Time to find a new house cleaner?

Something kind of weird happened yesterday. My wife and I are still trying to make sense of it. We have a woman who comes to the house every two weeks to do some house cleaning for us – clean the bathrooms, vacuum the carpets, swiffer the laminate flooring, sweep and mop the kitchen/dining room area, some light dusting, that kind of stuff. No laundry, no dishes, she doesn’t make the beds, just cleaning up. For this we pay her $70, for probably less than an hour’s work.

Yesterday my wife had a day off of work because she had worked last weekend. Normally we’re both at work when cleaning lady comes, although sometimes when I come home for lunch she will just be finishing up and heading out the door. Yesterday cleaning lady shows up, tells my wife she has a terrible migraine, and can she come back and clean on Monday? My wife says yes.

Cleaning lady then asks, “Can I go ahead and take the money now?”

My wife said yes, and cleaning lady’s been working for us long enough that I trust her to show up on Monday, but we both just think there is something not quite right with what happened. She had no idea my wife would be home, and usually if she can’t make it she will call and leave a message, or call my wife’s cell phone, to reschedule.

We both suspect that she was planning to show up, take the money, and just do a minimal amount of cleaning, but my wife being home foiled her plan. And we’ve had some problems with her in the past - sometimes she will forget to do something like vacuum the bedroom or the rug in the living room, or something will get broken but she won’t leave a note and we’ll just happen to find it later. And every time I see her when she is here cleaning, she is constantly talking on her cell phone. So I’m sure she’s not giving the house cleaning 100% of her attention. For the amount of work she does vs the quality of the work vs what we pay her, I’ve always thought she was slightly overpaid. (The fact that she buys herself a brand new Camaro every couple of years doesn’t do anything to dispel that feeling.)

Anyway, I’m about to the point where I’m ready to tell her to hit the road, and we’ll either suck it up and do our own house cleaning or find someone else who is either a little cheaper or does better work for the same amount of money. What do you think, am I being unreasonable?

Sounds like you have a problem. We have the opposite problem. We have a woman who comes every Friday and is expected to stay for three hours. She always stays for 3 1/2 pushing four and does all sorts of things she is not hired for (e.g. if there is some laundry to be folded, she will fold it) along with all her regular stuff. Which is clean the bathrooms and kitchens and vacuum the rooms we actually use. When she started I would leave $100 for her, but she would take on $80, saying $100 is too much for what she does. After a few months, we settled on $80, but I don’t feel that is enough. After reading about $70 for an hour (maybe less), I am even more certain.

I think you need to know where he lives first. This sort of thing is highly dependent on the particulars of the local market.

That’s probably way too high a rate unless you’re in NYC or something. It also sounds like you’ve found a worker who doesn’t work unless actively watched. Double plus ungood. Fix that yesterday.

My wife and I have cleaned professionally for 17 years. First thing, we always show up on the day that we’re supposed to. We would never take money without doing the job. We recently had a client go out of town for the month and we cleaned while they were gone twice, doing some extra cleaning beyond normal house cleaning and surprised them when they got home, but we did two cleans without cashing the check they gave us before they left until they got back and were happy. That doesn’t mean that there is something nefarious going on here, but the fact that you clearly don’t trust her shows that you may need to get someone else. You’re also paying a lot of money for the time spent. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should dictate how long a cleaner stays. They aren’t your employee and you can’t really, but most cleaning companies in the organization that I’ve belonged to in the past were charging anywhere from $25-45 per man (or woman) hour depending on various circumstances, geographical location, overhead, etc.

Oh, and breaking something without leaving a note is inexcusable, unless it would somehow be that a person couldn’t have known. That makes my blood boil. That also kills trust. We’ve broken things, it is going to happen, and most people are just cool with it but at times we’ve had to replace things, but we’ve always told people immediately upon breaking something. We always feel terrible about it no matter the case. I think your cleaning person has maybe gotten too comfortable or just wasn’t really a great one to begin with. Move to the Louisville Kentucky area and we’ll take care of you. Of course, we have a loooong waiting list for our services, so ask me first if there’s an opening before moving here, lol.

Actually, it should probably take her longer than an hour, now that I think about it. You said bathroomS, plural. A good and thorough full bathroom clean usually takes me 30-45 minutes to do, more if someone has a large master bath or glass shower enclosure or something. $70 might actually be fair for your place, I don’t know, but if she can do all of that in under an hour she’s either hustling at warp speed or she’s just not doing a great job anyway. It is an inexact science for sure, and what constitutes “clean” differs from cleaner to cleaner and honestly from client to client, but at this point in our business we know what people want and just do it in a very system oriented manner.

She should never talk on her cell phone while cleaning either. It is acceptable to take a business call, stop cleaning, and then resume with full attention, the same with a text or something, nobody is on task fully 100% of the time, but she shouldn’t be chatting away while cleaning. I do listen to podcasts while I clean, but that is silent in the home and doesn’t take near the concentration of a full on conversation.

When my wife and I were both working full time, with two kids, and got sick of spending half the weekend cleaning we hired a cleaner. She was meant to spend 2 or 3 hours doing similar stuff to the Shoeless’s cleaner.

One day due to car problems I chose to work from home forgetting that she was coming. When she arrived she had a friend with her. She explained that they always worked together at each other’s jobs. I hadn’t known but didn’t care and told them to ignore my presence. So they did. They played loud music and talked and laughed constantly while completing the job in less than half the time it would have taken one person.

Seemed like a perfect arrangement for all concerned.

Having now read the OP for comprehension :smack: I see I was hasty in my earlier post. :smack:

I don’t doubt that’s $70 of work. I totally doubt it can be done properly in less than 3 or 4 worker-hours.

For comparison I have a 2200 SF 3 bedroom 2-1/2 bath place with mostly tile floors and one carpeted room occupied by two neat adults and no kids or critters. The décor is very spare and uncluttered; there’s lots more space than there is stuff. Doing a good job on cleaning the bathrooms, kitchen, floors, windows, & dusting / furniture wiping takes my whirling dervish about 5 hours of intense work. Without her touching the laundry, dishes, or beds. Just like the OP.

Expecting a good outcome on a similar scope of work in just one worker-hour is the unrealistic part of the OP’s equation.

This, for sure. In our area, we have a woman who spends three hours cleaning every other week. She originally suggested $10 an hour, we countered $15, she argued that was too much. We leave $50 each time and she has told us we are foolish.

She does an excellent job. Once I came home and she was still working, cleaning our guest bathroom toilet. I reminded her that her tasks did not include toilet cleaning. She explained that she had a virus, had used the toilet, so she was scrubbing it. Looking more closely, she looked too sick to be walking around. The house looked fantastic.