest part of 8 hours just doing my living room.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   August 7, 2007 at 8:27AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I would check out Cheryl Mendelson's Home Comforts. Your library may even have it. There are extensive lists of things for weekly, monthly, seasonal, etc. (BTW, I may have spelled the last name wrong, my copy of the book is upstairs but if you do a search for Home Comforts, Amazon should have it). It is a great book to have on hand for general household reference.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 12:05AM
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I used to clean houses. First I tried working for Merry Maids but they really rushed. Most of the women wanted to hurry so they could pick up their kids after school. I decided to work for myself, take the time to do a good job and not rush. I made more money because it was all mine. I brought all my own equipment and supplies. Just be clear about what you want done, if you're not satisfied from the beginning, change housecleaners.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 6:49PM
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