Author Topic: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?  (Read 8331 times)

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Peregrine

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2014, 11:29:10 PM »
I have had professional cleaners when we go on TDY assignments (its part of the requirement for govt. contracted housing through my hubby's employer).   Typically the housekeepers cleaned everything, including cleaning up any dishes in the kitchen.  They also replaced linens and towels (but that isn't something I would think is typically covered under basic cleaning)

I ended up being there a few times when they were at our place, and saw what all they did.  After that, I tried to pick up very thoroughly before they arrived, including washing my own dishes.  I consider that my own job.

That said, I would have expected your cleaner to clean around the laundry and the coffee table....probably leaving those two areas completely alone.  If there was stuff on the table I wouldn't expect her to move the table, to vacuum around it.  I also wouldn't expect her to move the laundry to vacuum the couch.  Everything else, she could, and should have done. 

It sounds like you made a good break! 

purple

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2014, 11:32:06 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.

I actually do expect them to do that.  Of course, what they do and don't do should be negotiated up front so they can have a fair chance of quoting correctly or refusing the booking if that's what they want to do and I think that is where the problems come - when there aren't clearly defined expectations from both sides.  Probably the root cause of a lot of relationship problems, come to think of it...  :).

Deetee

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2014, 11:57:13 PM »
You already solved this problem by "firing" the cleaner. I would expect a cleaner to clean the places they can get at and not clean the places they can't get at. I hire a cleaner to clean. Like you, I don't expect them to tidy, but I expect them to clean. I have two kids and a cat so I generally come home to a nice shiny house and a collection of random bobbles and toys on a side table (stuff from under chairs and tables and couches).

I don't expect the cleaner to do dishes, but she it turns out she will actually do whatever I leave out. (a few plate and a pot level of stuff).

So, yeah, I would have fired someone who said our house was not fit to clean.

Raintree

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2014, 03:35:03 AM »
I've had cleaners before who did an awesome job, and if there was "stuff" left out by me, they either worked around it or moved it slightly into a neater pile, but never made comments about the "in this state" - how rude!!

When I was looking after an elderly parent though, we had some paid help come in for in-home support. I do remember what a challenge it was to juggle my job with the increasing demands of being a caregiver with never a break, ever, and my dad at that time was bedridden with pneumonia, I had precious little help from anyone other than the occasional paid home help, I had no training, and helping him with bathroom duties was a very new thing for me...in short I was overwhelmed. I was constantly doing laundry due to "accidents" in the bed; one day, I'd JUST changed the bedding and had brought up the freshly washed sheets, and I was in a panic to catch my bus to work, so I dumped the clean laundry on the floor (which was clean) and made a run for it, knowing the caregiver would be along shortly. Later I got a lecture from the caregiver that my dad was lying in soiled sheets (yes, welcome to my world, I had just changed them, and nobody had told me about mattress soakers at that point), and this person had expressed horror that the pile of laundry was sitting on, gasp, the FLOOR!!!!

I wanted to scream, don't you lecture me until you've been left alone to deal with something like this, when it's not actually your paid job and you have another job being jeopardized that you've once again been made late for, and don't you dare judge me, but I have to say unfortunately I was feeling somewhat intimidated by this person.

The "in this state" comment would make me feel judged and I wouldn't want that person back in my house - I certainly felt judged about the laundry on the floor.

cicero

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2014, 04:00:06 AM »
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".     
<snip>

 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. 


wow. so out of line - she's hired to clean, not to play mommy to a teenager.

I've cleaned when i was younger, and i've had cleaners. I've cleaned for total slobs - and in those cases i did straightening up as well as cleaning. Obviously if i have to straighten up BEFORE i clean, i'm going ot have less time to clean, but I see the "straightening up + cleaning" as "what i need to do" and there would be some kind of straightening up /cleaning ratio. I would never tell a client what she told you - i might *ask* - do you prefer i do X or Y because i don't know if i can do both.

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Stricken_Halo

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2014, 05:44:08 AM »
I do some general pickup--no stuff on the floor, clothes hung up, few or no dishes in the sink, food put away in the pantry or in the refrigerator. There have been times when things were a bit messier and I've never had complaints. Your cleaning woman's complaints struck me as weird--if your house were immaculate, why would you need her? Is it possible she was angling for more money? I don't know the size of your house or where you live, but your fixed price seemed really low to me. Not that I think she went about it the right way.

cattlekid

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2014, 07:30:45 AM »
I worked for a professional cleaning service back in the day. Cluttered homes were the worst to clean because of our pay structure. If I had to pick up a lot of items to dust underneath them (we were not allowed to move anything) or vaucuum around them, this elongated the time that I had to spend in your home and increased the chance that I went over the allotted time and got paid minimum wage for the job instead of the normal wage. We also were not supposed to be doing dishes, so if there were a bunch of dishes in the sink, we would note it and move on and your sink didn't get cleaned that week.

