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Cleaner 'interview' what to ask/check

(16 Posts)
Apple79 Fri 12-Feb-16 14:50:31

Hi, after a huge amount of deliberation I have decided to employ someone to do some cleaning for me. I've recently become full time and with 3dc and a dog and slightly ocd standards I need some help!
So I've been recommended someone to do some cleaning... A friend's cleaner's friend! We are meeting next week.... So what should I ask/find out??
I have a 4 bed house, 1 bathroom and a cloakroom, I will make sure it is properly tidied before the cleaner comes so would 3 hours be enough. I originally thought 4 but have 'pretended' to be the cleaner this morning and easily did it in 3 hours having tidied yesterday.
Any tips for our initial meeting, or how to approach having a cleaner gratefully accepted, I've never had one before but just can't manage everything on my own at the moment!
Thanks in advance

Millliii Fri 12-Feb-16 14:57:47

Make sure you do background checks on her and don't just rely on a friends recommendation. This person is coming into your house, around your things. Lots of people who employ cleaners don't do background checks and regret it.

DanglyEarOrnaments Fri 12-Feb-16 18:14:01

I understand that cleaners are hard to find but my advice as someone heavily involved within the domestic cleaning industry would be as follows:

If you go with a private individual service provider, please make sure for your own security that they are registered to operate a legitimate tax paying business and are not committing benefit fraud or working 'under the radar' of HMRC because if you are trusting someone to come into your home they need to be honest.

They should have received documents from HMRC when they first set-up. Also make sure they have public liability insurance to protect you if they cause massive damage (fire or flood or if they break a large expensive item like a television then they are covered, these things happen!).

These two criteria are both requirements of any start-ups wishing to join our trade association as they are the hallmarks of a professionally and legally run service. You definitely don't want the 'other' kind and neither do we. One way to find out if a cleaner is registered as a legit, self-employed business is to NOT pay them in cash, anyone who wants cash only has a reason to ask this, they should be offering other methods to pay them too.

Cleaners are very hard to find by all accounts, hence my own cleaning business doing so well, and we are not cheap, but do not get so desperate as to hire someone dodgy, they will be coming into your home and touching and seeing all your possessions, the relationship relies upon trust both ways so take these steps to make sure you are protected and that you get someone who's intentions are above board.

I don' t think it's up to you to do background checks as you are not his/her employer he/she will be self-employed but they should be meeting the above criteria.

After that it relies upon whether he/she has room on her schedule for a new client as most good individual cleaners become fully booked within a few months.

Also ask about their service level ie what is provided within the price quoted and what is additional to pay for, see if their service matches your needs.

Good luck, I hope this one is a good match for you.

MsMims Fri 12-Feb-16 18:44:15

Please don't use OCD as a flippant way to describe high standards of cleanliness.

It is a debilitating mental illness, not a cleaning fetish.

DanglyEarOrnaments Fri 12-Feb-16 18:48:13

I strongly agree with what MsMims just said, and it is a key criteria within our trade association that OCD illness is NOT used in order to sell cleaning services since that illness and selling cleaning are entirely incongruous and should not be associated with one another.

MsMims Fri 12-Feb-16 19:08:10

Dangly That's a really well thought of and reputable policy. Thank you for taking that stance and not contributing to the misunderstanding of OCD.

applegate79 Fri 12-Feb-16 20:42:18

I'm sorry I truly didn't mean to offend.
Thank you for your comments, dangly would you think that 3 hours would be enough for a house that size?

DanglyEarOrnaments Fri 12-Feb-16 20:51:29

I would think so if you tidy up in preparation for the cleaner's visit first apple. They may need a longer time-frame for the first time for the 'initial' clean to get the house up-together and then afterwards they can keep the house up within a timeframe like that.

I am not offended personally re the OCD reference, as I know full well that many people innocently refer to high cleaning standards as 'OCD' but I do also recognise that this is jarrring and triggering to a person who genuinely suffers from this serious mental health issue and OCD is not usually to do with cleaning at all but general compulsions to check and repeat a certain acitivity and is a very life limiting illness. This is the reason why these references are strongly discouraged within the domestic cleaning industry.

wickedwaterwitch Fri 12-Feb-16 20:55:41

Be realistic and honest about your expectations (eg bathrooms cleaned, vacuuming, beds changing, washing etc - do you want all these done?)

