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Night Elf

Ever interviewed a housekeeper?

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I just had my first interview with a Lithuanian woman who spoke English with an accent so she was hard to understand. She is older than me by 6 years but seems highly energetic. I asked her if she could estimate how much time she'd need to clean my home as I can do it in under 2 hours. She exploded! LOL She said her first time here would be hours as she had so much to clean and proceeded to walk around my house and point out all the dirty parts of my home. I must confess my house is in bad shape. Doors, baseboards, cobwebs, ceiling fixtures, and walls all need to be cleaned. I told her I had no problem paying her for however long it took her to clean the first time but that every time after that should be much less as it's only maintained. IOW, I don't want my house deep cleaned weekly. I can't afford it! We agreed on $25/hour and I was hoping she could keep to 2 hours a week. She just seems to be a stronger housekeeper than I was thinking of, but I did like her. 

Luckily, DH is home today so he was able to talk with her and hear her and see my problems with communication and agreeing to a limit each week. 

I have another interview this afternoon. I'll see how she works out. 

Obviously I don't want a slacker but I'm not sure I want someone too detailed. Do you think it's reasonable to expect her to do light cleaning after her first week here? I bet she's here at least 3 hours a week. That's $75. DH and I have to talk budget. I don't know if we can afford that.

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In my personal experience in Houston, you pay per cleaning not per hour. The first cleaning is always a lot more because a lot of people will use the service once to get their house clean and then not continue with weekly or twice monthly service. They'll usually give you a firm offer for the first clean and touch ups. Most house cleaners work in a crew for their own personal safety. There's usually one who is fairly fluent in English, the others not so much. 

 

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I'm sure she'll be willing to do whatever you'd like as long as you can both agree to the same expectations, and as long as only cleaning for two hours is worth her time. She may not want to drive all the way to your house for only two hours of pay, or she might be fine with it. I think the only way you'll run into problems is if you want her to come for two hours, but you're expecting her to complete a huge list of stuff in that short window. I would figure out what you need the most help with (bathrooms? floors? dusting?) and have her focus her two hours on that stuff rather than trying to get the entire house lightly cleaned in only two hours. I can barely even get the kitchen tidied in two hours some days. 😂

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2 minutes ago, Mergath said:

I'm sure she'll be willing to do whatever you'd like as long as you can both agree to the same expectations, and as long as only cleaning for two hours is worth her time. She may not want to drive all the way to your house for only two hours of pay, or she might be fine with it. I think the only way you'll run into problems is if you want her to come for two hours, but you're expecting her to complete a huge list of stuff in that short window. I would figure out what you need the most help with (bathrooms? floors? dusting?) and have her focus her two hours on that stuff rather than trying to get the entire house lightly cleaned in only two hours. I can barely even get the kitchen tidied in two hours some days. 😂

All I really want done is 2 full bathrooms (not deep cleaning every week, just regular cleaning of toilet, sink and bathtub/shower and sweeping the floor), and the kitchen (wiping down counters, top of stove and microwave). That's all I need help with but I don't think I can find someone to do that because it would take me about an hour to do all of that so surely they can do it in less than 2 hours. So I don't mind paying her to deep clean the house on the first go but I want light cleaning after that. I tried to impress that upon her. Should I choose to hire her, I'm going to repeat it before we finalize the deal.

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It can be tricky to find the right person and then it may take a few times to really see if they are going to work out.

Are you advertising or calling people advertising their services?  I have only ever called people advertising services or word of mouth.  I have had both by the job fee's and hourly.  I do prefer hourly, because the by the job can be rushed a bit and corners are cut.  

After figuring out exactly what you are willing to do yourself, then tell them what you need them to do.  I think $15/hour is a more reasonable rate. 

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Just now, Night Elf said:

All I really want done is 2 full bathrooms (not deep cleaning every week, just regular cleaning of toilet, sink and bathtub/shower and sweeping the floor), and the kitchen (wiping down counters, top of stove and microwave). That's all I need help with but I don't think I can find someone to do that because it would take me about an hour to do all of that so surely they can do it in less than 2 hours. So I don't mind paying her to deep clean the house on the first go but I want light cleaning after that. I tried to impress that upon her. Should I choose to hire her, I'm going to repeat it before we finalize the deal.

