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  • Emily Stewart

Why engage a cleaning service?

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

It's the weekend. Instead of sleeping in, taking the kids to the park, or working the morning shift, you're cleaning.

It's mostly repetitive, boring, dirty work, but it has to be done to keep the household running.

And, it must be said, it usually falls to women.

Is cleaning a source of tension in your house?

Whether it's a couple living together, a family or a share house, some people - usually women - are left to do more cleaning than others. Here's four rules to help change that.

Australian women spend up to 14 hours a week doing unpaid domestic housework, according to the latest census. The average man does just five hours.

"Everyone uses the toilet, walks on the floors, dirties the dishes, but it ends up being women who are responsible for the bulk of the housework," says Melbourne University sociologist

Dr Leah Ruppanner.

"My own research has found couples have the highest satisfaction, and are less likely to divorce, where housework is shared equally," she says.

But depending on your situation, there may be a third way: outsource the problem.

"Why spend the weekend fighting with my husband about who is going to do the cleaning?" says Dr Ruppanner.

"It's an expense that feels luxurious, but paying for a cleaner might be much cheaper in the long run than paying for a divorce."

So, could it be time to hire help?

Do your sums

"The way an economist would look at this decision is: How much could I make per hour if I were working rather than cleaning my own house?" says Dr Gigi Foster, an economist with the University of New South Wales Business School.

The first step is to work out how much a cleaner will cost.

The award wage for a full-time cleaner is around $20 an hour, but if it's a casual arrangement, it's more realistic to pay between $30-$50 an hour.

If you could earn more than what you would pay the cleaner, it may be the rational economic choice. But the choice is not only monetary.

The benefits of leaving cleaning to the experts

Outsourcing is not just about avoiding cleaning — you can tell yourself you're doing it for the country.

"You're creating wealth if you hire a cleaner, because the work counts towards GDP," says Dr Foster.

"And it might have a double impact if it releases the person who would otherwise be cleaning [i.e. you] into the labour market."

It might also create more goods and services for the economy as a whole. According to economic theory, total production is highest when everyone specialises in what he or she is best at.

Tally up how much time it would take you to clean your own house.

Would a professional cleaner be faster at the job, for instance taking two hours for a job that would take you five hours?

If so, keep your day job and leave the cleaning to the experts.

But what if you're more likely to spend that extra time with family, playing sport or watching Netflix, rather than working?

Place a value on those activities and think about whether your five hours of time is worth more than paying a cleaner for two hours.

Excerpt ABC Life

/ By Emily Stewart

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