Should I Hire a Cleaning Company or an Individual Cleaner?

One of the most common questions people ask when they are deciding to hire a house cleaner is whether they should hire a professional house cleaning company or an individual cleaner. We are going to try to tackle this question objectively and give you the pros and cons of both.

How to Find a Cleaning Professional

One of the advantages of hiring a cleaning company over an individual house cleaner starts with how much easier they are to find and schedule. Many individual cleaners have a very limited amount of availability and most take only weekly customers to start with. It’s just much easier for them that way. They only need 5-10 customers to have a full schedule, and because they are going at least once every week, they know exactly what to expect.

Many of our customers don’t necessarily opt for weekly service because it is often much more cleaning than they need. Unlike an individual housekeeper, a house cleaning company is usually happy to provide service when it is convenient for you and on a weekly, every two-week, or every four-week basis.

Flexible Scheduling for Your Cleaning Visits

One other big difference between an individual cleaner and a residential cleaning company is how they handle days off. Most individual cleaners will take off major holidays and take up to 3 weeks of vacation per year. So when they are off, there won’t be anyone to fill in and clean your home that week.

With a cleaning company, they will strive for continuity of service. All of their cleaning technicians will be trained in the same system and should have access to detailed notes and information about your home. So when your normal technician has a vacation that falls on your cleaning day, your home will still be cleaned, and you should be pleasantly surprised by how consistent the service is between providers. Of course, there may be some differences. At Better Life Maids we actually try to schedule these days off so our trainers or field service managers can cover them and inspect the homes. Many other companies have similar systems so you should have a great team member, even when your regular has vacation or needs to take an unplanned day off.

If you need to skip or reschedule a cleaning appointment, a house cleaning service will be much more flexible. Most individual house cleaners will expect you to pay for that visit and will not have the flexibility to move your visit to another day or time. Your spot is yours, but you are expected to maintain it. If you do not, you will quickly find yourself looking for another cleaner.

A residential cleaning company will have much more flexibility in this regard. If you need to cancel or skip a visit, this can usually be accommodated if you give enough notice, and most of the time you will only pay the difference between your frequency of service. So if you are an every 2 week customer and skip, you will simply pay the monthly price on your next visit, and then resume your normal pricing after that.

Find out how easy it is to schedule a house cleaning with Better Life Maids.

Payroll Taxes & Insurance

Speaking of taxes. Hiring an individual house cleaner could mean additional administrative work for you as well. Typically if you hire an individual to do more than $750 in work for you annually you would need to 1099 them. If you pay them more than $2600 per year, they probably would be classified as a household employee by the IRS, and you would be responsible for payroll and other taxes. In addition, it is a good idea to make sure your insurance includes provisions for household workers and worker’s compensation to protect you against large claims that might occur due to an injury on the job. Most individual house cleaners will not carry this type of insurance, so it is best to make sure that you help them obtain it, or carry it yourself.

Residential Cleaning companies should cover all of the taxes we discussed above and will have liability insurance, care custody, and control insurance to protect against breakage or other damage that may occur in the normal course of doing business, and worker’s compensation insurance. They probably also have a variety of other insurance, but these are the main ones that protect you as the homeowner. You can always ask for a Certificate of Insurance or COI from them that will be created specifically for you and detail the exact types of insurance they have and the coverage limits.

Professional house cleaning services should be able to provide you a COI upon request

If you are named on a COI if your cleaning company’s insurance lapses, you would be notified. This is not something that you would normally need to do, but if you want peace of mind, a professional cleaning service should be able to provide this for you.

There will also be subtle differences. You might take for granted things like technology. But they can make having your house cleaned much more pleasant and reliable. Most cleaning services will take credit cards and be able to auto bill you after each visit. Many will have automated reminders so you aren’t surprised on your cleaning day and incur lockout charges. As more cleaning services adopt technology you will see them provide apps or customer portals where you can review your schedule, make scheduling requests, see and pay invoices online, and manage most of your account without having to make a call or interrupt your cleaning tech on your cleaning day.

Providing Feedback to Your Cleaning Technician

Providing constructive feedback to your individual cleaning professional is an important part of customizing the service to your needs. It can feel very personal to critique their work and still have a positive working relationship. With a company, much of that can be filtered either through office staff or technology like a scorecard after each cleaning. Most companies now have digital feedback tools that allow you to rate each cleaning and provided useful feedback.

If you need additional household services beyond routine cleaning like laundry, an individual house cleaner may be your best bet. Because a cleaning service will only be in your home for a a few hours and will not charge you for a whole day, they probably don’t have enough time to wash, dry, fold, and put away your laundry and keep your pricing economical. In addition many residential cleaning services avoid laundry due to the liability. At Better Life Maids we do not provide laundry services, but we do have a partner company that will pick up, launder, fluff, and fold all of your clothes for a much lower price than any cleaning professional could provide while in your home. The only thing they won’t do is put it away.

Dishes might be another area that an individual house cleaner might excel. Companies like Better Life Maids will do dishes, but due to the nature of dishes, this can dramatically increase the cost of each cleaning visit. If you are paying a day rate with an individual cleaner and there is additional time built in, this is something they can probably fit into your cleaning plan on each visit without incurring extra fees.

To sum things up and answer the question should I hire a company or individual cleaner, for most people, a house cleaning company is going to provide much more flexibility, long term consistency, and protection against hidden costs like taxes and insurance, and reduced liability. But for households that have larger weekly budgets for cleaning, have the ability to manage household staff and are comfortable with the added legal and tax complexity, and want additional services like laundry and dishes, an individual house cleaner would be the best bet.