If you're considering hiring someone to do your housecleaning, read on for quick tips on selection, performance, evaluation and resolution of any service issues.

What to expect for costs and services

Several factors influence the cost of cleaning, such as house location and size; the number of adults, children and pets in the home; the frequency of the service and the thoroughness of the cleaning required. A cleaning company will generally send a staff member to view your home and get a good understanding of your cleaning needs and then determine a rate. Average hourly rates often range from $15 to $35 dollars depending on the location of the business.

Housecleaners routinely include the following services in a standard clean:

• thorough cleaning of kitchens and bathrooms

• vacuuming throughout the house

• mopping

• sweeping

• making beds

• dusting all surfaces, including baseboards and light fixtures

Other services are usually available for an additional cost, such as spot-cleaning carpets, cleaning cupboards, washing windows and doing laundry. Other cleaning requests can also generally be accommodated for an extra fee. Some companies supply all cleaning products, whereas others expect you to provide everything.

Be certain you are clear on what the price includes and what you're obligated to have in your home.

Start with a trial run

Once you've found a housecleaner you want to try, start with a trial period that covers two to four cleanings. This allows time for the company to understand your expectations and gives you an opportunity to determine your cleaning requirements clearly.

If you find that after several visits you're still not satisfied, the housecleaning relationship probably isn't going to work.

What to check after a housecleaning

First, do an overall assessment. Does the house look and smell neat and clean? It should be apparent that the carpets have been vacuumed but make sure to look in out-of-the-way places (such as under the beds and couch) to be sure that those areas have also been cleaned. Have the kitchen and bathroom floors been thoroughly washed or only quickly damp mopped?

Check the corners of the rooms and up against the walls, if the cleaning has been done well, these will be free of dust and grime. Check that the toilets have been well scrubbed and that your mirrors, sinks and chrome work sparkle. Your furniture should be dust free and gleaming.

In addition, check to see if small items such as candle holders or picture frames have been moved to accommodate dusting. No company will perfectly replicate your layout after they're finished. If items have been moved, it indicates they're diligently cleaning.

If there's a problem…

If you're unhappy with the quality of the cleaning job, try to rectify it by speaking with the cleaner directly. The problem may be as simple as unclear instructions.

If this approach proves unsuccessful, call the company and speak with a supervisor clearly outlining your concerns. Take photographs so you are able to provide concrete examples of the areas where your cleaning expectations are not being met.

If you are unable to satisfactorily resolve any issues with your cleaning provider, it's time to move on. You're paying for a service and have a right to expect it to be performed as you desire.

The right housecleaning service can save you time and provide peace of mind. Here's what you need to know about basic housecleaning costs and services.

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