CNY brings fortune to cleaning firms
SHERLENE Wong is looking to hire a cleaning company for the big Chinese New Year spring cleaning.
The 35-year-old mother of one hired one last year for her four-room flat, and she wants one again this time because she is expecting her second child next month.
But if she does not hurry, she might not be able to engage a cleaning company, even though Chinese New Year is a month away.
Of 10 cleaning companies The New Paper spoke to, eight said that 80 per cent, or four in five time slots, for the festive period have been taken up.
Demand for cleaning services traditionally goes up during this time, but this year, it has been particularly strong.
For instance, cleaning agency Domestic One Home Services' Keith Yew said almost all its slots next month have been snapped up.
"Only eight are left," he said, adding that in (spirit of the season), "new cleaning clothes and mops are used for all spring-cleaning packages".
Madam Wong, who paid a discounted $50 for a crew to clean her flat a year ago, can also expect to pay a lot more now.
The charges for a spring-cleaning package have gone up from an average of $200 last year. They now start from $388 for a three-room flat.
In the two weeks leading up to Chinese New Year, the rates could go up further by between $100 and $600.
But paying the sum seems no issue for clients, who are mostly young professionals, most of whom live in condominiums or five-room Housing Board flats.
Jean Ngiam, owner of A-Team Amahs and Cleaners, said: "We started receiving inquiries and taking orders for spring-cleaning jobs as early as September and October. We are even opening new slots to accommodate regular clients now.
"Some buy packages for their old parents, who don't live with them, so they will not have to spring-clean on their own."
Companies say they allocate between four and six hours per home, dispatching between three and six people for a job.
"My teams clean between four and six houses a day during this period leading up to Chinese New Year," said Mr Yew.
If more needs to be done, clients are charged $50 to $200 an hour for the extra work.
Ong Pang Yang, a manager with MopSquad, said: "There will also be extra charges for the extra hours spent at the location, and for tough stain and grease removal."
Housekeepers Management Services owner Liew Seow Ling said she has rejected a cleaning job only once.
"The home was badly cluttered and when we went into the toilet, the walls and floor were covered in black mould and very smelly."
Ms Ngiam said that, most of the time, clients are "very generous" to the cleaning crew.
"I remember once, when my staff were tidying the kitchen cabinets, there were these cans of abalone untouched, and the client told them to take everything.
"Then there are those living in the Bukit Timah area who would give away branded clothing that they no longer wear."
THE NEW PAPER