I'm Thinking of Hiring a Neighborhood Girl to Clean My House; Any Suggestions?

As the title says, I’m thinking of hiring a neighborhood girl to clean my house. I’m in a place in my life where I’m working 60 hours per week and I just don’t have the time, and I’m tired of fighting Mrs. HeyHomie over her lack of interest in cleaning. So I’m going to hire a cleaning lady (so to speak).

My plan is to post a sign at our neighborhood mailroom’s bulleting board stating what I want. Which is this: someone to generally straighten up, dust, load the dishwasher, etc. for an hour and a half on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. I plan to pay $8 per hour (which works out to $36 per week), which I think is quite fair for a teenager’s after-school job in this economy.

I seek input from the Teeming Millions in the following areas:
[1]What should my sign say? I’m thinking: “The family in #18 is seeking a girl (or guy) to do light cleaning three days a week after school for 1 1/2 hours each day. $8/hr. Call XXX-XXXX if interested.” Do you think this is about right?
[2]How can I interview to find a trustworthy person without seeming too obnoxious? I obviously want to hire someone who I can trust to not swipe things, to not let her friends in, to not copy my key, etc. I’d like to look at her report card, on the theory that a good student is more likely to be trustworthy than a slacker, but that may not be fair (and on second glance it seems rather intrusive). I’d also like to meet her parents, but if she were interviewing for a job at McD’s her potential boss would never ask to meet her parents. What do you guys think?
[3]What can I do to protect myself in case she does try to steal, let her friends party in my house when I’m gone, etc.? Would my homeowner’s insurance cover this? Should I contact a bonding company? :confused:
[4]Is this a generally bad idea?


The managers at McDonald’s aren’t giving her free reign of their homes. Take that into consideration.

I’d try to get some references if possible. Maybe you could advertise at a local church?

Perhaps go to the local high school and talk to their guidance/career counselor types? A bazillion years ago when I was in high school, some people did this seeking household help. I know my counselor tried to get me to take a job ironing for some lady.

I don’t think meeting the parents is a bad idea at all. They need to know that you’re not a psycho and you need to know that they’re not running a fencing racket out of their living room. :smiley: And I think your ad is fine.

Pay extra. Add small gifts. If you don’t she may find another way to get small gifts.

Absolutely get references, and follow up on them. After reading “Nickle and Dimed”, I would recommend not going with a corporate cleaning service, like Merry Maids. For one thing, even though you’re paying (e.g.) $30/hour, the workers are getting like $6/hour. For another thing, they place a lot of emphasis on making things look clean and very little emphasis on actually cleaning (i.e. removing dirt and killing germs).

I would love to have a service like that. I wouldn’t hire someone to disinfect my home–I just want it to look respectable (the sad thing is I’m not joking).

Get references

And also due to the short work times (1.5 hrs per day) be a little considerate of her commuting time which diultes what you are offering quite a bit. If it takes her 15 min to leave her house and start working and 15 to stop work and get back home it is more like $6/hr. I’m just adding this due to the small hours per day, perhaps a 2.25 hour monday-thursday would fairer to all involved.

Make sure she’s on the pill.

I would definitely ask to meet her parents. They may have reasons why they’d prefer their minor child not work, such as grades or too many existing extra-curricular activities. It will also give them a chance to meet you and Mrs. Homie. Make sure you list in advance the chores you expect him to do - you don’t want him climbing a ladder to clean ceiling fans, falling, breaking a bone and suing you. Let me know how it works out - I’ve got a 13 year old across the street who I’d love to hire to help me once a week and let my greman shepherd out after school so I can ride my horse after work without worrying about him.


Why don’t you consider hiring a real cleaning lady–someone who will do the heavier chores like scrubbing the tub and vacuuming, and all. Maybe even do the laundry. If that’s off your to-do list, you’ll have more time for loading the dishwasher.

Like Giraffe, I was shocked by what I read in Nickel and Dimed. I can’t believe people pay for such bad “cleaning.”

I’ve only ever dealt with cleaning ladies who work for themselves. They’re often immigrants (sometimes illegal) with little education. I’ve personally never heard of one stealing–the last thing they want to do is get reported to INS! The ones I’ve known have been very professional and very nice. Anyway, ask around. Your best bet is to get someone who is already working for a friend.

And just for the record, with a private cleaning lady, you pay for the job, not by the hour. It doesn’t really matter how long she takes as long as the house is clean.

And here’s some advice:

–Make sure to buy the particular cleaning products she likes to use. Ask her, she’ll tell you.

–Don’t be in the house while she’s working if there’s any way you can help it.

–If she’s working for her regularly, and you go away on vacation, you still should pay her. She’s counting on that money. Either have her in to do some rarely-done chores, or just give her the paid day off. This will go very far in making her appreciate you.

