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9 Things Professional Housecleaners Aren’t Allowed to Clean

Updated: Apr. 12, 2024

Professional housecleaners won't clean these items for a variety of reasons—including their safety and your own.

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Man holding mop and plastic bucket with brushes, gloves and detergents in the kitchen
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Cleaning the home

Vacuuming, mopping, sweeping, sanitizing, disinfecting…there’s so much that goes into cleaning a home, including knowing the difference between sanitizing vs. disinfecting. There’s so much going on in kitchen cupboards and storage closets that it would make sense to hire professional cleaners to come by and do a deep clean of the home. However, are there a few things that homeowners would rather clean themselves as opposed to the professionals? From bug-infested homes to antique items, here are a few things that professional cleaners won’t clean.

One thing to note: not all cleaning services are the same. “Every cleaning service is different, and most likely is going to come down to the type of training and specialty of the service as well as theirs insurance restrictions,” Jacqueline Janus, cleaning expert and owner of cleaning company Two Chicks and a Broom, tells Reader’s Digest. “For example, our cleaners cannot clean outside, because our insurance only covers items inside of the house.” This could also be a good time to review these 13 things you didn’t realize homeowners insurance won’t cover.

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Blue China On Sideboard
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Antiques and specialty items

Would you trust the professionals to clean the antique couch you inherited from your grandparents, or would you rather learn how to clean it yourself? “Again, every cleaning service is different,” Janus says. For example, some of the items they’re not allowed to clean include antiques. “Antiques, specialty items, jewelry, and any especially breakable item,” she adds. “Most of those things require training, special equipment/tools, and run a high likelihood of damage. Items like those things are best left to cleaning services that specialize in cleaning and restoration of those items.” If you’re looking to do it yourself, here are 12 household items that work miracles when cleaning jewelry at home.

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Roach in a kitchen
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Bug infested homes

Homes that have an insect infestation are red flags for professional cleaners. “Whether its fleas, cockroaches, or other little animals, we only clean these homes after they are fully exterminated and have had their infestation handled by a professional,” Michael Silva-Nash, owner of Molly Maid of Northwest Arkansas, a Neighborly company, tells Reader’s Digest. “We do this to avoid any risk of carrying from home to home. Most professional house cleaners also don’t use full-body suits to protect themselves against fleas, ticks, etc. These are usually multi-step and require different vendors at different points of the service.” 

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Low Angle View Of Illuminated Chandelier Hanging From Ceiling
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High, hard-to-reach areas

If you think hiring professional cleaners to clean areas that you can’t reach like chandeliers, tops of cabinets, and high windows is a good solution, you might need to rethink that plan. “We will do as far as we can with a two-step stool like most professional house cleaners, however our insurance does limit us to that tool,” says Silva-Nash. “Our teams are not trained to deal with larger ladders and does restrict our movement.” 

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A cream rug on a dark wooden floor
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Carpet cleaning

Janus says that anything beyond vacuuming for rugs and carpets is something her company wouldn’t cover. “Carpet cleaning is a specialty service that requires special equipment, tools, and training, and clients are not going to get the results they want/need from the products and tools we carry,” explains Janus. “We will spot clean a carpet for a spill or something of that nature if the client specially requests it and provides the cleaner they want to be used.” Here’s a quick guide on how to remove every type of stain.

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educate your pet
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Bodily fluids

It might be gross to think about, but somebody needs to clean up bodily fluids in case an accident happens—and that includes blood or any other kind of bodily fluid or waste. “We do clean/scrub bathrooms top to bottom, including toilets, but basically anything at the level that would be considered a health hazard we cannot clean, for obvious reasons,” says Janus. “That includes pet waste/accidents. Our cleaners’ protective gear is not medical grade and they do not have the tools or cleaners for that level of cleaning.”

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Limited edition books or expensive ones

Expensive editions and limited edition books require expert knowledge on how to clean and care for the covers and pages. Many items need to be cleaned in a certain way and the experts at Top Cleaners tell Reader’s Digest “there is no guarantee your regular domestic cleaners have the necessary knowledge or tools. Some items need to be handled by a professional. This is the case with old books or expensive art. The simple act of dusting can damage the leather cover of a book. People who own these sorts of items must provide the cleaning company with a list of valuables. This way, the cleaners can inform the potential customer what is out of their scope.” It makes sense to hire a professional when it comes to expensive books. For example, these 15 rare books are worth a fortune.

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Man in protective suit disinfecting and spraying every room in the building
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COVID-19 sanitization within 14 days of an infected person being present

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on unprecedented levels of cleanliness—both in the home and around the world. “While COVID-19 has shown to not transfer as easily through surfaces, we do not carry the equipment to disinfect the house, such as foggers, body suits, etc.,” says Silva-Nash. “Other companies, such as Rainbow International, do provide that, and then we can come in for the cleaning of the home. We can provide services after 14 days of the infected person being there.” If cleaning feels overwhelming, just remember: here are 15 diseases you can prevent just by washing your hands.

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Bathroom dirt and mould on grouting and tiles behind taps
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Large amounts of mold

“We all get the pink mold in our toilets here and there, but black mold that is throughout the home, like ceilings, etc. is a different issue,” says Silva-Nash. “Again we don’t have the equipment to safely remove.” These are the 12 hidden signs your home could have toxic mold.

Removing mold also depends on which country you’re in. Professional house cleaners aren’t allowed to clean a variety of things, many of which “depend on what the customer wants, what certificates the cleaning company has, and what are the regulations in a particular country,” explains Top Cleaners. “For example, in the United Kingdom, regular professional cleaners need to be licensed to remove mold. They are not allowed to use bleach or strong solvents otherwise.” Regardless of where you happen to be located, these are the 10 things you should be cleaning every day from now on.

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Home destroyed by tornado
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Extreme cleaning

When professional cleaners say extreme cleaning, they mean extreme cleaning. Think of situations like natural disasters and removing debris and traces from a flood or a fire. The experts from Top Cleaners add that “basically, house cleaners are allowed to deal with standard stains and issues. Therefore, if you are looking for a specific service, like extreme cleaning, you can’t expect that your regular domestic cleaners can perform it.” Natural disasters can happen at any time, but thankfully there are good people in the world who can help.

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Female Hand set up white bed sheet in bedroom
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Acknowledging strengths

Professional housecleaners are professionals for a reason. However, when it comes to certain items, it might be best to leave it to, well, other professionals who are adept in their respective fields. “We focus on what we are really good at doing—house cleaning,” says Silva-Nash. “We focus on the baseboards, blinds, ceiling fans (with an extendable high duster), making beds, taking the trash out, and leaving the bathrooms and kitchen sparkling! We are the pros at that–and we recognize when something isn’t our strength and we should leave it to the professionals in those fields.”