Confession I Paid Someone to Clean My House - picture of woman cleaning a kitchen

Confession: I Paid Someone to Clean My House…And Liked It

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A few weeks ago, I felt like I might have a nervous breakdown.  We were getting ready to leave for our frugal trip to St. Maarten, and I was totally buried in work and struggling to get ahead.  And around the same time, Greg’s work got hammered so he spent a few weeks putting in overtime instead of helping at home.

The laundry was piling up.  The dishwasher was full again.  We were almost out of food and I desperately needed to get to the grocery store to stock up.

Even worse, my house wasn’t all that clean – nothing gross mind you, but it needed some serious help.  The floors needed to be mopped.  The bathrooms needed a healthy dose of Scrubbing Bubbles.  The baseboards and blinds needed a good dusting, and the sticky fingerprints all over my kitchen needed to disappear.

So one night, I tore my house apart and cleaned until 11:00 p.m. My husband came home late from work to find me crying and immediately asked what was wrong.

I told him that I was overwhelmed, but he already knew that.

“We need to hire someone to clean this house,” he said.  “It makes no sense for you to do it anymore.”

But I’m Wonder Woman and I Can Do Anything

Of course, my initial reaction was to tell him that I could clean the house.  And as a matter of fact, I just had.  I used to clean houses for a living in my early 20’s after all, and I’m actually really good at it.

It also seems crazy to me to hire out something that I can do myself.  I mean, I have to hire someone to fix my furnace.  Why?  Because I don’t know how.  And I have to hire someone to change the oil in my car.  Why?  Because there is no way in hell I’m getting under there.

But my house?  I can clean this house like a boss.  So I told my husband to buzz off.

My Husband Hired a Cleaning Lady

But my husband had other ideas.  He reached out to a few people and found a nice lady nearby that would be willing to come clean our house on a bi-weekly basis.  He acted as a lone wolf and set the entire thing up himself.  He didn’t even ask permission or make sure I approved!

Our new cleaning lady showed up for the first time this past Thursday morning.  She got started promptly at 9:00 a.m. and worked until about 1:00 p.m.  The entire time she cleaned, I sat in my living room and worked like I normally would.  But when she left, an amazing calm fell over me.  For a total of $80.00, she did amazing things, including:

  • cleaning all of my baseboards
  • dusting every mini-blind in the house
  • mopping, sweeping, and dusting
  • cleaning the bathrooms
  • cleaning exposed interior windows

And when she left, my house looked like this:

washer dryerkitchen

Do you see that?  She cleaned off the top of my washer and dryer for heaven’s sake!  And aside from the fact that my refrigerator has a quadrillion colored pictures on it, my kitchen looks like new!

What Happened When I Paid Someone to Clean My House

In exchange for $80, I got a squeaky clean house.  And after some urging from my husband, I agreed to let the cleaning continue for the time being.  The only thing I disagreed with him about is how often she should come.  Twice a month seems like too much to me, so I offered to pay her a little more ($100) to come and deep clean just once per month.

While I’m usually opposed to outsourcing, I also realize now that it can make sense- even if it makes me uncomfortable.  The time she spent will not only free up time that I can spend working, but can also help me focus on other things that matter, such as spending time with my family.

So yeah, I totally paid someone to clean my house…and liked it!  I’m not sure if we will do it forever, but I will enjoy it while it lasts.  I don’t like outsourcing, but I think it’s time for me to admit that I can’t be great at everything 100 percent of the time.  There are only 24 hours in a day, and I am better off spending that time working or enjoying quality time with the people I love.

Do you outsource any undesirable tasks?  Do you think the trade-off is worth it?

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87 Comments

  1. We haven’t yet but I’ve mulled this over for months. I’m a bit more willing to than my husband is.. He’s the cleaning man of the house and no one can do it as well as he can so the idea of paying someone to clean half as well as he does (see also: pickiest about how things are done) does gall him.

    There isn’t much else I’d want to outsource except for my massages. We pay a pro to take care of that because she’s awesome, I negotiated a great at-home rate, and I don’t have to rely on awesome spouse to cook, clean AND massage me when I’m having a horrible high pain flare up. 🙂 well worth the money!

