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Housekeeper's Pay Housekeeper's Duties

Housekeeper's Pay


Cost for a 2 bed/1 bath craftsman

Jan 2009

I am wondering what a reasonable price for a good house cleaner is. We currently have someone who does a good job, but seems a bit pricey. We have a 2 bed/1 bath craftsman with lots of wood detailing. They do the basics (no windows or laundry) and also oil our wood detailing and clean out the fridge. It takes 2 people about 2 hours. We pay $90 every 3 weeks. Does this sound about right? Jennifer


Berkeley 2bd/1ba + small cottage w/bath, one woman, 4-5 hours every other week, yes interior windows, infrequent fridge, no laundry (well, putting the sheets and bath mats in front of the washer). In Dec her rate increased from $80 to $95 for the job. We decided to keep her despite the increased cost. Assigning value to my time
A 2 bedroom home, with fridge cleaning. At 90 dollars is pretty cheap. If the people who are cleaning your apartment are efficient and do a good job is good. 2 hours of work though sounds rushed, but it sounds like the house might be an ''easy house'' but even so, the fact that they clean your fridge and there is alot of wood makes up for the price. Wood if you dont know how to properly clean it, and i dont mean just dust it and pass the towel with cleaner on it, can get pretty nasty. Also its pretty much only once a month...so yeah its worth it.

My mom does this for a living and she charges about 120/house on average, no fridge cleaning, if its every week. The longer the intervals the more expensive it is, and let me tell you, even a ''clean'' house is dirtier than it looks, and its almost an art form. you cannot cuantify the hours work for the end product because even though it only takes them 2 hours to do, someone cheaper/ hour say 9/hour will take about 6 hours or more to clean the house and will not clean fridge and may end up charging you the same if you want in only once a month... ex. house cleaner. mario


You're certainly in the ballpark. We've used Cooperative Cleaners in Berkeley for about 15 years. Current cost, for our 2 BR, 2 BA space (they don't do the second floor) is $90. It is a very efficient and hardworking crew of 3, and they take about an hour and a quarter. john
i think what are they charging you it's about right. because they are 2 people and take about 2 hours. clean it's a really hard job...but if you are not happy with their job you should talk about it with them if you do not see any improvment let them go. i used 2 persons to, they are sisters and they are great, you shoud gived them a try...their name are wendy and veronica you can call them at 925-848-4375 good luck anon
You're paying $22.50 an hour. I live in a much, much poorer area and cleaners are $20/hour. I'm jealous - what a great price you get for the area. And they clean out your fridge too!
I pay my housecleaner a flat rate of $120/week for my 5-br,4-bath house, which works out to about $26-30 and hour, since it takes her between 4 and 5 hours to clean. She is a very thorough cleaner, for example she sweeps and then damp-mops all the floors (3,000 sqft). This pay may seem like a lot, but she can only clean 2 houses in one day, so if she only works 5 days a week, and she spends 8-10 hours a day at work, and everyone else is paying her the same rate I pay her, then she is only making about $12,480 a year, with no benefits. She lives in Oakland and is a single parent. She is an excellent cleaner and I would feel really bad about trying to get her below 12K just so my much larger budget would be slightly reduced.
That sounds about what we pay, and we only get our fridge cleaned out a couple of times a year, and no wood to oil. i say it's fine. Andrea
We pay $75.00 per week for 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a big family room. I think you're paying too much. I assume you clean in between, so that they don't have 3 weeks of cleaning to do. In that case $90.00 might be reasonable. anon
So if you are paying $90.00 per visit for 2 hours for 2 people, that's $45.00 per person at about $22.00 per hour. And do you pay them taxes? I'd say if not, then it's a good deal since no one in the east bay can live off $10.00 an hour. How much is it worth your time that someone cleans your house and well? We pay abt. $110 per 4 hour visit for 1 person - no laundry or even wood detailing, just basics. She is a single mom with 2 kids and breaks her back for people who don't or can't clean their own houses. We don't pay her taxes and she probably has no social security. So i'd say we are getting a ''deal''. I end up paying her an extra 10 bucks just because. grateful that someone can clean the house
We pay $80 for cleaning our 1.5 BR, 1bath apt (about 950 sq foot) once a month, does not include fridge, or windows. So I think you are paying about the right amount. also curious about housecleaning cost
I have an excellent housecleaner who is very thorough, pleasant & reliable. I pay her $20 hr. + $5. for gas. If you have 2 people for 2 hours that is $80 at this rate + a little extra (for gas?). Sounds as if you are in the ballpark. Happy Grandmother

Paying a housekeeper on holidays/vacation days


Dec 2007

I've had the same housecleaners for almost ten years. It's a small business run by one woman. They come weekly and do good work. They're not cheap -- 3 women charge $120 for an hour and 1/2 in my Albany-sized well-kept three bedroom home.

Initially, when they started working for me, they did not charge on the rare occasion I was out of town on their cleaning day and did not need their services. More recently, they've asked if I pay for my day even if I need to cancel (which I rarely do, only once or twice over the summer or over Christmas). Sometimes, they've been able to reschedule, othertimes I've gone ahead and paid them anyway. They depend on the work and I want to be fair.

This year, for the first time ever, they wanted to work on Thanksgiving Day. This has never happened before. It wasn't a possibility for us (I had family visiting). They were unable to reschedule during that week and wanted to charge me anyway. This didn't sit well with me considering that there was no precedent. However, I really do want to be fair. They do good work and I trust them with my home. Wondering if anyone can point me to any resources regarding this issue or has any thoughts or experience with it? want to be fair


Your house cleaners are taking advantage of you. Hourly workers are not entitled to pay when they do not work. As long as you give them sufficient notice that you will not need them to come (24 hours is sufficient, 48 hours preferable) there is no reason for you to pay them for cancellation. Frankly, they are also overcharging you, but that's another issue. anonymous
How I have handled the vacation thing with housecleaners - sometimes I just give them plenty of notice and don't pay them. If I go away on the spur of the moment, and it feels unfair to just cancel and take away a job they were counting on, I figure out something they can do instead of cleaning the bathroom that doesn't need to be cleaned because I wasn't there messing it up. An extra job not part of their normal routine, like cleaning out the fridge, or washing the front steps. This seems fair to me - after all, when your boss goes on vacation, you don't get a day off, do you? Fran
- Wow, maybe I'm just really out of the loop, but it seems like your housecleaners are way out of line here. First of all, I can't think of any professional that charges for a day of work if you cancel with enough notice for her/him to reschedule new clients. For them to charge, regardless of how far in advance you cancel, sounds like a deal-breaker to me. But then, to demand to work on a holiday and receive payment whether or not the holiday schedule works for you? Um, no. You're the client here. I can appreciate that you trust these housecleaners with your home (and that's very important), but frankly, these guys sound a little too controlling and demanding. Just my opinion. anon
I've had the same housekeeper for 12 years. I currently pay $105 a week which I think is low for a 5BR house. I will be giving her a raise in January. My housekeeper comes faithfully every Thursday and in 12 years has only missed maybe 3 days due to illness, and she gave me notice, and offered to come on a different day. When Thursday falls on a holiday (like Thanksgiving) I pay her for that day. If I am on vacation on a Thursday, I pay her for that day. Only once in 12 years has she herself taken a vacation, and I paid her for that day. She always offers to reschedule, but I just do the clean-up myself that week, because if she comes to my house on a different day, it means she has to work on Saturday or Sunday and takes time away from her family. If I don't pay her, her monthly income takes a hit. Housekeeping is not one of the more lucrative professions. Housekeepers cannot themselves afford to have a housekeeper. I also give her a Christmas bonus every year. This year I am giving her and her sister, who has been coming with her during the last year, $100 each. If you have a good housekeeper that you like, I think a day or two of paid days off and a year-end bonus is in order.
2001

We have a housecleaner who comes and cleans our small house once a week for $40. We quite often go away for a couple of weeks at a time and when we do we give her the full amount for the weeks we are away, but tell her that she doesn't need to come. (We figure that since she has committed that time slot to us, it's not fair not to pay her for it even if we don't use it, since she can't easily make up her income.) This summer we are going away for 6 weeks and one of us is having second thoughts about paying her for the whole time we're away, even though, obviously, the above reasoning still holds. I am curious to know what other people do in this situation.


