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Determining a Reasonable Cleaning Rate

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An important decision you will have to make when starting your own cleaning business is setting a cleaning rate. This is a guide about determining a reasonable cleaning rate.
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By 0 found this helpful
April 6, 2016

So I decluttered, cleaned, and organized a customer's home while she has been out of town. Since she has been gone I have done 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 2 closets, one of the closets was as big a room pretty much. And I've been doing loads and loads of laundry. I've spent altogether about 16 hours there.

She will be returning tomorrow and told me to tell her how much and she will write me a check. How much should I ask for? I don't know if I should charge by the hour, the room, or what. I have also been taking care of her 3 cats, guinea pig, and bird. I cleaned out the bird cage as well. I'm not a "professional", but I have done a great job because I am great at and love organizing and cleaning. Any comments or advice would be so great! I've included before and after pictures of some of the work. I live in Braselton, GA. It's about an hour from Atlanta. Thanks!

Answers

April 7, 20160 found this helpful

Wow! I cannot answer your question about what you should charge, however, you may have a huge problem regarding payment. It does not matter if you are or are not a "professional" organizer (or in any field), you should have set all payment requirements BEFORE ever providing any service. I would not be at all surprised if your client refuses to pay what you ask now and finds fault with most of your work to avoid paying.

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BEFORE any job or service, even if your client is a relative, friend, etc., you should protect yourself:
*Deciding on a fee-per hour, service type, etc.
*Complete a thorough and detailed "walk-thru" to see EXACTLY WHAT YOUR CLIENT EXPECTS AND DEMANDS.
*Develop a fee contract covering what your client expects re service (as thorough as possible) and exactly what you expect to complete for the job. Your client and you must sign any contract before service.
*State in the contract exactly what you will do if you find "other work" in your service that your client and you have NOT agreed to-such as: extra work you had not anticipated or more than expected work (tons of laundry, more than agreed cleaning, etc.). Will you simply list the problems and not complete them or contact your client re what she/he wants you to do, etc.?
*
This list is only the basics in deciding service and fees but is crucial if you want to be paid for what you will do.

Always Remember-
Work for free or work for full price; never work for nothing!

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Anonymous
April 7, 20160 found this helpful

Maybe $150.00 I am not sure you have to decide this one ..good luck ..

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July 31, 20160 found this helpful

150.00 really, she says she put in 16 hrs. That's. It even 10 bucks and hour and look at the mess, charge at least 20$

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Anonymous
January 31, 20170 found this helpful

200

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January 31, 20171 found this helpful

I'd charge $350. I've been doing this for years. And just per room u did that's $50 a room plus laundry there's another $100 min then the pets another $100 and the normal cleaning another $100.

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Anonymous
April 26, 20170 found this helpful

I think 400-500 for all of the work you have done. Pets, rooms bathrooms, your labor and time.

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16 hrs is a lot to dedicate to someone es house cleaning.

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June 4, 20170 found this helpful

This question was first posted in April, 2016 but continues to receive reply's and I am wondering what the poster actually ask for and what she was actually paid?? She is probably no where around ThriftyFun any longer so we will probably never know the answers.

What I am curious about is how the homeowners would feel/react if they knew that photos of their home (before!!! and after) were posted for anyone to view? And - even their city is listed for even more personal review. Just curious (thats me)..

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Anonymous
August 8, 20170 found this helpful

I would charge 600!!!!!

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September 2, 20130 found this helpful

I recently quoted a potential client 125.00 for a 5 bedroom, 3 bath, 3200 sq foot home. She was quick to tell me she had someone clean for considerably less. She also has 3 children, a pet rabbit, and a dog inside. Help?

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By Carol R

Answers

September 4, 20130 found this helpful

$125 is a really good price to clean up after this lot! She's trying to intimidate you before you've even broken out the broom. She's clearly going to be a real problem client.

The money she is willing to pay is not anywhere near enough to put up with this woman, her three children, and her other zoo critters! Anything under $125 is too little - bet she wants to pay $75!

