Behind the curtain of cleaning service prices

The pricing of cleaning services in London is a black box wrapped in a mystery, encased in an enigma, and swept under the rug. Transparency isn’t a strong suit of our industry, which is why I’m writing this article.

People need to know the basic factors that come into play when we’re calculating the price of services so they can make an informed decision. 

Don’t worry, this isn’t an accounting article. I have nothing against accounting (or accountants), but that’s not why you’re here. So let’s answer some questions about the pricing of cleaning services in London and see if you’ll come out better informed on the other side.

In this article:

  • Are cleaning services in London expensive?
  • Pricing factors for cleaning services in London
    • End of tenancy cleaning in London
    • Regular domestic cleaning in London
    • Carpet cleaning in London
    • Oven cleaning in London
  • Conclusion

Note: Obviously we have a dog in this fight as a company, but we’re still trying to remain as objective as possible.

Without further ado, let us begin, shall we?

Are cleaning services in London expensive?

London offers some of the most competitive cleaning service prices in the Western world. As of 2021, cleaning companies charge between £13 and  £16 per hour for regular cleaning services, on average.

In comparison, cleaning companies across the pond charge between s$50 and $90 per hour for the same service, on average.

When we look at The Land Down Under, things aren’t all that different, with average rates hovering between $30 and $50.

Even when adjusting currency and comparing to average annual salaries, cleaning services in London are more than two times cheaper.

So what gives? Where does this disparity come from? It mostly boils down to competition.

There are over 10 thousand cleaning companies in London. And then there are probably just as many self-employed cleaners. The low cost of entry for a cleaning business enables everyone to try their luck.

However, most people who open a cleaning business don’t know much (if anything) about running a business. The only way they can get clients is by undercutting the competition.

Over the years, this has lead to the price of cleaning services in London hitting the floor. At the first glance, it seems like this is perfect for clients – they get a quality service for cheap.

Yet, this isn’t always the case. To keep prices low, oftentimes companies and self-employed cleaners need to cut corners in ways that aren’t obvious at face value. Part of the reason is there are many factors that determine the price of cleaning services in London.

Pricing factors for cleaning services in London

The prices of cleaning services are not random.

Depending on the service, there will be different factors at play when determining the price of the service. As I’ve already mentioned, competition is fierce. But this is not the only factor. There are considerations to take into account before you can make an informed decision. Let’s break it down by service.

End of tenancy cleaning in London

The starting price of end of tenancy cleaning in London for a studio flat varies between £90 and  £150. The price doesn’t include deep carpet cleaning.

This is a pretty big range. Let’s deep dive into the factors and see if it makes sense.

Location

London is a big city so of course location matters. Depending on whether cleaners need 15 minutes or 2 hours to reach you, the price will vary.

On top of that, location affects parking spaces. The closer a property is to the city, the more difficult it is to find a place to park. Which means either more time on the clock or paying for parking. Both of which inflate the price of the service.

Size of the property 

Naturally, a bigger property takes more work and time to clean. So it makes sense it will also be more expensive.

The price ranges I’ve specified above are for a studio flat. But the price increases with the number of rooms.

Aside from the number of rooms, the size of said rooms matters, as well. Some rooms are the size of a studio flat so naturally, the price to clean them would be higher.

Cleaning products

End of tenancy cleaning is a professional service and requires professional cleaning products. If you think there’s no difference between a grade-A cleaning product and the cheap store-brand rubbish, you’re mistaken.

Professional cleaning products do a better job at dealing with scum, dirt, hard water deposits, and more. They’re more effective and need less scrubbing which reduces the chance of damaging surfaces. After all, the main goal of end of tenancy cleaning is to get your security deposit back, which can’t happen if there’s all sorts of damage on the property.

Some companies skimp on cleaning products and buy the cheapest they can buy so they can keep prices low. This goes double for many free agents.

The cleaner

Cleaning isn’t as simple as people think. If you want to be an effective cleaner, it’s not enough to dust, vacuum, and wipe. You need to know how to properly apply cleaning products. How different chemicals interact with one another so you don’t create a health hazard for you and your clients. You need to know all the places people usually forget to clean and take care of them.

Landlords and real estate agents are very particular about problem areas. So it makes sense that a better trained, more experienced cleaner will do a better job.

But it’s not just about the job, either. One of the first things some companies and cleaning agents skimp on is insurance. Without insurance, if something gets damaged in the process, the cleaner can leave without as much as a mea culpa.

You can try and sue, but that usually takes lots of time and money with no guarantee you’ll get anything out of it even if you do win. Especially if you hired an illegal cleaner, which is another way to keep prices low.