    1. Sounds like it! =)

      I am picky about cleaning too- that’s one of the reasons I was afraid to pay someone. I thought I would just redo everything! =/ Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.

      1. My question is do you preclean? It always confused me that friends who had house cleaners would clean first. I thought the point was that they would do the cleaning! 🙂

  2. I do not blame you one bit. I hear people at work rave about the peace of mind they get in return for $80ish for someone to clean their house. While I live in an apartment and don’t have the space for someone to clean my house really, I could foresee that happening in the future. No judgment at all 🙂

    1. Hey, thanks! I don’t see it happening forever- but it might be nice for a while.

  3. Holly, it looks like your kitchen is newly renovated because your kitchen looks so clean! I haven’t outsourced one. But, based on your experience, I think I am gonna hire one really soon.

    1. We redid our kitchen when we moved in. We put in new countertops and I hand sanded and stained every single cabinet!

  4. I’m envious! One of these days when our debt is paid off I think we are going to seriously consider doing this. Neither hubby nor I are overly fond of cleaning, and as our daughter gets older I see things getting messier :-). But we have held off to this point because I know that once we do it, we are never going to want to go back! Good for you, by the way! As women we often think that we are Wonder Woman- putting unnecessary stress on ourselves to get everything done. I’ve driven myself plenty crazy that way in the past. Sometimes we just need to accept and enjoy the help from others. So enjoy!

    1. I agree- I think women (including me) take on too much at times. I like cleaning though, so I don’t want a housecleaner forever. Cleaning makes me happy!

  5. That is what l,am so missing so far in Malaga. We have asked everyone of the shop keepers, butcher..you name it for referrals, and no luck. Only cleaning companies and they won’t do individual cleaning. I hate, hate housework and l miss our cleaning lady in Malta and in Houston… 🙁 . I think you did the right thing. It frees you up to be more productive, and you are helping stimulate the economy 🙂

    1. Very true! The lady who is cleaning for us cleans so she be available for her child and put them on and off the bus. Cleaning houses provides her with that flexibility. I think that’s great!

  6. We had someone cleaning our house when I was working for someone else full-time. With my job plus blogging and my wife working long hours, there was no way we could manage everything and keep our sanity. The problem was that over time, they became less and less great. At first, they made sure to do an excellent job. Then slowly, they got lazy and stopped cleaning everything. When they \”cleaned\” and I checked the toilet bowl and it wasn\’t scrubbed, I fired them. Now that I am at-home, I took over the duties of cleaning and am OK with how things are.

    1. Yikes! Yeah, I am only willing to pay someone if they do a better job than I do.

  7. My take if you can afford it….then enjoy it. I have my cleaning lady already set up when I move back home (my mom), and I am going to utilize her as much as I can. A clean house just makes you happy and it sounds like you needed that break.

  8. I think it\’s definitely worth it! My boss once told me that one of the reasons she works extra hard is that so she can pay others to do work that she doesn\’t want to do. And I think it totally makes sense! So congratulations to this new found love 🙂 haha!

    1. That’s funny! Hey, your boss sounds like a smart lady.

  9. Look at those sparkles! I’m impressed that she cleaned for 4 hours–nice! I feel the same as you, I hate to outsource anything that I know how to do (haircuts, house cleaning, dog grooming, etc), but I agree with you that sometimes it’s the smartest thing. No sense in making yourself crazy or working yourself to the bone. Especially when you can have someone clean for such a reasonable price!

    1. Yeah, she did clean for 4 hours. It only takes me 2 hours to clean this house so she definitely did a better job than I do.

  10. I’m with you on the outsourcing, especially something I can do but this is one of the things my wife and I have gone back and forth on over the past year or so. Compared to the rates I was able to get, your $80 is a steal! That said, it’s buying you time and doesn’t result in adding another thing to get done so I think it’s well worth it.