Truthfully the right price for this much work (because really, with her attitude it's clear she's going to expect you to do a lot more than just clean up after her and the zoo) is $150, $200 if I'm right and it turns out she expects child-minding, and lots of other 'little things'.

And the pricing should be figured for after tax - make sure she (or anyone else) pays you enough to leave that $125-200 in your pocketbook after your paying taxes on the earning.

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September 4, 20130 found this helpful

Then I would let her use them. Some people just want something for nothing. Pretend you are a potential client and ask around to some of the other people who clean. I bet the price is "considerably higher" than you quoted.

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Some people price things by what they do. The old adage "I don't do windows" can be your starting point. Charge the same rates for similar jobs but don't assume they need every thing done. If they need a good vacuuming but don't need the bathroom clean, you can charge by the "piece" so to speak or in this case by the job.
I hope that helps.

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September 4, 20130 found this helpful

I live in a small town. I have 1 child, five cats, two bathrooms and three bedrooms in approx 1600 sq feet. I pay $65-80 depending on how many hours it takes her. She charges a flat $12 per hour

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September 4, 20130 found this helpful

So where is this other cleaning person now? I bet they quit. If she was satisfied with their work and their price, why is she looking elsewhere if they are still willing to work for her.

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She is trying to intimidate you like another responder said. Stick to your guns.

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September 4, 20130 found this helpful

I clean in the Seattle area. I charge $30 an hour. I won't clean a house over 4000 sq ft by myself and I dont work over 5 hours a day. for me her house would be a 5 hour job. That would be $150. You are a bargain. You will end up hating this person, and wish you never went to work for her. If you really need the money you could work for her for awhile, while you find someone better to work for. Good luck to you.

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September 23, 20151 found this helpful

I'd say, I can do a walk through or ask more questions.
Unless this person is an immaculate housekeeper, a deep first clean should cost at least two times as much.
If you do a very good deep clean, solo, this will be an 8 hour job just to get it down to a 4 hour biweekly maintainence clean.
Sounds like she can't or wont pay you for that. I find a creative way to get rid of clients like this that end up costing me money.
If people sound condescending, nasty or lowball me out of the gate I automatically price higher, because value customers are our worst nightmare. They literally end up costing me money, so I refuse to budge on their estimates.
I take a hit on that 1st deep clean and bill out on average about 20 an hour. I am aiming for 30 per billable hour so I can get a permanent, solid hire that will stay.
My money is made on maintainance cleans.
I have insurance, advertising, gas and personnel expenses to pay.

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November 7, 20150 found this helpful

Wow, I cannot believe how underpaid cleaning people are. 15 years ago my daughter had a cleaning business with a waiting list. She hired other people butoften had to clean behind them because they didn't meet her standards. Her rate, once your house was brought up to snuff was $ 25/hr and again, this was 15 years ago. If houses were not kept to a certain level of cleanliness, she fired the client and would move on to the top person on her waiting list. She helped people organize those boxes not opened for years, but that was pricey and required a stiff down payment. She was even successful in putting together teams to help hoarders who were ready to accept help and at the other end, inventory, pack, and prepare for auction or beneficiary distribution the contents of homes of deceased. Then she would clean the house to a pristine state.
For the work you people do, $35/hr should be your minimum AFTER you have completed the first cleaning. My daughter was the type ofcleaner who used a toothbrush in the corner on her hands and knees if need be. She fluffed pillows, made sure the central air (and other air) filters were clean, had a green thumb, (so she could keep an eye on or maintain the indoor plants), and did not have accounts receivable. She was cash only, and never had a client that didn't tip her. She was also a philanthropist because ifshe heard of elderly or disabled in need of a cleaning, she would go and do it, take a crew if necessary to take care of yards and repais, and then hook them up with local groups or social services for ongoing care.
Unfortunately, In her teen years, a lot of our home and yard care fell to her when I sustained back injuries. I couldn't stand to see her take on so much, but she was a trooper and hardly complained. I knew it bothered her. Three months after she started her business to help with college expenses, she called me. "Mom, I am so happy I had to do all thathousework. I lesrnedso many great tricks for cleaning and learned how to make a home spotless, that I am getting lots of referrals. And thanks for teaching me how to vacuum myself out of a room. People really like the design and the fact there's no footprints. I received a couple big tips just for that. Can you believe it? For vacuuming a certain way?"
ALL OF YOU CLEANING PEOPLE SHOULD ALSO LEARN HOW TO ESTIMATE SQUARE FOOTAGE AND HAVE A RATE FOR IT. Use that for your initial clean. Get to know specialists like window wahers, carpet cleaners, tree trimmers, gardeners .... people that you can all get together and refer each other for jobs.
AND WHENEVER SOMEONE SAYS that they have someone who can do the job for less money.... simply thank them for their time and the opportunity to bid on their job and LEAVE..
IF THEY CALL YOU AGAIN, go out and do a NEW BID with a NEW HOURLY RATE INCREASED BY $5. If they question, PROFESSIONALLY let them know you have had a rate increase since you last met...even if it's the next day.... you may have reviewed your books last night.
GOOD LUCK EVERYONE. So often, you do a thankless job, cleaning up after others. Hopefully if you do feel that way about a client, you dismiss them. It's not worth the stress and there are lots of individuals and companies who need you.