I agree that you should pay your housecleaner while you are away; she certainly counts on the income and can't make it up easily without giving up your "slot" to another family. The way we handle it is by asking our (wonderful) housecleaner to do a BIG clean while we are away for long periods (usually one month, once a year), top to bottom, more than the usual.... i.e., inside the fridge, accessible windows, baseboards, fans, venetian blinds, carpets, whatever really needs doing that isn't done as part of weekly cleaning. We make up a list jointly in advance. She usually comes twice while we're gone to get this done.... so she is being paid for two visits for no work (getting a much needed and much deserved break) and, in exchange, we come home to a sparkling house. -Dm
It is unreasonable to expect that your housekeeper would keep your "space" in his/her schedule if you are not willing to pay for it. If you do not pay, he or she should be free to find someone else to work for -- permanently if need be. You pay for the continuation of service, and in appreciation of the working relationship you have established. -Dana

How many hours would you expect for $60?

Nov 2005

How many hours would you expect a housekeeper to work if you paid them $60.00? I'm usually not home when my housekeeper comes and was surprised one day when I was that she only works two hours. Does that sound right to folks? I don't want to talk to her about it if that's appropriate and I fully admit that I might not know what is. Thanks! Curious


If your housekeeper comes once a week and is able to really keep up on the cleaning, 2 hours should be fine to keep everything tidy. We have a once a week cleaner and we pay her $100 (she charges $80 and we tip $20). She works about 2 hours sometimes a bit more. If she misses a week then it usually takes her 3 1/2 hours to clean. We keep the house picked up so that she can focus on the scrubbing of all surfaces. SHe doesn't have to pick up after us so it saves time for the actual cleaning. anon
I pay $60 for a 1000 sq ft house. I could care less how long she's there...as long as it's clean. That said, the woman who cleans our house needs nearly 3 hours, but we're messy. If she's not doing a good job, then you need to talk to her. If you want to pay her hourly, then you need to talk to her. But if you're satisified with her work and your house is as big or bigger than mine, you're getting a deal. What's $60...tappas and drinks at Fondas? --happy someone else does the cleaning
Curious, Usually you pay someone per house, not necessarily per hour. It all depends on what your initial agreement was with your cleaner. My housekeeper charges me a flat rate based on the size of my town house and the task she needs to do. So at times based on her dayly work load, she might bring a helper and is finished sooner, but the results are the same, as if she would have come alone and lasted 4 hrs. What size is your place for which she charges $60. I guess the qts is: Are you satisfied with the work that she does? Whether it be 2 hrs or more? Ginelle
Hi, I pay our housekeeper $80 per week (for a 4 bedroom 2 story house) and for that she mops and vacuums floors, cleans bathrooms and kitchen spotlessly, changes bedlinens, puts away toys and ''straightens up'', and throws a load of laundry in. Occasionally she cleans the oven or sweeps the patio, when needed. It usually takes her 2-3 hours, depending on how dirty the house is :-) I figure if the house is clean (and it's always spotless when she leaves) she's doing her job. How fast or slowly she does it isn't really my concern. anon
I pay my current housecleaner $70. She works with another woman and I believe they get our small 2 bdrm/1 bath house clean in under 2 hours. I don't look at it as an hourly rate, but as a ''per house'' rate. I don't care if they take 2 hours or 2 minutes - as long as they get the job done decently. If your housecleaner is like the majority of housecleaners, she's unlikely to have a full schedule of homes. She's also probably illegal, has no health insurance, no retirement plan, no car, is sending money to family in another country, and not necessarily ''raking in'' $60k or more a year. Working Woman
I work alongside a housekeeper in my current job as personal assistant and nanny. She works for the family two days a week, 8am-4pm. She is paid $100 a day (possibly under the table). The family aren't at home to know when she comes and goes, but she rarely leaves early and even then she makes sure her work is complete. She does laundry, low windows, ironing, as well as vacuuming, dusting, kitchen clean up, stripping and remaking beds and cleaning out the frige (of old leftovers & wiping it down). So she has a lot to accomplish in two days which makes leaving early a rare option. Perhaps your housekeeper doesn't have enough to do and when she is done she leaves? Check with her about this! Maybe paying in a different way (besides hourly) is the way to go. good luck!
I'm sure there is a wide range in what different housekeepers charge, but I pay my housekeeper $50 to come once every 2-3 weeks and clean our 1 bedroom apartment and she stays for 4 hours.
I pay $70 for cleaning every other week. Our house is 3 beds/2 baths. No pets and two kids. I am a stay at home Mom so I am kind of in and out as she works. Most days she comes at 9 and leaves around 2:30. I know she takes a lunch break, but my guess is that it isn't longer than 1/2 an hour, so she basically works pretty darn hard for five hours. Julie
I pay for results, and don't care how long it takes. Are you happy with the results? If not, then I would definitely say something -- point out what you'd like clean that isn't getting clean. But if your house is clean to your satisfaction when she's done, then I would let it go. Anne
For $60, you should be getting AT LEAST 3 hours of work. (I pay my cleaners $20 per person per hour, but I suspect that's on the high end of the going rate.) I don't know anyone who pays their cleaners $30/hour!!! Sara
My housekeeper works about 2 hours every other week and we pay her $100. My previous housekeeper did the same for $80. anon
We also pay our housekeeper $60 and she is supposed to stay 4 hours, but I think she rarely does. And our person is not thorough, so for us her shorts stays are a problem. Does your person do a thorough job? If she is just super efficient and high energy I don't think you necessarily have a problem on your hands. If she is really staying only 2 hours and is not doing a thorough job it would be reasonable for you to ask her to stay longer. anon
I clean houses and I charge about $25/hour. It's really okay to ask your housecleaner what her rates are based upon. If she's good and you feel that you're getting your money's worth, then it shouldn't matter if she waves a magic wand and it's done in a second! (if only I could do that!) If you feel that you're not getting your money's worth, talk to her. Also, if there are specific things you want done, most people (myself included) really apprectiate a written list. Best of luck! cleaningdetail
For $60.00 your housekeeper should be working from 3-4 hours, depending on her hourly wage. If she's there for 2 hours....is she alone, or working with someone so actually 4 hours of work is getting done. In 2 hours (or whatever time it is) is she doing a good complete job? That's really the question at hand. If she quoted you $60.00 per time to do specific jobs and she's doing that, then she can work for 15 minutes, if she can get it done as agreed on. Hope this helps, anon
I'd recommend that you think about this as a salaried service, as opposed to an hourly wage service. If for $60 your home is as clean as comparably sized homes for which their owners pay $60 per cleaning, then the price is right. If you are not happy with the quality of the work, or you're paying a lot more than others you know whose houses are about as big, then you may be paying too much. I don't think it matters how quickly your housekeeper works, if s/he is providing the service you expect. Otherwise, you're penalizing her/him for her/his efficiency.

Until recently, we had a housekeeper who took about 6 hours to clean our house. The quality was fair. We recently switched, and now have someone who does a better job, always does some ''extra'' task, and does all of this in a little more than 1/2 the time it took our former housekeeper. I'm delighted to pay more on an hourly basis for better service. Lisa


We pay our wonderful housekeeper $100/week. We take taxes out, pay into social security, etc., we give her a few paid weeks off each year and give her an annual bonus. She works about 3 or 4 hours each week. I think $60 for two hours is probably pretty standard. Anon
Try to look at it this way: You are contracting for a service. How long it takes your expert contractor to perform such service is none of your business, assuming they perform adequately.

Why should an efficient businessperson be penalized for working faster than the average schmoe? Think about it - if you required a certain number of hours for this, perhaps they would give you the same work, but just find a way to do it slower. That's ridiculous, and isn't treating your housekeeper like the professional s/he is. You only have cause to discuss it if the work is shoddy or not up to par. Good luck


What's the going rate for 2BR 2BA?

Jan 2005

I currently pay $55 every two weeks for our cleaning lady to clean (surface only, not in depth, no sheets/bed making) an 1100 square foot home (2BR 2BA). I've been paying that for 3 years, at least, and wanted to find out what the going rate for something similar would be. I don't believe she will ever ask for an increase, yet I want to be fair and give one if appropriate. What do others pay? Thank you Jennifer


We used to live in an 1100 sq foot cottage (2 bdr/1 ba) in Berkeley, until recently. Our cleaner charged us $65 for dusting bookshelves, walls and furniture; throughly cleaning bathrooms; kitchen(even appliances incl fridge); windows; blinds; mopping all floors and vacumming all area rugs; putting sheets in the dryer and then on the beds; and taking out the garbage and recyling. anon
We pay $60 for a comparable job -- our house is a little larger overall but has only one bathroom. The cleaner we had before the current one charged us $70. anon in Albany
Our housecleaner (a man) charged us $85.00 per time (two times per month) to clean about 1400 sq.' of house. He recently raised his prices (after 2 years) to $112.00 per time. That seemed a bit high, but we loved and trusted him. AFter about 3 months of paying the new rate we had to let him go...it was just too much. We're now trying to do it ourselves, along with the kids helping. As soon as it gets to be just me, we hire someone else. Seems like $65.00 to $85.00 is about the going rate, depending on size of house. anon
We pay our housecleaner $110(she comes every other week). Our house is 2000 sq ft, 2 1/2 bathrooms. It takes her about 5-6 hrs each time and we have 2 young messy boys. She has been working for us for 4 years. She is excellent and wonderfully reliable. anon
I notice many ask the going rate for housekeepers / services, hoping to pay as little as possible. I have an alternate idea.

