Open Thread: Hiring a Cleaning Lady

Cleaning supplies, originally uploaded to Flickr by AnnieGreenSprings

2016 Update: Links have been updated below; you can also check out our latest discussion on last minute cleaning for busy women.

Readers, have you hired someone to clean your house or apartment? What are your best tips for how to hire a cleaning lady?  When did you first hire them? (Right out of school, after you reached a certain salary, after you got married or had kids… when?) What have you learned about the process, such as how to be a good boss, how to communicate your wishes, and how to get what you want?

You see, for years, I’ve ignored the advice that every older working woman gives every younger working woman: hire a cleaning lady. It makes returning home after a long day spa-like! It saves marriages! It is the easiest thing to outsource! (Pictured: Cleaning supplies, originally uploaded to Flickr by AnnieGreenSprings.)

And yet, I thought: I don’t like people touching my stuff. Or, God forbid, “organizing” my stuff. Particularly while I’m not home! And then if I am home while someone else is cleaning my house… gee, where are the palm fronds and the four buff guys to carry me around?  Also, I thought, I don’t have time to “clean for the cleaning person” — if I did then I would just go ahead and clean the apartment myself.

I finally broke down and hired someone just recently, asking her to only focus on the kitchens and bathrooms.  Rookie mistake number one:  I left too much stuff out in the kitchen, thinking she could just move things (e.g. the drying rack for the dishes) and then replace it once the area was clean.  Oh no — she “organized” it.  We’re still finding stuff weeks later. By the time she got to the bathrooms I knew enough to run over and clear everything off the counters and floors if I didn’t want to find it, weeks later, in the depths of a cabinet.  (As predicted: it felt very weird to be home while she was cleaning, but I can’t imagine letting someone come and clean when I’m not home.)

That said:  man, our kitchen and bathrooms have never looked cleaner.  It was brilliant, really, and we can’t wait to have her back on a semi-regular basis.

Readers, back to you — have you hired someone?  Are there any “I’ll clean my own place, thanks” holdouts like me?  



  1. I desperately want to, just on a monthly or bi-monthly basis to wash the floors and scrub the bathroom and things, but I’m having a hard time getting over the mental block. Surely a single woman with no kids should manage to keep a one-bedroom apartment clean but . . . .

    • I HIRED a cleaneing lady in my BUILDING, and she ate all of my CORNED beef that my father brought me from the delli! Can you imageine?

      So it is VERY important to get a cleaneing lady that is slim and will NOT eat everything good from your refridgerateor. FOOEY!

    • Why? Do you like cleaning? If you don’t like cleaning, and you can afford it, why not pay someone else to do it? You can then spend that time doing things you like. Life is too short to choose scrubbing your tub over something you like.

    • phillygirlruns :

      i really struggled with this as well – my husband and i don’t have kids, though we do have two dogs that shed like crazy. i grew up in a family where things like cleaning services just weren’t a thing, and i felt like hiring someone to clean my house was somehow a sign of complete failure. i finally got over it and had someone come clean the house before a party i threw for my mother – and i was sold. since then they’ve been coming back every two weeks, and it’s easily the best investment we’ve made. the fact that my stairs are vacuumed, floors swept, and bathrooms scrubbed regularly has done a surprising amount for my general stress level.

    • I’m married with no kids, but it is fantastic to come home to a clean house. We hired a service to come every other week and only have them clean the first floor of our house (which includes master bedroom & bath), but not the second floor because it gets less use. Most of my firends have hired individuals. I actually prefer a service. I travel a lot for work and with a service I can cancel if gone for a while or change days and not feel like I am disrupting anyone’s schedule.

    • I have a cleaning service for my studio apartment. I felt the same way, but frankly, I don’t have a lot of free time and I hate cleaning, so my apartment was just a mess. Now the cleaners come once a month and it’s clean enough for me.

      It drives me crazy, though, that they move my pictures and knicknacks all around. Obviously it’s good that they clean under them, I just wish they’d put them back exactly where they were before. My friend told me that they probably move them so I’ll know they cleaned…

      • phillygirlruns :

        i feel this way too – our service always puts the bath mats in the master bath in different places and “organizes” whatever might be left on my counters or bureau. talk about first world problems – but it drives me nuts.

    • Single, no kids. Cleaning service comes once every two weeks to my one-bedroom apt. Four ladies spend an hour cleaning my place to shining perfection (they change the sheets and fold laundry, too!) for $50. Four hours of my time is definitely worth the $50.

  2. I have been holding out, but now that we have our first child on the way… I may just break down and hire someone. Mostly because my perspective on what is considered dirty has recently gotten much stricter (nesting, perhaps?).

    Besides, I have been told by just about everyone I know – from single friends to those with multiple kids – to just do it and I won’t regret it!

    • You won’t regret it. I have someone come every other week. When I get home on those days it’s like Christmas morning. There is no better feeling than coming home to a clean place after a long day of work. My husband and I both work full time (and by full time, I mean about 70+ hours/week, including weekends). A cleaning lady keeps our power in balance. I couldn’t imagine working as a full time professional and still having to come home and clean up after his mess.

      • Do it! :-) I enjoy the clean house for approximately 30 seconds before my 5 year old walks inside. ;)

  3. Love them! :

    I hired our “ladies” when I was pregnant with my daughter (who is now 3). I love them. They don’t do as great as a job as I would do, but their rate is reasonable ($70 for a 2700 sq foot house!!), they are consistent, and I trust them.

    They clean all my bathrooms, vacuum with a really good vacuum (mine sucks; well it doesn’t suck – making it a bad vacuum), will make beds if unmade, cleans floors and take out the trash and recyclables. They come every other Wednesday and I love walking into a clean (an clean- smelling) house.

    I found them through Craigslist and I called every single one of their references. Everyone loved them, so I took a chance and hired them.

    Highly recommend it for everyone who can do it, regardless if you have kids, no-kids, married, single, in an apt or in a house. It is well worth it!

    • I started when my first child was born. They have always done a much better job than I know how to do. I have had a total of seven women in four cities, all honest, all excellent. Currently I pay $75 for a house that can be done in 4.5 hours – every two weeks.

      I think you can’t be selective about what is to cleaned – have to let them do the whole thing. The only thing my person re-organizes is the shoes, and thank goodness for that.

      I only hire through personal referals. Be prepared to buy the cleaning products tyhey like and to give generously at Christmas.

      Don’t micromanage, but I occasionally point out areas that need emphasis on a given day.
      Be prepared for occasional breakage – it will happen.

      It helps if you are quite well organized to begin with so that your person doesz not have to move lots of “stuff” around. I always spend 5 minutes picking up – especially the kids’ stuff.


      I only hire throu

      • Vegas Baby :

        Are you in the north or south? How big is your house? I was using a bigger company (Merry Maids) and they were charging me twice that much to come once a month and I wasn’t completely satisfied with the work. But, I’ve been considering hiring a cleaning lady and could use a recommendation.

        • I also noticed that the Vegas area companies are much more expensive than the ladies with business cards. I’m sure much of the price difference can be accounted for in overhead, but I don’t feel like the extra money for bonded workers is worth it. In my experience, the sole proprietors do a better job and, frankly, I feel more comfortable having them in my home when I’m not around. It’s not “just a job” to those ladies…it’s their *business*. In any event, ask around to your friends/co-workers and they are bound to give you a good recommendation. We have only hired people who also work for friends and have been very pleased.

      • Anonymous :

        I luv this posted reply. This is the most sensible.

  4. After I had my second child and went back to work, we finally gave up trying to do it ourselves and hired someone. We asked friends and got a good recommendation for a local woman (not with a company). We originally had her come every other week, but now with three kids, she comes once a week. I was very weird about it at first, but now it is wonderful. It helped with the awkwardness that she started while I was on maternity leave, so I was there and got to know her. Now, she comes and goes while we are at work, and we completely trust her! She even leaves little baked goods and treats for the kids when she leaves! One of the best decisions we ever made!!

  5. alexandra :

    When I was around 24 week’s pregnant with my second child and still working full-time, I hired one. The first week I was so happy I was dancing on air, the clean house was superb and she was doing all the jobs I’d been ignoring. But, the next week she was 10 minutes late and not so much was done. This got worse and worse until she’d simply not show and when I’d call she’d say she was sick. Very frustrating to be sat at home waiting to let someone in. I let her go after approximately 8 weeks in to the arrangement when she was now only “working” 2.5 hours (of 4), leaving major things – e.g., kitchen work tops not wiped down, but the thing that really got to me was the constant ‘I saw your photo of x, you must be very rich’ and ‘I saw your vacuum in the shop, you must be very rich’ – I just got the impression I was easy money.

    It sucks doing my own cleaning again, but it was a good reminder that it *can* all be done in 4 hours or fewer!

    • This is basically what keeps happening to my mom, which is why I haven’t even tried. She’ll hire someone who has great references and at first it’s great, then she starts slacking off on pretty basic stuff, until finally my mom feels like she’s just the cash cow. My mom’s really nice and gets taken advantage of, so this is at least partly her fault for not setting boundaries, but I’ve seen some of the work her cleaning lady did and it was terrible. If you’re coming to work and getting paid, the most basic work ethic should have been better than that!

      • I think it’s better to hire through a service, where there’s a manager in charge who will take your complaints seriously and send someone to clean again if necessary. If it’s just one person working for herself, I can frankly understand why she’d slack off – I can’t imagine having to clean other people’s houses in order to get by.

        • Oh, also, they’re usually fully insured and bonded, which is non-negotiable for me (since they’re in my home when I’m not there).

    • Anonymous :

      I had basically the same issue — the straw that broke my back was once I came home early (pregnant, had doctor’s appt), and not only was the cleaning lady there, so were her mom and her 7 year old daughter. Grandma and child were sitting on my couch, watching Univision TV and eating the caramel apples I’d purchased the day before and left unopened on the counter.

      • Magdeline :

        Wow, that is awful!!!

      • My mom was a housecleaner when I was little and she brought me along since I was not yet school aged… I sat in their houses watching television but did not eat their food, promise!

      • My cleaning lady brings her baby. She never brought her older girl though. She stopped cleaning for a few months last year when the baby was born (and we had someone else temporarily who was nowhere near as thorough). When my regular lady was ready to come back she asked if she could bring the baby b/c she’s still nursing. My boyfriend wasn’t too keen on the idea, but what better job to bring your kid to than one where no one else is there to be bothered by the baby if he gets fussy? She usually stays for about 8 hours and does a super thorough job, and my boyfriend has always told her to help herself to anything she wants for lunch. We originally found her through her cousin, who was a nanny to one of my sister-in-laws.

    • Your experiences sound awful! You should hire a cleaning service rather than an individual if you can. They will be much more professional.

      • I don’t have any personal experience on this front (yet…) but would imagine that an agency/service/company would be preferable if you are looking for someone who has been vetted (no criminal record) and insured.

      • Not necessarily true. I’ve had a service, had different people sent each time, and pretty lousy work done. I have three women work for me in three different cities, and they all have done a very good job. My current cleaning woman has brought her son once or twice during school vacation, but she always told me in advance, and as far as I could tell, all he did was play video games on his handheld.

      • I’ve tried services a few times, and I’ve never been impressed. They always send 1 or 2 people who finish so quickly but never clean very thoroughly. I’ve had much better luck with individuals.

        • I hired a cleaning service last summer. Originally it was only going to be for two months while I recovered from surgery. But even after I went back to work I kept them because I work very long hours and really like coming home to a clean house. It’s also nice not stressing out all weekend about needing to clean instead of resting or spending time with family/friends.

          I did not have good luck with my original service. They only did an ok job, not a good one, and their rates were considerably higher than what an individual charges in my area. I looked through my neighborhood newsletter and found an individual. She’s bonded and insured which I really liked and all her customers have been with her for a while. I met with her before hand to talk over what I wanted and the things I’m particular about, plus introduce her to my cat, who’s a little high strung. She’s great! Even though I do work from home a lot, I go into the office on the days she cleans. It’s easier for both of us that way. Also, my cleaning lady cleans my house right before lunch so she brings her lunch and eats at my house before going to her next client. She asked if it was ok, and I don’t have a problem with it. If she hadn’t said anything, I never would have noticed, as she cleans the kitchen after she eats.

          On the flip side, my mother hired a cleaning service when my brother and I were both in high school and she and my father both worked. She tried individuals first but couldn’t find one that worked out. She used a service for years and loved it.

          If you don’t have someone to get a referral from, sometimes it’s just luck that determines what you find–good or bad.

    • This is similar to my story as well. We gave up after several different ladies/services and are back to doing our own cleaning. My mom on the other hand has a fantastic cleaning lady. I’d hire her in a heartbeat if I lived in the same city.

      • My sister-in-law discovered that her cleaning lady was siphoning her liquor bottles in her liquor cabinet. After she told me the story I always keep an eye on my bar since I have a college freshman as a dog walker!

