How much is a clean home worth?

Last month I wrote a post on do-it-yourself beauty and personal care products. That touched a nerve with a lot of people: some loved it, some hated it; it seemed like everyone had something to say.

Swabbing the floors At the time I’d planned to follow up with a post on do-it-yourself cleaning products for the home, but I’ve decided to take a step back and look at the bigger question: What is a clean house worth?

Everyone puts some resources into keeping their home clean. Whether you spend hundreds of dollars a month on professional cleaning services or struggle to pay for soap, you’re going to have to shell out cash, time, and effort to have a healthy, clean, happy place to live.

Should You Do It Yourself?

For some, having your house cleaned by a professional seems like an unthinkable luxury. To others it’s just part of the cost of running their household, like paying the electric bill.

The thing to remember when deciding whether to do your own cleaning or pay someone else to do it is that you always have to spend something on keeping your house clean: money or time. Time is a finite resource, too, just like money. If you decide to do it yourself, you’re committing to spending a chunk of time every week doing chores. If you pay someone else, you get that time back in exchange for your money.

House cleaning isn’t cheap. In the area where I live, you’ll pay a house cleaner $70-$100 for biweekly cleaning of a moderate-sized apartment. If you want a really deep cleaning or have a large house, it can cost a lot more.

That price tag is worth it to a lot of professionals. They look at the value of their own time and decide that it’s worth their while to pay someone else to wash the floors and scrub the tub. The time they don’t spend cleaning their own house they can spend working or relaxing.

In the days before I had kids, I lived in a shared apartment with four other adults. We all worked full time. With five salaries coming in and no one with a lot of time on their hands, hiring a house cleaning service was clearly the right call. We never had to fight over whose turn it was to do those cleaning chores, and we were all happy to spend money rather than time on keeping the house clean.

As a stay-at-home mom, that equation changed. Suddenly I was drowning in time and scrambling to come up with enough money to pay my bills every month. Housekeeping services were one of the first things to go.

Every household has to do their own math and figure out how much time and money they’re willing to spend on keeping the house clean.

How DIY Do You Want to Be?

Even if you hire a cleaning service to take care of the big stuff, you’ll still do a fair amount of housekeeping yourself. There will always be spills to mop up, dishes to wash, laundry to do, and garbage to haul to the curb.

When you’re going about your household cleaning, you have a lot of choices to make. What products will you buy? What tools will you use?

There are probably as many individual answers to those questions as there are houses being cleaned. Here are some popular strategies that people use to keep costs down when they’re cleaning their homes:

  • Make your own cleaning products. I know, I know, some of you are tired of the hippie stuff. But this one isn’t mine. Trent at the Simple Dollar has done all the math on how much you can save by just making your own laundry detergent, and it adds up to a decent chunk of change.
  • Do away with disposables. Try using rags instead of paper towels to clean up messes, or buying refills for your handsoaps instead of whole new containers. Every time you can eliminate waste in your cleaning process you’re cutting costs as well as helping out the environment.
  • Buy in bulk. Cleaning products last for a long time, if not indefinitely. You can buy bulk containers of things like laundry soap, handsoap, and all-purpose cleaner. Typically, the per unit cost on these is lower than if you buy just a regular size bottle at the drug store. Watch out for shopping momentum, though. Only buy bulk items you really need and will use.
  • Use coupons. A lot of people make out like bandits byclipping coupons and taking advantage of sales to stock up on their favorite cleaning products.
  • Keep it simple. There’s a dizzying array of cleaning products on the market, making competing offers and boasting features you never knew you needed. Stick to the basics.

Have a Cleaning Plan

Cleaning the house can be an intimidating prospect. Where do you begin? How do you know when you’re done? Without a plan, you can wind up spending a lot more time, frustration and money than you really need to.

Some of the best cleaning advice I ever got was this simple truth: Do one thing at a time. Don’t set aside Saturday as cleaning day and think you’re going to rock the whole place into a state of pristine order like a team of professional house cleaners might.

Qiqi Chore Chart 12-23-09 -- Dec232009_1324 Instead, pick one task or one room and get it done. Some people get a lot of mileage out of chore charts. (And, of course, there’s J.D. and his silly chore cloud.) In my house, we used to use a chart that listed out all the chores that needed doing. When someone did a chore, they’d initial the chart with the date, so everyone knew when the floors had last been swept or the windows washed.

After nine years of living together, my husband and I are past the days of chore charts. We both know pretty well what needs to be done and how often it needs to happen. We have our routines, and we’re comfortable with the cluttered-but-clean living space we share. The chart was invaluable for helping us work out those routines in the early days, though, and I’m thinking of bringing it back in a different form for my kids’ benefit.

How do you keep your house cleaning without breaking your back โ€” or the bank?

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There are 96 comments to "How much is a clean home worth?".

  1. Beth says 01 September 2011 at 04:17

    Right now, I’m a DIYer — just an apartment though. While there’s only me to do the chores, I suppose there’s only me to make the mess as well ๐Ÿ˜‰ It cuts into my leisure time, but right now saving that cash is more important to me. It’s a balance for everyone.

    There have been times when I’ve been sick or injured that I wish I could pay someone to come and do things for me, but I’ve either been able to make do or had a little help from friends/family. (That whole social capital thing again!)

  2. SF_UK says 01 September 2011 at 04:33

    I do for myself, but I actually find that doing it all at once, but regularly, works for me. I blitz the whole house with varying degrees of efficiency, and it rarely takes me more than 2 hours. Sometimes I just manage vacuuming and a quick going-over of the kitchen and bathroom, other times I really go for it and everything comes up sparkling. It seems to even out ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Courtney says 01 September 2011 at 07:10

      We just try to have people over to our place often enough so that when we do the whole-house pre-company cleaning blitz, it’s enough to keep us going until the next event. Between that we just do laundry and dishes.

      • chacha1 says 01 September 2011 at 09:44

        We do the same thing. If the place is clean enough for a dinner party every three or four weeks, it is definitely clean enough for just us the rest of the time.

        My in-between chores are kitchen, patio garden, and general tidying. DH does the laundry all the time, and dishes about 30% of the time! We invested in wood floors and a lot of closed storage, so vacuuming and dusting are quick chores.

        Our furniture was a huge investment (expense) but amortized over time, and considering the amount of time we save by not having to dust every item on every shelf in our very dusty environment, well worth it (to us).

    • KS says 02 September 2011 at 02:16

      My husband and I are pretty happy with the “clean enough” approach, but we whine about cleaning more than we actually clean. So we took to making an evening of it by dividing the chores in two, playing music, doing the cleaning in about 2 hours, and rewarding ourselves afterwards. But there are certainly times when I’ve hired someone to do it because time was worth more than money.

