Time is Money. Why Waste Yours Cleaning?
Cleaning your house is a necessity but is it really something you want to spend valuable hours of your life doing? With a limited amount of time in the day to spend between work, raising children, leisure activities, and essential resting time, it probably feels impossible to spend the right amount of time on your household chores.
Having a clean house has been proven to offer additional health benefits, and having a dirty or unorganised home is scientifically shown to negatively affect your mental and physical well-being. A study in 2010 highlighted the fact that women who live in messier homes have a higher level of cortisol than those living in clean homes. Cortisol is a well-known indicator of stress, and this shows that your stress levels are directly influenced by your living space.
Having a clean home also boosts your physical health, with a clean-living space there are fewer places for dirt and bacteria to build up. Those suffering from allergies and asthma should spend extra time cleaning their homes as a build-up of dust and allergens in carpets, bedding, and upholstery can worsen these conditions.
Feeling as though you are not living up to your cleaning responsibilities can cause feelings of anxiousness and guilt. It also often leads to disagreements and resentment amongst partners and housemates. In fact, 80 per cent of people living with a partner have disagreements about housework, with one in five reporting that this happens often. The most common disagreements include when the housework should be done, how to do it and who should do it.
If you can relate to the feelings of pressure surrounding your home cleaning, then why not join the ever-increasing number of households that employ a cleaning professional. With the extra free time, you can finally take up that hobby you’ve been meaning to start, hit the gym or simply enjoy spending quality time with your family. Research found that 47% of people found they had more free time in the day after outsourcing their household cleaning and that it eased the stress for 42% of them.
You might be thinking it’s just cleaning, it’s not that hard! But let’s take a look at how much time we actually spend on our household chores.
How Much Time do we Really Spend Cleaning?
In 2018, the US-based American Cleaning Institute published the results of its National Cleaning Survey. The survey showed that the majority of respondents spend between 1-4 hours cleaning their houses each week, and 28% of them spend 7 hours or more. The average number of hours spent cleaning each week was 6, with parents spending an extra hour to make 7 hours of cleaning every week. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone, with British figures matching those of our American friends.
The survey also revealed that there were certain areas of cleaning that people dreaded the most. These areas were the bathroom and the kitchen, while other areas such as dusting, mopping, and doing the laundry were looked upon more favourably.
When you add up all those hours spent cleaning, you’ll discover that you are doing a lot of unpaid work. Time is a valuable commodity, and personal time is even more precious. To help you understand what your personal time is worth, try using a calculator like this one. You can use this figure to weigh the value of your own time against the cost of hiring a professional cleaner. When you consider that cleaners probably clean much faster and more efficiently than you do, it might be the perfect trade-off.
How Much Time Should You Spend Cleaning?
Household cleaning covers a variety of jobs from folding laundry and tidying up, to scrubbing floors and cleaning bathrooms. Many of these jobs should be undertaken either daily or weekly, and it is recommended that you perform a deep clean of your house every six to twelve months.
Cleaning your house daily will help to stop jobs from building up and help to maintain a good level of cleanliness. According to Good Housekeeping, cleaning tasks that should be undertaken daily include making your bed, doing laundry as needed, and cleaning up dirty dishes. You should also wipe down kitchen and bathroom surfaces, sanitise surfaces and sweep kitchen floors.
Each week you should focus on a more detailed cleaning schedule that involves mopping kitchen and bathroom floors, scrubbing bathroom surfaces, and cleaning kitchen appliances. You should also change your bedsheets, clean mirrors, vacuum floors and furniture, clean your microwave, and clear out any food past its use-by date. Once you have completed these tasks, you should sanitise sponges and cloths, throwing them away if this isn’t possible or if they’ve been used for cleaning many times.
Many people outsource their weekly cleaning tasks to a professional cleaner. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy your weekends instead of spending a good chunk of them cleaning?
Each month you should also set some time aside to clean areas that haven’t been included in the daily and weekly cleaning schedules. These monthly cleaning tasks consist of vacuuming the vents and woodwork in all areas of the house, dusting and cleaning light fixtures, dusting blinds, and cleaning laundry machines, the dishwasher, and the vacuum itself.
Again, a cleaner can help you complete these monthly tasks easily. Some clients add an extra couple of hours to their cleaning schedule each month to account for these extra jobs. This means you don’t have to worry about doing them yourself and you’ll know they have been completed to a high standard.
