You might come to the conclusion that the best way to clean your house is to get someone else to do it. Many people feel awkward about employing a cleaner. This is partly because cleaners are virtually invisible, coming into houses when their employers are at work and leaving before they return home. The only evidence that they have been in the house at all is a sparkling sink and a pile of ironing. The following guidelines should help both cleaner and client.

Checking References

Some cleaners are found by word of mouth recommendation. Before employing a cleaner, ask for references and follow them up. Ask for more than one reference. If they are reluctant to supply them, go elsewhere. If your cleaner is going to have a set of house keys, ask for a deposit. If they do disappear, have the locks changed.

It is difficult to find a house cleaner that would want to work on your terms and conditions as many of them have their own stories to tell where their problems tend to make them do things out of their limits so where they disappear sooner than stay put here at home.

Pay and Conditions

A cleaner is entitled to fair pay. Also, check with your local tax office about your obligations to pay Social Security. However, it must be admitted that many cleaners prefer to work cash in hand and will not thank you for alerting the tax man to their presence.

Check with your household insurance policy about your coverage for accidents or breakages. If a cleaner is employed via an agency, which will sort out things such as Social Security, check that they get a fair proportion of the overall fee.

If, like many people, you are paying your cleaner cash in hand, it is decent and fair to pay them when you are on holiday. Why should they lose their income, just because you have decided to go away? A good employer gives a cleaner a Christmas bonus – a week’s pay is about right. A decent Christmas present would not go amiss either; neither would a birthday card.

Treat Him or Her with Respect

Just because your cleaner does housework, do not dismiss their job as menial. It enables you to combine a career and family and keep the show on the road. Most cleaners view themselves as professionals, take pride in their job and know their value. Many stay with the same family for years and become friends.

If the cleaner breaks something, you may be able to make an insurance claim, which is why it is important to check the conditions of coverage. You can ask a cleaner to be more careful, and have the right to expect an apology, but to ask them to pay for the broken object is bad form.

Tidy Up Beforehand

To clean an average-sized, averagely dirty three-bedroom house will take a good cleaner four hours a week. If they are expected to do the ironing as well, allow another couple of hours. Cleaners are not superhuman. If 4-6 hours seems a lot, try cleaning the house and doing the ironing all in one go yourself and see how long it takes.

A cleaner’s job is to clean, and their job will be much more difficult if they are expected to clean round clutter. On the day the cleaner is due, wash up, clear away clutter, put clothes away, empty bins. If teenagers’ room are health hazards, tell the cleaner to leave them.


Most cleaners will say which equipment and cleaning products they prefer. It might be your home, but it is your cleaner’s place of work, so consider health and safety standards. Minimize the cleaner’s exposure to toxic chemicals by using greener brands and keeping use of chemicals to a minimum. That said, if your cleaner insists that they will not work without bleach or whatever, give in gracefully.

Keep equipment clean and in good order. Change the bag and filter in the vacuum cleaner regularly; ditto the mop head. Make sure there are plenty of clean cloths and dusters. Ask the cleaner to leave used cloths out, and wash them ready for next time.

Make it clear what you expect from a cleaner at the outset. If you are not satisfied with their work, talk to them about it – preferably in person, or on the phone.

Do not ask a cleaner to do any job you would not tackle yourself, such as cleaning the outsides of upstairs windows. You are within your rights to ask them to clean the oven, but if it is really dirty, you cannot expect them to do the routine cleaning as well. If you have antiques or anything old or valuable, you might want to look after them yourself.