Choosing the right house cleaner for your home can be a frustrating and time consuming process.
Why? Because you’re bombarded with borderline misleading advertising, confusing claims and insufficient information.
From super-low prices and high-pressure sales to unqualified techniques and unreliable services. How do you find a qualified, competent and professional house cleaning service?
Herein we layout everything you need to know to equip yourself to find the right house cleaner. Some of this knowledge may overlap with what you know already and there’s no need to read this guide in chronological order, so feel free to skip to any section that addresses your concerns. We’ve laid out a clear table of contents to help you navigate. Topics covered include, but are not limited to, how to avoid house cleaning rip-offs, questions you should ask when shortlisting cleaners, mistakes to avoid when choosing a home cleaning service and much more.
We prepared this guide based on our direct experience in the home cleaning industry in Sydney, Australia. Our aim is to provide you with a practical guide so you can make an informed decision.
Please note we have and will use the terms house and home interchangeably as a generic term for your living space throughout this guide.
- Be aware of these three house cleaning rip-offs
- Four costly misconceptions about house cleaning
- Three mistakes to avoid when choosing a house cleaner
- The importance of value and price when it comes to house cleaning services
- Twelve common myths about house cleaning
- Eight house cleaning service red flags you should scan
- Four steps to a clean, fresh and healthy home
1. Be aware of these three house cleaning rip-offs
1.1 A ridiculously low price
To some degree, all of us are lured by a low price because we want to work within a budget. But some house cleaners use price as the bait for their false and misleading advertising. They offer an initial cheap price usually between $19 and $25 per hour (Australian dollar terms) and then, once they're in your home, they elongate the hours spent and what would normally take 2 hours extends to 3.5 hours. Or they pressure you into buying "add-ons". It's as if you were buying a car and found that the dealer was charging you extra for the tires and steering wheel. House cleaning is not as cheap as some unethical cleaners would like you to believe.
1.2 Eco-friendly bait and switch
This one is heinous and downright unethical. Perhaps one day eco-friendly products and solutions will cost the same or even cheaper as chemical cleaners but for now we understand there’s a premium to using most eco-friendly products. For the benefit of your living and/or family, you order an extra to use eco-friendly products or choose your cleaner because they state they are eco-friendly, only to discover or worse find out through reactions that while you’re away, the cleaners have used cheaper harsh chemicals.
1.3 Unsupported claims: “Best House Cleaner in Sydney”
You'll read this in almost every ad. You'll hear this from virtually every house cleaner. Heck we're guilty of it too but we stand by our quality. First of all, there are multiple and subjective ways to measure this. Remember this: The cleaner that's best for you is the one you trust, has a strong track record, can communicate and understand your requirements and provides a thorough cleaning. So, before you choose a home cleaner, identify your objectives. Then select the cleaner that provides the best fit for what you want.
2. Four costly misconceptions about home cleaning
2.1 The house cleaners you hired will clean every single thing in your home
As much as a good home cleaner would love to reach every part of your house, practical limitations prevent them from reaching certain areas within reason. Accessibility, time needed and safety are the primary constraints, for example, house cleaners are not equipped to handle biohazardous materials or lift and move very heavy objects. On the flipside, be wary of cleaners that carve out too much; especially when charging an hourly rate. Common items that you can reasonably expect to be carved out as extras include:
- Inside ovens as the interiors are rarely cleaned and easily build up grease which requires a lot more time to properly clean.
- Inside cabinets and drawers which are often overlooked in daily maintenance.
- Balconies which are exposed to external elements.
- Windows and blinds.
- Maid services such as washing dishes and changing bed sheets.
- Deeper, spring and bond cleanings which take up a lot more time.
- Walls which are not regularly washed and can accumulate stains.
2.2 That you should wait longer before you have your home cleaned
Many people let saving money be the primary driver of determining if they should clean their homes. As such they extend the intervals in which they live in filth longer than recommended. This exposes them to harmful bacteria, dust build up and uncomfortable living conditions. This can be months at a time. Their reasoning is that if they let it get as dirty as possible, they will get more value when the cleaning takes place. Ironically, this is a myth!
Firstly, leaving a larger build up of grease, dirt and grime requires more effort and time to clean your house and items within. The longer you wait to clean you home and if you don’t properly maintain your living spaces, the more costly it will be to hire cleaners; especially for a deeper clean.
Secondly, the value of assets and belongings will deteriorate if they’re not properly maintained. Dirt is abrasive in the same way as sand paper. For example, when you walk on a dirty carpet, the grains of dirt and other fine particles are being ground into the carpet, cutting and damaging the fibres. This will reduce the life of your carpet. Another area that needs much more attention is the range hood in your kitchen. If you regularly cook at home, this is a grease party and the longer you leave it uncleaned the more difficult it becomes to remove this heavy duty build up.