Cleaning Every 3-6 Months
Additional cleaning jobs that will need to be completed every three to six months include cleaning the inside of the fridge and the cooker hood, cleaning under and behind furniture, washing the shower curtain and liner, vacuuming the mattress, as well as cleaning inside the oven and freezer.
Cleaning Every 12 Months
Finally, to maintain your household on an annual basis you should complete the following cleaning tasks:
- A deep clean of the chimney and fireplace
- A deep clean of carpets and upholstery
- Deep clean all windows
- Clean around the dryer and air vents
- Clear out gutters
- Clean drapes and curtains.
As you can see, that is a packed cleaning schedule that requires a lot of time and dedication to upkeep. To stick to the recommended rigorous cleaning schedule, it would likely take a lot longer than the estimated 6 to 7 hours a week that the average person spends cleaning, making a cleaner even more valuable for your time.
Who Bears the Burden of Cleaning?
When it comes to chores, the battle of the sexes is an on-going issue with studies showing that women consistently spend more time cleaning than men. A recent study has shown that even when both partners work full time, women still put in more hours than men. It is estimated that women are five times more likely than men to spend 20 hours or more doing housework. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to spend fewer than five hours a week on housework.
It’s likely that household chores still fall predominantly within a woman’s realm because of the outdated attitudes that are prevalent within society. Three recently published studies show that women are still judged for having a messy house, but that same judgement is not extended to messy men.
The amount of housework falling to women to complete, even after they have worked a full day, is likened by some experts as the ‘second shift’ starting once the woman gets home. It is a form of unpaid work and many believe that it contributes to holding women’s career prospects back. Spending more time on housework means less time to spend networking, learning, and socialising, all of which contribute to career success.
Housework is an often-unnoticed burden that adds extra pressure and stress onto busy working lives. That’s without adding childcare to the mix, another element that falls predominately to women!
Many working women opt to hire a cleaner to give them a better balance between life and work. When you consider the true value of your time, it’s easy to see why!
Tips for Cleaning
If like many, you struggle to find the right balance between maintaining a successful career, taking care of your children and having a clean and tidy house then you might be on the look-out for tips on how to shorten your cleaning schedule.
A survey of 2000 British adults recently found that only half were able to set aside the time to complete household chores each week, with the majority simply too busy. The study also found that the traditional yearly spring clean appears to be dying out, with 45 per cent of the respondents believing that previous generations had more time on their hands to do this. Unfortunately, to stick to the guidelines of maintaining a thoroughly cleaned household there is no shortcut, you will need to put in the hours.
However, if you simply cannot spend that much time cleaning, some useful tips might help you to keep on top of the most important jobs.
Breaking it Down
Firstly, many cleaning aficionados recommend cleaning for twenty minutes every day instead of saving up all of the jobs for the weekend. By breaking down the household chores into more manageable chunks, you get more of your time back at the weekends, meaning you can have a well-earned rest!
Play Your Favourite Songs
Although nobody loves cleaning at the end of a long day, playing your favourite songs might make it feel like less of a drag. Choose an upbeat playlist that will make time fly to change your mind set about cleaning. It’s a great way to get yourself motivated!
Clean the Dishes Straight Away
Another tip for making housework less of a chore is to do your dishes after every meal instead of letting them pile up for the end of the day. This will help to keep your kitchen surfaces clutter-free and it makes the task of washing up far less daunting.
Don’t Let Your Clothes Build Up
Likewise, with washing your clothes, if left to build up it can feel as though you’re being bogged down by dirty clothes making it more likely that you will put it off. Try washing one load at a time including folding it and putting it away so you’re not left with a huge pile of clean clothes to sort through after a mammoth laundry session.
Alternatively, if you can hire somebody to clean for you, not only will it give you peace of mind that your house is clean but it will also give you back some personal time.
Hiring a Cleaning Professional
If you have decided that your time is better spent focusing on your family or having the freedom to relax and unwind after the working week, then hiring a cleaning professional is the right path for you. It appears that many households are now moving towards hiring a cleaner with one in five millennials employing help to stay on top of the chores.
A common misconception is that a cleaner will simply cost too much, and with the cost of living increasingly rising it feels like an extra bill that we could do without. However, that doesn’t have to be the case.
The average cost of a good quality cleaning professional is around £12 per hour, with most people ask their cleaner to clean once a week for at least two hours. This makes the total just £24 per week or just under £100 per month. You can always ask for less frequent visits from a cleaner too!
If your family spends a lot of money on extras such as expensive coffees, meals out, or subscriptions you might want to consider reining in your budget to free up more cash for a cleaner. After all, giving yourself more free time to spend with your family may be more valuable than a few coffees a month!