    1. Yeah, I think $80 is pretty cheap. My sister lives in the town next to us and pays $125 for the same size house.

  11. I’d like to have a cleaning lady come and do the stuff I hate to do, but I have the time and it’s not in our budget. It’s just a want.

    You guys NEEDED the cleaning lady. You need to work. There’s no time for cleaning. The extra income you’ll make from being more productive will cover the costs. No one should be scrubbing in tears at 11pm!

    1. Haha- I agree. With her cleaning once a month, I can just clean in between and keep things up. I won’t have to scrub toilets in tears at 11:00!

  12. I used to be staunchly against having someone clean my house, but sometimes, it just makes sense. You can make more hourly by working and paying someone to clean your house than you can by cleaning it yourself. That’s when it makes sense. And you are being a blessing to this woman as well by providing her with income. It’s a win-win in my book. Right now we’ve got 4 lovely housekeepers that help with daily tasks, but when they’re grown and out on their own, I just might hire a housekeeper for myself. 🙂

    1. Yes, I make a lot more hourly than I was paying her. That makes me feel better.

      Also, I do plan to get my kids in the cleaning game in a few years. They are 3 and 5 now- they are really good at picking up toys and organizing. One day they will be scrubbing the sinks and toilets!

  13. I would love to have a cleaning lady! But right now, I have time to do it so it doesn’t make sense for us, But once we have kids, it would make mores sense to spend less time cleaning and more time with family! Glad you enjoyed it!

  14. We have a cleaning lady every week and its one luxury we truly love and appreciate. House is super clean and tidy, sheets changed weekly and all the laundry done. Prevents any arguing or finger pointing over household chores and didn’t slow our progress to FI and healthy 7 figure net worth.

    If I had to choose, I would definitely give up one $5k vacation a year to have a weekly cleaning lady for the same cost on an annual basis.

    1. Really? Wow!

      Well, I suppose that makes sense. A cleaning lady probably makes your life better year-round. A vacation only brings temporary joy.

  15. I don’t think I’ll ever move into a house without being able to afford to hire someone to clean it at least once a month. That might sound ridiculous, but I absolutely can’t stand it. It takes FOREVER just to clean my itty bitty NYC apartment.

    1. Cleaning this house only takes me 2 hours or so, but there are very few things to dust. Also- my kids rooms are practically empty. All I really do in there is vacuum.

  16. Since my wife typically works weekend, I often pitch in on a lot of the house cleaning. I don’t mind at all, but sometimes we just can’t get to it all and never dust the blinds. 🙂 Hiring someone to clean our house once in awhile is something we have considered, but yet to pull the trigger yet.

  17. I\’ve considered asking for a deep house cleaning for a gift. It would be amazing to feel like things were actually clean instead of just getting \”cleaned up.\” I bet it freed you up for some other money-saving endeavors, as well as spending time with your family.

  18. I have someone come about twice per year (spring and fall) to deep clean and man there is nothing more spectacular than walking in your door and everything is so perfect. I would do it more (maybe once every two months or so) if I could afford it! If you have the funds to do it, I say go for it!

  19. Not gonna lie – I would LOVE to have someone come once a month to deep-clean the house. I’m actually really good at keeping up with the dishes and laundry and general picking the house up, but I very rarely deep clean.

    We just started our girls in daycare part-time, which is kind of outsourcing some work, haha. It’s well worth every single dollar to have alone time to work and enjoy peace and quiet for a few hours a day!

    1. Awww….good luck with daycare. I hope you like the arrangement. My youngest goes to daycare and that is the only way I can work!

  20. Ooh, I’m so jealous. I’d love to have a cleaning lady if only to do floors and bathrooms….. You were able to write while she was cleaning so that probably generated more income than what you paid out. Plus, you provided an income for some who potentially needed the money. I tend to thing I should do everything myself also, but when I think about it, I won’t really miss that money and someone else has a job. I say, enjoy it while it lasts, and maybe it will last a long time!

    1. Thanks Kathy!

      And yes, I make a lot more than I paid her. From a purely financial standpoint, it makes sense.

