Debate over Outsourcing Cleaning

Recently we met up with some people we know from church; one couple had participated in a panel at one of our church’s premarital counseling retreat weekends (which we also did on our one-year wedding anniversary).  We started talking about expectations we all had when we were engaged and how smooth or rocky the first couple years of marriage were.


The two of us more recently married and currently childless couples basically said that household chores like picking up and cleaning weren’t something we had a definite plan for going into marriage, like we were “supposed” to based on our premarital counseling, and that they just sort of worked themselves out after marriage.  The other person present who’d been married a lot longer and has several children said that he and his wife had finally started using a once-every-two-weeks cleaning service.


man vacuumingKyle and I discussed this option during our premarital counseling as well.  Outsourcing cleaning isn’t something we can afford or have any need for now, but when we earn more, work more, and have some children I thought it would be something to consider.  My parents employed a full-time housekeeper/nanny after they had their third child until my mother retired to be a stay-at-home mom.  Kyle, however, thinks that there is pride in maintaining your home yourself, and doesn’t want to consider outsourcing cleaning.


Our friend and his wife are an MD/PhD pair so $160 per month for this service is affordable for them.  He said that they simply wouldn’t get around to scrubbing the bathrooms and mopping the floors if they didn’t use this service and I immediately identified with that.  Over the course of our marriage I’ve phased out of doing any “heavy” cleaning like bathrooms or even vacuuming.  Kyle does almost all of those chores, and the trade-off is that I do more of the day-to-day “light” cleaning like dishes and laundry.  I spend more time cleaning but I only do the stuff I want to do so I love this arrangement!


But to be honest, the heavy cleaning doesn’t happen frequently, especially in our bedroom and bathroom where we never have guests.  (I’m not blaming Kyle!  I don’t do it either!)  So it would be nice to know that our place is getting really really clean on a regular basis no matter what else we have going on, which I’m sure will be a lot after we reproduce.  But Kyle and I discussed it again and he’s still against the idea of outsourcing any of our housework, even after it makes more sense for us.  :/


Do you or would you ever outsource housework and is it a luxury you can afford?  Do you prefer to take care of everything yourself?  What chore arrangement have you come to with your spouse and was it established before or after you moved in together?


photo from Free Digital Photos


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41 Responses to "Debate over Outsourcing Cleaning"

  1. Cb says:

    Do it! It’s one of the few problems in life that you can throw money at and make go away.

    1. Emily says:

      Very true! I’d rather do a lot of other things than clean – childcare, cooking…

  2. I’ve only outsourced on certain occasions, like a good spring cleaning or a time where I might have guests coming into town but I’m slammed with work. I can’t afford it more than that…but it sure is really nice! And if I ever made a lot more I’d consider it for sure!
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..Link Love/Week in Review 5/10/13

    1. Emily says:

      We’ve never hired a person to clean even once! Maybe if I can convince Kyle to do it once, like before an event like you did, he would feel more open to an ongoing arrangement. 🙂

  3. I’d really only think of outsourcing cleaning if we had infants and I needed to work. With someone crawling on the ground I’d like it mopped more often than I currently do, buy could only justify that if I were working full time.
    Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..Should We Close The Home Equity Line of Credit Early?

    1. Emily says:

      That was the point our friend made because they do have small kiddos – the floor really needs to be mopped and they don’t have time!

  4. We have a cleaning lady who comes every two weeks we pay $65 each time. To us it is seriously worth it. My husband never cleans and it just caused too many problems fighting about household chores. We’d rather pay someone to do it and be happier.
    If my husband didnt want to hire a service,then I would make sure he agreed to deep cleaning the house every two weeks and not complaining about it. Haha

    1. Emily says:

      That’s a good idea. Things have to get done and if we don’t want to do it we should pay for it! But our house is small enough for us to handle OK for the moment with our work schedules. We’re just lazy. 🙂

  5. I’ve thought about it. At the end of the day, it just strikes me as too far removed from my blue collar roots to ever actually go ahead and hire a cleaning service.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..5 Frugal Ideas for Mother’s Day

    1. Emily says:

      That might be how Kyle feels, too. It’s not weird to me because my parents did it but his parents never did.