2.3 That the only reason to clean your home is to make it look cleaner
If you’re shaking your head in disbelief then we should tell you that we still here this one a lot. Apart from the toilet, it’s still a common misconception that homes only need cleaning for cosmetic purposes. While having a nice-looking home is definitely one of the main benefits of having it professionally cleaned, there are other, more important reasons to have your place cleaned. Your living spaces act as filters for foreign bodies coming in from outside as well as contaminants originating from inside your house. This means your furniture, items and flooring are picking up all sorts of pollens, fungi, bacteria, pollutants, skin flakes, micro-organisms and other nasties on a daily basis. These nasties breed throughout your home, creating odours as well as posing a risk to your family’s health such as increased risk of respiratory problems and infections. Still think the look of your home is the only reason to have it cleaned?! Having your residence professionally cleaned on a regular basis will ensure these nasties are taken out and ensure hygiene for your whole family.
2.4 That having the right equipment is enough to clean your house
Many cleaning companies and service providers have the right equipment, but not all cleaning companies train their staff to use the equipment in the right way and to its full potential or have the experience to undertake a thorough clean of your house. It is important to ask how much experience your cleaners have before commencing. You wouldn’t take your car to a poorly-trained mechanic, so why risk your house to poorly-trained cleaners? Experienced domestic cleaners save you time and hassle leaving you with more to enjoy and relax.
3. Three mistakes to avoid when choosing a house cleaner
3.1 Choosing a house cleaner based on low price
We see all sorts of problems from people choosing the lowest bidder when it comes to having their homes cleaned. More often than not we are called in to pick up the pieces. You should NEVER hire a cleaning service that offers an unbelievably low price to clean your home. The two most common problems with this are:
- The cleaners do not have the correct equipment or expertise to clean your place properly, and only end up doing half a job, leaving lots of nasties around your home. Or…
- The advertised price is really just their “foot in the door” price. Once they are in your house it suddenly turns out there are all sorts of other fees and charges required if you want your home cleaned properly.
To ensure neither of these things happen to you, be sure to fully investigate what the price includes and gauge the experience of cleaners.
3.2 Choosing a house cleaner that doesn’t offer a money back guarantee
What does it tell you if somebody won’t stand by their craft? If you are considering hiring a cleaning service that offers no guarantee on their service, you should keep looking. All reputable house cleaning businesses will offer some type of guarantee on the workmanship they provide, whether it be a guarantee against damage or an assurance to get your home clean with a no-questions-asked, money back guarantee if you’re not completely satisfied. Be sure to ask about your cleaner’s guarantee and refund policy before making a decision. Most reputable cleaners we know stand by their word but it goes a long way for your own benefit if you can get their commitment in writing, for example, with an email confirmation.
3.3 Choosing a house cleaner without getting comments from other clients or scanning their online reviews
Any home cleaning business worth their salt should be able to provide glowing references from satisfied customers who’ve used their services. If this is lacking then alarm bells should start ringing. If they don’t have testimonials from satisfied customers it could mean several things:
- They are just starting out in the business and don’t have any satisfied customers yet. We’re all for supporting local businesses so if this is the case then it’s acceptable provided they can demonstrate their ability to deliver quality cleaning underpinned by a full guarantee.
- They are too lazy to have arranged some customer testimonials. If they cut corners here, what other corners will they cut when it comes to your home? Or…
- They are actually not very good at their job and don’t have any satisfied customers who are willing to give a recommendation, because they weren’t satisfied. It goes without saying…steer clear.
Fortunately, it’s extremely easy to quickly gauge a business’s reputation today with live and online customer reviews. Being more connected and accessible now, a simple search of a cleaning business’s reviews on Google and main social media accounts such as Facebook can instantly reveal their quality, responsive and general customer experience. Take the time to read comments from other customers to get a proper sense of how the service operates and interacts with people; particularly situations on what caused poorer reviews and how they responded.
4. The importance of value and price when it comes to house cleaning services
Choosing a house cleaner based on low price
When you choose a house cleaner simply based on the lowest price you’re risking your valuables and safety at home, placing yourself in a position where you may potentially pay for two cleanings when you realise their not adequately equipped nor have the experience to clean your place to a standard, potentially losing time struggling to communicate with poor service, and exposing yourself to damages with cleaners that are not insured. It costs the cleaner time, effort and money to make sure these foundations are in place to protect your home and provide you with excellent service. A below the market rate may mean that the cleaner is cutting back or not addressing these aspects at all. So, make sure you:
- Check if their staff are background checked;
- Ask about their experience;
- Confirm that they have public liability insurance with adequate cover for your home; and
- Give them a quick call to gauge their receptiveness, attitude and overall friendliness and communication.
