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Cupcake's avatar

What directions should I leave for a housekeeper?

Asked by Cupcake (16280points) May 20th, 2015

I’d like someone to do deep cleaning in my house 1–2 times a month (will depend on price). I have never had help cleaning my house. What kind of directions do I need to give? Do I leave a key for them? Should I be home when they clean?

How much input is too much? Not enough?

I have asked my husband to take the lead on this since it is embarrassing to me that I am not keeping up with everything myself. I emailed him this:
I don’t want the housekeeper to “pick up”. They can put things that they don’t know where to put into a box. We will try to pick up and wash dishes before they get there.

I want deep cleaning done. Monthly? Twice a month? Vacuum/sweep/mop/dust.
Entranceway: I want the entranceway cleaned (we never get to that). Floor mopped, mirror cleaned, bookcase and shelf dusted, shoes piled up (we will try to do in advance)
Dining/Living rooms: Floors/surfaces cleaned
Kitchen: wiped clean and mopped. Don’t worry about food or dishes.
Stairs and upstairs hallway: floors cleaned (mopped?) and molding dusted.
Bathroom: Wiped clean and mopped
Please leave the messy desk alone.
If they end up with extra time, they can vacuum/mop bedroom floors or dust the shutters. These don’t need to be done each time.

Would prefer to avoid heavily fragranced cleaners.

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28 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

I wouldn’t just leave a list, at least at first.

I would suggest that they come over once before the first clean, and that you walk them around the house and describing your specific expectations. Then hand them the list above,

But first time, go to every room, closet, corner, and make it completely clear what the expectation is. Doing it on paper (at first) is ambiguous.

Then after the first visit, do a check. Don’t be afraid to criticize them if they didn’t do something. You’re paying good money and you should expect good service.

Make sure they are bonded and carry insurance.

It’s not really necessary for you to be there while they are cleaning, but it might be useful the first time in case they have questions.

jca's avatar

I used to have someone clean my house. When I first contacted her, she came over on a Saturday to see the house and what it entailed and what I wanted and give me a price. The first time was more than the rest. The first visit was $100, and the rest was $80 each time (every other week). I bought the cleaning supplies and she used her own (industrial model) vacuum. She’d clean the ceiling fan, the chandelier (on occasion when I requested it) and windows (occasionally when I requested it). If I wanted curtains washed and hung, she’d do that, too. I’d come home and the house would smell so nice and the floors were beautiful. If I had clean laundry she’d put it away or fold it and pile it, if I wanted.

I didn’t want her to change the bed sheets but she did. She would occasionally wash the comforter too, and the mattress pad if I wanted it. Before she would come, I would empty the sink and load the dishwasher and make sure everything like clothes were either hung up or in the hamper.

I would leave her notes usually, like “clean towels are in the dryer” or similar details. I would leave her a check in a designated spot and I would leave my front door unlocked. I would not be home when she cleaned – I didn’t want to get in her way or slow her down.

Once I had a party and she came on the day of the party and did some extra stuff and I gave her an extra $20.

The really nice thing about having my house professionally cleaned was that when I clean it (now), it’s never all totally clean all at once. I will clean a room or a spot when I have time, or mop the floors or whatever. When the house is professionally cleaned, the whole house is spotless at once. You come home and it’s really like a miracle. Voila! Done! Kind of like being on vacation!

RocketGuy's avatar

Great tips above.

My wife is a bit embarrassed too, so she makes all of us pick up before the housekeepers come.

snowberry's avatar

I ran a cleaning business for 30 years.

Some of my clients insisted that I use their vacuum cleaner, and it always turned out not to run well. It usually was plugged or had other problems. I took to bringing my own “just in case”.

I always hated going into a house alone, and even more so if the door was unlocked when I got there. If my client could give me a key (preferable) or hide one, I always felt safer.

As mentioned above, a walkthrough before the actual cleaning day is a good idea, as well as notes.

janbb's avatar

I’ve had several cleaners. Yes, they usually come over beforehand and I will go over with them where things are – in terms of cleaning items – and what I want done. Then I stay in the first time they come, at least, to see if they have any questions. I always pick up before they come; that is not their job. If there is an extra instruction or request, I leave a note where I leave their check. I gave my current cleaner a key after about a year, before that, I would leave the door open and she would lock it when she left.

