How To Hire A House Cleaner

Outsourcing. Big corporations do it, so why not households? Delegating the mundane, routine household chores to an outside source may just be the key to a happy household.

Whether you’re looking for some temporary help around the holidays or part-time or full-time household help, hiring a house cleaner requires a bit of preparation and a whole bunch of interviewing.

Finding A House Cleaner

“House cleaner and housekeeper — they sound the same, but they actually involve two very different jobs and duties,” Jennifer Troyer, founder of Seattle Green Cleaner, LLC writes at Angie’s List.

“If you think in terms of light-duty work with some organizing thrown in, that’s for a housekeeper,” she explains. Think Alice, on TV’s “The Brady Bunch,” for example.

“If you’re looking for a top-to-bottom cleaning of your home, that’s for a house cleaner,” Troyer concludes.

Aside from asking friends, family and co-workers for a referral to a house cleaner, check online at sites such as Craigslist, Angie’s List, Yelp and Groupon. If all else fails, use Google to find “house cleaners in [the name of your city].” 

Prepare For The Interviews

Naturally, before interviewing anyone you’ll want to check for online reviews. Do this at Yelp.com, AngiesList.com or, again, Google the company or person’s name with the word “reviews.”

Then, make a list of questions to ask those you will interview. Following are a few suggestions:

  • If you’re hiring a company, ask if they perform background checks on their employees.
  • Is the cleaner or company licensed and bonded?
  • Is there room in his or her schedule to accommodate you?
  • Ask for references from current and former clients
  • What is the longest period of time the cleaner has held a client?
  • The money stuff – how much will each service cost, when and how will you be expected to pay? Will they bill you monthly? Are there extra fees required for certain tasks?
  • If it’s important to you to have the same cleaner every time, ask the representative if that is a possibility if you hire them.
  • Will the cleaner bring his or her own supplies or are you expected to supply them? Is there an extra charge if they bring their supplies? If the cleaner will use yours, ask for a list of what is commonly used so that you can shop for these items.

Next, make a detailed list of what you expect every time the cleaner visits and another for occasional tasks. For instance, “dust the furniture” is a task most homeowners want performed on every visit. But, “wipe down the top of the refrigerator” may be one that can be done once a month or so.

Finally, make a list of any special considerations, such as what to do about pets, surfaces that require special care or areas that are off limits.

The Interviews

Always request an in-home interview. This way, you can conduct a thorough walk-through of your home, pointing out exactly what you want done. Not only will the price quote be more accurate than if it were given over the phone, but you’ll have a chance to judge the company’s or individual professionalism better as well.

When you’ve narrowed it down to one or two cleaners, and if they don’t work for a company that conducts criminal and background checks, you’ll need to do some research. Check out ConsumerAffairs.com’s list of online background check companies with reviews from users.

Do let the candidate know that you will be running a background check on him or her.

Red Flags

All of us get gut feelings about someone when we first meet them and many of us end up chiding ourselves for not paying attention to those feelings. Pay attention to what you’re feeling about the potential hire during the interview.

Then, reconsider hiring any house cleaner who:

  • Can’t or won’t supply you with at least three references from current or past clients.
  • Refuses a background check
  • Has no long-term (more than at least 6 months) clients

Finding the right employee for any job is challenging but when that job is going to be performed in your home – while you may be away – it’s even more important to be extra cautious.

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