In this situation though, because it sounds like you were not going through a service, your cleaner definitely sounded like she was out of line.

shhh its me

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2014, 08:29:55 AM »
   I don't think there is a firm standard, I do think as a customer its your job to be honest about what the cleaner will have to do when the quote you a price. ie I don't think its ok to show a house thats 100% picked up and next week expect them to move piles of cloths  , toy and shoes to vacuum. Pick up dozens of books to dust ect that were not there at the time of the quote.   I expect if the conditions change they may skip things , charge more or decline the job. I don't think its reasonable though to say "There is a dish in the sink , therefore I can't clean the bathroom or vacuum the living room." It's within reason to not clean the sink.  I also think its common sense to know no place (business or home) will always be in the exact same condition every time.  Of course its  also reasonable to have a cleaner who knows they will be doing laundry , picking up and doing dishes.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2014, 08:44:07 AM »
It's my job, as the employer, to make sure my house is tidy enough for you, the cleaner, to do your job.

Dishes in the sink have been hastely shoved in the oven on the morning of cleaning day.  I have one room I nicknamed 'the hoarder room' and anything that needs to be picked up gets shoved in there and the door closed so the cleaner knows they don't need to tackle that room.

I don't put my toothbrush in a drawer; I expect the cleaner to move the 'normal' stuff to be on a counter and clean under it then put it back.  Same with my Kitchenaid on the kitchen counter.  I'm not lifting that thing up and down.  Or a coffee maker.  Stuff that would normally be out stays out.

In the OP's case, the cleaner needed to clean what she could and skip the rest.  And hold the commentary.  Some of my coworkers employed a woman who was a fantastic cleaner but she was very judgemental and would leave nasty notes.  They all had to fire her.  I'm still looking.
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Morty'sCleaningLady

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2014, 10:01:39 AM »
I've never had someone clean my house, but I do think the phrase 'in this state' sounded harsh.  Better to find someone else.

I had an ex-boyfriend who travelled for work a lot.  He would be away for weeks at a time for his job.  His cleaning lady was unreal in her fastidious detail.  She used to hand wax his parquet floor!  All she really had to do was mop, vacuum, bathrooms and kitchens, and some laundry (sheets and towels if he was home).  He paid really well, so she would do things like the hand waxing or dusting the tops of the kitchen cabinets, etc. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if she did the outside of his 4th floor condo windows.

My mom uses the phrase 'respecting your house cleaner'.  My super-cheap brother-in-law does not 'respect the cleaner' and the resulting work shows.  You do not leave plates with fried egg on them, stacked in the sink (unrinsed) on cleaning lady day.  As a result, they have furniture that doesn't even get dusted!  Carpets don't get vacuumed well.  He's already negotiated the lowest rate he can get and expects them to spend all day at his house.  Not the way it works.
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TootsNYC

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #25 on: June 19, 2014, 10:04:58 AM »
Quote
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).


I think you really did dodge a bullet.

I wouldn't worry that much about your reputation at work.


Quote
My mom uses the phrase 'respecting your house cleaner'.  My super-cheap brother-in-law does not 'respect the cleaner' and the resulting work shows.  You do not leave plates with fried egg on them, stacked in the sink (unrinsed) on cleaning lady day.  As a result, they have furniture that doesn't even get dusted!  Carpets don't get vacuumed well.  He's already negotiated the lowest rate he can get and expects them to spend all day at his house.  Not the way it works.

I agree with this. I like that phrase.

mime

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #26 on: June 19, 2014, 10:18:46 AM »
Before my cleaner started working we had a discussion about what she does and does not do. It turns out she does a lot!

She was very matter-of-fact that we get about 3 man-hours in our home (sometimes her alone for 3 hours, sometime her+son for 2 hours). If we leave toys all over the floor and a mess on the kitchen table, she'll be spending time taking care of that and maybe skip vacuuming the basement. If we leave dishes in the sink she'll wash them if there's time left after all the "normal" stuff. Same thing with doing a load of laundry: only if there's time left. She said she's there for a fixed amount of time to do whatever cleaning is most needed. Whether that's tidying up or deep-cleaning is usually clear from the way we leave the house for her.