  6. Think of it like this: How long would it take you to clean your house top to bottom (scrub, mop, dust, vacuum, change sheets). And what is your hourly rate at work? Now how long does it take a cleaning lady to do the same? Ours comes in with a team of two other women and cleans our 3 bedroom, 2 bath house in about an hour. It would take me about 6 and based on my rate, I pay her a fraction of what I’d have to “pay” myself. Monetarily it makes more sense to outsource this work. It means I can either be at the office billing 6 extra hours (in theory, right?) or doing something I enjoy with that extra time (in theory…).

    Also, our cleaning lady is self-employed so I tell myself I’m supporting a small business owner and the local economy.

    Don’t feel bad! Support your local small-business woman and get yourself some extra time to do other things!

    Another way to look at it: Everyone has their coping mechanisms to deal with being short on time. Some eat dinner our every night (instead of shopping/cooking/cleaning, they let someone else do the work so they have time to spend with loved ones/do other stuff), other people send their laundry out, whatever. This is a coping mechanism. And a good one!

    • I’ve been thinking about this – I’m struggling with the mindset of being a person who hires a cleaning lady when we have no kids. But we cook 95% of meals at home (eat out maybe twice a month) and when I think of what we save on that, it seems clear that I can afford to not clean so much! I freaking HATE cleaning but love having everything clean.

      I am soooo excited to read about what people use their cleaning people for, and how much that costs (and size of house?). This might be my favorite thread of the month.

      • I do very well at putting things away, but deep cleaning just doesn’t happen, ever. But it not happening stresses me out a lot. So I finally broke down a couple of years ago and hired someone. I have them come every 2 weeks, and just do things like mop, vacuum, dust, etc. – things I never seem to have time for. That way I don’t have the problem of them putting things in places where I can’t find them, etc.

        It is only me and my husband, but I don’t care. Hiring someone to clean the house was the best thing I have ever done.

        • I’m with May–I had someone clean a few months ago when a new roommate was moving in, and it was great. Roomie turned out to be a bit messier than I am (I can put things away, but rarely sweep or mop), so we agreed to have someone clean once a month. She just came and it was great! Plus it DOES force us to clean ahead of her in terms of putting things away, which is good to do, and if we have to do it monthly might get us in better habits?

          My place is around 1800 sq ft, and it’s going to be $125 a visit. There’s probably cheaper out there, but this company uses green products, which is a bit nicer–smells clean but not as chemical.

  7. Still a hold-out here, though my hubby and I share cleaning chores (and we have a 1BR condo with no pets or kids). Doubt I will ever be able to get over the control freak thing, as being home isn’t an option. Also, even though it’s not THAT expensive in the grand scheme, I have a mental block that starting to rely on “staff” to keep my house running is a downward spiral into the golden handcuffs.

    • hear hear :

      I agree- plus for me part of it is that I keep my living space small enough that I can manage to clean it myself. Different strokes, and no judgment, but I don’t want to have so much space that it owns me, ditto for my possessions. Staying in a smaller place means I cannot shop so much (right? hopefully!).

      • I wish I had learned this earlier in life, rather than later. It’s so true.

      • May(be the First) :

        I agree!
        I lived by the same policy, and it worked fine. Caved in after baby, though!

    • Business, Not Law :

      Another hold out and Agreed re: the golden handcuffs. And coming from a comfortable, yet modest upbringing I feel kind of “ashamed” of letting my lifestyle actually catch up to my income. I don’t know if that makes any sense but I often feel guilty admitting that we hire someone to do seasonal cleanup of our lawn (i.e. blow leaves, etc)

    • karenpadi :

      I’m kind of the opposite. I don’t look at it as having “golden handcuffs”. I look at it a luxury I can afford because I work hard. I can fire my cleaning lady anytime and immediately reduce my expenses.

      • Exactly. We cut out the cleaners when I cut back to part time but recently hired them back when I couldn’t stand the filth any longer.

  8. And we were no kids, double-income when we hired our lady. We were both so busy with work that neither one of had the time and I would get really upset about coming home to a disaster every night. It’s also saved us a lot of disagreements over cleaning standards…his clean in the bathroom is just never going to live up to my standards…sorry, Husband.

    • Yup. We are dinks (well, he has teenagers, but they live with their mom, and I have no kids) and when he moved in I knew from viewing his ‘upkeep’ at his own place that we were in for some MAJOR fights if we didn’t get help… we ended up hiring a co-worker’s husband (who is in law enforcement)’s brother’s wife’s daughter (does that make any sense? lol!) Interviewed the two of them, gave them a key, and viola! Every other Weds, my 1200 sq ft house is clean for $50! They mop, vacuum, dust, change sheets if I leave clean ones out, clean the bathrooms, take out the garbage, and even clean the doggy nose smudges off the patio door… priceless!!

      • Co-worker’s husband’s brother’s wife’s daughter – isn’t that just a really convoluted way of saying coworker’s niece (or step-niece)?

        • Lol! Yes, I guess so… except now brother has divorced wife, so it would be ‘ex-step-niece’, I suppose… and she’s nearly as old as step-father/brother… so calling her any sort of niece feels a little odd…

  9. Ooh, this is a really good topic. Here are my holdbacks . . . did anyone get over these?

    *Security concerns–she would have a key to my place, so I’m worried about what that means.

    *Cleanliness standards. I can tell when the floor was just wiped down versus actually being cleaned (you know, with hot water and proper scrubbing and removal of all traces of detergent/cleanser). I’m afraid most cleaning people wouldn’t meet these standards.

    *Liability. What happens if she falls down and breaks her back while she’s cleaning my place?

    *Taxes. I’m uncomfortable paying cash to someone who probably isn’t reporting it as income, and who isn’t getting credit for it as wages when it comes time for her to collect social security. I’m not planning on running for political office or anything, but the concept still bothers me.

    *Concerns with cleaning companies. If I did take the plunge, I’d prefer to go with someone independent over a big-name company that is probably only paying its workers minimum wage and is focusing on quantity/volume rather than quality/cleaning standards. But, hiring an independent person versus a cleaning service seems to present more risk with respect to all the other things I am concerned about (security, liability, etc.)

    *Like Kat, I would not want to be present while the person was cleaning, but also would not want to leave them alone.

    Maybe I am just a little too uptight to have a cleaning lady, but please let me know if you have addressed the above issues.

    • karenpadi :

      *Security: most independent cleaning ladies get business via word of mouth. They won’t risk their reputation by stealing stuff. My lady’s husband also comes over some weeks to help out. It’s cool.

      *Standards: I’ve never had an issue. I did have an issue with her scrubbing my seasoned cast iron. I just mentioned it to her and now she just sticks it in the oven when I forget to do it myself.

      *Liability: should be included in your homeowner’s/renter’s policy.

      *Taxes: she’s an independent contractor, not an employee. The onus is on her. I am fairly left-of-center politically but this is one of those things where she has to decide.

      *Leaving them alone: eh, I do it all the time. I was home once while she cleaned (over a holiday–I wasn’t expecting her). She started with the front of the house and I stayed in my bedroom and when she starting moving to the back of the house, I moved to the living room. It wasn’t an issue.

      But then, my cleaning lady has seen me naked. She was there early and I had woken up late–my pants are in another closet across the hall and I unwittingly streaked by her. We were both shocked and have never mentioned it again.

    • Totes McGotes :

      I use a local cleaning company – found them by searching my local Better Business Bureau website for small companies with high ratings. The phone # and email address go directly to the owner, and he provided me with a copy of the company’s insurance certificate upon my request. A smaller company, rather than a behemoth or an independent, may be the sweet spot you’re looking for.

      Re: security, I wouldn’t mind them coming when I wasn’t home (if I was home I would feel like I should be helping), but BF did. He felt better about it when he found out that our alarm company would set up a second, different alarm code for us, which we could give to the cleaners. The company can tell which code is used if something were to happen.

      Re: standards, I absolutely love my cleaners. There are some things that aren’t 100% perfect, but lots of things are, and they even clean things that would never occur to me, like the inside of the toaster oven! (What kind of wonderful, magical psycho cleans the inside of the toaster oven?)

    • The joke in our house is that whenever something goes missing, “The cleaning crew probably took it.” But it’s truly just a joke. They are super consciencious–on the rare occasion that something is broken, they are so apologetic. I’ve used the same small company for over 15 years and went with a company to avoid any tax withholding concerns. The crews rotate, so the same couple of people are not always cleaning, which is actually a good thing, because I’ve noticed when the crew is stable for too long, the same things tend to get cleaned–and not cleaned. They don’t do the kind of job that I would do, but they DO it regularly. Best decision ever.

      • I grew up with a cleaning lady and we always had that joke in the family too.
        It’s mostly funny because 1. We don’t really have much of anything worth stealing and 2. My mom has the most hilarious habit of hiding everything when they come so deeply that we find it months later in the most random places.

    • *Security concerns–I completely agree with the word of mouth deterrant. The cleaning lady I use is also employed by several of my neighbors and a handful of people in my firm. I really don’t see her jeopardizing her livelihood over $50 or a necklace. If that’s not enough for you, search for a cleaning service/person that is bonded.

      *Cleanliness standards. I found my cleaning lady by walking into my neighbor’s house and noticing that her iron staircase was so much cleaner than mine. I’d been struggling to dust it properly for weeks. When I asked her about it, she seemed embarassed to tell me she used a cleaning lady but I pounced on the contact information. When I notice something isn’t done exactly the way I want, I write a little note the following week “Please focus on the baseboards this week” or “I noticed a stain on the tile, can you please help?” It’s not perfect every single time, but it’s significantly better than what I was doing on my own. Along these lines, I don’t understand the theme of guilt in this thread. I’m married without kids and I have no shame about this. I now spend my weekends with my husband rather than dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing toilets. I’ll never go back.

      *Liability. Homeowners insurance.

      *Taxes. If this is really a concern, I’d encourage you to look for a cleaning service or an individual who happily accepts checks.

      *Concerns with cleaning companies. This seems like the same as your Security concern above. My cleaning lady has a key to my home and a separate security code to disarm my alarm but I didn’t give her either until she worked for me for about 6 months. First we gave her a key, then a security code and now she has full reign. We leave out jewelry, cash, etc. without any concern.

      I never pre-clean. Occassionally, I’ll intentionally fail to do dishes for the day or two leading up to her visit because I know she will take care of it. Aside from the dishes, we operate an “everything has its place” household so there is not much to tidy in the first place.

    • Our cleaning lady comes once a month. She doesn’t have a key. I just meet her in the morning and let her in on my way out. We exchange pleasantries, I make any special requests, pay her, and head out. She just closes the door and it locks behind her when she’s done.

      I don’t like being present when she’s cleaning the place, but the first few times she came my fiance stayed home while she worked. It was half to make sure she knew where everything was and half to establish that he had a good feeling about her and trusted her. We found her through a neighbor and she had several clients in our building, so that made her pretty easy to trust since she had a lot of business to lose if she did anything shady. And she never has. She’s lovely.

      As for cleanliness standards, I find that our housekeeper (and prior ones I’ve hired) don’t just meet my standards–they get my apartment cleaner than I could if I had 3 days to do it.

      I was also worried about injuries, but our renter’s insurance included a rider that covers injuries to temporary employees in our home.

      As for taxes, I know she will take a check (although I usually pay cash) so I don’t assume she’s not reporting it. She only comes once a month. If she came more often, I’d probably look into whether we should be doing some kind of “nanny tax” style reporting. But for once a month, I think of her as an indy version of Merry Maids and feel it would be kind of paternalistic of me to assume she doesn’t take care of her own taxes.

      • Anonymous :

        I am fine with the fact that my cleaning service (once a month) is not up to my standards. I love that at least once a month, every room in the house is neat and clean – something I could never achieve. The cleaning ladies give me time to deep clean the other areas of the house, or to clean out a closet once in a while.

    • I have a few suggestions regarding security:

      1) At our house we have deadbolts and doorknob locks on our front and back doors. The deadbolts use the same key and the doorknob locks use the same key, so I always carry two keys for the house but one is silver and one is gold so it isn’t hard to keep them straight. We gave our house cleaner the key to the doorknob but not the deadbolt. On the days when she comes, we only lock the doorknobs, so that she can get in. But otherwise we always lock the deadbolts.

      2) This obviously won’t work for everyone, but we have a security system that we can arm or disarm remotely using our phones (actually my husband does it so I couldn’t even tell you the manufacturer of the alarm). The house cleaner texts my husband when she is on the way to our house and he turns the alarm off. Then she texts him when she is done and he turns it back on.

      Of course, we still need to trust her when she is there and we aren’t, but for that we relied on her referrals. At least we know she won’t be able to get into our house other than the days she is scheduled to clean.

      I work full time and have three kids, and I wouldn’t go back to having no house cleaner. I actually don’t mind cleaning, but my husband and I found we were spending so much of our weekends cleaning and since it’s really the best (and sometimes only) time we have to spend with the kids (and each other), it is so worth it.

    • Thanks for all these comments. Will look into word of mouth referrals from a few people . . .

    • Why not hire a small local cleaning service that’s still fully bonded and insured and has vetted its employees?

      My service keeps the key in their main office and only gives it to the cleaning ladies on the day of the job, is fully insured and bonded, would be on the hook for worker’s comp if the cleaning lady was injured, and handles the payroll and (presumably) any tax issues. And my place is always clean enough for my standards.

