Hiring a cleaner or looking for a housekeeper can be a daunting task. Whether domestic or industrial, cleaners provide a valuable service and finding the right one can be a godsend. When the relationship goes wrong, however, this can very stressful and takes time to resolve.When looking to outsource cleaning duties, there are two obvious choices; options.
- Hiring a self-employed / private cleaner.
- Using a household cleaning service
There are pros and cons to each, with the ultimate decision being a matter of personal choice.
Hiring a cleaner via an agency allows you to benefit from things like public liability insurance as well as having a point of contact if problems arise. Agencies may charge higher rates than private cleaners but might also provide a round-the-year service.
Private cleaners could come with lower rates and might be more invested in the work as their personal reputation is at stake. You will need to consider that self-employed cleaners may take holidays and sick-days where you will not receive a service.
Hiring a cleaner privately is best done by asking friends and family for recommendations. When you have some suggestions, meet personally with each cleaner and ask for at least three references from current or past clients (make phone contact with these as written references can be easily be forged.)
Hiring a cleaner is also possible via the advertising boards found at post offices and shops. The internet is a good resource, especially if you decide to use a cleaning agency – try Google, Gumtree or the boards of sites like Mumsnet. Social media sites might also be a good place to ask for suggestions.
When you hire a house cleaner, meet with several different people to give you an idea of what’s available. Even if you like the first cleaner that you meet, having several options will make you more confident in any decision you make.
There are a number of questions that you should ask when hiring a cleaner, either privately or through an agency.
- What are your rates per hour?
- How long have you been doing this job?
- How many clients do you have?
- What is your normal range of tasks for domestic/industrial cleaning?
- Are there any jobs you won’t do?
- How often would you like to be paid and by what method?
- How shall we communicate (e.g., leave a note, emails etc.)
- Do you have insurance (ask to see a copy.)
- How long are your annual holiday periods and when do you take these?
- What is your availability?
- Who will supply cleaning products?
Additional questions for an agency include;
- Will the same cleaner or cleaners come each week?
- Are cleaners CRB checked?
- How do you train your cleaners and what experience do they have?
Once you decide to hire a cleaner, you should agree on a notice period if either of you wishes to terminate the relationship. You should also set up a method of payment and decide how you’ll communicate on a weekly basis before any work takes place, along with agreeing on time, frequency and duration of visits.
The most important task, once you’ve chosen your cleaner, is to establish a list of routine tasks for each visit. This should be devised and negotiated with your cleaner, rather than simply handed over. It is also advisable to do a walk-through of your home, pointing out any special items/ornaments or areas where you don’t want your cleaner to go. You should let your cleaner know if you have any pets and where these will be kept when you visit.
A good tip is to consider how much time you want your cleaner to spend doing general tidying before he or she can begin cleaning. If your house is very messy, time could be eaten up by putting things straight. Will you be able to get your home in reasonable order for your cleaner’s visits or do you need to incorporate tidying time to get the best out of their service?
You may need to be resigned to the fact that hiring a cleaner may not be a straightforward process. The first or even second cleaner you employ may not be ‘the one.’ Different cleaners work with different households, so you may need to let several cleaners go before finding the right person. Remember that you are paying for a service and should be happy with the results. Always let your cleaner know how you’d like jobs to be done and give constructive feedback. Clear communication is the key to a good working relationship.
House cleaning prices and how much should I pay?
The hourly rate that you should expect to pay when hiring a cleaner will vary depending on where you live and the type of property you own. In general, prices will be higher in large cities and lower in rural areas. The level of work required (whether light duties or deep cleaning) will also affect the price quoted.
For light, regular cleaning duties of a domestic property, you should expect to pay between £10 and £12 per hour. For a one-off or deep clean (perhaps when tenants have moved out of a rented property or after builders have completed a job) this price will increase to between £16 and £20.
You and your cleaner should agree on a list of duties that will be carried out within your set price per hour. Usually, services like ironing are chargeable on top of the normal hourly rate.
Some cleaners may charge more if you have pets like dogs and cats.
Seven housekeeping duties you should ask your cleaner
Before your new cleaner starts work, it’s important to establish what duties you’d like them to carry out within their allocated time. Most cleaners are happy to negotiate their workload to suit your priorities.
