10 Things to consider before hiring your next housekeeper

Hiring a cleaning service you can rely on can be a challenging task. With so many options out there, from local cleaning companies to franchises to mom-and-pops to individuals, and prices ranging from $10 an hour to $45+ per hour, it is easy to get lost in the process. Here are some recommendations and questions to ask to facilitate an accurate comparison, and ensure the person(s) or a company you finally hire are properly prepared to care for your largest asset – your home.

1. Are you insured and bonded?

Proper insurance is essential for many reasons. An uninsured, individual cleaner will be cheaper, but when your expensive wooden floors get damaged, your stainless steel appliances get scratched or that heirloom from your grandmother gets broken, they are typically the ones who will not be able to compensate you for your loss, leaving you to foot the bill. Always ask about the insurance policy and if the company or an individual has a Business Service Bond.

If you’re shopping around for the best maid service rate, be sure to compare apples to apples. More established cleaning services often bond and insure their employees. This means you have some protection from loss or injury. Imagine your uninsured maid getting hurt on the job in your home. This risk is just not worth it, since technically YOU are their employer.

Bonding employees and ensuring them costs agencies more, an expense they typically pass on to you. If a service or person is offering a very attractive rate but isn’t bonded or insured, any protection you enjoy will have to come from your homeowner’s insurance policy, possibly at an increased premium.

2. Is your maid licensed by State and legal to work in the US?

Hiring a maid service is a more expensive option than hiring a single person, but you won’t be liable if it turns out your maid is uninsured or in the country illegally, a circumstance that could result in some stiff penalties.

Also, paying an independent, unlicensed worker $1,400 or more a year in wages can get you into trouble with the IRS. You may find yourself transformed overnight from a private citizen into an employer responsible for the employer share of social security as well as federal unemployment taxes, applicable state taxes and Medicare taxes, too. Something that is just not worth the risk.

There are two basic type of housekeepers: independents who work on their own, and those who work for companies. With unlicensed individuals, you might be responsible for issues of work eligibility and withholding taxes, which you won’t be if you hire through a company.

Questions to ask: Is your housekeeper’s freelancing business licensed by the state of Hawaii? Is the person legally able to work in the U.S.?

The whole point of hiring a housekeeper is to outsource some of the stress in your life. You don’t want to swap one source of stress for another.

3. Can your maid or cleaning Service Company provide references?

Whether your cleaning company has been around for a decade, or whether it’s a hungry young startup, they should be able to provide references about their service from their existing customer. Check Yelp and ask if you can talk to someone using their service. Reputable company will always have few happy customers ready and willing to share their positive experience.

4. Do you know who are you letting into your home?

Does the company check references? Do they perform criminal background checks? Are they willing to provide proof? If they are an independent cleaning person, are they willing to provide you with a copy of their own background check? Unfortunately it is not uncommon for independent housecleaners to begin cleaning because they cannot find another job due to a past criminal conviction.

5. Does your maid have a formal training?

The turnover in the industry is high, and many services are just desperate for warm bodies to throw out there and get the work done. It is not uncommon for new hires to get very little training, or no training at all. The best companies will have formal, documented, on-going training programs to ensure the correct product are being used for different surfaces and that the correct cleaning procedures and checklists are being followed.

6. Do you have a formal quality assurance policy in place and do your offer a Satisfaction Guarantee?

What methods does the company use to measure quality on an ongoing basis? Do they perform regular quality checks, leave behind comment cards or do follow up phone calls? If so how frequently?

Some cleaning services only offer a specified percent off your next service if you are displeased. If you are dissatisfied and they won’t fix it, why would you even want to use them again? A reputable service almost always offers some Satisfaction Guarantee and should immediately return and do whatever necessary to fix the problem, or be willing to offer you your money back.

7. Does your maid uses her own supplies and equipment?

Always inquire about the products and equipment being used. It is not uncommon for your independent maid to show up with broom and rags that have already been used in other homes, and a vacuum cleaner which hasn’t had its bag changed in ages.

Imagine your maid cleaning a house after a disgruntled renter who lived like a slob before he was ousted. He had bed bugs and an old dog with a dandruff problem. After cleaning up his colossal mess, your house is next on her list. She grabs her equipment and rushes over.

Now imagine that old beat up vacuum spewing the dog hair, dandruff and dust mites all over your home Yikes!

Always make sure that the equipment brought to your house is clean, vacuums are working properly and have a fresh filter bag to avoid cross-contamination. Look for a company with new, state of the art equipment and the one that is mindful of environment and offers organic cleaning options, HEPA filtered vacuums and cleans their cleaning equipment daily.

8. Does your maid provide a detailed checklist prior to cleaning?

Different companies have different ideas of what a basic service consists of. It is important to know exactly what you are paying for, and know you are truly comparing apples to apples when making a final decision.

Some of the more common areas of potential confusion are dishes, stripping and making of beds, laundry, high dusting of ceiling fan blades, high reach window sills, handling of children’s toys, and the handling of the trash throughout the home. You can save yourself a lot of potential grief by getting written specifications upfront.

9. Do you clean your house for your cleaners? Don’t!

Do not clean your house before the cleaning service arrives. Believe us, you will not be the messiest/dirtiest/most disgusting house a seasoned house cleaner has ever seen, especially if they do trash-outs.

10. Do pick-up and put away the clutter.

The more surfaces that are clear of clutter the better the job in the shortest possible time the cleaners can perform. Moving clutter takes time, and some agencies will not do it. I cannot stress the importance of: put away your junk! Also, don’t forget to put away jewelry, prescription medications and cash. Yes, you have checked for licensing and bonding, but better safe than tempted.

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