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How to Hire Cleaning Employees: Hire Workers and Grow Your Business

Profile picture of Hillary Walters, freelancer writer for Jobber Academy
Hillary Walters
May 24, 2024 11 min. read

As a business owner, finding, hiring, and retaining stellar employees for your cleaning business may feel like a tough challenge.

And if you’ve ever experienced stressful employment scenarios, you’re not alone. According to cleaning industry expert Katie Pearse of Glisten Academy, staffing is the toughest part of running a housecleaning company.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through steps you should take to confidently find, hire, and retain new cleaners for your cleaning business. Plus, we’ll share valuable insight from industry experts on how they’ve handled building their own teams.

1. Know when it’s time to hire cleaning employees

Solo entrepreneurs often hit a cap on the work they can realistically accomplish on their own time. At that point, many business owners look to add new staff.

But how can you be sure it’s the right time to grow a team? Start hiring employees when:

  • Your schedule is consistently full or you’re waitlisting new clients. This often indicates that there’s enough work to keep another cleaner busy long-term.
  • The business is doing well financially and can handle labor expenses. An extra employee means adding wages, taxes, and benefits to your recurring costs.
  • You have enough time to focus on hiring. Plan to dedicate time to go through the recruiting process, and get ready to train a new cleaner on your processes.
  • You want to offer new services but are currently limited. Hiring another cleaner (and delegating existing responsibilities to them), may allow you to offer new services, like laundry or carpet cleaning.

When you check off more than one of these boxes, you’re probably ready to grow your team.

2. Prepare your business for your first employees

Before hiring new cleaning staff, you’ll need to complete several tasks to fulfill your obligations as an employer. These to-do’s ensure that you’re compliant with federal and state labor laws. 

Your employer preparation list should include the following tasks:

You’re ready to grow your team—but how and where do you find qualified help? To get started, first watch Katie Pearse’s video about successful hiring experiences. Then, use the remaining steps below as your roadmap to building a great team.

3. Identify the type of cleaner your business needs

First, decide what kind of staff member your business needs. This involves thinking critically about what gaps you have in your current business model, and how you can leverage help. 

For example, do you need an administrative person to help with your company scheduling or new client bookings? Or, do you need an experienced house cleaner who already understands the basic processes and can start deep cleaning homes right away?

Ideally, the people you need to hire also have lifestyle and career needs that match up with the role you’re hiring for. For instance, if you need someone to handle midday cleanings, a stay-at-home parent who works while their kids are in school could be a great addition.

Pro Tip: Already have a team of cleaners but looking to hire more? Get more people just like your current workers with an employee referral program.

READ MORE: Successful cleaning business stories

4. Create a detailed job description

Job descriptions summarize an employee’s tasks and responsibilities for your internal use, while a public job posting reflects those details to applicants. This information is important, because it sets expectations for your employee and helps you evaluate their performance down the road.

To write a house cleaner job description, answer questions like:

  • Will the employee schedule new jobs, create quotes, or send invoices?
  • Will they interact with customers, either in person or by text or email?
  • Do you need them to work specific days or hours?
  • How many jobs will they need to complete each day?
  • What cleaning duties will they be responsible for?

READ MORE: Employee hiring and engagement tips from 6 industry experts

5. Use your job description to create a public job posting

Next, create a job posting to share online for marketing the job to potential applicants. A posting describes the responsibilities in your job description and should also include:

  • Company overview
  • Position summary
  • Personality characteristics
  • Job requirements (phone, driver’s license, their own car, previous physical labor or cleaning experience, clean criminal record)
  • Hours (full-time, part-time, days, times)
  • Compensation (wages, benefits, vacation, incentive, perks)
  • Additional information candidates should know (background check, drug testing)
  • A request for at least two references
  • How they can apply (email, web form, through the posting)

Your job posting should have what your incentives are, right up front. Because people are drawn to incentives. They’re going to be asking, ‘What can I get out of this?

Clover Hubbard Love Green Clean

Pro Tip: Write your job description in such a way as to attract the people you want to hire. For example, if you want your staff to be friendly and professional, write your posting with a friendly and professional tone, too.

We tried a few different things like Monster and Facebook, but it was always Kijiji that worked like a charm.

Katie Pearse Glisten Academy

7. Pre-screen incoming applications

For industry pros like Katie Pearse, knowing which qualities you’re looking for in a candidate (both personally and professionally) can make the search process go more smoothly. These characteristics also help you review incoming applications faster, since you can more easily spot which applicants align with your hiring needs.

Here are a few characteristics to look for:

  • Experience: According to Katie, it’s easy to lose time and money training people who are new to cleaning and are less likely to stick with it. You may need to hire people without experience, but try to prioritize applicants who have an understanding of what the job looks like on a daily basis.
  • Independence: Look for applicants who show they’re independent, motivated, and able to work without a supervisor—but who are also willing to be part of a team. “You need people who like to work on their own,” says Katie. “You might have a partner, but you’re not working side by side all the time.”
  • Friendliness: Your cleaners are part of a team, so they should get along well with others. They’ll often communicate with clients on your behalf, too, so they should be friendly and professional to best represent your brand and make a good impression.
  • Commitment: Your employees need to show up every single day, ready to go. “You have to be committed to serving your clientele,” says Katie. “If you don’t show up, nobody else can step in. I had staff with such high commitment that they would be upset if they got sick. They felt bad that their clients weren’t going to get their houses cleaned.”