  21. I know how your feel…..we normally clean our own home but there have been a couple of times when we were having a large gathering at our home and we just didn’t have the time to clean. We paid a service, and were very grateful for it. On the other hand, we had a neighbor that had a cleaning person once a week – on Saturday morning. Every Friday night they had to pick up things and put things to place so the floors and counters were ready for the cleaning service. Um…well, if I had to do that, I could just as well finish the job!

    1. I hear ya. Sometimes it’s worth it- sometimes now. I’m pretty busy with work right now so its’ definitely worth it at this point.

  22. Sounds exactly like something someone who is living in Hamilton County would do 😛

    In all seriousness, we will probably find a cleaning person once we move just to make sure we don’t get too far behind. We will probably just use my wife’s cousins since they are always looking to earn some extra cash and are extremely hard workers.

    1. Hey, you’ll be up here soon. Next thing you know, you’ll have a cleaning lady too =)

  23. I’ve had this internal battle a lot in the last year, but like you think I can just do it all myself. Baseboards are the worst! Especially with three dogs…

  24. That’s great! My parents had someone clean our house growing up, but it only lasted a year or so. It’s such an easy thing to do yourself, yet I do think there is value from outsourcing it. I think I’m a lot like you where I really struggle paying someone to do something that I know I can do – even if I really don’t have the time to do it.

  25. If you feel overwhelmed why not hire someone. If you have extra energy one day, then have had it with the broom. Its a balance we all must maintain, and our sanity will thank us for taking every option into consideration before losing it.

  26. When I startes freelanving, I knew I couldn’t keep up with a full time job, a breastfeeding infant, a long commute, blogging, and housework. We hired someone. Our house was gross – stuff growing in toilets and all. Ick! But we pay an arm and a leg because we live out in the middle of nowhere – we pay $160 every two weeks. And they recently complained that our house was overly messy when they showed up!

  27. It’s certainly one of those situations where you decide what your time and energy is worth. Should someone with a mountain hill of debt having a cleaning lady once a week probably not, but if it’s in the budget I don’t see anything wrong with that, helping out the economy!

  28. I would love to have a cleaning lady, but can’t get over the Wonder woman complex. I would also worry that Jim would then want someone to mow the yard, then I’d want to hire out the ironing, and on and on.

  29. I think this is a great idea. Your time is probably more useful in focusing on your business and spending more time with family. I used to do calculations on whether or not outsourcing a task was worth the dollars based on the amount of hours I’d do it versus the “hourly rate” I would miss out on.

  30. I have no shame in hiring a cleaner here and there. Sometimes it’s hard doing it all and I need a break! I have found some amazing deals online through Groupon and Living Social for $19 for 2 hours and they have done an amazing job every time (I live in an 800 sq ft apartment, so 2 hours was enough.) I mean seriously, I can find a way to make that back or skip a happy hour 🙂

  31. I actually did this for a couple of years in grad school, because I felt I needed the time more than the money. After a while I stopped because I needed the money more 🙂 But it was amazing to just not have to worry about the apartment beyond the daily dishes etc. I would absolutely do it again once I’m in a better financial place and/or if I got a bigger house (right now I split all the cleaning with my housemate in a fairly small house and she does the stuff I really don’t like — vacuuming and sweeping — so it really doesn’t take up much of my time.) True, it’s technically a want not a need — but it’s the kind of want that feels like a totally reasonable use of discretionary income if you’re not in a lot of debt etc.

  32. Outsourcing some things can totally save your sanity! I don’t do this currently since I’m trying to keep crazy low expenses and also have plenty of time to do it myself. However, it;s definitely something I am considering for the future because cleaning my house is one task I just would rather outsource!

  33. I don’t really understand the need to have a clean house, but if one does have that need, it makes sense to hire someone to do it if you have more money than time. We will have to get house-cleaning if we decide to rent out our house. Hopefully we’ll be able to find someone as good as who you have. The last time we had a person it started out great, but by the end we were having to clean the mess she made while cleaning (streaks on the wood floors, turning our cheap countertop yellow with bleach, cigarette butts stinking up the trash, etc.) before we could show the house so it was more effort than it was worth.

