13+ Things Your Housecleaner Won’t Tell You

Are you your house cleaner's favorite client? Here, house cleaners from around the world come clean about what it's like to clean house.

By Jennifer Steil

1. Don’t ask me to clean your five-bedroom house and then say you need it done in two hours.

Make sure you give me enough time to clean everything properly.

2. Make sure you have all the cleaning products I will need.

Sometimes I show up and my clients have nothing for me to use. You know best what kind of cleaners you want used in your home; some people want only organic cleaners, some are picky about brands, and others have allergies.

3. Don’t forget that I need equipment!

One of my bosses kept forgetting to get me a mop so I had to wash her floors on my hands and knees with a cloth. For weeks she did this. It’s really inconsiderate.

4. Please do not ask me to sew on buttons...

clean the wheels of your bike, scrub out your mailbox, or pull out the refrigerator in order to clean behind it.

5. It’s helpful if you soak dirty pans so that I can clean them more easily when I get there.

6. If your house is a disorganized mess it makes it harder for me to clean.

Please pick up toys, piles of papers, and clutter from surfaces so that I can actually get to them.

7. It makes me crazy when I’ve just cleaned a floor and my employer walks all over it in dirty shoes.

8. I need reasonable notice if you are going to move or stop hiring me.

Too many clients don’t think to tell me until the week they’re moving. A month’s notice would be nice. You give your landlord a month’s notice. Please do me the same courtesy.

9. I really love to look at the books people have and the food they keep in their refrigerators.

Sometimes I can’t help reading something for 10 minutes. But I always make up the time by staying 10 minutes late or working faster.

10. Tiny kindnesses mean a lot.

One time a client left me a gift from a trip abroad, which delighted me. Those small appreciations keep me honest.

11. It’s a huge relief when clients allow me to take my child with me to work.

Sometimes I just can’t find a sitter but I still need the money.

12.Please write a list of the things you would like me to do, as well as giving me verbal instructions, to ensure I don’t forget anything.

13. Be nice to me.

I do a better job when I am happy and feel appreciated.

14. It’s the little things that make people happy.

That’s why we make the little triangle at the end of the toilet paper roll. You guys love that.

15. Just because someone looks polished on the outside doesn’t mean their home is spotless.

One lady I cleaned for, a divorce attorney, always looked great, and she had a beautiful house in a gated community, but inside it was the filthiest, nastiest place in the world. It was like a hoarder hut, filled with junk.

16. Do you want to keep working after you get home?

Neither do we. Some of us actually hire someone else to clean our homes.

17. Please, trust me.

You hire an AC guy and take his advice, you hire a plumber and do what he says, but I come in and you think you know more about how to clean than I do.

18. Please say thank you, even if it’s just on a Post-it.

Or if you really like me, leave something small every once in a while, like a $5 gift card to McDonald’s. If I feel like someone appreciates me, I really go the extra mile.

19. Be wary if I give you my price over the phone.

Reputable cleaners come to your home and give you a free estimate.

20. Letting us work “by the job” sometimes means you get less for your money.

It can be more cost effective to pay me an hourly rate, especially once your home is in a maintenance mode.

21. Training?

What training? In this economy, a lot of people are turning to housecleaning to pay the bills. I clean my own house so I think I know how to clean.

22. Think our insurance will cover you?

Hmm, maybe not. Insurance companies expect us to be trained professionals, so if we use the wrong product on your expensive furnishings, the insurance company might deny the claim.

23. Come home unexpectedly every once in a while and see what we’re doing.

Good housecleaners won’t watch your TV, talk on the phone, or eat on your bed.

25. I know more than you think.

I see the piles of bills marked “past due” and know you’re having money problems. I find drugs and condom wrappers in kids’ bedrooms. And I can tell who’s unfaithful because the cheaters always start hiding laundry.

26. I had one client who would clean his house before I would even show up!

It just made my job harder, because I had to try to figure out what was clean and what was dirty. Sources: House cleaners in Louisiana, New York, Vermont, Washington, and London.

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