Make a list of the cleaning tasks that you find most difficult or time-consuming and add these to your list first before adding easier or quicker tasks, if time allows.
As a general rule, these seven housekeeping duties are a good start if you’re struggling to make decisions.
- Vacuuming carpets
- Dusting and polishing of surfaces and ornaments.
- Cleaning kitchen and bathroom surfaces
- Mopping or steam cleaning floors
- Cleaning internal windows
- Emptying internal bins
- General tidying of agreed areas
Seven housekeeping duties you should not ask your cleaner
Each cleaner or cleaning company is different, so it’s worth asking your new cleaner if there are certain tasks that he or she will not carry out for you. As a guide, the following seven duties are not normally completed by a domestic cleaner, though some will be happy to negotiate.
1. Washing and ironing clothing
- Any form of childcare
- Taking care of cleaning up after pets
- Cleaning external windows
- Clean anything without the provision of proper equipment (e.g. scrubbing large areas on their hands and knees.)
- Supermarket shopping or cooking
As a rule of thumb, domestic cleaning duties should take place inside the home and involve the house rather than its inhabitants!
What to honestly expect from a house cleaner in 1, 2 and 3 hours.
Setting realistic expectations of what your new cleaner can achieve within certain timeframes will help you to assess their suitability.
In one hour, a cleaner will only be able to do a very basic ‘skim’ of an average sized home. This might include hoovering carpets, sweeping floors and wiping down kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
In two hours, along with the above tasks, your cleaner should also be able to mop or steam clean hard floors, empty and load a dishwasher, empty internal bins, put away clean washing and do some light dusting.
In three hours, your cleaner should be able to complete all of the above and take on a few extras such as decluttering a particular area of the house, polishing ornaments or picture frames, loading and unloading the washing machine, changing bedding and deep cleaning a particular area or item (such as an oven.)
If there is a large amount of general tidying to be done, your cleaner will have their time eaten up by this and cleaning time itself will be reduced.
Top five home security cameras for monitoring housekeepers in 2018
If you worry about your cleaner having access to your home when you’re not there, it may be advisable to invest in an internal security camera to monitor their activities. Agencies that provide a household cleaning service often CRB check their employees, but private cleaners usually only come with personal references.
Camera set-up is easy, and units are surprisingly affordable.
1. Wimaker HD 1080P
This tiny HD, wide-angle camera has two recording modes (movement detector and real-time.) The WIFI connection means that you can watch the camera feed live from your laptop or mobile phone.
2. Ebit cam, 1080P
This mid-range WIFI model provides stunning HD video and 100 X 360-degree coverage. It also comes with a 1-year warranty, as standard and setup can be completed within 3 minutes.
3. JOOAN 570YRA
The best budget camera – this model allows you to view your feed in real time via a mobile phone. Built from tough, durable material so it’s made to last.
4. YI Home Camera
Full HD resolution video with a motion detector that sends activity alerts to your phone. The camera also has a ‘one tap’ digital zoom facility.
5.EPOSGEAR wireless replica security camera.
Those on a very tight budget might try a dummy security camera, designed to protect against theft and improper activity by acting as a threat. Priced at only £8.99, this model is a purse-friendly deterrent but won’t provide any hard evidence.
The ultimate cleaning checklist for your new house cleaner
Work with your new cleaner on a checklist that’s realistic yet covers priority jobs. You may need to test this list over several weeks after hiring a cleaner, adding or removing items to make sure your needs are met. Separating jobs into how frequently they need to be performed is also useful.
The list below is a great guide for those who don’t know where to start.
- Hoover carpets
- Sweep and mop/steam clean hard floors
- Clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces (including toilet and hobs)
- Empty and load dishwasher
- Dust and polish living room and bedroom surfaces
- Empty internal bins
- Fold and put away clean washing
- Change bedding
- General light tidying
- Clean inside dishwasher, oven and microwave
- Wipe skirting boards, doors and window frames
- Clean interior windows
- Clean inside fridge
- Defrost and clean freezer
- Steam clean upholstery
- Organize draws or cupboards
- Defrost freezer
Cleaner or housekeeping hiring can be a confusing and time-consuming task, but the right person is out there and worth their weight in gold! Following the suggestions in this guide should go a long way to making sure you set realistic expectations, manage your relationship well and get value for money – and a clean, sparkling home, of course!