When the economy imploded in 2008, a casual friend told me that her husband informed her that the cleaning lady could come only one time a week instead of twice. I told her that she was lucky to have a cleaning lady at all! But what I was thinking was this: hmmmm, she doesn’t work, she only has two kids, why can’t she clean her own house? So many people I know–with and without kids, stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms, work-out-of-the-home moms–they love to drop in conversation the fact that they have a cleaning lady. Strangely enough, people love to quote how much their cleaning service costs–anywhere between $60 to $80 every two weeks–or, $120 to $160 a month to have a house cleaned. I usually respond by saying something stupid like “Yeah, if I worked outside the home I’d have a cleaning lady, too.” That would be a lie, actually. I’ve worked outside the home most of my life and still never wanted a cleaning service. In addition to all that money, I’m still unsure of what the allure is about having a cleaning lady poking around into the most personal corners of your life.
I’m just not comfortable having someone cleaning my own toilet, then having to look at them in the face afterward! I’ve written many articles over the years about cleaning the house, and I’ve interviewed numerous cleaning professionals, and whoa, they all know a-l-o-t about each client. They’ve told me stories about how dirty people’s sheets are, literally and figuratively. Ick. I’d like to keep my dust mites to myself, thank you very much.
Once in my 20s, my roommate and I hired a cleaning lady for our New York City duplex (which sounds more luxurious than it really was). The cleaning lady lasted one day because my roommate cleaned up before she came, and I’m just too territorial to let a stranger into my stuff.
But more than being territorial, I’m frugal, and there’s no room in my budget for someone else to clean my home at $60 or $80 a pop. If I have dust bunnies and smudges on my walls, so be it. I look at it this way: cleaning my own home helps me bond with it, know it, feel it, and really get to know what we have, what we need, what can go out, who’s sneaking snacks at night, who accidently threw out a bracelet that only needed to be glued, even who had a bout of diarrhea! I didn’t decide to have a family just to keep my hands clean! I had a family so I could enjoy all the crazy dirt and mess that goes along with it. After all, I doubt anyone has ever gone to their deathbed thinking, “I should have hired a maid.”
I know the argument goes like this: “My time is worth more to me than money so that’s why I hire a cleaning lady so I can be more productive.” I’d rather figure out how to productively clean my own home while saving money which gives me peace of mind to be more productive in my work. Plus, it would be too much work to clean up before the cleaning lady arrives, and it would be too exhausting to follow her around once she’s there! That wouldn’t be very productive to me.
But…do maids clean kitty litter? Well…maybe that would be worth the money!