House Cleaning
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House Cleaning

House Cleaning Services

You're thinking about hiring a maid service. This is usually a good decision, but it is one that you have to make sure is right for you. Are you doing it because you need to? Are you doing it because you want to? Or are you doing it because everyone else in the neighborhood thinks you should?

Making a List
Of course these are all valid reasons, you just need to isolate which one of them is your reason. So make a checklist:

  • Are you hiring a maid cleaning service to free up some spare time?
  • Do you need a professional cleaner to do tasks that you cannot do safely, due to age or incompetence?
  • Are you allergic to chemicals, which are often found in cleaning supplies?
  • Do you need to reduce stress and reduce family conflict over cleaning?

What You Want
All of these are great reason to order a cleaning maid service, but they will all result in different expectations from that service. Now ask yourself:

  • What cleaning tasks do I always avoid?
  • What tasks can't I do physically?
  • Which tasks require products that are harmful to me?
  • What are the aspects of cleaning that I like to do myself?
  • Which areas of the house are the most important to me?

Narrowing Your Choices
Now that you have determined this, you must ask yourself larger questions. Often maid services will require that you sign a contract with them. In that contract there will be several options, such as who supplies the cleaning solutions and how often the cleaning will take place.

So now make a list stating:

  • What seasons will the house be cleaned?
  • Who will provide the supplies?
  • Are precious items to be cleaned?
  • How many days a week are the cleaners supposed to be at the home?
  • Will you supervise the cleaners or will you ensure that you will be out of the house for the duration of the cleaning process?
  • An assurance that special cleaning instructions will be followed and, if they are not, who is liable for any damaged property?

Call Around
Once you have determined all of these factors, you should start asking your friends if they are happy with their maid and cleaning services. References are your best weapon in the fight to get your house as clean as it can possibly be.

Great Expectations
What you should expect from your house cleaning service is that your house is clean. However, you need to define what the word ‘clean’ means to you.

To do this you must ask yourself:

  • What rooms are a priority?
  • Am I prepared to tidy up before they come over?
  • Will the house be empty when they are cleaning?
  • What is dirt?
  • How much dirt can I tolerate?

Of course this is a little esoteric. There are some basic cleaning absolutes that you must expect from a maid or cleaning service. There should be no dust, no streaks and no grime. The rest is negotiable.

The best way to ensure that your house cleaning service expectations are met is to hire the best possible cleaning service. Then set ground rules that must be followed. Many maid service agencies, though, usually have guarentees about what their cleaners will do.

Are They Insured or Bonded?
It may not seem important, put it is worhtwhile to check whether the maid service you decide to use is insured or bonded. While an uninsured cleaning service may give you the same level of cleaning, with an insured maid service you have a guarantee that, if anything happens, you won't be held accountable.

Are They a Licensed Business?
If they are a licensed business that means that they have at least been around for a little while. Therefore, you know that somebody somewhere was satisfied with their work. This may be understating it a little, but it can give you some assurance about the quality of their work.

You will probably be responsible for providing your own supplies. This is often the case, so the cleaning crew does not have to carry drums and drums of special products to each job. Also, some people are very particular about which chemicals are used in their home and this is a way to ensure that nobody has an unfortunate allergic reaction.

There are also organic cleaning companies and they will bring with them their own natural products to clean your place. However, they cost a little more. Don't expect your standard cleaning crew to put up with requests to use natural products.

If you do not want to be home for the duration of the cleaning, you should make arrangements in advance to give your cleaning crew keys. Alternatively, you can agree on a place to leave a spare set. This is all the more reason to deal with a licensed company.

Pricing for cleaning and maid services can vary. However, professional chains often charge $30 per hour per cleaner. Use this as your benchmark.

What House Cleaning Services Do
There are no hard and fast rules as to what a cleaning service will or will not do for you. This most often depends on your budget and your needs. Really, if you have enough money, you can probably convince someone to clean up anything.

For the most part, however, you’ll be using a professional maid service that is either part of a chain or an established service made up of a few individuals. What they do will depend on the contract your work out.

