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
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    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.

    Your Comments

    • Maggie

      While some housecleaners prefer the client supply the cleaners and equipment, not all do. That is something that should be discussed between the individual cleaner and homeowner. I have used cleaners who preferred to bring their own cleaning products, either because of their own sensitivities to certain chemicals, or because they had certain products they knew worked well and preferred to use.

    • portobellogal

      I had a Mexican gal take care of my home for years when I lived in So Ca. She had a key to my house and I trusted her implicitly. I am very neat, made my own bed and changed linens; never left messes. She kept my house spotless and I was very good to her. I paid her well, and she was free to make herself lunch. She would leave a note if she was running out of supplies. When I decided to relocate to the east coast, I thought it very unreasonable that she wouldn’t leave her husband and family to be my housekeeper…. :~} :~} Wish I had her around now!

    • Suzanne Adey

      “My housecleaner” That’s funny.That would be me.

    • sss

      I own a house cleaning company and I have heard every one of the comments and for the most part I agree with the house cleaner. However, you are in a service industry so if you want to make money it is necessary to give a client the service they desire. I charge by the hour so if they choose not to de-clutter then it just takes long and they have to pay for that. Simple.

    • J Meadows

      Never allow your housekeeper or other service provider to bring their child to work at your house. If the child is injured you’re likely to be liable.

    • loverofcats

      “Those small appreciations keep me honest.” Really? You need to be rewarded for your honesty?

    • Kristin

      Number 9:

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

      um, looks like you’re in the wrong profession. I’ve left a few comments here complaining about the housekeepers here. FYI I myself did a gig of housekeeping my self for a month- and there are just things a housekeeper must NOT do: Help themselves to what’s in the fridge, nose around in someone else’ home, or take things from the candy jar. They are there to CLEAN- not read books or grab someone else food from fridge- I’m a WORKER not a guest. Maids/housekeepers should bring their OWN supplies, NOT help themselves to “extra” rolls of TP/paper towels (the homeowner is not your personal Sams Club) nor shall they covet items the homeowner is about to throw out or donate. Once you start handing down used items to your housekeepers, they start eyeing every item in your home hoping they’ll have it themselves someday. My mother “handed down” a very valuable item to her housekeeper while my mom was recovering from surgery (pain drugs muddled her mind) and the maid didn’t hesitate to snatch it out of mother’s hands. They also “lost” some items my sister was keeping in an old chest of drawers that cannot be replaced. We caught them helping themselves to more items in the home later.

    • Kristin

      “make sure you have all the cleaning products I need” Excuse me?? Housekeepers should bring their OWN cleaning supplies, not use my own, nor “supplement” their family’s supply of paper towels/toilet paper rolls/Comet by purloining my “extra” supplies from my closet by them hiding these items in the outbound trash. I always wondered why they took the “garbage” out to the car, then noticed my supplies were running low and I wasn’t using them.

    • everybodyonly

      I have a very large home and treat everyone who works here like gold. Most of the people have been with me for over 10 years. However, I have had some very unpleasant experiences. I thought one housekeeper was having some bathroom issues as she seemed to be in a bathroom every time I walked by. I later realized she was in there texting away. Now I ask that new housekeepers leave their phones in the kitchen and tell them they are free to give out home phone in the event of an emergency. Beware of agencies. I paid a $5700 fee for a one month guarantee. The woman was fabulous for the first month and then a week after that turned into a disaster. I had to let her go. I still wonder if she and the agency had some sort of “agreement”. I have found movie stubs in sweaters from movies I have never seen. I find that my friends who are tougher and asked to be called “Mrs” (I am 48) don’t seem to have the same issues with being taken advantage of, theft, etc. I would advise everyone to keep documents, valuables and medication locked up. And when someone shows up with a pocketbook that you could not carry on to a plane it is a pretty big red flag. Investing in a reputable PI to run a security check is worth it. There are some amazing people out there, but sadly, as nice as you are, there are some people who feel it is ok to help themselves because someone has more than they do.

    • Life

      The attached list to this article should “put up some red flags” for anybody looking for someone to clean their home!!
      Just gives me more of a reason why I would never hire a maid, furthermore, when I clean house I want it all cleaned “not this pick nicking, half-azz bull chit besides, how do I know that they aren’t using filthy rags cleaning the toilet on my kitchen counters?
      No thank you, I’ll save myself the trouble, aggravation and worry about trusting any of these people in my home and this article has just confirmed it!!