Dear Angie: What is reasonable to expect from a house-cleaning service?
— Richard H., San Antonio
Dear Richard: I've heard homeowners say that their favorite day is when the house cleaner comes. It's wonderful to walk into a home that smells good and looks great, especially when it's yours!
As you take the time to find the right person or company to entrust your home to, here are factors to consider:
Range of services: Regular cleaning doesn't cover every service. This is what's generally considered routine:
■ Thorough cleaning of kitchens and bathrooms
■ Vacuuming throughout the house
■ Making beds
■ Dusting all surfaces, including baseboards and light fixtures
More detailed cleaning, often referred to as "deep cleaning," is an additional service. Many cleaning companies require new clients to commit to an initial deep cleaning.
You can also limit the service to certain rooms or areas. One top-rated cleaner has a client who hires her monthly just to clean bathrooms.
In addition to routine cleaning, many companies will undertake specific projects, usually at additional cost, such as cleaning the oven, refrigerator interior, inside of china cabinets, leather furniture, or spot-cleaning carpets or rugs.
Frequency: Depending on your needs and budget, you can arrange for cleaners to come weekly, every other week, monthly or other variation. Every other week is a common choice. If you're not sure about a long-term commitment, consider a trial run of two to four cleanings.
Cost: On average, a deep cleaning is $300 to $400, depending on the size of your home. Subsequent routine cleanings typically cost from $100 to $150. Prices will vary, depending on where you live, scope of work and how often you schedule cleanings.
Often, before estimating a price, a company will send an employee to view your home and determine your cleaning needs. Be sure to ask what the price includes and what you're expected to provide. Some cleaners supply products and equipment, while others don't.
Other questions to ask:
■ Will the same cleaning person or team be sent each time?
■ How will you get into the home?
■ What's your policy if something is broken?
■ Do you conduct background checks on employees?
Confirm that the company is appropriately licensed (if licensing is required where you live) and insured and bonded. Check its reputation on a trusted online review site. Ask for and contact references.