Why a cleaning service can be a miracle

I once knew a woman who had allowed her clutter to become her prison.

She wasn’t a hoarder, but there were stacks of old mail and magazine filling every corner and every surface in her home. That made it impossible to dust. She was embarrassed about her home being so dusty and cluttered that she wouldn’t allow anyone to come inside and thus never had visitors.

A group of neighborhood friends got together and each chipped in enough to purchase one hour of a cleaning service for this 63-year-old lady. The service sent a team of two women to vacuum, clean, dust and organize the home. What that team was able to accomplish in just one hour was a miracle. The house became more than presentable – it actually sparkled. Carpeted floors were vacuumed; kitchen and bathroom floors were washed. Corners were meticulously cleaned.

A lot of the clutter was put in a “maybe” pile for her to sort through and see what she wanted to keep. To her own amazement, the woman didn’t want to keep ANY of it. Years and years of useless clutter were tossed. The now-cleared surfaces were dusted and polished. Two days later, the woman held a small party to show off her “new” home. The episode was a genuine before-and-after moment in her life.

The woman’s friends had contacted a home cleaning service. A team of two experienced cleaners is always sent. The cost was less than $100, with a discount for regular customers.

It’s a great gift for an older relative or good friend, and like most such services, free estimates are offered. Someone will actually come to your home and give a no-cost estimate of how long the chores you want done will take and how much the service will cost.

But there are many additional wonderful ways to use a cleaning service. Suppose you have a whole list of disgusting chores you just can’t bring yourself to do: clearing out the refrigerator, scouring the stove, scrubbing the sinks and bath or cleaning a long-neglected toilet. Think about having all those distasteful chores done to perfection by two non-judgmental cleaners, who will finish all of them in less than an hour. That’s certainly worth money.

Another plus is that having two strangers take a look at long embedded clutter and dust makes it easier to let go of the objects you’ve been holding onto for years for no real reason.

When my mother died, I had to clear out her apartment. Growing up, I saw her as obsessive about neatness. I remember once catching her in my home, sneakily running a finger along a kitchen chair rung, looking for dust.

But seeing her apartment after the end of her life, I kept wondering, “What made her keep this?” “What made her keep that?” while looking at a tattered shawl that obviously hadn’t been worn for a quarter century, or an old and battered cabinet with nothing in it.

Having a regular cleaning service as you age will prevent your children or other relatives from having to do it afterwards. That makes things easier on them, but it also gives you a final personal privacy and dignity that will make things easier on everyone.

Wina Sturgeon is an active 55+ based in Salt Lake City, who offers news on the science of anti-aging and staying youthful at: She skates, bikes and lifts weights to stay in shape.