    • If you did hire an individual and pay cash, wouldn’t you just given them a 1099 at the end of the year? That way you’ve done your part, and whatever they do is between them and the IRS. Of course, you’d want to make sure whatever you were paying was reasonable once taxes are figured out.

    • Security concerns–she doesn’t have to have a key. We arrange to wait for ours and let her in. She lets herself out when she’s done (we have doors that lock behind her without a key).

      Cleanliness standards. Explain what you want. If the person can’t meet that, hire someone else who can.

  10. I have never hired one, but am strongly considering doing so on a monthly basis when my husband and I move into a townhome that we’re purchasing this summer. I feel like since it will be OUR house that we will need to re-sell someday, my standard of cleanliness should increase. I think it would be a big help, even if it’s only to tackle the especially tough jobs.

  11. I hired someone when I’d been practicing for about a year. We found her through a flyer at our local coffee shop, and called all of her references. The big thing for us was that she was legally able to work in the US – we weren’t comfortable hiring someone who wasn’t. Also, that we didn’t trip the IRS threshold for handling the W2, withholding, etc ($1700/year).

    She came about every 3 weeks/once a month. The key is to make sure you’re very clear on your preferences and expectations – do a walk-through of the house together and talk about every little thing. Will she clean the oven? The shower? Will she organize your clutter, or just move it so that she’s able to clean? Will she use normal chemical-y cleaning stuff or natural stuff? Etc.

    It was a really, really great arrangement. I don’t use her anymore because I sold my house and moved into a small apartment where I don’t need the help, but I highly, highly recommend it if you feel at all burdened by cleaning.

  12. Woods-comma-Elle :

    I am never going back to cleaning myself – here’s why:

    1. The cost is minimal – we gave our cleaning lady a big tip at Christmas but beyond that, paying $50-60 a month for a clean flat is totally worth it.

    2. I can never get it as clean as she does – this is with the caveat that I recently moved house and the cleaning lady in the new place is nowhere near as amazing as my old one, but it’s still CLEAN and I don’t have to do it.

    3. It takes so much time to clean. I’m either too busy to clean and then feel crap because the place isn’t clean, or I spend half my Saturday cleaning and then feel crap because I don’t have time to do anything else.

    It just is worth it. The current place already had the cleaner organised, but previously we got our cleaner via a recommendation. She was a foreign student and she was just amazing and really diligent and totally trustworthy. Because we couldn’t be there when she came over (and to be honest I wouldn’t want to be there as I would just feel weird that she was cleaning with me there not lifting a finger, despite the fact that I was paying), we gave her a key and for this reason it was vital that she was through a recommendation so we knew she wouldn’t steal stuff.

    • LinLondon :

      Are you in London? If so, does your former cleaner do East London? (Wapping) None of my friends that I live near have a cleaner, so it’s hard to get recommendations.

    • wow, wherever you are is way cheaper than seattle…

  13. My boyfriend and I recently gave in and hired someone to clean our place (well, it’s technically his, but I’m there 95% of the time and hired the cleaning lady, so I feel I can comment on this).

    I got a referral for a cleaning lady through my good friend, who uses the same person and loves her. Our service comes bi-weekly for $60 each time and it was the best decision we’ve made in awhile. We’d been putting off doing it forever, but finally he (we) moved into a gorgeous new place with brand new everything (appliances, floors, counters, the whole shebang), so we wanted to keep it looking pretty but realized we needed professional help to do so. She comes again tomorrow and I am so excited to walk into a freshly cleaned apartment after work!

    One of the things I liked was that she came over prior to the first cleaning to walk through the house with me. It gave me a chance to meet her and show her around as well as talk over what we expected and how we wanted things done. I feel like it really started things off on a positive note.

    • The day I come home that the cleaning lady has come is the best day of the week. I can never straighten my duvet as perfectly as she does.

      • I love the perfectly straight duvet. I can never get it to look that way either. Oh, the magic of the cleaning lady…

  14. karenpadi :

    Oh goodness, I love my cleaning lady! She’s at my house right now…alone. I hired her when I was living with a boyfriend who was very dirty, had to be nagged to clean, and never cleaned up to standard–even after I tutored him. That boyfriend is long gone and I can’t bring myself to fire my cleaning lady.

    First, ask for recommendations. My cleaning lady also cleans the house of a co-worker. I was “lucky”–one of her clients had just died, so she had a bi-weekly Monday morning opening.

    Re: my stuff and having her in my house alone. I used to hide my jewelry box etc. before she came but I don’t anymore. Honestly, she’s the only one with a key and I trust her. If I had a service, with different people every week, I’d be more nervous. But I’ve had Maria for over a year now.

    Re: “cleaning” before she does. Yes, I do it. First, I recommend coming up with organized storage and at least one “dump” spot. This involves just plain getting rid of stuff you don’t use. My “dump” spot is a basket in a hall alcove. It’s clearly a “dump” spot and I’ve never had her touch it. Then, the night before, I go around putting things away and throwing out catalogs. It takes all of 15-45 minutes and is really stuff I should have been putting away all week anyway. I don’t wipe, dust, or vacuum anything.

    I’m in San Jose CA and I pay $80 every 2 weeks. 2 cats / 1200 square feet/ 3bed / 2bath.

    • karenpadi :

      Oh, I should add re:security. My cleaning lady has a system where my key and my address are not stored together. She showed it to me and it’s a pretty nifty color-coding match-up. Only her and her back-up cleaner (who I was introduced to, too) know how the system works. So I’m confident that a random person who finds her keys won’t be also able to find my house.

      If it does happen, and bad things happen all the time, I have locks that are easy to change (I found them at home depot). Basically, I would just buy a new key and use a “master key” to reprogram the lock.

    • Hi karepadi, I recently moved to San Jose, CA and am looking for someone. Our household situation sounds exactly the same. Do you think you could give specifics? Thanks so much.

      • karenpadi :

        Sure! I will ask if she has an opening or if she knows someone who does–her back-up is also pretty darn good. Email me at karenpadi at hotmail so I don’t forget.

      • Karenpadi,

        I’m in Palo Alto and looking for someone. Can I email you? She sounds great. Thanks so much.

        • karenpadi :

          I don’t think she’ll go all the way to Palo Alto. She’s pretty local to South San Jose. I can ask her though. Yes, email me.

          • I see that SF bay associate recommended a service that has an office in PA, so maybe i’ll try them first. Thanks!

        • Meaghan and ML: When I lived in Sunnyvale and then San Jose, I had a great cleaning lady. Veronica Aparicio 510-407-1279. She lives in Fremont and works on the peninsula and south bay. It’s been 7-8 years since I’ve used her, but thought she was the bee’s knees.

          • I can’t believe you just put her full name and phone number on the internet. How would you feel if she did that to you?

          • I’m sure she’d like the business but I’m hoping you have her permission to share her information on a public forum.

  15. Oh my god this is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. About a year ago I moved to San Francisco and started a better paying, yet busier, job – I had to be at a lot more corporate events, worked later, traveled more and – as someone new to the city – wanted to spend my precious free time either relaxing or exploring, not cleaning. But at the same time I’m a bit type-a and a messy home seriously ruined my mood. After hearing me bemoan the situation *again* my mom gave me the best advice ever – she said “figure out how much you make per hour (approx) and then decide how long you think it would take you to really clean the way you want to – if you can get a housecleaner for less than that you’re saving money and buying your sanity so it’s worth it”

    She was so so right. I used a site called Red Beacon to find a housecleaner. You just post the job you want and local businesses respond with a quote and a description of themselves and you pick which one you want. I selected a woman who runs a small cleaning company with her daughters and couldn’t be happier and I’m glad I went with her rather than a corporate company like Merry Maids. She comes once a month and does a deep clean of all the rooms (vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, generally tidying up, etc.) In between I find I can keep it up fairly well just with a quick pass of a vacuum sweeper or duster every now and then. I don’t have her do laundry or anything like that, but I’m considering hiring that out as well. The nice thing about her is that it’s easy to talk to her and explain what I want, so if I don’t want her to move something or whatever it’s not a big deal to mention that. She’s also great because she sends me an email once a month to ask if I’d like her to come in – so I don’t even have to remember how long it’s been or if it’s time!

    I admit at first I had a mental block about it, but then I just let it go. I’m busy and I know the value of my time, if there’s anything that needs doing and can be done cheaper by someone else then it’s worth hiring out. The key is knowing how much your time is worth to you so you can make that calculation with confidence. I know professional women who hire out grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, yard work, and more – and we all hire drivers (taxis or ubercabs anyone?) but it’s all relative. If I took a lower paying job this is admittedly one of the first luxuries I’d give up – in the meantime I really enjoy it!

    • Katie, can you share your housecleaner’s contact information? I am looking for someone new in San Francisco. Thanks!

    • I’m looking for someone in SF too– would LOVE contact info for yours, if you’re willing to share!

  16. I’ve tried three different organizations/individuals and haven’t had good luck. Every single time the cleaning person/crew missed things I consider critical or no-brainers. For example, with one person, my baseboards never looked better, but the tv was still full of fingerprints. Another time, the kitchen counters were not clean. I hate paying someone good money when I feel like I have to come home and finish the job.

    My sister recently hired someone who is super, super cheap, though. I might give her a try. Maybe I’ll feel better about a half-finished job if I’m only paying her half the amount of money!

    • Did you address the unfinished things with the services? I’m not saying that you’re picky, because your expectations sound reasonable, but I would go through what you expect to be done each visit (or once a month, etc.) with the cleaning service and see if it is realistic that they will finish everything on the list within the time covered by the cost.

      I wouldn’t fault someone in this kind of situation without giving them the opportunity to correct the service going forward. If you say something and things aren’t better, by all means, change services.

    • Interestingly, my company could not do TV screens! It was specifically prohibited by my insurance. On that note, though, I did always mention the few exclusions on the walk-through.

  17. On the guilt aspect: I felt very weird about hiring a cleaning company when we first did. I grew up solidly lower class, and although I now have the money to outsource, it felt very wrong to me. However … my aunt cleans houses for extra money, and when I spoke with her about it, she told me to get over myself and hire someone. The money she makes cleaning houses allows her to buy her kids birthday gifts and healthy foods, and she is so happy to have regular and new clients. So I keep in mind that my outsourcing supports a small business owner and her staff who are likely all trying to make ends meet, and I don’t feel guilty about it any more. (I do dislike it when my husband calls them “the maids” though. Gr. He doesn’t understand why I find it offensive, and I don’t really either, I guess.)

    On the competency aspect: The women who clean for us (it’s a small rotating staff) are SO much better at cleaning than me. They can get my stove clean when I can’t. They can get mold out of the edge of the shower after I’ve already given up. And their cleaning supplies smell a lot better than mine, too. Even if I had the inclination and energy to clean, I know I could not do as good a job as they do.

    • As to the specifics: I live in the DC area. We pay $60 every 2-3 weeks for a 1200 sq ft, 2 br apartment. Every once in a while, we ask them to shampoo the carpets or scrub the patio and they charge an add’l $10 or so. We live in a condo, so we use the same service everyone in our building uses, and everyone is very happy with her. Because we use her so infrequently and because she has a staff (we hire the company, not her), we do not have to worry about immigration and tax paperwork.

      • Do you feel comfortable giving the name of the company? I’m thinking of hiring someone and would love a good recommendation. One of my friends uses Jiffy Maids, but they quoted me $115 per cleaning for my 1000 sq ft apt, which seems high.

        • I just checked and the company does not have a web presence, but I’m happy to put you in touch with the owner by email and you can see if she works in your area or knows someone who does. You can email me at corporettemargaret at gmail dot com.

    • I subscribe to the idea that there’s dignity to just about any kind of work (provided that it’s both legal and ethical, no assassins included in my list, although I suppose that is a very skilled trade…)

      So there’s something good about creating a job for someone, especially if one doesn’t have any time to do said job.

    • Totes McGotes :

      This – my grandmother used to clean houses. Think how many more jobs could be created if people didn’t feel so guilty about hiring someone. Most of us don’t cut our own hair or fix our own cars. I could make my own lattes and my own dinner, but I frequently go to Starbucks and restaurants instead. Why is outsourcing house cleaning so touchy for so many of us? Is it because it sort of speaks to personal habits – almost like, “I’m too lazy/extravagant to shower on my own, so I hired someone to bathe me”?

      • In still developing countries, its considered the height of social impropriety NOT to hire help if you can afford it. Its just expected (in India when you rent a house, I believe the help actually comes with the house). They would consider the fact the people with means in the US don’t employ at least a couple of people weird and unseemly.

        So its all about perspective.

        • True. My Army Dad was stationed in Taiwan back in the 60s, and we were expected to hire local gardening and cleaning staff. There was a no-so-veiled threat that our home would be targeted for burglary if we didn’t.

          So for two years as a kid, I had an Amah. I hated her and I suspect she hated me, but the house was clean. My mother was a SAHM, too, so having someone living in our home doing domestic work was really weird for her!

