You just hired your first cleaning lady and you’re wondering how to prepare for the cleaning lady?
Are you considering hiring a cleaning lady? You will find this information helpful.
Do you already have a cleaning lady but it isn’t going like you expected. You will find this information helpful.
I have been asked a number of times over the last 16 years of owning a cleaning business, “Why do we have to clean the house before the cleaning lady comes?” That question usually comes from acquaintances who need a better understanding with their cleaning lady.
Do you have a cleaning lady or a housekeeper, I might ask. The two are not created equal. Let me explain.
What kind of cleaning agreement do you have with your cleaning service?
Cleaning Lady or Housekeeper?
The cleaning lady usually comes from a service you have hired to clean your home. They may or may not send the same person to clean your home on a regular basis. You may or may not have even met the person(s) who clean your home. If you have a problem, you usually call the company office.
The Housekeeper is a person you hired personally, have met and are on a first name basis with. She is very familiar with your home and family and is in fact considered to be a extension of your family. She will likely do more personal cleaning services for you and may even be willing to pick up scatter and do dishes.
If you have hired a cleaning lady, either as an individual or through a service, you have likely scheduled her to come bi-weekly, or once per week or even several times each week. Weekly or bi-weekly is the most common schedule for families. Some single people or retired couples will schedule their service once every three weeks. For the sake of this conversation, lets say you are a family with your cleaning lady coming biweekly.
What To Expect
The cleaning lady is going to sweep, mop, vacuum, dust, clean the exterior surfaces in the kitchen including the sink and counters, thoroughly clean the bathrooms (tub, toilet, sink, floor, shower and mirrors), take out the trash and possibly make the beds. You may be able to negotiate with your service provider to wash the bed sheets as well.
What the cleaning lady most likely will NOT be doing is pick up all the scatter, load the dishwasher or wash dishes, laundry and remove clutter.
Experience is the best teacher, right? When I first started my cleaning business more than 16 years ago I made some assumptions about expectations. My customers taught me what to expect from them and I realized that I needed to better express what they could expect from me.
We had a ‘regular’ client for whom we cleaned once every two weeks. We performed all of the services I described under What to Expect AND we loaded the dishwasher. There were only 2 adults living in the home, how big of a mess can there be in the kitchen, right? Along comes an engagement of a child followed closely by lots of partying. Did they ever offer to pay us more for cleaning up after parties? No. We didn’t ask for extra because we had not communicated that in the beginning.
The lesson I learned as a cleaning lady is to communicate expectations in the beginning!
As the client, you need to do your part to communicate expectations from the beginning as well.
Pick up scatter
What To Expect
You can expect that your cleaning lady will NOT pick up scatter. Scatter can be described as any personal or household items currently resting in the wrong location such as pajama’s on the floor, cereal bowls in the living room, and shoes or clothes anywhere other than the closet. You get the idea. Anything out of it’s natural place, is scatter.
Can you imagine how much longer it would take for the cleaning lady to clean a home if she also had to relocate all the scatter to be able to dust or clean the floors. Most likely, she’s cleaning 2 or 3 homes each day, there is no extra time for scatter.
The exception would be if you have communicated with the cleaning lady in the beginning that you’d like for her to pick up scatter. If that is the case, you most likely have a personal housekeeper and not a cleaning service.
We have seen lots of scatter in people’s homes through the years. While it is not uncommon, it is the exception and not the rule. We had clients for quite a few years who were hoarders, not to the extreme you see on tv but it was bad. We watched it get worse as the years went by. We actually had an agreement that we would ‘do the best we could’ to clean around things! The kitchen and bathrooms were sparkling clean when we left. We cleaned the floors and furniture that we could get to. We never threw anything away or relocated their possessions during the cleaning process. We have good communication from the beginning so we both knew what to expect.
*This is gross! You have been warned!
We had clients with two teenage daughters. Their daughters would actually leave laying on their bedroom floor dirty underwear with nasty feminine hygiene pads still attached!
These were the only clients we had in the first 16 years that I ever had to call to discuss unacceptable filth. We stopped cleaning the girls room completely. That was the decision of their mother rather than teach them acceptable hygiene practices.
Sometimes people think the cleaning lady see’s those kinds of nasty things all the time. We don’t. That type of filth is very rare.
Why the cleaning lady doesn’t pick up scatter or clutter:
- She doesn’t know where it belongs
- She doesn’t want to risk breakage or damage
- It slows down the cleaning process and distracts from a thorough job
- She did not agree to it and doesn’t have time
Scatter and clutter are nearly the same with very minor differences.
Clutter has taken up residence in it’s location. All of the mail from the last several months stacked on one end of the kitchen counter is clutter. Obviously, the cleaning lady isn’t going to handle that. The master bathroom tends to become a collection place for clutter as well. Sometimes it is almost impossible to really clean a bathroom counter surface due to the overwhelming amount of products left sitting out which create clutter. Most people store their hygiene and grooming products in cabinets and drawers. Be sure to put all of those things away when the cleaning lady is coming so your counters can be well cleaned and disinfected.
Scatter would be defined as anything which is temporarily out of place. Magazines and newspapers tend to become scatter very quickly. Sofa pillows on the floor, socks left in the living room, things like that are considered scatter.
Scatter and clutter are nearly the same with very minor differences.
The Joy of a Housekeeper
If you have a housekeeper on the other hand, you may possibly have a more personal relationship with her in reference to maintaining your home. She may come more often, and provide a more personal service. Even though she still isn’t going to handle your mail, she may pick up the coats or shoes which your children left at the back door. She may be doing your laundry and washing the dishes on the days that she is there. It would still be very inconsiderate to leave several days of dirty dishes and not expect to pay more. After all, any extra services take more time. If your boss asks you to do extra work which will cause you to work overtime, you expect to get compensated. Just as with any relationship, communication is important and not taking one another for granted is essential.
I have cleaned house, done laundry, cooked meals, ironed, grocery shopped and even deadheaded flowers for my clients. I have visited clients in the hospital and sadly attended funerals.
Those folks paid me well to care for their families and I enjoyed working for them.
Just a tip, when you take care of your housekeeper, she will take care of you and your family.
Those things we must do before the cleaning lady comes
- Pick up all the scatter
- Clear the clutter from areas expected to be cleaned
- Load the dishwasher
- Do not leave dirty dishes out in the kitchen
Always communicate with your cleaning service what you expect and learn from them what you are actually paying for.
This conversation is about basic cleaning services, you can certainly hire cleaning services for more detailed deep cleaning.
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