  3. STRONGside says 01 September 2011 at 04:37

    The thought of paying someone else to clean our home has always been a foreign concept. My parents always cleaned their own home, and my wife and I have cleaned ours for years. We still clean our today, but we have often talked about hiring someone to come in and clean for us. neither of us enjoy the task, and it is very time consuming.

    More importantly, we both work from home and are able to be much more productive with a clean home. We are not constantly picking up items around the house, and we can focus on our work, rather than being distracted by the uncleanliness of our space.

    We have not yet made the switch, but I think we are very close. Time is a finite resource, as was pointed in the article, and hiring a cleaner would give us much more of that.

    • PawnKing says 01 September 2011 at 07:11

      Two sets words in your comment highlight why we now use a cleaner: “neither of us enjoy the task” and “it is very time consuming”. It is built into our budget now so it becomes another household expense. Before we moved to our current location earlier this year, lawn maintenance was a budget category except that I do not mind taking care of the lawn. After getting substandard, erratic service for several weeks I am back to doing it myself despite it being very time consuming.

  4. Annelise says 01 September 2011 at 04:52

    All credit to you for acknowledging your readers and toning down the hippie stuff, as that frugal beauty article was GRS’s nadir in my opinion. I think your tips are pretty good, although, while we’re on the subject of make-your-own products, I would advise extreme caution. Many of the abrasive or acidic elements of these homemade concoctions can ruin certain materials, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. Compared with store-bought products, they are also just as (if not more) likely to trigger allergies. I think we need to move away from this “chemicals = bad” mumbo jumbo. I would advise buying just one bottle of all-purpose cleaner that can be used on all sorts of materials in all rooms of the house. That’s what I do, and it will save you lots of time and money.

    • Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops} says 01 September 2011 at 05:07

      I think she did a good job of acknowledging that some of us buy into that “chemicals = bad mumbo jumbo” you seem to hate so much. It might not be right for YOU to make your own cleaner or laundry soap, but its right for me. Ms. Black was pretty equitable in acknowledging that everyone has to do things based on their own needs, time, and money.

    • Beth says 01 September 2011 at 05:44

      I think you have to be smart about what you use regardless of whether it’s store bought or homemade. It just makes sense to know how to care for items and surfaces in your home.

      I think we’d also be smart to question all the marketing surrounding cleaning. I saw an museum exhibit years ago that outlined how cleaning companies have effectively used marketing to make us germaphobes. I cringe every time I see disposable towels made for the bathrooms in our homes!

    • Leah says 01 September 2011 at 07:29

      Well, everything is made out of chemicals. and some chemicals are fine/good for your body and others are bad. This is true of anything you use in your home.

      In terms of homemade stuff ruining certain surfaces, that has to go on a case by case basis. Same with home recipes. For example, I use vinegar to clean a lot of things in my home and have never had a problem, but my mom with granite countertops would never use vinegar to clean those due to acid pitting. In a separate one, some folks have the energy to scrub their tub every day, so a little vinegar takes care of it. I’ve found that some method bathroom cleaner works far better for me.

      Homemade stuff isn’t necessary evil nor amazing. Same with storebought. I urge those interested to research & experiment to see what works for them.

      Re: the “hippy” comment, I rather like hearing these tips. You’re free to disagree. But I care about both my pocketbook and the environment because I know that if we don’t take care of the environment now, we will be paying to take care of it later (and are actually currently paying to take care of things not dealt with during the early 1900s industrial boom). To each their own.

      • Julie K says 01 September 2011 at 08:39

        I used to clean most everything with vinegar and water in one spray bottle and bleach and water in the other. A damp rag for dusting and a little Ajax for scrubbing. Later, I found Simply Green which I love for any goo or grime. I don’t think they are “hippie” supplies, just inexpensive, but effective cleaning supplies.

        I have our house professionally cleaned now, but these simple supplies did a great job in my experience.

        • techsupported says 01 September 2011 at 10:19

          Vinegar spray makes a good cleaner. I always have to laugh though, at the lady at work who advocated using vinegar and water instead of cleaning products from a store, because “those commercial products contain ACID you know”.

        • babysteps says 01 September 2011 at 11:07

          A big “hurrah” to using fewer total types of cleaner, whatever your favorite cleaner(s) may be.

          I admit to using vinegar or dish handsoap on almost everything. I do have a few other cleaning products on hand (laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, baking soda, Murphy’s oil soap) but a lot fewer than I once did. Yay, more room on the shelf.

    • Annelise says 01 September 2011 at 11:59

      Beth, I do think you’re right about bacteria scaremongering. I’ve noticed some advertisements recently for automatic antibacterial gel dispensers which I think are a total waste of time. All you need is a bar of luxury hand soap to keep yourself germ free.

      I think, like personal grooming and make-up, the cleanliness of your house really says a lot about you. That’s why, I’m afraid, I couldn’t be friends with any woman who had a filthy house. I’ve known quite a lot of such women and, while I respect their right to live like that, we just weren’t compatible… dreadful! If you think about your friends, I would bet they have a very similar attitude to household cleanliness to yours.

      • imelda says 01 September 2011 at 17:42

        “If you think about your friends, I would bet they have a very similar attitude to household cleanliness to yours.”

        False.

      • Tracy says 02 September 2011 at 08:52

        “If you think about your friends, I would bet they have a very similar attitude to household cleanliness to yours.”

        Heh, not at all. The things I have in common with my friends are our senses of humor, the fact we enjoy the same activities and have amazing conversations. Some of them in spotless houses, some of them in messy ones, and some of them in ‘lets just go out, because you don’t need to see the state I’m living in right now’

        • Nancy says 03 September 2011 at 12:57

          Wow. Well, my home is pretty clean and uncluttered right now but it wasn’t a few years ago because of all the stuff I had going on in my life. I was also really never taught to clean. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned more about cleaning and organization and my home reflects that.

        • Nancy says 03 September 2011 at 13:07

          My reply was meant to Annelise not to Tracy.

  5. BIGSeth says 01 September 2011 at 04:53

    I try to have the place cleaned about twice a year just to get a fresh start. In NYC this runs me maybe $100 all in for a 2BR apartment.

  6. SB @ One Cent At A Time says 01 September 2011 at 05:00

    I clean myself every week and get cleaned once each year professionally. Apart from that my wfe is a cleanliness fanatic, she dusts and rubs everything every time between my weekly cleaning. our home is sparkling clean always because of her efforts mainly.

    • Zak says 01 September 2011 at 13:27

      Interesting routine. Personally, I clean myself once a day, wife ‘dusts and rubs’ (interesting phrase for it) a few times a week. I can’t say I’ve ever hired a professional though!

