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How to find a housekeeper

Gina Roberts-Grey has contributed to more than 100 parenting, health and women's issue publications. She lived with her family in upstate New York, and can be reached be reached via her website: .ginaroberts-grey.com.

Ready, set, clean!

You know you want -- or need -- help around the house, but wonder where to find a reputable, dependable and trustworthy housekeeper. Wonder no more! We've got all you need to know to find the help for keeping your house clean that you're looking for.

Maid cleaning lighting fixtures

Five local options to find a housekeeper

There are also a number of local search methods that can be highly effective when looking for household help.

  1. Word of mouth: Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers for referrals, but beware: Many people aren't willing to divulge the name of a treasured housekeeper for fear they'll lose them to a new job.
  2. The newspaper classifieds: Place a help-wanted ad or peruse the help-available section of your local paper.
  3. Online classifieds: On sites like Craigslist, find your local area and then browse the listings for household help. If nothing looks great, post a help-wanted ad of your own.
  4. Search the internet: If you prefer hiring a cleaning company, the internet is a great resource that will give you an idea of what services a company offers, which saves you time and aggravation. And, don't forget to run a search for a coupon or discount in case the company you choose is offering discounts to new clients.
  5. Canvas the community: Local colleges often have students looking to earn extra cash. Contact the career center or guidance office to find out if they have students willing to clean houses, or allow help-wanted ads to be posted in the student center.

The first meeting

Serra Deville, a former house manager, housekeeper and nanny, says before having someone clean your home, you should first meet with them to discuss paying wages per hour or per visit, experience, references, work hours and cleaning expectations.

Don't be afraid to ask permission to run a background check, either. If they have nothing to hide, they won't mind. You can run a search to find several companies through which to perform one.

Deville also says both parties should have a checklist to compare during an interview. "Don't assume anything. You may expect the bed to be made, but your housekeeper may not offer that service. Discussing each other's list can avoid misunderstandings."

Deville adds that in addition to the level of cleaning you're looking for, some of the things to consider when making your list are:  

  • The areas of your house you want cleaned and those you don't want your housekeeper to enter, such as a room where your pet is housed or child may be sleeping
  • Less obvious tasks you expect to be performed, such as vacuuming heating vents, cleaning ceiling fan blades, moving furniture to vacuum, wiping down baseboards, making beds, dusting or vacuuming under the bed, etc.
  • What you do not want done, such as moving items on a desk or not using glass cleaner on fish tanks
  • Guidelines for where to place recycling, toss trash or dispose of empty cleaning product containers.

Don't forget...

When seeking home help, what are some of the most typical mistakes people make -- or things that they overlook?

"A lot of homeowners don't make a list of things they specifically want to be cleaned and/or don't explain their expectations clearly," says Angie Hicks of Angie's List. "This leads to misunderstandings with the housecleaner, so it's always better to make the expectations as clear as possible."

One more thing that catches clients: They don't check references or they don't check enough references. Hicks says, "Checking with at least three references can help you get enough information on a company's level of service."

Hallmarks of a top-notch housekeeper

Providing high-quality service requires great communication. Hicks says that when you're interviewing companies, make sure they:

  • Visit your home so they can accurately judge the amount of time it will take them so they can better estimate the total cost for you
  • Provide several references and make it easy for you to reach those people
  • Spell out in advance of doing the work exactly what services they'll be providing and what the cost will be so there are no surprises.
  • Are bonded and insured

Up next: After you hire your housekeeper >>

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