You Can Clean Up as a Freelance Housecleaner

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You can make money as a freelance house cleaner with these helpful tips.

Make money as a freelance house cleaner, includes advice to start a part-time house cleaning job while still spending time with your children.

Become a Freelance House Cleaner

You say you’d like to be able to work part time — and
you’d like to be able to leave the house during the day — but
you don’t have any “marketable skills” . . . you don’t want a
clerical job . . . and anyway, you can’t leave the children
at home unattended? Don’t give up yet . . . not until
you’ve read what Andee Carlsson has to say!

Finding yourself without any funds in the middle of a
northern Idaho winter can be pretty inconvenient . . . take
it from me. When we ran out of money a couple of winters
ago, unemployment here was disconcertingly high, and what
few jobs there were (particularly for women) usually paid
only the minimum wage. To make matters worse, we lived 30
miles from the nearest small town, and a full 65 miles from
Spokane, Washington (where the best employment
opportunities were).

There were other considerations, too. My son — at the
time — was three years old and I didn’t want to be away from
him all day . . . besides which, I couldn’t stand the idea
of working more than part time anyhow (since there are
plenty of chores to do — even in the winter — on our 80-acre
homestead). Another problem was that, after eight years in
the country, I didn’t have any clothes suitable for a city
job (nor did I particularly want to buy any).

By far the biggest complicating factor, however, was simply
that I never have cared for the routine of a nine-to-five
job . . . and still don’t. (Let’s just say I get bored
easily.) That ruled out the majority of job openings for
which I might have qualified.

A Surprisingly Simple Job Solution

After pondering the situation for a few days, I had a
sudden brainstorm: “I’ll bet I could get some weekly
housecleaning jobs in town,” I said to myself. Sure . . .
why not? My parents had a “cleaning lady” when I was a
child, and the work looked simple enough. If I went into
the cleaning business, I could wear ordinary jeans and
sneakers (no need for fancy clothes) . . . and quite
possibly, I could work things out so that I could bring
Erik (my son) along with me.

The more I thought about it, the more the idea of
housecleaning made sense. The pay — I was almost sure — would
be better than minimum wage. Also, if I found three
different houses to clean on a regular basis, I wouldn’t be
as bored as I would if I were going to the same place every
day. And if I took the jobs in Spokane — where some
acquaintances live — I might even be able to stay overnight
with my friends, and not have to commute 130 miles each
day.

“That’s it,” I decided. “I’m going to try my hand at
housecleaning for profit!”

How I Advertised My Freelance House Cleaning Services

Right away, I went into Spokane to try to get some jobs set
up. I wasn’t really sure I could pull it off (for one
thing, I was inexperienced . . . and for another, I didn’t
know if I’d be able to do a good day’s work with Erik
along), but I at least wanted to give the housecleaning
idea a try.

Initially, I couldn’t decide whether to post notices on
supermarket bulletin boards or run an ad in the classified
section of the city paper. It so happened however, that
the Spokane paper had bargain rate for job-seekers: $2.85
for a 10-word ad for five days (if I placed the ac in person
and if I paid in cash). The price seemed right to me — and I
knew the news paper would reach far more people than
bulletin board notices — so I went down to the newspaper
office to inquire about running a 10-word ad.

The lady who waited on me helped me write the announcement.
It read: “Experienced woman wants weekly cleaning jobs.
Reliable. References. 223-4456.” One of the things the
newspaper lady stressed was that an ad with a phone number
in it would bring many more responses than one with just
an address. She suggested, in fact, that I use a friend’s
number — if necessary — and have the friend take messages,
rather than use only an address in the ad. And that’s what
I finally did.

Last-Minute Job Ad Details

I had a few details to take care of before my ad actually
started to run. First. I called two friends and asked them
if they’d serve as “references”. They agreed. and said they
would tell potential employers that I was honest, reliable,
and a hard worker. (As it later turned out, only one
prospective employer wanted me to give references, and she
never did call either of my friends. I still think it’s a
good idea to have some recommendations, though. After all,
your employers are opening their homes to you, and in most
cases you’re alone there all day . . . so they’re entitled
to have some proof of your trustworthiness.)