 

That seems reasonable to me. I would probably write up a brief summary, then run it through Google translate in Lithuanian and give her the translated copy just to make sure she's on board.

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2 minutes ago, Mbelle said:

It can be tricky to find the right person and then it may take a few times to really see if they are going to work out.

Are you advertising or calling people advertising their services?  I have only ever called people advertising services or word of mouth.  I have had both by the job fee's and hourly.  I do prefer hourly, because the by the job can be rushed a bit and corners are cut.  

After figuring out exactly what you are willing to do yourself, then tell them what you need them to do.  I think $15/hour is a more reasonable rate. 

 

I'm sure it varies by area. $15 an hour for a housekeeper would be downright insulting around here. Especially for a good one.

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1 minute ago, Mergath said:

 

I'm sure it varies by area. $15 an hour for a housekeeper would be downright insulting around here. Especially for a good one.

Well, it's not a educated position here, so that salary is double the minimum wage.  It would be considered a decent laborer wage.  $25/hour is what dental hygienist/radiologist tech and teachers make here.

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1 minute ago, Mbelle said:

Well, it's not a educated position here, so that salary is double the minimum wage.  It would be considered a decent laborer wage.  $25/hour is what dental hygienist/radiologist tech and teachers make here.

 

I live in a rural area, and Walmart starts at $15/hour here. No one around here actually pays minimum wage because it's insanely low. You also have to keep in mind that a housekeeper isn't getting a steady eight hours a day. It's sporadic and includes a lot of travel back and forth, which means they need to get paid more per hour to compensate for that if they're going to be able to pay their bills. Comparing them to someone with a steady, full-time job with benefits is apples to oranges.

I also take issue with the idea that it's not "an educated position." It may not require a college degree, but an experienced, reliable housekeeper who knows how to clean anything without damaging it and in a reasonable amount of time is worth his/her weight in gold. 

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Just now, Mergath said:

 

I live in a rural area, and Walmart starts at $15/hour here. No one around here actually pays minimum wage because it's insanely low. You also have to keep in mind that a housekeeper isn't getting a steady eight hours a day. It's sporadic and includes a lot of travel back and forth, which means they need to get paid more per hour to compensate for that if they're going to be able to pay their bills. Comparing them to someone with a steady, full-time job with benefits is apples to oranges.

I also take issue with the idea that it's not "an educated position." It may not require a college degree, but an experienced, reliable housekeeper who knows how to clean anything without damaging it and in a reasonable amount of time is worth his/her weight in gold. 

I'm pretty sure we don't live in the same area of the country and that's the pay discrepancy and why we have a different perspecitve on what is good pay.  I think $15/hour is excellent pay for unskilled labor.  The Wal Mart 2 miles from here pays $9.   I think Aldi is the best paying retailer around here and they pay $12.95.  

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58 minutes ago, Mbelle said:

 

After figuring out exactly what you are willing to do yourself, then tell them what you need them to do.  I think $15/hour is a more reasonable rate. 

 

You can't get a housekeeper for less than $25 per hour where we live. 

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6 minutes ago, hippiemamato3 said:

 

You can't get a housekeeper for less than $25 per hour where we live. 

I believe you.   i just think Night Elf can get $15/hr because I think we live relatively close, if I'm remember some of her other posts correctly.  $25 is really high for this area.  I did once pay $20/hr but there were 2 people working at the same time.

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It is normal and good to do a deep cleaning.    Last time I did that, a three person, hard working team worked three hours to clean my house.  I don't think my house is that dirty but they dusted and cleaned areas I hardly touched.

After that the maintenance should be reasonable.

Just list in order the things that you want cleaned.  When time is up, that's it.

$25/hour is a reasonable pay for individual cleaning here (not for a cleaning company).

If you can find a hard working person, who cleans to your satisfaction and does not break things then you are golden.

Don't set your expectations too high.

 

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1 hour ago, Night Elf said:

All I really want done is 2 full bathrooms (not deep cleaning every week, just regular cleaning of toilet, sink and bathtub/shower and sweeping the floor), and the kitchen (wiping down counters, top of stove and microwave). That's all I need help with but I don't think I can find someone to do that because it would take me about an hour to do all of that so surely they can do it in less than 2 hours. So I don't mind paying her to deep clean the house on the first go but I want light cleaning after that. I tried to impress that upon her. Should I choose to hire her, I'm going to repeat it before we finalize the deal.

