Pay for a Cleaning Service or Do it Yourself?

by TTMK on January 20, 2014 · 8 comments

pay for a cleaning serviceDoes anybody like to do housework?  Do you enjoy laundry, cleaning, and other duties?

While there are probably some people who do, my guess is that there are many more that don’t get too excited by such tasks.  It is what it is, things just have to get done around the house.   How we approach it can be very different, depending on our situation.

In my home, we have always taken a DIY approach.  With the exception of one instance right before trying to sell a home, others aren’t paid to clean.  When thinking about how much I should pay for a home cleaning service, the answer that comes to mind is generally far less than what they charge around here.

That being said, I do see the value if the price would be more acceptable, as there is real value to having more time.  Being frugal to save a few dollars at the expense of a lot of time is something I try to be careful not to do.  In this case, the value isn’t worth it – but it’s a close call.

A friend of mine told me about a couple she knows that took a similar DIY approach to cleaning the house, and ended up having arguments over how well it was done.  Specifically, they shared household cleaning duties, with the guy doing it half the time and his wife taking on the work the other half.  Both having full-time jobs, this seems fair, right?

Well, it didn’t work out that smoothly.  While I haven’t met these people, I was told by my friend that the wife was quite irritated with her husband’s cleaning. Or, in her view, ineffective cleaning.

However, my friend indicated that wife in that situation – who she’s known for a while – is very picky and a neat freak.  She shared that it’s likely that the guy cleans well enough, but she has high standards for how her home needs to look.  In other words, it has to be meticulous.  She’s also focused on health, being the type of person who always has hand sanitizer nearby.

This caused conflict as the guy felt like he was doing a good enough job.  His approach was that if she really wanted to make the place completely spotless, she could go the extra mile and spend more time on it than him.  She didn’t like the notion of working and doing more around the house, especially since she made more money than him.

It got the point where she wanted to pay to get a professional home cleaner to come every week, while he didn’t want to spend that kind of money.  He felt they were doing a good enough job as it is.  She preferred not to spend the money, but felt it was necessary because she thought his efforts were sub par.  If he just pulled his own weight, there would be no need to spend money.

I was told that they eventually did hire someone to come and clean for them.  Would you rather be right or be happy? In this case, compromise happened.

You know, it’s an interesting question though – what would I do in this case?  The idea of paying someone to do something I feel like I already do well would not sit well with me at first.  Do you try to be persistent with your spouse and defend your position, or do you capitulate and pay despite seeing no need to.   I’d probably do the latter, though there are limits to how far one would go to avoid conflict. 🙂

My Questions for You

What would have done in that guy’s situation? Would you be persistent with your position, or would you give in despite your opinion to avoid discord?

Should who makes more money matter when deciding how to allocate housework, even if both people work full-time?

What is your approach to home cleaning – do it yourself, or hire out?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Money Beagle January 20, 2014 at 10:41 am

We do ours ourself. My wife is stay-at-home so she does most of the cleaning, but I’m actually more meticulous so every once in a while I will do a clean of various rooms which is more through. It’s a pretty workable system, though honestly if I had a lot more disposable income, I would probably have the cleaning handled primarily by a third party, and just make our cleaning secondary.


Little House January 20, 2014 at 12:12 pm

We clean the house ourselves and I have to say that my husband is the neat freak and I’m not. Sometimes he complains about my results, but it’s still helpful to him. However, if our place were any bigger, we would contemplate hiring someone. But only if it were cost-efficient!


Nick @ Step Away from the Mall January 20, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Should who makes more money matter when deciding how to allocate housework, even if both people work full-time?

Um… not if you want to stay married… 🙂

Seriously, when one person is a neat freak it can totally cause a ton of arguments. To require the other person to clean with a white glove is unreasonable, but the opposite is true, too. This is one of those “need to compromise” situations. If you have the money in your budget, I have no problem paying for it, particularly if you’re going to use that time savings to benefit your life in other ways.


The First Million is the Hardest January 20, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Sounds like the couple in your example should have talked things out a little more before reaching that agreement. He knew she was a neat freak & would hold him to impossibly high standards, she knew she’s very particular about the cleaning so that agreement doesn’t sound ideal.

Personally, we do all the cleaning ourselves. I just can’t justify paying someone to do something that’s really not that hard to do on our own. Maybe if we both worked long hours, or had a huge house that we couldn’t keep up with it would make more sense, but not in our current situation.


SuburbanFinance January 21, 2014 at 6:56 pm

If you both work full time , you should split the housework evenly. It’s not fair, otherwise.


Michael February 2, 2014 at 12:30 pm

For the past few years, we’ve had a cleaning lady that came by every two weeks. But a few months ago, we reverted to diy. As the kids have gotten older, we’re more able to stay on top of things and the value of having that sort of help has dropped.


TTMK February 4, 2014 at 1:08 am

Makes sense, it’s all about value a given point in time. Life does have different demands at various points in time, and having kids get past the younger years can make cleaning needs decrease a bit. We’re not there yet, but down the line I’m sure it will get there as they’re older.


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