Is a housekeeper worth it?

I have a million things I want and need to do in life. Laundry, dishes, and other mundane chores eat up time and energy that I could spend doing other stuff that I would much rather do.

I am single and live in a 1 bedroom apartment with no dishwasher and with a common area laundry room.

Do you use or have you used a housekeeper?
How much is it?
How often does the housekeeper visit?
What is the scope of the housekeeper’s duties?
Any problems (e.g., theft)?
Overall, is it worth it?

$70/ session (for a 1250 sq. ft. home)
Every other week
Clean the kitchen and bathroom surfaces (sinks, tubs, etc.). Vacuum and mop. Dust.
My previous service broke one of my sinks and refused to pay for it. That’s why they’re the previous service. An employee of the same service also left a full can of Coke in my freezer one summer day, which exploded unpleasantly.

Yes, totally and completely worth it. The time it frees up is more than worth the investment. It used to be that I would spend every other Saturday or Sunday cleaning my home, but now I don’t have to.

If you do get a service, the only thing I want to tell you is to see how they do the work. I’ve heard some descriptions of companies that basically wipe things down, but do very little actual soaping/cleaning, so germs are more spread around than gotten rid of. Other companies, like the one I spent a little time with, did a good job.

I don’t do this myself, though, so I can’t speak from experience as a customer.

God yes. It’s worth it.

We’ve paid anywhere from $12-$15 an hour. We ALWAYS hire someone who works for his- or herself, as an independent cleaning business. That way I know s/he is getting all the money I’m paying, and I feel good that I am helping someone be his/her own boss. I read one account of working conditions at a “Molly Maid” service and it really bothered me.

I’ve had some people who did a basic clean, which meant getting everything vacuumed and dusted and then tackling the things I HATE like bathrooms and linoleum floors. I’ve had other people who will do anything that they see–clothes need folding? Bed unmade? They do it. My current woman organizes our closets, god bless her. My boss has a woman who comes in for the whole day while they are out, and will pick up cleaning, take cats to the vet, get a few groceries, etc. I’d kill to have someone like that.

I’ve never had a problem with stealing, etc. Of course, it helps that my husband works at home and is in the house while they are there. I’ve never been concerned with breakage–I’ve got a toddler and stuff gets broken all the time anyway. We did have a woman who did stupid stuff and required us to call a dishwasher repair person (she used so much soap, she clogged the dishwasher) so we let her go. I think with every service, there has been one or more things I wish they’d do better, but I figure that comes with the territory. Stacy was maniacal about dusting, but wouldn’t pick up toys. Kim isn’t much of a duster, but she kicks ass in the kitchen. Overall, it’s been a good thing to have someone.

If I may add a silly question:

Do you give the person a key to your place? Or must you be there to let them in?

Man, I hate housecleaning!

Good question, Bear! I would like one also, but my question is…

Do I need to do a major clean before they come for the first time? Or should I offer more for the initial cleanup as compared to the weekly/bi-weekly maintenance?

I’m guessing an approximate session cost as follows:

Bathroom: 0.6 hours
Dust, sweep, mop: 0.6
Laundry: 1.0
Basic grocery shopping: 1.0
General organization: 0.5
Dishes: 0.3

Total 4.0 hours x $15/hr. = $60/session


We had a well-known franchise come in twice a month for about a year and a half. We knew the owner and so had every confidence in the service. The cost was 250.00 (Cdn) for the month.

They did floors, bathroom, vacuuming, and dusting. Anything else was extra. They did have a key. Everything started out great and went downhill after a few months.


  • We required them to come in the afternoons at 1:00 pm due to our weird schedules at the time. They continually showed up whenever they wanted. One girl even argued with me at the door after waking me up at 7:00 am one morning. She insisted that they could come whenever they wanted, that they made the schedules and we had to take what we could get. (!!!) I of course called the office, they said they had no idea what she was talking about and I believe she was fired.

-Huge turnover of employees. You never know who is in your home and it could be different people from week to week. Even though they all take the same training, they still do things differently.

-Indifferent results. Sometimes the tub was clean, other times, not. Sometimes the floor was washed, other times, not. One time, they just didn’t bother to vacuum. There was still dog fur all over the floor & carpets when I got home. I called the office, and they insisted they did it. I had to insist they come back and do it over again the next day, which they only did after I called the franchise owner.

  • Theft. This was the last straw. They stole a video game, several rolls of two dollar coins worth about 200 bucks, various and sundry items that (we think) they figured wouldn’t be missed. The coins were in my husband’s underwear drawer. The video game was left on a table by the front door to be returned to the rental store. It was there when I left, gone when I came back. The kids were at school and there had been no-one else in the house except them. We of course had to pay the store the full cost of the game.

