Lean, mean, cleaning machines

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Long office hours. Late nights. Early mornings. Power lunches. City life can be demanding. The first ball to drop from the separate lives we juggle is the one labelled 'Domestic Life'. Beds go unmade, shirts go unironed, dust collects, washing-up lies in the sink. If it's all too much - get professional help.

Take your pick. Teams in vans with state-of-the-art cleaning equipment, the reliable daily who will cook, clean, iron your shirts, or house blitz teams that will clean your home in an hour.

Whether you want a permanent daily to run your home, or simply a person to sort you out once a month, use a company that supplies reliable staff. The last thing domestic help should be is yet another problem on your plate.

The Clean Team 301-305 Euston

Road NW1 (071-586 0005) Mon-Fri 8.30am-4.30pm

A general clean - dusting, kitchen services, beds, bathrooms, vacuuming, floors washed - is pounds 35 an hour. A 'spring clean' (a general clean plus insides of ovens, shelves, fridges, picture rails) is also pounds 35. A one-bedroom flat can be done in an hour, and an extra half-hour for a three-bedroom apartment. Cleaning is done by teams of three women with their own equipment.

Staff are all long-term and on contract, and are selected by references only. The company is fully insured for breakages. For carpet and upholstery work, an estimate is made. A handyman can do electrical and plumbing jobs (pounds 15 an hour plus VAT), and a window cleaning service is also available at pounds 15 an hour plus VAT. Shirts are washed and ironed - pounds 1.50 each - and single items to be ironed are pounds 1. The company will hold keys for customers, which are security-coded.

You can book cleaning services on a regular or one-off basis. The Clean Team work strictly on a blitz basis and do not provide single 'dailies'.

A-Star Recruitment 33 Nottingham Place W1 (071-935 1335) Mon-Fri 9am-6pm/Sat 10am-2pm

A-Star function mainly as an introduction service for customers seeking experienced, professional domestic help. They organise daily housekeepers, butlers, chauffeurs, au pairs and live-in couples (a chauffeur/cook combination) for an introduction fee of between 12-15 per cent of your new employee's salary. Hourly rates for daily housekeepers are negotiated between customer and employee (ranging from pounds 5-pounds 8 an hour) and an annual salary worked out.

Some dailies cook only, others just clean or do the ironing. Some do all three. It's important to specify what kind of help you need. Au pairs are interviewed before going on the books. They are to be given room and board, plus pounds 30-pounds 50 pocket money a week. Butlers are paid about pounds 300 a week and a live-in couple between pounds 350-pounds 600 a week.

Staff are taken by referral only and all references are meticulously cross-checked on a computer database. They are not insured for breakages.

Massey's Premier House 10 Greycoat Place SW1 (071-799 1417) Mon-Fri 9am-5pm

Massey's has been going since 1845 and is the oldest company in the UK to supply domestic staff. Like A-Star, they are an introductory agency supplying chefs, butlers, housekeepers, cleaners, nannies and residential staff for a percentage of the employee's salary (8 per cent for daily staff and 12 per cent on residential staff). Prices are negotiated between employees and the company, but a daily housekeeper or cleaner costs from pounds 6 an hour upwards. All wages are paid by the employer directly to the employee. Arrangements with house keys are also made privately between employer and employee.

Staff can be hired permanently, or for one-offs. Butlers and waitresses for silver service dinner parties cost pounds 10 an hour with a pounds 15 agency fee (plus VAT). They do not replace breakages. There is also a five-week refund period for customers not happy with staff. References are always cross-checked.

John Simon's Cleaning Service The Courtyard, 286 Upper Richmond Road SW1 (081-789 2133) Mon-Fri 8am-5pm/Sat 8am-12pm

Established for 25 years, this company specialise in one-off cleans. Prices vary, but a general clean of an entire house starts at pounds 100 and involves a wall-to-wall cleaning of the home. Carpet cleaning is a minimum of pounds 50 for two large rooms. Estimates are provided for specific requests and the company is fully insured for breakages.

Chalk and Cheese 26 Wincott Street SE11 4NT (071-587 0903) Mon-Fri 8.30am-6pm Sat 9am-12pm

Chalk and Cheese will do a general clean to a customer's requirements for pounds 13 an hour. This includes visible surfaces, wet and dry dusting, vacuuming throughout, bathrooms, kitchens, etc. They also provide wet and dry carpet cleaning (for pounds 1.70 a square yard), an upholstery cleaning and repair service, curtain cleaning (on- and off-site) and hard floor maintenance. These services are priced by estimates to the customer.

All staff are hired by reference and recommendation only. The company is fully insured for breakages and theft, and will replace anything broken or stolen.

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