Finding a Cleaning Service & Saving Money on Cleaning

One the best decisions we have ever made is hiring a cleaning service to help us out some times.  We don’t use a cleaning service very often for ourselves – probably 5-6 times per year.  I am conscious of the cost and with only having two people (and a cute domestic short hair cat that sheds, but not too much!), it takes some time for our place to get messy enough to justify it.

Basically, I think this is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself or to someone else.  It is great to leave the deep cleaning to someone else.  No one wants to spend what little free time they have on a weekend scrubbing the area behind their fridge or the grout between the tiles in the bathroom.  It also helps us to avoid any arguments that we might have over who is going to do which tasks because neither of us is enthusiastic about cleaning.

It was once suggested to me that a gift card or an offer to pay for a cleaning service is a great gift for a graduating student who is moving, new parents, or a grieving family.  When their lives are in a state of upheaval and change, offering an extra set (or two) of hands to help a family keep their space in great shape is often welcome.

Here are some tips for researching and hiring a cleaner or cleaning company:

  1. Ask around. Do any of your friends or colleagues use a cleaning service?  See if anyone in your circle of friends/family has a company or cleaning service that they recommend or that they have tried and do not
  2. Do some research online for companies that advertise services in your area. We live in Toronto, so I searched for companies that offer services in our neighbourhood.  I checked out the large companies (Merry Maids, for example), as well as smaller companies.
  3. For each cleaning service that you learn about, consider whether they will meet your needs. For example, we wanted to know:
    • Whether they had good reviews and recommendations. While online reviews are not always 100% accurate, we definitely dug into this a bit.
    • Are they available on weekends? We wanted to make sure we could be around to let the cleaners in.  Our cat is also a bit anxious with strangers, so we like being home to at least make the introduction.  Many cleaning services are happy to do their work when you are not home, but you will have to work out the logistics of ensuring they are let in and the door is locked after they are done.
    • Are they pet-friendly? Do they make any guarantees regarding cleaning pet hair?
    • Do they bring their own cleaning supplies and equipment, or do they expect you to provide everything? Personally, while we have cleaning supplies and gloves on hand, I prefer for the company to bring their own materials.
    • Do the cleaners use natural or non-toxic products, or offer you this option? If you will be providing the cleaning products, you can determine what they will use, but in the event that they are bringing their own, you may want to find this out.  While many people enjoy the “lemon-y fresh” smell that some cleaning products leave behind, it’s important to remember that many cleaning products use harsh chemicals that probably aren’t good for us or for our pet.
    • Will the same person(s) be assigned to our home each time we schedule a cleaning? Will they work in a team of more than one person (in which case, the total time they spend in your home may be shorter)?
    • What does the cleaning service cost? Is it based on time or on the amount of space being cleaned?  Do they charge extra for certain services, like cleaning in cabinets or wiping down baseboards?
  4. Consider trying out more than one cleaning service before committing to one for regular cleaning, unless you are super happy with the first service you tried.
  5. Don’t be afraid to give or to leave instructions. For example, if we are having guests over, I might ask that they pay special attention to our guest room and bathroom.  Also, provide feedback.  If something was missed or overlooked, bring it to their attention.

I’ve included a link to the service that we use, Maid in T.O., below.  We live in Toronto and found that when we researched our options, they seemed to have the most flexibility.  I think it’s awesome that they have an option to only use green cleaning supplies.  Not only do they do a great job, but they also accept sporadic bookings, including on Saturdays, which is key for us:

I find that after we have a cleaning service through our place, it is easy to maintain the cleanliness for the next month or so just by wiping up and tidying messes as they happen.

Here are some ways that we save money by keeping our place tidy and stretching the time between our cleaning services:

  • We sometimes make our own cleaning supplies from normal kitchen ingredients – not only do we already have these items on hand, but they are relatively inexpensive (ex. baking soda, vinegar, etc. – I will post some recipes on this blog at some point and then link them here!)
  • If you need to buy cleaning supplies, pick them up at the dollar store – the products are almost exactly the same as the ones you see in your regular grocery or chain store but are sometimes significantly cheaper
  • Make a point of keeping some cleaning supplies in the rooms where they will be needed so that you are more likely to reach for them to clean up a mess when it occurs – we keep some basic supplies under the sink in each bathroom and the kitchen, as well as in the hall closet where the litter box is on the floor
  • Set a timer and take 10 minutes or so a day to catch up on dishes and to tidy up
  • Set a timer and take 15 minutes or so each weekend to dust, wipe down your counters or vacuum, especially if you have people coming over

Enjoy your clean space!