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How to Manage Your Housekeeper

How to manage and evaluate your housekeeper, maid, or cleaning service.

Image via  Getty Images/CasaraGuru

Congratulations! You've just hired a cleaning professional who is going to make your life much easier by making your home a more pleasant (and tidier) place to be. You'll want to pay close attention the first few times they work to make sure you're getting what you want for the money and to make sure you and your housekeeper are on the same page about your (and their) expectations. Professional cleaning agencies and some private housekeepers will leave a quality care card for you to evaluate the job.

Above all, remember that keeping the lines of communication open can go a long way towards a positive experience. Here are the items you'll want to review with your housekeeper on an ongoing basis:

  • Housekeeper Duties: Create a house cleaning checklist and go over the list together so you both understand the requirements and know if they are being met.
  • Trial Period: As we mentioned above, a trial period can help you determine if your housekeeper is a good fit. We suggest a two-week trial so that you can better evaluate how it’s going. If you are not satisfied, or if they have concerns about meeting your requirements, a trial period with an expected review date is a great way to promote discussion and to resolve issues. It also leaves a door open to end the relationship if it isn’t a good match.
  • Special Requests: Occasionally, you might want to ask your housekeeper to change the normal routine to take care of a special project (windows, rugs, laundry, etc). Is your housekeeper OK doing this on the fly, or is it better to make the request with a week's notice? Setting a policy for this beforehand will remove last-minute panic.
  • Review Methods: Remember that not everyone will do every task "your way" but a house cleaning checklist could help give your housekeeper an idea of what you want. Try to keep in mind that as long as the end result is the same (and it's not taking an extraordinarily long time), letting your housekeeper work in his or her own way is probably the best route.
  • Special Instructions: If you have a special item you don't want broken or damaged, then remove it from the area to be cleaned. Also, inform your housekeeper of areas to watch out for in your home -- for example, the mini blinds that can only be opened very slowly or they break. The same goes for areas of your home you do not want cleaned or that you'd like to be off limits. seven tasks a housekeeper shouldn’t do.)
  • Cancellation Policy: If your housekeeper becomes ill or if there’s a sudden change in schedule, decide beforehand how you will handle such adjustments, how you will contact each other, and what will be done to reschedule a missed cleaning appointment.
  • Theft Policy: Remember that sometimes your housekeeper may move an item from its normal place and forget to replace it. Be up front about asking where she may have put something. If you suspect theft, address the situation immediately. If your housekeeper works for an agency, there may be policies in place to deal with this. The same goes for broken or damaged items.
  • Praise: If you've completed a trial cleaning already and your new employee has done a great job, then say so! This is motivating and set a positive tone for future communication. Of course, if it didn't go well, now's the time to say thanks and move on.

A List of Typical Housekeeper Duties

  • Top-to-bottom scrub of kitchens and bathrooms
  • Vacuuming entire house
  • Mopping of hard floor surfaces
  • Making beds
  • Dusting surfaces such as baseboards, bookcases, blinds, fans and light fixtures


What Do I Do If I Have to Fire a Housekeeper?

If you've decided that your current cleaning situation is not working out, you may be wondering how to go about firing your housekeeper.

Most experts agree that if you need to fire your housekeeper or crew, it is best to be upfront about the reason. After all, this is a service that you are paying for, so remember, it is your prerogative to find someone else.

If it is an agency, and you have fulfilled your contract with them, explain that you are unhappy and have decided to look for another service to use.

If it is an individual, it can be a bit trickier, as many housekeepers become close to your family. In this case, to avoid hurt feelings you may want to simply say that you do not need their services anymore.

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