Please note: this page contains reviews and opinions sent in by
Berkeley Parents Network subscribers. Your
own experience may be different. Please always check references first!
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
"I pay $50 every week for about 2 1/2 hours of work"
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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
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.
happier now. There are a lot of housekeeper listings in BPN. Good
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.
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.
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,
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.
The service you are getting is sub-standard. You should fire them and find
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
some quality work in return. I also think that you can give yourself permission
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
For others this won't be true but for me that tidy clean house once a week is
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
manage expectations. I value reliability and trustworthiness highly. I find
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'
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
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.
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
If she doesn't meet these guidelines, let her go. You have nothing to feel guilty
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!
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
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
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.
sounds to me like you need a different housekeeper.
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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
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!
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
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
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
(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.
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
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
What should be expected in a housekeeper?
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
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.
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!
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.
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
Recommendations for Housekeeping Services
Hispanic Referral Services (formerly, Manos)
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
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
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!
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,
this page was last updated: Jul 31, 2012
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network