If you’re a homeowner, paying a cleaning professional will also help you to protect your investment, especially if you plan to sell your house one day. Leaving housework to pile up can cause damage to appliances and surfaces that might need to be replaced before you come to sell. Having a neat, clean house is also more attractive to potential buyers.
When weighing the cost of hiring a cleaner versus completing the household chores yourself, it really is a question of how much is your time worth? Also, if you have a young family, time is a commodity that you will never get back. So, do you want to spend this valuable time cleaning or with your children?
How to Hire a Cleaner
Hiring a cleaner couldn’t be easier but it is important to find the right person or company that you can trust in your home.
- Ask for recommendations. With more households opting to hire cleaners, your friends and family may know of someone to recommend. You might even be able to negotiate a better price if the cleaner can clean the neighbour’s houses on the same day.
- Use a cleaning agency. If you would feel more comfortable asking an agency for help, then try your local cleaning agency. Agencies offer some form of insurance if it is needed, and they vet all of their staff before sending them into a client’s home. However, keep in mind that there will be an extra fee involved if you choose to go through an agency.
- Ask for a reference. If you are unable to get a recommendation from friends and family or do not want to use an agency, then be sure to ask for a reference before employing a cleaner. If you feel it’s necessary, you could also ask for an up to date CRB check. Lots of agencies undertake CRB checks on their employees, which is always worth checking.
- Don’t skimp on the price. If you want the job doing properly be prepared to pay a fair rate for your cleaner. An average price is between £12-15 with around two hours per visit. However, if you have a larger house or pets, keep in mind that you might need to ask your cleaner to spend extra time at your property. It might not be possible to clean everywhere thoroughly in just two hours.
Make the Most of Having A Cleaner
Even though you have employed a cleaner to help maintain your house, there are still some chores that you should complete yourself. Before your cleaner arrives, clear away any clutter and tidy around the house as much as you can. It is not the cleaner’s job to tidy away any mess left on surfaces and if they do, they’ll have to spend time moving it around it will eat into the time they spend cleaning.
You should also outline a plan for your cleaner to highlight the areas that you want them to focus on. Prioritise the tasks that you don’t have time to complete yourself or even your least favourite tasks that you don’t want to do. Remember, the cleaner is on a time limit so make sure you are using that time wisely!
If there are any rooms that you don’t want to be cleaned (such as the garage, or rooms that aren’t used much) then be sure to mention this to your cleaner too. It might also help to keep the doors of those rooms closed whilst your cleaner is there to avoid any confusion.
If you like to use specific cleaning products within your home, you will need to keep these well-stocked. Cleaners from cleaning companies will often bring their own supplies, so if you have a reason to request a specific one, make sure it’s available for the cleaner to use when they arrive at your home. If you are using an individual cleaner, they may rely on you to provide the cleaning equipment, so it is worth double-checking the arrangements with supplies.
If you have any pets you will need to make your cleaner aware and keep them well out of the way while your cleaner is at work. Let the cleaner know where your pets will be kept and any instructions on how to interact with them if necessary. You might also need to ask them to use special equipment to tackle pet hair, so discussing your requirements in advance is crucial.
If you will be at home during the cleaner’s visit remember to be friendly but keep out of their way while they work. If you have small children or other family members at home too, remind them to keep out of the way as much as possible.
If you are not at home during the visit, you will need to leave a key in a safe place for your cleaner to access, along with detailed instructions of the priorities for each of the rooms. Eventually, as your cleaner gets used to cleaning in your household you won’t need to include the instructions, but it helps for the initial visits. It is also a good idea to leave a phone number for your cleaner so they can reach you in the event of an emergency or if they have any last-minute questions.
Finally, it is important to maintain a clear line of communication with your cleaner so you can both discuss the relationship and iron out any problems. For example, there might be some actions you could take that would make the cleaner’s job easier (such as moving furniture if you are asking them to clean behind it) or there might be an element that your cleaner has missed and you want them to tackle it next time they visit. Being able to frequently catch up with your cleaner will keep everything running smoothly without you having to worry. After all, you employed a cleaner to help you with the cleaning which should help with stress!
Hiring a cleaner to help take away some of the burdens of household chores will make your life much easier. Having a positive work/life balance is important for combating and preventing health issues such as depression and anxiety, and having a cleaner can help you to achieve this. Employing a cleaner will give you get your spare time back, so you can spend it doing something you love, with the people you love, instead of worrying about cleaning your house.