        • True. I have grown up having cleaners every step of the way and I don’t get why westerners are so against the idea or feel so much’s a service like any other. You could be keeping a family above water that way.

          And in Asia, we also are concerned with live in help, they’re like family in that you do tks care of them etc.

      • I’m glad to see these last few comments. I’m a bit sad about all the concern re: stealing, etc. Do you hide your jewelry the first time you have a new friend at a party? I think hiring via word of mouth, calling references, etc., is smart, but cleaning ladies are probably not going to steal from you. Also, they have a skill: a good housecleaner is better and more effective at the job than you are. I think respecting cleaning ladies and what they do is the key to hiring them without guilt.

      • TCFKAG is right (as usual). My husband’s family is from India. His uncle has commented to me before about how they are in effect supporting two additional families and that this is a serious but important responsibility.

      • I also wanted to add in response to Totes McGotes that I have struggled myself with the question of why it is so guilt-inducing to so many of us to hire household help.

        I think part of it is the ‘extravagance’ and social class implications: I am hiring a person who is uncomfortably in a different income bracket and social circle than me. Though this is true of a mechanic, etc., a housecleaner feels more personal. S/he is in your home, cleans your dirty bedsheets, knows how rarely you scrub your own toilets. It feels exploitative to “use” someone with less money to take care of what feels like it should be personal.

        I also suspect that there are gender implications. My husband sees no issues. I see it as a sign that I am not accomplishing the tasks of running a house on my own. Our household is not self-sufficient. And I feel personal guilt for that, for not wanting to clean my own house. Of course, I know it’s not the 1950s anymore, and I WOH, but that mindset is still ingrained in me.

        • Also, I would add, cleaning feels like something we all *should* be able to do. It makes sense to hire out car repair or haircuts because we could seriously screw something up and those are skilled trades. On the other hand, not cleaning my toilet really feels like laziness — there is no doubt I could get that done. Of course, as Margaret and others point out, many of these women are really GOOD at cleaning. They can make a stain disappear or a countertop sparkle. All evidence shows that I, on the other hand, cannot clean for sh*t.

        • Totes McGotes :

          I think you are spot-on with the class issue – I had seen it more as something people just assume isn’t on the table for people who aren’t super-wealthy. I find it more understandable that people might be uncomfortable with the class implications. Re: the gender issue, I think that that is present, but it also made me laugh because BF is the one who said it seemed wasteful because we should be doing it ourselves, and yet he is also the one who gets annoyed about having to pick up his detritus before the cleaners come!

  18. Oh goodness, if anyone has any recommendations for the Los Angeles area, I am in desperate need of a reliable and thorough cleaning person. Thanks in advance!

  19. Cleaning Company :

    My parents had a cleaning lady/after-school watcher when we were little. These days, they hire a set of middle-aged male siblings who come through once a week or two (with their kids when home on winter/summer break) and do the major cleaning of floors, bathrooms, etc. They are very fast and do a great job. I don’t have any objections to hiring one in theory, although in practice I am too cheap, plus I don’t mind cleaning (and I don’t have kids, and I live in a one-bedroom).

    Just want to say that I recently read Nickel and Dimed, and based on the author’s description of her experiences as a cleaning lady working for a cleaning company (along the lines of Merry Maids), I would never considering having my house cleaned through a service like that. First of all, the maids are treated terribly. Second of all, their techniques may make things look clean, but they don’t actually effect cleanliness. (More broadly, I’m glad that I finally read the book, and it has affected my thinking and actions to some degree, although I found the author a bit too self-righteous for my taste in some places.)

    If I ever do hire a cleaning person, it will be someone independent, and I will pay that person a good wage, and I will also provide cleaning supplies and instructions so that I know what the “cleaning” entails.

    • anon prof :

      That book made me never want to hire someone. The possibility of cross-contamination is just horrifying to me.

      • Katherine :

        Amen! I have a hard time with people bragging about how little they are paying their cleaner, and then assuming they are doing a good job. News flash: they are probably cleaning your counter with the same rag they used to clean the toilet!

  20. Just one quick suggestion: if you hire someone as your employee who is not an independent consultant and you are trying to stay in compliance with tax laws, be sure to check your state requirements in addition to the federal requirements. The federal government has a higher threshold for reporting than do many states. In addition, laws on domestic employees have recently changed in several states, including NY, to require things like pay stubs. I’m no expert, but I do recommend doing some research to ensure that you’re in compliance with state law, which is harder to figure out and sometimes more rigorous than fed. law.

  21. falnfenix :

    when my dad was 3 hours away for 6 months for work, my mom and i hired a local company to come in twice a month. they handled the big stuff in the main areas – vacuuming, cleaning surfaces, dusting – so we could be relieved of that massive chore. at the time my mother had a broken wrist and all major cleaning duties fell to me, which neither of us felt was terribly fair. we finally broke down and hired the company to do it for us. they left the house cleaner than i’d ever seen it up to that point. my parents’ house is rather large, and just having someone else vacuum really, REALLY helped.

    now that my dad’s retired and i’m no longer living there, they don’t use a floor in the house and my dad handles all the housework. they can’t wait to downsize.

    • falnfenix :

      er, that last line should have said “they don’t use the bottom floor in the house.”

  22. I asked about this a few weeks ago, and we’re still hoping to hire a housekeeper “some day.” I really, really want to do this.

    But I’m curious about those of you living in New York, what do you think about the new laws? I’m really curious about the $10K fine for “retaliation” if a current or former worker complains. If someone is in your home and you terminate their employment for any reason, can they call that retaliation? Very strange concept. I also find it interesting that it would be a fine vs. compensation for the person who was retaliated against.

    My biggest concern is the insurance. That, and a family friend was sued by a housekeeper over something. I don’t remember the details other than they said it was a scam of some sort.

    • Presumably the new law will work similar to existing civil rights law – if you have your paper trail in order, you won’t run into problems if you fire your housekeeper. I don’t think it’s an insurmountable problem.

  23. I use a service in NYC. It means I don’t have the same person every time, but I don’t have to worry about taxes/insurance and there is someone to hold accountable if anything gets broken or is missing. So far, I’m really happy.

    It did take me a while to “get over it” but after about two cleans, I did. It helps that my husband grew up with a cleaning lady – same one for 25 years. It also helps that we are naturally “neat” people and all of our stuff is normally put away. I hate having anything on surfaces. My cleaning for the cleaning lady takes about 10-15 minutes, tops.

    • Oh and the service doesn’t have my key, which is both good and bad. Someone has to let them in, or you can leave the key with the doorman or someone else. They do have rather early hours, so usually my husband, who leaves for work later than me, lets the cleaner in.

  24. I hired a cleaning lady a few years ago when my boyfriend and I moved in together. She was a referral from a friend. For several years, I had her come once a week, but later, we cut down to every other week.

    When she came to inspect the house and give me a quote, I was able to get to know her personality. I explained my priorities- like vaccuming the couch (we have two marathon shedding cats)-, and we arranged a flexible but regular schedule. I am not normally home when they clean, so if I have any requests, I either leave a note or call her in advance. I’ve had no reason to regret giving her our house key, and I’ve referred her to several other friends.

    For us, as finance and legal professionals without children, it wasn’t about the “need” or “expense”. As it’s been mentioned above, it takes me ages to clean as well as they do in an hour, and yeah, it cuts back on arguments relating to the definition of “clean”. We do, of course, pick up before she comes otherwise, yes, she will reorganize… but I kinda feel like I deserve that if I don’t make the effort to put away my laundry or something.

    • karenpadi :

      “but I kinda feel like I deserve that if I don’t make the effort to put away my laundry or something.”

      This. 1000x this.

  25. I hired a maid service several months ago after changing jobs for a position with more demands on my time; I tried out several maid services using Groupons/Living Social deals before settling on the service that I felt did the best job. I am married with no children, but I can tell you it has made a world of difference just to have them come once a month. They do the nitty-gritty detail work that I never seem to make time to do, which makes a world of difference if you are committed to just picking up around the house before they come to clean. I make sure the dishes are done, counter tops cleared, and the assorted junk on my dresser is put away, but that is about it. Completely, COMPLETELY worth it.

  26. I hired one when I had my first job and during law school. I think it’s money well spent, and less than going to dinner.

  27. I’ve been thinking about this so much lately! I’m just an admin, but I work full time, go to school part time, have a second in-home sales business, and I have fibromyalgia, which means even when I’m home, after I’ve gotten all of my homework and at-home-work done, I’m typically pretty exhausted and often in a lot of pain. My husband works full time, goes to school part time, and his schoolwork takes a long time (he’s an art student) both in classes and at home.

    Our house, presently, is shamefully messy. It makes me super upset when I get home, but I simply haven’t had the physical capability and time. Previously, I’ve had friends or family come clean (for money), and I’m trying to arrange that again, but I think I may have to break down and hire someone.

    My big problem is the cleaning-before-they-clean thing – the whole issue is that I don’t have enough time to clean and can’t actually physically do a lot of the cleaning! How do you get around that? Do they just charge a ton extra?

    Would I have to lock up my pets? They’re all free-ranging in the house and good with strangers.

    I am not *super* concerned about letting someone in my house if I’ve checked their references, but we do have a lot of pricey electronics, which would really be my only concern.

    I think it would be worth it to get someone to clean, but it’s a stressful undertaking for this anxiety bunny.

    • karenpadi :

      re: “cleaning before they clean”. It’s really just putting things away. E.g., emptying the dish rack, clearing out magazines, picking up shoes, putting laundry away, putting bathroom stuff in the medicine cabinet. After a few rounds of “cleaning”, I did some reorganization to accommodate my bi-weekly chore. It shouldn’t be a big deal. Plus, if I don’t do it, I really can’t blame her when I find stuff in random places.

      re: pets. I have two cats. One hangs out on his chair in the dining room, the other hides. Maria hasn’t mentioned that they are a problem and told me that they are a problem when asked. Neither bolts for the door.

      re: pricey electronics: a housekeeper (likely) won’t steal. I would recommend having a drawer for smaller things like ipods and remotes. Put the electronics in the drawer the night before as part of the “cleaning” (this is part of reorganizing the house to accommodate the cleaning lady). Then, they won’t get “re-organized.”

      • Our cats love our cleaning lady and follow her around. She thinks they’re cute and doesn’t mind.

        • My two brother cats I am pretty sure think of my housecleaner as “Scary Vaccuum Lady” and immediately hide the moment she shows up. I’ve been home when she arrived and saw the look of terror in their eyes, even before they saw the vaccuum.

          Which is funny because 1) she doesn’t really vaccuum much (see below) and 2) they’re hiding under the couch or under beds, which is where I really wish she’d vacccuum.

          • I love “my two brother cats” – rather than visualizing 2 cats who are brothers, I imagine that you have 2 brothers … who happen to be cats :)

    • I don’t mind the cleaning-before-they clean thing. It forces me to do the stuff I should have done — throw out junk mail, put away clothes, etc. If it takes 15 minutes, but you come home to an immaculately clean house –> totally worth it in my book.

      No, you don’t have to luck up your pets, especially if they’re well-behaved.

      I think hiring a cleaning person might be very anxiety-inducing for you in the short-term, but I think it’ll be great for you in the long term.

      • Oh and I got my cleaning lady from my friend’s mother, who had used her for 10 years. That was enough of a recommendation for me to completely trust her.

    • Just to answer in terms of the company I owned:

      Re: Mess, I promise that it’s not even possible that your house is the messiest one that the cleaners have seen. What they will do and what they will charge is something that should be discussed at the walk-through. We typically would arrange things neatly at no additional charge, but if what we needed to do was sort things / put them away we charged about $15/hr and needed to discuss lots of specifics with the customer.

      Re: Pets, we had people lock up their pets only if the pet was bad with people or particularly scared of vacuums (because there is nothing worse than making the dog pee on the carpet…). We did prefer to put dogs in a separate room while mopping and such, but with friendly pets it was never a problem.

      Re: Theft, make sure that the person/service that you choose is bonded and insured.

    • I was worried about my pets too, but I just told the ladies to make sure they close the entry door when they’re inside and I leave the closet door cracked open so the cats can hide from the vaccuum. No big deal.

  28. I found my cleaning lady through an ad she placed on craigslist. She runs a self-owned cleaning company and pays her own taxes and insurance, which was important to me. For this reason, I pay more than some of my friends who have the typical under-the-table cleaning lady, but I feel better about it. I called a couple of her references before hiring her, and have since then provided a couple of references for her.

    Overall, I’m glad we have her because our house is cleaner than it would otherwise be, but part of that is because the night before she comes, we have a frantic pick up the house session. (I call it Screaming Night because my husband tends to get rather stressed out with the kids.)

    I’m really pleased with how clean she gets the kitchen and bathrooms, but her vaccuuming is sub-par. She does not move anything – she won’t move a chair to vaccuum under it, and she won’t move a stack of books to dust under it. She just cleans around everything. In fact, I was kind of envious reading Kat’s description of her cleaning lady organizing things! I think my situation is typical – I’ve heard the same from friends who have cleaning ladies – but it is frustrating because it is not how I would do it. As a result, my husband or I still has to haul the vaccuum out on occasion to get the dust bunnies under the couch. And yes, I have talked to her about it more than once, but there is no lasting change as a result.

