How Do You Find the Right Green Cleaning Person?
If you’re like me, your time can be better spent doing anything but cleaning your house. Granted, hiring someone to clean is a luxury but, over the years, it’s been a gift I gladly give myself.
That said, I’m picky. I want details tended to, like dusting baseboards, moving objects to get behind and underneath them, and sweeping cobwebs out of ceiling corners. I don’t care if it takes longer. I gladly trade an extra hour for a job well done. That’s why I prefer paying by the hour instead of by the room or project.
When it comes to cleaning products, I’m adamant—no synthetic commercial cleaners. I don’t want the air in my healthy home polluted with artificial smells and toxic chlorine. Only plant-based fragrance-free products, please.
So, as you can imagine, it’s not easy finding the right cleaning person. Usually, when I find one who works for me, I hang onto them for years. But life happens. People move on, and I’m left with a vacancy to fill. What to do?
If I have a big mess to deal with, imminent house guests, or a dinner party on the horizon, I’ll hire an eco-cleaning service. Fortunately, that’s not as difficult as it used to be. There are national companies with local franchises specializing in using only plant-based products.
Three big ones are Ecomaids, The Cleaning Authority, and Maid Brigade. If none of these options are available in your area, search for a green cleaner on Green America’s National Green Pages or contact your Chamber of Commerce or a local green business organization for suggestions.
Though pricey, cleaning services have the advantage of providing their own equipment (including vacuum cleaners and products) and employees are usually bonded, so if a theft occurs you’re financially reimbursed. Some companies are even bonded for breakage. It pays to ask.
My first choice for a cleaning person, though, is always an individual with his or her own business, someone with an established reputation who cleans houses for a living and enjoys the work. That’s a bit harder to find. I’ve always had good luck asking busy friends and colleagues for recommendations.
Be prepared to put your name on a wait list, as good providers are in demand. However, bringing a stranger into your house without a personal recommendation, even if you interview them first, is not advisable. You have no idea what lies beneath the surface. At the very least, ask for references and give each one a call.
My initial face-to-face interview with a prospective cleaner takes about an hour. We tour the house and discuss issues like rates, time schedule, and sickness policy. I ask my providers to please skip cleaning day if they are ill with a cold or flu or some other contagious airborne disease.
Cleaning products and techniques are discussed, as well. I want to know specifically what products are used. Often, I provide the products myself. And, I always gift a copy of my book Green Clean, a thorough waterproof guide with answers to most questions about green cleaning.
Linda Mason Hunter is a pioneer in America’s green movement. Among her 13 books are The Healthy Home: An Attic-To-Basement Guide (Rodale Press, 1989), Green Clean (Melcher Media, 2005), and Three Green Rats, An Eco Tale for ages 7 to 11 “and precocious adults” (Ink Pinn Press, 2012).