It might be snowing on the East Coast, but it’s almost spring here in San Francisco, which makes it a great time to think about cleaning your house. Or so I hear.
Several startups have been cropping up in the Bay Area recently that are specifically targeting the young, affluent professionals who are ambivalent about home cleaning and chores. While there are already countless numbers of cleaning services on Yelp or Angie’s List, these startups are attempting to displace traditional services with a more tech-savvy approach, generally touting credit card payments, mobile apps and online booking as selling points.
As Om wrote this weekend in response to the Uber strike in San Francisco, we will continue to face questions as we get used to booking and rating services online that are performed by other people, and likely these cleaning services will be no different in the challenges they face. But for a lot of consumers getting used to booking and paying for services online, these kinds of apps and services could become the norm.
Only in the Bay Area can you hire an American Apparel-clad, self-proclaimed hipster to come clean your house. (With organic cleaning products, naturally.) Hipstermaid was launched by ex-Googler Cathy Tang who wanted to book and pay for home-cleaning services online, as she was accustomed to doing with most other daily tasks.
The premise of the company is fairly absurd (since it’s unclear why a hipster would clean a bathroom better than anyone else), and the company’s prices are definitely more expensive than some of the other options. Tang, who is CEO of the company, said the average San Francisco house cleaning job will costs $129-$159 (typically two cleaners covering a one or two bedroom apartment.) But the company does offer eco-friendly cleaning supplies, flexible booking and online payments, and Tang says having hipster in the title is mainly part of the marketing strategy.
Homejoy was frequently known as Pathjoy, but has recently re-branded to emphasize its focus on home cleaning and care. Just like some of the other services, Homejoy lets you book a cleaner on the site for a flat price per hour, and you’re guaranteed a home cleaning in the time you specify, as well as online booking and profile of your cleaner. You can leave reviews of your cleaner afterwards and give Homejoy gift cards.
The service is available in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle. The company charges a standard $20 per hour rate with a minimum booking of 2.5 hours, although cleaners can be booked for longer periods of time as well.
Based in New York, Boston, and San Francisco, Handybook lets you book cleaners online, as well as find a handyman to put together your IKEA furniture, hang pictures, paint or help you move. The company also helps you locate plumbers in your area. Any of the services booked through the site and you can pay with a credit card, and the company has an app on iOS right now.
CEO and co-founder Oisin Hanrahan told me that they wanted to take the friction out of booking home services, but quickly discovered that it’s as much about standardizing the experience (making sure the cleaner shows up on time, uses eco-friendly materials, brings his or her own vacuum, etc.) as it is about allowing credit cards:
“The whole process puts so much friction and tension on the customer, we think it just doesn’t make any sense. We want it to be as easy to book a home service as it is to book an Uber or buy a book on Amazon,” he said.
Handybook estimates that home cleanings cost between $25 to $35 per hour.
As someone with the time and energy to clean my own small apartment, I’m less interested in finding a service to do it for me, and more interested in reading about the best ways to do it myself. BrightNest is a website (and iPhone app that just launched Monday) that allows users to check out different tips for home cleaning and maintenance, depending on the type of home you have and the size of your family.
I’m a single person without pets, kids, or a lawn; my needs are fairly limited. But after signing in and telling the app about my basic living setup, I received tips for making a butterfly feeder, removing stains from carpets, cleaning out my fridge, purchasing a smoke detector, conserving tap water and organizing my closet.
Aside from the butterfly feeder, which sounds like a kick, it’s a pretty useful list of things I might use with detailed information under every suggestion. Plus, the app is fairly attractive to use, and you can save particular items to do on an ongoing basis.