  6. My cousins who are older than me told me that the best thing they ever did for their marriage early on was to get someone to clean your house. Their reasoning was that newlyweds are often extremely busy and so the time that they get to spend together shouldn’t be spent scrubbing, but instead doing things they enjoy together. I think they had a valid point, but I don’t think that is in our budget at the moment.
    [email protected] recently posted..How To Save Like Your Mother

    1. Emily says:

      I can see how that would work, but I also see it from Kyle’s perspective a bit. We often pull together and clean the whole place before we host parties – I do the kitchen and he does everything else. I think that arrangement is a bit more of a bonding experience than a dividing one. But if we fought about it or something it would be worth it to outsource.

  7. My girlfriend and I currently live together and she does most of the chores. The reasoning is partly because I work more, so she has more time and partly because she has certain standards with her cleaning that I have a hard time living up to. I will happily do smaller chores around the house (clearing areas, organizing, dishes) in exchange for not having to worry about the rest. In the future I’d love to hire a cleaning service to clean for us. It’s not a luxury we can afford right now either, but when things change it’s on the top of my list!
    Kyle @ Debt Free Diaries recently posted..Favorite Days of the Month

    1. Emily says:

      I have higher clutter standards regarding the dishes, which is why I do them! But that kind of chore is not going to go away by hiring out help because it’s so (near) daily. 🙂

  8. I would outsource cleaning in a heartbeat if I made more money. But as it stands cleaning a one bedroom apartment by myself isn’t that onerous even though I can’t stand wasting my time on mundane tasks.

    I would consider outsourcing a good thorough cleaning before I move out of my apartment. With the demands of my job, I no longer have the time for that kind of effort. I also finally make enough not to quibble about the money.
    My Financial Independence Journey recently posted..Portfolio Status: May 2013

    1. Emily says:

      Yeah our 2BR is not taxing to clean. How much money would you want to make before you would outsource cleaning at your current place?

      We considered hiring someone to help us clean our last apartment when we moved out because Kyle had been living there for so long, but we had the time to do it after work every day for our week-long transition to our new place. :/ Do you think you would have to quibble when hiring someone to clean? I would think the rates would be set for certain sizes/types of residences, but I’m just making that up.

  9. Leigh says:

    I do all of my own cleaning. Everything gets done eventually these days… Part of the problem for me with hiring a cleaning service is that I also spend a reasonable amount of time doing laundry (clothes, jeans, bras, sheets, towels, etc.) and I wouldn’t feel comfortable with someone else doing that. I also really don’t like the idea of someone I don’t know in my place… I keep the master bathroom and kitchen clean and laundry done pretty well, but vacuuming and dusting are not all that frequent.

    My mom does every chore EVERY WEEK. I tried that at first and it was exhausting, a second full-time job, and there was just no way that I could keep up with that. So now I try for every 2 weeks and I feel a lot better. Satisficing as nicoleandmaggie would say!

    Someone suggested that I hire a cleaning person to help with some of the fights that my ex and I had. I thought that was a ridiculous idea when the root of the issue wasn’t really cleaning, but not being very good at communicating with each other.
    Leigh recently posted..No Bad Choice

    1. Emily says:

      I don’t like the idea of someone doing my laundry, either! Or even messing around with our daily use stuff. But I don’t mind the idea of someone else cleaning the bathroom or whatever – especially after getting the first cleaning out of the way!

      I think we would only be motivated to completely clean the house every week if we were having tons of people over on a weekly basis. Even having a few friends over weekly wouldn’t prompt a huge deep cleaning.

      That seems like a weird suggestion to me, too. I think you were right to ID communicating as the real problem there.

    2. SarahN says:

      I don’t I’d ever considered a cleaning lady doing laundry (seeing my parents’ one never does). But it wouldn’t worry me with the years of boarding school communal laundry.
      SarahN recently posted..How do I ‘work’ my payrise?

  10. Sara says:

    I grew up with a full-time nanny (not live-in) who served as babysitter, everyday cleaner, and usually cook. Then we also had a bi-monthly (?) deep cleaning crew when my siblings and I were pretty young or before big parties. As we got older, we kids assumed more of the responsibility around the house for the cleaning. All this is to say that outsourcing household tasks is not foreign to me, and it made lots of sense with two parents in high-powered jobs who worked long hours and wanted to be as present with their children as possible when they got home at night.

    Liam grew up extremely poor and is offended by the idea of cleaning services. I think that we will do our own cleaning unless we reach a point where we are like my parents with young kids and demanding jobs. And even then, we probably won’t admit it to his mother!

