13 Things Your Housecleaner Won’t Tell You

Former maid service owners and housekeeping agencies come clean about what it's like to tidy up your home.

By Michelle Crouch from Reader's Digest | February 2012
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    1. My best clients are people who work for their money, like teachers, bartenders, and cops.

    Rich people think they're doing you a favor by allowing you to scrub their toilets. Working people understand you are doing them a service by making their lives easier.


    2. I wish you wouldn't insist on bleach and other harsh cleaners.

    For almost every situation, there's an eco-friendly option that's just as effective.

    3. After I leave, check the base of the toilet and the top of the fridge.

    If they're clean, you know I'm thorough.

    4. Many cleaning companies do not run any sort of background check or even check references.

    I answered an ad, I was on time and presentable, and I was willing to take the job. That is all most companies care about.

    5. Even though I smile and act interested, don't use me as your therapist, gossip buddy, or friend.

    Frankly, most of us have a lot less than you, and we can't fathom why you're complaining. Plus, you slow me down.

    6. Want to save money on high-priced maid services?

    Instead of booking a regular appointment, ask to be on our on-call list to fill last-minute slots at a discount. Or see if you can be a "training home" for new cleaners.

    7. If you use a service instead of an individual, ask for the same people every time.

    Your cleanings will be more consistent, with fewer strangers in your home.

    8. When using a new maid service, leave a few dollars hanging out of a pants pocket or lying on the counter.

    If we take a dollar or two, you'll know we're probably going to take other things.

    9. Make sure we're bonded and have liability insurance.

    Otherwise, you're on the hook if we break something or get hurt on the job.

    10. Pick your clothes up off the floor, get your dishes out of the sink, and clean up your kids' toys.

    Your house will end up a lot cleaner.

    11. If you leave your personal life out for us to see, we most definitely will talk about you.

    We may even send pictures to our friends and relatives.

    12. Recommend us to your friends.

    We may give you $25 to $50 off a cleaning for each referral — if you ask.

    13. If you don't have a lot of cash, ask me to come for just one hour.

    I can do just the bathrooms and the kitchen or only the areas guests will see.

    Sources: Torrey Shannon, former maid service owner in Westcliffe, Colorado; Lynette Haugen, owner of True Blue Maids of Pasadena; Tangela Ekhoff, a housecleaner in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Theresa Peterson, owner of Quality Cleaning "Maid to Order" in Fremont, California; Dee Strickland, owner of A Zing Zap Cleaning Service in Minneola, Florida.

    Your Comments

    • COKACHA

      Ant if they belong to a company,,,you guys should tip,, BEFORE they do the job,,if they see a good tip like $10 per person they will really do a good job,,,no tip? dont expect great things they get paid less than 20% (payroll) not the whole amount that you are paying.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QUZ64OIVE2JCMCR2J3E2OMB56Q Mack

      You’re not going to attract professional people because it’s not a professional job. If you consider it a professional job, why not consider professional wages.

    • Dechinta

      Amen and amen!  I used to clean houses on the side to earn money for my medical bills.  Your sitting in your recliner, making me stand there on my feet listening to something that you did 50 years ago is not getting your house clean.

    • Dechinta

      I was a housekeeper for a very nice couple, but they would send me to their daughter’s house to clean at times and she wanted her windows cleaned with ammonia and newspaper.  She had no latex gloves and my hands were raw for days.  Her husband hit on me; they left their baby with me that was less than a week old with me telling them I know nothing about babies and had never even changed a diaper in my life.  So many stories I could tell you…but the couple I worked for were awesome…it’s their kids that made me quit, especially the creepy son-in-law.

    • Michelle

      I stopped reading at the suggestion that a few dollars be left out. It’s in my service agreement with the customer states in no uncertain terms that if I see money, valuables, credit cards, etc out in the open.. we’ll leave that room unattended.  Anyone who would “test” us is a suspicious person. Suspicious people are generally projecting. So that tells me they may falsely accuse me of stealing. So I refuse to even enter the room.

    • Anonymous

      #2. Every cleaner I’ve ever had demanded harsh cleansers. They also all had chronic coughs and sneezes because of “allergies.” (Strangely enough, they seemed to be into vitamins and health food stores, too.)
      #5. Almost every cleaner I’ve had told me their opinions and troubles.
      #10. And if you don’t pick up that stuff, who knows where the cleaner will think it belongs?

    • Raindrop2012

      I would definetly NOT hire any of these so-called housecleaners that are “talking” in your story.
      Mu cleaning lady has been with me for 6 years now, she is the seetest person, cleans fantastically and fast!  And she is a friend and someone who know a lot about me, and my family, and I always ask about her family and her interest, and give her little gifts when we go on vacation to exotic places.  Cleaning people are just like your stylist, manicurist or hairdresser, you need to trust them with your personal business.

    • Tqnohe

      Number four bit me in the butt. I had a MacBook stolen right out of my house. It took me two full weeks for me to convince my wife that I hadn’t lost it or that my son’s friends hadn’t stolen it. (I am still not sure, three years later, that she believe the housecleaners stole it.) 

    • Djsstuffa

      Do NOT ask if a cleaner can come for only an hour it’s not worth their time unless you pay very well! When I did cleaning (10 years ago) I made $20 an hour and it would not have been worth my commute time, gas and paying for a sitter. That is why I had a 3 hr. min.

    • Gil3579

      #11 Not always true. I have kept many secrets for my clients. ( drug use, sex toys, infidelities) Some have compensated me for my loyalties some didn’t need to. However if a client treats me like a dog all bets are off.