Ring around the household! Remember when the windows were see- through? When the closet was approachable, the bath tile identifiable? It's time to clean up your act.
Hiring someone to do your clean fling isn't exorbitant, considering the alternative. As Zero Mostel sang, "everybody ought to have a maid." A service like the Virginia-based MAID IN AMERICA (820-7020) charges $35 for a one- time scrub of a house, $26 for a one-bedroom apartment. You supply the equipment. They need only a couple of days' notice, but nix on laundry and ironing.
You may want to tidy up a bit first: Margaret Henry of Maid in America says, "If we go into a home and it's in really bad condition, we give the customer the choice of paying an extra fee or not doing the job."
Crosstown competitors offer exterminating as an extra. MAID TO ORDER (585-3836) in Silver Spring, charges from $28.50 for a 3-hour scrub of a basic flat, to $1,000 for a day-long scouring of a 19-bedroom home. The average is $280 for a thorough spring cleaning -- kitchen and bathrooms attacked, wood floors polished, walls washed, the works. Prices depend on size, difficulty and regularity of the task. Co-owner Jack Garves says the 11-year- old firm is booked a couple of weeks in advance for large jobs.
Sexual stereotypes aside, there's MAN-MAID (296-9135), actually nine men, one woman. Founder Robert Starkey promises, "We don't watch soap operas, iron clothes or babysit, we clean. Everything. Floor to ceiling." For a one-shot, the price is $40 for a half-day and $10 per hour after that. On a regular basis, it's $30 and up. Fees escalate to $50 for a half- day for dirty mansions.
Bill Shumate, head of HOME MAID (978- 8000), notes dirt crosses all socioeconomic and geographic lines. "Algae and things growing inside the tub, grease that's been on the floor for a year... I've seen it in $100,000 homes and in apartment rentals." His crew works "by the hour in messy, messy homes," at the base rate of $35 plus up to $25 per hour for extra cleaning, depending how many hands it takes. 328 14.10.
DUSTY DUNGAREES (691-9092), a new entry in Northern Virginia, offers free estimates to get to the root of the raunch. Meanwhile, roll up your sleeves, get out the mop, and whistle while they work..