So you want a clean house, but you don’t want to clean it? Fortunately, there’s a thriving industry—made up of solo cleaners and full-service companies—to solve that problem. But how do you choose who to hire? Read on.
The most obvious reasons to hire a cleaning service are physical limitations, such as disability, age and chemical sensitivity. But time is also an important factor to consider. Elena Ledoux, CEO of Las Vegas-based Superb Maids, says a house cleaner could “buy you those couple hours a week” to spend doing what you love. “Even with me loving cleaning, I still tend to not have enough time to do it,” she says.
Some people do have time to clean but feel like they don’t do it well. Ledoux says the feeling of losing a battle against the mess can be stressful. And professionals can clean your house better and faster. “If you feel like you’re losing this battle, and it’s annoying and aggravating to you, then it’s time to consider hiring help.”
One thing seems certain: Once people hire a housecleaning service, Ledoux says, they never go back. “It’s a one-way street.”
The frequency of cleaning boils down to what Ledoux calls “life activity.” A retired couple in a small condo with no pets or kids might only need housecleaning every other week, whereas a young family with multiple children and/or pets might need more frequent visits.
Individual vs. company
A single person is cheaper, but a company can often offer additional flexibility and client protections. The difference is about a $38 per hour compared to $50 per hour on average, Ledoux,
Flat rate vs. hourly rate
A one-time full-house cleaning for a medium home typically costs $180 to $250, according to Superb Maids. Some companies charge by the hour, others negotiate a flat rate in advance.
Pricing depends on the home
Superb Maids says the amount of time it takes you to clean doesn’t affect the price for pros to clean. The age and condition of your home, however, along with the amount of clutter and the number of children and pets who reside there, will affect it. Basically, the harder it is to clean, the more it’s going to cost.
Since the main expense when hiring a house cleaner is labor cost, there’s only one way to really save money: generate less dirt and clutter. “We have some clients who live in a palace but only use one bedroom and one bathroom,” Ledoux says. “So it’s not expensive for them to keep it maintained, because they don’t have a lot of things to clean.”
INSIST ON INSURANCE
Ledoux says it’s imperative that a cleaning service have a business license and insurance, specifically liability and workers’ compensation coverage. “It’s very expensive for businesses to get, so some companies choose to forgo it,” says Ledoux, a former workers’ comp defense attorney. “If the person gets injured on the job … the homeowner is then considered the employer and charged with medical costs, disability payments, all of that.” Ledoux says she once worked on a case in which a cleaner fell while washing windows, and the homeowner was considered financially liable. She says that even if a worker is considered an independent contractor, the courts might still side with the worker over the homeowner.
Also, check to see if a company is bonded. A bond covers the cost to the client in case a piece of property is broken or goes missing.
Not all states are the same when it comes to cleaning. For example, Nevada’s extremely hard water offers a tough cleaning challenge, Ledoux says. “We’ve seen homeowners who’ve never seen their shower glass clean,” she says. “They think it’s just not transparent, so when we clean it, they get really surprised.”
Ledoux adds that in Nevada, people often buy more house than they can clean themselves. “They come from California or some other expensive place and get so excited about the prices,” she says. “They say, ‘I’m gonna buy myself a giant home … and then they realize that somebody’s gotta clean all this stuff.”
Keeping clean in between
Even if you can’t afford a cleaner, this tip will help you feel clean. “Just open your windows,” Ledoux says. “Your home will instantly feel cleaner … just let it air out.”
She also advises fighting clutter by designing your lifestyle so that it doesn’t accumulate. That could mean placing a recycling bin by the desk where you normally dump your mail, or a basket where children can drop their backpacks.
Melanie Walker, owner of NEAT Method Las Vegas, says clients call her when they feel “cluttered, a little out of control or unhappy with their environment. She says her team physically does the work of decluttering and setting up systems so clients can “live neatly.”
Walker advises potential clients to find an organizer with whom they feel a personal connection, since the relationship can be very intimate. “After all, we are folding their underwear,” she says.