6 Things Housekeepers Should Never Do
Here's what not to do during your housekeeping job.
If there is one thing we’re all territorial about, it’s our homes! Housekeepers should understand this fact better than most. If you’re a housekeeper, maintain your client’s trust and build your clientele by steering clear of these 6 housekeeping faux pas.
1) Never Enter Without Knocking
Most clients leave their home care provider with a key for easy access, and many clients arrange for their home cleaner to arrive when they are not present. Even if the driveway is empty, if the apartment sounds silent, or if you spotted your client on the way out as you were heading in, be sure to knock before entering the premises. Sick days, family emergencies, and a plethora of other private events could be occurring at any moment in your client’s home.
You would feel shocked if your front door swung open without warning, and your client will too! No matter how silly you feel, knock and wait a few moments before entering the home.
2) Never Challenge Your Client
You may know that lemon juice and warm water is an effective, refreshing and safe method for cleaning delicate hardwood floors, but your employer will always insist you swab his with white vinegar and olive oil. No matter how confident you are in your methods, remember -- the client is always right!
“Learn how to use each cleaning product and understand how to clean each surface and object properly,” warns author of Help! How to Find Hire Train & Maintain Household Help! and The Professional Housekeeper, Marta Perrone.
If the homeowner has left instructions that you know may result in damage, consult with him or her about this risk before proceeding.
If you are an independent housekeeper, make sure you are covered by a general liability insurance provider, and be sure to have a pleasant verbal discussion with your client -- followed by documentation -- about their preferred cleaning practices.
3) Never Put Your Own Fragrance on the Premises
Nothing screams clean like a spritz of rain-mist potpourri, or some lavender oil in a diffuser, right? Wrong. Scents are powerful, and leaving one behind is a guaranteed way to alter a living space.
It’s also a great way to alienate your client. Even cleaning solutions with a telling scent may ultimately present an issue. Do your best to pick products with neutral, if not undetectable scents.
4) Never Keep Something You Find
Change in the couch. A broach in the breakfast nook. A ring in the kitchen drain.
Your client may be absent-minded, but their loss should never be your gain. In fact, one of the best ways to build a strong rapport with your client is to leave found items on a white paper towel or piece of paper in a location you know they are sure to spot upon returning home.
“Develop an eye for detail so that you never miss anything out of place, that needs to be picked up, fluffed, cleaned, organized or removed.” says Perrone.
Whether it’s loose change or family heirlooms, attention to detail and an earnest approach are the elements that transform occasional customers into consistent clients.
5) Never Polish and Prattle
Even if you normally work when your client is off the premises, there will certainly be times when you are both at home. Always be courteous and polite, but try to keep small talk to a minimum.
If your client is engaging there is nothing wrong with partaking in conversation -- but remember that at its core, your relationship is a professional one.
In addition, remember the first rule of housekeeping is that we don’t talk about housekeeping. Even if you can’t imagine how your client got cheese sauce on the chandelier, remember that these oddities are not up for discussion. Remember that your relationship is based on trust, and it is not your business to inquire.
6) Never Make Yourself at Home
That massage chair, that flat-screen TV, those pralines in the pantry, the Hershey Kisses in the candy dish -- do not help yourself.
Your client may be the kindest individual you have ever met, but remember that you are not a guest in their home. You are a professional. Perform your assigned duties as thoroughly and swiftly as possible, then make your escape.
Even though most clients adore their housekeepers and surely wouldn’t mind you helping yourself, the only trace you should leave behind is a pristine home.
Home is where we rest our heads. It’s also where we keep our most sacred and personal possessions. Avoid these don’ts and you’ll keep that trust in pristine condition.
Linze Lucas is a writer and a former part-time nanny from Rochester, New York. She attended the State University of New York at Oswego where she majored in English Literature and Creative Writing. Ever restless, her curiosity has taken her around the globe from New York City, to South Korea, Japan and back.