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

    • Kristinitis

      “2. Make sure you have all the cleaning products I will need.” No, I pay you to clean my house. YOU bring the products.

      “9. I really love to look at the books people have and the food they keep in their refrigerators.” Sounds like I need a new housekeeper. Your job is to clean, not covet my belongings. Also, I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t beg me for my “old things”. Those go to the very poor who have NO JOB. You know what a job is, like house cleaning? Don’t like it? Go to school like I did, while holding down 3 jobs simultaneously so I could afford to pay my own tuition. If I start giving you my discards, you will look at every belonging I currently own now as “potential ups for grabs”.

      “5. It’s helpful if you soak dirty pans so that I can clean them more easily when I get there.” Great idea! Sounds like I won’t be needing you anymore, considering how easy this job is becoming.

      “7. It makes me crazy when I’ve just cleaned a floor and my employer walks all over it in dirty shoes.” It’s my house. I can walk on the wet floor if I want.

    • 366CleaningServices

      I couldn’t disagree more with most of these “things” your house cleaner won’t tell you. You can tell whoever wrote this is probably an under the table type of house cleaner who works for themselves. Who muddles through their clients property to read an interesting book and then stay longer in their home than necessary and back it up with – I can work faster? If you can work faster, save your client time/money and move to the next client, why would you sit there reading their book??? Baffling article altogether, but a few points in case anyone’s interested…

      I applaud you greatly, because making a living for yourself, no matter how it’s done is hard work and a huge risk.

      Also, I run my own cleaning business (366 Cleaning Services, in Winchester, VA) and most of these things I would openly discuss with my clients or simply won’t allow (reading the client’s books on the job sounds completely insane to me). I ask my clients what they want, not what I think I want to do to their house. If they want me to scrub three day old plates and pick up the kid’s toys before I start cleaning then I do, and I inform them of the cost impact. If it’s a once-in-a-blue-moon type of thing, then the customer appreciates your understanding because they were probably too busy. If the habit continues and your cost aren’t covered, then be open with your client).

      I also don’t get why you ask the client to write down AND tell you the things they want done…why can’t you ask them once and write it down yourself so not to inconvenience your client? You could/should even provide a copy to the client so they know exactly what services to expect.

      BE NICE TO ME??? You even said it in your “article” I’m not the maid, I’m a cleaner. The client shouldn’t be impacted by your presence in their home to begin with, so asking them for gifts and a rosy attitude makes this writer/cleaner seem whiney and like they’re begging. I too want each of my employees to always have a cheerful, pleasant attitude with the client, regardless of the client’s attitude; but this doesn’t mean we require our client’s to give gifts and motivate my employees with a good attitude.

      I stopped reading because this comment post was going to take me too long and I was going to get too upset. Feel free to comment, but there’s a good chance I’ll never come back here to read it. If you want QUALITY cleaning and wish to respect the fact people should be paying taxes, then hire a good local company and not just an off-the-record or under the table laborer.

      Oh…and no jewelry while you clean – too much a risk for everyone – scratched surfaces, lost gems/stones, chemical damage, etc…

    • Brenda

      Two criticisms of this article. About cleaners taking notice of personal items around the house, i.e., condoms, knowing when someone is cheating, this is not a cleaner’s business, to want to know another one’s personal business. So why Reader’s Disgest would want to publish that statement, only creates negative opinion against a cleaner, and who would want to hire one then? As a cleaner, I’m repulsed other cleaners would speak about that, or could that have been Reader’s Disgest added opinion? Trash is trash, stuff is stuff, and a good cleaner works hard to do a good job, yet at the same time, doesn’t want to spend all day in a client’s home noticing their stuff. I’m sorry folks, but your personal life isn’t all that interesting even if you are cheating or whatever. And it is none of our business on our client’s family and personal life. Also, as a cleaner, I use knee pads to clean most floors, because mops are dirty, mites enjoy living in them. With knee pads, I’m seeing the dirt to remove off the floor, I’m as closest to the dirt and cobwebs and fleas too, to clean a floor well, baseboards, etc. What a cleaner won’t tell you is if your home has fleas.

    • Mel

      What’s funny is that many people truly don’t recognize the difference between a “Maid” and a “House Cleaner”. Good thing,cause in August 2012, 4 weeks after a dental extraction under General & local anesthesia, well.. I had a stroke. Was 4 months after my Daughter was born. Sadly.. i haven’t been able to move around ,like I once had and doing so much better currently & using my left side again with speaking ect, yet I am tried. It’s over whelming for my Husband.
      And our children, which they are great helper’s…to a point..(Busy themselves with sports, after school stuff ect), yet I’m just not able to do things anymore and unable to be around certain chemicals either, which all of my homes have always sparkled & have been completely clean,organized and sanitized.

      This is good for me to know.. To be honest..Truly.. I didn’t understand the difference either, until recently actually..More so when we began looking into Cleaning Company’s to help during the day with cleaning/sanitizing ect.
      Cause it’s basically all the same to me… Just like many not knowing the difference between a Lawyer and Attorney..Lol. for me was solely the same..You’re Cleaning & Organizing around a person’s home.
      Year’s ago, I just would do both and be happy I was being paid. reasonably for helping others and myself financially.
      Are some limits though with some homes,I guess?! Some could over do it with taking advantage and equal exchange should apply then.

      Wow.. Stink’s…Guess I’ve been jipped out of extra money all those years?!..LOL.. I used to clean several days a week, in between a Serving/Bar job ,while I attend College and raised a Family ( 3 kids) with my 1st Husband, as I’m now 35 and happily Re-married with 4 munchkin’s. :)
      At that time I had more energy too.. would clean my parent’s house, as well as several friends and even our regular customer’s that came into work hired me.. Which was nice for extra money.
      Just think some of the comments from this article make me not wanna hire a House Cleaner, yet I hope we find a good one. Cause I need the help soon.
      Believe those little gifts are thoughtful & should be given for showing appreciation…when you have good Employer. Yet I don’t believe this should be expected.
      Common courteously for other’s,which many forget should always be given.

    • greendragonfly

      What a bizarre list, no wonder I have replaced several “house cleaners”. I don’t expect gifts for doing my job and I don’t look at your bills. The only time I look in your refrigerator is when I am cleaning it and I don’t presume to guess if you are being unfaithful. I do a free initial consultation with you before beginning your house, tell you what I do and don’t do and after the first cleaning I do a walk through to see if that was what was anticipated.I quote a price before the job begins because I will know in the consultation how long it will take me based on what is being asked of me to do. I am professional and I expect my clients to be as well. We have a business partnership based on trust and mutual respect.I have a full list of happy clients and we work very well together.

    • Sarah Wales-Miller

      Not to mention, if you hand me an old tooth brush to “clean the grout around the toilet,” then I’m likely to shove it down your throat. I’m your cleaning lady not your servant, and my name isn’t Cinderella. If you want it that clean, then you can get on your hands and knees and do it yourself.

    • Joanna Kelley

      Are you kidding me? If I wanted to do all of this, why would I need to hire house cleaners? Sheesh.

    • Felix Sinclair

      These “What your X-er won’t tell you” articles always seem to amount to “If you hire me to X, don’t expect me to X and like it.”

    • JMQuinn

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

      So you’re admitting you’re NOT honest to begin with. Too bad you don’t have a conscience.

    • Maggie

      Don’t #17 and #21 contradict each other?