The Time I Overpaid For A House Cleaning Service

House cleaning ServiceToo Good to be True?

 

Doesn’t someone else cleaning your house sound glorious? Elbow grease besides your own scrubbing and buffing until surfaces are gleaming? It sounded great to me until I actually went through with it!

House cleaning wasn’t something I had ever considered until this fall. I was moving into a new apartment 1,200 miles away, and I was doing so in a hurry.

My husband’s relocation gave us two weeks to find an apartment in a city neither one of us had ever stepped foot in and move our entire lives there.

The process started with frantic apartment hunting online in an attempt to secure housing from a distance. An unsuccessful week later I took a one way flight to New York City to rent an apartment and rent it quickly.

I wouldn’t leave until I had a lease with my name on it. Within a few days I found an apartment, signed on the dotted line, and booked a flight back with one day to pack belongings before hitting the road in a moving truck New York bound.

If you think that sounds crazy, it was. With all that craziness I knew that the last thing I’d want to do is scrub down my new apartment the moment I arrived. I decided the cost of hiring a cleaning service was worth my sanity.

In the one day I had to pack, I did some research and booked a cleaning service for the day before my arrival. I had a friend in the area let the two cleaners in.

On move in day we arrived to an empty apartment that wasn’t that much cleaner than when I’d seen it the first time. It wasn’t filthy or anything, but the walls left white powder on your palm when you touched them, the floors left the bottom of your socks grey, and the windows… oh the windows. It was $200 down the drain for a one bedroom apartment!

So, here’s my advice for hiring a professional cleaner from a cleaning service in your local area:

 

What to Consider

 

Consider why you want to hire a cleaner. Has work been so hectic lately that you’ve neglected your home and you have visitors staying from out-of-town next week? Some situations just call for extra help. If your time (or lack thereof) is worth more than the price of hiring someone, you may find the help of a cleaning service well worth the money.

If you’re preparing to move out and are counting on your picky landlord to return your sizeable deposit, hiring a cleaning service may be one way to get your rent deposit back. Only you can decide if the going rate for house cleaning in your area is worth the price tag.

If you’re among the tidiest people you know, know that your standards of clean may be hard to meet. It would be easy to set yourself up for dissatisfaction if you feel that most people don’t keep their homes as clean as you do.

If you decide to move forward with hiring a professional cleaner, give yourself time to find the right cleaning service company. Booking too last-minute can pigeon-hole you into using a company that might not have been your first choice.

You’ll probably want a cleaning service located nearby so travel costs aren’t added to your bill. I also noticed that cleaning companies often had individuals who were the rock stars of the company, so to speak.

Their names would come up repeatedly as the best cleaner at that business, which meant they were often requested for specific jobs. Planning ahead will increase your chances of hiring a great service and a great worker.

 

Where to Find a Cleaning Service

 

Had I known people in the area or been familiar with businesses around the city, I feel confident I could have found a cleaning service company with solid recommendations.

I also could have taken more time to research. My advice is to ask around. Ask family, friends, and coworkers if they’ve used a cleaning service or if they know anyone who does. If they give you some leads, great! Go further and ask if there’s a particular employee who does a great job.

The benefit of asking people you know for recommendations instead of consulting the Internet is that people have different standards and expectations of clean. Think about it. What you consider clean may not be what your mother considers clean. So if your cousin is particularly organized and can recommend a cleaning service, that company is likely pretty good.

If you don’t know anyone who can recommend a good cleaning service company, I’d head over to Yelp or a similar review based site. Yelp is where I found my cleaning service, so I’m not going to say it’s fool-proof.

I think time and money were against me in this case. Review sites can work out well if you have the time to explore your options and read enough reviews to get a sense of what to expect. I picked a company based on good ratings (not the best), price (I got a new customer discount) and last-minute availability.

 

Questions to Ask

 

As you look for a cleaning service to hire there are a few things you may want to clarify. How many cleaners will be coming to do the job? Is the job limited to a certain number of hours or is it task dependent? The combined answers to these questions will give you a good idea of the type of job to expect.

One cleaner working for a two-hour maximum will likely yield different results than two cleaners working until the job is completed. This should also give you a feel for the value of the cleaning.

If you have pets you may want to ask the cleaning company what their policy is. Do you need to be home to watch your pet while they work? Will pet friendly cleaning products be used in your home?

Do you need to provide the cleaning supplies for them to use or will they bring their own?

Can you make specific requests? For example, if you book a two bedroom apartment cleaning, can you specify complete kitchen and bathroom with bedroom floors and dusting in one bedroom? You probably have an idea of what jobs are at the top of your priority list, but if unspoken the cleaner may not prioritize the same tasks.

 

Would I Do It All Again?

 

Yes and no. It was a big expense at a time when we already had a lot of other large costs. I still would have hired someone to clean for me before moving in, but I would have been a lot more specific about what I wanted done.