      ๐Ÿ˜›

  7. Bethann says 01 September 2011 at 05:11

    My mom has just now let someone else clean her house – but it’s me. I think she would have done this earlier if she wasn’t so uncomfortable with the thought of someone else in her house, but since it’s just her daughter, that’s okay. Her shift at work changed and she doesn’t have as much time in the evenings. I clean on Friday for her and she says it makes her soooo enjoy the weekends now and takes stress off that she really didn’t realize was there. My prices are very cheap, usually I charge an afternoon of babysitting or a nice Sunday lunch out with her and Dad!

    • Jaime B says 01 September 2011 at 17:59

      My paternal grandparents are less able to clean like they want to as they’ve gotten older, so one of my aunts goes over once a week to clean for them. Grandma said they get a clean house, see their DIL, have someone they trust in the house and are able to pay her so they feel like they help their finances too. Everyone seems quite happy with the arrangement. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Claire says 01 September 2011 at 05:55

    I have been having this conversation with myself lately. To hire someone or not?

    Both my husband and I work full time but strange rotating shifts and every month is a new routine. We have a son and another on the way and recently brought home a puppy.

    My husband has never been a tidy type. I have always been a neat freak. Living by myself I never needed a cleaning routine because I always picked up after myself. Living with my husband has been a learning experience and with all best intentions he is not the best helper. Neither is the toddler.

    Now I find that I want (and need) to spend more and more time in childrearing, puppy walking, meal preparation, etc…the house cleaning is sliding onto the backburner slowly and I feel there will be a time when I can’t catch up. So my task over the next few weeks is to see if we can eke out a few bucks each month in our budget to pay someone to clean once or twice a month.

    Thank you for your balanced article Sierra, as it made me feel that maybe I am not failing as a housekeeper by even considering this idea.

    (oh and I also welcome the low-cost DIY cleaning products that are safe for use around pets and children and help reduce allergens in the home – its not hippy clap-trap its plain common sense) ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cath says 01 September 2011 at 12:25

      I have a puppy and two young kids as well. I use vinegar and Simple Green for just about everything. You can dilute the Simple Green down quite a bit so one bottle lasts years and it is very effective.
      My daughter has very sensitive skin, so I scrub the bathtub with baking soda. It works and smells much better than Comet and I don’t have to worry about my clothes or wonder if I’ve rinsed it well enough.
      I use warm water with a splash of vinegar and a drop of dish soap to mop the floors. I read recently that the Swiffer solution can be harmful to pets who walk on the floors and then lick their paws, so I was happy to know that I was already using a non-toxic method.
      The best things about these safe solutions are that they work, they’re super cheap, they’re environmentally friendly, and the kids can help clean!

    • Ann says 01 September 2011 at 16:59

      My husband and I both work, and we have three kids. For me it’s a matter of time–I’d rather spend the time with my kids and not arguing with my husband with whose turn it is to do what. We live in a low COLA area, and the $30 we spend every other week having someone clean the house is worth EVERY PENNY.

  9. E says 01 September 2011 at 05:57

    When I was laid off I got rid of my house cleaner. I thought I would have so much time to keep things clean, but to my surprise it was just as hard as it was when I was working full-time, if not harder, because the kids and I were home all day to mess things up.

    I recently started my own business and one of my major goals is to make enough to hire my cleaning service back. Not only do I dislike cleaning, I’m not particularly good at it and I would rather be spending the time either working on my business or with my husband and kids. For anybody on the fence about hiring cleaners, as long as you can afford it I assure you it is worth EVERY penny!

    • lawyerette says 02 September 2011 at 14:42

      Agreed. I will cut cable, cell phone service, eating out, etc before I get rid of my housekeeper. I pay someone $60 every 2 weeks to clean my small (600 sq ft) apartment and it’s worth every penny.

  10. Max From Liquid says 01 September 2011 at 06:07

    Economists call this “opportunity costs.” The time you spend cleaning house would be spent doing something else, even leisure activities. You trade your time and talent for money, so you have to decide if it’s worth the time you traded in the past to earn the money to pay the housekeeper, and if not, the time you use to clean the house is worth the dollars you could earn otherwise for the time (or the fun you could have playing.) http://liquid.is/6iCxp

  11. GL says 01 September 2011 at 06:23

    “How do you keep your house cleaning without breaking your back โ€“ or the bank?”
    I don’t. ๐Ÿ™‚ Next question.

  12. Pamela says 01 September 2011 at 06:26

    Lots of good questions, Sierra. One I missed: How clean does your house have to be?

    Ruth Schwartz Cowan wrote a great book called More Work for Mother. It addressed how technological “advances” have changed standards for household cleaning and the expectations for women.

    Before vacuum cleaners, people beat their rugs once a year. Now, some people vacuum every day (or more). Is it really necessary?

    I try to focus on keeping things sanitary without being obsessive about dust rhinos (they aren’t bunnies in my house)and pet hair on the rugs. It works for me and it saves money.

    My house probably wouldn’t feel comfortable to someone who’s very neat. But it’s a good idea to question conventional wisdom sometimes and at least ask, is this task really necessary at all?

    • Beth says 01 September 2011 at 06:35

      I agree with you there. If you watch commercials, you’d think that women always had cleaning wipes handy and dusted and vacuumed every day — with disposable cleaning products, no less! And, of course, a house can’t smell like a house — it has to smell like flowers or citrus ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I once read an article on how we inhale a lot of chemicals due to air fresheners we don’t need. There’s also the danger of anti-bacterial products like hand soap — doctors say we don’t really need them, and they’re contributing to the evolution of superbugs.

      • chacha1 says 01 September 2011 at 09:54

        I read recently about a new study finding a correlation (which, caveat, does not equal causation) between regular use of artificial fragrances in the home and asthma.

        I see the ads where people walk to the scent generator and stand there and smell it, and I think “if that were real life, your lungs would be shot. Open a frigging window!”

        A little fresh air will generally make a house smell just fine.

    • MJ says 01 September 2011 at 07:50

      This is an excellent point. Not so long ago, people were living in homes ressembling cabins and furnished with bare essentials, or less. No shiny appliances, mirrors and all that stuff to maintain. On the other hand, so much time was required to bake the bread, churn the butter, milk the cow, feed the hens… I don’t know if there was ever a period where people weren’t overwhelmed by the aforementioned tedious and necessary chores and the new self-imposed slavery of having a really clean and shiny toaster/coffee maker/esspreso maker/microwave/ blender/ fridge/ stove…

  13. Wysteria says 01 September 2011 at 06:33

    I make a hobby of reading housekeeping manuals, and my favorite has this to say: when cleaning, work from the top down and from small rooms to large. Clean your least trafficked rooms first, so that you won’t get stuck in a loop of cleaning your kitchen over, and over, and over, and never getting to the upstairs or wherever.

