10 questions to find the best housecleaner

Hiring a house cleaner can help those with hectic schedules. (Photo by Elizabeth McQuern)

Hiring a house cleaner can help those with hectic schedules. (Photo by Elizabeth McQuern)

For many homeowners, hiring a house cleaning service is simply a matter of not having enough time between work, the kids and their personal life (or maybe you just despise cleaning bathrooms). Prices range from $50 to several hundred depending on the size of your home and what you want cleaned.

Before hiring a house cleaner, be sure to ask these questions:

1. Will the same cleaning person be sent each time? If this is important to you, and the service can’t ensure it you might want to keep looking.

2. Do you use your own supplies or do I need to provide them?

3. How will you gain access to my home? Options include leaving a key under the mat and asking the cleaner to leave it inside when they’re done; granting access via a keypad or choosing to be home during the cleaning.

4. What should I do with my pet? If possible, introduce your pet to the house cleaner before their first visit, especially if you won’t be home during the appointment. Depending on the introduction, you may want to crate the animal or ask the cleaner to leave the animal in a safe spot outside and then let them back in before leaving.

5. How do you charge – by the hour, by the project, by the number of personnel? Does your estimate include a “not to exceed this price” clause?

6. What’s your policy if something in the house is broken or damaged?

7. Is the company insured? Do you maintain proper liability insurance? Are you bonded? Do you do background checks on employees?

8. What types of cleaning does a routine visit cover? If you’re alright taking care of the basic day-to-day chores and you really want a housecleaner to take responsibility for dusting, window-washing, base board cleaning and floor scrubbing, make sure you let them know as it may effect the cost.

9. How long has the cleaning service been in business? And, more importantly, how long has most of the staff been with the service? A brand new company (or an old company with all-new employees) might be something to consider avoiding.

10. Can I get this all in writing? Remember: you’re letting someone into your home. Getting as many of the fine details in writing can help you avoid disagreements down the line.

Tips from the pros:

  • It’s usually easier for the cleaners if the homeowner is not at home.
  • If you have an alarm, be sure to let the house cleaner know. If you don’t want to give the code out, disarm it before you leave that morning.
  • Be specific. If you want your house cleaner to move beds to get the underlying dust, make that known so you’re not disappointed. And if you are disappointed in any part of the service, speak up.
  • Give us the house rules. Some homeowners will allow house cleaners to grab a snack or a beverage, some don’t. Some homeowners don’t mind if house cleaners listen to the TV while they’re there, some do. Let your house cleaner know what you prefer before it becomes an issue.
  • Let your house cleaner know from the get-go if you ever might need something extra done, and then give them a heads-up at least a week before you do need that extra. They have other clients and a schedule that you need to respect, and throwing things on them last-minute might leave you with sub-par results overall as they scramble to finish up in their allotted time.


Thank you for mentioning about agreements in writing. When I introduce the contract, a lot of people shy away from it, but it really benefits and protects both parties, especially with a clause stating the contract can be cancelled at anytime.

I do a variety of work for people. Cleaning, organization, shopping, pet sitting, taking care of plants, companionship, etc... The article has a lot of very good suggestions.

Thank you, for understanding how difficult it can be at times dealing with the different wants and needs of clients. This should help to have them all on the same page. Thanks!!!

I loved having a cleaning service and the pleasure of coming home to a perfectly clean house, all rooms. However, that was in the mid-80s, This is a large 4-5 bedroom, three floor house with 2 adults and a nice dog. I used to pay $75.00 every two weeks. When I get estimates now, they are very expensive. How do I find a good reasonably priced house cleaner I can trust in Falls Church, VA. Janice

You honestly get what you pay for.

Critical questions that anyone interrested in hiring a housecleaner/maid should ask and have answered.

Thanks for this article. It really helps having this information for the clients served. Drastically reduces time, increases customer satisfaction, and increases quality of work.

Great story..very informative!!

GREAT!!!!!!very helpful in helping me find a houscleaning service

I just read the tips and I think there are wonderful. But I would have to agree with Simon, not because a new business just got started does in any way mean that it is less legitimate. It is true that the longer a business is in business it acquires legitimacy, but it does not mean employees are the same as the beginning. I am starting a new cleaning business but I have four years of experience. Plus I have twenty some years in experience taking care of my own home.

I just want to say that this article was very informative until it informed the reader that they should avoid a company just because they are new. I'm in the process of starting my own cleaning business and I would hate if someone passed over me just because my business is new. Every new business has to start somewhere. The consumer just needs to be sure they do their due diligence in researching the company, like asking for references from the owner's previous employers and asking about there hiring and employee training process. Just saying...

B: Sign in to Angie's List! :)

Good tips. How do I get a list of homecleaning Co. in my area?

We are moving. I need thorough cleaning the day after we move out. Also, the house is pretty much a mess, but everything will be out. Can you send someone?

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