5. Twelve common myths about house cleaning
Make sure your cleaner is well informed on the following myths to properly clean your house and avoid damages:
5.1 Bleach is an ideal cleaner for all surfaces in your house
This is actually a common misconception when it comes to cleaning. While it is true that it can kill germs quickly, this is not a great product to use when it comes to breaking down the build-up of surfaces. Moreover, this may be unsafe to use at home, especially if you have children or pets. Bleach can be harmful to your family and pets, especially if these are used in strong concentrations. Not to mention, if used on the wrong surfaces, it can damage your fixtures.
5.2 Bleach works best with hot water
Another common cleaning myth related to bleach. Many people believe that bleach and hot water make a perfect pair. This is not true, as hot water mixed with bleach can actually turn white into a yellowish tint. To avoid the yellowish stain on white surfaces, you should not use bleach and hot water together.
5.3 Any cleaner will do when it comes to cleaning
Many people simply get a bottle of their preferred cleaning product and start spraying everything in sight. While there may be some cleaners that are great for one task, they may actually be terrible at others. Thus, it is important that cleaners use tailored solutions for different parts of your homes.
5.4 All cleaners need to be sprayed then wiped off right away
This is another misconception when it comes to cleaning. There are products that work right away and will not require soaking. On the other hand, some cleaning solutions or products need to sit as well as soak a surface for it to properly sanitise or clean a surface or inside your oven.
5.5 Vinegar is the ideal disinfectant and this can remove germs better than all other cleaners
This is a common cleaning misconception. While this can remove guck as well as junk off surfaces, this does not kill all germs. Vinegar, along with other household items, may be useful for some situations, but useless in others. Thus, it is important that your cleaner is prepared with other solutions.
5.6 Frequent carpet vacuuming can wear your carpet out
Many believe that if you frequently vacuum your carpet, it can wear out easily. However, the best thing that you can do to keep your carpet clean is to vacuum it frequently. This way, your carpet will remain clean all the time. Dust that may have accumulated in the carpet can be removed so that it will not destroy the carpet material. Professional carpet cleaners can attest that vacuuming carpets frequently can help in cleaning the carpet, restoring its beauty, and prolonging its life.
5.7 All green cleaning products are safe to use
A green label does not necessarily mean that the cleaner is safe to use on all surfaces. Moreover, not all greens are safe to use for your home as well as around your children. Thus, it is still best to read the label of the cleaner before using it. Not all products on the ‘green’ corner of the local retail store are safe. It’s still best to make it a habit to read the label of the cleaning products you buy for cleaners to use. Even though not all ingredients are indicated on the product label, you will still get a good idea on what the product is made of and you can judge whether the product is safe to use or not.
5.8 If it smells clean then it must be clean
Just because the area smells flowery and fresh, it already means that the area is clean. The smell may deodorise and not be an indication on the actual cleanliness of the area. A thorough and safe clean can be odourless. Therefore, you should not be fooled about areas smelling clean, but are actually full of germs. This is one of the more common residential myths about cleaning.
5.9 Steam cleaning your carpet can cause it to stink and grow mould
Most people worry about the carpets smelling stale right after having them cleaned by a professional carpet cleaner. However, steam cleaning your carpet is the best way to keep your carpets clean. Professional carpet cleaners use steam cleaning to effectively clean carpets. While at first, the carpet smells mouldy this will dissipate and you are left with refreshed carpet.
5.10 Hairspray is an ideal product you can use to remove ink stains
This is only effective because most hairsprays contain alcohol. Instead of using this, you can go straight to the source. Instead of using hairspray, you can make use of alcohol to blot out ink stains.
5.11 Newspaper is the perfect alternative to paper towels for washing windows
Yes, the newspaper can be an alternative to paper towels. However, this cleaning alternative is not an ideal option. It may take the tint out of the glass windows. Using newspaper can also leave smeared ink from the newsprint on the frames as well as the glass of the windows. Make sure your cleaners don’t use newspapers unless absolutely necessary.
5.12 Make use of furniture polish for cleaning wood
When cleaning wooded surfaces, it is best to dust the wood regularly using a lint-free microfiber cloth. Furniture polish may be used occasionally. However, excessive use can harbour dust.