Why not consider how many hours a person works for X number of dollars, and figure out what sort of life they can lead based on that? This may sound confusing, but the point behind it is this: Why is it okay for us to pay as little as possible, many times slave wages where people can barely support themselves, and yet we indulge ourselves in our own lives? This is not a judgment of those struggling financially; instead it is food for thought for those who can afford life's extras. Regardless what someone's expertise is, they deserve to be able to support themselves. Don't you think? Do you think it's really okay that someone works full-time but still must live in poverty? If those who have plenty do all they can to undercut others, how can we create balance and loving in this world? For our children and future generations.

It is hard for me also to part with my money, but instead of trying to pay ''competitive'' wages [which is code for ''only as much as I have to in order to hire you''], I endeavor to pay fair and living wages. I pay as much as I can afford, while trying to be fair to everyone involvd.

Best of luck to all who are unsure what to pay for services. anon


Is $100/wk a fair cost for 2br/2ba + ironing? April 2004

I wasn't able to find any current information on housekeeping rates in the archives, but I was curious to know if $100 for a 2 bedroom/2 bath home seems like a fair deal for cleaning. Two people can clean our 1,900 square foot home in 2 hours. This also includes ironing. I thought this was a little high, but just wanted to see what you think. Thanks!


$100 seems a bit high to me. I pay my house cleaner $80 for my 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bathroom house. It is also about 1900 square ft. She does not do ironing but folds clothes. Anon
Last time I checked around, less than a year ago, the going rate for individual cleaners was in the $15-$25 per hour range. I got quotes of between $60 and $100 for my 2+ bedroom, 1 bathroom approx. 1200 square foot Albany home (no laundry or ironing). Cleaning services or larger companies tend to charge more.
I pay $75 for one housekeeper to clean our ~1800 sq. ft. 4 bdrm/2 bath house (2x/month). She does an excellent job (usually stays about 4 hours) and even does extras at times (of her own accord) like windows, pulling out furniture to clean under it, etc. $100 sounds a bit high to me. My housekeeper, Jeannette, is looking for more work, so contact me if you'd like her contact information. julie
I have a 3 bedroom/3 bath in about 1900 s.f. in Piedmont. I have an excellent housecleaner who cleans top to bottom bi-weekly for $70 a pop. I used to use her once a month for $85 a pop. It takes her about 4 hours to clean the whole house solo. We loooove her. She dusts even the highest shelves which we would never see. Last week, she cleaned out every little circle in our XL rubber bathmat. To be honest, $100 sounds high for a 2 BR/2BA in the same space.
$100 for a 2 bedroom/2 bath seems a tiny bit high but not unreasonable for a legit service. If you live between S. Richmond and N. Oakland, I recommend our service, Natural Home Cleaning, http://naturalhomecleaning.com, 510 - 532 - 6645. Our 3BR/2BA 1600 s.f. house is $90. David

What's the going rate for 2.5 hours?

June 2003

I recently hired a housekeeper just for a one-time trial. She works for my neighbor and was looking for a few extra hours. She charged me for 3 hours though she worked 2 1/2 dusting, mopping, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and she stopped to chat frequently. She did a pretty good job, but didn't entirely clean up after herself. Since I've never done this, I'm wondering what is standard protocol. Am I being overly fussy? And what is the going rate for work like this? Thanks in advance! Kate


we pay our housekeeper $20/hr. for a 3 hr. clean up. some people charge by the job, but i like to pay by the hour, and that way i can ask her to do whatever we need done within a time limit. seems fair for both of us.
We pay our housekeeper $12/hour and it takes her 5 hours to clean our house, for a total of $60. I think that's about average based on what friends say they pay.
I noticed several posts recently regarding paying the housekeeper by the hour or by the job. I think its important to clarify why you need to pay a housekeeper by the job. If you pay your housekeeper hourly, she becomes your employee! If she is paid by the job, she is an independent contractor. As an independent contractor, she has a job to perform and gets paid the same amount, whether it takes her 1 hr or 3 hours. You put yourself in murky waters by insisting on paying her hourly. In the event that something goes wrong, she has recourse to file a complaint with the Fair Employment and Housing, and then you have trouble with having not paid her taxes, social security contributions etc. . . Someone who has learned

More Advice about pay

some examples of pay from 2001 newsletters, most in Berkeley...

  • "Mine cleans a 3000 square foot house (the bottom floor being all hardwood) for $80, every week. It takes a good person about six hours to do the job right "
  • "We pay $70 for our two-story, medium-size house twice a month"
  • "she charges $60 to clean one bathroom, kitchen, living room, dining room, two bedrooms, one small study"
  • "I pay her and her helper $50 for 4 person-hours of cleaning (2 people working 2 hours)"
  • "she cleans our small house once a week for $40."
  • "She normally charges about $50 for 4 hours work"
  • "I pay $50 every week for about 2 1/2 hours of work"
    1999

    I feel that unfortunately, the $50.00 for one day is too little. You may be able to find someone for that amount if you keep looking. Due to the fact that you only want them for one day, you are more than likely finding that you need to pay an additional premium. Most of the people doing this type of work want stability and want to work as many days as possible. There is no incentive to come to someone's house for only one day, for there are also travel expenses incurred if nothing else. If you have friends who are also looking for day housecleaning services, perhaps you can join together and offer several days of employment at your desired rate, rather than just one day.
    AH


    I've found reliable housecleaning for our not very big 3 bedroom place costs $70-$85. I figure with transportation time (since most of the house keepers end up on public transport), the time cleaning etc, I am paying about $12 an hour, which is fair. Add to that the inconvenience of us only wanting housecleaning once every two weeks, I want to be generous enough for it to be worth it for the house cleaner to come regularly, when she can probably get a job every week for that day.
    Myriam

    Housekeeper's Duties


    Am I too picky about breakage & damage?

    Jan 2009

    I am pleased with my house cleaner work but I am irritated about her what I judge to be lack of care and honesty. I had her for 6 mo and she managed to break/chip about 5 different things(the last ones she didn't even tell me about them until I confronted her). Also, she is hard on the corners with the vacuum cleaner, the paint on the wall corners is rubbing off or is chipped. She does occassionaly dry her cleaning rags in my dryer although she did not ask for permission to do so. I asked her not to do it anymore but she still did it, even though now she uses my rags.

    Am I too picky? Should I put up with the inconveniences? Are other housecleaners this way too and you kept them employed because they clean very well? PLease advise. Unhappy customer


    We've had similar situations with our housecleaner where we've found things (nothing major) broken or chipped. We've decided to continue with this housecleaner because she is very reliable. Previous to our current housecleaner, we had a history of incredibly unreliable housecleaners which would cancel at the last minute. I just remind myself that it is difficult to find the perfect housecleaner and that she gives us relatively consistent service. It will be hard to get your housecleaner to change so if it really bugs you, switch but realize that you could be changing for better or for worse. Jennifer
    Periodically I am annoyed with my housecleaner over similar stuff (like when I spend $7,000 to have the floors refinished and they put a big scratch in the hallway) but unlike you mine are always honest about the damage and don't try to hide things. They used to break small stuff but I instituted a new policy - I'll pay for the replacement but they have to go buy it. That happened after I spent 3 hours traipsing around to stores trying to find a $7 soapdish the same color as the one they broke. I decided I would happy to spring for the $7 but THEY could spend the three hours!! Since I put that policy in place there have been no breakages, amazingly enough! I also keep them because they are very careful with my cats - not to let them out accidentally or lock them in a closet (which isn't easy). It is a tough decision - I wouldn't fire them unless you are sure that the replacement will be better.
    - Doesn't sound like you are happy with her service. Given the list of complaints you have about her work, I don't see the satisfaction you claim to experience. You are paying her to do the work, if it doesn not meet your standards what's stopping you from finding another cleaner? Time to find another cleaner.
    Here's another way to look at it:

    I suppose you could say I'm somewhat unhappy with my housekeeper, but I love her and love that she makes my life better, because I come home and am not overwhelmed with the mess. In the balance of things, I'm paying a very good price. You get what you pay for. If I were able to pay more, I would expect her (and tell her) to slow down and be more precise. As it is, she accomplishes three times what I could accomplish in the time she spends here. She could not possibly get the same amount done if I had her be precise (even though I'm a perfectionist and it's been a big lesson to get me to be flexible and adapt to the somewhat-mediocre work she does).

