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Help! My House Cleaning Service Sucks

When I first moved to my new neighborhood I tried a corporate cleaning service because I didn’t yet have a local recommendation.

One young woman came into our house alone. I don’t know if she was nervous, but I usually am when I meet new people, especially to work for them. She didn’t know my house or my priorities for the session. I didn’t know her and I was stressed out from moving, with a few packed boxes still in the corners of our rooms. Her company had a set time-limit and she did the best she could. At the end of a few hours, I realized I didn’t have cash on hand and the company’s payment method had no way to include a tip, which felt excessively cruel. Weeks later, when I read my credit card statement I realized I’d been charged twice for the session because of an admin screw up and had to call the office to dispute the second charge. Basically, it was a disaster and I never used that company again.

Complicated relationship

Hiring a professional cleaning service establishes a unique relationship. Unlike other service providers, cleaners enter your personal space repeatedly. This can create a complicated dynamic, and understanding this is the first step towards a successful partnership. Maybe you feel nervous to have someone all up in your stuff. Maybe you have a hard time trusting people you don’t know well. Let’s get into the nitty gritty of that dynamic.

Hiring a cleaning service

Hiring a corporate service where you’ll have a different team or person coming into your home every time is like going to a new hairdresser every time. Maybe you love adventure and surprises, but when it comes to something as personal as my home, I want to have a relationship (however surface-y at first) with the person coming over. Consistency contributes to satisfaction IMO. It also builds trust over time, which is a big factor. 

The various teams of women (and 2 men) who’ve cleaned my house over the years often come to feel like my right hand. They aren’t family, nor are they good friends, but we are definitely friendly and have mutual respect. They are essential to the running of our home. And as much as I value them, I do not believe I’m doing them a big favor by hiring them. They are my equals and I treat them how I’d want to be treated. When my organizing team goes into a home where we are treated like The Help, like our time isn’t as valuable as the homeowner’s, it feels awful and we usually opt as a team not to return. 

You get what you pay for!

When using a large company, the pay rate reflects the value placed on the hard work of the employees. Remember, they are providing a service that contributes to your well-being, and fair compensation is essential. Generosity is even better! Human nature dictates if you believe someone cares about you, you want to do right by them. 

If you are hiring through a cleaning service (in other words, if your cleaning team works for someone else) tip them every time! 20+%

homemade sign for house cleaner

Using a freelance person or team from a referral

While freelance workers are generally more motivated and dependable, hiring them places the responsibility to then pay and treat them fairly on you. Will you give them a yearly bonus, raises, vacation pay and sick pay? (answer: do you get these perks at work?) Acknowledging and respecting their needs fosters a healthier working relationship. If you have to reschedule at the last minute, will you pay full price for that session since they have no time to book other work in that time frame? (answer: yes you will)

You are paying for people’s valuable time as well as the cleanliness of your home.

They missed a spot!

Once I saw a few pieces of popcorn under my couch while I was lying on the floor in the living room. I didn’t think, “I can’t believe my beloved cleaning people didn’t lie down on the floor to double check under our couch!” Instead I reached under the couch and got the popcorn. It took 5 seconds and then ten more to walk it to the trash can. If you find a spot that was missed and it takes 30 seconds to remedy the problem, just do it and be thankful you didn’t have to clean the whole house!

If a chore is missed every time, just talk to them about it. People who come into your home to work aren’t trying to get away with something or steal things. They are usually hard working people who want to do a good job. And if you aren’t getting that vibe, it’s probably because the company you’ve chosen doesn’t treat them very well. Find a new company! Or, if that’s not possible in your small town, request the same crew and pay them more yourself, they will not want to lose your business.

unpacking a large, messy kitchen

Instructions help them help you

To enhance the cleaning experience, provide clear instructions, especially when you are getting to know each other. Communicate what they should and shouldn’t do. Writing a note can be helpful in conveying specific preferences and expectations.

Yes, you have to tidy before they arrive

Cleaners are there to clean, not to tidy up clutter. Tidying your space before their arrival ensures they can focus on cleaning efficiently. If you don’t have time to tidy, acknowledge that and increase their tip as a gesture of appreciation. Then don’t complain when you can’t find something after they tidied up for you. Just ask if they happen to know where the thing is.

First world problems

Hiring a professional cleaning service is a luxury and it’s practical solution for maintaining a clean home. By understanding the nuances of this relationship, considering fair pay, and communicating effectively, you can create a positive and mutually beneficial experience for both you and your cleaners.

Thanks for reading!