Is Hiring A Cleaner For Your Home Worth the Money?

I've always spurned the idea of using a cleaner for my home. I finally relented and decided to give Helpling, an online cleaner booking service, a go. Here's my verdict.

As a youngster living at home, my father disapproved of my lack of cleanliness and tidiness. He would come to my room, grimace and threaten to call in the cleaners if I don’t sort out my room. The idea of using cleaners has always made me uncomfortable. The thought of someone poking around my private domain and laying their hands on my trove of wonders (or junk, according to my old man) sent chills down my spine, so I would grudgingly clean up my mess.

Now as a fully grown adult living by myself, I still struggle to be a clean person. When my dad came over recently, curled his lips and declared that my apartment isn’t fit for living, I decided to get over my phobia of cleaners and hire some help.

Lifehacker had been approached by Helpling, an online cleaners booking service, to give it a test drive so I thought 'why not?'

I booked a cleaner through the Helpling app. It was simple enough. You key in your postcode to find a cleaner in the area followed by how long you require their service for. The app can calculate the timeframe for you when you input more details on the number of rooms and bathrooms at your home as well as any additional services, such as oven cleaning, you require.

After I placed my order, I received an email saying a cleaner had been found for me at my requested time. Sure enough, a cleaner showed up punctually at my doorstep.

His name is Michael and he was well-dressed for a man who was going to get down and dirty in my one bedroom apartment, in the most literal sense. He greeted me warmly, carried his cleaning supplies through the door and assessed the condition of my home. The tile floors were dirty, the stove top was rusted and the carpet hadn't been vacuumed for… well, I don't remember the last time I vacuumed.

Michael was unfazed.

"It's not the worst place I've been too," he said. I felt slightly vindicated and was ready to discard my title of 'Spandas the Indolent'. That was until he walked into my bathroom.

"Well. That's going to take a lot of work," he said quietly. The state of the bathroom can only be illustrated with actual pictures:

The Toilet

The Shower

In my defence, the toilet doesn't work properly and the stains pre-dates my residence at the apartment, but the shower was totally my fault since I neglected to clean it at all.

Without prompting, Michael slipped on his black rubber gloves and got to work. We chatted as he started off with scrubbing my toxic shower. I found out he is the preferred cleaner of Helpling country manager Lutz Ackermann and is a fashion designer by trade. He was between gigs right now and said Helpling was a good way make some money in the meantime.

I asked him whether Helpling provided any formal training that would assist him with his cleaning work and he said no, but he did have experience working at retail outlets where he gathered some experience cleaning shops.

Does Helpling provide the cleaning supplies? No. Michael said he had to buy it all himself, including a nice vacuum cleaner even though there was no minimum requirements from Helpling as to what equipment and supplies he used.

Did he have to go into Helpling offices for an interview? He said no and that he rarely had to check into the office in person. The arrangement between Helpling and its cleaners is essentially contract work. Those who want to be cleaners register online which requires an ABN and public liability insurance. I noticed on the website that it did say Helpling runs police checks, ABN verifications and do personal interviews (possibly online) with potential cleaners so it would seem they do their due diligence in that sense.

But there's still the issue of skill. While cleaning isn't exactly rocket science, it does required a level of finesse at the professional level. Helpling doesn't guarantee that you'll get the top notch cleaner typically expected from a professional cleaning service, but if you're looking for someone to scrub up a few areas in your house then that won't be much of a problem.

Michael ended up doing a great job on my bathroom. Here's his handiwork:

The Toilet

The Shower

The rest of the cleaning was a cinch for him. It was just about doing some vacuuming, mopping the floors and wiping up all the dust.

He finished on time as well. The whole apartment clean up took around 2.5 hours, which would normally set you back around $67.50. It was worth it, considering I would never willingly spend an hour of my life scrubbing away at every stain in my bathroom.

While it's unlikely I'll be employing the help of a cleaner on a regular basis, I'm now not against the idea of having a stranger enter my home and touch my things for the sake of cleaning up. I can definitely see if as a helpful service for people who are too busy to maintain their homes. Helpling cleaners charge roughly $27 per hour, which is quite affordable.

Having a cleaner come to your home is definitely a luxury and not a necessity, but if you can spare a small amount of money to shirk some unpleasant household chores, wouldn't you?

Do you have any experience with hiring a cleaner for your home? Let us know in the comments.


Comments

    I started using a cleaner earlier this year because I was sharing with two other people and we couldn't get the roster right (one was a student and didn't quite realise that other people needed a bit more flexibility). I've subsequently moved on and am living on my own but have kept these guys up. They come every second week and it costs me $80 for them to completely clean my 2 bed apartment. I've worked out that this costs me $2000 a year (roughly), and while I could be saving that money, I think my time is worth a whole lot more (and in fact if I look at it in work terms my hourly rate is higher anyway, but that's moot).

    Overall I think it's well worth the money. I have the free time and I know that my apartment is always clean, without having to worry about fitting in the cleaning time. Also, while I'm confident that I clean to a pretty good standard, after these guys have been through the place is immaculate. They clean to the level that I might do once a year. Well worth the money for what most people spend on lunch (or even coffee) every week.

    Last edited 06/11/15 11:48 am

      over 160 bucks a month? either you make a hell of a mess and don't ever bother cleaning up after yourself, or their hourly rate is more than the majority of the population make!