    I will also say that if I had a ton more money, I might need to get a different cleaner. My cleaner's strengths are that she is a generalist and gets a lot done imperfectly. I don't think she could do things painstakingly carefully, which is how I do things, and which is why I need a cleaner - I don't have the time or patience to personally clean up to my standards. So I've learned the chips in things and occasional broken glass, along with clothes folded quickly and not expertly are the little prices I just have to pay to have an otherwise good working relationship. In her defense, she also puts up with my many quirks, and I know the grass is not always greener. I had cleaners before her who WERE perfectionists, and got hardly anything done at all - I ended up paying through the nose, or not getting all the help I actually needed. Let things go, or pay more


    I went through the same thing. You are not being picky at all. You are paying this lady to clean your house, not destroy your property. We had the same problem, made worse by having the woman for nearly 10 years---we were like family. I just had to ''let her go''. Chipped heirlooms, cracked servingware, new vacuum cleaner beaten up within 3 years (she only came twice a month!). She continually dropped bleach on bathroom rugs and I kept having to buy new bathroom rugs. She was costing me more than just her wages. You need to be pleased for your money spent. We're much happier now. There are a lot of housekeeper listings in BPN. Good luck. No more chipped crystal, etc.
    I think you should expect more from someone who works for you, but at the same time it's good to try to work things out with someone you know than start over with someone you don't. That said, I have a great house cleaner who follows my directions closely. I asked her once to (I know this is weird) to put two pillow cases on each pillow. She remembers to do it every time. Steve
    There are plenty of other housekeepers out there. If you are not satisfied with her care of your home you must get another. I don't really get the ''honesty'' part but it seems she does not meet your standards. ??

    Housekeeper's lax cleanung and frequent no-shows

    Nov 2006

    Since having my two kids, I find I spend an enormous amount on housework. This work is boring and thankless but needs to be done. My husband works about 60 hours a week and although he helps with clean-up, does not do the mundane routine stuff (i.e. doesn't see the spills on the counter, toothpaste on the basin, etc.).

    I find the domestic overload make me furious so we decided to hire a cleaning person to come in one morning every other week. I felt very conflicted about this because my part-time (creative) job pays poorly, certainly less than we pay our cleaning person, although hopefully I will get more money before too long.

    We found someone who charged $90 to clean our house. She currently takes about 90 minutes and works with an assistant (don't know how much she pays her assistant but as she's clearly the one in charge, I'm guessing the split is pretty uneven).

    Over the months I've become disappointed. One problem is she's become a bit lax -- leaving fingerprints on the door, visible parts of the kitchen floor unwashed, food under the cushions of the couch to cite a few examples (and my standards are pretty low by the way).

    Worse she calls in sick -- about four times out of the previous 20 potential visits. She offers alternative dates, such as one week later, but then doesn't answer the phone when I call to discuss it -- until the day of her proposed visit. She also tends to come at different times, which affects my work schedule (she wants me to leave when she arrives).

    I'm kind of irritated with the whole thing but also realize how absurd I sound when I articulate this. I think one of the reasons I've worked myself up into such a lather is that cleaning has become an emotional issue for me.

    So I guess my question is: How to deal with this situation? Is it a given that cleaning people expect you to leave your house when they clean (I do not have a small room where I can work while the cleaner cleans, by the way). And what's a good way to handle frequent no-shows? Can I preface this by saying I'd really prefer no preachy posts about how privileged I am. Having been a cleaner myself in my younger days, I do realize what a miserable job it can be. Thanks In a tizzy


    For me it is a red flag if you are asked to leave the house while they clean. I have never been asked to leave my house during housecleaning. They should be able to work around you being present (granted, corral the kids). Based on your description they are grossly expensive and very unprofessional and it is time to get someone else. Anon
    The service you are getting is sub-standard. You should fire them and find someone else.

    Additionally I would say you are accepting sub-standard work because you feel guilty. You feel guilty about the ''tough job'' and about the fact that you are paying for help. I would say free yourself of this! You are paying recent wages, treating people with a basic level of respect and providing a decent job. You should expect some quality work in return. I also think that you can give yourself permission to value your own happiness and the quality of your relationships. For me and my family that means paying for cleaning EVERY WEEK is a high priority. There are times when this seems insane financially but trust me it will be the LAST thing to go. For others this won't be true but for me that tidy clean house once a week is critical. My husband and I don't fight about cleaning, I enjoy my kids more (for example when baking cookies and the flour goes everywhere- I clean it up but don't stress about every inch knowing the cleaning team will come on Thursday). There is still constant cleaning right??? It is that someone does the once over once a week to keep things up.

    This said I am never fully satisfied with the cleaning job I have gotten from several cleaning people over the last 15 years in 3 different cities, so one does have to manage expectations. I value reliability and trustworthiness highly. I find that most people have their strengths and I try to leverage that (for example some are better at picking up but not the deepest cleaners, some don't do a good job unless things are picked up well). To be clear I wouldn't keep the people you have AT ALL, but for the future.

    Wow this is more than I ever thought I could write about cleaning services - and in fact I could go on! Get somebody better to clean your house (up it to every week if you can!) and enjoy it! happy to pay for help


    Seems to me that you are not getting what you are paying for and your cleaner is a bit confused about who is in charge. Calling in sick 20% of the time? telling you to leave? $90 for 90 minutes? I'd say it is time to find another cleaner.

    My husband and I have a home based business and at least one of us is almost always home when our house cleaner is here. When it is time to clean our home office, we move to another area. We close the door to block out the noise of the vacuum, or go out to do errands and such, but seems to me that any cleaner who insists that you be gone may be trying to hide something.

    Our cleaner has also only rescheduled maybe 6 times in 4 years, mostly when her kids were sick, and always offered to come the next day. She also does a fantastic job and spends the time it takes to get the house really clean. Her name is Ana and she actually has a few openings now that her kids are all in school full day, so feel free to call her at 685-7973.

    Could it be your feelings of guilt that aren't allowing you to deal with the situation? I say take it as a gift that you and your husband can afford to hire a cleaning person, decide what you want your cleaner to do and when, and find someone who will do it your way. Happy when the house is clean


    Sounds like you need a new cleaning person whom you feel more comfortable with, is more reliable, and does a better job. And yes, you should be able to stay in your own home while it's being cleaned. good luck
    Have you expressed your displeasure to the cleaning lady? If so, and things haven't changed, fire her and hire another. Housecleaners seem to be readily available in this area. If you haven't told her you are disappointed in the quality of her work and the frequency of no-shows, and you REALLY want to keep this lady, let her know what's bothering you and give her another chance. Or, you could just let her go even if you haven't already told her what needs improvement. Dislike housecleaning too
    While I personally do not employ anyone to clean my home, I have hired people to clean my 84 year old Aunt's home, and have several friends who have their house cleaned. No, you should not have to leave your house because it's easier on the person cleaning. I would think she should not have to work around you in a room, but I fail to see why when she's done with one room you can't simply 'exchange' rooms. don't want to leave my house
    Oh my gosh, if I didn't know better I'd think I wrote your post a couple of weeks ago. Here's what I did (and it wasn't easy, but I'm very happy with my decision.) We were given a year's worth of housekeeping after my second child was born by both of our famiies - such a great gift. Anyway, we had a company we didn't like so fired them and hired another. She did EXACTLY the same thing as yours - and we had a friendly relationship so it was hard for me to act like her boss, which I was since I was paying her for her service. I got so frustrated, I fired her. She didn't seem surprised, which made it easier. I then did some research, hired another company for less money and am vowing NOT to change our relationship from boss/employee to friendly - and I do stay here while they work. The company I chose also has a policy whereby the housekeepers leave satisfaction surveys so that I can point out what I was unhappy with. I'll find out tomorrow if they actually make changes based on these surveys. (They are Maid Brigade, by the way.) -Time for a change.
    Hey girlfriend, I feel your pain, and have no preachy response. With a big house, kids, and a home business, I just don't have time to clean all the time either. I've been having someone come once a month or every other week for several years now, and after about 6 months, I always notice the types of things you describe. Because it's happened so often, I think housecleaners just get too used to my house and (like me!) start overlooking the small stuff. But it bugs the heck out of me, and I'm awful at confronting these things head-on with the housecleaner, particularly since there's almost always a language barrier. I've started switching cleaners every so often, and usually I just tell the old one that I can't afford it anymore. Then I find someone new. If you can have a candid conversation with your housecleaner, it may help, otherwise I'd just find someone new. You shouldn't have to put up with diminishing work quality. picky too
    The calling in sick thing + rescheduling at the last minute would drive me nuts. So would the slacking off. Say goodbye to this lady and call Natural Homecleaning Professionals for an estimate (http://www.naturalhomecleaning.com). They've been cleaning my home for over two years and I am very satisfied. They've never missed an appointment and have worked with me when I needed to reschedule due to visiting family or vacations. I have my appointment and I get a call the day before telling me what time to expect them (it rarely varies by more than two hours). Hate housework too
    Hey Tiz, I don't think you're absurd, and like you, I used to clean as well.

