I'm going to share Laura's example in a way that you should find instructive as you consider professional house cleaning options in the future. First of all, let me be clear. Do not hire an amateur. Read this article first on how to select a cleaner.
Laura's home is 4,700 square feet. The finished basement was approximately 1,500 square feet of the total 4,700. The remainder of the home included 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, an updated kitchen, and mostly carpet throughout. This is a typical suburban home for growing upper-middle-class families in the Philly Area. I've cleaned hundreds of them in my 16 years of professional house cleaning and in serving realtors in presentation cleaning. I explained to Laura that the move-in cleaning requires the most cleaning detail at a 10. Sale-ready cleanings are between 7-8 and move-out cleanings between 4-6. This made sense to her. Then I gave Laura a ballpark of $375 - $675 for this move-out cleaning. By the way, the move-in cleaning is an empty house. We scheduled the cleaning date with the promise that I'd complete a formal walk-through on the morning of cleaning. At that point, we'd settle on a cleaning list and price within this price range acceptable to both of us. She was surprised at the price, so I gave her perspective on what this same house would cost if the application was different.
I've already touched on this, but let me fully explain it. I use a detailed cleaning spectrum from 1 - 10. The most detailed cleaning is the move-in cleaning. I joke around with home buyers. "In this cleaning, my goal is to erase all proof of prior human life." It's funny but true. People moving into a home have invested a lot of money to do so. They also want the house spotless. This requires the highest detail on my spectrum. I am restoring the bathrooms and kitchen to near-new and busting out the small brushes to clean light switches. Every detail is cleaned. The house is empty for a move-in just like the move-out. I told Laura that the price range to clean her current house for a move-in clean would be between $800 - $1,500. She couldn't believe it until I told her what was involved in the cleaning.
I've worked for realtors and stagers for 16 years and this is what I'm known for. It's called Presentation Cleaning and the goal is to optimize the first impressions for the house-selling process, while letting less important areas slide. The level of detail for this type of cleaning falls between 7-8 for the whole house. However, certain priority areas are always level 10. These areas are the "first-impression" areas. It's an artistic process that I've been trained for years. I told Laura this. "If I was prepping your home to sell, obviously it would have furniture in it, you'd need to stage the house and then hire me for Presentation Cleaning. It would cost between $600 - $1,000." Laura was really starting to understand the different types of cleaning and pricing for the same house.
I took the example to the next level and told Laura this. "If you already lived in this house and wanted to start a recurring house cleaning service, you'd need to first have the house initial cleaned. This would cost between $600 - $800. After the initial cleaning, the professional cleaning service would return to your home every 1, 2, or 4 weeks to re-clean your house." The level of detail for an initial cleaning is between 6-8 as it's hard to clean in great detail everywhere due to furnishings and stuff.
Once the initial cleaning is completed, the professional cleaning company comes back every 1, 2, or 4 weeks. The industry names for these cleaning types are "weekly", "biweekly", and "monthly". The more frequently you schedule a cleaning, the easier to maintain and lower the per-visit price. I shared this with Laura. "If you hire me to clean your home weekly, expect the price between $150 - $200 per visit. If biweekly, then expect between $175 - $250 per visit and monthly between $250 - $350 per visit."
Are you noticing the different prices for the same house? I've explained this hundreds of times over the years. That's why I'd like to thank Laura for encouraging me to write my explanation for all to see! As a side note, there are other types of one-time cleanings such as post-construction, new construction, commercial cleaning, spring cleaning, etc. The goal here was to show the complete spectrum of cleaning for a single home so you would know what to ask for and what to expect.
Ken Carfagno is a presentation cleaning specialist serving the Indian Valley, PA.