Next, I called the State Employment Agency to ask how much
money cleaning ladies usually earned. They said they
“thought” the rate was about $2.50 an hour. That seemed a
little low to me, so I called two women I knew whom I
thought might have had help in their homes . . . and they
told me $3.00 an hour. Finally, with some encouragement
from my friends, I decided to ask $3.50 an hour to start.
(I could always lower my price if it was too high, I
reasoned.) As it turned out, my price didn’t raise any
eyebrows and I ended up feeling glad that I held out for
what seemed to be more than the going rate. (It’s always
easier to start out high than to ask for a raise.)

At this time, I also made a few decisions I wanted. I
decided, for instance, that it was important that no one be
home during the day. (I don’t like having people look over
my shoulder while I’m working. Also. I like to work at my
own pace and not have to worry about when — and how often — I
should take breaks.) And, of course, my employer(s) had to
be willing to let me bring Erik along . . . otherwise I’d
have to refuse the job(s).

The Phone Calls For House Cleaning Start Coming

I’ll have to admit that for a while, the night before my ad
was to appear in the caper, I was a little worried that no
one would answer my announcement. My fears proved totally
groundless, however: The first call came at 7:00 a.m. the
day the ad was printed . . . and for the next five days,
the phone never stopped ringing! (Altogether, I answered
some 65 calls!)

Usually, the callers wanted to know how old I was, whether
I had my own transportation (I did), and what day of the
week I could work. If they asked whether I was
“experienced”, I confidently said “yes”. (I figured that 14
years as a housewife was experience enough.)

When it appeared that the caller was genuinely interested
in hiring me, I began asking my own questions. For example,
I asked who — if anyone — would be home during the day, what
the house was like, and whether it was all right for Erik
to come. By the time I’d answered the first 10 calls, I had
three one-day-a-week jobs lined up . . . in homes where Erik
and I would be the only ones there all day. (None of my
three “employers” wanted to interview me in person. They
just wanted me to show up for work the next week!)

Although three one-day jobs was all I wanted, I continued
to take calls for several days and wrote down the names and
numbers of families that sounded promising, just in case
any of my three agreed-to jobs fell through. As it turned
out, it was a good thing I did this . . . because (for
reasons I won’t go into here) I did end up turning down one
of my original three jobs. Fortunately. I was able to call
back one of the families on my “promising households” list
and replace the dropped account immediately.

My First Day On the House Cleaning Job

I don’t mind saying that I was kind of scared when I
arrived at my first house for my first day of work. I got
there a few minutes early, and so had a chance to look the
place over. It was a doctor’s home and it was — in a word — huge:
five baths, ten bedrooms, and eight other rooms. I was
thankful that I was only expected to clean the first floor!)

The woman who met me at the door (a Mrs. O’Neill) was very
friendly and offered me a cup of coffee while she explained
what she wanted done. She had written down on a piece of
paper which rooms she wanted me to clean and what she
wanted me to do in each room. After discussing the list of
items-to-be-cleaned, she showed me where the cleaning
equipment was and left to go to work.

I stood there for a minute, feeling overwhelmed by the two
vacuums, one floor polisher, one floor scrubber and about
fifty different kinds of cleansers. Fortunately for me,
Mrs. O’Neill’s list included very explicit instructions for
what kind of cleaners were to be used where . . . so with
list in hand — I started in.

Later that day, Mrs. O’Neill came home for lunch, and I had
an opportunity to ask several questions that had occurred
to me in the morning. She didn’t seem to mind the questions
at all . . . in fact, I think she appreciated my trying to
do things the way she wanted them done. (On future
occasions, if I had a question I would leave a note, and
she would leave me notes, too. I also mentioned on my notes
which cleansers needed to be replaced.)

That first day, it took me the whole eight hours to get the
job done, working at full speed. After a couple of weeks,
though, I got things organized to the point where I could
work at a fairly leisurely pace. The nice part was that I
got paid each day I worked.