    • cc says 01 September 2011 at 06:58

      neat order, i hadn’t thought of that! i have definitely gotten caught in the cleaning-up-the-kitchen-endlessly trap while the rest of the place falls apart.

      my mom’s neat trick was to dedicate herself to cleaning for exactly one hour- that way it never seems so bad. i usually get tired of it by 15 minutes, but i keep finding things to clean and often go over an hour. you’d be surprised how much stuff can get clean in just an hour’s concentrated work!!

      • Leah says 01 September 2011 at 07:32

        A friend of mine does 10 minutes every evening for cleaning. She’s just got an apartment. She sets a timer, throws on some music, and dances around while cleaning with her husband. After two weeks, she said everything was so nice they were fighting over who would clean the grout in the bathroom. Something about making it a daily habit both 1) made sure things got cleaned more regularly and 2) helped things stay more clean. I’ve noticed that myself too — when I take pains to keep the house picked up, it stays picked up better because I don’t want to put clutter on an empty, clean table.

  14. Adam P says 01 September 2011 at 07:19

    $60 a month. Once a month I have my maid come in and do the heavy duty mopping and scrubbing and dusting.

    In the interim, I keep things neat, tiday, wiped down and maintain vigilance with cleaners in the kitchen and bathroom.

    This works for me. I find getting a professional in once a month to hit the areas I’d otherwise miss is infinitely worth the $60. I go to male friends houses who live alone and don’t hire a cleaner and am APPALLED at the state of some of their bathrooms/kitchens. Not to be sexist, but the single guys I know are filthy.

    • chacha1 says 01 September 2011 at 10:00

      My husband roomed with three girls in college and he says they were the filthiest people he ever lived with. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I think it just depends on what people are taught. U.S. culture still does not consider homemaking/housekeeping skills as something all genders should master, and people from families with servants probably learn even less than the rest of us.

      I lived in a clean house growing up and had some basic skills, but it was not until I got engaged and read “Home Comforts” that I truly grasped that it is really difficult to have peace and comfort in a dirty, messy home.

  15. patti says 01 September 2011 at 07:27

    I have four small kids so the house is always in a state of flux. I’ve been trying to work on 1. taking jobs on in small chunks like wiping down the appliances or cleaning the bathroom sink when I have 10 minutes instead of doing one huge cleaning every week and 2. involving everyone in the house in cleaning. Even if my kids/husband don’t do things the way I (think) I do so much better it gets me moving and helps more than I realized before. It really helps if we all do a 10 minute blitz cleanup before they go to bed, I start the next day off much better.

  16. Maureen says 01 September 2011 at 07:29

    I gave Trent’s homemade detergent a fair trial. It was quite easy to make, but I was really disappointed with it’s efficacy. As time went on our clothes became increasingly dingy. After using up 2 batches we went back to using Tide. We can economize by watching for sales, coupons and using a little less than the recommended amount.

    So while it seems like a great frugal idea, it wasn’t worth it to us.

    • Wende says 01 September 2011 at 07:50

      I gave it a try too, and while I love the concept, the results weren’t worth the savings. But I think it is fun to try things like this!

    • Amy says 01 September 2011 at 11:19

      Amen! Trent harps on the homemade detergent like it’s the best stuff since sliced bread, but it sure didn’t work for me. I’ll stick to the eco-friendly brands at the store thank you!
      I’m glad I’m not the only one who found the homemade detergent lacking.

    • Penelope says 01 September 2011 at 15:05

      No matter how effective or long lasting, having a bucket of sticky goo hanging around my kitchen sounds revolting. I live in a small two storey apartment and my detergents need to live tidily under the kitchen sink. Peace of mind comes with order.

      • Sherry says 08 September 2011 at 02:46

        I don’t bother making the goo at all. I just grated up some FelsNappa laundry soap, and put 2 tbs of that, plus 1 tbs each of soda ash and Borax in the bottom of the machine, and just mix it up with some warm water for a minute or too and then add the laundry. I also always use white vinegar instead of fabric softener. I have found that my clothes come out just fine, and they are very soft from the white vinegar. I have not noticed any dinginess, but that less fading. We have a daughter that is extremely sensitive to a lot of detergents and fabric softeners, so for us it has been worth it. Though my husband doesn’t like to bother with it, so once in a while I will buy a small bottle of Arm & Hammer dye/perfume free liquid detergent here and there. But I also use the vinegar. It’s true though – making your own is not worth it to everyone. For us it isn’t so much about the money, but my daughter’s sensitivities and the fact I just like how the clothes feel. =)

    • Lurker Carl says 01 September 2011 at 20:52

      Trent’s “detergent” is just like the stuff Great Grandma used with her washboard and tub. Great Grandma scrubbed, boiled and bleached to remove most stains. Laundry blueing made whites whiter and dark fabrics hid stains that wouldn’t come out.

      Fast forward one hundred years. Modern detergents suspend dirt in the wash cycle and removes it with the rinse cycle, enzymes break down food stains and body oils, efficient machines perform the manual labor. Trent’s soap doesn’t work well with automatic washers, the soap spreads the dirt evenly throughout the clothes and the machine won’t scrub individual stains. It leaves clothes gray and dingy after several washings. Running them through the washer with a decent modern detergent will refresh them within two cycles.

      • Harriet W. says 03 September 2011 at 19:31

        Not sure if this comment is going to go in the right place, but with regards to Trent’s homemade laundry cleaner, how well it work likely depends on how hard your water is. The recipe calls for soap. Soap reacts with the minerals in hard water to form soap scum, which will leave your clothes yellowish after repeated washings.

        This is why people used to use rainwater for clothes washing, it doesn’t have the minerals that well water has.

        Detergents were invented in the 1940s as a replacement for soaps, and they are formulated to work in hard water. Nearly all commercial cleaners — including those with soap in the name, like Charlie’s Soap — are actually detergents.

    • Pearl says 12 September 2011 at 10:23

      I haven’t made Trent’s laundry soap, but I have made a homemade dishwasher powder (basically borax and baking soda) and found that the addition of two or three DROPS of dishwashing detergent (Dawn is what I used) made a huge difference to its efficacy. (You don’t want to add much or you’ll have suds all over your floors!)

      I would be inclined to try a very small quantity of that in a homemade laundry mix as well; my guess is that it would help dissolve and suspend the oils in grease stains and perspiration. In laundry mix, I’d also add a few drops of bluing to help brighten whites.

  17. KarenJ says 01 September 2011 at 07:35

    After 30 years of doing my own cleaning, I decided it was time to hire someone. I love a clean home, but hate cleaning. My husband “helped” but after both working long hours all week, it’s the last thing we want to do on the weekend. We no longer have children at home, so the house stays fairly neat. It is absolutely, hands down, the best thing I have ever done for myself. I can’t even begin to explain how wonderful it is to come home to a clean home after a long day. I would give up eating out on the weekends before I would give up my cleaning service (I pay $80 bi-weekly for a 2-bdrm townhouse in NJ). It has literally changed the quality of my life. Let’s face it, house cleaning is still considered to be “woman’s work” (just watch the commercials on tv). Do you think that women feel guilty about the expense because they still consider it their “job?”

