Author Topic: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?  (Read 7574 times)

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Ceallach

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How clean should your house be in preparation for a paid cleaning service to attend?

Like many people, I "clean for the cleaner" by which I mean I do a general tidy-up so that they can access the areas that need cleaning.    I was with my old cleaning service for nearly two years, but recently switched to a new provider, who did the first clean no issues and I was very happy.  The second clean I had left her a key, she sent me a text message saying she couldn't clean my house "in this state".     Now, I had on that day rushed out of the house on 10 seconds notice to get to an unscheduled antenatal appointment (I've had some issues with the hospital this pregnancy and a lot of drama and stress, when I got the call that I could come down I put my son straight in the car and went).   So there were a couple of things I hadn't done that I would normally, and I did warn her of that when I called to let her know that I was leaving a key out.   When I got her message I replied saying that obviously I didn't expect her to clean up our mess but couldn't she still do the bathroom and the basics?  She refused saying that she just didn't feel they could do a good enough job. 

At first I felt offended and embarassed, and admittedly cried a little, but when I got home and looked around I felt she was unreasonable.   There was one small section that was dirty - the table where my 1 year old son had just finished eating his lunch right before I ran out the door - but the rest of the house was fine.   There was "mess" yes - but not in ways that impacted the cleaner.  For example, I'd just brought in 3 loads of freshly cleaned laundry from outside and put them on the couch to fold.   But on the couch, so out of the way.   There were a couple of other minor things like that which yes, at a glance were messy but shouldn't have impacted on her ability to do the work I was hiring her to do.  While I would usually try to do those tasks beforehand, it didn't seem as though it should be necessary!  Nor any of her business really.    My son's toys were packed away, I hadn't left dirty laundry anywhere in the house, the bookcases, side tables, benches and floor were clear of clutter. 

I don't need advice on this specific situation because it's resolved, I'm going to deep clean my own house for awhile as I'm about to drop my work hours to part-time.   But it has got me thinking - what is the standard?   It doesn't make sense to me that a house would be completely tidied right before a paid clean.  But obviously they shouldn't be expected to work around mess or without access to the surfaces they need to clean.   There is obviously a level of common sense and basic decency / consideration that applies. 
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TootsNYC

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2014, 08:45:26 PM »
I'm not sure there is a standard. I think it's really negotiated with each person.


But I would actually expect my cleaner to clean around me as best she can. Even if I was a slob.

I'd be OK w/ her saying, "I can't dust this area," or "there are too many things on the living room floor to vacuum it." But she can toss the towels in a corner and clean the bathroom.

I wouldn't have her back. She'd be fired.

Ceallach

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2014, 08:53:02 PM »
I'm not sure there is a standard. I think it's really negotiated with each person.


But I would actually expect my cleaner to clean around me as best she can. Even if I was a slob.

I'd be OK w/ her saying, "I can't dust this area," or "there are too many things on the living room floor to vacuum it." But she can toss the towels in a corner and clean the bathroom.

I wouldn't have her back. She'd be fired.

Oh you betcha!  Like I said, resolved.   No way I'm letting somebody come in and judge me like that, it felt awful!   

I'm definitely one of those people who hires a cleaner because I'm naturally a little messy, I can then just maintain it rather than doing the big things myself.   But we certainly don't live in filth or squalor.
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guihong

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2014, 08:54:08 PM »
When I had a cleaner, generally she didn't want to do a lot of picking up in order to vacuum.  I also tried to keep laundry out of the bathrooms, and dirty dishes out of the kitchen.  I think it's negotiated between client and cleaner, but my rule was that I didn't want her to have to do a lot of preliminary steps in order to do her job (hope that made sense :)).



TootsNYC

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2014, 09:35:35 PM »
I'm down with that.

But if I haven't gotten to that, then just clean around it.

Don't want to dust bcs stuff is all over the coffee table. Beaut. But you can clean the bathrooms. You can vacuum the dining room.