I have a professional independant cleaning lady who has been with me nearly four years. She is paid $25 an hour. Stops by twice a week (although waaaah! I’m losing her on alternate Mondays which was just a pick up day for her). Brings her own cleaning supplies, but uses my vaccuum.

I’d recommend fairly low expectations and flexibility. i.e. If the person you hire can’t make it on Wednesday, see if you want her to swing through Thursday or wait until Friday - and what she wants to do. You should expect a phone call letting you know if she can’t be there - but for an hour and a half job, you really shouldn’t expect her life to revolve around your schedule - even (and perhaps especially) a teenager.

BTW, my housekeeper does a pick up on Mondays. Loads the dishwasher, makes the beds, picks up after hubby, myself and two kids. 2500 sq. ft. house. Takes an hour. Takes three to pick up and clean on Thursdays - and she often does a load of sheets or towels while she is here.

I’d interview by feel. Asking a guidance counseler is also a good idea, but really - by feel. You may wish to meet her parents, but I wouldn’t - for one thing, it isn’t any indication that the person is trustworthy.

Protect yourself by not leaving cash around the house while she cleans. I do, and its yet to disappear. She is less likely to steal stuff that cash lying around. Have her clean the first few times while you are home - it will help you build a rapport - even if its a Saturday cleaning - plus she needs to know where things go.

Damn, now that’s some good, practical advice!!


(You may also want to consider a start-up clothing allowance so she can be properly attired.)

The ‘make sure she’s on the Pill’ comment is kind of funny. It reminds me of the Seinfeld where Jerry asks, “Hey… What did I just pay for?”

It also reminds me of the ads that used to circulate around campus offering to rent to female students only. On the surface, you think its an elderly matron renting who might be offended by the rude behavior of a male college student. Unfortunately, the reality is that its probably some Pervy Bastard renting out space after he has the room done up with microscopic cameras. Think of the guy who’s mother is always trying to pair him up with the French exchange student in ‘Better Off Dead’ and that was probably her landlord…ugh!

That pill comment wasn’t so funny. I’d make sure you’re not at home (alone) when she’s there. I mean…some people are kind of whacky that way.

I used to be a cleaning lady (25 years ago) and we made $17.50 each in teams of two (per house). I think you should pay at least $10.00/hr., or offer some really good bonuses.

I am thinking of this like hiring a “mother’s helper” instead of a cleaning lady. I mean, not that you need a young nanny, but the similarities are that you want to hire a neighborhood kid to do something for you, instead of a professional. I think discussing it with the parents is entirely appropriate. You might even want to okay the pay rate with them.

However, I am not sure how good I would feel about having a teenaged stranger in my house while I was not there. It’s just too… I don’t know. Even nice kids do dumb things sometimes, and you sure wouldn’t want them to happen in your house. I remember how rare it was for my high school boyfriend and I to have time alone together without other people around…an empty house might have been a big temptation.

Count me in the “we hired an independent pro” camp. And we are very glad we did.

We asked our friends who they used. The one we went with comes every other week and charges $60 a visit. It’s worth the money – both of us are managers and have no energy for cleaning when we get home. Plus there’s the difference in personal cleanliness standards, which could have ended up being a point of contention. Now they aren’t.

You may want to consider inquiring around and see what’s the going rate for the services you want in your area. What seems reasonable to you right now may in fact be either too much or too little. Just a suggestion.

I would try to go with someone you know, if possible. Even a child of a friend of a friend, or relative, someone you can get references from people you know. I got lots of babysitting jobs when I was a young teenager that way, from word spreading. I would say young teens that are capable of babysitting are capable of cleaning (if you trust them with your kids and alone in the house, why couldn’t they clean it?) Also, someone who knows your neighbor / cousin / friend is less likely to steal or be unprofessional, as word would get back to them.

Otherwise, I would have loved to have a few hours a week side job like that in college, do you have one nearby you could advertise at? $8 is a lot more than I made in college, and it would be a great way to get a little food or gas money.

During the summer, when I have time, I work for my former piano teacher and her husband, who had a stroke. I pay their bills and generally help out around the house for a few hours a couple of times a week. He can’t leave the house, but on occassion she has left while he is asleep. Granted, I’m a good 20-yr-old kid :smiley: but it still took years to build that sort of rapport.

That being said, I would seek out recommendations from your friends/family/neighbors instead of some random teenager from your neighborhood. It’s true that there may be a gem you’d be excluding, but hopefully by asking friends they would think before recommending someone, thereby making themselves semi-responsible.

I also don’t think your demands - seeing report card, asking for references, meeting parents - are unreasonable. Anyone who wouldn’t want to succumb to them isn’t someone you want in your home while you’re not there.

Hide your porn collection, illegal drugs, and valuables like firearms and cameras.

lovelyluka, I’m going to hijack my own thread to say this: You have the most touching home page I have ever seen on the web. snif :frowning:

Have you ever heard My Father’s Chair by David Meece?

Look into it.