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What do you expect from a housekeeper?

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I've found myself in a situation where I need help around the house (dh deployed, I've just had surgery with real restrictions during recovery, 4 kids, etc). I spent all night Monday night worrying about how I'm ever going to get my house *CLEAN* again. I went to church Tuesday morning and a woman was there asking for prayers because she works as a housekeeper and has lost many clients because of the economy and she really needs some help. So, I'm counting it as divine intervention and I now have a sweet woman coming to my home tomorrow to start working once a week helping around the house.


So, I need some advice on what I can reasonably ask her to do. I don't want her to worry about laundry, dishes, etc. However, sweeping, mopping and dusting isn't all I want. What I really, really want is someone to help me do the things that never get done when I'm here without DH. Like dusting baseboards (scrubbing them since the dust has now been there so long it's solidified), scrubbing the kitchen floor (not just a swipe with a mop), actually using the vacuum on all parts of the room, not just the walkway. Any advice would be welcome. Thank you so much!

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I'd say to her that you really need a spring clean. Then she'll know that there's deep cleaning to be done. Make a list for each room and space it over the weeks, for example: first week, deep clean kitchen, general clean rest of house; second week, deep clean bathrooms, general clean rest of house, etc.


Have fun!



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I think you need to assess what *you* need. Obviously the needs of a mom recovering from surgery are very different from those of a mom who simply has ongoing help from a housekeeper. In your situation, it does sound like a great idea to begin with spring cleaning. Then, if you want weekly help decide how much you and your children can do: dishes? general pick-up? laundry? changing sheets on beds? If you can truly handle all those basic chores, then move to a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly cleaning plan. For such, people usually clean for the housekeeper, meaning picking up and putting away as much as possible. Generally speaking, you will get the best cleaning if your housekeeper doesn't have to stop for the toys under the beds or shoes under the sofa or dishes in the sink or shuffle seven toothbrushes around while cleaning a bathroom. Personally I wouldn't even consider a housekeeper who didn't move the furniture to vacuum or remove any rings in toilets each week. *Really* good housekeepers will also put some of those spring cleaning projects into a monthly rotation plan, for example dusting very high or odd places. A rare few even consider it part of their jobs to do weekly laundry and/or change the sheets. In the end, I think it's all about how much you're willing to pay and how often/long the housekeeper comes/stays.



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10 or so years ago I found myself on bedrest--while homeschooling 1st and 3rd graders.


I hired a maid--BEST thing I could have done!


The first month she came every week--after that we managed every-other week.


I had her clean the kitchen--I tried to have the dishes done--but if not she would finish them (have to have the dishes washed before you clean the counters...). She paid attention to the smallest details (in other words her standards were higher than mine!).


She also cleaned the bathrooms (again paying attention to the little details like baseboards...) she often handwashed the floors... (her standard!).


She vaccumed the carpets (bedrooms and family room) and swept/mopped the other areas that were tile--again no baseboard was neglected! She dusted anything that could possibly benifit from it.


We did our own laundry.


She was a huge BLESSING to us! She spent about 3 hrs and charged us $70 (worth every penny!).


Now my back is out again/still... I'm considering hiring one again--- my teens are not much help (16 yo is clinically depressed and 18 yo is working nearly full-time). 7yo helps as much as she can (she also goes to PS and has afterschool activities 3 times a week). DH is stressed about work so just comes home and plays video games or watches TV...

Just typing this has convinced me to find someone to bless with a job!



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How long is your recovery? If it will be a while, you would ask her to deep clean 1 or 2 rooms each time in addition to regular cleaning the whole house. Good housecleaners do this.


What a regular housecleaning should include:


scrubbing tub

wiping down shower walls

cleaning faucets, sinks, countertops

cleaning outside of toilet and inside the bowl

wipe down blinds

wiping down cabinet fronts

wipe sills

clean the mirror

wash the floor


scrub shower walls (if grouted)

wash baseboards

clean light fixtures

clean tops of doorways

more thorough clean of cabinet fronts


dust furniture

wipe down blinds

pull down cobwebs off ceiling

make up beds (if already stripped and fresh sheets put out)

vacuum floor - mop if hard surface


wash down baseboards and sills

clean tops of door jams

vac under beds and behind/under other furniture and wipe down

clean light fixture and ceiling fans


living areas:

dust furniture, bookshelves, lamps, etc.

wipe down blinds

vacuum and wash floors if hard surface

remove ceiling cobwebs


wash baseboards and sills

clean tops of doorjams

clean under and behind furniture



wash counter tops

scrub sinks

wipe down cabinet fronts

clean cooking surface of the stove

clean outside of all appliances

clean inside of microwave

remove ceiling cobwebs

wash floor

wipe down blinds (if have them)



wash baseboards and sills

clean inside of oven and/or refigerator

clean ceiling fans

deeper cleaning of cabinet fronts

clean tops of cabinets (if no soffet)

vacuum coils in fridge and under appliances if possible


I am sure I could add more, but that is basically what I expect out of a cleaning service. If you having her come weekly, I might have her split some of the bigger deep cleaning jobs into two weeks (like the kitchen.)

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I agree with the previous posters. It sounds like you need to get your house back on track with some deep cleaning. I'd let her know up front that you really need a spring cleaning and discuss with her extra charges for the additional work.

I clean my parent's home every other week. I mop the floors, vaccuum, wipe down walls and doors, clean bathrooms and 2 bedrooms and dust. Dusting is most time consuming because of the amount of nick-nacks. I also clean the litter box if needed and take out trash. Now this is family so I don't mind if they add to my to-do list. I just added my list so you could see an example of what is typically expected of me.

I would make sure that your expectations as well as hers are clearly defined to avoided misunderstandings.

If you need help with dishes and laundry as well, maybe there is a teenager that could help after school a couple days a week. I did this during high school and it was very beneficial for the family and a good experience for me.

HTH and feel better soon!

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For health reasons I have a bi-weekly maid service, so I understand your question a bit.


My advice? Be specific and let her know what is important to you (print out a copy of your message!) I struggly a bit with the service - they have a list of what to do and it isn't necessarily what I want them to focus on. With one individual, I think you can reasonably say, "Here's what I really need done, and these other things I or the kids can do." I'm sure she can accommodate you.


Best wishes!

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