Splitting up is always challenging — even when the person you’re parting ways with is your house cleaner. While a healthy cleaner-client relationship can vastly improve your quality of life, a messier match can lead to disappointment and distress.
Renee Kraus, founder and owner of Renee’s Cleaning Services in Chaplin, Connecticut, thinks that every client deserves a happy working relationship — and sense of satisfaction — with their cleaner. “The homeowner should come into a clean and joyful home,” Kraus says. “They do not have to worry about whether the bathrooms or the kitchen are clean. Trust is crucial.”
So how do you know when you should say goodbye to your current house cleaner and find someone new? Keep reading to learn the telltale signs that it’s time to make a clean break.
Consider these common red flags
Depending on how long you’ve been working with your house cleaner, you may want to attempt to salvage the relationship before ending it, which may feel especially difficult if you’ve developed a close bond with them over the years.
Start by considering the problems you’re having with your cleaner and whether or not a simple conversation can resolve them. If you’ve tried talking to your cleaner but they haven’t been responsive to your concerns, that is the first sign that you may not have a future together. Here are some other red flags to look out for:
The cleanings aren’t up to par.
There’s nothing like the feeling of a freshly cleaned house — or the frustration that comes from having to clean up after your housekeeper.
Sometimes, insufficient cleaning happens quite often — but is an issue that can be resolved through communication, says Johnny Pallares, owner of De La Rosa House Cleaning in Phoenix. “When we have multiple houses to clean in a day, things can be overlooked,” he explains.
Although this is a red flag, it’s not necessarily an automatic dealbreaker. Pallares recommends seeing it as a sign that you would do well to offer your cleaner feedback. Also, make sure that your expectations match your cleaner’s offerings — that you’re not expecting a deep cleaning but paying for a standard cleaning.
That said, if you’ve spoken with your cleaner about the issues but they haven’t improved, it may be time to move on.
Your cleaner is making a habit of canceling your scheduled cleanings at the last minute.
Life is complicated and schedules may change unexpectedly, but if your cleaner is becoming unreliable, it may signal that they’re not invested in your relationship. A true emergency should happen infrequently; when it becomes habitual, something else may be going on.
“They will tell you that some emergency came up, which could be true, or more likely they got a better paying house that wanted your time slot,” says Pallares. Even worse? A cleaner who simply doesn’t show up for a scheduled appointment.
Your cleaner isn’t communicating.
Maybe you need to schedule a special deep cleaning before a party or you’re looking for something that may have been misplaced during a cleaning. You text or call your cleaner … then don’t hear back for several days. While you can’t expect them to be waiting by the phone for your every call, you should still be able to count on timely and efficient communication from your cleaner, especially regarding important matters.
Kruas says she believes that with solid communication, just about any issue can get resolved. For example, if you don’t like the smell of fake pine, ask your house cleaner if they can use a different product, and if you want a particular chore tackled, point it out specifically. After all, this is a service that’s meant to make your life easier.
Your cleaner keeps changing their rates.
Most cleaners will visit your home to do a walk-through and estimate how long the cleaning will take before setting their rates. You will then have a chance to agree on or negotiate their rates before they get started.
While their rates may increase in the future, your cleaner should provide a clear explanation for any rate changes, and you must decide whether you’re comfortable with them.
Some reasonable reasons for increased cleaning rates:
- Adding a new pet or family member
- Expanding your living space
- Increased costs of cleaning products or payroll expenses
However, if their rates go up without explanation beyond a level that you’re comfortable with, it may be time to have a serious conversation with your cleaner, says Kraus.
How to end your relationship with your cleaner
Los Angeles-based Stephanie Hoberman is no stranger to cleaner breakups. She’s had to do it multiple times for reasons ranging from theft and poor communication to inadequate cleanings. “Most of the time if I had to fire them, I did it before the next time they came over — no reason to have them come all the way there and then let them go,” she says. “Most communications took place via text or email, so that is how I let them know. Most were very understanding.”
Once you’ve decided to part ways with your cleaner, you may be tempted to avoid confrontation by being dishonest or even ghosting your cleaner. While that would certainly be the easier route, it would be better to give them an explanation for why you’ve decided to move on.
“Be honest — don’t sugar coat it,” says Pallares. “If you’re not happy with the cleaning, then tell them that. We always ask for their feedback when clients do cancel their cleaning service with us. We want to know why and how to prevent this from happening with other client. We will provide training to our cleaners in the area we are coming up short. We always thank the client for the feedback.”
This doesn’t have to be awkward or dramatic. A simple email or even text message should suffice.
How to find a new cleaner
As with any relationship, the best way to get over an ex is to start over with someone new. In order to avoid your home becoming excessively dirty in the interim, you won’t want to waste time searching for your next cleaner. In addition to finding someone who comes highly recommended by friends, family members or neighbors, you could try hiring a professional house cleaner who’s listed on Care.com.
Here you can easily review profiles, compare rates, message potential cleaners, and read reviews before trying out a new cleaner.
And once you’ve found your new cleaner, make a point to start things off on the right foot.
Clearly setting expectations is the best way to avoid issues down the road. The first time your house cleaner comes over, have a completely frank and transparent conversation with them, suggests Kraus. She recommends tackling the following key points:
- Ask if they use a checklist.
- If there are specific things you want done (i.e. ceiling fans, baseboards, mini blinds), ask if they are included or can be added to be included in your cleaning.
- If you have fur babies, ask if the upholstery is included.
Most importantly, keep the relationship professional. “Every time I do an estimate with a new potential client they tell me, ‘Our last cleaner was with us for years, and they felt like a part of the family,’” Pallares says. “It’s really hard to fire a family member, so don’t go down this road. You are paying for a service, so professional courtesy is the way to go. Treat them like you would a plumber, electrician, handyman, etc. — with respect and professionalism.”