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Hiring a house cleaner

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one among friends and acquaintances who doesn't have someone in to clean my house. Note: These people are not rich -- well most of them aren't, nor do they have massive houses or particularly demanding lives. They've simply put a price on happiness, and its costs $120 to $250 a month.

"I work all week, and I absolutely hate spending half my Saturday cleaning when I could be out doing something with my kids," reasons one pal. Another claims a residential cleaning service saved her marriage -- she and hubby did nothing but grumble about the chores and who was doing more, so they hired a woman to clean from top to bottom every Friday.

One friend had no one to blame but herself for the mess. As a single, living in a 700-square-foot rental in a shabby-chic neighbourhood in downtown Toronto, she is unapologetic about her bimonthly indulgence. "It's the best money I've ever spent." Some people call it an affordable luxury; others see it as an absolute necessity. Either way, reliable help is morphing into the latest must-have accessory.

"It's definitely something people like to boast about," says Melissa Maker, who launched Clean My Space in 2006 with an eye on servicing condo-dwellers in Toronto's core. Her client list ranges from 20-something urbanites to retirees, with the bulk of her business coming from 27- to 40-year-old professionals who work long hours and have little time or interest in cleaning. "The truth of the matter is when you come home and your dishwasher isn't unloaded and your bathroom is a mess, it really stresses you out," says Maker. "Our duty as a cleaning company is to go in there and make their lives more manageable."

A cleaner for everyone
It's a service no longer reserved for the rich and famous. The rise in demand is, in part, due to a change in family dynamic. With women taking a more equal place in the workforce, fewer are willing, or have the time, to do double duty by assuming the bulk of the work at home.

"Really what you're doing when you're cleaning someone's home is you're giving them time to do other things," says Kevin Hiles, marketing manager for Molly Maid in Oakville, Ont.

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-- Posted: Aug. 18, 2008
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