We have sometimes left horrendous messes on the kitchen table (mime hangs her head in shame now) Soggy Cheerios and everything. So she spends extra time cleaning in the kitchen and less time dusting in the library. That works for all of us. Normally, we pick up all the toys from the floor and have tables cleared and the kitchen sink mostly empty so her time is spent on the deeper cleaning.

She has never made a negative comment about the state of our home. Even though there are mornings when the kitchen looks like an absolute disaster. Now that I think of it, I'll have to leave her an extra-nice tip next time.



bopper

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #27 on: June 19, 2014, 10:27:43 AM »
My cleaning lady is like Mime's...you are paying for her time. So  I wash my clothes but she will fold them.  If the kitchen table is cluttered, she tidies it up and cleans it. I do try to clean up the sink so she can spend time on other things.

fountainof

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #28 on: June 19, 2014, 10:36:05 AM »
My cleaner cleans my coffee table and vacuums my couch each week so I would have expected him to clean that up.  We generally put every away and I do my own kitchen counters and cabinets before he comes.  If for some reason stuff like my daughter's crafts were all over a table I would expect him to clean around it and in the past he has when it has been a project.

Maybe this cleaner needs the house to look 100% clean or something.  I think you dodged a bullet here and are better off finding someone else.

I think cleaners should clean whatever is negotiated in the contract so if picking up towels is part of what was discussed it should be done or if cleaning is just based on time and you get what you can get done before you go then you pick up towels, I don't think it is demeaning in anyway.

My cleaner does the couch for crumbs so I am not sure if he would move the laundry and still clean the couch or leave it for a week.  I would be fine either way.

TootsNYC

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Re: Paid house cleaner etiquette - how much "cleaning for the cleaner"?
« Reply #29 on: June 19, 2014, 10:41:31 AM »
I had a similar convo w/ my housekeeper, and I flat-out said,

"Do not ever, ever wash my dishes. I can and will do that, so I don't want to pay you to do it. You are not here to do my laundry or to make my bed. Those are all things that I can and will do, even if I haven't done them by the time you are in my house. So I do not want to pay for you to do them.

   "But I do not want to vacuum, ever--so I have hired you to do that. I do not want to dust, that's something I want to pay someone else to do--you. I do not want to clean the bathroom--do that. I don't want to mop the kitchen floor. So if you pass up these things to do the stuff I don't care about, then I am not getting what I'm paying for.

   "Do not pick stuff up to try to put it away--if stuff is accidentally out and in your way, you do not have to clean around it. I do not expect you to. If your internal sense of "a job well done" means you have to, do not put it away--just slide it over, or pick it up, dust under it, and put it down.
   "If there is too much stuff, don't clean [the table/dresser/that corner of the LR] at all."

I'm pretty adamant about what it is I want from my cleaner, and realized at our conversation that I had to specifically say, "Do not do this in my house--I am not willing to sacrifice the other cleaning for its' sake." Because she does those things in other peoples' houses.

I would fire her if she insisted on folding my clothes--that's wasting my money (by wasting her time). I don't like her to tidy anything, actually. She stacks and straightens everything that's on the dining-room table, and frankly I would prefer she not even touch that table. There's nothing related to its care that is not something I do regularly anyway (wash the vinyl tablecloth, etc.).

Everyone has different ideas about what they want their cleaning lady to do--it's never safe to -not- be specific. And "what she does" is not something I recognize as an absolute that *she* determines.

She -does- determine "what she does not do"; if she doesn't want to wash windows, or clean the inside of the fridge, she should say, and I'll decide if that means I'd rather hire someone else.
   But she doesn't come in my house and say, "I always wash the dishes." She works for me. I make the list. And I'm not all that interested in what she does for other people. I'll tell her what I need, and she can decide if it's a workload she can handle, or if they are tasks she thinks are appropriate for her to do.

It's always worked out really well--I'm pretty clear in my explanation, and I give my reasons respectfully but firmly. None of the folks I've hired to clean have ever had a problem with me saying, "Leave the dishes in dishwasher alone" or "Just ignore my dressertop." And they've been interested in giving me what I need, so they often ask (though I find that they are more willing to assume a standard list than I would ever be--either as the householder or if I were a cleaning lady.)