  18. Samantha says 01 September 2011 at 07:48

    I got the laundry detergent recipe from Trent at Simple Dollar and I will never look back. I’m far from a hippie, but that was so cheap and easy, and we only have to do it a few times a year.

    • KarenJ says 01 September 2011 at 08:05

      Can you share the recipe?

  19. Quest says 01 September 2011 at 08:03

    Since I dehoarded my house, it stays one heckuva lot cleaner. It’s very easy, in fact, to keep it clean with all the extra furniture and knick knacks gone. Before, when I had so much stuff everywhere, nothing got done I’m ashamed to say. Now, it’s a case of spending a couple of hours and the entire downstairs is cleaned in no time. The following day, I tackle the upstairs. I say it’s all about getting rid of crap, keeping the stuff you need and use, and organizing your house with an eye toward the cleaning chores and how you’re going to accomplish them. I used to need a housecleaner ~ now, I don’t.

    I also just want to add that housecleaners are human too. Just because you pay someone to come into your home to mop the floors, don’t expect them to turn your sow’s ear into a silk purse. They are NOT superhuman. I have friends who hire housecleaners and to hear them complain is to not appreciate just how backbreaking and thankless housework can be when your home is a rubbish tip.

  20. C. Howell says 01 September 2011 at 08:03

    When the kids were at home we rotated the public areas of the home on a weekly basis. They were assigned their own “room/space” and 1 other are in the home for a week. It was their choice to either keep it clean all week or on Saturday Mornings no one left the house till it met Mom’s Spec’s. Taught lots of lessons to all of us. Mostly that it was easier to spend 10-15 minutes each day than 2 hours at a stretch on Saturday. They also learned how to to do almost everything. I thought that their own homes would be a mess and with 1 exception they are all pretty good at keeping things neat and tidy in their own homes. Now Mom and Dad splurg on a service that comes once a week at $85 a week. But we are both self employed and for us it is worth it to have a relatively clean home and be able to have some free time.

  21. Sean Fitzgerald says 01 September 2011 at 08:04

    I think it all comes down to opportunity costs. It all depends on the trade off between time and money. I personally like to do pretty much everything DIY because I like to learn new things. However, sometimes people just need to outsource so people can do the things they love.

  22. bptzdbyfyre says 01 September 2011 at 08:19

    I haven’t broken my budget or my back.

    I am 51 and in the last year I have started a new mini-career — working as a certified fitness instructor. I credit my 23 years of housework and yardwork as being the perfect precursor. Why? Because it was moderate, continual exercise and at 51 I have NO repetitive stress or other injuries, a healthy back and knees, no tummy pooch (and I am post-meno.) With a large family and all this housework, I have NOT BEEN SITTING DOWN for 23 years.

  23. Financial Manager says 01 September 2011 at 08:21

    Hey Sierra,

    For me, a clean house is a major motivator. When things get messy, it really brings my productivity down. Now, I can’t really justify a cleaning service for my small apartment, but I do agree that the value of a clean home is immense. I’d suggest a quick daily cleaning in order to keep costs down and keep motivation up.

  24. elisabeth says 01 September 2011 at 08:26

    I have health problems that mean I can’t do the “heavy” cleaning at our house any more, and I didn’t want my husband, who works full-time outside the home, to have to do it either. BUT I didn’t feel really comfortable asking another woman to clean for me (it just seemed weird, especially after I read Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickle and Dimed” and became concerned about how the cleaning companies abused and low-paid their workers). Fortunately for me, we live in a college town and a friend told me about a young man who had decided cleaning was a good way to work his way through college. I hired him and he’s great — and I pay him directly so I know he’s getting a good wage for the job. He’s thoughtful about the products he uses and this has been a good solution for us.

    • Adam P says 01 September 2011 at 09:16

      Nickel and Dimed focused on set ups like Molly Maids. My cleaner get spaid by me directly and gets $15/hour (some people she charges $20/hour but I’m pretty clean) and I provide all the cleaning supplies.

      That’s not quite the suitation described by Barabara in her book, where the cleaning fees had to be split between the cleaners and the company/management/marketing/supplies etc.

    • Kate says 01 September 2011 at 10:59

      When we finally did hire a cleaner, I have to admit I mentally referenced that section of Barbara Ehrenreich’s book as well. I guess it hit home for many of us?

      I think a key element of the relationship has to be respect. We ultimately settled on 40$/week for 2 hours of work. So 20$ an hour, or slightly less if you include travel time. I came home one day to pick up a package though, and she was still there- 4 hours in.

      I felt exceptionally guilty that she was apparently staying later to do our cleaning and not being compensated for it. In conversation with her though, it came out that some weeks we’re dirtier than others, so some days she runs out of things to do and leaves early, and other days there’s more and she stays late. She doesn’t feel exploited, and is in fact pleased that I treat her with enough respect to trust her, not to mention she doesn’t have someone breathing down her neck. I’m pleased that she seems to be happy and feel well compensated for the hard work she takes out of our hands.

  25. Julie K says 01 September 2011 at 08:33

    When I was a stay at home Mom, for about a year, my neighbor and I cleaned our homes together. We alternated homes every week, so it was like have a cleaning person, but we did it ourselves.

    We made cleaning fun and our kids enjoyed playing together while we cleaned. Plus with two of us we got it done in 1/2 the time.

    • Sherry says 08 September 2011 at 03:01

      Wow what a great idea!

  26. val says 01 September 2011 at 08:34

    When my kids were younger, we did designate Saturday morning for chores. They alternated getting to pick first and picked 3-4 jobs. Dusting or vacuuming one level, cleaning a bathroom etc. Depending on their age, of course, they had different levels of what was acceptable, but since we alternated, I ended up doing the jobs at least once monthly so they got done very well. This did not address general picking up, making beds, doing dishes etc. Those were all understood as part of living here and they just pitched in as required. There was very little grumbling or doing poor work, since they couldn’t do things with friends until things were done to my satisfaction and they just understood the practice. I continue in the same general vein to this day and do a big clean on Saturday, but without 3 kids running around it stays cleaner anyway, so it really doesn’t take long.
    I agree with some of the other readers that say doing a little every day is a good way to tackle it. Then nothing gets too dirty and you can just do a thorough job once a week.

  27. El Nerdo says 01 September 2011 at 09:13

    Dear Sierra,

    You write:

    Make your own cleaning products. I know, I know, some of you are tired of the hippie stuff. But this one isnโ€™t mine. Trent at the Simple Dollar has done all the math on how much you can save by just making your own laundry detergent, and it adds up to a decent chunk of change.

