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Should I clean before the cleaner comes? Professionals weigh in

Do cleaners tidy up? Here’s what you need to know and do before house cleaner comes.

Hiring a house cleaner or cleaning service is a great way for busy folks to regain some free time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean leaving everything around your home messy and undone for the cleaner to tackle. In order to reap the full benefits of cleaners — and in order for cleaners to be able to effectively do their job — some decluttering and general tidying is essential before they arrive on the job.  

“Although every company has their own policies, it is important people know the difference between a housekeeping company and a cleaning company,” says Dalhsie McMullin, owner of Naturally Luxe Cleaning. “Housekeeping companies have a broader focus that encompasses the overall upkeep of a space, whereas cleaning companies focus more specifically on the sanitation and cleanliness of a space.” Put another way: Do cleaners tidy up? Generally, no. Instead, they concentrate on actual cleaning. 

From toys and dishes to refrigerators and office spaces, here’s what house cleaners and cleaning services will and won’t do, along with tips for how to prepare your place before they arrive. 

Do cleaners tidy up or should I tidy before they arrive?

According to Vera Peterson, president of Molly Maid, tidying up generally isn’t something cleaning companies do. While that’s not to say cleaners won’t pick up a few things here and there, the reason they do it is to be able to clean that area or space.

“For the most effective use of the cleaning team’s time, it is best if the homeowner does the tidying up prior to the cleaning team’s arrival,” Peterson explains. “Items like clothes, toys and dishes get in the way and prevent cleaning professionals from doing their best job.” 

PULL QUOTE: “For the most effective use of the cleaning team’s time, it is best if the homeowner does the tidying up prior to the cleaning team’s arrival.”  — Vera Peterson, President of Molly Maid.

Bailey Carson, cleaning and home expert at Angi, echoes Peterson and adds that, in order to get the most out of a cleaning company, it’s worth it to tidy up beforehand. “While cleaning companies can help tidy up, it may be more valuable for them to spend their time focused on deeper cleaning,” she says. “When professional cleaners arrive to a tidy home, it helps ensure their services are being maximized and customers are getting the most out of the experience.”

Should I clean before the cleaner comes?

Vacuuming and scrubbing surfaces is by no means necessary before a cleaning service arrives, but again, clearing areas will result in folks getting the most bang for their buck. 

“Homeowners should focus on removing clutter from high-traffic spaces prior to their cleaning appointment, but they should not feel like they need to do any actual cleaning,” Peterson says. “Leave the hard work to the cleaning team!”

“Homeowners should focus on removing clutter from high-traffic spaces prior to their cleaning appointment, but they should not feel like they need to do any actual cleaning.”

— VERA PETERSON, PRESIDENT OF MOLLY MAID

What to do before cleaning service comes

To maximize a professional cleaner or cleaning service’s time, the following should be done before their arrival, according to Peterson, McMullin and Carson:

  • Dishes should be removed from the sink and put away.
  • Clothing should be put away. 
  • Kids’ toys should be put away. (“Eliminating as much unnecessary ‘stuff’ as possible will result in a space being cleaned well,” Peterson says.)
  • Loose paper should be collected from offices or workspaces. 
  • Laundry should be sorted, beds should be stripped and clean linens should be placed on each bed ready to go, if cleaners and clients have agreed to changing sheets and putting laundry away.
  • Most horizontal areas — floors, countertops, dresser tops, end tables, desks — should be cleared of clutter. 

“Trust me,” McMullin says. “Cleaning services are much more efficient and effective in tidy spaces.”

How else to prepare before a cleaning

In addition to decluttering, the following steps can help strengthen the client/cleaning service relationship:

  • Communicate. “If there have been any changes to a space since a cleaning company’s last visit, like excess visitors, a new pet or a renovation, clients should let their cleaning team know,” McMullin says. “This way, they can prepare adequately and allocate more time to a space if needed. Clients should also let the cleaning company know ahead of time if there are any special requests for cleaning, such as added or alternate services.”
  • Give space. “It’s best if residents are out of the way when a cleaning service is working,” Carson adds. “If possible, people who work from home should aim to schedule meetings around the cleaning or take any necessary calls outside or in a room where they won’t be disrupted by the sound of a vacuum.”
  • Discuss cleaning products. “Before the initial cleaning appointment, residents should ask their cleaning service which cleaning products or equipment they will bring with them and which will need to be provided,” Carson says. “This prevents last minute confusion or unnecessary trips to the store.”
  • Secure pets. “Making sure ‘furry friends,’ particularly dogs, are somewhere they feel safe and comfortable while a cleaning team is completing the job is important,” Peterson adds.

“If there have been any changes to a space since a cleaning company’s last visit, like excess visitors, a new pet or a renovation, clients should let their cleaning team know.”

— DALHSIE MCMULLIN, OWNER OF NATURALLY LUXE CLEANING

What cleaners don’t do

According to Peterson and McMullin, cleaners generally don’t do the following:

  • Pick up clutter.
  • Clean kids’ toys.
  • Wash dishes.
  • Do laundry.
  • Clean the inside of cabinets, stoves or refrigerators. (However, these may be done upon request, according to Peterson.)

“Most cleaning businesses also have rules against cleaning anything that may present a safety hazard or anything over a certain height,” McMullin says. “Typically, it’s eight feet or anything that is unreachable safely with a stepladder.”