        If you oversimplify it like that then yes their hourly rate is more than the majority of the population make ($40/hour - they come every two weeks, two of them, and clean for an hour). But that's not what they end up earning after you factor in the costs/overheads of running their business, costs of supplies/cleaning materials, etc. And it's still less than my hourly rate if you want to compare it that way.

    As time poor parents to a little one and both working I will say our cleaner is a god send. Our cleaner only does a general clean, bathroom, kitchen, vacuum etc. We even do a general cleanup out of respect before she arrives. But the fact we can come home to a clean(er) house once a week pays for itself when you get to spend more time together as a family.

      Time and stress saved is much more valuable than the money in my opinion. And having to tidy up for the cleaner is usually a good incentive as well!

    Much of this depends on
    1. whether you have enough disposable income for this to be an option
    2. how much you like or dislike cleaning

    If 1. rules it out then there's no choice but to roll up your sleeves and get on with it.

    For those with the means to pay, it'll depend on how naturally inclined you are to do the cleaning. Or how time rich/poor you are.

    We hire a contract cleaner mainly since the missis and I work full-time jobs with overtime commitments too. And while we're both intrinsically tidy people, we're also quite lazy and dislike housework.

    So having to clean the house during precious time off became a chore we both loathed, a source of frustration and eventually fights. So, for the sake of our marriage, we hired a cleaner.

    I have never regretted outsourcing the household chores. We have a cleaner weekly, Jim's mowing does the lawns and gardens as needed, and a pool guy comes monthly.

    All jobs I previously did myself, and with a 2 year old a 6 month old child - I've still got enough jobs to do to not feel guilty letting someone else do that.

    If we could afford to have a nanny from 8am to 8pm daily, I wouldn't give it a second thought.

    Life's too short - if you enjoy your day job more than you enjoy cleaning/gardening then work an extra couple of hours and outsource the chores.

    The only variables are your hourly wage and the cleaner's hourly wage. If you earn more than the cleaner, it's worth it. If the sum total of you and your roomies' hourly wage exceeds the cleaner. If you bring in less per hour the cleaner then it's cheaper and more responsible to clean it yourself.

    Also author, your bathroom is disgusting.

      Yes, I already know that :( But the toilet is faulty and doesn't flush properly!

      I am moving out this week to a place with a functional toilet :)

      The only variables are your hourly wage and the cleaner's hourly wage. If you earn more than the cleaner, it's worth it.

      This argument always annoys me because it's usually incorrect. It only applies if you have the opportunity to incrementally earn money above your wage AND choose to spend that incremental money on the cleaner.

      If you're a wage earner, you don't incrementally earn more money, so it's 100% an expense.

        It only applies if you have the opportunity to incrementally earn money above your wage.

        This. very much this.

        Also, since cleaning is non-tax deductible you need to gross up the wage gap.

        ie. if your incremental income is in the $37k - $80k bracket, you pay 34.5c tax, so you need to earn $41.50/hr pre-tax to pay someone $27 per hour.

        (FYI, if you're earning $42 per hour full time, you're in the 37+2% tax bracket (or worse) - so that increases to >$44 per hour)

        So a better way of phrasing the question is: Would you pay $44 (pre-tax) to be drinking with mates or spending time with the family in preference to cleaning the bathroom.

        Last edited 06/11/15 5:51 pm

          Is it really that much of a stretch that a house with more than one person in it would be able to gross $44 an hour? That's just above minimum wage.

        Eh? It's incorrect that some people earn enough to hire a cleaner and some don't? And if you earn a wage you can't profit? Really? You have to spend all of your money on things that add no value to your life and you can't save?

        I don't know man. All I know is in my house of two people, our cleaner costs us $40 and between us that's less than an hour's wage (after tax of course) and in my view having the extra two hours on a Saturday and not having to stress about a rota is more than profitable.

    My dad always had a cleaner which was great as his house was a reasonable size. My little 2 bedroom unit is quick to clean so I don't mind doing it. Is a good excuse to leave work on time "today is my cleaning day".

    I've heard that denture cleaning tablets can do wonders with badly stained toilet bowls. Drop one or two tablets into the bowl and leave overnight. A bit of bleach mixed with water in a spray bottle will also clean up most of that mold in the shower, although it really only hides it for a while, doesn't really kill it.

    Last edited 06/11/15 2:03 pm

    Your toilet bowl looks like it has calcium deposits from hard water. The denture tablets will work wonders, so will vinegar 3-4 cups leave it o/night or longer if you can (like when you go away for a weekend it won't hurt it). I suspect CLR will do the trick as well. Clove oil apparently kills mold rather than bleaching it, but I can't verify that personally.

    I had a cleaner when I was living with three boys, and it was fantastic to come home to a clean house once a fortnight. We paid $25 each so a total of $100 for a three bedroom terrace house. The only problem was it would be a mess again really quickly, and they wouldn't clean because "the cleaner will be here again soon".

    I now live alone and I am a pretty tidy person, but I can definitely see the value in having a cleaner out to do the bigger ticket items like scrubbing the toilet or cleaning inside the oven!

    Did to get a list of products in Michael's cleaning kit?

    I support the idea of hiring a cleaner. If I had the money, I would hire one to clean every week. And it's not just that I hate cleaning, but I think in an hour they can do what I do for 3 hrs, and on top of that - they clean so much better!

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