When people call Aisling Fahey it's usually because they're exhausted.
As a nation of time-poor workers, an increasing number are calling in domestic house cleaners.
And for those who have young children, things get dirty fast.
Keeping up with the mess can be a challenge when you only have a few spare minutes to wipe down the bench and load the dishwasher before you head off to work.
With so many in need of deep cleaning, it's no surprise cleaners are rushed off their feet.
We asked Fahey and other cleaning pros for advice on the going rate for cleaners, what you get for your money, and whether client expectations are realistic.
What it'll cost
You can expect to pay between $30 and $40 per hour for a cleaner, plus GST depending on the business.
Most cleans are two hours and happen weekly or fortnightly, but that's negotiable.
Cleaners say an initial meet-and-greet at the client's home to establish expectations is key to establishing a good relationship.
What's more, it's okay to check if your cleaner is police-vetted, has liability insurance, and what products they use, to ensure they're not damaging your home.
Aisling and Steve Fahey own Fahey Cleaning Services in Pāpāmoa and Mount Maunganui, priding themselves on leaving clients' homes up to "hotel standard" in exchange for $40 an hour.
"We fold the toilet paper; the toilet lid is down; straighten the towels; roll the face cloths up; the bath mat will be hanging up nicely. Like when you go into a hotel - everything's nice.
"Every house I go to, I try to do a perfect clean," she says, explaining a standard clean from them includes the bathrooms, kitchen, vacuum, mopping, dusting window sills, and bedroom furniture.
When cleaning a bathroom mirror, she tests its sparkliness by examining herself in it sideways, saying smudges are noticeable on different angles.
She has 30-plus house keys and multiple alarm and lockbox codes, meaning trust is crucial for clients who don't work from home.
"We don't open cupboards, we don't open bedside lockers, the only thing we open in the kitchen is the microwave and the fridge to clean the side of the door.
"If they want us to clean cupboards out, we're happy for them to leave a note."
She uses eco-friendly Norwex cleaning products except for Toilet Duck, Jiff, and if the toilet is really dirty around the edges, bleach, all of which she discloses before using.
"In the kitchen - no sprays, it's hot soapy water in the sink and we wash everything down and dry it off."
She'll fix the cushions on the couch, pick up toys, pull back curtains, and make beds, but there's a limit as to how much she'll tidy if it's eating into cleaning time.
The worst thing to clean would be the shower drain, she says, because it's frequently ignored until a clog or odour needs attention.
"If someone in the house has really, long hair, you lift the shower, and it's like a big, hairy rat down there."
For those who can't afford a cleaner, or prefer to do it themselves, her advice is to break it up room by room, which is what she does in her own home.
"If I'm brushing my teeth in the morning, I'll clean the sink. If I go to the toilet, I'll clean the bathroom. Yesterday I vacuumed the living room but didn't vacuum anywhere else. Don't wait until the end of the weekend and do it all in one day and kill yourself cleaning."
What a good clean is
Single parent and business owner Nic Westhuyzen, says having a cleaner once a fortnight for $70, has saved her sanity and reduced her mental load.
"I still do loads of my own cleaning, but once a fortnight knowing it all gets done at once is priceless," she says.
"Once you get over the pressure of having someone see inside your messy house and the guilt that you feel like you should be capable of keeping up with your own cleaning, it's great."
Housekeeper Jen Purnell of Karma's Cleaning Crew, works alongside husband Hendrix, charging $60 an hour if it's the two of them cleaning, or $30 an hour if they're on their own.
Depending on the size of your home, a two-hour clean from them includes the kitchen - wiping down surfaces and making sure there are no "dribble marks" on cupboards; wiping down appliances, not including the oven (expect to pay $80 to $100 for an oven clean); wiping down the top of the stove, fridge, and microwave; your bathroom and your ensuite; vacuuming; mopping; and then "time pending" dusting and polishing, wiping of your skirting boards and your window sills.
"If we've got the time to squeeze [extras] in, then we will, but we're running around like headless chickens as we're doing our cleans," she says, adding some clients also like their sheets changed.
The level of grime varies but you can't be "judgy".
"Everyone is very different. Often the person you see on the outside is not always the person you see behind [closed doors]."
Cleaners can refuse to clean a house if it's too dirty.
Glen (not his real name) has more than two decades of cleaning experience in the Bay of Plenty, but only accepts commercial cleans nowadays, saying expectations from some "housewives" are unrealistic, and supersede what they're prepared to pay.
He gives the example of a former client wanting every bit of cat hair removed from a couch, and one home that was a "hygienic risk".
"It was just bloody filthy," he says.
In his opinion, domestic cleans are easily worth $50 an hour.
"She didn't wipe the bench after she made sandwiches, didn't wipe the stove down after she spilled fat everywhere, dried-on skid marks in the toilets from the kids ... She did absolutely nothing to maintain the house until we came in ... It was backbreaking stuff, so we pulled the plug on that."
However, cleaners can be hard work too, says working mum Kristal, cautioning one former cleaner charged her two hours but was only doing one-and-a-half.
"When I queried it, it was because the two hours was her minimum charge. It surprised me that I had to actually ask her to do other stuff to make up the two hours."
Cleaner for 30-years Wendy Newlands employs nine cleaners with business Wendy's Angels in Rotorua and cautions professionalism varies in the industry and that you should do your homework, ask for recommendations, and be wary of a cleaner who's immediately available.
"If they've got to juggle things to fit you in it's a good sign because it means they're busy and people are happy with them."
Mature age cleaners tend to have a better work ethic and use their initiative, in her experience.
Finding a pro cleaner "changes life for the better", says Pāpāmoa mum Cassie Walker.
"I think I used to spend more time thinking about cleaning, than doing the cleaning, and who needs more things to worry about."