You might find that a cleaners definition of “light” and yours vary.

I’ve had clients tell me the exact same thing as you just did, and what happens is that I end up doing some of the things they didn’t want done because they would affect the things I was told to clean.  I honestly hate it when people give me a list of things of things to do *within* a single room.  It just doesn’t work that way.

A better solution would be to pay her two hours every two weeks (or whatever you decide) and give her a priority list: you must have the kitchen and bathrooms done in that time, and if she has extra time left over, dust or do windowsills or whatever.

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Okay, here's an update. 🙂

Just had my second interview. Very strange. The person on care.com was named Katy but her sister texted me and said Katy asked if her sister could come along. When the car drove in, it was only the sister. I asked her why Katy didn't come and she said Katy wouldn't be the one doing the job. It would be her or her cousin. By the end of the interview, she was admitting it would be her cousin. Keep in mind I'd be hiring someone I've never met. I think Katy and her family are running a business so they're approaching my job as a business transaction rather than personal. What I mean is the cousin would just be someone else's employee coming to my home, whereas the first person I interviewed this morning would be my personal housekeeper. Not a huge distinction, but one to keep in mind when I'm considering who I want to hire.

This company doesn't charge by the hour. They have a flat rate of $150 for the first time which is a deep cleaning and then $100 every time after that. I told her I couldn't afford $100 weekly and we got down to $75 a week. That would be for the whole house regardless of how long it took her. There is a certain appeal to that because I'd be getting a clean house every week for one consistent dollar amount. The first lady I interviewed, who charges by the hour, may work longer than 3 hours and I may end up paying $75 anyway. 

So do I hire the hourly woman I met personally and liked even though I think she's more than I need, or do I hire the person I've never met for the flat rate?

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1 minute ago, Night Elf said:

Okay, here's an update. 🙂

Just had my second interview. Very strange. The person on care.com was named Katy but her sister texted me and said Katy asked if her sister could come along. When the car drove in, it was only the sister. I asked her why Katy didn't come and she said Katy wouldn't be the one doing the job. It would be her or her cousin. By the end of the interview, she was admitting it would be her cousin. Keep in mind I'd be hiring someone I've never met. I think Katy and her family are running a business so they're approaching my job as a business transaction rather than personal. What I mean is the cousin would just be someone else's employee coming to my home, whereas the first person I interviewed this morning would be my personal housekeeper. Not a huge distinction, but one to keep in mind when I'm considering who I want to hire.

This company doesn't charge by the hour. They have a flat rate of $150 for the first time which is a deep cleaning and then $100 every time after that. I told her I couldn't afford $100 weekly and we got down to $75 a week. That would be for the whole house regardless of how long it took her. There is a certain appeal to that because I'd be getting a clean house every week for one consistent dollar amount. The first lady I interviewed, who charges by the hour, may work longer than 3 hours and I may end up paying $75 anyway. 

So do I hire the hourly woman I met personally and liked even though I think she's more than I need, or do I hire the person I've never met for the flat rate?

You absolutely can put a cap on the hourly person.  Just tell her no more than xxx hours.  I would go with her.

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3 minutes ago, WendyAndMilo said:

You absolutely can put a cap on the hourly person.  Just tell her no more than xxx hours.  I would go with her.

Good. That's what I was thinking. I just sent an email to the first woman describing that. I agree to pay her whatever her fee is for the first cleaning but I'm only hiring her for two hours a week after that. I also said if we decide more needs to be done than what can be done in 2 hours, we'll plan a day for that so I'm not surprised with her working more than 2 hours. We'll see what she comes back with. I hope she'll agree. Both DH and I liked her. 

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Just now, hippiemamato3 said:

I think I'd try to interview a couple more people. 

I've talked with two other people and they said they were interested and asked questions and I answered them and haven't heard back. I gave my number to one of the women who said she'd call me today but it's 5:30 pm and I haven't heard from her. There were some other applicants but I declined them for various reasons. I just didn't get a good vibe from their messages.