Time

Many people don’t know their landlord requires them to book end of tenancy cleaning before they vacate the flat. When they find out at the last possible moment, they scramble to find a cleaning company as soon as possible.

The problem is, cleaning companies are booked ahead of time more often than not. This means the company needs to figure out a way to shuffle around their appointments so they can accommodate their new clients.

It may not sound like much, but it makes an already complex service even more complex. This is why sometimes, the timing of the service gets factored into the final price.

Hidden fees and taxes

Last but not least, a popular way to keep prices low is with hidden fees and taxes. This means the company gives you one price, at first, but then all sorts of other fees and taxes begin to appear out of thin air. 

For example, many companies that have a VAT registration list their prices without VAT. Only later do you realize what they were doing when the final invoice comes.

Other methods include giving you the lowest possible quote, only to increase it later. Since people looking for end of tenancy cleaning are usually on the clock, they don’t have the option to refuse the service and end up paying.

There are many other ways companies can try to fool you with hidden fees and taxes so keep your eyes peeled and read the fine print.  We’ve also made a more detailed breakdown of London end of tenancy cleaning prices.

Regular domestic cleaning in London

Regular domestic cleaning is different from end of tenancy in many ways. While end of tenancy cleaning clients technically book the service for someone else’s benefit (the only thing they get out of it is their security deposit back), this is not the case with regular domestic cleaning.

When they book regular domestic cleaning, clients let someone else into their inner sanctum. It requires trust, establishing a relationship, and finding the right people. Hiring the lowest bidder is rarely a winning strategy. With this in mind, pricing factors for regular domestic cleaning are a bit different.

The regular cleaner

Once again, the cleaner takes centre stage. However, this time it’s not just about professionalism (which should be a given). No, this time the so-called “soft skills” will come into play.

Most clients prefer to have the same cleaner every week and build a working relationship with them. It makes sense, as no one wants to let a complete stranger into their home every week.

This means the cleaner needs to be trustworthy, first and foremost. You need to be 100% confident they won’t lie, cheat, or steal something from your home.

Punctuality is another essential quality for a regular cleaner. You need to know they respect you and your time. “Fashionably late” isn’t an option when we’re talking about a professional service.

Communication seems to be another area where most companies struggle. It’s not easy to communicate with a cleaner on a regular basis if they don’t know what you’re saying.

Of course, I’ve already mentioned insurance, experience, cleaning knowledge. All of this contributes to better health for you and your family, and it extends the life of your furniture. 

When you sum it all up, it turns out not just anyone can be a quality regular domestic cleaner. Especially when we talk about regular cleaning, it’s not just about cleanliness. It’s about wellness.

Time

Regular domestic cleaning is a timed service – you pay based on the number of hours you request. There’s usually some sort of booking minimum (two hours, in most cases).

The more hours you book, the higher the price would be. This is a no-brainer. However, sometimes companies offer a lower price per hour if you book more hours. So you get more cleaning done at a lower price per hour, which many clients do opt for.

There are some considerations to make when you decide how many hours to book, such as:

  • the size of the property
  • frequency of cleaning visits
  • strength of the cleaning products
  • chronic health conditions (asthma, allergies, etc.)
  • how many people live in the household

For example, a bigger property with more people will obviously require more time to clean than a one-bedroom flat with a single person. You can still book a minimum of two hours, but you won’t get the results you’re hoping for. Cleaning is neither as easy nor as quick as many people seem to think.

Additional complications such as chronic health conditions mean you would benefit from booking more hours.

Cleaning products

If you’re supplying your own cleaning products, the cleaning service will seem cheaper at first. However, if the products aren’t up to professional standards, then cleaning with them will be noticeably slower than using professional cleaning products.

Essentially, if it takes two hours to clean the property with professional products, it may take up to twice as long to clean with cheaper products. Not only that, but it starts a chain reaction where cleaners feel they’re overworked and underpaid. This makes it even more difficult for them to do a thorough job.

At the end of the day, you’d have to book more hours to get the same result. And while professional products cost a bit more, they usually result in a cheaper service in the long run if we take results into consideration. It’s not always about the bottom line.

The cleaning company

Is the company a brand you could trust? Are they looking out for your best interest? Are they looking out for their cleaners? These are non-trivial questions.

If the company treats their cleaners well, it’s much easier for said cleaners to do a good job. Not only that but also to work with a smile on their faces. And when it comes to letting them into your home on a weekly basis, this is an important factor. Happy cleaners make for happy customers.

In case of a problem, you know you can count on the company to step in and fix things. Your regular cleaner is sick or has a day off? They notify you ahead of time and give you options on how to proceed.

