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How To Hire A Housecleaner

You might think that a person living alone would not need or want a housecleaner coming in regularly.  But if working a fulltime job you might not want to spend your downtime at home doing the deep cleaning that is necessary to keep a home sanitary. 


This is where hiring a housecleaner or housekeeper comes in.  And you will need to

figure out which arrangement would suit you best.  And which pricing will fit your budget without straining it past the point of practicality.

The difference between the two is that a housekeeper takes care of lighter duties for clients such as dusting, sweeping, sometimes fixing meals and kitchen clean up afterwards, picking up clutter, putting clean clothes away, personal chores that bring the housekeeper into close contact with the client.


If for a family a housekeeper often lives in the home and becomes, literally, part of the family.  And that requires negotiating a salary.  Remember Hazel on TV in the Fifties played by Thelma Ritter?  Much more complicated, but we're talking about living alone here having home help. 


A housecleaner has a much more impersonal relationship with the client and brings the cleaning equipment and supplies at a scheduled time for deeper cleaning.  Like scrubbing kitchens and bathrooms completely, dusting all surfaces of all the rooms, vacuuming carpets and scrubbing any hard floors regularly, and, of course, doing windows. 


Even if living alone you will want your home to be as clean as possible.  And will have to figure out how much you are willing to do on your own and how much to hire out.  And how much privacy you are willing to give up for the sake of cleanliness.


The real question is do you want someone else coming into your solitary sanctuary on a regular basis and seeing how you live, what you eat, what kind of books you read and how messy you get just because you live alone?  Just because you can.

That question is even more important than whether you can afford a house cleaner.  And you need to give it a lot of thought.  The Internet has given job seekers a forum where they can display their resumes and you can find lists of cleaners all in one place for the choosing.  And local to your area.


It is also a good way to compare their price per cleaning.  Here in the Midwest it runs from $100-$140 for a twice a month scheduling, depending on the size of the home.  More if you want only a once a month in-depth session, even if you live alone and don't have a hairy dog.  

If you don't mind a stranger who will quickly have inside information on your life then go ahead and start looking and interviewing candidates for the job.  Most are women so no need to anguish over a male seeing your underwear anywhere. 


Remember that cleaners will snoop when alone in your home.  Just take it for granted.  And keep the dirty stuff off the floor and in the hamper. 


Put the jewelry box on a closet shelf or deep in a drawer until you are sure that the person you hired can be trusted. 


You should ask if she is insured or bonded.  But most local women who do this work, usually part time, do not buy such coverage.   I've had a number of different women clean my home, one for over fifteen years, and never was afraid of leaving any cleaner alone while I did my errands.

Also the question of the government getting involved over taxes and reporting employment just did not exist for most of my cleaners.  I paid in cash. Nowadays this would be taking a chance of trouble with the IRS.  So better to pay by check and do the 1099 independent contractor thing at end of the year.  


If you are antsy about the lack of insurance coverage kept by an individual housecleaner, then you might investigate companies that offer cleanings by a group.  Which means that they are employees of someone else who has vetted them and maintains their bonding and insurance needs. 


Of course, this will be more expensive than hiring a lone worker but keeps it impersonal and perhaps safer.  And makes tax reporting the company's job.  

Angie's List offers house cleaning services with a directory to help you find local businesses.  Their charges for routine cleanings range from $100 and up depending on how large the group, how large your house or apartment, and if you require in-depth cleaning every time. 


An up front in-depth cleaning the first time around can go from $250-$300.  If you're just moving into an apartment or house this might be worth it for peace of mind and absence of someone else's dirt.

All of these considerations can be avoided if you want to be your only housecleaner.  If you like scrubbing sinks and toilets, vacuuming and dusting, remembering to wipe down dirty window blinds occasionally and climbing on a chair or ladder to clean off the chandelier and ceiling fans. 


I'm exhausted just writing about it.  Personally, I have had cleaning help since 1977 and plan to continue as long as I can afford it.  

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