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Calling a Professional


I feel  certain that I’ve used this photo (above) of our hall before, but the reason I’m showing it again is to demonstrate how pale our hall carpet is.

Yes, I know!  A rather silly colour for a hall with all the ‘traffic’ that passes through.  Yes, I know!   Hard flooring would be much more practical.  Light oak strips or rich mahogany parquet, for example.  Indeed, in our previous home (we have only had two homes in almost 53 years of married life) the first thing my brand new husband did shortly after our marriage in 1964 was to lay parquet flooring in our hall, and my goodness, it looked lovely.  OK, it was only veneer-thick, not blocks of parquet which we couldn’t possibly have afforded, but it remained looking lovely for the 21 years we were in that home.

But hard flooring isn’t comforting to the touch, it’s not warm in winter, and all sounds are amplified.  A more practical carpet might’ve been coir or sea grass, but we found such carpets were even more expensive than a high-quality wool carpet we eventually chose, and also coir and sea grass are harsh to the touch.

And so we decided on a good quality wool carpet. And that is what we bought 15 years ago, for the hall, stairs, and landing (as well as the sitting/dining room.)

Over the years my husband has cleaned this carpet himself with one of those machines you can hire from the supermarket.  But as the years have gone on, the area near the kitchen door had become decidedly grubby and I thought it was time to call in a professional.

Jonathan arrived last Thursday. So large was the cleaning machine that it remained outside the back door …

He then dragged in hoses and cables the like of which I’ve never seen before in a domestic setting …

Three hours later our hall, stairs and landing carpets were like new.  Although the carpet was still damp and he said we must on not on any account put furniture onto it until it was completely dry, as that might leave stains, right away we could see the benefit of having called in a professional to do this work.  And, if having a very clean carpet wasn’t sufficient, to add to our satisfaction, he didn’t charge much more than what we’d have spent hiring equipment ourselves and struggling to do the work ourselves.

I don’t have a photo of the carpet, but here again, just inside the front door and at the foot of the stairs (that’s the newel post, bottom left) you can see that it is a very light-coloured carpet.

It wasn’t until a few years ago when a window cleaner was coming around, asking those in our Close whether they would like their windows cleaned that we decided this might be a good idea.   Husband had always cleaned the windows himself – when young we could never afford to have such luxuries as people doing things we could quite easily do ourselves – and when I asked the price and it was reasonable, I agreed to him cleaning the windows when he came around every eight or so weeks.  That was about a decade ago now, and it has certainly been worthwhile.

At much the same time, the Council provided the residents of the Bay with wheelie bins.  Several small companies then set themselves up offering bin cleaning.  Husband had always washed out our dustbin with hot water and some bleach, and then inserted a bin liner, but again, I thought, “if it’s a reasonable price, why not have someone do this for us?”   And then the Council changed the green wheelie bin for two black lid-less boxes and a small food waste bin, and so I asked if these could be washed out once a month, too?  For a very small amount extra, all the bins – black wheelie bin for residual (non-recycling) waste, two recycling boxes, and the food waste bin – now receive a thorough clean once a month, money which I think is well spent.

[I should make it clear that the recycling and food waste is collected each week, and the black wheelie bin once a fortnight, but we only have the bins cleaned once a month]

Best of all was the day I decided to have our oven professionally cleaned.  A neighbour was having her oven cleaned and she asked if I’d like to see the finished job as I was considering booking to have ours done.  The result was remarkable and so I had our oven cleaned, too.

It is a Neff circotherm double oven and it takes at least two hours, if not longer, to have it cleaned professionally, but my goodness, what a great job the cleaner makes, and without any mess whatsoever in the kitchen and also without using any chemicals, it’s all hot water and elbow grease.

I have now had the oven cleaned on average every 9 months over the past four or five years.  It isn’t a job quite as inexpensive as the carpet cleaning, but it keeps the oven looking clean and definitely hygienic.  I think it looks good for an oven that is now 17 years old!  The cleaner also cleans hobs and extractor fans, and I’ve had the extractor done on occasion, too.

It isn’t an easy oven to photograph as it faces the window and there is much that is reflected in the glass oven doors.


I suppose the next move would be to have a cleaner come in once or twice a week.  But as yet I don’t think I’ve reached that stage and I quite like, as I’ve said before, housekeeping.  It isn’t so much whether we can afford a cleaner, but whether we actually want one!  And having the bins, the windows, the oven, and the carpets professionally cleaned, we are only left with general cleaning – dusting, polishing, vacuuming, laundry, etc – the really hard tasks have been removed.

