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Choosing a House Cleaning Service: What to Avoid

Is this the right option for you? How do you make the right decision?

We get it: cleaning isn’t for everyone. If you’re short on time or just need someone else to take care of the housework for you, a cleaning service may be just the right solution.

But entrusting someone with cleaning your home and finding a reliable company can be a big challenge. That’s why we’re here to help you learn how to choose a house cleaning service that’s reliable, affordable, and just right for you.

We’ll discuss the various things you should consider before hiring somebody. That includes qualifications, type of service, what services they offer, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • Consider qualifications: Check for background checks, a business license, and liability insurance for the cleaner or cleaning service.
  • Choose between a housekeeper or cleaning service: Housekeepers may be more affordable and flexible, while cleaning services often have better training and can handle larger homes.
  • Review services offered: Ensure the cleaner or cleaning service can perform the tasks you need, such as light cleaning, deep cleaning, or specific tasks like laundry or running errands.
  • Keep your budget in mind: Select a high-quality service that fits within your budget, with average costs ranging from $25-65 per hour per cleaner or flat rates based on home size.

How to Choose a House Cleaning Service

Below you’ll find important criteria to consider to ensure you make a good decision. By asking yourself and the house cleaning service these questions, you’ll be on the right track to finding a stellar service for you and your home.


You wouldn’t hire someone for your business that wasn’t properly qualified for the job. We don’t think you should forgo that when choosing a cleaner either.

It’s important to look for a service that has the right qualifications. There’s not usually a course or degree they can have to prove they’re right for the job, but you should consider these qualifications:

  • Background check: If they can pass a background check, that’s a good start. After all, they will be in your home and around your family.
  • Business license: Make sure the company or individual has a business license that ensures it’s legal for them to work.
  • Liability insurance: Liability insurance isn’t so much a qualification, but it’s mega important. We’ll discuss that more in detail later.
  • A valid driver’s license: This ensures you know that they are who they say they are.

Other desirable qualifications or skills you may want to look for in your cleaner include:

  • Great communication and organizational skills.
  • Knowledge of cleaning products. If you want an eco-friendly-based cleaning service, make sure you specify this.
  • Diploma, GED, or degree. This isn’t necessary, but it gives the homeowner some assurance that they have a good work ethic.
  • Previous cleaning experience.
  • Knowledge of health and safety standards. They may have a certificate to prove this.
  • Great personal and customer service skills will make the time they spend in your home enjoyable for you and them.

When conducting an interview, ask about the cleaner’s experience, work ethics, priorities, and references.

Housekeeper vs Cleaning Service

One of the biggest decisions you’ll face is whether to hire someone from a cleaning service company or hire a self-employed or independent housekeeper.

Here are the pros and cons of hiring a housekeeper:


  • Usually, it’s one person who you can get to know. If you know the person already, or they’ve been recommended to you, that’s a good bonus.
  • Same person who comes to your home each time.
  • No in-between person to contact if you need to communicate with your cleaner.
  • Usually more affordable, since you’re not paying fees to the cleaning company itself.
  • You can be more specific and flexible with what cleaning service you want the cleaner to do.
  • Housekeepers are more likely to do lighter cleaning jobs such as dishes, dusting, running errands, and even preparing meals.


  • If you have a large house, it may be too much for one person.
  • You’re in charge of asking for background checks and qualifications.
  • Less likely to have consistent employee training than those part of a cleaning company.
  • Companies typically have better and more thorough insurance.

Check out the pros and cons of choosing a cleaning service:


  • If you have a large home, a cleaning service can send a few cleaners to get the job done quicker.
  • The company is in charge of employee vetting.
  • Easier to read reviews than it is with individual cleaners.
  • You can easily check out the company’s values and ethics.
  • The company takes care of background checks, training, and other important details.
  • Many have apps or programs which allow you to change days, assign tasks, etc.
  • Companies have insurance, licenses, pay their workers taxes and compensation.


  • It may be different cleaners who come to your home each time.
  • It’s more expensive to go through a cleaning company.
  • There may not be the same flexibility in services. For example, you may not be able to ask them to do laundry or other such tasks.
  • Harder to contact individual cleaners personally.
  • They may be less flexible with which cleaning products they can use.

It’s up to you which service is more suited to you. Review the pros and cons to decide which sounds most convenient for you.

Services Offered

Whether you’re looking at an individual cleaner or a company, it’s important to review what services they offer.

How Often Should a Cleaner Come?