One other thing to consider if your cleaner is from another country how literate are they in reading English? Written instructions may not be as good as verbal ones and then staying around initially.

I live alone and have my house cleaned every other week. Could probably just have it done monthly but I don’t think most cleaners would do that. But with a family, I would think you would want it cleaned every two weeks.

janbb's avatar

Oh – PS If you supply the cleaning items, which is usually the case, you can get the ones you want them to use.

Cupcake's avatar

Thanks guys.

My husband called a housecleaning service yesterday and they are meeting him at our house this afternoon for a consult to give him an estimate. The list was for him… he’ll walk through the house with the cleaners. He just wanted my input about what, specifically, they should focus on.

We have asked and asked people we know for the name of a reputable individual who cleans… but haven’t found anyone that way. So, at least for now, it’ll be through a service.

@snowberry I can’t even imagine insisting on my vacuum cleaner being used. Please, please use your own. I’m sure my filters are all overdue to be changed… but I never think about it until it’s time to use the vacuum and the non-disposable filters need to dry…

@janbb I hadn’t even thought about providing cleaning supplies. Great idea. I really don’t do well with scents.

@jca That sounds like a dream.

Hubby and I agreed in November that he would get us a housekeeper. It’s really become a point of contention and anxiety at this point. I’m so relieved that there is actually someone going to our house to talk about cleaning it.

janbb's avatar

It is a pleasure to have it done. My Ex and I had cleaners, then split the duties then I did it on my own for a while. But this is much better!!

Coloma's avatar

I have used Merry Maids a lot over the years and they always ask/have you write down things you would like particular attention to on each visit. They also leave a detailed accounting of what they have done and a card to fill out rating your satisfaction level.One time it may be an extra deep cleaning on a particular room, or ceiling fans, tops of kitchen cupboards etc. It is up to you.

A single housekeeper will need more time compared to the 2 cleaning team that Merry Maids offers.
I’d also suggest being gone, give them their space to work without hovering over them and offer some little perks, like letting them turn on the stereo or computer for music, leave cold drinks in the fridge and tip generously. The better you treat your helpers the more incentive they have to do an excellent job. Also, do not be OCD nit picky unless something huge has been overlooked.

Don’t be a complainer and have unreasonable expectations, show appreciation for a job well done, housekeepers work their asses off and deserve to be treated well.

Cupcake's avatar

@Coloma Do you leave a cash tip each time they clean? Do you pay by check?

I don’t think of things like tips and drinks. Thanks so much!!

jca's avatar

That all reminds me of a few things. My cleaning lady was not insured but I heard when you hire them, they should be insured. My rich aunt had an expensive ring stolen and it was discovered right after the house was cleaned. The cleaners were not insured and of course, they swore it was not them (a “boss man” and his two lady cleaners because her house was huge). So that’s one piece of advice.

I read that cleaning services such as Merry Maids do not use water, they use only cleansers, which, when you think about it, saves a lot of time because they don’t have to go back and forth to water source (tub or sink) to clean rags and/or refill buckets. That’s one big difference between cleaning service and a “cleaning lady.”

As for tips, I did not tip (as the pay went directly to the cleaning lady) but on Christmas I would give her one extra day of pay ($80) and when she had babies and worked for me (two times) I gave her a big, giant box of diapers from Costco and wipes from Costco (about $50 total, probably in a store it would be about $100 for the same amount of stuff).

Judi's avatar

The best cleaners I ever had knew better than me what needed to be done.
I would have a box or basket in each room that they can put stuff in for you to deal with later.
Your list looks pretty good but I would also ask if they have any other suggestions. They ARE the professionals.
Also, don’t be afraid to tell them things they miss. They can’t read your mind.
My dogs tend to stick their nose on the windows. Although they don’t do windows every week I have told my housekeeper that I would like the nose prints cleaned every week.

fluthernutter's avatar

Undust the furniture.
Unlight the lights.
Close the drapes.