    1. I am in this house almost 24/7. I go crazy when it isn’t clean!

  34. Seems to me the ROI of your time when you’re working vs cleaning makes sense to farm out the work. However, I am like you and feel reluctant to pay someone to do a service I can accomplish myself. That’s one reason I still do my own laundry (I have to go to a laundromat) instead of dropping it off. My defense is that the laundromat is on the corner of my block and takes 3 minutes to walk to. I go back home while it’s in the wash/dryer. In total, it probably takes up 30 minutes of my time (including folding it all). For me, that’s still worth paying $5-$7 instead of $25-$30 for the service. I’d still have to go drop it off and pick it up anyway…

  35. I can see why you hired someone and seems that for the price that you paid it was an excellent service. Sometimes it just makes more sense to pay the money instead of spending hours doing the same thing yourself.

  36. The cost of your time was much more valuable in this situation. I’m a bit of a clean freak myself but since I live in a small space cleaning is pretty easy for me. Now if only my wife would do her laundry since she won’t let me touch her clothes.

  37. I don’t regret a single penny of having someone come in a clean my home for me. We do our best to keep things tidy and the girls have their job list, which tackles some of the chores, but she does our heavy lifting for us. I am happy to help her earn a living and provide for her family so that I can do the same and have a clean house!

  38. If you have the money, and you don’t have the time, I think it is absolutely acceptable to outsource. Welcome to the dark side! If you became addicted to your cleaning service, and your income went way down and you couldn’t part with the service, then that might be a problem (and one that I’ve seen), but I don’t think you would have that issue. I completely agree with Jason at Phroogal about calculating your hourly rate to determine if it makes sense to outsource something.

  39. I have a cleaning lady (Marlene) that I have had for 7 years now and I would cut every last expense in my life before I cut her out of it. She saves me hundreds of hours a year and with how much I make an hour, she MORE than pays for herself. I am all about looking at the cost benefit analysis of a situation like this and for me, my cleaning lady definitely provides benefits that outweigh her costs.

  40. K @ One More BROKE TWENTY-SOMETHING says:

    I outsourced my laundry for a little while once. I was working 16 hour days/7 days a week for about 3 months and I could NOT find the time or energy to take my laundry to laundromat – I just couldn’t. I found a service that picked it up/delivered it back to me folded, pressed, and ready to wear. I couldn’t afford the service long term, but for that short amount of time it was AMAZING and for my few precious hours off work…I was having fun or resting and NOT doing laundry.

    Now, about a housekeeper, I could consider that. Glad your experience has been positive.

  41. We have helper in our house. We really need it because we can\’t do household chores because of our work and also to spend more time with my love ones. It\’s worth the pay especially when you see that your house is so clean. There is no problem hiring someone to clean your house.

  42. Ben Luthi says:

    I think this is the bomb. Especially considering the work you do. If you can’t pull $20/hour from freelancing, you probably wouldn’t be doing it full-time anyway 🙂 All that extra time just means you can increase your revenues. BOOM!

  43. Watching other people do your housework is a source of immense satisfaction. I did this once when I had roommates. We were all playing nintendo while the house just got cleaner & cleaner.

  44. I have NO problem admitting that we have a cleaner come in to do a deep clean every two weeks. Whilst it costs me $80, it gives me back 2 – 3 hours of cleaning time that I normally wouldn\’t have.

    I then use that \”cleaning time\” that I get back to run my blog and do my side hustles (my eBay store in particular).

  45. We have not yet gotten to the point of a cleaning lady. I don’t care to clean, but still manage to keep up, mostly. I starting to think that I need to break it down into smaller pieces. Just because I don’t want to dust, vacuum, mop, do the dishes, and… all at the same time doesn’t mean that I can’t do one this night and two the next. The house may not all be clean at the same time, but it still all got clean…

  46. I have friends who are very busy professionals that make very solid incomes. They talk about spending $200 a month on cleaning their home and say “it’s the easiest and best spent money of our lives/relationship.”