If she wants to say, "There was too much stuff on the floor in the bathroom, so I didn't clean in there," fine.
   But to say, "in this state"? oooh!

stargazer

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2014, 09:42:52 PM »
This is why I always say I don't just need a cleaner, I need a "picker-upper" because I do clean for the cleaner but I hate it.  My cleaner (before she moved, need to find a new one) had a policy for the bathrooms that if you left stuff out, it all just went under the sink while she cleaned and then you could put it back where you wanted it later.  I was fine with that.

Ceallach

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2014, 09:45:16 PM »
I'm down with that.

But if I haven't gotten to that, then just clean around it.

Don't want to dust bcs stuff is all over the coffee table. Beaut. But you can clean the bathrooms. You can vacuum the dining room.

If she wants to say, "There was too much stuff on the floor in the bathroom, so I didn't clean in there," fine.
   But to say, "in this state"? oooh!

Thank you!   That's exactly my thoughts, I'm so glad I'm not completely wrong on this.   If she'd refused outright to clean up the table where my son's food was I would have completely understood, not even a little bit miffed.   But to imply my house is somehow in a completely unacceptable state seemed really offensive.  She is new to the cleaning business (it's her own company) and I wonder if she just doesn't have enough experience to handle a situation like that appropriately.   I did notice when she did the first (previous) clean that she is very thorough, so I guess she has a very high standard and can't bear to do anything less than that.  But I'm not asking her to make my house immaculate, I'm asking her to perform specific cleaning tasks that we agreed upon when I hired her.  She could still have done 95% of those. 

I really would have been happy if she'd just cleaned the bathroom and mopped the kitchen, but nope.   :(      Btw, the bathroom was pretty much immaculate, just the toothbrushes and handwash on the counter.   Not even a dirty towel in sight.  I thought to myself "Gee, this is more clean and tidy than it is any other day of the week, if I'm meant to have it better than this in order to have the cleaner touch it then there really is no point paying somebody!"
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Amoreade

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2014, 09:55:20 PM »
Generally before my cleaner comes I pick up anything lying on the floor and empty the dishwasher (this is mostly 'cause sometimes she puts dishes away in 'odd' places). I also try not to leave breakable things in areas where an errant vacuum cord or duster could knock it over.
I feel like as they're being paid to clean they've gotta expect a certain amount of mess so this woman was a bit of an oddball imo. I mean I could understand if there was a huge mess (like college dorm room level mess) but what you described sounds totally reasonable and at least she could've cleaned around it.

TootsNYC

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2014, 09:57:07 PM »
Generally before my cleaner comes I pick up anything lying on the floor and empty the dishwasher (this is mostly 'cause sometimes she puts dishes away in 'odd' places). I also try not to leave breakable things in areas where an errant vacuum cord or duster could knock it over.
I feel like as they're being paid to clean they've gotta expect a certain amount of mess so this woman was a bit of an oddball imo. I mean I could understand if there was a huge mess (like college dorm room level mess) but what you described sounds totally reasonable and at least she could've cleaned around it.

I would insist that she not disturb the dishwasher. I might empty it so she could put any strays inside, but I generally don't have them out and around.

I actually went over the "if I've trashed the coffee table, please just leave it" concept when I was hiring my person.

purple

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2014, 10:40:26 PM »
Woah!

Before my cleaner comes I put some clean bedding out for the dogs' inside bed - because I like certain colour combinations for the blanket and pillow cases, otherwise I wouldn't do it.  I leave a note if there is anything that I usually have done that I don't want done for this week or anything outside the usual routine that I want done.

That's all I do.

Stuff on my bedroom floor? Pick it up and put in with the laundry or hang it up or whatever before you vacuum.  Towels on my bathroom floor? Well, der.  Pick 'em up!

Honestly, that's what I'm paying you for.  Mind you, my cleaner is lovely and has never complained and I 'tip' her semi-regularly.  Not cash tips as I pay my invoice through the company she works for, but I leave Valentine's gifts, Easter Eggs, Christmas presents and the like for her.