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The "Cleaning company" who is not admitting to be a cleaning company would not be a situation I'd want to be in. And their "Flat rate" is more than you want to pay, even AFTER negotiation anyway.

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6 minutes ago, vonfirmath said:

The "Cleaning company" who is not admitting to be a cleaning company would not be a situation I'd want to be in. And their "Flat rate" is more than you want to pay, even AFTER negotiation anyway.

That's what I told DH. He suggested we ask if they'll come in every two weeks then which would balance out how much we're budgeting for the month. I'm waiting to hear from them this evening. 

My gut it telling me to go with the first woman though. She's got two college degrees and moved here from Lithuania when she was 33 years old. Her college degrees are useless here for some reason but she's finding fulfillment with cleaning and caring for families. She is working for two other families right now. One is a family with young kids that she cares for sometimes and light cleaning. The other is an older woman that requires daily cleaning and meal preparation. She said she'd have no problem fitting me into a Thursday.

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I have had  2 different cleaning ladies

 I told them up front in the interview that I was paying $20 per hour and I wanted 2 hours of cleaning. I gave them a list of things I wanted done in that time and a few things that they could do if they had completed the list and had some time left over. 

 

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6 hours ago, Mbelle said:

It can be tricky to find the right person and then it may take a few times to really see if they are going to work out.

Are you advertising or calling people advertising their services?  I have only ever called people advertising services or word of mouth.  I have had both by the job fee's and hourly.  I do prefer hourly, because the by the job can be rushed a bit and corners are cut.  

After figuring out exactly what you are willing to do yourself, then tell them what you need them to do.  I think $15/hour is a more reasonable rate. 

Minimum wage in our state is $12, so $15 wouldn't get anyone to apply who is more than a teen here (low tax rate). Anyone who pays self employment taxes, would be making less that minimum wage.

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We've found that the interview doesn't tell us very much.  We've had quite a few cleaners over the years, and what they say and what they do is quite different.  Good luck!

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I don't think I would be able to get anyone to come here for just 2 hours per week, it wouldn't be worth their time.  Usually cleaners here book half days, so 4 hours to clean a house and they do 2 houses.  Throwing in a 2 hour cleaning would throw them off.

I would do every other week for a 4 hour cleaning if I had to do it, and it would be a min. of $25/hour or $100 to clean.  

I paid my friend to organize and clean and stage my house, it was $25 an hour at the massively discounted friend rate.  She usually gets $40/hour.  

Or, you could do what we did, hire someone to come in and do the deep cleaning, and then just make a chart to keep it clean by spending an hour or two each week with everyone helping.

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2 hours ago, DawnM said:

I don't think I would be able to get anyone to come here for just 2 hours per week, it wouldn't be worth their time.  Usually cleaners here book half days, so 4 hours to clean a house and they do 2 houses.  Throwing in a 2 hour cleaning would throw them off.

I would do every other week for a 4 hour cleaning if I had to do it, and it would be a min. of $25/hour or $100 to clean.  

I don’t understand this at all.  Do those cleaners also have a minimum house size that they clean because some house will never take more than 2 hours to clean.

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18 hours ago, Mbelle said:

Well, it's not a educated position here, so that salary is double the minimum wage.  It would be considered a decent laborer wage.  $25/hour is what dental hygienist/radiologist tech and teachers make here.

It isn't an educated position anywhere I guess.  But still and yet the reason they charge what seems to be a lot is that they don't have benefits and they have to pay their own taxes and other expenses.  No paid holidays or expenses or insurance or anything like that.  

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18 hours ago, Mergath said:

I also take issue with the idea that it's not "an educated position." It may not require a college degree, but an experienced, reliable housekeeper who knows how to clean anything without damaging it and in a reasonable amount of time is worth his/her weight in gold. 

Yup.  Cleaning houses may not be a traditionally educated position, but it’s hardly unskilled. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a client thank me for just reading the directions on a new cleaner or doing research on a particular issue they’re having.  This is what an unskilled house cleaner does: 

 

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18 minutes ago, WendyAndMilo said:

Yup.  Cleaning houses may not be a traditionally educated position, but it’s hardly unskilled. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a client thank me for just reading the directions on a new cleaner or doing research on a particular issue they’re having.  This is what an unskilled house cleaner does: 

 

Good grief!  Is this your house?  What did they do to it?

