Domestic Cleaning Services

Domestic cleaners are a godsend. Whether you are thinking about recruiting a cleaner for regular visits, or just for a one-off, you won't look back once you have a sparkling abode worthy of Ideal Home magazine.

What do domestic cleaners do?

Services vary from company to company, but the basics usually include dusting, vacuuming, wiping surfaces, mopping floors, and blitzing kitchens and bathrooms. Molly Maid, an international company which was established almost 30 years ago, offers these essential services. It is worth doing your research to find out if you can get any other services from the same company - Archer Cleaning Agency in London also offer ironing.

When can I employ a domestic cleaner?

Whenever you like! Domestic cleaners can be recruited for a one-off job, or for regular visits.
  • If you are selling your property, book a cleaner for a day to clean every room from floor to ceiling and really wow the viewers. Selling your house is a hectic time and handing over the responsibility of cleaning means that you can get on with something else on that never ending to-do list.
  • Likewise, if you are moving house, think about hiring a cleaner before you move in. This is the ideal time for a one-off cleaning blitz, while your new home is clear of furniture and clutter. You can make a fresh start when you move in, knowing that there are no dusty corners and that your new home is gleaming from top to bottom.
  • Other one-off occasions when you may want a cleaner include after having a party, before having family round for Christmas or birthdays, or if you just need a spring clean. Holidays are great times to book a cleaner - after topping up your tan for a week, you can return to a beautifully clean house.
  • Regular visits from a cleaner (perhaps weekly or fortnightly) mean that you can really relax about housework. Cleaning agencies tend to fit their visits around your schedule as much as possible. Frequent visits mean that the cleaner can keep on top of the job and because of this, the visits are much shorter than one-off jobs. Before you sign anything, make sure you know if you are being tied into a contract. This might mean you have to give a few weeks' notice to stop the service.

How much does it cost?

Obviously prices vary depending on each company, but you should expect to pay around £9 an hour for regular visits - perhaps an hour a week or fortnight. It is often the case with agencies that £6 or £7 should be paid to the cleaner after each visit, and the rest will be paid as an agency fee. For a one-off clean, expect to pay in the region of £12 or £13 an hour, often with a minimum of two or three hours. Cleaners will probably take longer than you do to clean a room because they will do it more thoroughly, so don't underestimate the amount of time they will need, particularly for a one-off blitz. Every company differs on whether or not the cleaning equipment is provided in the price you pay for the cleaning service. If not, you will be expected to provide cleaning fluids, mops, vacuum cleaners, cloths, polishes... An expensive list. However, as Samuel Duckworth from As You Like points out, the fact that his customers provide their own cleaning products means they know exactly what is being used on their surfaces and furniture: "Customers can be quite fussy - they don't want the cheapest products that some agencies might use - so we find it is easier for them to provide their own equipment."

How can I be sure I can trust a stranger to clean my home?

This is obviously an important issue, and one which cleaning companies are very aware of. Ask the company about their recruitment process. Reputable agencies should ask for proof of identification and should have a thorough interview process. The company should have references from past employers for each cleaner, which should be available for you to see, if you ask. When you get to know your cleaner, it may be more convenient for you both if you allow him or her to have a key to your house. This way, you do not need to be at home for the cleaner to be let in. This is your personal choice, and if you do not feel comfortable letting the cleaner have a key, you do not have to.

Can I meet the cleaner before everything's confirmed?

You wouldn't leave your children in the care of a babysitter you have never met, and nor should you automatically trust a complete stranger to wander through your home. There should not be a problem arranging a quick meeting with your potential cleaner. Likewise, professional companies should have no problem with finding you an alternative cleaner if for any reason you are not happy.

What happens if the cleaner breaks something?

This is an important question - and one which you must raise before it happens so that you know where you stand (especially if you have an expensive antiques collection!) Some companies have an insurance scheme which should pay for breakages, whereas others will expect you to foot the bill.

Don't forget to ask...

  • To meet potential cleaners
  • To see references
  • If you will be required to sign a contract, and the details of the contract, including notice period
  • How payment works. Is there an additional agency fee?
  • If there is breakage and theft insurance
  • If any other services, like ironing, are offered
  • If cleaning equipment is provided
  • If there is any loyalty discount for regular customers or any promotions for new customers (worth a try!)

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