    These people are not lazy by any means. Really makes me feel I should give it a try since in my area, it would be far less than $200 a month to get a decent cleaning.

  47. We pay $140 a month for two cleanings, and it is the best money we spend. I think I may get rid of cable before I get rid of my cleaning lady.

  48. I’m becoming more comfortable with the idea of outsourcing. At first, I had the same reasoning as you – if I can do it, why bother hiring it out? But my time has been worth more lately (as well as my sanity). This sounds like a small step, but I told my fiancé to go get his hair cut as I didn’t think it made sense for me to spend an hour or more on it when it costs $12ish.

  49. I used to pay someone to do my laundry before when my daughter was still 2 year old. And now that she\’s already 7 year old, I prefer to do the laundry with myself. Btw, your kitchen really looks amazing!

  50. I think $80.00 was totally worth it! It\’s like you have a brand new kitchen! You really made a good decision Holly, if I were in your place, I will also do the same thing! 😉

  51. As long as my hourly rate is bigger and I can actually do the work to earn my money, such help is a great idea. Sure, it means you have to pay, but you can do your own work, which pays way better. Or, spend time with your family, which is also important. I’d rather work on my business or spend 6-8 hours with my daughter than cleaning the house, when someone else can do it at a reasonable price.

  52. I’ve been considering bringing someone in just to deep clean the bathroom and maybe vaccuum twice a month. I have to spend my weekends cleaning and as full time working mom with side business, I would much rather spend that time with my kids. We still have quite a bit a debt as well.

  53. Have you ever ordered take out pizza or gone out to eat instead of cooking a meal? Sure you have. Why didn’t you force yourself to cook a meal? You didn’t have time, it was easier to get takeout, the amount of time you invest in cooking could be spent doing something more productive or something you enjoy more than cooking.

    So why the guilt or consternation about a cleaning person? I HATE cleaning. I love cooking. So I pay someone to clean my house (and a few extra dollars now and then to clean my refrigerator). I walk into a clean house and I’m relaxed and can enjoy cooking dinner. Plus I don’t spend my weekends doing something I hate. I traded a few dollars for a weekend–that seems like a fair trade. And, the money I would have spent on take out is my cleaning money. This is the best investment in my personal happiness that I can make.

    1. I don’t feel that guilty- it’s just a blog post!
      But cleaning is pretty expensive. We don’t eat out a lot because I don’t mind cooking. I actually like cleaning, believe it or not. Time is really the only problem there. I don’t have enough of it.

  54. What a topical post! I just did a post about earning more money by cleaning houses. I think its a great idea for both parties. Its a perfect side gig because it doesn\’t require a full time commitment and its perfect for the homeowner because they get a perfectly clean home. Plus is pretty affordable 😉 I think once a month is a fantastic idea.

  55. I absolutely HATE to clean but I’ve never actually pulled the trigger with outsourcing the job. I have some mental block about paying others to do things I could do myself. It sounds like you really needed the help, even if you don’t mind cleaning. Since you were able to get some work done and enjoy a clean house without a mental breakdown, it was $80 well spent!

  56. I think this is a great idea! We pay someone to mow our lawn, and it’s seriously the best thing ever. We pay like $250 a year (our grass grows EXTREMELY slow) and we never have to sweat like maniacs trying to do it. Instead, our neighbor just comes on over with his riding lawn mower and gets it done in 5 minutes.

  57. I love my cleaning lady. She doesn’t always do things how I would 100% prefer, but overall she does a great job and it takes a load of stress away from me. Totally worth it in my opinion!

  58. Based on your story, I think it\’s worth it because it will also benefit not just you but your family as well. And you made a good decision on how often should the cleaning lady render a service in your house. Since you also know how to clean your house, once a month is enough for a paid general cleaning.

  59. When I have a family I will have a person come in regularly. Americans are really weird about hiring help. None of my European friends agonize about this. They all have someone come in once a week and they will never change it.

  60. Think about it this way. You needed help and some one needed employment. You gave some one the chance to earn a living. It’s a win – win!

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