I wouldn't dream of paying someone to clean my house who would send me a rude text message about the child's plate on the table when she could've used that time to pick up the plate!

alkira6

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2014, 10:42:15 PM »
The times I've used a cleaner I just made sure that things were off the floor so that she could vacuum/mop and that counters were cleared. If she was doing the dishes I would make sure that there was detergent and that the washer was unloaded and if she was doing laundry it would all be collected and in baskets by the washer. 

It depends on the situation I guess.  At one point I was having someone come in and clean everything and make a cold dinner for later so I did not do anything.  When I was better I renegotiated what I wanted done.

This lady would not be back at my house for a stunt like this, particularly if she wouldn't do a limited clean.

MrsJWine

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2014, 10:43:25 PM »
I occasionally clean houses for friends. I think what you've described is perfectly fine. I would have left the laundry alone but cleaned up around your son's spot and figured the extra ten minutes was a little bit extra money. It's not like it's back-breaking work to clean up a toddler's spot at the table. If it were that bad, I would either take my time (not intentionally slowly, but enough to do the job) and enjoy the extra pay, or I would skip it completely and leave a note. Either way, I don't see how it affect one's ability to do the other things around the house. The last time I cleaned my friend's house, there were some clothes on the floor of their room that I put on a chair, and some shoes had spilled out of the closet. It took less than a minute to work around it. I just figured they'd been rushed that morning and hadn't had time to tidy everything before going to work. Tiny clutter like that I consider part of the job.


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TootsNYC

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2014, 10:46:42 PM »
I kind of think that *routinely* expecting your cleaner to pick up your used towels or dirty clothes isn't really standard. I wouldn't do it. They're not there to pick up the stuff I drop, or put away the stuff I put in the -wrong- place.

But if I forget, or something falls down, I expect them to do the logical thing.

Ceallach

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2014, 11:15:46 PM »
I occasionally clean houses for friends. I think what you've described is perfectly fine. I would have left the laundry alone but cleaned up around your son's spot and figured the extra ten minutes was a little bit extra money. It's not like it's back-breaking work to clean up a toddler's spot at the table. If it were that bad, I would either take my time (not intentionally slowly, but enough to do the job) and enjoy the extra pay, or I would skip it completely and leave a note. Either way, I don't see how it affect one's ability to do the other things around the house. The last time I cleaned my friend's house, there were some clothes on the floor of their room that I put on a chair, and some shoes had spilled out of the closet. It took less than a minute to work around it. I just figured they'd been rushed that morning and hadn't had time to tidy everything before going to work. Tiny clutter like that I consider part of the job.

I pay her flat rate $66 per clean, not hourly - so she wouldn't have gotten extra pay unless she asked upfront - but we have an agreed upon list of tasks.    Which is what befuddled me, because general untidiness such as a mountain of clean laundry on the couch shouldn't impact on those tasks being performed.     I did wonder if she feels she under-quoted for the size of our house (she quoted without visiting) and this was her way of trying to weasel more money out of it.    But if it were about money you'd think she'd have agreed to do *some* cleaning instead of refusing outright.   Bizarre seeing she'd driven all the way there, and then all for nothing.   

I guess it's also possible she was worried that I was planning on leaving the house in that "state" every time and that she would be expected to more than what we had agreed.   Again strange though seeing I specifically said "Can you just do X task and Y task today? I don't expect you to clean up our mess".   

All in all I wonder if I've dodged a bullet with her here as really it seems she isn't very professional.   The bit I didn't include was that the reason I changed to hire her was we recently hired her to clean our office at work and also my bosses house, and were impressed with how thorough she is.    So I thought I'd change my home cleaning too.   Now my only worry is if she tries to tell my boss or bosses PA anything about this, that would really infuriate me.  Hopefully she will keep quiet for fear of losing the rest of the business though.   (My boss has been to my house so knows I don't live in squalor! It would be embarassing though).
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Cuddlepie

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2014, 11:20:45 PM »
Cleaner has left you a loud and clear message that this won't be an easy relationship.  If I were you, I would look for another cleaner....one who will clean  >:D .