Want to know what my top, absolutely number one household hack is?
Don’t do housework. Hire a cleaner. Seriously.
At the risk of being thought extravagant, lazy, spoiled or just ridiculously rich, I have a cleaner. Several, in fact.
Once a month, a team of cleaners lands on my doorstep, and cleans my entire house from top to bottom. They dust, clean the bathroom, and tidy away Flea’s toys. They make the kitchen sparkle, and vacuum the floors (in between it’s done every other day by a robot vacuum cleaner).
My cleaners first came back in 2010, as part of a blog review. I honestly loved my Merry Maids house clean so much I couldn’t bear not to have them back. It’s been six years now, and I love them more now than I did then. They’re amazing.
I don’t just have a cleaner.
I also have a dog-sitter, who looks after my dog for two days a week from 9am to 5pm, and brings her home, happy and exhausted. Oh, and I have a part-time virtual assistant, who helps me keep on top of the housekeeping I need to do in cyberspace.
I could tell you all about why I need this help. I’m a single parent, I run a business, I volunteer with the Scout Association, blah blah… It’s true – without help, my house would descend into chaos, and we’d never have anything clean to wear.
But here’s the thing – why should I justify it? Why are we embarrassed about admitting we have domestic help? According to one survey, 67% of British people who hire a cleaner don’t admit it.
Personally, I think some of the shame comes down to our own need to ‘measure up’ – we feel like we’ve failed if we don’t live up to those Insta-homes, all over-exposed white walls and acres of perfectly clear oak flooring. We should be able to achieve those houses, those cupcakes, those perfectly happy kids – and do it all ourselves.
Let’s face it – maintaining an Instagram feed that looks like the Boden catalogue is beyond most of us. While I applaud those people who CAN do it, I know enough to know there’s probably a massive pile of unwashed laundry just out of shot. So why not hire help?
Do you know the concept of ‘opportunity cost’? It’s an idea I live by as a self-employed type.
Basically, it says that I have a choice. I could do the housework, or pay someone else to do the housework and use that time to do something else. The choice I make should be governed by which of these choices delivers the most value.
In my case, paying cleaners to do the whole house once a month costs £130. It would take me two days to clean my whole house, and I would make a fairly shoddy job of it. In two days at the office, I can earn more than £130. So financially, it makes sense to pay someone to clean, while I work at my company.
So yes, wherever possible, I urge my friends to pay people to do domestic chores. I urge fellow bloggers who work full-time in social media to outsource the jobs they don’t absolutely have to do themselves, if they could be earning more money than it costs to pay an assistant.
Recently, I was contacted by OvenClean, a nationwide oven cleaning services. Would I like to have my oven cleaned? Oh my goodness, yes. I hate cleaning ovens. Don’t you?
This to me is a perfect example of opportunity cost. If I clean my oven it takes FOREVER. I have to use harsh chemicals, so I’m paranoid about killing my dog, or child, or burning my skin through the rubber gloves. Also – I never clean oven trays. I just throw them away and buy new ones.
You can judge me all you like, I don’t care. Cleaning oven trays SUCKS.
With OvenClean, a nice man spends a couple of hours with some hot water and non-toxic cleaners removing every trace of dirt from your oven. There’s no harsh chemicals so no smell, no fumes, no chemical burns or dead dogs. And you don’t have to wait before you can safely use your oven. It’s perfect.
For a double oven the service costs around £60 – you can also pay to have the hob and extractor cleaned at the same time. This clean was free, so I could write about it, but would I have paid? Happily!
Based on the 3 or 4 hours it would take me to clean the oven, plus the cost of the cans of oven cleaner from the supermarket and new oven trays, it’s an easy choice (and my oven genuinely was 100% sparkly clean afterwards).
So I’m adding “oven cleaning” to the list of jobs I no longer do, along with housework and ironing. I don’t pay for ironing, incidentally. Because I never got around to buying an iron or ironing board. I recommend this enormously as a time-saving tip. It’s amazing how little you’ll miss ’em.
What do you reckon? Should we be prouder of paying for domestic help? Or at least less ashamed of admitting that once in a while, our house looks like a war-zone, and we’re too busy, or tired, or otherwise occupied to clean it up?