Living Space

Living Space: How to hire – and keep – a good housekeeper

Tribune Media ServicesMay 10, 2013 

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s flat out impossible to clean your house. Between running errands, working and the thousand other things you need to accomplish each day, cleaning can fall by the wayside. If you can afford it, you should definitely consider hiring cleaning help.

Finding good help can be a challenge, from locating someone trustworthy to making sure the cleaning person does a good job. While anyone can clean house, not all contractors are dedicated to quality work.

Here are some basics on good cleaning help – and what to do once you find someone.

Locating help

Houses of worship can be good places to find honest, dependable people. Consider advertising at your church and other local houses of worship.

Place ads in local newspapers and post them on community bulletin boards. This is a good way to find someone familiar with your neighborhood.

Ask friends and neighbors. Alert them with an email about your need for a reliable housecleaner.

Go national. Commercial cleaning services are easy to find, but be aware that many use a team approach, blazing through a home in 30 minutes or less. Many home office workers prefer this style of cleaning because cleaners are in and out quickly.

Making a deal

Negotiate and communicate. Put together a list of everything you want your housecleaner to do, as well as all the things you don’t want done. If it’s not important to you whether the clothes in your kid’s closets are neatly arranged, say so. Explain your top priorities, such as sweeping, mopping, cleaning bathrooms and dusting.

Define what needs special treatment. A new housecleaner may not know that silk oriental carpets should never be vacuumed, or that pendulum clocks should not be moved. If you have furnishings, decorative pieces or other items that require special treatment, make sure the housecleaner is aware of this so no damage is done. Follow the rule of “no assumptions.”

Suggest a trial period of one month, then reassess how things are going for the both of you to determine whether you want to continue the arrangement. This gives you an out if you’re unhappy with the service provided.

Don’t sabotage the relationship. Remember, if your contractor cleans house for a living, treat the person as a professional. Stay out of the way and let the cleaner work. Don’t micromanage and insist he or she use paper towels to clean windows if the worker favors a cleaning towel. If you expect someone to clean exactly the way you do, then you shouldn’t hire a housecleaner.

Stock supplies the housecleaner prefers. Show the contractor what you have on hand and ask whether he/she has any preferred products. Keep a good supply of products available and explain any special preferences you have, such as natural cleaning products. If your housecleaner can work in a way that’s comfortable and familiar, the work will go faster – and better.


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