Here is a brief list of services you can expect from most professional cleaning services:

  • Service at your home at a prearranged time of the day on certain days of the week.
  • A guaranteed timeline to render your home spic and span.
  • Careful treatment of your personal belongings. Anything that you don't want cleaned will not be cleaned if this is determined from the outset.
  • They will often clean around you, providing you show them a little respect. This means that if you are home and they enter the room to clean it, you should leave the room and make yourself scarce for the duration. While they may be able to clean around you, it is a sign of respect.
  • Bathrooms: This is probably the major reason many of us will opt for a cleaning service. Providing there is nothing inhumane in your bathroom, cleaning services have the tools and the experience to make your bathroom shine. Plus, it saves you the hassle of trying to clean it your self.
  • Kitchens: They will clean the sink, cupboards and countertops along with any other fixtures you have. What they will not do is clean inside these fixtures. That means throwing out your old food and cleaning the oven are your responsibility. Some cleaning services may offer to do these tasks as well, but this is often extra.
  • Dusting: This could be one of the best features of a cleaning service. Here is a distinct difference between clean and tidy and that difference is often the thin layer of dust covering your home. Having your home thoroughly dusted will let you really know the difference between clean and tidy.
  • Basement: Often cleaning services will not go into the basement unless specifically stated in the contract. This means that if you have rooms in the basement that are used often, you should make sure that the cleaning service knows that they are expected to do that task. Buy to be prepared to pay extra for it.
  • Supplies: Whether your maid service brings its own supplies or not is a real issue. Often they have some supplies in their vehicle. But most of the time you are responsible for this part. Make sure to find out before hand. Also, if you have allergies, you should make sure that you provide cleaning supplies that will not cause an allergic reaction.

What to Ask Your House Cleaning Service
Not all house cleaning services are the same, so you should have a good idea of what to ask before you sign a contract.

  • Review your two lists of cleaning tasks and your priorities. Ask if they can do the tasks you would like to have done.
  • Have clear explanations of your standards for each task, preferably written on paper with a copy for the professional.
  • Be prepared with potential cleaning dates and budget limits.
  • Ask about bonding, liability and payroll withholding for Social Security taxes and workmen's compensation. Ask about contracted and common law employees. Discuss with the individual professional how withholding will be handled.
  • Check with Internal Revenue Service (toll free 1-800-424-1040) to find out your responsibilities as an employer. It might be prudent to obtain the name of the person's insurance carrier to verify the existence of insurance, liability limits for personal injury and property damage and whether the insurance extends coverage to activities in your home. Record the information obtained, date and name of the person called.
  • Discuss how you will handle keys or letting them into your home. Duplication and return of keys should be discussed.
  • Discuss how changes in cleaning dates due to holidays or special events are handled. Can cleaning dates be changed occasionally? If so, how?
  • Ask for references.
  • Determine what types of training and experience the professional has had.
  • Determine how knowledgeable the professional is regarding: selection of appropriate chemicals (acids, alkalines, abrasives, absorptives, solvents, disinfectants, etc.) for the material and the soil; selection of appropriate tools and techniques for the materials. Does the professional understand the basis of cleaning products, safe use and which types of cleaners to use on various materials, such as the use of non-abrasives on delicate or easily scratched surfaces?
  • Determine what happens in the event your property is damaged through misuse or carelessness. Ask them for a copy of the claim form from their insurance carrier and clarify what type of information will be needed in the event of damage.
  • After interviewing, hire your best choice. Then establish a written list of tasks to be done each time. Specify how each task is done and types of cleaning products and tools to be used and how complaints will be handled. Both parties will need to sign this before any work is done. Also sign a written agreement on payment procedures and clarify in writing how either party can remove themselves from the agreements listed above.

What are the House Cleaning Service Rates?
Finding a house cleaning service that will do a great job is very easy. Finding a house cleaning service that can do a great job and do it at a great price is far more difficult. Cost of maid services varies from agency to agency. The key to finding a professional house cleaning service that is affordable and thorough is coming in armed with an idea of what you should expect.

The following is a rough guideline as to what you can expect for an ‘economy cleaning service’. Some companies may charge more, but few will be able to charge less. Unless they are doing something sneaky and you don't want that anyway.

Initial Cleaning
The service will come in and do an initial cleaning of your home. This is to get a sense of its size and how difficult it will be to clean. Often they will charge ten dollars per room on top of an initial fee for the type of home. For instance:

  • Studio Apartment - $50
  • 1 Bedroom - $60
  • 2 Bedroom - $70

These prices include the cleaning of one kitchen, one bathroom, one living room. And of course $10 for each additional room.

Once this initial cleaning is done, they may then offer you a contract for maintenance cleaning. Because most of the truly evil grime is now gone, all they have to do is make sure that it does not come back. Maintenance cleanings often cost $50-$90 per week (if you want weekly service). Just be sure to ask for a quote.

You may also be wondering what they will charge for cleaning the appliances in your home. This will cost you a little extra. Ranging from $5-$40 per service, they may also clean your oven, patio, outside windows and refrigerators. Just ask them.

As for weekend and evening cleaning, you may have to pay a premium for this work. It is often the price of a regular cleaning plus 50% for a Saturday. Sundays will cost you twice the normal rate. However, if you need a rush cleaning, they will get the job done on a moments notice.

Want to know more about home cleaning services? Ask all your questions in our forum.