    There are times I’d like to let her go and find another cleaning lady, but I am kind of a wimp about it, and I would also face a hurdle finding another person I trust. And I do trust her completely, which is huge.

    • Student4Life :

      I think every cleaning service/person will have weaknesses and strengths. I’ve had my cleaning lady for 12 years now. She cleans bathrooms and kitchen to a gleaming shine, but dusting leaves a little to be desired. Years ago I tried to have her change the bed linens and was not happy with how she made the bed (sheets on backward!), so now that’s back on me. I love that every so often she will move rugs and furniture to vacuum and mop under these areas. She also periodically cleans my 6 patio chairs at no extra cost. The MOST important thing to me is that I can trust her with full access to my home while hubby and I are busy working. I agree that finding a new cleaning lady that is trustworthy would be a nightmare for me. My compromise is that every couple of months I thoroughly dust and polish around the house and do spring cleaning stuff that I would have to pay her extra for and that quite frankly, she’s not very good at! (e.g. cleaning base boards). Every year or two I also have my windows and carpets professionally cleaned.

      It’s important to discuss with your cleaning lady what particular items you need/want her to do so you can trade-off as I have with mine. The night before she comes we pick up paper clutter from table surfaces which is the extent of our “pre-cleaning.”

      I also swiffer and vacuum in between her visits (every 3 weeks) and because we keep our home relatively clean (no kids, no pets) she only charges me $75 for a 3,500 sq ft 5/4 house! I know for a fact she charges double this amount to clients who have lots of clutter, dirt or who require a whole day of cleaning vs. the 3-3.5 hours she spends at my house.

      In the past I have given her extra paycheck at holiday time or buy her a nice presents as a token of appreciation. She’s practically a part of the family; I invite her to my holiday parties and she also cleans my mom and mother-in-law’s condos.

      I don’t know what I would do without her! I haven’t got the time or desire to clean our large home after a long day at the office. Laundry, vacumming and swiffering in between her visits is enough!

  29. Mary Ann Singleton :

    Timely post – I only just hired a cleaning lady (her first visit was last week). I now love having a cleaning lady so much. I finally took the plunge after changing jobs and adding 1.5-2 hours of commuting every day. I realized that all my free time was being spent cleaning or feeling bad about the state of my apartment (I also have a very hairy dog that creates a lot of mess). For the first visit, the cleaning lady (and her husband!) spent almost the entire day working on my apartment, cleaning the windows, inside of my toaster, my microwave, fridge, everything. I am still amazed at how clean it is. She is going to come every other week going forward, and I am so so happy.

  30. MissJackson :

    I’m a holdout.

    We’re DINKS with enough disposable income to afford a cleaning lady, and our “kids” are The World’s Most Shedding Dog and Cat. Our house reaches we-can’t-have-people-over gross more often than I’d like to admit. But. We’ve got mega-student loans. And it’s very hard not to see all “extra” expenditures as money that’s not paying down principle. So, we keep saying that we’ll hire a cleaning lady as soon as the loans are paid.

    For now, we live in a house that doesn’t see as much dusting or bathtub scrubbing as it should. I keep telling myself that in a couple years when we’ve paid off our loans completely we will look back and think it was all worth it.

    (Or maybe we will look at our finally-not-embarassing house and think, “wow, why didn’t we do this sooner?”)

    • We’re in the same boat in that we held off for a long time, in part because it seemed indulgent given our massive student loans (we met at an expensive private law school where we both borrowed nearly full tuition to attend). I hated that our house wasn’t clean, and while we didn’t have massive fights about it or anything, there was a general stress that I couldn’t shake and I couldn’t stand coming home after a long day to a cluttered mess.

      About six months ago we bit the bullet. We went with a small service that comes weekly (we planned to do weekly through the holidays since we had a lot of out of town guests in that time frame but I love it so much that I can’t cut back now). It forces us to keep things tidy during the week, and our “pre-cleaning” consists only of making sure the random pair of shoes and the clean laundry is put away. I have done some re-organizing that has helped a lot – i.e., all bathroom stuff is in basket/bin on the counter, and on cleaning days, I can just stick the whole thing under the sink.

      Another added bonus that makes it hard to cut back at this point — husband’s allergies are much improved. We have two large shedding dogs, and having someone vacuum the couch and under the bed weekly has really helped. And I love no longer seeing dog hair tumbleweeds blowing across the hardwood floors.

  31. Mrs Collyer? :

    OK I got turned down by one of these megas, like Molly Maids because they said I had too much clutter- e.g. knickknacks on the tops of furniture items. If anyone has a good independent recommendation in Boston, please share!

    • This is my problem. I’m pretty sure it would be pointless to hire a cleaning person b/c my husband is a pack rat. Every single surface of our home is covered by stacks of “work” papers (which can’t be moved b/c that would mess up his filing “system”). Ugh.

    • Not an independent, but a small business:

      Caveat: I know the South Shore Mayflower Maids owner (or manager? I’m not sure how the partnership works), not the Boston one. But it’s a small, family-owned company.

      • Ooh. I’m on the South Shore. I’m going to check into them right now!

    • Diana Barry :

      We use “every time like the first time cleaning”, which we found on Craigslist. Contact is John Lewis. They are pretty good, not great, BUT: this is key, they PUT BACK OUR STUFF WHERE IT WAS!!! This is a huge deal for me bc I am clutter-central. So as long as my piles get put back where they were, I am a happy camper.

      • Diana Barry :

        Oh, and btw, they are very reasonable. I have a 3000 sq ft house and they clean half of it for $75 and the whole thing for $150. (Second floor gets cleaned once a month, first floor every 2 weeks. I would be happier with every week but haven’t gotten that far yet.)

        • WOW! I have a *tiny* apartment, and pay $85. I trust the cleaners, though, and it took me a while to build up that confidence in having someone in my home, so I wouldn’t switch, but wow, I feel a bit silly!

    • Mrs. Collyer,

      I have a recommendation, but there are some caveats (e.g., I think they now require “regular” intervals, etc). Shoot me an email — kelly.riedel at gmail, if you are interested.

    • Two Cents :

      We use Cida Housecleaners (check them out on Yelp, they probably have the highest reviews of any cleaning service in Boston). Absolutely excellent and thorough. We have used them 4 times so far and they come on time (7 am), and they clean top to bottom. I’m picky about my cleaning and they are excellent. BUT, they are probably a bit expensive. We pay $130 for a 1400 sq ft 2 bed/2 bath. Other places I called charge around $80 or $90. We chose Cida anyway because of their rave reviews and because their initial deep clean was so amazing.

  32. I just hired someone about a month ago. It’s just my husband and me, but we have a big house (3700 sq. ft. — we’re planning on kids very soon) and 2 big dogs, and the cleaning finally got to me.

    To find someone, I asked around for names of cleaning people. I would only consider hiring someone who had cleaned for someone I know for an extended period of time. I ended up selecting someone who charges a little more than others ($18/hr vs. $15/hr), but I heard rave reviews about her, and I figured the extra money was worth the peace of mind that she’s doing an excellent job.

    I told her to focus on the floors and bathrooms and then do the other things. She vacuums, mops, and dusts the whole house. She vacuums my furniture as well. She does not touch any of my things that I leave out, so if I leave dishes drying on the counter, or books piled up on a desk, she cleans around them (but she does move picture frames and other things on shelves to dust).

    She does not have a key to my house. She arrives about 15 minutes before I leave for work, and she locks up on her way out.

    My house has never been cleaner. That’s partially due to her coming, and partially due to me not feeling like cleaning is an insurmountable task anymore — since I know I don’t have to scrub out the toilets, I’m more likely to do a little light cleaning when I have some free time.

  33. We found our cleaning lady through word of mouth. She had been working for them for years so I felt no hesitation in giving her a key. I love coming home to a clean house every other Tuesday. She’s not perfect but does it much better than we would with our busy schedules and it motivates us to straighten up and put things away every other Monday.

  34. From a different perspective, I used to own a house-cleaning business. Obviously, I’m strongly biased in favor of hiring, so I’ll just add some tips that I consider important for anyone looking into hiring.

    1. Check any license, insurance, and bond that the service claims. Licenses are not required in most states, but if your service claims to be “licensed, bonded, and insured!”, they had better actually be all of the above…

    2. If you have the paperwork that goes with, say, your new laminate flooring, or you have stone work in the shower that has special care instructions, this is a great thing to copy for your cleaners.

    3. This is probably not what you want to hear, but I actually charged more for clients who would be home while the cleaners were working. The cleaners are much less efficient when the homeowner is there. The main problem was chatting — the cleaners wanted to be polite and provide good customer service, so they would linger where the customer was instead of quickly moving on to the next room. The other reason was timidness / awkwardness — I witnessed several times a cleaner hesitating to “bother” the homeowner to clean the area where the homeowner was.

    We were based in Massachusetts (Western, college area) and a typical rate was $30/hr per cleaner, and a normal house would be about $90/cleaning. We regularly came in to “fix” what a cheaper cleaner had done.

  35. I would eat PBJ every day if necessary to keep my cleaning service. Reasons we like the service over an individual 1) easier to schedule/reschedule 2) supports a small female owned local business 3) any complaints or comments go to the manager to handle and 4) the workers are legitimately employed (best we can tell). Plus, they do a nice job and use green products. The only downside is grumbling from my husband about having to pick up for the cleaning crew. But really, it keeps us honest about picking up dirty clothes, throwing out old mail, etc so that is a good thing.

    It was also important to find someone we trusted to come without us there. Having to sit around to baby-sit your cleaning person is almost as much of a time killer as acutally cleaning yourself. Or so it seems on Saturday mornings.

  36. A few tips for beginners:

    * Hire a service, if possible. They will take care of taxes and liability insurance, etc. Also, if your cleaning lady is sick or on vacation, they can just send a replacement.
    * You must train your cleaning lady to do what you like, so she has a chance to meet your expectations. I didn’t take the time to do this, and spent months writing notes like, “Please vacuum the back top of the sofa [which is visibly blanketed with dust]” and “Please wipe microwave door.”
    * In fancy houses, there is a book that is like a manual for keeping house. It may sound nuts, but I have thought of doing this, even though I have a humble apt. Designers make books of rooms in their “perfect” state, so everyone knows where the pillows are suppose to go. It just seems having a reference would help set the standard for what you would like and would provide guidance if your maid had a question and you weren’t around.
    * Give a Christmas bonus, usually the size of one week’s service. (Our service is every other week for $70; I give our cleaning lady $40 each Christmas in a card thanking her.)
    * I try to make sure all my jewelry and everything is locked up and put away. I completely trust our cleaning lady, but if I ever lost a ring (from leaving it at the gym or something), I would wonder if she took it.
    * Our cleaning lady does not clean as well as I do, but I still think she is so worth it. I just had to adjust my expectations.

  37. Chiming in to say I LOVE OUR CLEANING LADIES! They’re a mother-daughter team and we have them come once every other week. Because we went the small business route (they’ve been cleaning my MIL’s best friend’s house for 20+ years) they’re flexible and personal. For example, when I was in a consulting job with variable income and had dialed back my work hours (and therefore salary) during my third trimester of pregnancy, they were willing to come once every three weeks instead of every other. We eventually went back to every other week (which is what we’re at now).

    Husband and I took the plunge when we bought a new house 4-ish years ago that was going to mean an hour commute (each way) for me. We figured our time together was worth enough that we’d to pay to outsource our housecleaning. Fast forward to today: we both work within 10 minutes of home, but we have a 2-year-old we’d rather hang out with than scrub floors. We’ve agreed we’d cut cable TV and/or other luxuries before cutting the cleaning ladies from the budget (if it came to that).

    We pay $60 per visit and they come every other week. They sweep/swiffer all floors and scrub the tile; they vacuum, make beds and change sheets, dust all surfaces and scrub the bathrooms and kitchen. We typically tidy up the night before they come, but they’ll scoop our kid’s toys into bins, for example, if they’re strewn about.

    They have a key to our house and always bring a rawhide treat for our dog, whom they adore. They brought me a gift when our daughter was born and have even bailed us out when we locked ourselves out of our house! We give them a biggish tip at Christmas and have passed on items of value (like a large-screen TV we got rid of) to them, and I occasionally pay extra to have them do “bonus” jobs (like cleaning our hardwood floors 1-2x/year).

    FWIW, I grew up lower class and we never dreamed of having a cleaning lady. Although I can’t say enough good things about it now, I do often feel judged by our peers when I admit we have someone come in and clean. No matter! It’s totally worth it if you can find the right person. I highly recommend finding someone you know who gets their house cleaned and going through them for a referral.

  38. My mom started me on cleaning chores when I was 6 years old so I’d be used to it when I was older. By the time I was eleven I was cleaning 4 rooms and one bathroom of the house every week. Well, she got me used to liking it very clean alright. So used to it in fact, that I hired a cleaning lady my second year on the job. Cleaning itself, is now something I loathe to do.