Ask for references, several

Think about arrangements eg will you give her a key?

Bulletpr00f Fri 12-Feb-16 21:00:20

Thank you for your post dangly. I am looking for a cleaner and was told to avoid an agency as "the cleaner doesn't get the money", however your reasoning re: insurance shows that makes sense. Any tips for choosing an agency? 😊

applegate79 Fri 12-Feb-16 21:11:56

Thanks for all of your help. Realistically I would like whole house dusted and hoovered, kitchen and bathroom and cloakroom, mopped and cleaned. I wouldn't expect a cleaner to tidy as 1) I couldn't expect her to know where things went or me to find them after she'd tidied them
2) I'm hoping with somebody coming every week it will mean that we all take responsibility for having a proper tidy away the evening before.
I'm not worried about her ironing, changing beds etc I'd rather have a more thorough clean.
I am busy thinking of things to ask, I think initially I'd be home when she was around. I work shifts so could probably be a little flexible but ultimately I want to be comfortable enough with the right cleaner who can come in and clean when I'm at work and I could just leave with a key.
She said that she only takes payment by bank transfer or cheque and not cash so that is reassuring, and I will make sure to ask about public liability insurance when we meet .

Fresh01 Fri 12-Feb-16 21:21:15

Discuss what happens when they or you is on holiday? Ie. When you are away do you want them still to come in and do more "one off" jobs like behind furniture, cleaning out kitchen cupboards etc.

DanglyEarOrnaments Fri 12-Feb-16 21:25:31

Hi Bullet, i think whether you use an agency, a private company or a solo cleaner you just need to check that the person running the service is doing so legit and above the law.

Obviously an agency or alternatively a private company will take care of these requirements for you for your peace of mind but with an individual you may have to ask them to show you proof of these criteria ie ask for insurance documents and don't offer to pay them in cash.

The reason the cleaner doesn't get all of the money with an agency or private company is because the business owner will be working around the clock to hire, train and screen and take care of the individuals and manage the whole thing which you would need to do yourself should you go direct with a solo cleaner, it is widely recognised within the industry that the actual cleaning element is just one element of the service as a whole and needs careful management by the service provider, who should be the one to take the bulk of liability and responsibility on their shoulders. Not many domestic cleaning business owners will be able to find suitable cleaning staff to work for minimum wage, it is not that sort of industry and that is why cleaning is not cheap. Agencies can be cheaper because they send you a self-employed cleaner to manage yourself but if you would prefer a fully-managed fully equipped service level that you can leave to the company you really need a private company who employ their staff. This obviously costs a lot more to run so is more expensive but results are more consistent and satisfactory for the end user, ie the customer.

Individual cleaners are fine if they are operating legitimately and running a business as opposed to just grabbing some cash in hand which is the flip-side, the under-belly of the industry and devalues the service the rest are trying to provide legally. In the case of these types there is no training, insurance or liablility and you would be held responsible for any injury they sustained on your property as they are not trading with the required insurances in place, nor do they know about health and safety or how to use the correct chemicals safely and correctly on the materials of your home. It is super risky to hire these types so if going for a solo cleaner - please try to make sure they ARE in fact trading legally by asking about their business registration and that their are insurances in place for you.

It really is important since cleaners come into your home with a key and have access to your EVERYTHING, you really need a professional and not a 'cleaning lady' type.

chumbler Sat 13-Feb-16 13:54:17

bullet sorry completely off topic but how did you get that smiley on?????

Bulletpr00f Sat 13-Feb-16 18:03:02

Thanks Dangly, really useful stuff.

Crumbler, sssshhhh, they'll kick me off MN. I accidentally used one on my tablet keyboard. Oops. 😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀

chumbler Sat 13-Feb-16 22:17:46


Wish I could give a better shock face there!

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