Their website listed what comes standard with every cleaning, and I put too much trust in that. I was told the cleaners showed up with not many cleaning supplies, and there definitely weren’t any to be found in my empty apartment.

The moral of the story: ask a lot of questions and clearly communicate your specific needs and requests!

Have you ever hired a professional cleaning service company to clean your home? How was your experience? Do you have any tips?

 

Post Contributor: I’m Natalie of Budget and the Bees! I’m from Nevada, but I currently reside in New York. I love to eat, take pictures, and travel.  Actually, I really love to travel, and I’ll follow my sense of adventure anywhere. I write, volunteer, pursue new passions, and take care of a med school student and a spunky cat.

 

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Photo credit: House Cleaning Service-Flickr

Mr. CBB
Mr. CBB was born and raised in the United Kingdom who then moved to Canada where he is a permanent resident. He recently became a father to a very busy toddler who allows him to be a kid at heart. He bought his first house at the age of 21 after University and his second at the age of 24. Both Mr.CBB and his wife are Debt and Mortgage Free and they did it all in under 5 years using a Budget. Canadian Budget Binder is a place where he shares their financial experiences with his readers and hopes to learn about theirs. Welcome to CBB!
Mr. CBB
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Comments

  1. How frustrating! Those are red flags with any business. Is it too much to ask that a business fulfill its purpose to the best of its ability? If you do keep looking, I hope you find a great one!

  2. When we moved out of our apartment and into our home a few years back, we used a cleaning service to insure we’d receive our full deposit back and they did an excellent job. Over the past year or so, we’ve considered having a cleaning service come in just to get things well-scrubbed in between regular cleanings. But the services we’ve talked to have each given us one red flag or another (such as giving one price in person and a different price on the phone 2 days later, or not showing up) and we’ve never gotten it done.

  3. Ok this might just be me, but there are things I will never pay someone to do and thats cleaning my home. I never spend money on things I can do myself for FREE. I get it when people hire cleaners when they are moving in or out of a new apartment, but I still can’t. With that being said if I did have too, asking for references would be key for me. Allowing someone into my private space is really serious and I would have to make sure the person is trustworthy.

    • Someone trustworthy is huge I think. It would be strange to invite a stranger into your home and leave them alone, but it’s also strange to watch over them while they work. I didn’t worry about it because the apartment was completely empty. We hadn’t arrived with any of our possessions. As far as paying someone to do something you could do, I totally get that. I’m usually the same way. Time became more valuable than the money in this instance.

  4. Cathleen Roy says:

    I’m a cleaner. I own my own business and I work all by myself (for now). Love the advice in this post. As a cleaner I may not clean something specific if not asked. Always communicate your wants 🙂 I am very anal when I clean though but I get highly recommended when someone refers me to friends/family. I love my job and I can’t wait to get myself a cleaner 😉

    • Thanks, Cathleen! It’s nice to hear your perspective. It seems that you could build a great business if you become highly recommended by others. Word of mouth and positive reviews on Yelp-type sites seem to mean a lot. Keep up the good work! =)

  5. Christine Weadick says:

    My Dad was telling me that my Uncle has some one come in to clean his one bedroom apartment. I think he said once a month. My Uncle has mobility challenges so it is hard for him to do much of the work. But he does live alone so I’m not sure how grubby the place gets with just him rattling around. My Uncle is happy with it from what Dad said but I don’t know the particulars.
    Dad lives alone as well but he’s not much for cleaning. I’ve gone there to help him out with the heavier things he just doesn’t know how to do.Mostly because Mom would kick him out of the house for a while so she could get things done without him underfoot!!
    We have moved a few times over 38 years of marriage but if we move again I have no intention of being here while the house is on the market. My plan would be to move out, lock, stock and barrel…clean and then but the house up for sale. If that means paying for bridge financing, so be it. I refuse to go through the hell of living in a house on the market again. Been there and done that. Thanks but no thanks…..

    • I’ve heard living in a house that’s on the market is difficult. People often drop by to see the house and you regularly have strangers in your home unexpectedly. You have to keep it spotless in the event someone does want to see it with little notice. That doesn’t sound great to me either!
      That’s great that your uncle has someone to help him clean and that he’s happy with the work.

  6. I’ve never used a cleaning service before, but I would love to have someone come and scrub my bathroom or floors!

    In my mind a cleaning service would make everything pristine, but from what I’ve heard they usually just do specific tasks that are asked of them.

    It would be nice to move in somewhere new and have it be already clean…

    • We’ve been thinking about it because we are so swamped with work and the baby the house is getting a bit dusty. It may just be worth it to us so this was a great post to help us make that decision.

    • CheapMom- I think that’s what I had in my mind, too. I’m sure there are services that operate differently that do a complete clean.

      Mr. CBB- I can’t tell if I convinced you or scared you off from hiring someone.

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