    I hired a company to do cleaning because it’s the easiest way for me cause I am in the country only short-term. She charges a set price based on appmt size at an est. 4 hours. She usually just comes for 2.5 hrs, but I don’t mind as long as the job is well done. I basically view it as compensating her for travel time. Every couple of weeks she’ll start forgetting a certain corner or spot. If it happens twice, I leave her a note asking her to pay particular attention to that spot.

    The appartment is way too small for me to be around when she cleans and I’d feel awkward, because I am younger than her.

    One thing I’d recommend when hiring someone without a company and on an hourly rate is to see whether she can do more than just clean. My last one for example, cleaned the appartment top to bottom, picked up stuff from the tailor (who had ridiculous hours) and ironed my clothes. By washing myself and her ironing my and my husband’s stuff in record time, the amount of money I saved on dry cleaning almost covered the hours I paid her for cleaning.

    So worth it!

    • THANK YOU for that thought. I have been trying to figure out how the heck to handle the dry cleaning for months now! They have ridiculous hours that I can never meet. I’m definitely going to start asking my cleaner to pick up and drop off our dry cleaning on her way in and out now. She’s offered to do the laundry for an extra $10 an hour — maybe I’ll ask her to iron my husband’s shirts instead.

      Have I mentioned how much I love Corporette???

  39. Blonde Lawyer :

    We hired a cleaner this year and then decided we didn’t need it anymore. I volunteer at an animal shelter so I met her through there and knew she could handle my timid rescue dog kindly. My husband likes the house very clean and he does almost all of the family cleaning so I thought hiring someone would take the burden off of him. We only wanted to spend $50, every other week. My cleaner’s hourly rate was $25/hour. So I had her come over and we figured out what she could get done in 2 hours. It meant that we would have to pick each week if she was going to scrub the tubs, vacuum the stairs, or vacuum the couches. She could keep one of those in her routine but not all three if she was to stay under 2 hours.

    The reason we decided not to do it anymore is our pets shed a lot and we would wind up living in a dirty house because we didn’t want to clean it 2 days before the scheduled cleaning. Otherwise, we would be throwing away money on that cleaning. We couldn’t afford to up it to weekly. My husband really doesn’t mind cleaning that much and cleans almost daily anyway. So, in the long run, he just didn’t think it was worth the cost.

    For security, I have a sprinkler head that is fake and holds a key. I showed her where that was and she used that to get in and out. I came home to let her in the first two times so she could meet my dog with me there and then I left while she still cleaned. Once, she locked her purse in the house and I had to run back home. (HUGE PAIN). Overall, I could see the benefit but where we are pretty neat people to begin with, it wasn’t worth it.

    • My husband does most of the cleaning as he is the cleanlier of our duo. I’ve suggested hiring someone a time or two. He always says “Why don’t you just pay me.” And then he grumbles while he cleans.

      So now I just ignore him. :-P Lol.

  40. I hate cleaning and there are a lot of other things I will give up before I give up my housekeepers. I’ve never been too worried about security and I’ve never had any issues. But I do always give then an electronic key code that easy to change instead of a real key.

    Also, I’ve got three kids. The less time I spend cleaning, the more time I have to spend with my kids. And having a clean house just adds a layer of calmness to a very chaotic life.

  41. I was a holdout for quite a while until I took a role which has me traveling several times a month and my weekends became very precious. We have no kids, but have two cats who shed like crazy. I found my independent cleaning lady on Angie’s list. I researched the more structured approaches, and didn’t like the requirement that they come out on a scheduled time (plus they were more expensive).

    We definitely clear the clutter out before she comes to clean, and I try to schedule them on a Saturday when I’m working from home. That way they I don’t have to worry about them staying on task, they ask me questions, etc. They certainly don’t get all the details, but they get everything clean enough that I can spend my time working on my nit-picky details (i’m talking about dustig floorboards, etc). I do have trouble telling them what I’d like them to do different, but that is more a reflection on me, not them.

    I felt guilty at first but it has been very worth it the 100 bucks, especially with the flexibility that an independent lady provides.

  42. I have a really sweet cleaning lady who predates my marriage. I didn’t have a cleaning lady when I lived alone, but decided to take the plunge when I shacked up with my now-husband. Our housekeeper was recommended by a friend, and she comes every week. We’re not usually there when she’s there, though we pop in occasionally.

    As for taking stuff, I do keep things like small electronics and jewelry out of plain sight, but we have things like laptops and silver out and it’s never been a problem. It’s a bit of a leap of faith, but we pay her well and it’s probably a pretty good gig for her. She does sometimes bring her sister or aunt to help her clean, and I’m more worried about one of them taking something than I am about her taking something. It’s never happened, though.

    My husband used to do most of the communication (he speaks her language pretty well), but now I do because we text each other. It sounds a little dorky, but it works great. She has a good command of conversational English, but some concepts are hard and I have talked to her high-school daughter if we can’t understand each other.

    She has four kids of her own, including one who is a little younger than my oldest, so I do give her hand-me-downs if she wants them.

    While I try to clean before she comes, it doesn’t always happen with the two kids. It doesn’t seem to bug her much or affect how much work she does.

    We had a biweekly housekeeper growing up, so I’m pretty comfortable with the whole thing. That said, the whole idea gives my sister hives, but my sister has had very bad luck with finding people.

  43. Lawyers – what does “case dismissed on motion of defense” mean?

    • just Karen :

      The Defendant made a motion to dismiss (could have been done orally at a hearing) and the judge dismissed the case. Usually would occur in a criminal case if the state didn’t have any real evidence to support their charge, or in a civil case if the Plaintiff failed to pursue the case (i.e. it just sat on the docket for a year or more with no activity). Hope that helps!

  44. I’ve had a recommendation from another ‘retter sitting in my inbox for nearly three months. I just called them. Yay for the soon-to-be clean house.

  45. Anonymous :

    I would love to hire cleaning ladies but I am a slob and have stuff lying around the house… clothes thrown on chairs; papers and books everywhere; clean laundry sits unsorted for weeks. If the cleaners, as everyone says, do not move this stuff, there is no point.
    I have kids and realize that I am a bad example. However, beyond keeping everyone fed and dressed in clean clothes, I just don’t have the motivation or energy. I’d rather spend the time exercising, reading, or doing things with the kids. My husband works a lot and he needs to visit his elderly parents 2/week, so I cannot ask him to pitch in.
    It has come to the point that we clean only when company is expected, which is about once a month…

    • If you think it would help you, I would say to talk to some cleaners and see what they can do. If I leave a pile of clean clothes on the couch (I fold the drying rack before the cleaners come, and that generally means everything on it just gets piled up), the cleaners will fold them. If we wanted it, they would be willing to do laundry and change the sheets. If we leave things out in the kitchen, the cleaners will put them away in the wrong spots, but I’m sure if we talked about it/labeled cabinets/etc., that could be more helpful–for now we just try to put things away beforehand.

    • Anon, it sounds like you and your husband are setting great examples for your children. They see you and your husband keeping everyone fed and dressed, taking care of yourself with exercise and reading, spending time with them, and taking care of extended family. If they learn by observing you that all those things are more important than a clean home, you’ve done well.

      If that doesn’t make you feel better, you can take comfort in the fact that people are often determined to keep house differently than their parents. My mother’s house has always been immaculate, but I’ve also that she is incapable of sitting down – she can’t catch up with me over a glass of wine, watch a movie, etc., because the counter isn’t clean or the coffee pot needs to be rinsed or a lamp needs dusting. I love her and am sometimes jealous of her clean house, but I’ve decided to make time with my family a priority.

      That said, if it would make you feel better, follow rosie’s advice :)

      • Totes McGotes :

        This. A clean house should not take precedence over the things that really make life worth living.

      • I could have written exactly the same thing about my own mother. Part of my sloppiness I think is leftover rebellion.

    • The cleaners *can* move stuff like that, if you want them to and you pay for it. Most people don’t want them moving stuff. But they’ll do whatever you want, within reason, including changing your sheets and folding your laundy. You just have to ask and pay for it.

      My mom was a so-called bad example like you, and I grew up just fine and hired a cleaning lady to keep my apartment civilized. So don’t worry about it.

  46. Very timely post!
    Any reccs for people in the Palo Alto area?
    I would like someone to come once a month or so to do the stuff I hate doing– floors, bathroom etc.
    We have a 2 bedroom apartment and don’t really have a great vacuum cleaner… do you guys provide those things or do the cleaners provide their own?

    • karenpadi :

      re: vacuum cleaner. My old vacuum was awful. She left me a note about three months in ordering me to buy a vacuum and including a picture of the model she wanted. It was an $85 canister vacuum with lots of attachments that was available at Orchard Supply Hardware.

      • This. Mine finally called and told us we had to buy a new vacuum. She brought her own in the interim. Our dogs shed so much that we bought a shop vac for her to use! We moved out of our old apartment and into a house (taking our cleaner with us), and my BIL bought us a new special “pet” vacuum for Christmas … which we joked was really a gift for the cleaner. Ha. So now she uses that (until it inevitably dies) … but our house looks so much better now, though (the shop vac tends to blow a lot of dust and particles into the air, but it gets the fur our of carpet really well)!

    • SF Bay Associate :

      We just started using Roses House Cleaning, which has an office in PA. Their first visit was last week and they did an excellent job. We’ll see them again next week. I can check back in and let you know how they’re doing, but things look promising. Our vacuum is very crappy – they brought their own which worked much better.

    • The company I owned provided vacuums (Dysons). We only used the customer’s vacuum if they really wanted us to.

    • Anon0321, search for my name upthread. I posted a name and contact number for the lady I used when I lived near you.

    • We have a Dyson that our cleaning service won’t use. They bring their own and I was told by the manager during our pre-cleaning consultation that this is for insurance purposes. So I guess it would depend on the cleaner…

      • I can see why the service wouldn’t want to use your vacuum (even if it’s superior to theirs). I doubt my company’s insurance would have covered it if one of my employees broke a customer’s vacuum, and the employees were not known for being gentle on ours.

  47. This is only minor hyperbole– having a housecleaner has saved my marriage. I’m picky, he’s not and we’re both busy. Now our free time is spent actually enjoying each other’s company instead of vacuuming and scrubbing the toilets.

    • I don’t think that’s even remotely hyperbolic ;) My SO & I used to fight about doing laundry, now we send it to a laundramat. Problem, solution, and no more fighting. If only everything was so easy!
      Seriously, life is so short and we are all so busy, eliminating that one big chore so you can have a nice evening together where you’re in a good mood because you came home to a clean house is priceless.

  48. I happily use a cleaning service once per month. I have never given them a key, so with me or my DH have to stay home for a few hours on the Saturdays they come. But an advantage of using a service rather than an individual cleaning person is that they send 2 people (in their uniforms so we know who they are) instead of one, so the cleaning gets finished faster. To me this is well worth the money, $100 per cleaning. I like that it forces us to organize and pick up after ourselves periodically.

    • For pricing comparison, I live in downtown DC and have a 2000 sf condo. If I had the company I use come more than once per month they would charge me less per visit.

    • I posted lower down about my experience, but I don’t think that having a larger service is the only way to have multiple cleaners at once. Our prior cleaners were part of a smaller service (the owner and her husband cleaned our place, and I’m not sure she had other employees at that point), and our current cleaners are again a small service, but 3-4 people come each time.

      • It looks like you and I use a similar size service. The service I use isn’t a large Merry Maids size one. It’s owned by a husband and wife who sometimes are the cleaners who come, but usually they are not. They are big enough to have a checklist of tasks that they cover and to be insured.

  49. We hired our housekeeper through a referral from a friend about 3-4 years ago. I held out for a long time because I felt like I ought to be able to keep my own house clean – But I hate cleaning. I hate it. And my husband and I both have full time jobs, much more than full time in my case, and wouldn’t we rather be doing something enjoyable with our free time?

    I would not hire a “service” or company to clean my house. I don’t think they pay their people what they are worth for what they do, and I would rather support a sole proprietor and let her keep the money.

    That does bring me to another issue; that of taxes. People in cash businesses underreporting their taxes is one of the things that drives me more crazy than just about anything. But I am just not sure what I can do about it.

    I have no concerns about security. She has a key and comes when we are at work. Occasionally we will be there on the cleaning day if we are on vacation or maybe I am working from home that day, but I don’t worry too much about it. It’s not my job to stay away from the house while they are there although to stay out of their way as much as possible would be nice.

    I disagree with whoever said you should buy the products they like. I like natural cleaning products, not harsh chemicals, and if I am paying someone to clean my house, they should use what I want to use, not tell me I need to buy some Comet.

    Yes, housecleaners “straightening” and putting away your stuff (in the wrong place) is an issue. Nothng can be done about it except try to put things away before they come. Which really, I should be doing anyway. I don’t consider that “cleaning for the cleaning lady” – picking up clutter is a whole other activity than cleaning.

    We pay $90 for a 2800sf home every other week, which she only just recently increased from $80. I consider that very fair.

    • Wow – $90 for a house your size is a great deal. My house is the same size and I pay $145. My cleaner uses her own supplies, though, as she likes a certain kind of natural cleaner for her own health reasons.