    No, no, this is wrong. This is not what people protested about. Please don’t try to settle old scores from past articles when readers disagree with you.

    Your old article didn’t say “wash with homemade shampoo and here’s how to make it”. It said “wash your hair once a month”, which a lot of people found.. filthy. To save on washing– by not washing.

    This article instead discusses ways of cleaning– cheaply or efficiently or paying someone else or whatever. It doesn’t mention letting chicken bits on the floor for a month without pickup. And for that, as a reader, I’m grateful.

    There is nothing wrong with self-made cleaning products. For example, I use a mix of white vinegar and distilled water to wash windows, mirrors, etc. But I don’t let the splattered toothbrush cover everything for a month– I clean the damn mirror when it’s dirty. I also turn old tattered clothes into cleaning rags instead of buying “cleaning rags” at the store.

    Nobody here I think is tired of being offered frugal options to mainstream products and processes. These can be great solutions, like that detergent mix you mention here, or yesterday’s Megabus. But cleaning cheaply or with alternative products is not the same as not cleaning.

    Please don’t conflate the issues and stop beating on a dead horse, and your articles will be much better for it. Like when you returned to discuss your broken shower after the matter was closed– the avenging articles might make you feel better but don’t really work for the public. With a readership of thousands of people there is always going to be someone who disagrees with you and it’s impossible to please everyone. Learn from the past, focus on the present, and move on. Necroing old discussions doesn’t serve your readers well.

    I’m sure you have many “hippie solutions” that would be great for a lot of problems, and we can benefit from hearing about them– it’s just that for a lot of us neglect is not one of them. I don’t know how I can make this clearer, so I’ll try to hammer this point again. Homemade detergent = frugal. Letting clothes stink = filthy. Homegrown vegetables = frugal. Not eating vegetables = unhealthy.

    Alright. I hope that clarified. And I hope you continue offering green, eco-friendly, sustainable solutions to everyday problems– it’s your area of expertise and many of us can benefit from it. Just learn to take the criticism that comes with being in the public eye, people are always going to disagree with you, no matter what you say.

    Oh, and for the record, I’ll happily eat my words when I criticized your article about Spotify. It’s really a pretty damn good service and I ended up subscribing (the commercials are dreadful, so I don’t mind paying).

    And now I post this without the benefit of an edit function. Fingers crossed…

  28. Jo@simplybeingmum says 01 September 2011 at 09:18

    Inexpensive washing up liquid and elbow grease will tackle most things including windows. Don’t clean your dishwasher with it though – I learnt that lesson the hard way. Day we moved out of out old house we had a foam party in the kitchen – great surprise for the new occupants.
    On another note antibacterial spray is one of the biggest wastes of money there is (IMO) – I’m also unconvinced that it’s safe in other ways – have you ever inhaled that stuff by accident – boy!

  29. krantcents says 01 September 2011 at 09:26

    Since my wife and I work, we have a cleaning person come in once a week. Some may consider this a luxury, but we feel it makes life easier.

    • Tyler Karaszewski says 01 September 2011 at 11:17

      “Some may consider this a luxury, but we feel it makes life easier.”

      Don’t most luxuries make life easier?

  30. Annie says 01 September 2011 at 09:50

    A clean house is worth $70 every other week to me. A very stressful job and a busy family leaves little time to get things as clean as I’d like, so I hire someone to come and do the heavy duty stuff. And it’s worth every single penny.

  31. Tyler Karaszewski says 01 September 2011 at 10:40

    “As a stay-at-home mom, that equation changed. Suddenly I was drowning in time…”

    I think you are lying to me.

  32. Elle says 01 September 2011 at 12:03

    With a newborn, we’re readjusting how we clean a bit. I focus on a room or two a day – breaking down cleaning into 20 minute jobs.

    While the baby sleeps, I try to knock a few things. The biggest change though is accepting it won’t be as clean as I’m used to. ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. KM says 01 September 2011 at 12:22

    My mom taught me to clean house, and I grew up scrubbing the bathroom twice a week etc. I also worked as a housecleaner for others as one of my jobs in high school & college. Later I always cleaned my own apartment every week. I like my home to be clean but it does take time, and sometimes I don’t have it. Currently I’m divorced and single and raising kids, while I work 40-60 hr/wk. It’s worth it to me to pay $110 every 2 weeks for 2 women with their own business to come clean my entire house. They’ve worked for me for 3 years and they’re so great!

    Hiring a housecleaning service is not entirely hassle-free. For me, they do just the heavy cleaning (bathrooms, kitchen, floors, dusting). I still have to spend at least 30 min each day picking up after my kids, doing laundry, grocery shopping, making beds and also I do all the yardwork. If I didn’t have housecleaners, I’d never get a chance to do anything fun with my kids on the weekends.

    I had to go through many different services/cleaners to find housecleaners that I liked and felt did the job that I wanted. Many were careless (breaking stuff) and many also failed to clean what they said in the contract that they would (not putting in the full 2 hrs, or not cleaning all bathrooms each time, for example), or using products that destroyed finishes. Some housecleaners expected to be able to smoke or take a nap while they were at my house, or to use my phone, cook in my kitchen, or watch TV at my house–which was not OK with me. Some also would suddenly come and try to clean at weird times (dinner hour?!) instead of the times they had contracted to come. You just have to keep looking for a service that fits with what you want.

    I found the best cleaners through word-of-mouth. The worst (and most expensive), by far, was Merry Maids–ugh.

    • Taime says 01 September 2011 at 21:15

      I whole heartedly agree!
      I am lucky to live in a country where a maid is cheap by comparison. I pay about US$150 for 4 hours per visit 4 x a month. For me doing the math makes sense. I can earn far more money by freeing up my time not cleaning. Yes that is about US$9 per hour and I make much more than that.
      My husband and I do spend about 30 mins a day keeping the house in order and leave the heavy stuff to the maid.
      As for making our own cleaning supplies, we don’t but we use baking powder and vinegar in place of chemicals as I am allergic to most products.

    • CincyCat says 02 September 2011 at 07:02

      I agree 100% – but I found a service that will change sheets also… ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Kris L. says 01 September 2011 at 13:36

    The chore cloud just shed some light on my marriage. My husband makes far more sense to me now.

  35. bobj says 01 September 2011 at 14:42

    i find it hard to believe that abled-bodied people can’t make time to clean their own houses or wash their own cars. … they really are going to get rich slowly!

    • E says 01 September 2011 at 15:18

      I am guessing that you don’t have kids, or if you do your spouse does all the cleaning.

