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 floorsAt 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_1324Instead, 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 — or the bank?

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Beth
Beth
9 years ago

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 😉 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!)

SF_UK
SF_UK
9 years ago

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 🙂

Courtney
Courtney
9 years ago
Reply to  SF_UK

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
chacha1
9 years ago
Reply to  Courtney

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… Read more »

KS
KS
9 years ago
Reply to  SF_UK

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.

STRONGside
STRONGside
9 years ago

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… Read more »

PawnKing
PawnKing
9 years ago
Reply to  STRONGside

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.

Annelise
Annelise
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}
Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}
9 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

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
Beth
9 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

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
Leah
9 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

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… Read more »

Julie K
Julie K
9 years ago
Reply to  Leah

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
techsupported
9 years ago
Reply to  Julie K

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
babysteps
9 years ago
Reply to  Julie K

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
Annelise
9 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

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!… Read more »

imelda
imelda
9 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

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

False.

Tracy
Tracy
9 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

“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
Nancy
9 years ago
Reply to  Tracy

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
Nancy
9 years ago
Reply to  Tracy

My reply was meant to Annelise not to Tracy.

BIGSeth
BIGSeth
9 years ago

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.

SB @ One Cent At A Time
SB @ One Cent At A Time
9 years ago

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
Zak
9 years ago

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!

😛

Bethann
Bethann
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Jaime B
Jaime B
9 years ago
Reply to  Bethann

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. 🙂

Claire
Claire
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Cath
Cath
9 years ago
Reply to  Claire

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… Read more »

Ann
Ann
9 years ago
Reply to  Claire

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.

E
E
9 years ago

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… Read more »

lawyerette
lawyerette
9 years ago
Reply to  E

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.

Max From Liquid
Max From Liquid
9 years ago

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

GL
GL
9 years ago

“How do you keep your house cleaning without breaking your back – or the bank?”
I don’t. 🙂 Next question.

Pamela
Pamela
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Beth
Beth
9 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

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 😉

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
chacha1
9 years ago
Reply to  Beth

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
MJ
9 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

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…

Wysteria
Wysteria
9 years ago

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
cc
9 years ago
Reply to  Wysteria

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
Leah
9 years ago
Reply to  cc

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… Read more »

Adam P
Adam P
9 years ago

$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… Read more »

chacha1
chacha1
9 years ago
Reply to  Adam P

My husband roomed with three girls in college and he says they were the filthiest people he ever lived with. 🙂 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… Read more »

patti
patti
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Maureen
Maureen
9 years ago

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
Wende
9 years ago
Reply to  Maureen

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
Amy
9 years ago
Reply to  Maureen

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
Penelope
9 years ago
Reply to  Maureen

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
Sherry
9 years ago
Reply to  Penelope

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… Read more »

Lurker Carl
Lurker Carl
9 years ago
Reply to  Maureen

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… Read more »

Harriet W.
Harriet W.
9 years ago
Reply to  Lurker Carl

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… Read more »

Pearl
Pearl
9 years ago
Reply to  Maureen

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… Read more »

KarenJ
KarenJ
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Samantha
Samantha
9 years ago

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
KarenJ
9 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

Can you share the recipe?

Quest
Quest
9 years ago

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… Read more »

C. Howell
C. Howell
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Sean Fitzgerald
Sean Fitzgerald
9 years ago

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.

bptzdbyfyre
bptzdbyfyre
9 years ago

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.

Financial Manager
Financial Manager
9 years ago

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.

elisabeth
elisabeth
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Adam P
Adam P
9 years ago
Reply to  elisabeth

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
Kate
9 years ago
Reply to  elisabeth

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… Read more »

Julie K
Julie K
9 years ago

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
Sherry
9 years ago
Reply to  Julie K

Wow what a great idea!

val
val
9 years ago

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… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
9 years ago

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 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. 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… Read more »

Jo@simplybeingmum
9 years ago

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!

krantcents
krantcents
9 years ago

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
Tyler Karaszewski
9 years ago
Reply to  krantcents

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

Don’t most luxuries make life easier?

Annie
Annie
9 years ago

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.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
9 years ago

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

I think you are lying to me.

Elle
Elle
9 years ago

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. 🙂

KM
KM
9 years ago

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.… Read more »

Taime
Taime
9 years ago
Reply to  KM

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… Read more »

CincyCat
CincyCat
9 years ago
Reply to  KM

I agree 100% – but I found a service that will change sheets also… 🙂

Kris L.
Kris L.
9 years ago

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

bobj
bobj
9 years ago

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
E
9 years ago
Reply to  bobj

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

bobj
bobj
9 years ago
Reply to  E

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

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

Sherry
Sherry
9 years ago
Reply to  bobj

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… Read more »

Moneyperk
Moneyperk
9 years ago

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!

Avistew
Avistew
9 years ago

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.… Read more »

Sara
Sara
9 years ago

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
9 years ago
Reply to  Sara

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…

Benneth
Benneth
9 years ago

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… Read more »

CincyCat
CincyCat
9 years ago

I like two things that you wrote in the beginning of your post: “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.” and “That price tag is worth it to a lot of professionals. … The time they don’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… Read more »

CincyCat
CincyCat
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Jo@simplybeingmum
9 years ago
Reply to  CincyCat

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

Paul
Paul
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Bella
Bella
9 years ago

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… Read more »

MutantSuperModel
MutantSuperModel
9 years ago

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.

20 and Engaged
20 and Engaged
9 years ago

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.

Crystal+@+BFS
9 years ago

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. 🙂

Elise
Elise
9 years ago

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.

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago

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.

Maria
Maria
9 years ago

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.

Isabella
Isabella
9 years ago

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.… Read more »

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