6. Eight house cleaning service red flags you should scan
6.1 Do they have public liability insurance
Why should you care about their insurance and specifically public liability insurance? Because this provides a certain level of comfort that if anything is damaged in your home then the cleaner or rather their insurer can adequately make you whole. A cleaner without such insurance can still be held responsible but may practically not have enough money to cover the damages.
6.2 Do they understand your expectations and have asked questions
Nothing is more crude and unprofessional than a service provider that jumps straight to a dollar figure without asking some considered questions to get to know you and your situation. This extends to domestic cleaners and we know there are lower quality cleaners out there that just want to churn through your house as quickly as they can to earn a quick buck. If you’re liaising with a reputable cleaner they speak as humanly as possible and ask you questions about your living conditions; questions such as:
- What kind of flooring do you have at home?
- Are there any sensitive materials at home e.g. marble counters?
- Do you have any pets?
- Are there any spots you want extra attention?
- Do you have any questions for them?
Considerate cleaners can also explain what’s covered in your cleaning and what’s necessary for your situation. For example, if you’re after a routine clean and your home is well maintained, they will recommend a general clean and note what’s included and excluded rather than recommending a full spring clean.
6.3 Are they responsive
If you’re cleaner takes a full day to respond with a half thought out and misspelled text message, run. Nothing screams poor quality and a nightmare in trying to communicate things you want corrected than an unresponsive cleaner. This is a common trap where we see so many people in Sydney tolerate an absent cleaner in exchange for a cheaper price. Be wary that the additional headache is not worth it.
6.4 What exactly have customers been saying about them
Again, read the comments and don’t be simply fooled by star ratings (on occasion these can be temporarily fake although Google is quite good at sifting this out in the longer term). If upon Google you find common and recent complaints of rudeness and feedback that the cleaners are missing spots then you’re in a much better position to make an informed decision. It’s also a great way to discover how the cleaning service handles difficult situations and if they can remain professional, courteous and solution focused in challenging circumstances.
6.5 Will they only charge you once you are completely happy or will they rush you for payment
Nothing leaves a sourer taste than someone chasing payment without even ensuring you’re happy with the service. We’ve personally experienced this before with other services and is usually accompanied with poor craftsmanship. House cleaning services that are willing to accept payment after you’re satisfied stand behind their work and have a service mindset that will ensure you are protected and have a positive and satisfying experience.
6.6 They will supply all cleaning equipment
Experienced cleaners will carry their own cleaning equipment and supplies, period. They will of course be open to using unique products and equipment in your home at your request.
6.7 Do they offer secure payment gateways
6.8 Fixed fee quotes are possible provided your home is not in an extreme condition
Unless you have a bespoke home or situation, a cleaner that insists on calling you and visiting whilst withholding a quote may have the intention of pressing you for a sale on the call or visit. Based on experience, professional house cleaners can provide you with a near accurate quote based on the size of your home and the type of clean you’re after including any common extra items such as inside ovens.
7. Four steps to a clean, fresh and healthy home
If you’re considering having your home cleaned, it’s a good idea to follow these four simple steps:
7.1 Make a commitment to actually get your home cleaned.
It’s something we can put off again and again until the very last minute, but every day we put it off, we shorten the life of our assets and build up unnecessary last minute stress. Not to mention we spend another day breathing in dust mite waste pollens, fungi and other nasties.
7.2 Reach out to a shortlist of reputable cleaning services
Do you just want the surface cleaned so it looks nice, or do you want all the nasties removed from your home, leaving your living space actually fresh, clean and healthy?
A cheap option will provide a superficial clean and most likely leave you frustrated with an unresponsive and unprofessional cleaner.
7.3 Ask the cleaning company questions.
Make sure you ask questions of your cleaning company such as:
- How long will it take you to clean my home?
- What's included and excluded from my clean?
- How much experience do you or your team have?
- Do you offer any guarantees?
We discuss this a bit more here.
By finding out the answers to these and other questions you’ll be in the best position to ensure you get value for money and are pleased with the outcome.
7.4 Get a quote in writing.
Once you’ve chosen the cleaner that seems the best fit for your needs, if they don’t clearly state their prices and offer, ask for a written price quotation to ensure you are both on the same page in terms of what's covered and what's not.
By following these steps you will ensure you get the best possible outcome when choosing a house cleaning service.
The Above was Authored by Cleaning Ease
House Cleaning in Sydney
We hope this guide has helped better inform you on how to choose the right house cleaner. If you have any questions or just want to chat, feel free to reach out to us on (02) 9157 8588 or email email@example.com!
Danny and The Cleaning Ease Team