  50. We had a service when we lived in Northern New England that was amazing. It was a husband/wife team (the website made them seem bigger, but I think it was down to just them, at least when we hired them). Bonded and insured. Fine with our dog. Very straightforward about what would be cleaned and our priorities in case they could not finish it all. We had cleanings every other week, $75 per cleaning ($25/hr for 1.5 hours), and our house was 1400 sq ft. Great about communicating via both email and phone. One time they had to come on a weekend because of snow on the usual cleaning day, and she brought me homemade bagels since she knew I’d be home. We reciprocated with some canned stuff and tipped around the holidays. They would use green cleaners, conventional cleaners, or homemade cleaners (vinegar and baking soda type stuff)–we asked for homemade cleaners unless they thought that something else was needed. We were home the first few times, then we gave them a copy of our key.

    Now, DC area, we have a few people come in that are part of a small service recommended by our apartment concierge. At first we weren’t so happy–they cancelled on very short notice, and we a hard time ascertaining if they could use green cleaners. Now things are a bit smoother. They’re fine with our pet and are bonded/insured. After a few times of my SO being there, we gave them a key, but they need to get the FOB from the concierge to get into our building. $85 per time for our 1200 sq ft apartment.

    I am not that concerned about theft once we have met the people that will be in our home a few times.

    One thing I like that my parents do with their cleaners is if my parents will be out of town for a while and will miss cleanings, they pay for them anyway. It’s not the cleaner’s fault that my parents are going on vacation, and the cleaners are not getting any paid vacation. I’m not in a position where I take multi-week trips, but I think it’s a good policy and something I plan to do if/when I’m in that position.

  51. Ekaterin Nile :

    We used Angie’s List to find a locally-owned cleaning service and have used them for about 2 years. We pay $130 every two weeks for them to clean a 2,600 square foot house. My husband and I never cleaned the house on a regular basis and would get into horrible fights during any “pre-hosting” cleaning. Finally, I told him that I was too stressed with work to deal with cleaning, not cleaning, and fighting about cleaning and that we were going to hire someone to clean our house every two weeks. For a while he would complain about it but after a couple of times when we didn’t get the biweekly cleaning (for example, because we were out of town), he realized that the house looks a lot better when someone (anyone) is cleaning it regularly.

    Generally, I’m really happy with the service we hired. We usually have the same two women, and if something is left undone I just leave a note the next time. It’s completely worth it.

    • Ekaterin Nile :

      In terms of security, we gave the service the key to the push lock, but not the deadbolt, on the front door, so they only have access to the house because we unlock the deadbolt on cleaning days.

  52. Put me firmly in the pro-cleaning person camp. Currently, don’t have someone because can’t figure out if it’s worth it. But in previous relationship with much larger apartment, the person we had was a godsend. She did laundry, put things away, cleaned, got the occasional something from the store, and once a week I knew I was coming home to a perfect apartment. The woman who did our cleaning has since become a home health aide so I don’t think she cleans anymore, but it was great having her around. And even though I knew she didn’t always do the most thorough job, it was fine because a) she would always do something if you pointed it out, and b) if everything “looked” clean every week, I didn’t mind moving the couch myself to get the dust bunnies once every other month or so.

    My hesitation now is because the main thing I’d want someone to do is laundry/putting everything away and we send our laundry out because the laundry in the building is inconviniently located/generally not great so it seems silly when the apartment cleaning is straightforward (SO and I do it once a week in about 2 hrs.). Plus, in my current post, I am a bit concerned over the tax implications and just haven’t had the time to sit down and figure it all out.

    I do recommend only hiring through personal references – I do almost everything by word of mouth these days (doctor, tailor, etc.) and am a much happier customer. I also think people tend to do a better job when they know they’ve been referred to you.

    As far as reorganization, I would just tell the cleaning person what you expect. For instance, with our lady, she would just make neat stacks of things so everything was very easy to find, or she would put it away if she knew where it went.

    • “The woman who did our cleaning has since become a home health aide so I don’t think she cleans anymore, but it was great having her around.”

      You never know – when my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s progressed enough that she no longer cleaned, we hired a cleaning woman for her and my grandfather. We made sure to hire one who was also a home health aide, so she could care for grandma if it came to that. (It can be hard to get people with Alzheimer’s adjusted to new people.) Worked great.

  53. SF Bay Associate :

    My now-DH and I have hired cleaning services off and on for the past few years, and are now back on. The main problem we’ve had is lack of business skills/professionalism – calls that aren’t returned, staff that shows up late or early, last minute cancellations, 3 people come for 2 hours instead of the 2 people for 3 hours we were told. We’re both lawyers, so it drives us crazy. We’ve let all those cleaners go, but having cleaners come every two weeks is seriously one of the best things for our relationship.

    This time, we decided to be more systematic. Starting with listings from Yelp for licensed, bonded, insured companies, we called a bunch of cleaners with good ratings, and judged them on the professionalism of their responses. One cleaning company, with excellent Yelp reviews, was very professional in its response, so we gave them a trial last week. I could have eaten off the floor, it was so clean. The owner was also willing to waive the initial hefty “deep clean” fee because we had recently tried another service, and promised to do a every-two-weeks 3-month cleaning trial with his company. Our apartment is 1100 square feet, and it was $85.

    I was initially uncomfortable with hiring someone because I felt that was a “rich people/snob” thing. Someone in my family cleaned hotel rooms to put herself through college explained what others here have said – you’re putting money back into the economy, directly in the hands of someone supporting themselves (if you don’t go with Merry Maids or something).

    We’re still figuring out the security issues. For the moment, we put the valuables out of sight and are home while they clean. If we like this company after a couple more cleanings, we’ll buy a safe for the laptops, camera, jewelry, and external hard drive and give the service a key.

    Re: organizing – yeah, they loaded the dishwasher in a way I didn’t like, and a few clean utensils ended up in strange places, but our kitchen is small so it takes less than five minutes to fix that. We use their visit as a prompt to put or throw away all the stuff we should have already put or thrown away anyway.

    Seriously, the best money spent on my relationship/marriage – way better than spending $80 on date night. If the house is clean, we can enjoy date night IN, although sometimes we go out anyway. A housecleaning service is a priority in relationship maintenace for us.

    • Mary Ann Singleton :

      Congratulations on getting married! (Last time I was on corporette you were looking for shoes for the wedding.)

  54. Any Atlanta recommendations? :


  55. I’m another one who just hired a cleaner – they came 2 weeks ago for a big catch-up cleaning and start the regular bi-weekly cleanings tomorrow. (Also, add me to club who were finally prompted to do this by way of pregnancy – my energy levels sucked well into my second trimester, it’s getting uncomfortable to bend to scrub and such now, and while my husband was willing to pick up some of the chores that are normally on my plate, tax season means he can barely keep up with his own usual chores, and our house was consequently getting pretty disgusting.) So far, so good. The current plan is to stick with this through the end of the calendar year (so a few months into my return to work after maternity leave), at which point we’ll reassess based on how our budget plan, schedule, etc. are working in real life-with-a-baby instead of hypothetical life-with-a-baby.

    Our approach on some of the various things that have come up here:
    * I was wary of big franchise services like Merry Maids (thanks to Nickel and Dimed, like some others have said) but live about an hour away from anyone we know who could have given a personal reference, so I went with what I could find on the internet, going with a local service I found via Yelp that had good reviews and references, and whose owner responded promptly and professionally to my inquiry. I was more comfortable with a service that sent its employees than employing someone directly, though I would have considered that if I’d had a great referral from someone I know.
    * I telecommute one day a week and so scheduled the cleaners for that day (this addresses security/theft concerns, pet issues, etc.)
    * One reason I’d put off doing this was because my husband is a pat rack and visual organizer (e.g. piles of paper covering horizontal surfaces), and the pat rack trait is unfortunately inherited from his mother – whose house we purchased and whose belongings still haven’t been dealt with. Solution: the two rooms that are currently used almost exclusively for storing my mother-in-law’s stuff are closed off on cleaning day, as are the office spaces. The kitchen table and counter still collect piles that need to be dealt with before the cleaners come, but I actually welcome this – they can’t get too out of hand in the space of two weeks.

    • It’s funny you mention Nickel and Dimed because that was what turned me off from the big services. Which is funny because I consider N&D for the most part to be a ridiculous bleeding heart rant, and far removed from reality (no one living paycheck to paycheck is going to just up and move across the country, unless maybe they are a refugee from Hurricane Katrina). But something about that experience with the maid service stuck with me.

  56. Why not “cleaning person”? I realize that most are, in fact, women. Still, why perpetuate the stereotype unnecessarily? It may be PC, but I am glad not to have joined the profession of lawyer-man.

    • I was waiting for this comment. Absolutely agree. Can’t believe it took this long for someone to point it out, and that so many people repeated the comment.

    • Your example doesn’t even make sense. “Lawyer” has always been a gender neutral word. In this case, woman or lady is an accurate description. Should I start calling our handyman a handyperson? This need to be PC all the time is just out of control.

      • If my handyman were female, I’d totally call her my handylady. Because hey.
        -The Engineeress

      • I agree that the “lawyer” example doesn’t make sense, but I don’t see any reason to say “cleaning lady/woman” instead of “cleaning person/service.”

        Linda Greenlaw (fishing boat captain) talked about why she was okay calling herself a “fisherman” but thought “male nurse” was silly (unless the nurse only had male patients), but unforuntaley I cannot remember enough of the details to be more useful here. (Yes, I read strange books.)

    • THIS

    • It’s an accurate description if you are talking about a specific person (your “cleaning lady”) but is not necessarily accurate if you are looking for “a cleaning lady”, unless of course you only want a woman. I don’t think the conversation is about finding a person to clean your house who is a woman–if it is, that only furthers my point.

    • Bursting out :

      Right. How about just ‘cleaner’?

    • Not to mention the fact that with many of the commenters discussing or hinting at the WOC they’ve hired, I wonder what message we’re sending in this country when upper/middleclass, (mostly) white women are free to work outside the home in part because we’ve outsourced this task to poor, uneducated (mostly) women of color. On an individual scale it may make my quality of life better to have a clean house without doing it myself, and it may make her quality of life better to have income from a safe and reliable source, but it still feels like it’s perpetuating a world where women are responsible for cleaning up after everyone else, and where POC are expected to serve white people (and be grateful for the opportunity).

      • I think there’s another way to look at it, Vanessa. Growing up, my lower middle class family had a housekeeper from Central America. We shopped mainly at Target on sale with coupons, but a housekeeper was my mother’s one luxury. The housekeeper didn’t speak much English, and was not educated beyond middle school in her home country. She came to the US as a young woman with nothing (but was legal) and the father of her two toddler daughters was not around. Our hiring of her, as well as many other families, enabled her to support her daughters. We paid her when she was sick or when we went on vacation (camping) so she could have a steady income. Over a dozen years of employment, my family helped her navigate things like picking good public schools for her daughters , navigating parent teacher conferences, and filling out official forms, and other things she didn’t know how to do. She raised her daughters right – they were among the few that our housekeeper knew who did not end up pregnant and/or dropping out of high school. My parents helped her daughters find scholarships for college and deal with the college application process, as college counselors weren’t available at their high school. Both daughters have since graduated from college, the first in their families to do so EVER, and have successful careers. Their mother doesn’t have to clean houses anymore, and she has said how grateful she was for my family’s help over the years. So, I think that while you may be right that housekeeping perpetuates one generation of WOC serving white people, it can also provide the support that’s needed to push the WOC’s children into the “American Dream.” It just takes a little longer than it should.

  57. lucy stone :

    I work for the government and we’re having a health insurance kerfluffle. If you are comfortable sharing, what is your deductible for single and family? Responses from other government workers or people in the Midwest are extra-appreciated.

    • If you just want to compare insurance policies, check out opm[dot]gov/insure/, which I think has a good comparison tool (assume you’re asking about fed govt).

      • lucy stone :

        Local and self-insured. They are talking about quadrupling our deductibles and I’m trying to get a sense of whether or not that’s in line with other places.

  58. southanon :

    Our first cleaning lady was located, vetted and hired by my husband as my birthday present my 3L year. Best birthday present ever. We did not have any kids or pets yet, but neither of us particularly liked cleaning. And because it was my birthday present, it avoided the question of whether I could be doing something else with the $70 every 2 weeks. It was my gift, so I didn’t have to give it back. She worked for us through our first child and eventually retired because of arthritis.

    After some trial and error with another independent (who stole small things) and a cleaning service (that didn’t do as good of a job as an independent ), we settled on a pair of sisters who were recommended by the builder of our new house. He used them for all of his final cleanings prior to move in. We started with every other week, but with 2 kids and 2 full time careers we have forked over the money to have them come every week. In addition to the standard cleaning, vacuuming, sweeping and dusting, they strip and make the beds, wash the sheets and towels, and do all of the kids’ laundry. It is worth every penny.

    • We have someone every other week but I always tell my husband that if we win the lottery or if he gets some unheard-of raise, we’re upgrading to every week. THAT will make me feel as though I’ve arrived!