      • bobj says 02 September 2011 at 14:49

        no kids…
        my wife works… i work.. and we both clean..

        never was too busy to clean since we got married in 80

        • Sherry says 08 September 2011 at 02:56

          Everyone’s life is different. My husband and I work full time, both demanding jobs. We also have 5 kids (only 4 with us now), 2 cats, 2 dogs, 2 ferrets, and a couple of relatives that are local that often need some assistance with babysitting or rides so they can get their stuff done. We do not have a housekeeper, but I have lobbied for YEARS to have some assistance. My husband finally agreed several months ago. I haven’t brought anyone in yet.
          My kids are responsible for helping out around the house, but two of them have pretty rigorous academics, as well as one has a lot of extra curricular activities that directly related to what she wants to do for a career. Another one is a special needs kiddo, that really requires a lot of extra time so she can not only do what she needs to for school, but also additional working on life skills, etc.
          I see no issue with paying someone a fair wage we can afford to have them come to our home 1 to 2 times per month so that we have more time not only to focus on the family, but to also have a clean home. It isn’t a moral issue, it just is what works for other people.
          We have chosen our life, and it is a bit more complicated than some other families (though not every complication was a choice or our fault lol). And that’s fine. But you know, I think it is great that you and your spouse can take care of all your cleaning needs. But try to keep in mind everyone’s responsibilities and choices are different. That’s all. Oh, and because I have all these dang kids and pets, I am already getting rich very slowly. And by the way, we chose not to pay for things like TV service and a few other things that other families, do so it is something we can afford. If someone is willing to give up a little cash to have time, or forgo something like maybe a dinner or two out for cleaning service, what’s the big deal? =)

  36. Moneyperk says 01 September 2011 at 14:47

    I realize why people pay for services to clean their home, time is a valuable thing especially when it comes to money. But personally, I figure that I have to clean the kitchen and do the dishes every day anyways, so I might as well clean one room at a time. I do pay for yard work services on occasions. There is just something I don’t like about pulling weeds!

  37. Avistew says 01 September 2011 at 15:40

    I live in 9 square meters right now, so there isn’t much to clean. But my main problem in the past has been knowing what to do and when to do it.
    Otherwise, I’m the homemade kind of person. I would make my own laundry detergent (now it’s a bit different. I can’t afford the laundromat so I handwash everything, and I use laundry soap for it), my own cleaning products, my own rags rather than buying some, etc.
    On the other hand, with a lot of money and not a lot of time, I’d be fine with hiring someone. It used to be that I didn’t feel it would be right, but now I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

  38. Sara says 01 September 2011 at 17:47

    I thought this article was going to be about if a clean house actually has a monetary value … like not losing so many things, feeling better about yourself so you see yourself as worth more, etc. I thought maybe there was a study that showed that people with cleaner homes earn more or have a more balanced budget or something. There is a thought that I suspect may very well be quite true.

    • Jo@simplybeingmum says 02 September 2011 at 08:52

      Sara – I too thought the title meant something else aka if your house is clean it’s resale value is higher when put on the market. That I believe is the case…

  39. Benneth says 02 September 2011 at 06:11

    We look at cleaning in terms of the dollars traded and how much or little we enjoy cleaning, i.e. If I make more per hour than I would pay for cleaning per hour, and I don’t like to clean, then it makes sense to pay a cleaner. But, if I make less per hour then then I would pay a cleaner, then it probably is going to make sense to do the cleaning ourselves.

    However, occasionally time becomes so scarce that it is the overriding factor in the choice. I’ve been working lots of hours lately transitioning from an old job to a new one, and the new job takes up lots of energy for now. Being extra busy, it’s been helpful to utilize a cleaning service 1-2x per month, even though I’m still making about $5 per hour less in take home pay than I would pay a cleaner per hour in our area. Mentally it’s been a great relief, but once the transition is complete and I’ve settled into my new job and I’m not juggling as much we’ll go back to cleaning ourselves.

  40. CincyCat says 02 September 2011 at 06:35

    I like two things that you wrote in the beginning of your post:

    “If you decide to do it yourself, youโ€™re committing to spending a chunk of time every week doing chores. If you pay someone else, you get that time back in exchange for your money.”

    and

    “That price tag is worth it to a lot of professionals. … The time they donโ€™t spend cleaning their own house they can spend working or relaxing.”

    In my case, the time I don’t spend cleaning in the evenings & weekends is spent hanging out with my husband & kids, volunteering at the kids’ school, furthering my education and visiting with family.

    Well worth the $120 a month!

  41. CincyCat says 02 September 2011 at 06:55

    One trick our family does to contain the day-to-day dirt & clutter is what I like to call the “container method”. I save a ton of time & energy NOT going around & picking up/sweeping up all the time.

    I also believe strongly in the “many hands make light work” philosophy. Everyone helps contribute to the mess, and everyone can help clean it up.

    There are several ways we put this to work in my house…

    1. All toys have containers. Any kind of container will do for us… From those expensive (yet colorful) cloth boxes, to plastic 89-cent shoeboxes with lids. And, whenever Christmas comes around, every toy that gets purchased also gets a container to put it in. A child as young as 18 months can be taught to put their own toys away in a container when finished playing with them.

    2. All video equipment, remote controls, etc. have a container. The container belongs on top of the entertainment center, or on the DVD rack. When you are finished watching TV or playing a game, the remote goes back in the container.

    3. All computer/desk equipment, supplies have containers. My husband and I both stink at timely filing of paperwork/receipts, so we chuck everything into a container. When it gets full, we file everything at once.

    4. School papers, crafts, etc. have a container. At the start of the school year, we get those cardboard banker’s boxes, and a set of hanging folders. One folder for each month. When the kids come home with their creations, we ooh & aah over them, hang them up somewhere, then at the end of the month, they get stashed away in the banker’s box.

    5. Tracked in dirt has a container. ๐Ÿ™‚ The rule in our house is “shoes off as soon as you come in the door”. I keep an old towel by the back door so if we come in from playing or yard work, the muddy boots/crocs go there immediately. Dirt never enters the kitchen floor at all.

    Same deal by the front door. I recently “invested” in one of those bench things with cloth containers for shoes. It looks GREAT, and fits perfectly on the wall behind the front door.

    6. Dirty dishes have a container: The sink or the dishwasher. NO dirty dishes are left on the table/stove after a meal. (Leftovers are immediately put in the freezer.) Again, as soon as kids are tall enough to reach the sink, they can start helping to clear their own plates/cups after a meal. Just get some unbreakable dishes for them, and voila!

    I hope these tips help someone!!! They have certainly helped our busy household.