The House Cleaning Job Routine

It turned out that at all three houses I performed
basically the same chores. In one room after another, I
dusted all the surfaces (including over the doors and
windows, and the tops of the baseboards) . . . vacuumed the
floors and rugs and the upholstered furniture . . . waxed
and wiped the woodwork . . . washed the windows (if they
needed it) . . . and emptied the wastebaskets. Also — in the kitchen and bathrooms — the floors had to be vacuumed,
scrubbed, and waxed. (Luckily, each home had a dishwasher
and I never had to do any dishes.)

My usual practice (since I’m a fairly fast worker) was to
work hard for a couple of hours, then take a break. If one
task got to be too irritating or boring, I’d go do
something else and then come back to it later. Also, I made
a point of finishing the room I was working on before
starting on another room (since — that way — I kept to a
minimum the number of times I had to carry all the cleaning
supplies from one place to another).

Some Pleasant Surprises In My House Cleaning Job

My new job brought with it some nice fringe benefits . . .
things I hadn’t expected. For instance, I always got a very
nice lunch at each of the houses where I worked. (Typically,
I’d sit down to roast beef, turkey, or ham sandwiches, and
perhaps a fruit salad. “Eat whatever looks good,” I was told
. . . and I did.) Also, all three of my employers offered me
items to take home: clothes for my husband, canning jars,
fruit from their trees, etc. (The best goodies I was ever
offered were 15 feet of rabbit cage fencing and a 40-pound box
of garden asparagus.)

The nicest part of housecleaning for me, however, was the
casualness of it all. My “uniform” included jeans and
tennies. I took breaks whenever I wanted . . . I even
watched TV sometimes as I worked.

The “Day Care” Aspect

It was also nice being able to bring Erik with me
whenever I wanted to, although my son actually only came with
me a few times during the midwinter-to-early-summer period in
which I did housecleaning on a regular basis. (Erik decided
it was more fun to stay home with Daddy.) Those times that he
did tag along, everything worked out just fine, Erik would
play with his toys, or just watch TV (which was a novelty for
him since we don’t have a set). I did, of course, have to
keep him right with me at all times (although he knew that he
was not to touch fragile objects in other people’s houses).

Overall, I found it easier to work without Erik present . . . but the knowledge that my son could come with me if he
wanted to made things a lot nicer for both of us.

Money Matters in a House Cleaning Job

Financially, house cleaning worked out quite well for me.
I was paid $28 cash each day I worked (that’s $3.50 an hour
times eight hours), and I worked three days a week, for a
weekly gross income of $84. I figured it cost me about $10 a
week (or 8 cents a mile) to drive into Spokane and back. Since I
had no expenses other than transportation (I spent the two
nights a week that I was in town at a friend’s house and paid
for my room and board with eggs, milk, and vegetables from
home), that meant that I cleared $75 per week, or $300 per
month. Not bad for a three-days-a week job that requires no
special skills, no real prior experience, and no fancy
clothes!

Another Job Benefit

In addition to the $300 a month I earned, my working in
town presented me with another benefit: It gave me a new
appreciation for country life. (After eight years in the
country. I’d forgotten how much I disliked the city.) Not
that I didn’t have a little fun in town now and then. I did:
I went to some yard sales and picked up some real bargains (a
cider press, for example) and also had time to scrounge
pickup-loads of mill-ends for the kitchen stove, greens for
our rabbits and chickens, and miles of plastic sheeting.
Always, however, I came away from the city with a new
enthusiasm for our homestead . . . and for my son.

Try a Freelance House Cleaning Job . . .You Might Like It

So housecleaning was fun and profitable for me. I made
reasonably good money ($3.50/hour), set my own working
conditions, wore comfortable clothes, and worked at my own
(rather leisurely) pace. I’d still be cleaning houses
today, if it weren’t for the fact that I no longer have
time for all my homestead chores and working too.

Housecleaning isn’t the most fascinating occupation in the
world, to be sure. It’s certainly better than a lot of
other jobs, though. At the very least, however, as a
freelance cleaning person you get to call the shots. And to
me (maybe to you, too), that’s what really matters.