STYLE

Is It Ok To Have A Cleaner?

13/03/2012 11:07 | Updated 22 May 2015

Just in case you hadn't already worked it out for yourself, the results of a new survey have proved that women do more housework than men.

vacuumingPhoto: PA

Yes, I know, it's a shock. Better sit down and have a strong cup of tea. After you've done the vacuuming, that is.

Anyway, this new analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research shows that eight out ten married women do most of the domestic drudgery, while just one in ten married men does an equal amount as his wife.

The only real surprise here is that 13% per cent of women say that their husband does more cleaning than they do. I don't know (or know of) any man who does more than his fair share, do you?

The average man's lack of enthusiasm for doing much more than grudgingly emptying the bins or loading the dishwasher explains why almost half of women spend an astonishing 13 hours or more per week keeping the house ship-shape. Given that most women also have jobs, and bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities, you have to wonder where they find the time, let alone the energy.

Of course, for those of us that don't have a spare 13 hours to spend scrubbing the loo and scraping blackened goo from the bottom of the oven, there is another way: you could just hire a cleaner.

Last year, a survey by Churchill Home Insurance found that over six million Britons now employ domestic help, usually because they don't have the time to clean their own house, and sometimes just because they don't particularly want to.

But is it acceptable to have a cleaner or is it a bit embarrassing, not to mention anti-feminist, to pay another woman - and cleaners are usually women - to do your dirty work?

I admit that a few years ago, I had a cleaner. But unfortunately, when the recession hit, she was a luxury that we decided we could do without. Over three years on, I still miss her. So do my (slightly grubby) wooden floors, my (overflowing) ironing basket and my (limescale encrusted) bathroom fittings.

However, wonderful as it was to have a clean and tidy house without having to lift a finger, I never felt entirely at ease with paying for the privilege. And, as I've always worked from home, I always felt uncomfortable sitting at my desk while another woman cleaned up around me. So I usually made myself scarce for a couple of hours, just so that I wouldn't get 'under her feet'.

I was also guilty of tidying up before the cleaner came - but then it's a rare woman who would leave dirty dishes in the sink, skid marks in the loo and yesterday's knickers on the floor for someone else to deal with. Not only is it disrespectful, it also makes you look like a complete slattern.

Then, of course, there's the feminist angle. Some argue that hiring a cleaner serves only to reinforce the idea that cleaning is 'women's work' - and if you can't be bothered to do it yourself, then you shouldn't demean another women by getting her to do it for you.

But then, at a time when the number of women out of work is the highest it has been in 25 years, surely it's a positive thing to offer someone work - provided that you're paying them fairly.

Let's not forget, that many small businesses - especially in the service sector - are owned and run by women, so it's possible that your cleaner is earning as much, if not more, than you do.

Alternatively, you could redress the balance by hiring a man to do your cleaning, but most male cleaning agencies seem to specialise in 'nearly naked' hunks who can pop round to your pad in a pinny and put some sparkle into more than just your kitchen surfaces.

And while watching your partner mop the floor, wash up and do the ironing could well constitute foreplay to many time-poor women, watching a (naked) stranger do it would be plain embarrassing, not to mention unhygienic.

While it would be great if men and women could work out a way to share the housework equally, I can't see it happening in the near future.

So if you can't find the time or the inclination to do your own cleaning then, if you can afford it, I think it makes perfect sense to hire a cleaner.

Yes, maybe you will feel a bit uncomfortable about her stuffing your smalls into the washing machine or worry that she tells all her friends that you're the messiest person she's ever met.

But that's got to be better than spending Saturday morning arguing with your other half about whose turn it is to clean the grill pan, hasn't it?

By: Ceri Roberts

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