I got a call this week from a woman who wanted to know how much it would be for a housecleaning. She described her home and how often she wanted it done. I ran her through a quick Q&A so I could get a better sense of her home. One of the questions I asked was if she had utilized a cleaning service before. The response was that she did, in fact, currently have a service but “…it’s getting so expensive.” I quoted her a ballpark figure. She sounded discouraged but thanked me and hung up.
I almost always do an on-site inspection because one person’s “clean” is another person’s “Oh my gawd! How do you live here?” In my 25+ years of cleaning houses, I have SEEN. IT. ALL. I could write a fat book. Not everyone can clean well. In fact, MOST people can’t clean well. Things become, what I call, “part of the furniture”. And they get overlooked time and time again. Then the tension builds. We see the dust bunnies behind the couch, and the fingerprints on the walls, and the baseboards, and the ceiling fans, and the blinds, and the oven, and, and, and… It dawns on us that SOMEONE has to get busy. But who has the time?
So, we decide to call a service to give us a leg up. “I just need help with it this one time, then I will keep up with it.” We do the research. Ask friends. Look at online reviews. Make a few calls.
“It’s HOW MUCH?!?”
Sticker shock is common. But when your water heater blows up, you cough up the money to replace it. Maybe there are new laws and building specifications that are required that make installation (by a qualified plumber) even more expensive, but after all is said and done, it is considered an “upgrade” to the property and if you sell, it will be in your favor. “New water heater!” can be included in the disclosure and most of the money spent, if not all, can be recovered.
It was an investment.
Your home, whether you own or rent, is an investment. We spend, in some cases, a LOT of money on rent or the mortgage to live there. If you rent, you have most likely, a hefty deposit that can be refunded if the property has been well cared for. If you own, routine (and sometimes emergency) maintenance is required if you want to make money if and when you sell it. But not just that, it’s also for the health and well-being of you and your family. If there’s a loose floor board on the stairs to the basement, leaving it unrepaired could cause someone to trip and fall. I don’t have to inject pictures into your head about the ramifications of that!
Before we occupy any property, we pay inspectors and appraisers to make sure it’s in reasonable condition. Did you know the cleanliness of the property, or lack of, can be a significant strike against you? A one-time white tornado will not disguise the fact that regular cleaning was not done. Prolonged lack of thorough scrubbing is evidenced by visible wear and tear all over the home. Vermin such as rodents (big and small), bugs (think cockroaches, silverfish, ants, and even some spiders!) will add to the unsanitary conditions. Have you ever walked into a place and there was a “smell”…kind of sour and pungent and your nose wrinkled up right away? That…is from lack of consistent housework. All the bleach and air fresheners in the world won’t fix that. At that point, repairs will have to be made like cabinet and flooring replacement. Sometimes all of the appliances have to go because they have been neglected for so long. In really bad cases, walls will need to be replaced and painted after pest removal has been done. All of this must be completed by trained professionals to pass further inspections. There goes your deposit and then some!
There’s a reason the cheapest places are cheap. They are usually run-down, smelly, and unclean. So, if you dig that sort of DIY atmosphere…go for it!
There’s real science to thorough and regular cleaning, not just maintenance. To preserve the integrity of the property, the health of you and your family, and your money.
The Professional House Cleaning Technician’s Manual (yes, it is a trained skill) says:
“Proper cleaning and maintenance of a home are vital for disease prevention and the reduction of indoor air pollution, which is often more threatening to human health than outdoor air pollution. Well-executed cleaning can also protect the physical structure of a home and its furnishings.”
So, it wasn’t just your mom being all OCD.
Whether you choose to spend your own time, or hire a service, it’s important that whatever you decide, it’s done well. Professional house cleaning services are just like plumbers, electricians, and other home contractors. Or they should be.
Companies spend a lot of time and money training the people sent to your home. We vet, and insure, and provide ongoing education to our employees. Paying people a fair wage for their time (this is hard work!) is essential for good quality performance and having the “same people back every time”. We educate on the chemicals and equipment used and all the different surfaces to be cleaned, how NOT to cause damage, and therefore protect your home, health, and belongings.
Would you hire a neighbor woman down the street to replace your water heater because she’s less expensive than a plumber? Does she know how to do that? Probably not. So why would you hire her to clean your house? Is she trained to know what cleaning solutions will best address your needs? Does she know that many chemicals can set off symptoms for people with allergies, autism, and asthma? Does she know that many substances are poisonous to animals? Does she have insurance for herself…for you? Do you know if she has a little habit of stealing? Or pain-killer abuse and she may go sifting through your medicine cabinet? Do you know if she will pay the taxes on what you pay her? Did you know the IRS can force YOU to do that? Is she even legal to work in the U.S.?
There are many more things to consider when hiring help of any kind than just price. Safety, training, and security are just a few. Housecleaning is a skilled trade and part of what you pay us for is to protect your home, not just by cleaning, but by being qualified to perform the job. It costs more than $50 to have your house cleaned today. Would you pay you $50 to clean your house properly? It is an investment in the maintenance of your property. With a service, you have legal recourse if damage or injury happens. Not all homeowner’s insurances will cover instances of loss or harm if you have not done due diligence in hiring a worker into your home. Not to mention the many scam artists out there!
Protect your investment. Protect the HUGE amount of money you spent on your home! The price you pay now can be recovered later in a solid selling price later. So, if you can’t, won’t, or don’t clean well, there are people who do. We do it faster, better, and more consistently than most folks do.
Consider hiring a service who is insured (both for liability AND injury), licensed (if required by local law), bonded, and background checks their staff, among other things. Be prepared to pay well.
“Price is what you pay, value is what you get.”