There probably aren't too many people out there who get absolutely no outside assistance with housecleaning. Even if you don't splurge on a regular cleaning service, you've most likely hired a pro at some point to handle a chore you didn't have the time or inclination to tackle yourself. No matter how dedicated a cleaner you are, you're going to need help from time to time.
As we see it, there are three basic categories of household chores.
- Daily or weekly tasks: dishes, dusting, toilets, showers, laundry, sweeping, vacuuming
- Occasional, more time-consuming chores: windows, draperies, carpets, floor refinishing
- Infrequent or emergency-situation jobs: chimneys, mold, gutters
Most of us go DIY for daily or weekly chores. Even if you use a housekeeping service because you need a little help with the laundry or despise cleaning bathrooms, you probably do end up scrubbing a tub or folding clothes from time to time. Plenty of people also steam their own carpets and climb onto their roofs to clean gutters -- but they, frankly, are probably just a little bit crazy. We're here to give you the go-ahead to call the pros for certain tasks in those last two categories that are just too time-sucking, annoying or downright dangerous to attempt on your own.
Don't feel guilty about it. It's better to spend some money than to injure yourself playing chimney sweep or to inhale toxic spores while removing black mold from your basement. If you can afford it, you shouldn't even waste a Saturday washing windows. Get out there and enjoy your life!
Here's our list of 10 cleaning chores that you have our permission to skip.
The experts say that you should vacuum, dust and sponge down your draperies and blinds on a regular basis. Metal and vinyl blinds, they say, should be taken down and scrubbed with a car-washing brush. We suspect that there are about four people who actually do this. The rest of us would definitely benefit from a professional window-treatment cleaning every once in a while.
You're probably aware that a weekly halfhearted carpet-vacuuming job, although it makes things look spic-and-span temporarily, isn't a thorough cleaning. You suck up the surface dirt but leave most of it lurking close to the ground. When you realize it's time for a deeper cleaning (which should be about once a year), you might be tempted to rent a steam cleaner to do the job yourself. It'd be cheaper, sure, but it'd take forever, and the results wouldn't come close to the work of carpet-cleaning professionals. They have the heavy-duty equipment, so let them come to you.
You probably don't think about cleaning your windows all that often. Unlike counters and floors, there isn't that much opportunity for windows to get visibly dirty -- they just get subtly dingier over the years until you suddenly wonder where all your beautiful natural light has gone. Washing them (both sides, plus screens and sills) can be a major production. A professional cleaning might be pricey, but just think of it as a once-in-a-while expense.
Mopping hardwood floors probably isn't anyone's most favorite chore in the world, but it's not that difficult or time-consuming in the scheme of things. Refinishing those floors, however, is a different story. Sure, you could attempt it yourself, but why? It's back-breaking work, and there's such a small margin of error -- you do run a risk of ruining your floors. So it'd behoove you to call in the pros, sit back, relax and watch your dull floors come back to life.
Upholstered furniture can really take a beating, especially if you have pets or small children. But other than spot-cleaning spills and vacuuming up dog hair, there's not much you can do that will make a major difference in the appearance of your sofas and armchairs -- and you actually could ruin your furniture by using the wrong kind of cleaner. Here's where pro upholstery cleaners come in. They have the equipment and the know-how to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the verdict is still out on whether dirty air ducts cause health problems or increase dust. But if you do decide, for whatever reason, that you want your home's air ducts to be cleaned, please don't take matters into your own hands. Unless you've had extensive training, it would basically be impossible for you to handle the job.
Your chimney should be cleaned once a year, right before the cold weather and heating season begin, or when you notice a buildup of creosote on the chimney walls. If you're even remotely thinking of attempting to do it yourself, stop right there. Do not go near that chimney with any kind of cleaning apparatus. Contact a chimney sweep. The only thing worse than spending a weekend cleaning the house is spending a weekend stuck in your chimney.
Gutter-cleaning should be a semi-annual task (generally in the fall and spring), and -- especially if you have a lot of trees on your property -- it's probably not a very enjoyable one. There are some who claim that gutter maintenance is a DIY job, but we definitely do not fall into that camp. Why get up on a ladder with a bucket, hose and trowel if you don't really have to? We'd say there are about a million better (and safer) ways to spend a Saturday afternoon.
People with mild organization issues can generally remedy the situation themselves, given enough time and space to tackle the problem. But if your disorganization is causing chaos in your life -- or making it difficult to see the floor in your home office -- it's time to get help. Professional organizers can do so much more than remove clutter from your home -- they can remove a good deal of the stress from your life and replace it with order and calm.
This one is not a question of being lazy or crunched for time: Trying to remove mold could be hazardous to your health. Sure, you can wipe up minor shower mold fairly easily, but if there's a moldy area larger than 10 square feet -- especially if it's the toxic greenish-black kind -- you should back away from it slowly and get on the phone with a professional mold cleaner ASAP. The pros will thoroughly inspect the area, clean it and make sure the mold doesn't return.
HowStuffWorks looks at some very creative uses for hydrogen peroxide, including as a mouthwash, pit stain remover, laundry additive and plant food.
- DIY Network. "How to Maintain a Fireplace and Chimney." (May 28, 2012) http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-maintain-a-fireplace-and-chimney/index.html
- Forte, Carolyn. "3 Spring-Cleaning Chores to Leave to the Pros." Good Housekeeping. May 5, 2012. (May 28, 2012) http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/product-reviews/research-institute/spring-cleaning-chores-to-hire-out
- HGTV. "How to Clean Blinds." (May 28, 2012) http://www.hgtv.com/organizing/how-to-clean-blinds/index.html
- State Farm. "Chimney and Wood-Burning Fireplace Safety." Feb. 2, 2011. (May 28, 2012) http://learningcenter.statefarm.com/safety-2/home-1/chimney-and-woodburning-fireplace-safety/
- Stebbins, Sarah. "The Worst Cleaning Jobs Made Easy." Real Simple. (May 28, 2012) http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/cleaning/worst-cleaning-jobs-made-easy-00000000032847/index.html
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. "Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?" (May 28, 2012) http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html
- Villela, John. "Homeowner Maintenance: Twice-Annual Gutter Cleaning." All Pro Home Inspection, Oct. 12, 2010. (May 28, 2012) http://www.buffalohomeinspectorblog.com/how-to-clean-gutters/
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services. "Mold in Your Home: Cleaning Options." (May 28, 2012) http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/hlthhaz/fs/moldclean.htm