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December 9, 20130 found this helpful

How much should I charge for a weekly cleaning of a 2000 - 2500 square foot, 3 bedroom and 3 bath home? She would also like her windows cleaned and her oven and refrigerator cleaned. Thanks for your help.

By Nan

Answers

December 16, 20130 found this helpful

It depends on where you are and how much competition there is in your area. I would think that $125 is the minimum per week but $185 might be more realistic. I pay $90 for my (daughter's) 1 BR apartment once per month and $175 for my house. I have 6 BR, 3.5 bath but only ask for two bedrooms, kitchen and den to be done every month.
Good luck. Wish you were near me since the people that clean my house do a barely adequate job. They certainly do NOT do windows.

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October 29, 20140 found this helpful

Depends if it's weekly or biweekly $140 is what I charge. Windows are an extra charge.

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July 11, 20130 found this helpful

How much do I charge for the 1st cleaning of a very dirty, very cluttered 1 bedroom apartment? This is for a good male friend of mine. He has asked me to help him. He wants to straighten his place up. It's a total wreck, everything, every room. There are clothes everywhere, scrap electric things, junk kitchen a total mess, bathroom is unreal and the bedroom as well. There is no organization at all, not one room. It will take probably 2 or 3 days at 8 hrs a day, maybe more. Help me!

By Lucy from Elizabethtown, KY

Answers

July 12, 20130 found this helpful

Are you truly helping him clean or will you be doing all the work yourself? If he is helping, too, I would probably charge around $50 a day. If you're doing it all by yourself, I would charge at least $75 per day. Maybe more, depending on the amount of work involved.

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July 15, 20130 found this helpful

I would search cleaning services to find out what they would charge and share that info with your friend. Then tell him what you will charge (maybe half?). Remember to wear gloves and a face mask in case you uncover "surprises" such as mold, insects, etc. Good luck!

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October 20, 20120 found this helpful

How much should I charge per hour for house cleaning in Montana?

By PTS

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September 5, 20120 found this helpful

I am bonded, licensed, and insured with 2 of us cleaning. I charge $40 for an hour, including laundry. Is that a good rate?

By Linda

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September 5, 20120 found this helpful

The rate is often determined not only by the size of the house and what the owner wants done, but also by the going rates in your area. I ran a small housecleaning service in the early 2000s near Portland, Oregon. There were two people working and our rate was $25 per hour, per person, as there are actually two man hours for every hour in the house.

If you are only asking $40 for the two of you then you might want to check around and see if $20 per hour is the going rate for a cleaning service that also does laundry. It might be a little low, depending on your area. Hope this helps.

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September 13, 20100 found this helpful

My name is Seazen and I am trying to start my own cleaning business. I have absolutely no idea what prices I should quote. Please help.

