AT HOME WITH PHYLLIS
PHYLLIS SHRADER-ROBINSON
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Maid for You

Keeping up with house cleaning can be a real challenge — and a task that most of us are happy to overlook. If you want to hand that chore over to someone else, consider this advice from eHow.com and Smartmoney.com before
hiring a cleaning service.

First, decide how often you need help: just once for a deep clean, or would a biweekly schedule better suit your needs? Then consider the cost. According to HomeAdvisor, the average price of a cleaning service is between $160-$200 a month. Use the Web to find local cleaning companies, or search a website like Care.com, which provides pre-screening and notes if the caretaker has a background check on file. If you’re considering hiring an individual not affiliated with a company, bear in mind that depending on how much an individual is paid, you may also have to pay their Social Security and Medicare taxes, too.

Insist on a background check (professionals should also be able to provide good references), and be sure to ask the company or individual what kind of liability or theft insurance they have, including workers’ compensation in case someone gets injured on the job. Treat a cleaning service just like any other employee and ensure that a contract that outlines all responsibilities is signed before
the service is performed.