It depends. If you have a lot of dirt accumulating from kids and pets, then weekly is a good choice. However, most services offer weekly, bi-weekly and monthly cleaning.

If you’d rather your cleaner came more often, it’s a good idea to ask in advance to check if that’s a possibility.

What Should My Cleaner Do?

This depends on your needs and what the company or independent cleaner offers. But ideally, you should be able to request any cleaning task. Here are some examples of what your cleaner can do:

  • Vacuuming.
  • Mopping.
  • Dusting.
  • Cleaning surfaces.
  • Cleaning bathrooms.
  • Organization.
  • Cleaning appliances.
  • Washing sheets and clothes.
  • Washing dishes.
  • Emptying trash cans.
  • Cleaning bathroom tiles, grout, and staying on top of potential mold build-up.
  • Cleaning baseboards.
  • Cleaning mirrors, windows, and windowsills.
  • Cleaning door handles.
  • Cleaning light fixtures.
  • Disinfecting surfaces and toilets.
  • Light tidying.
  • Possibly running errands.
  • Possibly preparing meals.

Your cleaner may also provide deep cleaning services, such as:

Top Tip

Always ask the cleaner or the company what services are available to you before hiring. Also, check if there is an additional cost to any of these tasks.

Referrals and Reviews

One major thing you should check is referrals from other folks who have hired the same cleaner or company. You should also read reviews. For companies, these reviews are usually much easier to find and access online. For individuals, perhaps they have a website or social media page where they collect reviews.

It’s important to read what others say about the cleaner’s professionalism, time-keeping, cleaning skills, work ethic, reliability, and trustworthiness.

Try This

Don’t just check the reviews on the company’s site. Do a third-party search to see what people elsewhere are saying about the company or cleaner. This could be sites like Yelp or TrustPilot.


This is a crucial point to consider before hiring a cleaner. If anything goes wrong, whether it’s something as little as a broken mug or something bigger like theft, you should ask about the company or cleaner’s insurance policy.

A good quality cleaner or company will have insurance in place to cover these situations that protects you. Ideally, it will provide you legal cover if necessary. Always ask for proof — such as an insurance certificate — when inquiring about this.


Last but not least, consider how much the cleaning service or individual will cost. Make sure you choose a high-quality service that’s within your budget.

How Much Does the Average Cleaning Service Cost?

The average cost is about $40-65 per hour per cleaner (1). This typically changes depending on where you live, what services you require, and the home size.

Other companies use flat rates based on the home size rather than charging per hour. For example, the average cost of a three-bedroom of 2,000 square foot house is between $150-250 per clean. On the other hand, a one-bedroom apartment costs between $80 and $110.

The average cost of cleaning an average house is around $165.

A freelance or self-employed cleaner will typically charge less. Typically, they charge between $25-40 per hour (2). Some regions have lower prices, with the average being around $15 per hour (3). Shop around until you find a cleaner or cleaning company within your budget.

Should You Tip Your Cleaning Lady?

Like any customer service, it’s polite to tip. A good tip would be between 15-20 percent of their pay rate. You might want to add on extra if they did a gross or additional job that day, such as deep cleaning the grout or the oven.


What Makes an Exceptional Professional Cleaner?

The qualities that make an exceptional professional cleaner include knowledge of cleaning products, previous experience, great customer service skills, diplomas and qualifications, and organizational skills.

What Questions Should I Ask a Cleaning Lady?

The questions you should ask a cleaning lady include asking for references, pay rates, what the service includes, availability, and whether they offer bespoke services like deep cleaning.

How Many Hours Do I Need a Cleaner For?

The amount of hours you need a cleaner depends on what you ask them to do and how dirty your home gets. On average, a qualified cleaner should get all their tasks done in three hours.

How Do You Prepare for a Cleaning Lady?

The best way to prepare for a cleaning lady is to perform a brief cleanup, remove valuables and unnecessary clutter, keep pets out of the way, and communicate your desires clearly.

Do Housekeepers Bring Their Own Supplies?

Most housekeepers bring their own supplies because they have products that they know and love, and have experience using them.

To Hire or Not to Hire

Now that you know how to choose a quality house cleaning service, it’s time to decide if this is right for you. If you’re unsure, we recommend starting off with a monthly cleaner to see how you get on.

Make sure to consider all the important criteria when committing yourself to a cleaner. This includes qualifications, what type of service you’re opting for, what cleaning tasks they can do, referrals and reviews, insurance, and of course, your budget.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!