    1. Emily says:

      It sounds like your culture divide is similar to ours, except a bit more extreme. Kyle is sort of offended, too! Hopefully if we and you get to a point where this kind of service would be reeeeeally helpful they will be able to see it as well!

  11. krantcents says:

    I do and have for years. It is one of the few luxuries we have indulged in. Retirement is set and yet I still max out my 403B, IRA and Roth IRA.
    krantcents recently posted..How to Become Minimum Wage Millionaire

    1. Emily says:

      Did you wait until you were maxing out your retirement contribution before you added the service, or how did you decide that you could afford it (or couldn’t afford not to)?

  12. I really wanted someone to do dishes, but none of the cleaning services would do things of that nature. I researched different places and prices and ended up taking a side job as a cleaner haha. I know clean my own house, because I know cleaning people (around here) don’t do things like vacuuming or moping under furniture, dishes, laundry, etc. I also became a clean freak, now if I see hair somewhere (there always is I have a cat and dog) I have to pick it up right away so the house will stay clean. haha

    So that really didn’t answer your question, but after finding out the prices of cleaning and what they actually would do, I figured I would do an even better job and save the money 🙂
    Financial Black Sheep recently posted..Fun for Friday: You Know You are Tired When…

    1. Emily says:

      That is good info! I certainly haven’t gone so far as to look into what services are offered. Yeah I don’t think you’re going to get by without doing dishes unless you go all-disposable (how wasteful!). It’s a necessary evil.

  13. Ross says:

    I guess id like to always live in a small home that s relatively easy to clean so I can do it myself. Its a good workout and its refreshing to accomplish something like cleaning a toilet
    Ross recently posted..How To Run Marathons On A Budget

    1. Emily says:

      I don’t think it’s an issue of size of the home for me. There’s always at least one bathroom and one kitchen, right? 🙂

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  16. Bf grew up with a nanny and housekeepers and a driver (he grew up in the Philippines so this is somewhat “normal” for middle class families). Like you’re bf I take some pride in being able to clean our place. But when we have kids that pride might out out the window. There are only so many hours in the day and I’d rather be spending time with family then cleaning.
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    1. Emily says:

      It’s funny how other cultures have different standards for outsourcing cleaning/chores! Our Chinese friends have told us about their full-time housekeepers/cooks/nannies, too. Even though Kyle and I are both Caucasian Americans we come from rather different familial cultures, which we kind of figured out in premarital counseling. I agree that cleaning is pretty low enough to fall off the priority list when things get really busy.

  17. SarahN says:

    Interesting! Everytime my BF sees a nice (big) place, I say ‘that’s a lot of cleaning’ to which he says ‘we’d get a cleaner’. I have the pride issue too. My friend’s step aunt cleans for a living, and they use her, as does another mutual friend, and I’m always been recommended her. I have used her once, when I had a really messy house after doing flowers for a wedding. I used some of my earnings to pay her to clean up. I’m now considering getting her back for a one off ‘deep clean’ (thinking the oven cleaning, cleaning the kitchen cupboard fronts, and the bathroom grout/silicone and glass in the shower). But I couldn’t handle a regular cleaner in such a small place (66sqm), it would hurt my pride), and for the same money, I’d rather eat out or some other convenience.
    SarahN recently posted..How do I ‘work’ my payrise?

  18. We just live in squalor. Not against regular housecleaning or anything, just it’s a lot of effort to find one and we don’t really mind the mess most of the time.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Stock investing: Focus on what you can control

    1. Emily says:

      Honest! Why does it take so much effort to find someone?

      1. Well, the really good people are booked up and no longer accepting new clients. The cleaning services have ethical problems and don’t do a consistent job (some weeks they’re thorough, some weeks they’re slap-dash, depending on who you get). We had a person when we were getting the house ready to be rented for sabbatical and she started awesome and then ended up making the house worse than when she got there (weird streaks on the floor that we had to clean up, using bleach on our counter-tops even though she’d been told it turns them yellow, which we’d then have to barkeep’s friend).

        We’ve had worse problems hiring lawn-work. Either they cheat us, charging us more than they said, or they mow down our small trees, bushes, blueberry plants, etc. Or they cut the lawn too short and it dies. We had one person for a while who was great, but then he graduated and sold his business to someone who killed our lawn. So we bought a reel mower and DH gets his exercise mowing before it gets hot.
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