Cleaning Services

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I haven't been able to find a previous post on this. I need some household help--someone to come in once every two weeks or so and do basic household cleaning things. This is necessary for our family's sanity and basic emotional survival at this point (both DH and I work outside the home).

I'm leaning toward a company that provides these services for several reasons: company standards, bonding, regularity even in case of illness, they pay social security, etc.

I've already decided that all my own equipment would have to be used: vacuum (I have a Dyson--they shouldn't complain), broom, dusting rags, extendable dusters, etc., and I'm willing to buy what they need that I don't have. I have a severe cat allergy and a bad enough dog allergy that I don't want anyone else's dander in my home. I'm really anal about this.

But . . . what concerns me is controlling peanut/other nut products/contamination coming into my home. And even now shellfish contamination (if they eat something with nuts or shellfish and then touch my equipment or something else in my home). Equipment is one thing, but if it's something else that I wouldn't know to clean every time they've been here, that's something else.

Those of you who have help around the house, what do you do? Do you have a company? Which one? Regardless of whether it's a company or an individual, how do you keep a check on contamination. Even laying down the law about absolutely no food in the house--contamination is the thing. And I won't be here when they're here. Maybe DH can be some of the time--and initially he would be, but that wouldn't be the norm.

So what do y'all do? Especially those of you who aren't present when your help is there.

On Feb 11, 2006

We use an independent, but she knows about DD's allergies and checks her products for nut oils and sometimes just uses ours. We have asked that she not use furniture polishes.

We have certain rules about stuff-- she thinks we're weird, but we talked about all of it before she started. Basically, she doesn't TOUCH my kitchen. She does our bathrooms and all the floors, and dusts everything top to bottom. She also does our upholstered furniture and windows on a rotating basis. We liked the fact that she was willing to do just what WE needed rather than some package deal like "The Maids" wanted to do. She does not bring food into our house. (House rule, period, that one.) She's been with us for years and we love her like family. She's great.

We don't worry about the animal thing, though. Not sure what we would do about that.

I can say that having someone come and clean my house is DE-LIGHTFUL. [img][/img] Loooooove it.

On Feb 11, 2006

I would be inclined to go with a private person.

As long as you aren't her only client (and I am not a tax expert, so double check on this) I believe you do NOT have to deal with SS. That is an issue when someone hires a person to work solely for them.

Yes, there would be interruptions in service if she is ill, vacationing, etc. sometimes. If you get someone reliable, this will be rare, though.

BUT with a company, you will not know who is coming from week to week and they may (or may not) get the message about special precautions, etc. but you won't know how seriously each perosn will take them and how thoroughly they will understand them.

If you have an independent person, you can train him/her and be more confident that they will follow the rules.

Tara P

On Feb 11, 2006

If you pay an individual more than a certain amount, you need to pay taxes on the person. It doesn't matter that they're not solely your employee. The issue is how much you pay them quarterly (or is it annually? I forget). When we had an individual cleaning our house, we paid taxes on her. My friend pays taxes on a babysitter she has 20 hours per week. Both also worked for other people.

I now have a crew cleaning my house every other week. I switched because I needed a team in and out of here quickly (I didn't want naptime interrupted by a lot of noise in the house, and obviously multiple people can clean much faster than one person). They use the same chemicals at everyone's home, and I've checked that they are peanut-free. We're first stop of the day, so I know all rags, etc. have been washed prior to coming here. The mop may have gone over floors that I guess could have contained peanut residues, but I don't feel the need to take things that far (that's my comfort zone. I'm not criticizing anyone who feels differently). I don't have people remove their shoes when they come to my home, so it's the same thing as a shared mop. Maybe I'm missing something, but that's what I do.

On Feb 12, 2006

I've used both an individual and a service. They both have pro's and con's... I'd say in general the cleaning service is more reliable. It seems the individuals after some months always move on to some thing else (I'm a stock broker and I work at home, I had one cleaning woman who worked for me for a year and then announced she was quitting to move to NYC to become a stock broker!!). Another opened a coffee shop, etc.

But in my view the services tend to slack off, I've had 3 of them so far and every single one of them after a few months gets lazy. I do confront them, and then they get good again for another couple weeks. (one of the national companies gives you a list of what they do every week and then on every rotation, and one thing on it was vaccum the upholstered furniture.. they never did, not once is 6 months. When I asked them about it, they first said "well we forgot". When I called the owner she said "well you never asked us too". sigh, I don't want to have ask every other week.

Regardless of all this... the really bad thing about the big companies is that you don't always get the same cleaners each week and where we live many of them don't speak english so forget about telling them about peanuts.

My feeling is if you can find an individual that has been in business cleaning for a few years, that is the better way to go, you will always get her and she will understand the rules. I have them all wash their hands before they start cleaning in my home and I tell them about the peanuts and such.


On Feb 12, 2006

I have done both. I dropped the srvice after they kept cancelling on me (if someone was out sick, or they were short handed for any reason, they would drop me for the week, even though I had been a customer for a couple of years by that time). So I went to to an indivual, who was great, very reliable. About that time a neighbor, who used a different service than I had, discovered one of the ladies was stealing money from him, and he even caught her on videotape. I have since moved, and have a husband and wife coming in weekly to clean, and they worked out very well. If you use a service, they usually provide their own cleaning products. Not necessarily what I would choose. But if you have an individual, usually you provide the cleaning products, although the couple I have now do request certain brands that they like to work with. Also, when in AZ, the individual I had used cloths I provided. The service provided theirs, but it seemed they were washed prior to coming. The couple I have now prefer to use paper towels when possible. I like that, less chance of cross-contamination (germ-wise).

On Feb 13, 2006

I guess it depends on the cleaning service, mine never missed a cleaning in 2 years but again they did seem to slack off and I had to keep on them all the time.