By seazen from Pittsburgh, PA

Answers:

Determining a Reasonable Cleaning Rate

Call all of your local cleaning service companies as if you might be a future client and see what they all charge. (06/10/2010)

By Ann

Determining a Reasonable Cleaning Rate

Years ago, our oldest daughter started a cleaning service when she was still in high school. The first single family home she cleaned was a real mess, and she had agreed to clean it for $25. (Remember I said it was "years ago").

To clean that house the way she'd been taught to clean a home took her 3 days. She had agreed to clean it for $25 the one time, and had to keep her word, but she did it for the one time only. When the people asked her to come back, she told them that she would want twice that first fee to ever do it again. They gladly paid it.

After she'd cleaned it that first time, she'd done such a good job and that was the way they wanted it cleaned from then on. Even though they'd had other housekeepers work for them, they'd never been as happy with their work as they were with the way Mel cleaned.

If you really don't know how long a job will take or how much to charge, then charge what you think the job is worth and do it for the one time. This does two things. It allows the home or apartment owner to see the quality of your work and allows you to find out how long it takes, etc. You will be much better able to give them a price then for continued service.

When you take any kind of job, you are often on a 90-day trial period which allows the employer to see the quality of your work in relationship to how much you're being paid per hour. At the end of the trial period, the employer knows whether or not to keep you employed.

That is a good way to approach the value of a private cleaning service from both parties' viewpoints except you only need to do a one-time clean for the price you quoted. After that, you can decide what the job is actually worth, and the home or apartment owner can decide if they like your work well enough to pay what you intend to charge on a regular basis.

Keep in mind that the more often you clean their home or apartment, the less you might have to charge since you are doing such a good job each time, consequently, it takes you less time on a regular basis.

After bidding too low on a couple of jobs, you will soon learn if you've bid accurately, and there is no better teacher than your own experience. You might decide that you don't want to work for that person at any price. It happens sometimes.

I love bartering, and feel that both people benefit the most when bartering labor, skills, or material goods. You both get exactly what you want and you didn't have to go anywhere else to get the money first before getting what you want. You so often get a lot more for your "bartering" than you would when having to pay for it in "dollars" anyway.

Good luck with your business. I admire your willingness to work at a job so many men and women just hate. They most likely were never taught when they were growing up or they simply don't have time to do it right.

(06/13/2010)

By Julia

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November 13, 20090 found this helpful

I just started my first cleaning job, my initial quote was $10 an hour, because I was told it was only lite cleaning 1-2-3 days a week. When I arrived I realized that I totally undercut myself. The home is is extremely cluttered and on top of that the home owner requested that I do hours worth of gardening and yard work.

They are very nice people, but I don't know what would be a good rate to charge, and if I need to go with a separate rate for the yard work. The home is approximately 2500 sq. feet, if not more and has 4 bedrooms.

By Heather from Jacksonville, FL

Answers:

Determining a Reasonable Cleaning Rate

Learn from your mistakes this time by having a look at exactly what you will be asked to clean, including the exact garden work. Then, for this job only increase your price only slightly, but first keeping in mind that having one job that could be a permanent guaranteed pay (because of the clutter and on-going need of the owner) and good hours, you may do better with this "bird in the hand at the price you quoted" than having no other work for a while?

If you and this owner get along well, you may do just fine and find it both interesting and rewardingly helpful to the one with the clutter. I know, I have clutter and need help, but unfortunately cannot afford to pay a thing, having to do it all myself instead, but is the consequence of letting it get stacked up.

