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Maid cleaning sink

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.

After being hired:

After your housekeeper is hired, they should be doing the following or you should consider finding someone else.

  • Consistently show up when promised
  • Consistently perform the promised service
  • Be meticulous about their work
  • Interact with you in the manner that you prefer (some clients like to chat with the housekeeper, while others prefer quiet, and a high-quality housekeeper will know how to determine what you like and meet that expectation)
  • If it's a service, they should send the same cleaner each time (barring illness)

Making it work

Once you find a housekeeper that you know you just can't live without, you want to make sure the relationship remains mutually rewarding. As the boss, there are a few tips you can use to keep everyone happy and your house sparkling clean.

  • Pay on time (set up a direct-deposit or online billing if that makes it simpler)
  • Discuss annual pay increases and offer holiday bonuses
  • Provide two weeks notice (when possible) for any changes to the cleaning schedule, such as when you're taking a vacation or need to change a cleaning day due to an upcoming party or special occasion
  • Be respectful -- don't ask your housekeeper to do something you know you truly wouldn't do yourself or that isn't on his or her list (that includes watching the kids)
  • If your housekeeper is not a native speaker of English, learn a few words in their language (most importantly "thank you")

It's just not going to work

What are the most common complaints people tend to have about a housekeeper?

  • Not cleaning to the homeowner's standards -- this is why it's very important to make your expectations clear to the housecleaner from the beginning
  • Missing appointments or being late without calling to explain
  • Unprofessional behavior
  • Prices that are higher than the estimate

Breaking up is hard to do

Sadly, there are times when even the best relationships end. It can be tricky to navigate how to terminate the relationship with your cleaning person.

As a former independent housekeeper and a mom who now employs such home help, Pam Norton has been on both sides of this awkward situation. "There are various reasons why someone might want to 'break-up' with their housekeeper," says Norton. Some of the most common reasons are because the family is moving or for financial reasons.

Honesty is truly the best policy, even if the reason you're choosing to stop using your housekeeper is that you're dissatisfied with the level of service. "I was especially grateful for their honesty and any advance notice," says Norton, who now applies those same standards when terminating a relationship with a housekeeper or making a change in service.

If you have to end the service due to financial or personal reasons, many opt to offer a letter of recommendation. "When my husband lost his job, I had to stop using my cleaning person," says Susan Bartlett. "I was so sad to let her go, but it helped to know I was sending her off with a letter explaining how much we valued her."

Relax and enjoy

Ultimately, having a housekeeper should help to contribute to your peace of mind. Sure, it may be a splurge, but the women we talked to said it was definitely worth the money -- one even noted that it's one of the few ways you can purchase true stress relief.

"The day the cleaning ladies come is my favorite day of the week," says a SheKnows reader from California. "I just love coming home to a totally clean house. It's heavenly."

More on hired help

Mannies: Would you hire a manny?
Hiring a Nanny: Top 5 steps to take
Is it time to hire a gardener?

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Comments on "How to find a housekeeper"

Katie September 04, 2012 | 4:29 PM

Angies List is great. I wouldn't have thought to use it for a house keeper, but why not? We use it for contractors, painters, dentists, doctors, and more, so why not a house keeper? Thanks for this!

Lisa August 27, 2012 | 12:49 PM

Being a single working mother is a constant juggling act and I am not ashamed to tell people that I can’t do everything. This is why I employ the help of a housekeeper. I agree with everything mentioned in this article. Having a housekeeper is a special kind of relationship, but like all relationships it takes time to establish a trust and a bond. Don’t expect everything to go smoothly at first. Your housekeeper should be allowed time to learn how to clean your home according to your standards. You also need to be patient with your cleaning person as she learns your system. This grace period of patience and forgiveness will transform into mutual respect later on down the road.

Morgan August 27, 2012 | 12:20 PM

These are all such good inside tips to finding and keeping a good housekeeper. I have grown up with one, and it seemed to help my mother and father very much. Even though they would only come every other week, our house seemed to be cleaner throughout time, and I would be conscious of when I needed to pick up things in my room. Overall, I think that if a family can afford one, they are worth the money and your time is freed to do other things.

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