Hate cleaning your house? No one could blame you: There's precious little fun in scrubbing toilets. Or wiping down grime-streaked windows to the point where your elbows are sore for weeks. And you probably cringe when you think about your living room's floor-to-ceiling built-in shelves, whose upper levels haven't seen a dust rag since Tony Soprano faded abruptly to black.
Enter the humble housecleaner—here to save you from yourself! You can hand over your most hated tasks and wash your hands of cleaning.
Here are seven tips for keeping your cleaning from turning into a dust-up.
1. Precleaning will save you money
If you're anything like us, you probably do a little precleaning for your housecleaner. And then, if you're like us, you wonder how much of that is truly necessary—after all, that's what the housecleaner is there for, right?
Here's the deal: You should do whatever you can to help them help you. No, you don't need to bust out the Clorox, the Shark vacuum, and the Miracle Mop, but you should tackle those dirty dishes, throw out the takeout containers, and pick up that pile of clothes. If you don't, you may find that your wallet's been cleaned out, too.
"Picking up clutter does make our job a lot easier," says Megan Sentner, the manager at Greenapple Cleaning in Ottawa, Ontario. "That being said, we have no problem picking up clutter as long as the clients understand that it takes more time and costs more."
Think it all comes out in the wash? Let us do the math for you: If your housecleaner charges you $30 per hour (the average rate) to clean, then a half-hour spent decluttering will cost you an extra $15—or $390 for a year's worth of twice-a-month cleanings. Instead, straighten up the night before and save that cash for something else.
2. Give specific directions
Unless you're ordering a top-to-bottom scrubbing every week, your cleaners need direction. Is the bathroom looking a little grungy? Ask them to spend extra time on the shower. Request extra attention to your baseboards. Sic them on your son's room, now that he's finally off to college.
"If they don't leave full instructions, there's a chance they'll be disappointed," Sentner says.
If you're new to the world of professional housecleaning, you might not know exactly what your home needs most. Most maid services will happily stop by for a consultation so you can learn exactly how dirty you are.
3. Deal with your pets, please
Your dog runs in terror when you turn on your Dyson, so why would you leave it home alone when all the floors are getting vacuumed? Not all pups need to be boarded during housecleaning, but if you already know your pet hates strangers or loud noises, at least put it in the backyard or a comfy crate.
"We don't mind having pets in the home while cleaning, but some pets don't like having us there," Sentner says. "It's stressful for our team members to have a dog barking for three hours."
Aggressive pets can also mean your house doesn't get cleaned: Housecleaners aren't expected to sacrifice their own safety to clean your home, and if they're faced with an angry animal, they might have to bail on the job, Sentner says.
4. If you wouldn't touch it, they won't either
Yes, housecleaners will scrub away that nasty buildup around the bottom of your toilet seat. But they also have a limit: They won't pick up your dog's poop.
Or—and yes, Sentner says it's happened—yours.
"Sometimes there are expectations that we can clean it, but we don't," she says. "We don't expect our team to handle any waste above the usual cleaning of the bathroom or the toilet."
5. Allot the proper amount of cleaning time
Don't feel ashamed if your house is in dire straits. Life happens. Work picks up, a kid or two comes along, and suddenly you have no time for more than the bare minimum. Cleaners (probably) won't judge you—but you should expect the job to take a bit longer.
Be honest with your housecleaners about the home's current state so they can allocate enough time on their schedule.
6. Use an insured cleaning service
Housecleaners can't avoid touching your most valuable belongings—Grandma's heirloom teapot needs dusting, too. But sometimes accidents happen.
The best way to ensure the safety of your precious possessions is by selecting an insured cleaning service. It'll have provisions in place to quickly rectify the situation.
"If we made a mistake and caused damage, it's our responsibility," Sentner says.
Bu it's your responsibility to make sure things are in line and prepared for your housecleaner's visit. That includes removing any truly priceless valuables—and making sure your home (however dirty) is a welcoming environment.
7. You're not entirely off the hook
Hiring a housecleaning service doesn't mean you can skip all of the cleaning. Well, sure: You probably can, if you're willing to pay for the service to do the basics every time it comes by. But if you want to cut costs, make sure you try to keep up your home's appearance in between cleanings.
"Minor maintenance can be the difference between us cleaning for three or five hours every two weeks," Sentner says.
Simple DIY tasks include wiping down the front of the cabinets after cooking, squeegeeing the shower, and sweeping the kitchen floor. Integrating them into your day-to-day routine can save you a few bucks on your bill.