Be encouraged in that you will learn as you go. Suggest that you keep a notebook of your hours, whether the owner does or not, and have the owner from the very start to sign each day's starting time and each day's ending time, "so there is no misunderstanding, and because it's the way you want to run your business". If the owner refuses to cooperate, leave immediately after paid what you can get, moving on to another owner. If paid fairly and on time, that's worth a lot more than you realize. God bless you. (07/17/2009)

By lynda

Determining a Reasonable Cleaning Rate

I used to own my own business. I was a personal chef and in order to get customers I felt I had to charge a cheap rate. This concept couldn't be further from the truth. By charging a lesser rate than your competitors, you undermine yourself. People will look at that rate and think you're an amateur. Figure in the cost of your supplies, your travel time, your time etc. I would be up front with them and tell them you underestimated because they told you it was light cleaning. I would tell them flat out that you cannot possibly do all that work plus yard work for $10/hour. I would charge at least $15/hour. Don't worry, people will pay because they no doubt got other estimates. Be true to yourself. You can still do that and be fair at the same time. (07/17/2009)

By Kathy

Determining a Reasonable Cleaning Rate

Maybe what you have to do is figure out a price for the job rather than how long it takes you. If you think it should cost the customer $100 a day for what you do, then charge that. (07/17/2009)

By Debbie Dzurilla

Determining a Reasonable Cleaning Rate

Boy did you under price yourself. I don't know about Florida, but in many parts of the country the price is more like $20 an hour. Yard work? you didn't sign up for yard work.
You're simply going to have to have a sit down and tell these cheap people that you didn't realize how much work there was to do. That you're going to have to raise your price to at least $15 an hour and yard work is something completely different.

Check you local want ads and see what others are charging for housecleaning. See what landscapers are charging (which is a heck of a lot more) and either raise to that price when you do yard work, or tell them you're not a landscaper, you do house work.

Clutter. I always tell people from the get go that there's not a lot I can do about their clutter. That's their job. You can't throw away things and you have no idea where to put their clutter.

I have always charged by the job rather than the hour. I am fast so that works. They know they're not paying me to goof off or take breaks. I can (usually) tell how long it will take for a job and figure it out at $20 per hour. Professional services charge $20-$40 an hour for each person they send.

I always tell them from the start that if I feel I quoted too low I will have to raise the price. I have never done that and should have one time. Still check around and see what others in your area are charging. I do know that the elderly expect to pay wages from 30 years ago.
(07/17/2009)

By Kathie Brave

Determining a Reasonable Cleaning Rate

My partner and I have a small cleaning business. We are insured and bonded which costs quite a bit, but gets us jobs like apartment complexes and such. We charge $30 for the first 2 hours worth of cleaning and $12.50 per hour after that. Now, when we both go and clean, we are actually there for 1 hour on a 2 hour cleaning. Some clients give a time limit such as they want us for 3 hours worth of cleaning. Others give us a list of what they want done and we keep track of our time.

We take breaks, but that time is subtracted from the time we are actually there. If they want 3 hours and we take a 15 minute break, we are actually there 1 hour and 45 minutes. That way we both work 1 1/2 hours which equals their 3 hours worth of cleaning and they don't pay for our 15 minute break. We do have one apartment complex that pays flat rate. Some are done faster than others and some (like the one we did today) take a lot longer, but it sort of averages out.

We made out a list for the client to tell us what is "must do", what is "would like done" and what is "if there is time". If they want a certain length of time, we can get things done that are most important and go down the list to the lesser things. If they add things and it won't interfere with another client's time, we do it and charge for it at the regular rate. If it would put someone else's time off, we offer to come another day and do the extras. Hope this helps. (07/17/2009)

By Joyce Horner

Determining a Reasonable Cleaning Rate

I used the Merry Maids (or equivalent). For about $80, a crew of 3 women came in. This is what they did in an hour - to an hour and 20 minutes:

  1. washed kitchen and 2 bathroom floors
  2. wiped down counters
  3. cleaned the outside of the stove, refrigerator, all kitchen appliances, and cleaned sinks
  4. changed 2 beds
  5. wiped down the window sills
  6. scoured toilets (2) and 2 tubs
  7. vacuumed the whole house
  8. took out the trash
  9. put dirty towels and sheets in the washer (did not turn it on)
  10. also dusted a bit

This was in Louisiana, where I think hourly charges tended to be lower.

They did not:

  1. declutter
  2. garden
  3. straighten drawers, or any closets or anything else
  4. nothing major

I think you need to be firm about a higher hourly rate, and list what you are and are not willing to do. (07/18/2009)

By Janet

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