Do you call a professional or do you do it all yourself?

PS  I would like to add that a by-product of this is that we are helping the local economy, as all the professionals mentioned are local people with small businesses. 



About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. What an intelligent luxury, Margaret, having the difficult ‘stuff’ professionally cleaned. Because it’s just me, and my home is tiny, I probably wouldn’t do that, but I sure wish that I had, over the years! I love the furniture under the stairs in your home – so charming.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Perhaps you are just cleaner than we are, Ratnamurti, ha ha! I often catch husband going through with his shoes from the garden, perhaps to sneak in for something he’s forgotten, and I will shout “Shoes!” jokingly, but it falls on deaf ears (literally now!)
      My old desk under the stairs was a present from my mother for my 12th birthday. When I married I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to take it with me, a young bride of 20 being reminded of her childhood self, but I knew it would be useful, and we had just the place for it in our hall in our first home, and so it went with me. The builder was going to fill in the area under the stairs and make either a loo or a cupboard, but we said we wanted it left open, and it makes a narrow hall feel more spacious. And at night it looks nice with the lamps on. By the way, those lampshades were something of a mistake and will be replaced in due course. It’s difficult finding attractive small ones, and I thought these pale grey pleated silk would like nice. They do, at night, but in the day they just look drab.

  2. Wow I was very impressed by your photos of the sparkling oven. I thought it was new and feared your article would be about another large expense to replace a broken household object ! I love the idea of cleaning an oven without those harsh chemicals – plus it’s such an awful, fiddle job with the racks and so on. Our oven is only a few years old and living in a humid climate I only use the oven during our short winters. When the oven is on it heats the whole house, which is unbearable for much of our year ! I give ours a quick wipe over with cloth and kitchen spray and it’s enough to keep it clean. When I lived in a cooler area and made more roasts, etc the oven would get splattered. I would have readily paid someone else to get it sparkling like new.

    Your mentioning of professional carpet cleaning has me thinking about having ours done. Our carpet is only seven or eight years old and we don’t wear shoes in the house but nonetheless there are various spots and marks from various accidents. We have tiled floors in our entry hall, kitchen, hallway and bathrooms with carpet in the bedrooms and large open living dining area. Regular vacuuming keeps it looking tidy but wear and tear – especially on the stairs and nearest the kitchen in our house – appear in every house.

    Our former neighbou used to run a business which cleaned the large rubbish bins in residential areas. He did the many holiday rental homes in our area. We also have a three bin system in our council area. Employing others to do tasks you don’t want to do or can’t do is wonderful and contribute to the economy. Our neighbours two doors down run a business which does lawn mowing, edge trimming, rubbish removal, etc for local properties. As our climate is subtropical – long summers with plenty of rain – everything in the garden grows as if on steroids and lawns must be mowed weekly. He has a very good business indeed and employs plenty of fit, young local lads to push those mowers.

    After all, it’s money makes the world go round as the song went.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      No, the oven is definitely not new, it was bought in the winter of 2000, when we were doing up our kitchen so the hob and the sink and the extractor are all that age, too. And it really does come up looking like new. And having the carpet cleaned was an eye-opener, we never thought it could come up so clean! I said to my husband that next in line would be someone to cut the hedge between us and next door, but husband actually enjoys cutting the hedge, so I don’t want to remove this job from him (yet!) As yet he also mows all the grass around our house, too. But I suppose it keeps him fit!

  3. My husband and I started having our house cleaned several years ago when I was going through treatment for some health issues. We decided to continue with the house-cleaning every other week because we found it to be such a big help. We have “deep-cleaning” done of the kitchen every six months or so, and inside windows and blinds cleaned a few times a year, as well. My husband arranges for power-washing of the front porch brick and the driveway occasionally. The outside windows really need professional cleaning – I can’t see either one of us getting up on a ladder to do that. Help with keeping the house clean has made such a difference to us – in a good way. Thank you for your post.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      What a very good idea, Pam, to have deep cleaning once every six months or so. We may have to start having something like this done in due course, but first I must clear a lot of my magazines, hundreds of them as I rarely throw a magazine away (or pass it to someone). And I had hundreds, if not thousands of books. It would not be fair to a cleaning company to ask them to clean around all these items! We have today decided to get someone to do the hedge cutting. The job itself isn’t too onerous, although it would involve a ladder, but getting rid of all the clippings would be onerous, bagging it up and taking it to the tip (several car-loads of clippings, whereas a commercial gardener would have a truck for this very purpose.)

