Cleaning & Organizing
38 Things Your Housecleaner Secretly Wants You to Know
From their favorite types of clients to your most annoying habits, house cleaners confess what they’re really thinking (but won’t say to your face!)
Don’t have unrealistic expectations.
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. Learn how professional house cleaners clean their houses.
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.
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.
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.
It’s helpful if you soak dirty pans.
This way I can clean them more easily when I get there. Here are some other ways you’re cleaning your kitchen wrong.
Don’t make your house un-cleanable.
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. These common cleaning mistakes actually make your home dirtier.
It makes me crazy when…
…I’ve just cleaned a floor and my employer walks all over it in dirty shoes.
Give me some warning.
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.
I do poke around sometimes.
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. There are plenty of secrets home inspectors won’t tell you, too.
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.
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.
Give me some guidelines.
Please write a list of the things you would like me to do. Along with verbal instructions, this will ensure I don’t forget anything.
Be nice to me.
I do a better job when I am happy and feel appreciated.
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. (By the way, there is a correct way to hang your toilet paper.)
Appearances aren’t everything.
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.
Do you want to keep working after you get home?
Neither do we. Some of us actually hire someone else to clean our homes.
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. For proof, check out these house cleaning tips straight from professional cleaners.
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.
Be wary if I give you my price over the phone.
Reputable cleaners come to your home and give you a free estimate. Watch out for these other common phone scams.
How to get your money’s worth
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.
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. Here are some handy cleaning tricks you’ll wish you knew sooner.
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.
Don’t be afraid to keep an eye on us.
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.
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. These are some other secrets your house can reveal about you.
Don’t be that guy.
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. Learn how you could actually be over-cleaning your house.
Wealthy people are not my best clients.
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. Learn the secrets rich people won’t tell you.
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. Here are just a few green cleaning products that the experts love.
After I leave, check the base of the toilet and the top of the fridge.
iStock/Manuel Faba Ortega
If they’re clean, you know I’m thorough. Here are some tips for cleaning hard-to-clean spots in your home.
How we get hired
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.
I don’t need to hear your life story.
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.
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.
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.
If you’re worried we might take something from you, test it out.
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.
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.
Don’t leave messes for us to clean up.
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. Plus, your messy house could even be making you sick.
Don’t become a topic of conversation.
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.
Recommend us to your friends.
We may give you $25 to $50 off a cleaning for each referral—if you ask.
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. Check out these other tips to save you some money here and there.
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, house cleaners in Louisiana, New York, Vermont, Washington, and London.