You probably spend quite a few hours each week on household chores. If you’re time-crunched and have always longed to ditch the duster to spend more time with your family or catch up on your favorite shows, it may be time to hire some help. Here are a few things you should think about first, though.
Before you decide to throw in the towel (literally), you’ll want to consider a few things:
1. Count the cost. House cleaners generally charge $45/hour, which might be more affordable for you than you thought. Location, pets, lifestyle and extra services can significantly raise your rate, so ask for a detailed estimate! If neither Fido, your kids (or your spouse) are house trained, you’re going to be looking at the higher end of this range.
2. Calculate your worth. We know your personality is priceless, but what’s an hour of your time really worth? Use this handy calculator from our friends at LearnVest to find your personal hourly rate. Then, track the time you spend cleaning for one week and calculate the amount you should “pay” yourself. Use this number to weigh the cost benefit of hiring a cleaner instead of biting the bullet and doing it yourself. You may find that a professional cleaner can clean significantly faster than you, meaning it’d “cost” you less to hire them than to do it all yourself.
3. Ask your friends. Hiring a house cleaner is a lot like hiring a contractor: personal recommendations are solid gold! Ask around—chances are more of your friends, neighbors or coworkers have house cleaners than you realize. Get their opinions, ask about rates in your area and try to rustle up a phone number or two. If your friend trusts the cleaner, you probably can, too!
4. Consider independent vs. corporate cleaners. On average, large service companies charge over 50 percent more per hour than local, independent cleaners. But you’ll be covered if, say, an iPad or your favorite necklace goes missing. Corporate services are licensed, bonded and insured, plus they typically run background checks on their employees. If you do opt for an independent cleaner, it’s best to hire one who has been in business for at least six months and can provide 3-5 references. (Again, word of mouth works well here!)
5. Separate your needs. Make a short list of chores that you really need done. Most of your requests are probably standard when it comes to a company’s cleaning regimen, but a few tasks (dishes, ironing and making beds) can cost extra. You may want to consider splitting the list: heaving cleaning for a cleaning service, and lighter, everyday upkeep for you and your partner. This keeps your costs down, while still relieving some of your stress.
Having a cleaner isn’t for everyone, but if chores are a significant source of stress in your life—or just a huge time suck—it might be one of those areas where it’s worth spending a little extra money. And if it isn’t, maybe your cleaning routine just needs some small improvements (after all, it is possible to clean your house in 15 minutes if you know what you’re doing).