    • Jo@simplybeingmum says 02 September 2011 at 08:55

      This helped me A LOT! I’d love to see this in action – it’s got me thinking… there are certain things that are contained but certain things aren’t currently. I need to have a look at shoes and also a bit more with toys. I did the container thing with bathroom stuff a year or so ago and it does work, no need to place neatly – just chuck all in! Great idea about every gift has a container, I’m going to start recycling plastic boxes for this use and the kids can colour them in. Thanks again

  42. Paul says 02 September 2011 at 09:28

    To me, a clean house is worth every penny it costs to employ a cleaner. I live in a large house with my partner, 3 large dogs and a number of cats. I used to work away from home, staying near the office 3 or 4 nights a week, and coming home to do the cleaning, washing etc at weekends was soul-destroying. My partner works from home and is self-employed, and also seems not to have inherited the cleaning gene, so I ended up often feeling like the cleaner coming in at the weekend. For the last year and a half I’ve been home working as well, and it was a bit easier to spread things out. The final straw was when my partner went into hospital with heart problems just as work hit a crazy period, and I just threw a wobbler and said ‘that is it we are getting a cleaner’. I just couldn’t keep on top of it without help, and hold down my job, and wrangle the pets, and also (while partner was in hospital) wrangle bits of that job which were urgent.

    Fast forward a few months. We have a great cleaner who comes in for 2 hours at a time, twice a week. She is slowly deep-cleaning the whole building in stages, and keeping on top of the bits which have already been thoroughly cleaned. She is also helping me with starting to declutter the place a bit. I no longer feel like the cleaner who comes in at the weekend, and the place is finally feeling the benefit in other ways as long-delayed DIY tasks etc are getting done whereas before I would always run out of weekend before I ran out of jobs to do. I feel so much more relaxed that I’ve come to the conclusion we should have done this years ago. Total cost? 8 GBP an hour, which works out to around ร‚ยฃ30 a week. Compared with all the other expenses of running the household it’s a drop in the ocean, and completely worth it just for the extra sanity!

  43. Bella says 02 September 2011 at 10:54

    I love my cleaning people. Really Really love them. For years I resisted – whose too busy to clean their own home? – what sort of decedant lifestyles those people must lead. now I know – the decedant lifestyles of the clean and orderly – who have time for family, fun, projects and trips on the weekends – instead of cleaning. To be hoenst – despite knowing htat what I’m paying the cleaners in time – I more than make back with my hourly equivelant (I’m salaried), I still only get so many hours in a month. However, I find that now that I don’t need to spend the time cleaning I can spend that time on other items that so save me money – like making handmade xmas presents for everyone, or just making dinner instead of eating out.

  44. MutantSuperModel says 02 September 2011 at 15:15

    When my income stabilizes and I have a good system in place, you can bet I am hiring a cleaning service. I cannot WAIT for that day. I will sing from the hills and dance in the streets (and probably end up dead apparently). It will be glorious. I can’t freaking WAIT.

  45. 20 and Engaged says 02 September 2011 at 15:18

    A clean house is worth so much to me. We use multipurpose cleaners, like Simply Green, to take care of a lot of cleaning. We also get cleaning materials from Dollar Tree when we can. I try to do some really good cleaning at least 3 times a week. Cleaning up behind a man and a dog can get exhausting.

  46. Crystal+@+BFS says 02 September 2011 at 22:50

    We have an awesome housekeeper, Jacqui, that comes every two weeks for $60. The rest of our cleaning is simply keeping up with the dishes and keeping a solid supply of Chlorox, vinegar, baking soda, and wood laminate cleaner in stock. ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. Elise says 03 September 2011 at 05:53

    I find it amazing how clean I can keep my house by using five minutes here and 10 minutes there. If I have a meeting and I’m ready to go five minutes early, I sweep the kitchen floor. After I brush my teeth in the morning, I clean the sink and counter. I keep cleaning supplies in the bathroom and kitchen, so it’s easy to take five minutes to clean something.

  48. Nicole says 04 September 2011 at 05:54

    Nothing wrong with living in squalor so long as nothing is growing that shouldn’t be and there’s no sharp objects to impale oneself on.

  49. Maria says 07 September 2011 at 15:20

    I hate cleaning. We currently rent a house, and the place is constantly a mess. Boyfriend wants to buy a big house but Ive told him no friggin way – the mortgage has to be small enough to afford someone to come and regularly clean the darn thing. It will take me the next 3-4 years to save the downpayment, and I think by then I will have damn well earned the luxury of someone cleaning my home. Til then, its vinegar and the dollar store.

  50. Isabella says 12 September 2011 at 21:34

    Single mom with one child and running a business. I clean my own home (1300 sq ft apartment) and this are my tips:-

    1. Declutter and clear out all unnecessary items. It is easier to clean an uncluttered home. I have only two pairs of work shoes, one pair of party shoes and a pair of sandals. My daughter has the same. Whenever we buy a new pair an old pair gets disposed off or donated. Only one closet each for clothes and shopping only happens once a year to replace unwearable clothing or shoes.

    2. Clean as you cook. I have always advocated cleaning the kitchen as I cook.So when a pot of stew is on the stove, I clean all the counter tops, wipe down appliances and wash all utensils used in preparatory work at the same time. By the time the food is ready, all appliances and utensils have been stored save the serving dishes. All cups and plates must be washed immediately after use. Each person must wash their own dishes (except for guests) and the last person to wash must wipe down the sink and the other to take out the trash. BTW we handwash and do not use a dishwasher. I would also take 5 minutes to mop the kitchen floor after cooking.

    3. Laundry. We do two loads a week, once for delicates (wool and silks) and the other for regular clothing. Outer wear is only washed after being used at least twice unless very soiled. Underwear is washed by hand before shower every day. We also air dry our clothes.

    4. Before shower, take 5 minutes to wash underwear and 5 minutes to clean the toilet with a quick brush and wipe down with cleaning solution. My toilets are always sparkling clean since I shower twice a day.

    5. Vacuum and mop the entire apartment twice a week (takes only 20 minutes each time) but run a cloth sweeper for 5 minutes every morning before leaving the house in the morning. Also have a small handheld vacuum that I use frequently to remove and hair or dry spillage. Floors remain spotless and guest ready always.

    6. Return all items to its place after use. I have taught my daughter that each item has a home and that she has to return it to its home after use. She has also been taught to only take out one toy at a time and that she can only take out another toy once the previous toy is returned to its home. I also limit the amount of toys she has (one toy box)and encourage friends and family to donate to her education fund instead of giving her toys. She now has a sizeable college fund because of this.

    7. Throw all junk mail before entering the home. When I collect my mail I always throw all junk mail into the bin next to the mail room and immediately put my important mail into a container prepared for this. Filing is done every two months.

    8. Every two months we go through all the cupboards, closets and rooms and dispose, donate, recycle or give away any items not used and at the same time rearrange these storage spaces. These sessions usually only take an hour since there isn’t that much unusable stuff. Approximately one garbage bag full every two months.

    With the exception of cooking my 9 year old daughter can do all the chores mentioned above as well as I can so cleaning is a breeze.

  51. jack foley says 07 January 2012 at 14:48

    yea its all about productivity..

    if t costs more to do it yourself, hire a person..

    work out what you are earning per hour and do the math…

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