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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 25, 2006

SATURDAY SCOOPS
Leave some cleaning chores to professionals

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By Mary Kaye Ritz
Advertiser Staff Writer

There are cleaning jobs you can do for yourself, and cleanup chores you should save for a professional. What's called for is strategy. Decide what you can do yourself, and what you need professional help to accomplish.

Illustration by JOHN T. VALLES | The Honolulu Advertiser

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DO AHEAD

  • Make a list of what you want done. Be specific!

  • Pick up the dirty laundry.

  • Recycle the cans and newspapers.

  • Straighten the bedrooms, maybe launder the sheets.

    DURING/AFTER

    To save the cleaner's time (and by extension, save some money), put things back in place yourself. That way, stuff will be where you want it the linens in the closet, the food in the fridge, etc.

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    About to give birth? Moving out and want your deposit back? Spring cleaning?

    There are times when you want the house spotless. That's when it's time to consider whether you should call in the big guns even if you do some cleaning yourself.

    There are jobs you can do for yourself, and cleanup chores you should save for a professional. Arun Savara said his wife, Mira, will pick up in the house for half an hour before the cleaning service arrives ... and the Savaras co-own The Maids franchise here.

    Even those with regular maid service take time to pick up their dirty underwear and recycle the newspapers, preferring to save the really dirty jobs for those paid to stick their hands in the toilet to scrub the hard-water rings off the bowl.

    Fire or flood damage? Savara suggests that's time to call in the big guns. A complete overhaul, including the removal of furniture? Might be time to bring in help.

    But let's say the family is coming for a reunion. Bedrooms are pretty easy to straighten up and dust.

    What's called for is strategy. Decide what you can do yourself, and what you need professional help to accomplish.

    Why not do it all yourself and save the bucks? Dan Bishop, founder and president of The Maids, notes that people who make less than $50,000 a year make up more than a third of his firm's customer base. He knows the answer:

    "The No. 1 reason people call is they don't have time," Bishop said, adding that that group includes many single parents.

    Soap scum, toilets, inside the oven many will let the cleaners do it.

    You can always go halfsies: If you want the refrigerator clean, ask the cleaners to pull everything out and scrape off the goo, but then let them go on to other projects while you return the ketchup to its proper place. Same for that linen closet you've been meaning to get to.

    But if you are going to spring for a cleaning session, leave them some dirt.

    "The hardest house to clean is a clean house," said Bishop. "If it's immaculate, you've got to show something better than you're walking into."

    Cleaning services have specialized equipment and experience that can speed tough jobs. That can make all the difference especially if you've just bought a house, as one Maids client did. "She was so happy with the cleaning," recalled Savara. "... (She said) 'I didn't realize our shower doors were clear!' "