When getting all of your to-dos checked off feels like an uphill battle, hiring a house cleaner can feel like receiving a life raft when drifting at sea. In a matter of hours (or less), and with a single flat fee, your house is magically sparkling — and actually livable — once again.
But while you see spotless floors, fresh-smelling upholstery and dust-free blinds and curtains, the hard reality behind that “magic” is anything but. Cleaning a house is a physically demanding job that exposes a person to harsh chemicals, potentially uncertain environments (just imagine having to head into multiple strangers’ homes each day) and historically low pay, as domestic workers are three times more likely to live in poverty than other types of hourly workers, according to a 2020 report from the Economic Policy Institute.
House cleaners provide their clients a hugely valuable service and deserve pay (and treatment) that reflects that. Here’s how you can ensure your house cleaner is set up for success with these 12 insights they wish you knew.
1. Preemptive communication is key.
Many cleaners offer a checklist of chores that will be tackled — and those that won’t, says Alex Varela, general manager of Dallas Maids. And if you don’t read (or ask for) a checklist like this, you may suffer a miscommunication when you see your cleaner hasn’t done the laundry or cleaned the dishes. “This is why customers should be informed during the booking process of the type of cleaning service they’re getting,” says Varela, adding that if you have questions or need extras, it’s crucial to discuss that upfront.
2. Honest feedback is crucial as well.
“Let us know if we missed something last time,” notes Mia Woodruff, manager of CottageCare in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “We want it to be right. If we don’t know something is wrong, we can’t fix it.”
3. Don’t stand over your house cleaner’s shoulder while they work.
“The number one thing house cleaners want their clients to know is that they know how to do their job,” says Steve Evans, owner of Memphis Maids. “In some cases, [customers] chase cleaners around the house, commenting and criticizing their job while doing it. Not only is it disrespectful to the [cleaner], who is professional and experienced, but it is also distracting and can make them take longer or make mistakes during the cleaning process.”
Woodruff echoes that sentiment, adding, “Don’t follow me around. We can do a walkthrough before I leave.”
4. When you’re given a cleaning window, know that it’s not a set time.
A lot of customers expect cleaners to be at their house at the beginning of an arrival window, but most companies will give you a window, explains Johnny Pallares, owner of De La Rosa House Cleaning in Phoenix.
“Be courteous of this fact,” he advises. “We want to give you, and every other client we have, the best cleaning and this window gives us some breathing room for unexpected messes.”
5. Pick up your kid’s toys, please.
“If you have kids or grandkids, please pick up their toys,” notes Pallares. “If there are a bunch of toys on the floor, I can’t do a good job of vacuuming, and I have to spend extra time picking up the toys and not deep cleaning your home. I only have so much time to clean each client’s home in a day and picking up things off the floor slows down that process.”
Kimberly Gonzales, owner of Evergreen Eco Clean in Milliken, Colorado, agrees, adding, “Please pick up things and have things put away. It takes longer to pick up things and put them away — which is fine, but we are going to charge more.”
6. Keep Fido and Fefe under control.
While your house cleaner loves your pets, they don’t love pet aggression. “Just because your dog doesn’t bite doesn’t mean growling isn’t scary,” notes Woodruff. “Please put aggressive pets away.”
7. If you have chemical allergies or have cleaning products you prefer, speak up.
“Let us know about any particular chemicals you are allergic to or would prefer,” says Pallares. “If you have a floor cleaner or a certain scent you like to use, let us know and purchase it prior to us getting there. We are happy to use your stock but you need to make sure you have it.”
8. Canceling the day of your scheduled cleaning really messes with our business.
Pallares encourages clients to give their house cleaner a courtesy call a day or two in advance. “A lot of customers believe that they can reschedule a house cleaning whenever they want and at any point, but this is not possible for cleaning companies that serve multiple clients,” he notes. “We schedule our team for a full day of house cleaning so if we are not cleaning your home we are cleaning someone else’s. This makes same-day rescheduling near impossible.”
9. If your house hasn’t been cleaned in a decade, don’t expect the service to be speedy.
“Some houses haven’t been cleaned in years or ever,” notes Woodruff. “Please don’t call to complain if we weren’t able to remove 10 years of buildup in three hours.”
10. If there is inclement weather, be considerate.
You’ll want to treat your house cleaner like any other guest you might be welcoming into your home, which means ensuring that pathways to your front door aren’t slippery due to ice or covered in snow. “Please shovel for us,” requests Gonzales.
11. Be respectful.
If you’ve been hiring the same house cleaner repeatedly, be sure to learn their name and speak to them with respect, emphasizes Woodruff.
12. Please value the hard work your house cleaner has put into making your home sparkle.
“One time I cleaned the kitchen, and this family made lunch right after and asked me to clean it up,” says Gonzales. “I never went back to that house. It shows that they don’t value me.” The bottom line: Your cleaner is not responsible for messes made after they’ve completed the job.