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Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Cleaning Service

Written by Nicky Tomboulides .

Honda is still working on perfecting ASIMO the robot. As they like to say, one day he could actually help with household chores! While we wait for ASIMO and perfection, let us make the best of what is available today. I’m going to teach you how to maximize your investment in a cleaning professional.

Where do I find a cleaning service or housecleaner for my house?

Talk to your neighbors and friends. Check your local paper, the Yellow Pages or search online. If you have a limited budget, consider posting a flyer or an ad in the school paper at your local university. As a college student, I started cleaning homes for extra pocket money. I offered reasonable rates and gained a loyal following. Don’t underestimate the power of a referral. To this day, I rely on referrals and I often tap into my network of friends.

Who should I trust with cleaning?

You are looking for an individual or service with excellent references. If you are looking to hire a particular cleaning service, you need them to have three residential referrals. You also need to check the Better Business Bureau to make sure there are no complaints filed against them. You’ll need copies of current bond and liability insurance, along with the company’s policy.

If you are looking to hire an individual to clean your home, add a minimum of three character references. Do not schedule an interview unless you have finished checking all references. Please note that Aunt Ethel’s good word doesn’t count. The house cleaner needs to live close by and have their own means of transportation. Some homeowners like to get a police record. You can ask for one; it can be obtained for a few extra dollars at a police station.     

You need to screen the person on the phone, email is not sufficient. Your assessment starts from your very first contact. Does the person speak clearly? Can you understand him/her? Is the conversation flowing? While on the phone, ask and write down their referrals and let them know you will be calling them, and do so soon after. Qualify the individual by asking key questions such as how long they have been housecleaning.

At some point in our lives we all have been interviewed.  This is a business interview that happens to be taking place in your home. If you have young children, make sure the babysitter is watching them. A screaming, hungry child that needs your attention, receiving phone calls or house guests while interviewing is disruptive. Remember that you are also being interviewed and observed.

What do I need to ask my cleaning service?

Write down your questions and expect the potential housecleaner or service manager to keep notes. If not, ask that he/she does (it is a good idea to have an extra pad handy). Your questions should be slightly different for the housecleaning service even though most will overlap.


  • How many years have you been in business?
  • How many employees do you have, and how long have they been with your company?
  • Will the same team come on every visit?
  • How do you handle requests, problems, and cancellations?
  • Who will be assigned as the team leader for my home (be sure to ask for their cell number)?
  • What’s your company’s breakage policy?
  • What will the housecleaner(s) clean on a routine visit? What will they NOT clean on a routine visit?
  • What is the MSDS of every product they will be using?
  • Also, ask to observe the tools they will be using for cleanliness.

After all the generic questions have been answered you need to customise the interview and address your pet peeves, house rules, security alarm, house keys (do say NO to keys under the mat), and information regarding your pets. Close or open the interview with the house tour.

When it comes to hiring a cleaning person you need to add character references (no exceptions) as they matter more than experience or know-how. And, you need to have ease communicating and an excellent rapport with your potential housecleaner (no exceptions here either).  If you don’t, keep looking. The goal here is for your house cleaner to become a valuable member of your home’s maintenance team. You are investing time and money on this person. This is a business relationship. Personal or private matters are and should be off the table.

Also, you need to talk about cleaners and tools. The common practice is for you to provide all the cleaning tools when you are hiring a cleaning person versus a service.  Be prepared to give your new house cleaner a quick and thorough tutorial on how to safely use your vacuum, your mop and cleaners. Never assume Mary knows how to operate your super duper vacuum. I am here to tell you she doesn’t!

Scheduling your first cleaning

When you schedule your first cleaning it is important YOU be at home that day. Not only to evaluate the work, answer potential questions and observe but also to make sure all goes smoothly from the house alarm to the electric circuits.  Do make provisions for Max the bulldog, your three-year-old twins and any service people.  

The Ground Rules

You need a Clean Etiquette for you and your house cleaner. Often when I teach and when homeowners send their housecleaner to class, they secretly place a call asking me to mention things like, “it’s not acceptable for Mary to be eating from the refrigerator, use my computer, watch TV, or a very common complaint yapping on the cell for the duration of the cleaning!” I ask them, “Didn’t you establish any ground rules?” The answer is always a puzzled “NO.” Like in any other work relationship, it is important to establish a few important rules for this relationship to bloom!    

Next we will go over 8 House Rules on Clean Etiquette for the housecleaner AND the homeowner.

Keep it Clean! :)

Learn more about house cleaning.  See all our cleaning articles here

Nicky Tomboulides
Nicky Tomboulides

Nicky P.E. Tomboulides, MBA has run and managed Penguin's Best Housekeeping Service, LLCsince 1994. Nicky's entrepreneurial experience and spirit is behind the birth of her business. Penguin's Best, an upscale residential cleaning service, has evolved from teaching and training its own crew to running outside classes and workshops for various organ.. Read more

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Comments (14)

  • Guest (Amy)


    Hi Nicky!
    I agree that lot of inquire should be done before hiring any cleaning services. But I want to tell you that by I had a good experience with one of maid services Vancouver and I was not curious or not give much priority about asking any questions as that was my first experience. But that was my luck and I think these question are must for avoiding scam.

  • Guest (Nicky Toboulides)


    Dear Amy,
    So happy you had such a good experience with Maid Services Vancouver! All housekeeping services need
    to be exceptional in hiring their staff and service. Yes you were lucky, and it's a good idea to follow a few
    basic steps to be on the safe side. Prevention is always better than cure!
    Happy Cleaning! :)

  • Guest (Plamen Petkov)


    Nice blog follow a this steps.

  • Guest (Nicky)


    Thank you for your comment and for visiting Project Life and my blog!

    Happy Cleaning!:D


  • Guest (Stephanie Rodgers)


    The list of questions to ask the residential cleaning service was very informative. I've never asked our cleaning service what their policy is on breaking items. We've used the same service for 2 years and haven't ever had an issue, but it would be good to know just in case something does happen in the future. Residential Cleaning

  • Guest (Daniel)


    Hi Nicky
    What you have explained in this article is was superb one Looking for More article about the cleaning services - BKL Cleaning Services

  • Guest (Natasha)


    The peoples who are having grand house they need to hire the cleaning services of their house. These tips are quite helpful for them to choose write me essay for me the right service providers who can clean their house like new.

  • Guest (Catherine Lupagi)


    Great, hiring and having a cleaning service or is not a bad thing at all when you know what kind of person they are.

    from Philippines
  • Guest (Erin H Dawes)


    Cleaning and best custom essay paper services is most vital to save your house from dust and big damage, the number of peoples hire someone of cleaning service and they don’t provide quality services. That blog post is quite helpful for those peoples what wanted to hire someone for cleaning.

  • Guest (aacjanitorialservice)


    Great topics about the cleaning services. Are you need office cleaning janitorial service florida ? if need so you can let us know. Many many thanks for your great sharing. Carry on.

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