Furthermore, they’re consistent in their standards and execution. The new cleaner would be just as good as the old one. You’d know exactly what to expect.

And in case something gets broken, they have insurance to cover the damages. If the cleaner didn’t do something right, they’d step in to fix it. After all, they have a reputation to uphold and they care about their clients’ wellbeing.

Finally, a good company offers you a good experience from the moment you speak with them on the phone to the moment you send off the cleaner and smell your freshly cleaned home.

All these things are difficult to do and maintain, which is why few companies build their business on regular clients. Most prefer the much easier one-time hits.

Carpet cleaning in London

The pricing factors for carpet cleaning in London aren’t as varied or complex as for other services. However, there are still certain specifics you need to know about.

Minimum charges

The main thing you need to pay attention to is the minimum charges. They vary somewhere between £45 and £60. Some companies specify them, some don’t – but almost everyone has them.

The minimum charge is there to make the service worthwhile. No one wants to travel in London traffic for an hour to clean a small rug for  £15. You’d be losing money on a job like this. The minimum charge is there to ensure that doesn’t happen.

That being said, some companies don’t specify the minimum charge ahead of time and you get it with your invoice. You can of course dispute the invoice, but that’s opening a whole other can of worms. So pay attention to minimum charges. If nothing is specified, call the company and ask.

Type of cleaning method

The most popular carpet cleaning methods used today are hot-water extraction (also known as steam cleaning), and dry cleaning. Hot-water extraction is usually the preferred method because it’s more powerful and deals with stubborn stains better. And let’s face it – if you’re calling for professional carpet cleaning, it’s probably not because of spilled water.

Quality carpet cleaning is also an investment since it increases the longevity of your carpets. Hot-water extraction tends to be more expensive, but an overall better deal in the long run. Especially if you’re dealing with allergies or asthma.

Size of the carpet

When it comes to carpet cleaning, size does matter. It’s one of the deciding factors. The bigger the rug or carpet, the more expensive the service will be.

Oven cleaning in London

Oven cleaning is just as straightforward as carpet cleaning, so I won’t repeat the same points. I should note oven cleaning also comes with a minimum charge, so once again – pay attention. There are a few other factors that affect the pricing.

Type of oven

In this case, it’s not only the size that matters but the type, as well. Oven cleaning is not simply spraying your oven with a cleaning solution and wiping it off. It involves the disassembly of the whole oven in order to clean it thoroughly. Some ovens disassemble easier than others so the type of oven you have would affect the price. And, of course, size is included in the equation.

Conclusion

Cleaning isn’t as simple as most people seem to think. And cleaning pricing isn’t always a straightforward process. Sometimes, there are bad actors who use less than honourable practices in order to get more work and you should be aware of such practices.

At the end of the day, most attempts at lowering prices translate to a loss of quality, security, and customer care. Even more, this creates an environment where the lowest bidders are rewarded. All of this affects you, but you only find out about it once you’ve been burned. 

Now that you’ve peeked behind the curtain, you can make more informed decisions about the services you choose. Knowing what might hide behind exceedingly low prices, it’s easy to see the cheapest route isn’t always the most valuable. Choose wisely.

A few words from Stan Velchev, Samyx Cleaning co-founder

“For me as an entrepreneur, opening Samyx cleaning was never about making a big hit, selling the company, and running off to a tropical island with the money. For me and my partner (in both business and life – my wife), it’s important to build a business people can get behind. Both clients and employees. A brand associated with quality. 

This is a Herculean task in the cleaning industry in London. Most companies and self-employed cleaners only compete on price. Of course, low prices are great at the first glance, but they lower quality and stifle industry progress. Due to the lack of useful competition (ideas, innovation, technologies, etc.) and the large number of identical sites copied from one another (same design, content, and prices), clients are left with the impression cleaning is unskilled labour and it doesn’t matter which company they choose. After trying two or three companies of this sort and ending up disappointed, they stigmatise all cleaning companies. This is a serious loss for our industry and we fight against it every day.

In conclusion, I will say that despite all the difficulties, we believe in our ideas and our team. Some of our cleaners have been with us from the very beginning. For us as a company, it is important above all else to keep our focus on offering quality service from your first contact with us. We want to help you experience the safety and comfort of a clean home with us. This is our way of making a difference.”

Samyx Cleaning - Branding Consultant - Atanas

Author: Atanas Dzhingarov

Hi, I’m Atanas - brand consultant and writer. I’m helping Samyx Cleaning create the best cleaning company blog on the Internet. Join us on our journey and learn how to live a cleaner, healthier, happier life in the process.