  4. Eloise at thisissixty.blog

    When we were both working full time and long hours I did pay to have the ironing done. It freed me from a job I really disliked. Nowadays I really can’t justify that but husband and I each iron our own clothes. We pay for the bins to be cleaned once a month. It cost £36 a year and we consider it well worthwhile. We also pay for windows and guttering to be cleaned.
    A couple of years ago we had some wallpapering done but decided that husband did a better job so he will be doing the bedroom soon. If there are heavy garden jobs to be done, we get someone in nowadays.
    Your oven looks very sparkly! My son’s friend started up a cooker cleaning business. It is something I may consider.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Your ideas mirror our own, Eloise: get the windows and bins cleaned, etc, but husband does a very good job of paperhanging and painting inside, although we had a painter paint the gable end of our house which would’ve meant husband going up quite high on a ladder. Yes, the oven comes up like new. I couldn’t believe it when I first saw it. I thought I got it clean but the chap takes the door apart and much of the inside, too, and it really is like a new oven when it has been professionally cleaned.

  5. We have the windows cleaned outside, supposed to be monthly but sometimes it’s longer than that but still more often than I’d manage it. We had a bit of inside decorating done earlier this year, just freshening up the kitchen and bathroom and when we can finally have the hallway and stairs done that will definitely be a job for a professional.

    So far I just bumble along with the rest.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Alison. Until now husband has done all the indoor decorating and I think he will still do this when it is necessary. But if your carpet cleaner is as good as our carpet cleaner was last week, you will be delighted with the work.

  6. You put me to shame, Margaret. Your home looks like it’s always shipshape. I will admit, I have never cleaned the “bins”, by bins I assume you mean the outside trash bins which get wheeled to the road on trash pick up day. I’d like to clean them, but how does one reach down in those huge things? And with what?

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Don’t you believe it, Jeannine, it’s seldom shipshape! Yesterday I was so ashamed of the dust in the sitting room and yet I had plenty of jobs to do (and now I find I can’t do all the jobs I used to – I either do cooking or backing, or ironing, or cleaning, but I can’t do all on the same day, it’s a case of Anno Domini, as my mother used to say, i.e. age!) Anyway, as I say, I was so ashamed I asked husband if he would vacuum the carpet and I would do the dusting, and he very kindly moved all the ornaments and lamps etc and vacuumed the furniture, too, with the duster attachment on the vacuum. Of course, being a chap, he didn’t put the things back as I had them, but that was easy to put right. It wasn’t that things were wrong, only not the way I put them. He had my two little ceramic dogs with their backs to one another whereas I have them looking toward each other. I said to him, “They can’t see each other now, they’ll think one has gone missing!” Oh dear, I sound like I’ve lost the plot!
      Yes, bins are your trash cans. The name over here was dust bin as they were originally for the sweepings from the open fires, i.e. coal dust, etc. The chap that comes around has a van with a special hoist on the back and it takes the bin, and he hoses it inside and then it’s turned over so that the water runs out and the hoist drops it back on the ground, job done, all nice and clean and sweet-smelling again. I have this done once a month, plus the recycling boxes (two of those) and a food waste bin (much smaller than a wheelie bin), all for £4.50. No idea what that is in dollars but not all that much once a month. Even if you didn’t have someone to clean the bin, a hose and a broom would do the job, then tip it up and allow it to drain. Then the chap who does ours puts in a wheelie bin black plastic liner and sprays it with a deodorizer.

      • You must think me a dunce! Why didn’t I think of the broom?! I’ve tried just hosing them out and tipping them to dry, but that doesn’t clean them. But a broom – that should help.

        • Margaret Powling
          Margaret Powling

          Well, obvious things aren’t obvious until they’re pointed out, are they, ha ha! I must say, I used to get husband to do this, but with a hose and a broom, or even a bucket of water and a broom, I don’t think it would be that difficult, and you could then line the wheelie bin with a wheelie bin bag (I presume you can buy these in your supermarkets?) and spray with some disinfectant? And then wrap everything that goes into it. That would cut down flies and smells. Only residual waste goes into ours, things which can’t be recycled and not even garden waste which must be taken to the tip (although the Council will collect garden waste if you phone up and ask them, but you have to pay extra for that – it’s free to take garden waste to the tip.) And food waste has another, separate bin, and all the scraps that go into that have been in the kitchen caddy which has a liner, and so the food waste bin is therefore kept reasonably clean, too.

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