Mmmmm…lemon meringue pie.

janbb's avatar

Like @jca I don’t tip but I give a generous cash bonus at Christmas. Since you are using a service, I wouldn’t expect to tip either. But I think @Coloma was saying that she tips for extra things done.

I pay by check made out to “Cash” but the service will tell you what they want.

jca's avatar

I tipped that one time when I had a party and had extra things I needed done. I gave an extra $20.

My cleaning lady requested I make her checks out to cash or pay cash because she had child custody/support with her children’s father. I always paid check but did make it out to cash.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Clean the house and if it isn’t spotless I’ll put a cap in your ass should cover it.

snowberry's avatar

You want a deep clean. I would think you meant moving furniture and cleaning behind doors, under the bed, etc. as well as the usual cobwebs on the ceiling, doing tops of door frames and door panels, etc. What one person thinks is a “deep clean” isn’t what someone else thinks it is. You need to be specific.

My best clients were the ones with lower standards than mine! They always thought I was amazing. Ha!

rojo's avatar

Place toilet paper rolls so that they feed from the underside, not over the top.

Coloma's avatar

@Cupcake You can either give a cash tip ( $10, $12, $15ish ) depending on the job or if you are paying by CC for a service add the tip to the fee. If this is a single, private cleaner a modest tip is still nice but for the merry maid girls they are getting paid an hourly wage, maybe $10 an hour and use their own vehicles to drive around in so I like to give them a little extra. They are usually college age girls and they never let me down, did an amazing job.
A few sodas in the fridge and bottled water is just a nice little treat and I like to offer music too, I know I clean better with music on. haha

elbanditoroso's avatar

@rojo – that is a controversial topic

Coloma's avatar

Oh yes, as @jca mentions, professional services are bonded and insured so any damages etc. are covered. If you trust the cleaning person, ( family friend, friends teenage daughter, neighbors cleaning lady etc. ) you’re probably okay, but if you have expensive items that could be stolen or damaged a blonded person is a good idea.

Judi's avatar

To be clear, if a person is bonded then they are covered for theft. If they have commercial liability insurance (Not car liability insurance) they are covered for damage they might cause. If they have workers comp their employees are covered if they are hurt on your property. (very important to establish that this person is THEIR employee and not yours.)
Three different kinds of insurance that a reputable business should carry.
The problem with having a neighbor, friend or relative do the work for pay is that if they get hurt “on the job” they might be considered an employee and you might be liable.

Jewel10's avatar

Lots of good advice given here. Your best bet would be hire a professional cleaning service that is bonded and knows how to clean. They also charge by the job, not by the hour, which saves you from any headaches.

snowberry's avatar

I ran a cleaning business for 30 years. I was a private contractor. I actually “lost money” if my client insisted that I use their cleaning supplies because our wonderful government charges 30% taxes on the money I made. I only made it back by being able to write off expenses such as driving distance, receipts from equipment and cleaning supplies.

So if I cleaned for my neighbor 3 doors down and I walked to her home and used her cleaning supplies, I was making just over minimum wage! It sucked.

Cupcake's avatar

That’s interesting @snowberry. The lady who came for the consult really pushed her own products (largely unscented) and offered to try her own and would switch to ours if we didn’t like hers. I was totally fine with that.

jca's avatar

The lady who cleaned my house was paid cash, and I’m thinking she was an illegal immigrant, so she reported nothing and was free to do things as she wished.

snowberry's avatar

@Cupcake There’s a second possible reason she might say that. Most all cleaning products are filled with toxic chemicals and noxious perfumes. Yes, even the stuff they call “perfumes” are actually chemicals, and truly, very few of them are actually safe. I’m now deathly allergic to at least a few cleaning chemicals, including Lysol disinfectant spray.

Coloma's avatar

I can’t live without my Lysol/Chlorox wipes. I use them on everything, doorknobs, keyboards, counter tops, toilets. Honestly, I have never found a natural/ non-toxic cleaning product that really works. I actually use a bit of plain bleach diluted in water to clean a lot, soak my kitchen sponges, scrubbies, dish brushes etc.

I can make my own disinfectant with a little beach water and paper towels but the canister wipeys are so convenient and effective IMO.
Having things smell clean is important to me, something you just don’t get with vinegar and baking soda. haha

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