I look for whether they embrace our company values.

Integrity is something that’s very important in our industry. Our cleaners are in people’s homes alone, so I’m looking for people who have high integrity and accountability. They should take initiative as well.

Raquel Lindsay Sparkle and Shine Cleaning Services

8. Interview your top candidates 

Schedule interviews with the top candidates who meet your pre-screening standards.

Prepare a list of interview questions that will help you get to know them better. This process will tell you if they’re likely to be a valuable member of your team.

Occasionally, you might want to conduct an initial interview over the phone. Not only does this save time, but it can help you narrow down your applicant pool to a few select candidates that you can then meet in person.

Pro Tip: You might find it useful to have group job interviews and auditions. This can cut down on no-shows and wasted time. You can also see how your candidates get along with each other and work together.

I pay applicants’ for the audition but explain that they have to pass the audition to become an employee. I say, ‘The manager will tell you what to do; just do your best.’ You have to know how your cleaners clean. There’s no point going through the hiring process with someone if they can’t clean or don’t show willingness to learn.

For some hiring managers, being more mindful of attitude (rather than technique) during the audition is a deciding factor. For instance, if a candidate takes longer to vacuum a room, but they’re closely focused on details and willing to learn, they could be a better candidate than someone who cleans quickly but isn’t diligent. 

At the end of each audition, share constructive feedback to help the candidates understand what they did well and where they can improve. Make sure to follow up with a prompt payment for services, even if you choose not to hire them full-time.

10. Extend an offer to the successful candidate

Depending on how interviews and auditions go, you may end up with one or more candidates who would do well on the job. You’ll recognize a great employee right away, so trust your instincts. 

Extend an offer (in writing) to your top candidate, which covers essential info like pay rate, start date, and other benefits. Get their signature, and start filling out the paperwork or other personnel forms for their first day.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How much should you pay cleaners?

On average, cleaners in the United States make $12/hour. Wages range from roughly $21,427–34,752 per year.

Average pay per state is a good place to start, but always ensure that your employees are earning a fair hourly rate based on their work and experience.

How should you pay your cleaning employees?

Business owners have several options for paying cleaning staff, including by the hour, as a fixed salary, or even by commission per job site. 

Any of these payment structures must abide by federal and state labor laws. In other words, don’t set a fixed salary or commission-based payment that ends up falling below the allowable minimum wage. Not only would this be unfair to your hardworking team, but it would also put you at risk for compliance violations.

Are additional (non-salary) benefits important?

Although you’ll compensate your staff with a regular paycheck, other incentives encourage employees to stick around. Benefits information is also important to include in your job posting!

A good benefits package may include:

  • A stable cleaner salary that is above minimum wage
  • Paid breaks, meetings, and travel time
  • Paid mileage (if staff use a personal vehicle on the job)
  • Health benefits or health insurance
  • Bonuses and other incentives
  • Scheduled raises
  • Flexible working hours
  • Paid holidays and vacation time (PTO)
  • Uniform and cleaning supplies

By offering these perks, you’ll also be more likely to attract better employees thanks to your positive workplace culture.

How can you retain cleaning employees?

Cleaning business owners should prioritize hiring workers who are willing to stay in their role for several months or years. Improving employee retention often saves valuable time and resources, and it means that you won’t have to continually replace or train new people.

In the early years of Katie’s business, the churn of staff starting and stopping was a constant grind. Finally, Katie and her business partners realized that money wasn’t the only motivator for keeping employees on board.

Fortunately, Katie found several other factors that motivated cleaning staff to stay.

  • Benefits: When Katie’s company put a health benefits program in place, employee churn numbers started to positively change. “People started looking at our company as a place for a career instead of a single job,” says Katie. Offering healthcare, vision, dental options give more choices to new employees.
  • Autonomy: Katie trusted her staff to be in charge and make their own decisions, which gave them pride in their jobs. She says, “You’ve got to have your staff be your representatives. I always empowered them so that they never had to run little things through me.”
  • Connection: Katie recommends looking for candidates who genuinely care about the work and are personable in their approach to others. “You genuinely have to care about your clientele, and you have to be committed to serving them,” she says.

Room for growth—both personal and professional—is how to keep employees.

It’s also important that they feel valued, and that the work that they do really matters.

Raquel Lindsay Sparkle and Shine Cleaning Services

Kickstart your business with great hiring

As you create careers for hardworking cleaners and help your clients enjoy their homes, the hiring process pays off. Plus, you’ll be growing your own business in the process.

Hiring and retaining employees takes a lot of time and effort. But remember—growing pains are completely normal for companies with major potential.

Keep at it and don’t give up. Before you know it, your cleaning business will have a dedicated, hardworking team of cleaners who care about your clients just as much as you do.

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