    Let's get to facts: You're paying $30/hour (2 people at 90 minutes; $90). For $30 per HOUR, you should reasonably expect things to be spic and span, and a professionalism with few if any missed dates. I say get someone else.

    Yes, though, it is common for cleaning people to reserve a day for you, but not a time (they may do another house before yours that day instead), and also common for them to want you out of the house. Bottom line though - you're paying. It shouldn't be totally miserable for you, and there are many nice people who will work with your needs more. I think if they want you out of the house, then they damn well better be there on time. And if they want to shift around the hours (but still the same day), they need to deal with the idea that you'll be around.

    This is how I'd handle it were I hiring out cleaning (which I would do in an instant if I could squeeze out the extra dollars) Don't put up with this


    Get a new cleaning person! There are plenty of people who want this work. No one is calling you spoiled but by the same token you don't need to worry about how the assistant gets paid and/or how long they take, since you are not paying by the hour. anon
    First, don't feel guilty about having a housekeeping service. It is helping you to keep a lot of balls in the air at once. Second, don't feel guilty at all about firing these folks and finding someone reliable. Not doing the job, not showing up for the job, not communicating about rescheduling the job, etc. = not doing the job. Find someone who will. happy housecleaned
    Gosh, I think if i were you, I would try to find another housecleaner. We have someone come in every other week for about 2 hours (two people actually) and we pay them $75. I am often here when they come although I try hard to stay out of their way (as well as to declutter before they come so they can better do their job). I am sure it is a bit harder for them when I am here (not to mention my baby!), but they seem to enjoy interacting with both me and the baby, and certainly never imply I should leave. I have found them to be very responsible and reliable, as well as to be competent cleaners. So I would say keep looking-- I know it's a pain to hire someone new, but you are entitled to get your money's worth. anon
    Your pre-emptive defensiveness about people criticizing you for being able to afford help is a clue to your problem. Don't get waylaid by guilt, or by feeling solidarity with her because you also used to clean houses.

    You have every right to have a cleaning person if that's what you want! And you also have a right to expect her to do the job the way you want it done. My neighbor always says this about people she hires for different services: *** They are there to relieve your stress, not cause it.*** If she is sloppy, calls in sick too often for your needs, is unreliable about setting dates, and insists that you leave the house before she starts working (!!!! not the norm, by the way), who exactly is in charge in this situation? You can calmly and politely let her know what your cleaning needs and expectations are, insist that she be more responsible about setting dates, and ask that she at least try to accomodate YOUR work schedule. Isn't that the absolute minimum of what all OUR bosses expect?

    If this is too much for her, find someone else. You are paying for a service that's necessary for you, so don't settle for shoddy work Good luck


    I think the solution to your problem is pretty clear. You are an employer, she is an employee. Tell her you expect her to show up when you have arranged for it unless there is an emergency or illness. Tell her also that if there are too many missed appts due to illness you will have to let her go. Explain to her that she needs to communicate well before the scheduled time if she is not going to come and must also follow up and speak with you (no messages) to re-schedule.

    If she doesn't meet these guidelines, let her go. You have nothing to feel guilty about.

    I have had to do this several times, flakiness can be a real problem with housecleaners. But I find that if my expectations are clear, it usually works out. BTW, I have found a stellar housecleaner through BPN. Call Nancy at ''Clean House Clean Soul'' 510-685-3318. She is great and VERY responsible! Anon


    I hope that I don't sound too preachy in response to your post! As a therapist, I understand that issues related to one's home can be very emotional, provocative and upsetting. It's really not a frivolous issue. It sounds like your home and you are not being taken care of well. My guess is that you have some guilt feelings (paying for something that you have ambivalence about) coupled with some legitimate business concerns (no shows, poor service and lack of response).

    I can go on and on about the guilt feelings part of this equation - my thought is in general it is a good thing to put money out there in order to get services that help and support you. (That's my preachy stance). We tend to hold guilt feelings based on our relationship to money

    My suggestion is to re-evaluate this particular service relationship. First and foremost, you deserve to have excellent service! There are many other cleaning services out there that will show consistent reliability and respect for your home care needs. These principles will be a given for them. One option is to just end the service and start with another person (I am sure the BPN community can recommend some excellent people) or see if this current one can be turned around with a heart-to-heart discussion. I know that either option means having to confront them with your concerns. This is best done when you feel confident and calm in your feelings. Best of luck! - Amy


    Hopefully someone will recommend a new cleaner for you. Sorry I don't know one anymore. Yes, it is normal to leave the house so you need someone you can trust. My former housekeeper worked with other neighbors and people I knew, this helped. Or get solid references.

    For $90 you should be getting a thorough job (mine was $80 for whole house in 4 hours by 1 person every 2 weeks). You should also be able to communicate comfortably with this person about your expectations for cleanliness and scheduling, and don't settle for anything less. Frequent no-shows are no-good. A good cleaner will understand the impacts to you and your family and avoid this problem unless an emergency comes up for them.

    I found that a good housecleaner improved my quality of life and it's worth it if your family can afford it. My husband and I worked many hours. The service helped us enjoy what little personal/family time we had at the cost of an affordable monthly household expense. currently unemployed


    This is the second post I've read about bad housecleaners. It seems like you're paying this woman and her assistant quite a lot for only an hour and a half--I used to spend 3-4 hours on one apt. when I cleaned. Do not hire her again! Find someone who will spend some time, and let her know exactly what you expect, and don't be shy about it. This is a business relationship and not exploitative if you're paying her well so don't feel guilty.

    I don't think having her back over to clean more for no more $$ will work with independent workers. Also, make sure she cleans with soap and water, maid services (highly expoitative) train women to only ''wipe'' and they don't really clean anything. Also, don't be too uptight about your cleaning standards with your family--toothpaste on the basin is not toxic waste. former scrubber


