So, you are convinced that outsourcing some of your housework makes sense. Let’s start with a simple one: house cleaning. There are a few ways to approach this and each have their pros and cons. But before you contact anybody, you need to know your own requirements. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I need to be home, or am I okay with someone cleaning while I am out?
This is a big one. I have done it both ways and definitely have a preference for being out. I hate feeling like I’m in the way. Others can’t stand to leave someone unsupervised in their home; if that is you, make sure you get them to clean the room you will be in first, and then you can sit and do your work while they finish the rest.
- Are there areas they should not clean; do you have anything too precious or personal to put in someone else’s hands?
I collect colored glass, and some pieces are irreplaceable. I keep it all in a few locations and am always very clear that I clean that myself. My husband used to hide the condoms in his underwear drawer, so nobody would see, but I notice he seems to be over that and they are back on the nightstand; or maybe he just forgets?
- How big, busy, crowded is your home?
Be honest with yourself here, my home is now very easy to clean, there are only four of us and the clutter is minimal, but we used to have a baby, pets, 4 adults and knickknacks and toys everywhere; it got dirty fast and was difficult to clean. It took almost double the time then as it does now. Don’t be unfair to your cleaner, be upfront about how much work there will be. You will feel better if they say it is easier than they thought. Trust me, it is not a good feeling when they tell you it will take them 1-2 hours more than expected.
- How dirty is your home?
Let’s not be too critical of ourselves here; maybe you just hosted a family reunion, or you’ve been out-of-town for a month, but odds are you are behind. The last time I hired a new cleaner, I had to hire a team for six hours to spring clean first. It was that bad. Otherwise you can just arrange for them to add an hour for the first 3 months until you catch up.
- Do you want them to use their standard checklist or do you want customization to your cleaning?
This is a big one. If this is your first time, you can probably rely on their checklist, but if you have special circumstances or extras, ask about it at the beginning, not all cleaners are flexible. Some have their list and stick to it fiercely, others are more flexible. For example, I like to have my bedding changed and put in the washer and dryer so that I can fold it and put it away as soon as I get home; some people won’t do that.
- Do you want the same person every time?
Larger cleaning companies use teams or send whoever is available that day, but if requested you can usually get the same person every visit, or you can hire an individual, more on that in a post to come. If you care, and you probably do, specify up front that you want the same person or team every time. I have to admit, I want a relationship with my cleaners, even if I’m usually out, we get to know each other over time, improving the quality each visit.
- Do you have priorities?
Most of us have our little foibles; things that are more important to us than others. I am all about the kitchens and the bathrooms. You would think I was a germophobe with my love of clean kitchens and bathrooms, but I am likely to overlook streaks as long as I know it is clean. My mom was all about the dust, streaks and water-spots; it made doing the housecleaning for her difficult, as I could never see the problem.
- How often do you want your house cleaned?
Most companies prefer weekly or bi-weekly, although some will arrange monthly or as needed with you. It is important that you know what you want and can afford. For example, if you have 3 little boys, you might need your bathroom cleaned every week.
- What can you afford?
There is probably a going rate in your area for cleaners, but services are usually more than individuals and some bring their own supplies; there are also time minimums, usually 3-4 hours, so teams can get pricey. So depending on your area you can often find as much as a 100% difference in prices. Know what you want and what you can afford, but still be realistic about what is required. No cleaner like to leave a job half done every time because their time is up. Look for a future post with cost saving tips.
Now let’s take all of our preferences and actually hire somebody…