We talked to the owner about the thefts but he pointed out that all the employees were bonded and if I had no proof, there was nothing he could do. Which is true, really. I put a lot of the problems down to the turn-over thing. Perhaps some of the employees felt that if we could afford a cleaning service, we wouldn’t miss a couple hundred bucks and a few items here and there. This is a small house however, and we know where everything is.

I have friends who use a one-person service and have never had problems. I have friends who have used other franchises and had no problems. It’s a gamble no matter what, I guess.

We just clean our own house again now. We all pitch in twice a month for the big clean and rotate the weekly bathroom scrub. We make do with spot cleaning in between. (I personally do a more thorough job than they did, not that I can say the same for the husband and two boys, natch.)

For us it was not a positive experience and it’s less stressful for us to just do it ourselves. But, YMMV.

One of my friends has channeled her clean-freak OCD tendencies (no, I’m not using that as a catch-all phrase, she genuinely has OCD) into her own cleaning business.

She does big cleaning - dusts, scrubs floors, vacuums, wipes down cabinets, etc. She does NOT do pick-up-and-put-away duty; so no dishes, laundry, toys, books, etc. Most cleaning services are the same way. She will not handle anything that’s extremely fragile or delicate; thus my china cabinet is my own problem, although she dusts the outside of it. Again, many cleaning services have a policy about this… and some won’t clean anything they can’t reach with a stepstool, because of possible injuries.

She charges $65 a session, and it takes her a little more than two hours to clean my 2100 square foot house from top to bottom. I find that I can keep up with the clutter, but I hate scrubbing and cleaning - and she loves it, so it’s a match made in heaven. I would guess that most cleaning services are not overflowing with OCD people, but when my friend leaves here the place is so clean you could almost open a cup o’ soup packet and eat it out of the toilet. Errr, not that anyone would, but you get the picture.

I was a cleaning lady for a while. We worked in teams of two and split $35/house (about 2 hrs.). I’d love to have a maid, but I just can’t afford it right now.

Anyhoo, the work performed varies and the work NEEDED varies. I had two clients whose homes were spotless as far as I was concerned. We just sort of made it smell like we were there and they’d be happy. Bathrooms, floors, quick dusting and we were done.

A one-bedroom apt. twice a month would probably run you about $125/month. It would be worth it if I could get my place done that cheap.

Generally, they have to have access to a key somehow. I currently live in a high-rise, so they get the key from my doorman. I expect I’ll give them a key when I move to a lower-rise building without a doorman.

And, as far as Cranky’s comments re: hiring someone who works for him/herself. The one danger in that, if you want to call it that, is that there are rules about tax withholding and so forth. While it’s an open secret that there is a large pool of “domestic” workers, such as housekeepers and babysitters, who are paid directly without any withholdings being taken out, such payments may be in violation of the law. Zoe Baird and Linda Chavez lost out on Cabinet appointments for violating those exact laws. Now, granted, most people reading this board aren’t up for Cabinet appointments, but it’s nevertheless an issue worth mentioning. One of the advantages of a service is that the service takes care of all of that, and you don’t have to worry about it.


I pay $100 a week (2000 sq ft home, two children). My housekeeper comes by Monday and picks up after the weekend, makes beds, throws in a load of laundry if the washer is available, does the dishes, sweeps up the kitchen, wipes the counters.

On Thursday she comes back. Picks up again, makes beds, throws in another load of laundry, dusts, vaccuums, mops, cleans the bathrooms.

I come home to a load in the dryer to be fluffed and folded, a picked up house (clean house on Thursdays) with made beds and done dishes.

I’ve had the same (self employed) housekeeper since my daugher was born (she is now 3 1/2). She always shows up (or if she doesn’t she calls, or lets me know in advance she isn’t coming). Nothing has ever been missing. I treat her well (I’m flexible in her schedule - if she needs to move me around I’m fine with it, I pay her well - it comes to about $25 an hour, give her good references and I tip well at the holidays) and she treats me well. She lets herself in and the house is clean when I come in from work.

She doesn’t do heavy lifting, so if I want to vaccuum under the coffee table, I do it myself (usually Thursday afternoons). Her bathroom cleaning is light, so once every three months I have to get out the heavy cleaner and get the soap scum off the shower (I also do a really GOOD job on the bathroom floors at this time - I have a four year old son). Her picking up after us doesn’t involve sorting (I have laundry baskets scattered around that she just tosses the kids toys into - with a little sorting - the stuffed animals all go in one basket). And our mail/newspaper/magazines/books/kids stuff/ etc (all that stuff that collects on you dining room table) gets piled together.

Find a good independant. Mine came without reference (she’d just moved back into town so she didn’t have local references) but I liked her and gave her a chance. And one that is willing to do what you need done. Some will just vaccuum around the toys - wouldn’t work at my house since you can’t see the floor until you clear the toys. Expect the first cleaning to cost a little more and take a little longer. And don’t have unrealistic expectations - my potato peeler is seldom in the same drawer, but at least it got washed.