  59. Anyone have any recs for Tampa? I despise deep cleaning, so it would be a dream come true to come home to a squeaky clean house!

  60. MaggieLizer :

    Great post, Kat! I’ve been waffling about getting a cleaning lady since I started working. After reading this thread, I think I’m ready to take the plunge.

  61. Anonymous :

    My hubby and I don’t always love cleaning, we do love having a clean space, so we focus an hour or two each weekend on cleaning. I only hired help once, during a busy period at work immediately before we were hosting Thanksgiving dinner, and *we never noticed the difference*. I had hoped a different set of eyes would get dirt I hadn’t noticed until it was gone, but no dice. What a waste of money.

    I’d only give it another go if I physically couldn’t clean (due to incredible time demands or illness) AND with the recommendation of someone whose standards are as high as my own.

  62. What are some things your housecleaner does that you really appreciate? We’re going to do an initial walk-through and list of things for the quote, and I’m wondering what to ask for beyond the kitchen/bathroom and vacuum.

    • Change the sheets. If you Google different cleaning services in your area, you can usually find a task list on their website to get an idea of what’s normally included. I would love if someone could fold our laundry too.

    • Cleans the blinds and the baseboards. Never even occurred to me that blinds get dusty. Also, cleans the litter dust from around the litterbox.

  63. Does anyone else really like cleaning? or I am I the only one..

    • I do! It relieves stress for me. I like the act of cleaning, and I love the feeling of victory once I’m finished, as though I’ve conquered my apartment. During law school I used cleaning as a stress reliever/procrastination tool during exam time. I have never lived in such a clean environment as during law school exams.

    • Barrister in the Bayou :

      I only “enjoy” cleaning after big events, i.e. end of a semester, after the bar, done with a big project. It is cathartic for me.

      But now I’m having the hardest time keeping my small one-bedroom neat and clean. I live alone and don’t pull the hours that a lot of the attorneys on this blog do, but I always fall behind now (because I rather go to the gym after work and sleep at night).

      Super frustrating and looking into whether I can afford it at least once every few months.

  64. long time lurker :

    We clean ourselves. My SO will pick up stuff and do dishes and run the vacuum, but things like dusty baseboards and bathroom grout grime do not seem to phase him. I do a big cleaning once a month and the two of us stay on top of the rest doing a little here and there. I am a neatnik obsessive, I admit it (grew up in a messy house and siblings and I are all like this) and it sometimes bothers me that SO will wait a little while to put away dishes, etc. but I realized that I had to let go a little or else I would do it all myself. I’ve been thinking about contracting out the big cleaning but worry it would not be up to my (obsessive) standards and also I have a dog that is weird with strangers.

  65. Legal Marketer :

    When we first got a cleaning lady (also when near giving birth to first baby) my husband and I needed to figure out how to fund it. We decided that for the first year, we would forego anniversary, birthday and Christmas gifts to each other. It was soooo worth it to come home to a spotless house once a month.

    She was a word of mouth referral, so I trusted her. It also helped that I was on maternity leave the first couple of times, and my husband has a flexible work schedule so she knows he pops in and out throughout the day.

    She does the cleaning I just would not do – appliances, scrubbing floors by hand, wiping out kitchen drawers, baseboards, etc. She does a much better job than we do.

    We do have to pick up the night before (although she has told us she doesn’t mind) but we pay her hourly, so I’d rather not pay her $25 an hour to do the easy stuff like putting towels away. She will do anything we ask. She said some clients have her clean their garages, fill their birdfeeders, etc.

    After a couple years, we hired her for an extra 4 hours a month and gave her a list of “big” cleaning jobs to work on in the extra time. It included things like going through our huge linen closet and throwing out expired medicine, wiping shelves and reorganizing. She also did every one of our kitchen cabinets, all our kids closets, etc. That took maybe 4 months and now she is back to a regular schedule. I plan to do this every 18 months/2 years with her because it is so nice to have someone reorganize my pantry shelves and throw out the 3 bottles of bbq sauce that I forgot I bought.

    We tip her generously at Christmas, buy girl scout cookies from her daughter, recommend her highly to our neighbors and feel like we hit the jackpot!

    We mostly communicate through notes or email and I’m yet to find something that she missed or didn’t do well. She did let me know that lately it’s taking her longer to do the standard cleaning, so she is going to start charging me for an extra 30 minutes. I’m fine with that and glad she brought it up, because I do want to pay her for her time. (which my husband verified because he’s been around more lately and noticed her days at our house are longer.)

  66. I’ve worked with a housekeeper since the days of being a single career woman in a 1BR apartment — started about 1-2 years into being an associate in MidLaw (San Francisco). All of my housekeepers have been independent; I hired the first woman’s company on the recommendation of a co-worker. That owner sent out different employees of hers but it would always be the same person for 2-3 years. This continued through moving in with DH to a 2BR apt. We have no kids and no pets.

    After the last person from that independent business seemed to be getting less thorough and less careful, and I changed jobs (going to less income to switch practice areas), DH and I stopped working with her, and asked for our keys back. We missed having someone come in regularly to do the heavy cleaning so we’re back to once per month with a new individual woman recommended by a different friend. We pay her $20/hour and her regular visit is a five-hour visit, so it’s $100 for a 2BR/2.5 BA apartment — about 1800 sq. ft. Very much worth it. We do the clutter pickup/putting things away the night before our housekeeper comes over. Since she comes only 1/mo., I generally Swiffer the wood floors/wipe down sinks and toilets/vacuum LR and DR rug once in between her visits. She focuses on the kitchen and bathrooms, and will do one big additional task each visit — like cleaning the oven or the fridge shelves. We do our own laundry.

    • Oh, and we gave our housekeeper her own set of keys after her first two deep-clean visits (the first of which I was here for and did a full walk-through with her to show her where the recycling, etc. is in the building).

  67. I’d love to know how much everyone pays for their cleaning service (I often wonder if I’m getting ripped off). Post your city, home size, cost, frequency, and whether it’s a service or an individual.

    I’ll start:
    DC, large studio, $90, monthly, service.

    • I like this idea! DC, townhouse, 1800 sq ft/3 bd, 2 bth, $90 every two weeks.

    • Baltimore; about 1/2 of a large house (not sure of sf); $90 for biweekly/$80 for weekly; small service (they send teams of 2-3 people each time).

    • I’ll give one of my sample quotes from when I owned my company :)

      Northampton, MA
      1500 sq ft
      Service — small local business

    • SF Bay Associate :

      SF Peninsula, 1100 sq ft, 2/2, $85 (2 people for ~2 hours), every two weeks. Service, licensed, bonded, insured. No laundry, but both indoor and outdoor (patio) cleaning.

    • Bursting out :

      Bay Area: 2 bd/ 1 ba – 1000 sq. ft.; $75 every two weeks; individual who brings helpers (1-2) with her.

      Recommended by a friend, and like other have said, best investment in our marriage and careers EVER!

  68. Oops – and individual.

    • Ack – that was meant to be in reply to myself above ( I got yelled at for posting too quickly and got flustered).

    • Thanks. That’s a good deal – if i had mine biweekly it would be $70 for my studio. DC is so expensive.

  69. So glad this was posted — my parents came to visit my husband and me a few weeks ago, and I hired a cleaning service for the first time ever. I had all of the aforementioned guilty feelings (we don’t have kids or pets, and I’m not going to lie — we watch a fair amount of TV and movies on the weekends), but it was so awesome to come home to after a long day of work.

    My only issue with it is that I live in Greenwich, CT and the cheapest service I could find was $145 for two people for an hour and a half. We have a one bedroom apartment that is probably not even 800 square feet, so that seemed like a lot to me, especially since I heard people have their entire houses cleaned for $100. Is anyone in the Greenwich/Westchester area that can recommend a cleaning lady or cleaning service, I’d love to have them come every two weeks?

  70. SpaceMountain :

    We use a service to avoid any Zoe Baird tax issues, especially as my husband is a prosecutor. I just don’t want to risk having a cleaning person deemed my employee at some later date. The service employs the staff and uses its own tools and supplies, which gives me peace of mind.

  71. My husband and I had always cleaned our own 1br condo. Then in the course of a year, I went from law student to BigLaw associate, we had a baby, and we moved from a 1br condo to a 3-story Victorian rowhouse with all kinds of dusty nooks and crannies. Working together, we could get the condo spic-and-span in one hour, but the house would take at least 4 hours — and we had less free time than ever. If I only have 10 free hours a week, you better believe I’m not spending 4 of them cleaning.

    We got a referral for an independent cleaning lady from two friends who had been using her for years. We pay $115 for 4br/2.5 baths/no shedding pets. We generally keep things picked up, so she really just needs to do the actual cleaning, and we don’t have a “reorganization” problem. She mops, vacuums, wipes surfaces, does window interiors, dusts, and cleans the bathrooms. If I want her to do something special (e.g. clean the oven after Thanksgiving), I just leave a note and an extra $20. She has a key and lets herself in.

    As for standards, you have to compare her work to what you could reasonably accomplish in the same amount of time — not to a flawless house. Of course there are things that *could* be cleaner, and occasionally I’m tempted to think, “Hey, those baseboards are not sparkling!” Then I realize that I’m only paying her to clean for four hours, and if I cleaned for four hours, the baseboards most certainly would *not* sparkle. In fact, she does a heck of a lot more in four hours than I could.

  72. I’m looking for a cleaning lady, again. Unfortunately the last cleaning lady in sweeping swept up toys from under the sofa and threw them in the garbage. The cleaning lady before that didn’t show up once, after we prepaid her. The cleaning lady before that had the theory that everything needs to be off the floor, but where it goes is irrelevant. So we ended up with shoes on the bookshelf and screws in the fruit bowl.

    I love the idea of having a cleaning person I can trust. But I haven’t yet found one yet. I will keep looking, because I really don’t want to spend my limited free time scrubbing toilets. If you know of a green cleaning service in Silicon Valley that you like, let me know.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      As I noted above, we’re trying out Roses House Cleaning. They’re based in PA and are green. We’ve only had one appointment so far, but were impressed. They come again next week. Also check karenpadi’s comments – she’s in San Jose and I think mentioned using a green cleaner as well.

  73. I’m one of the holdouts, I can’t really justify paying $2500/year (assuming $100 for every other week) with the $200k law school debt looming. I honestly would love to have a cleaning service but I can’t talk myself into it.

  74. Please, Seattle people, specific recommendations super welcome. I am having a horrid time finding someone to do weekly and more than just basics – so busy/pregnant and is just going to get worse.
    Have been contacting/interviewing people- the results thus far are terrible. One last weekend: no show. Another: ‘oh, i don’t do bathrooms or floors though’-???? another- went bonkers, nut case. Another: wants to move in with us.
    I am sure there are good people around that I would love to hire, but no personal recs are coming through, and these are through online agencies and craigslist. And many want $28+ an hour- so $130+ per visit. Ehhh.

    • I don’t know that $28/hr is that unreasonable. We paid $25/hr for a small service that used all their own supplies. Not in a big city–although I’m not sure which way that cuts, since gas is pricey and if they have to drive longer between jobs, that’s uncompensated time, but I would generally expect higher prices in a city.

      Just to commiserate, though–I found the service we went with and this other small service. The guy from the second one (that we did not go with) seemed very odd over the phone, and I just was not comfortable speaking with him, whereas the other service seemed much more professional from the start. However, he repeatedly called me to ask me to give him a chance; I politely told him that we were trying out another service, and I had his number if we changed our minds, but I had to block his number from my phone.

  75. I hired a cleaning lady when I was a second-year associate. It was the best decision I have ever made. My husband and I no longer spend our entire weekends cleaning the house and instead can travel and most importantly, spend time with each other. I hired the same cleaning service that my sister uses, but I would ask colleagues for recommendations rather than hiring someone from a newspaper or other ad.

  76. I couldnt manage without my housekeeper and plan to keep her forever. I loathe cleaning-it is a waste of my limited free time. Got her by referral from a friend-she used to organize slightly but has learned where I stash stuff and goes with that.

  77. Andrea Mercado :

    It’s hard to do it all and to do it all well. I know that some women find it therapeutic but for me, there is NOTHING I HATE MORE THAN CLEANING. Times are tight financially but I would rather cook three meals a day (which I do) instead of dining out so that we can keep our housekeeper (the politically correct term– not cleaning lady). I feel a little guilty but my bf works at home and this ensures domestic tranquility. My Latin Am born bf is more comfortable with the idea of domestic help. He’d like her to come more often to do laundry, too! I’m a little intimidated but that’s me and not her. She is trustworthy and thorough. The main thing is to get someone through referrals.

  78. Love it, crazing! You did a great job of capturing the site. Nice touch of including photoes!

  79. moomoomama :

    The voice of experience speaking here: Never hire someone you know. Never hire an individual. I can’t begin to tell you the horrific problems I’ve had. I will never hire an individual again. Go with a service, even if it is more expensive. One last word – I am a single person and I will never be without a cleaning service. No matter who you are, you need a cleaning service. Try it, you’ll like it.

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