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1 minute ago, Scarlett said:

Good grief!  Is this your house?  What did they do to it?

Nope, a clients house. His previous cleaner assumed that polish = cleaner so she didn’t clean or even sweep the floors before applying the polish.  🤯

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5 minutes ago, WendyAndMilo said:

Nope, a clients house. His previous cleaner assumed that polish = cleaner so she didn’t clean or even sweep the floors before applying the polish.  🤯

Oh my word!!!!

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20 hours ago, Mbelle said:

I'm pretty sure we don't live in the same area of the country and that's the pay discrepancy and why we have a different perspecitve on what is good pay.  I think $15/hour is excellent pay for unskilled labor.  The Wal Mart 2 miles from here pays $9.   I think Aldi is the best paying retailer around here and they pay $12.95.  

Housekeeping isn't unskilled labor. I actually think very little would fall into the category of "unskilled," though. Everything requires skill and to do anything well takes a level of skill, expertise and motivation to to do a good job.

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I have a cleaning service that I pay by the trip, not by the hour. They come every two weeks. I'm not usually here when they come, I have no idea how long they stay on average, but I don't think it is 2 hours. They send the same two people to my house every time. It has been a few years since they called me to tell me that they were sending a new person to me, they have low turnover. Every once in a while, maybe once or twice a year, they will call me and tell me that one of my people is on vacation and give me the name of the person that will be subbing. The biggest benefit of using a service to me is that I don't have to worry about taxes! We made a deliberate decision several years ago to only hire workers through companies that have worker's compensation, that don't subcontract and that don't work "under the table."

Each trip, they:

vacuum all floors & stairs

mop kitchen & bathrooms

clean countertops, sink & inside of microwave in kitchen

clean mirrors, bathtubs, toilets, showers, countertops in bathrooms

dust all furniture

change the sheets on beds (they don't do top bunks)

 

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I hired someone. She starts next Thursday. I think it will be okay. There isn't anything harmful she can do to my house. I think the $25 per hour is a fair price. Our minimum wage is $7.25, isn't that federal? I told her I would hire her if she would agree to my terms of spending 2 hours a week cleaning my house and anything leftover will be my responsibility. I want her to start with the bathrooms and kitchen and if she has time she can work on the bedroom and living room. But honestly, all she'd need to do was dust and sweep. I don't have little kids anymore so our house just isn't messy in general. It's just dusty because I don't dust. It's my bathrooms and kitchen that need weekly cleaning. Everything else is simple enough that I can do in 5 minutes. She's going to work for me for a month on a probationary basis. If she's working out, I'll close out the job on care.com which I currently have paused. If she doesn't work out, I'll message some of the other applicants and start the process again. 

I haven't had a housekeeper in 21 years. I'm looking forward to this. 🙂

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51 minutes ago, Night Elf said:

I hired someone. She starts next Thursday. I think it will be okay. There isn't anything harmful she can do to my house. I think the $25 per hour is a fair price. Our minimum wage is $7.25, isn't that federal? I told her I would hire her if she would agree to my terms of spending 2 hours a week cleaning my house and anything leftover will be my responsibility. I want her to start with the bathrooms and kitchen and if she has time she can work on the bedroom and living room. But honestly, all she'd need to do was dust and sweep. I don't have little kids anymore so our house just isn't messy in general. It's just dusty because I don't dust. It's my bathrooms and kitchen that need weekly cleaning. Everything else is simple enough that I can do in 5 minutes. She's going to work for me for a month on a probationary basis. If she's working out, I'll close out the job on care.com which I currently have paused. If she doesn't work out, I'll message some of the other applicants and start the process again. 

I haven't had a housekeeper in 21 years. I'm looking forward to this. 🙂

Yay!!  is it the Lithuanian lady?

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13 hours ago, WendyAndMilo said:

Yay!!  is it the Lithuanian lady?

Yes. I'm a little nervous but I think she'll work out. I can tell she'll do things the way she wants them done but as I have no preferences, I'm okay with that. I have no surfaces that could be damaged. We're getting a new shower stall the week after next so I'll ask her to make sure it doesn't get scratched but she says she uses good products. I'll find out next Thursday! 🙂

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