    Ok, we are lucky to have house cleaners - no two ways about it. But, your person sounds expensive and difficult to deal with. My cleaner has worked for us for two years and changed her day maybe 4 times (comes every two weeks) and has been late maybe twice - both times has called/apologized (car issues etc). I can be home - I try to give her space - but she has said over and over I don't need to leave. Cost is $70 for 1000 sq feet, 2bedroom/1 bath house. Her and another woman -about an hour and half or so. House looks great when we get home. Fire your person and find someone new love my cleaner
    I think you should find another housekeeper. There are so many hardworking people out there that are in need of work. Housekeepers need to be professional also, it is their job and that means being consistent, on time, thorough, communicate, what you would expect from any good employee. It is rude not to call back. I don't think you should have to leave your house at all when she is there. Of course it is important to stay out of the way if they are doing a deep cleaning of a room but there is no reason to leave. It is your house and you are paying, so you should get to set the ground rules. Also, it is totally reasonable to tell them if there is something they are doing wrong or you would like done differently. It takes time for a housekeeper/employer relationship to become established. After some time, you will both know what needs to be done, what to expect. My mom has cleaned houses for many years and she is very professional. I also have someone who cleans my house. L
    sounds to me like you need a different housekeeper. anon
    Find a different housecleaner. Just keep trying until you think you're happy. Who needs an unreliable housecleaner? It's supposed to make your life easier, not harder. I've had many housecleaners and none have ever told me to leave, and if they had I would have said no. Of course, you can also just tell them when they do all those things you don't like, and see what kind of response you get. It's irrelevant how hard a job housecleaning is; and if you're paying and treating them fairly don't expend any guilt everybody works
    I've changed house cleaners twice in the past 1.5 years for some of the same reasons you are unhappy with your current cleaner. I was always pleased with the work they did when they started working for us, but over time I felt that they became less meticulous. I've never had a session canceled, but they often arrive late, which is irritating to me because we stay in the house while it is being cleaned, and we won't leave until they finish--the sooner they begin, the sooner they are ready to leave. If you feel at all uncomfortable with services in your home, there is no reason to continue using that service! BPN is a great resource for finding a good cleaning service, so I'd check out the newsletters and call references to find out how thorough, efficient, and trustworthy the service is. happy with a clean house
    i think some of your gripes may be overly picky (crumbs in couch--unless you specifically request they do that) but others are completely reasonable (showing up on time and when she says she will, needing to not leave when she is working). with the seeming zillions of housecleaners out there i would think you could find one that fits your bill better than your current one! just tell them upfront what you want! good luck.
    fire this housecleaner. Your comment that the housecleaner wants you to leave when she arrives set my alarms off. why does she need you to leave? She can clean around you. I'm often in my office when my housecleaner works, if I can't get out she just doesn't clean it. works for me. there are plenty of good housecleaners out there who will show up as scheduled and do a great job. I pay my long-time house cleaner $80 for my 1800 sq foot house. It's probably time for another raise. It takes her about 4 hours, sometimes she does less if she has an appointment. since she works well w/ minimal direction and often does extra, i've got no complaints. annon
    I have never had housecleaning services but my kid's nanny, who also worked for another family with cleaning services, once told me she noticed that when her employer was home (only occasionally), her cleaning person did a good job dusting and cleaning. However, when her employer was not home, the cleaning person would spend 15 minutes the most, getting the minimum dusting done. My nanny even complained to me once that she had to help clean up the kitchen and living room after the cleaning person left because the person did such a poor job.

    I asked my friends who have had housecleaning services what they thought about $90 for ~90 minutes of cleaning, and all of them said it's expensive and a lot more than what they paid, especially if the person(s) didn't do an outstanding job.

    Sorry about bringing such bad news to you, but if you've already had a housecleaning dilemma, perhaps you'd feel better if you look elsewhere and consider hiring someone who can truly do an outstanding job of cleaning with or without you being at home, and is highly professional -- always on time and never call in sick. Good luck Hope things work out for you


    Are we unreasonable to expect better service?

    Jan 2006

    We've been having some trouble with housekeepers for quite some time (having gone through 3 in 3 years)and are wondering whether we are just too rigid, or whether some housekeepers just push the limits. We've had housekeepers who chronically break things, pull the towel bars and toilet paper holders off the walls, break mirrors, break collectibles, ruin things and even those who've been caught alone in our bedroom in compromising situations (they were fired immediately). So you can see we've developed some sensitivities around housekeepers. Nonetheless, we really appreciate the regular help, and wonder whether our new housekeepers are pushing the limits. We have a company now, that provides 2-3 people on a given day to clean our 2+ BR-BA home in Berkeley. Question is, is it unreasonable to expect to know what hours they are coming? And exactly who will have access to our home? Sometimes more than two (up to five) converge at our place for lunch and the place turns into a cafeteria of sorts. They use our dinnerware and good knives, appliances, etc. Then they leave everything clean, but out on the drainboard for us to put away, hence we know exactly what's gone on, in addition to coming home ourselves for lunch and being displaced. They also feel free using our telephone, and recently left the handset off the charger and in the 'on' mode, so when we came home, the battery was dead and the home 'station' was beeping looking for the handset. They also repeatedly torture the window blinds, leaving them dented and in a disarray (this has been an issue with every housekeeper.) Are we being unreasonable to expect better service? Unreasonable?


    Have you complained to the housekeeper's employer (the one who sends them to you and I presume, the one you pay money to)? If so and you still have trouble, stop using them! You shouldn't have to put up with anything like what you described in your post. I work for someone who went through several housekeepers and nannies before she found a gem in each dept. Your stories are unfortunately not uncommon. Keep looking and make your needs and wants a priority (while being sensitive to the housekeepers needs of course but not letting her run the show). I wish you the best of luck. used to be a housekeeper who knew how to do it right
    I'm sure you'll get many responses to this one. Your current housekeepers' behavior doesn't sound acceptable to me. I wouldn't want service people eating in my house or using my dishes and flatware, especially without asking first. If they asked I would say no--it just doesn't seem appropriate to me. It doesn't seem like a big hardship for them to eat their lunch in the car or at a park or restaurant--I've done it many times for my own jobs, because I knew I couldn't bring food into my workplace. Also, using your phone is unacceptable.

    We have a company service (Cooperative Cleaning Company) which we've used for many years, and none of the cleaning people has ever done any of the same type of thing, as far as I know. When we've had (minor) issues, the management has always been very responsive and, no pun intended, cooperative. I hope that's not the same company you use--if it isn't, give them a try. Glad I don't have your cleaners


    I've found that agencies or housekeeping businesses generally provide much worse housekeeping services, than an individual. Seems that in the Bay Area you do not consistently get the same person from the agency, instructions are not passed from one house cleaner to the next, hours are inconsistent, etc. My mother lives in another state and always gets the same team from Merry Maids, I got a different crew each week. I went ballistic the day I came home and found a stranger Hoovering my antique Persian carpet, high powered upright vaccuuming being contrary to my very specific instructions. I tried working with the management, without much success. I've have much more success with individuals. I get the same person every time, at the same time, they follow my instructions, and breakage is rare. I'm committed to my housecleaner and trust her enough that I have her clean when we're away, the extra stuff that doesn't get done on the weekly cleaning. After all, she's counting on the income. The downside is no insurance, some rescheduling to accommodate appointments, and they leave for entended trips to third world countries to visit their families. There is also the language issue, but I've had both agencies and individuals, and overall I've been much happier and my house is cleaner with an individual. ''let me show you'' helps with the language differences. My housekeeper does eat lunch when she arrives, but doesn't leave her dirty dishes for me. happy with my housekeeper
    You are not nuts.You have every right to expect and get good service. I have had the same housekeeper for 12 years but I went through a lot of them until I found what I wanted. I finally put an ad in the paper and interviewed a ton of people. I also asked anyone I knew for a referral. I offered the benefit of paid sick days after a certain period, vacation days etc. I clearly set out expectations as well....(and none of what you have put up with would be included). My housekeeper turned into my nanny/housekeeper and I ended up hiring her full time. I have been very blessed but I had to kiss a lot of frogs first! Hang in there and wait for what you want! the wait is worth it
    You do not sound unreasonable at all! That is ridiculous to have someone you hire to take advantage of you like that. We are really happy with our service ''Molly Maids'', there is 2-3 women who come out and although they pass the time while chatting with each other, are very efficient and clean very well. We were using another service which had 5 people come and we were very disappointed with the results, it seemed they cleaned in a way that would require a quick return visit (probably to ensure work for them). Whoever you chose I think it is important to tell them that you have gone through serveral houskeepers and state your expectations and ask them if they are willing and able to meet those expectations. Tell them that you want their best people (if using a service), I would get names if you are uncomfortable (besides you are letting them into your home). I ask for approximate times and ask how many jobs are before you to give you a better idea. I hope this helps. anon
    Never use a housecleaning company. We have ALWAYS had bad experiences with them. They pay their employees a fraction of what you pay and have high turnover. Hire a single individual that you can develop a relationship with and pay a reasonable rate. Treat them fairly and with respect, but be clear and firm on what you expect. Your requests are not unreasonable or rigid. Hire someone based on word of mouth, not from a flyer. We have had excellent relationships with housecleaners hired in this way -- for many years! Good luck.
    Sounds like you've had really bad luck! We've had the same housekeeper for about 15 years. In that time I think she's broken something twice. She would never let a bunch of people eat at our house and if she did we would never know because everything is put away when we return. I think you should keep looking. If you use a service you might tell them about what happened and ask them what you can expect. I would suggest you find someone who comes recommended or interview different services. Amy
    Oh my goodness, I can't believe the experiences you've had with housecleaners! I do not think that using the phone is ok, and the damage to the blinds is terrible service. Why would you continue to employ them?

    You mention that the cleaners are part of a service. So the cleaners have a boss that is someone other than you??? That sounds like a bad deal for you and for them (since there's a middleman.) Do you know if they make a living wage?

    Have you ever hired someone on your own? I have only had two housecleaning teams (one a husband and wife, the other a mother and daughter) ever, and they were both referred by close friends. I negotiated the pay with them, and they work for me. I tell them what I want and expect, and give them feedback on their work. If they were to intentionally do the things you mention, I'd stop employing them. But they wouldn't, because we have a relationship with communication.

