How To Hire The Right Cleaning Service

It's not hard to find a cleaning service. There are a lot of them out there. What's difficult is finding the right one for you and your home. Why is it hard to hire the right cleaning service?

One of our own clients summed it up perfectly. "...having a stranger come into your home is never easy, especially when they see it not at its best. They made me feel immediately at ease and it was a pleasure having them here." Read the full review here.

There are three main business models in the cleaning services industry. Each service will give you a different kind of experience.

  • The service hires and trains their own W-2 employees.

  • The service is a domestic referral agency which connects/matches you to independent cleaners and cleaning companies.

  • The service is a single person or team - like an independent contractor or domestic employee.

The Service Hires Their Own Employees

These are companies and franchises who have proven experience, policies and procedures to ensure the quality of their employees and tools is the same on every cleaning. Prices are typically a bit higher but you're getting quality work. You're also getting a company who is licensed, insured, and has the infrastructure to make communication, scheduling and billing very easy.

One of the biggest advantages to hiring a company is that they have employees instead of independent contractors. This allows them to actually train and manage their housekeepers. They have control over the quality of their work.

The company also takes on the expenses of doing business so that the housekeeper can focus on doing their job right. On top of that the employee will earn sick leave which is a huge deal for this type of work. When you hire a company with W-2 employees, you’re supporting a company that provides their employees with peace of mind and a living wage.

The Service is a Referral Agency

This business model is called a domestic referral agency. Many companies like this model because of its lower operational cost. Referral agencies also have the flexibility they have to take on more work because of they have access to a larger pool of housekeepers.

Vetting Your Housekeepers

The agency does the work of finding the best housekeepers in your area. They will interview, test the housekeeper's knowledge, call references, verify that the contractor has filed the proper business paperwork and has adequate insurance to perform cleaning services. That's a lot of work! And you don't have to do any of it.

How The Service Works

What this means for you is that the agency takes your request for a cleaning appointment and reaches out to their network of independent contractors. These contractors will come to your home and clean. You pay the agency. The agency pays the contractor. The agency will usually pay the contractor about 50-70% of whatever your total price is - it just depends on what their agreement with the contractor is.

How This Benefits You

You get a great housekeeper without having to do all the research. The agency handles all of the administrative and scheduling for you.

  • You don't have to worry about filing employer documents or paying employer related taxes or other fees.

  • If that housekeeper is sick or goes on vacation the agency can reach out to their network to find another contractor to fill the spot. This way you still get your home cleaned.

  • You don't have to do the firing - which can get awkward. If you don't like your cleaner, just say so and the agency will find another for you in no time.

  • If you like your cleaner, the agency will usually be able to assign that cleaner to all your cleanings.

How This Benefits The Contractor

Working with a referral agency is great for the contractor. It helps them scale their business by taking care of the operational and marketing activities they don't have the time or money for. Here are just a few examples of why independent contractors like working with referral agencies:

  • Contractors don't have to spend money on marketing to get new leads that may not even turn into paying customers - most contractors don't have the cash flow to do this effectively . The agency does all the marketing to get new clients and sends those guaranteed jobs to the contractor.

  • Contractors don't need to hire someone to handle customer service. They can just focus on cleaning and earning money. The agency will field all phone calls, emails, etc. Most leads need a response within 5 minutes to have a shot at converting them and independent contractors are usually cleaning so they can't respond quickly.

  • Contractors don't have to pay credit card processing fees or setup a system to allow online payments and invoicing. That technology can be tough for some to deal with. An agency can do that for them.

  • Contractors get the flexibility to accept only the jobs they want. The agency will notify the contractor when a new customer books. The contractor can see if it fits into their schedule and accept the job or not. This gives them the ability to make a schedule that still allows them to do things like spend time with family or take care of other obligations.

Cons of Using a Referral Agency

  • You’re really only paying a little bit less than you would for a company with employees. If you paid a bit more, you’d end up with higher quality work.

  • You might not always get the same contractor as many will take a higher paying job and skip yours if they have the chance.

  • Independent contractors are notorious for forgetting appointments because they don’t use scheduling software. Most will use something like a Google calendar or just their own memory to keep their schedules organized. That can lead to double-booking or being really late.

  • This business model takes advantage of the worker. They have to be willing to work for less pay in exchange for getting a guaranteed lead. They don’t have any safety net like sick leave if they can’t work.

  • Independent contractors have to buy their own tools and pay for other expenses on top of earning only 70% of a job.

The Service is a Single Person or Team

This service model is a favorite for many because they get to build a relationship with their cleaner. You most likely have their direct email or phone number if you need to reach them. Normally you'll pay with cash or check as most contractors don't want to pay for a card processing system. Scheduling may not be as clear as you are most likely relying on your cleaner's ability to manage their calendar versus an automated system which handles that for them. This is most often the lowest cost of the three main business models.

But don't let the price fool you. It's not always true that you get what you pay for. We've met plenty of independent cleaners who do amazing work. And when you find that cleaner at the right price, that's hard to beat. You get personalized care of your home, a friendly cleaner you come to think of as family, and most importantly, someone reliable that you can trust.

One big issue with hiring this type of cleaner is whether or not you're responsible for filing employment documents and paying employee taxes. It really just depends on how the cleaner has structured their business. We recommend talking to them and doing some research on your own to determine if you'll need to do any extra paperwork to hire them. We're not lawyers so we can't help you figure this out. We just want to bring it to your attention as many people don't realize it's something they may need to do.

Spring Into Clean is a professional housekeeping service in Alameda, Emeryville, Oakland and Berkeley, CA. We specialize in the following cleaning services:

  • House cleaning, apartment cleaning, condo cleaning

  • Apartment buildings

  • Co-living spaces

  • Offices

Go to for a description of our services or use our online booking form to get a free instant quote. We can also be reached via email at 7 days a week.


‪(510) 277-4234

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