I have hired residential house clean­ers before. Generally I will do this as a present to myself around the hol­i­days.  Have hired spec­tac­u­lar and not so great.  An acquaintance recently had a poor experience with her first time with a house cleaner.  So, I thought I would share my advice to help you have a better one.

First, Finding:  Ask friends, family, neighbors for references on a RESIDENTIAL cleaner.  There is a difference.  Not that they can't also do a good business cleaning, but make sure they have experience and are providing a reference based upon residential work.

Second, Scope of Work:  The cleaner should visit your home to see the honest condition (and no, don't clean your house first) that they will be cleaning.  You should agree upon the scope of work as well as the price.  The cleaner should provide you with a list of things they will / will not do.  Dust, yes - Windows, no.  It does not have to be written, verbal is fine.  Make sure you agree with the work listed and please don't hold back from asking questions.  This is not the time to be meek, mild, or shy.

Third, The Job:  Yes, always pick up your clut­ter before they arrive. They don't know where you gen­er­ally keep your __X__ so don't expect them to put it away. This includes shoes, books, dishes, and laun­dry unless specif­i­cally agreed upon in advance.  No, do not clean before they arrive.  Seriously?

A few things that your cleaner should do:
- Cleaning of all bathroom surfaces & mirrors
- Cleaning of all kitchen surfaces w/ spot cleaning the outside of cabinets and appliances.  Nothing inside of cabinets or appliances unless discussed in advance.
- Dusting of every surface, vertical and horizontal (cobwebs, window ledges, baseboard, etc)
- Cleaning of all floor surfaces - Vacuum, sweep & mop

A few things that your cleaner will NOT do:
- Scrub 5 years of cigarette smoke off the wood paneling in one afternoon visit
- Wash all your windows inside and out in one afternoon visit
- Elec­tron­ics should not be plugged, unplugged, or replugged if bumped out. Only shifted so that it can be dusted. 
Now if the wires fell off:
- Anything knocked, fell, or dis­con­nected, you should be noti­fied imme­di­ately whether it looks dam­aged or not.

ALWAYS do a walk-through once they tell you they are DONE and don't be shy about asking for touch-ups before pay­ing and they leave. 
 - One time a cleaner was height challenged — and she didn't clean the top of the fridge. OH, I have a step stool!
 - One time a cleaner was distracted by an "urgent" phone call from her daughter and she missed one entire room - she was interrupted in her rhythm.
 - One time a cleaner smoked and spent more time outside my front door smoking than inside my house.  What she does on her time is her business, but I have 4 hours of cleaning coming and you will be inside the house, cleaning, for 4 hours.

I encourage everyone to treat themselves occasionally to a professional house cleaner. But remember - ask for a RESIDENTIAL cleaner and check the ref­er­ences.  Be prepared to speak up.  You can not get the job you want if you can not say what it is you want. 

One final note: Do not leave your pets or children, not even teens, running loose.  Cleaners are not pet/babysitter.

Do you have any other suggestions?

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