    (BTW, BPN has many recommendations for housekeepers in the Household Digest newsletter.) happy with clean home


    It sounds like the company you hired is still quite unprofessional. I would not accept this kind of behavior. We have had two different housekeeping companies over the past 7 years (we also live in Berkeley), and neither of them did things like this. We now use Natural Home Cleaning (www.naturalhomecleaning.com) and have been quite satisfied. They are a worker-owned cooperative and use non-toxic cleaning products. They have been very responsive to any requests or concerns we have expressed and are extremely professional. They come every two weeks and still call the night before to let us know when they are coming, even though we have a regularly scheduled day and time. If I were you, I would either be very explicit with your current cleaners as to what you would like (or not like) them to do, or hire someone else. Kara
    I would say that you have gone above and beyond! I had the same wonderful housekeeper for about 6 years, she is now doing a mission in another country. For the past two years, I've had about 5 different people/agencies. After carpal tunnel surgery, I tried a new agency that charged by the hour. While cleaning a worker asked me to come clean up some glue that spilled in my daughter's room. I promptly called the agency and pointed out the situation. The next time they cleaned all the on/off decal markings off the gas stove. We didn't think it was a big deal, until the babysitter (a college graduate student) almost blew up the house because she left the gas on! That was the last straw! We are now with a better group, although not perfect, much better. I never have them clean when I'm not here and they arrive at the same time every two weeks. anon hardworking mom
    Hi- I've never used a housekeeper before (too picky about the way things are done to turn it over to someone else), but what you describe sounds like bad service to me. I do not believe it is unreasonable to expect your home to be respected, feeling displaced if you come home for lunch because there are 5 people using your home as a cafeteria/using your dishes, bent blinds, wanting to know who will be working in your home, etc. I wish I had more advice for you, but I would look for a new housekeeper/service. Try the BPN network/newsletters as a place to start. I really don't think you are being unreasonable. kukana
    Pushing the limits? I'd say YES. Are these people crazy? I've never heard of such a thing. Fire this company immediately and call the women at Natural Homecleaning Professionals. They have been working for me for over one year and I love them. I get a call the day before my appt telling me exactly what time to expect my cleaners (and they are the same ones each and every time) and the ladies arrive exactly at that time. (And, no, they do not use my dishes to eat their lunch!) http://www.naturalhomecleaning.com/ Happy mama
    Try not hiring someone through a company. We hired a housekeeper who we found through our neighbor. She has worked for us for over 2 years and we've never had a problem. Word of mouth recommendations are often the best. Good luck. anon
    I am totally appaled to hear about your experiences. we have had a housekeeper for over 7 years and tried to use ''independent contractors'' who were women that basically advertised for themselves. I wasn't throughly satisfied, sometimes I would find things broken and then left there or places completely ignored (like the shower!!). When we moved to our current house, I started using Vickie's Cleaning Team. They are fabulous! I have the same housekeeper every 2 weeks who arrives at the same time on the same day of the week for the last 4-5 years. You should be notified when someone is coming and no, it is not unreasonable to have them come at the same time every time (unless they made prior arrangement, say a bigger job before yours that lasted longer). She comes in for 3 hours, brings all of her own supplies, rags, and vacuum & mop, she never uses my supplies unless I specifically ask her to. If she fell ill on my scheduled day I have the option of having someone else sub or having my regular on a different day when she is back to health. The housekeepers get benefits and vacation time. We have never had an issue with them breaking anything. She does all the regular cleaning of my house and then if time allows, she finds a different ''special needs'' area to concentrate on each time. They are quite pricey - $88 for 3 hours every other week, but I am very happy to pay for a consistent clean house every time, with no surprises. By the way, she even puts away all the things on my sink drainboard so not one item is left there when she is gone. I recommend you call them. they had a change in ownership last year (or was it two), and I am sure it hits some bumps in the road, but I never noticed. They are really easy to work with. Kerri
    Wow- I am stunned by your report of what your housecleaner is up to and how your house is treated!

    I have been cleaning houses for 2 years and have never even considered using any of my clients household items or taking a lunch break inside the home. My clients know the exact time I will arrive and leave at. I never bring anybody else into the home. I treat and clean their homes as if they are my own.

    Get rid of your current service! A responsible cleaner


    I have had a housekeeper for 3 years and haven't had near the problems you described. Just had one or two small things broken. Also, think you would have better luck with one person as opposed to a service. Would expect that providing feedback on issues would be acted upon more promptly if you found the right person and kept the housekeeping group to no more than two. If you want contact info on my housekeeper please let me know.
    PLEASE tell your housekeepers THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE and find yourself a new crew to clean your house. Are you kidding me!! THis is absolutely ridiculous. Why do you feel like you should be accomodating and ok with such unacceptable behavior. Remember, YOU PAY THESE PEOPLE TO CLEAN YOUR HOUSE - that is it. They can eat their lunches in their car or in the street, not in your kitchen. Annoyed
    You are not being unreasonable at all! We have never used a housecleaner ''company'' but have always hired individuals. So we don't have any issues about knowing who is coming, although the person we have now does sometimes bring different helpers -- we don't know ahead of time if it's going to be her husband, her sister, etc., but she is the one responsible for them and we've never had a problem with a crowd. Stuff gets broken once in a while, but no more often than we break stuff ourselves, or would if we were moving stuff around to clean. I can think of only two or three things in the last 7 or 8 years, nothing too important. I doubt our cleaners ever eat lunch in our house; if they do they certainly don't leave any trace. And while there are sometimes last-minute changes in the time they are coming, they do let us know more or less when we can expect them. Feeling fortunate

    Do I get a nanny or a housekeeper?

    July 2002

    My husband and I currently share childcare responsibilities -- I stay home with our 4-month-old in the morning and he's on duty in the afternoon. My husband's studio is behind our house, and my studio is 10 minutes from home. We are both self-employed and consider ourselves pretty lucky to have flexibility in our schedules to allow this, which helps to make up for not having a paid maternity leave.

    With project deadlines recently, I've been working swing shift hours -- 1pm to 9pm-ish. The total number of hours I work is not likely to change, although I can usually get in an hour in the morning when baby is napping and put in one or two hours at home in the evening. This schedule actually suits me okay, but it means that hubby and I don't really hang out together since we're both trying to work whenever we can. It also means that there isn't a whole lot of laundry and cleaning getting done. It can also get pretty stressful when we both have meetings or such and we have to pass the baby back and forth. I will sometimes bring my son to my office -- but it makes for a very unproductive work day.

    We need help, but I don't know what kind of help. Neither of us wants to give up our designated childcare hours. I don't want to hire someone to be with our baby just so that I can catch up on the laundry. I *think* that hiring someone to do the chores sounds like a better solution. But aside from my middleclass guilt, I don't know whether this would work.

    I understand from a recent thread here that some nannies are willing to also do chores. So, a combo is a possibility. How is a ''mother's helper'' different from a nanny or housekeeper? I would love to hear from anyone who has been in a similar situation. Hae


