When I was a teenager, my bedroom was always a mess. Everything is everywhere, but I have great little ways to get to my closet, my desk and to my bed. And, like most teenagers who don’t want to clean up their room, I told my parents it was an “organized mess.” Of course I know where my math book is! Right under a pile of socks and papers and magazines.
But let’s be real – I don’t really know where anything is. Took at least 10 minutes to find anything in my bedroom clutter. I’m also hesitant to have friends, lest they see how messy I am.
When I move out on my own, I don’t want the mess to follow me. So I created a very organized life, where everything has its place and everything is easy for me to find. It’s surprisingly easy to do, and I love being able to grab things right when I need them.
“Being at home is regressive, where you are still a child and your mother will clean up after you, even if you are not aware of those feelings,” she says. “When you are alone, you feel more independent and like you are personally responsible for your things. It catapults a lot of people who used to be slovenly into neat as a reflection of the need to be a successful adult.”
But before long, the cracks in my cleansing method began to show. My bathroom counters started to get dirty because, even though I wiped them, I didn’t move the stuff under them. I sweep but never mop my floors. And I never dusted off. Also adding to the problem? My newly acquired husband. Clutter doesn’t bother him as much as it does me so I spend a lot of time tidying up for both of us. Plus, we both work full time and generally hate deep cleaning, so we don’t make it a priority.
After maybe the 20th time looking around and saying, “That house is dirty. We should probably dust,” but then never getting around that, I decided to hire a housecleaner. He comes in once a month to do deep cleaning duties which we don’t do. Having a monthly cleanser is my ultimate cleaning hack — not to mention the balm for my mental health and our marriage.
Letting a professional do the deep cleaning cleared my mind
Ever since I moved out on my own, I adopted the expression “physical turmoil leads to mental turmoilas a personal mantra (go ahead, ask my husband; he hears it all the time). If I look around and see that everything is messy or disorganized, I have a hard time concentrating. Not only because I would be constantly reminded that I needed to clean up, but also because I was starting to feel out of control. Being around chaos and deeper chaos overwhelms me. And this is not only my problem.
“For some people, this feels like a reflection of, ‘My life feels messy, and my life has an endless to-do list and my life feels disorganized,’” says Saltz. “Having a clean and orderly environment is a relief to many people.”
This is also a vicious circle. When you’re overwhelmed and stressed in general, things like clearing out messes, dusting, and mopping can fizzle out, says Saltz. But when all that dirt and mess adds up, it can make you feel even more stressed.
“If it’s dirty and needs to be done, but it’s on the long list and it stays on the list, you’re never going to feel a release of ‘It’s Done,'” Saltz said. “It’s a reflection of being overwhelmed and unfortunately, it can often make you feel even more overwhelmed, because you’re just living in it and seeing it.”
Enter the house cleaner. I can attest to the feeling of relief when you can look around and take a deep breath of fresh, clean air. It’s good for your physical health too. Regular cleaning improves the air quality in your home, which helps reduce allergy symptoms related to dust and dander, according to Harvard Medical School.
A clean house also helps our relationship
In a totally unscientific poll taken before writing this, I asked my husband which cleaning tasks I talked about him the most. Her two bosses left dirty socks and didn’t clear the counter. Well, guess what? We cleaned up a bit before our cleaners came, and that took care of the socks. And then cleaners take care of counter clutter so no grime builds up under our olive oil bottles and toasters. That leads to fewer “reminders” from me, and less arguing overall about household chores.
“Let’s face it, no one has ever felt sexy or romantic when they cleaned up their partner’s mess, scolded their partner for needing to clean more or did the cleaning themselves,” says relationship expert. Nicole Moore. “If someone starts to feel like they’re scolding their partner for doing the chores the way their parents did, that’s a sure sign that hiring a cleaner is going to help.”
It also saves time. You can use the janitor’s work hours to spend quality time together, instead of arguing over who should clean that messy desk. (Which sure isn’t you, right?)
“Time is precious and it’s important to allocate that time for the things that matter most to you, like investing in and maintaining your relationships,” says Reena B. Patel, a certified psychologist and behavioral analyst. “You can use money to buy time. In particular, you can spend money on buying free time, including hiring a professional home cleaner to give you the time you should be spending cleaning again.
Agreeing to hire a cleaner is just another way for you and your partner to take care of each other. Of course, that’s only a possibility if you can afford it. I pay my cleaners $100 per visit — one person and takes about two hours. It’s on the lower end of average. Angela BrownCEO of Smart Cleaner training for house cleaners and helpers, says the average cost per cleaner is $50 to $75 per hour, per cleaner. President and co-CEO of AspenCleanAlicia Sokolowski, agrees, but both note that costs can vary widely based on where you live, the number of people living in the home, the size of your home, and the specific type of cleaning required.
“Obviously some people can’t afford it,” Saltz said. “If you’re very fortunate to be in that special place, many people find that it actually removes the source of contention and unhappiness in the dynamic at home.”
And if you’re in a position where you can afford cleaners, it’s a good idea to see if you can help others who can’t. Maybe you can pay extra to send your cleaners there for a week, or, an easy budget alternative, consider hosting a cleaning party — get one or more friends to clean your place, then everyone else goes to clean their homes too. Spread the stress reliever wealth!
How to find the right cleanser for you
First, decide how often you want them to come. Once a month is fine for my husband and I, but it may be better for some families to have someone clean once a week, or every other week. That will be the first question you ask when talking to a prospective cleaner.
Brown and Sokolowski suggest scheduling a walkthrough with a cleaning company that can tell you how often you need a cleaner. It depends on many factors, including how many people made a mess and how clean you want your house (and how long to keep it that way) at the end of the visit.
Ask for recommendations. If you have friends or family who use the cleaner, ask them how they like it and if they can share contact information. You can also ask on neighborhood social media groups, that’s how I found mine. Ask about pricing and processes — and have a budget in mind. Budget around $150 per visit, depending on where you live; cities may be more expensive and rural areas less expensive. Also, ask about any specific things that might need cleaning that might be out of the ordinary, such as the dog potty or cat litter box area, back deck or dishes – and ask if there’s anything they wouldn’t clean. Double check that the potential cleaner is not allergic. We have dogs and cats, so obviously, a cleaner who is allergic to dogs or cats is not for us. Shrink your list and ask the finalists for references. Make sure you can find someone to vouch for any strangers you’re about to let into your home. Talk to references and get their opinion on how good the cleaner is. Brown and Sokolowski both note to be wary of cleaners who won’t provide references or have bad reviews — those are big red flags that someone may not be trusted. Choose your cleanser — but remember, you can change your mind. If you don’t like the job they do or you don’t feel safe with them in your home, go to the next person on your list of finalists and give it a try. It’s important to feel comfortable with the people cleaning your house, because they are in your place. “Typically, professional cleaning services have a thorough employee vetting process to ensure the reliability and trustworthiness of their staff,” says Sokolowski. “This process can include background checks, reference checks and interviews to assess applicant qualifications and character. Some cleaning companies may also verify previous employment history. If you are still worried about people coming to your door, it is best to ask about the vetting process when contacting a cleaning service to gain confidence in their hiring practices.”
Jennifer Billock is an award-winning author, bestselling author, and editor of Kitchen Witch Newsletter. He currently dreams of traveling around the world with his Boston terrier. See the website at jenniferbillock.com.