The dos and don’ts of cleaning etiquette
Housekeepers are like lawyers. They see you at your worst – yes, mostly your home, but you too – and keep their lips sealed. With a cleaning confidante like that, it’s only natural to want to do little things to show your appreciation, like asking about their lives or even helping them clean. But despite your good intentions, these kind gestures can sometimes miss the mark.
The house cleaners we spoke with revealed tales of extra (dirty) work they were “trusted with” but didn’t want to do, “helpful” cleaning tips that weren’t actually helpful and little etiquette mistakes that simply sucked time from what you hired them to do: clean your house. To be fair, there aren’t any hard-and-fast etiquette rules on this topic. That’s why we asked cleaning experts to give us the inside scoop on some of the thoughtful things people do that drive them crazy – and what to do instead.
Cleaning before they arrive
You may truly believe you’re helping by cleaning before your housekeeper arrives, and maybe you are. It depends on what you mean by cleaning. If you’re quickly passing a mop over a grimy kitchen floor or wiping your granite benchtops with a wet sponge and not drying them, cleaning pros say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” With the grime now further embedded into the floor or streaks on the countertops, it could actually take them more time to fix your mistake. And at the very least, they’ll have to duplicate your work anyway.
Do this instead: focus on the clutter. “Taking things off the counters and clearing the floors can help us work much faster, and that means a better cleaning for the same amount of money,” says housecleaner, Gretchen Boyd. “Clear the clutter for a better clean, but leave the scrubbing to us!”
Talking to them while they’re cleaning
After a while, your housekeeper becomes more like a friend. You ask them about their lives and their families, and they certainly know all about yours. It would be rude not to talk to them while they’re there. Plus, they’re doing all the tasks you don’t want to do, so the least you could do is make things less boring with a little chitchat, right? Nope! In fact, that ‘entertaining’ chitchat can really mess with their cleaning schedule.
“Once, a client wanted to discuss a personal issue with me while I was cleaning their home. I was happy to listen, but it extended my cleaning time by about 15 to 20 minutes,” says cleaner Laura Avila. “I enjoy getting to know my clients, but it’s important to keep in mind that my priority is to provide them with a clean space, and conversations can sometimes hinder that goal.”
Do this instead: spend a few minutes chatting when your housekeeper arrives, then let them get to work. “What I really appreciate is when clients give me some space to work in silence or maybe put on some music that we can both enjoy without having to chat the whole time,” says Avila. “That way, I can focus on doing a great job and getting everything cleaned up efficiently.”