    A dear friend taught me to delegate to my babysitter some of my load of light household chores (laundry, setting the table, grocery shopping, making a salad, making kids lunches for school days) so I can spend my non-working hours with my kids. I would much rather pay her to wash my dishes than to stand there at the sink doing dishes while she enjoys playing with my darling kids. After all, they are my kids. I do not think it is okay to ask a sitter to do ''heavy'' chores or cleaning, but you can hire a separate cleaner every other week to do that, or set aside a non-babysitting day, and pay the going rate for housecleaners, if your sitter is willing and good at cleaning. The most important thing (other than getting over the middle- class guilt) is to be clear up front what the job will entail. Some sitters consider it below them to do any housework that is not directly connected to the baby (like they'll fold baby's laundry but not adults'). Best to find this out before you hire someone. Be clear that the job is going to be 25% or 50% or whatever light housekeeping, and spell out the chores you'll be asking her to do. Especially if you pitch in once in a while when the sitter can see, I think it's perfectly fine to ask your nanny to do tasks that otherwise take you away from your kid(s) when you are caring for your child. Suzanne
    My situation was slightly different than yours, but my husband and I had the same desire to do as much as we could on our own during my daughter's first year. Our daughter was a high-need baby & a catnapper, which meant there were no reasonable or reliable stretches of time to get stuff done when we watched her. We went the mother's helper route, hiring a college student who would take turns doing chores and holding the baby. The student would do straightforward chores like laundry, changing sheets, running errands or washing dishes. My daughter would only nap in the sling, so sometimes I would get the student to wear her down and nap so I could do other kinds of chores. My daughter didn't really put up with being with anybody besides mom or dad when she was awake, though, so having the flexibility to trade off like that was ideal. -- Ilana
    I think what you need is a housekeeper who can do a little childcare, rather than a nanny who can do a little cleaning(or a mother's helper, who doesn't do big cleaning stuff). When my baby was born, I discovered my housekeeper (who was already working for me) was great for ''pitching in'' with childcare - I wouldn't have hired her as a fulltime nanny (her English was almost non-existent and my Spanish totally non-existent) - but she loved babies and filled in here and there on more than one occasion. I happily left the baby with her while I ran errands, or when my nanny had to leave work early for a doctor's appt, she could take over. She also did evening sitting for us. If I were you, I would interview housecleaners and ask them if they would be willing to do some childcare sometimes. Your housecleaner might not have the childcare experience you'd want from a nanny but if she has children of her own and/or some common sense, it should work out fine. You may even find a housecleaner who would love to gain some ''professional'' childcare experience. The big rule in hiring anyone, a nanny, a housecleaner, a marketing director, etc. is to make your expectations VERY clear in the INTERVIEW. Stuff may still go wrong but at least you can tell yourself (and the employee!) ''I told you!!'' FYI, my housecleaner charged $10 per hour for housecleaning and that's what I paid her for sitting too. That may be a little low - this was a few years ago. I made it clear she didn't have to do both jobs at once - if she was cleaning, she didn't have to watch the baby - and if she was watching the baby, she didn't have to clean. A few times it worked out that she would clean in the morning and then mind the baby and while he napped, she napped. I was happy to be able to go out, and both she and the baby were happy to sleep, so it worked out great for all of us! Fran

    What should be expected in a housekeeper?

    2001

    I have an awkward situation in which my housecleaner has become a friend, and yet I'm not completely satisfied with her work. I'm new to having a housecleaner, so I am hoping to get some advice from others who have had more experience, and can help define what general expectations should be. I would like to know this before deciding whether to say anything, as I don't want to seem demanding or petty. I like this housecleaner because I trust her (she works at the building where I live), she is really friendly with my child, and if she sees me with too many grocery bags she helps carry them, etc.

    In the last 2 months I've had her clean the floors once a week, and the rest of the place once a month. She does a good job on the floors except that I find areas she's missed. This past time she didn't shake out the bathroom rugs or clean under the portable pantry. Am I being picky or looking too closely after she leaves? However, she did a wonderful job on the inside of our fridge. If this info. helps, we live in a 1,050 sq. foot loft -- it takes her 1 hour to do the floors, and 1.5-2 hours to do the overall (incl. floors). I pay her $20 for floors (vacuum and mop), and $50 for the overall. She will not accept tips, and tells me instead to take the tip and buy something for the baby. Thanks in advance for any tips on what should be expected from a housecleaner.


    If you're paying by the job you might have to pay more for deeper cleaning. If you are willing to do that, your discussion with your housekeeper about doing a more thorough cleaning shouldn't be taken as criticism. Since I pay by the hour, I have never hesitated to ask for something to be done differently and no one has ever taken it as criticism. As far as being picky: everyone has their own level of tolerance for dirt (for some people, it's a real health issue) and it's your right to ask for something to be cleaned the way you want it. -Fran
    I don't think you are being too picky or cheap. I have done a lot of researching of housekeepers in the area, and you are being way more than generous. I've found that, if you break it down hourly, they charge about $10 to $16 per hour. Most want to do it by the job. Mine cleans a 3000 sf house (the bottom floor being all hardwood) for $80, every week. It takes a good person about six hours to do the job right (or two people three hours), which is about $13 per hour. I give her very detailed instructions on what I need to have done, and, if she misses something, I just ask her to do it. She is not offended--she wants to do a good job. Paying someone what is, in essence, $20 to $25 per hour for housecleaning seems incredibly steep. Heck, I might clean your floors for that kind of money! -Lawson
    Have you tried writing a list for your housekeeper of what you'd like done each time? She may need to have something visible in front of her as a reminder. My housecleaners sometimes run out of time and can't get everything done. Some weeks they do a better job in the kitchen, other weeks a better job in other areas. If I have to say something I usually make it sound like I'm really picky, rather than that they aren't doing the job I expect. Good luck. She sounds like a kind and caring person. June
    I would suggest being honest with yourself first. How important is this to you? If your known for being nit picky, demanding or petty, you should consider your motive before you would speak to her. If not, then feel guiltless in your approach. Be honest with your housekeeper, and keep in mind it is not always what you say, but how you say it. :o) Oh and don't leave out the prayer, prayer before a tough situation and belief in prayer working makes a good comfort to a difficult situation.

    Recommendations for Housekeeping Services

    See also: Hispanic Referral Services (formerly, Manos)
    Note: The recommendations below apply to cleaning services only. Many Parents Network subscribers have recommended individuals as well, but these are not archived to the website in order to protect peoples' personal information. Please use the web form to seek and give recommendations for individual housekeepers.
    2001

    I would like to recommend my current housecleaner who is simply excellent. He has very reasonable rates and cleans extremely well which makes him an excellent value. Also, he is very good with following advice. If he forgets something and I remind him he is very receptive to the same. His spouse is a doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley. He lives in Albany in the UC Berkeley married student housing. He is very reliable and conscientious. His company is called Royal Cleaning company and their license number is #2044374. The website address is http://ourworld.cs.com/royal732 Sharmila


    1999

    From: Debbe

    I just hired someone this past weekend to clean parts of my house in Richmond View, and she did a pretty good job and was very reasonable. Her name is Eva of Eva's Cleaning Service. To clean my kitchen and bathroom, which took a little less than 4 hours total, she charged me $35.00


    I did use an agency (Dana's Housekeeping Service, actually a big, possibly even national, company) for several months, but it was very poorly run, had high turnover, and cost a bit more. In the end the agency ended up being a lot more trouble than it was worth. The obvious advantage to the agency is that they find you a housekeeper and can provide a substitute if that person is ill or quits. Also, if they send someone over you don't like, you can avoid the unpleasant task of "firing" someone by telling the agency you'd like them to find you someone new. However, in my experience the high turnover meant that I was breaking in a new person every few months and often had to cycle through a few housecleaners before I found another one I liked. If you can find someone reliable and stable you're likely to much happier than with an agency.

    I think you can find people/agencies who will bring their own cleaning supplies, but I like to provide my own so I can be sure the products being used are appropriate to the task and not too nastily smelly or toxic.

    My husband and I feel that cost of professional housecleaning is some of the best money we've ever spent and when measured against the increased time we have to spend with each other and our daughter is worth much more!


    1997

    One of the best gifts my parents have given us is that they pay for someone to come to our house for 4 hours once a week. I can highly recommend our current employee, but I won't put her name and phone number on a public mailing list (I'll send it to you privately). I found her through an organization called Manos. They train people and make referrals and the nice thing is that they are available on phone to translate to/from Spanish in case you need them. (They also do other things such as gardening and painting I think). You pay the person they send $9/hr if it's a one-time thing and slightly less if you plan for it to be regular. However, they have to give some of this to the agency so what I usually do is try someone out and then if I like them ask them to come on a regular basis, bypassing the agency. (I think they changed the rules as the agency used to take a flat fee and then give free referalls which makes more sense). You can feel the person out for how good their English is and for trustworthiness as well as how thorough they are. You have to provide all the cleaning supplies which stay in your house. Most of the people are good, decent, hard-working, etc. The only problem I've ever encountered is late- or no-shows without calling, which is when I'd try someone new. The better a person's English the more likely they are to call.


    I recently read a couple of requests for house cleaners. I have some information that may be useful to the group. I recently used a group called the Fruitvale Latino Employment Cooperative. From their brochure: "The Fruitvale Latino Employment Cooperate is a nonprofit community organization dedicated to increasing the job skills and employment availability for Central American and Mexican immigrants and refugees in Oakland. We offer our members job placement and training in exchange for their membership and participation."

    If you are interested in a house cleaner, either one time, short term, or regular, just call, describe the job duties, indicate whether or not you need some English language skills and how much you can pay, ( I believe the scale is $8-12 per hour). They will send someone to your house via public transportation. The worker will come with a contract and a Spanish translation list of typical housecleaning duties. You pay the worker directly (checks ok).


    RE: Housecleaner recommendations: a good cleaning service, which will assign a regular individual cleaner to your home is Busby's of Berkeley, 524-0459.
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