They’re coming today, as a matter of fact.

$90 for three people to come and make the place spic and span every two weeks.

I didn’t even cut if off when I was out of work. Way too valuable to walk away from.

I don’t this this is accurate; you are not entering an employee-employer relationship with a independent cleaning service. I am not hiring this person as an employee to work inside my home for me; I’m contracting for services. My husband, for example, works for himself, and it’s not his client’s duty to take taxes out of their payment to him. It’s his responsibility, as a businessperson.

I am pretty sure this is a different situation that the people who hire nannies as employees.

God they are so worth it. I would gladly pay double for the pleasure.

I hope you don’t read the board Debbie?

It’s worth it if you get someone who does a good job. I’ve gone through 2 housecleaners who lasted about 2 months each. Both started out gung ho, but got worse & worse every week. Each also got progressively worse about showing up when they were supposed to, eventually not showing up some weeks and not calling. I was paying $60 for a weekly cleaning for 5 rooms.

If I get another housecleaner, I’m going to make a list of exactly what they are expected to do and make sure they do it. If you’re not tough, you’ll probably get taken advantage of. You should also discuss whether or not they are allowed to bring someone with them into the house (such as children or boyfriends or some creepy guy who gave them a ride :eek: ).

My work hours are such that I could be at home when the housekeeper came. After I knew them a little, I occasionally let them come when I wasn’t here (it’s safe in this neighborhood to leave the door unlocked). My sister has had the same wonderful housekeeper for years, and she has a key.

I hired my first housecleaner after I’d been too sick to clean for awhile, and the place was a mess. We talked about this and agreed to cut each other some slack the first couple of weeks.

Definitely worth it. I started hiring someone to clean as soon as I could afford to do so. That was almost 13 years ago.

I’ve had much better luck with people who work independently rather than through a service. I’ve always asked friends for references. My current cleaning lady is wonderful. Even my dog loves her. She has a key, and comes every other Monday afternoon. I pay her $70 to clean a 3 BR, 2 bath, 1200 square foot place. It doesn’t get too dirty as I live alone.

One of the problems I had with the service (Merry Maids) was that different people were there every week, and the work was inconsistent. Also, one of the people stole a credit card from me. By the time I reported it, the person who had cleaned the room that day had quit the place.

Well, I’m sorta leaning against it even though I have had a housekeeper/cleaner before. I had her when I was ill for a couple of months and couldn’t do it myself.

The reason I am leaning against it is because I’m thinking “single, apartment, no kids, shouldn’t be alot of work”. Just wait till that lazy husband and those rug rats show up (LOL). Plus, I’m cheap.

Alot of folks save all the house cleaning until their day off, then spend all day cleaning, and that can be frustrating. I think you would do better to develop some routines, ala, Despite her annoying emails and cleanliness obsession, she gives great advice. For example, on Monday, you could spruce up the bathroom while dressing. Tuesday, tidy up the kitchen while cooking. Wednesday, do some laundry while watching TV. Dust on Thursday, etc. Flylady recommends spending only 15 minutes a day on any job and rotate the jobs on a schedule. I took some of her ideas and I find it very helpful.

Of course, if you have no time and extra money, hiring out the scut work is nice. Still, I’d rather save the money or spend the money on somthing else. JMHO.

We have someone come every other week – $40/session for a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house.

We have the house picked up, bed made & dishes done beforehand. She vacuums, cleans the bathrooms & kitchen and usually dusts our 4 bookcases of Coca-Cola memorabilia.

The dog likes her & she occasionally brings her (young) daughter or a friend to help clean. She has a garage door opener.

Other than some scheduling issues, have not had a problem with her.

Were paying $70 per visit every other week for a 2,150 sq ft house. Our maid does have a key and so far nothing has disappeared, but I never entirely trust her, and occasionally I’ll leave small amounts of money out in odd locations to see if it disappears. Nothing has so far. She shows up when both my wife and I are at work.

Quality of her work has gone down somewhat since she started. When we first started using her, it was her, her husband, and her daughter that all did the job and they cleaned EVERYTHING. I was truly amazed. Now, the mopping isn’t as good, the vacuuming is mediocre, and on one occasion she actually didn’t show up, then came the following week and tried to charge us $10 more on the basis the house was ‘that much dirtier’. We balked at that and still left her $70 reminding her it wasn’t our fault she didn’t come.

We’ve had only one questionable incident with her in more than a year which was that (we assume) she opened a bathroom window upstairs while she was working to let some air in, but then left the blinds down. We never open this window specifically because my wife keeps some very expensive czech perfume bottles on the shelf in front of the window. Well after she left, the window was still left open, the wind picked up, and several of the bottles were knocked off the shelf and shattered by the blinds- estimated loss $300 or so. We mentioned it to the maid, but all she said was that she didn’t remember opening the window. As my wife wasn’t 100% sure it was her, we let it slide, but I have my doubts.