cleaning lady cleaning mirror and smiling

All of my clients look forward to their cleaning day. And understandably so. Their house gets magically cleaned by little cleaning fairies while they are not home. Or that’s how it should ideally work. But not with my clients. They like to stay home and help clean. It’s annoying, and detrimental. But there’s not much I can do about it. And they seem to think I enjoy the help, and the company.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. I can drop all the hints I want like, “You don’t have to help clean the horrible mess you’ve made” or “It would be so nice if you locked yourself in the closet for a few hours,” but nothing seems to get through to them. Once I step through the door they channel their own inner cleaning ladies and run with it. Usually at great detriment to my mental health. I can only smile a big plastic grin while I develop what I dub “The Cleaning Lady Twitch” in my right eye. It’s quite a sight to behold. So for the sake of the sanity of cleaning people everywhere, here are a few reasons why your cleaning person really doesn’t need your help.

1. Your cleaning person is probably on a tight schedule

Some cleaning people do 2 or 3 houses a day. That doesn’t leave much room for deviation. They know exactly how long it takes to clean your house provided they don’t have any major hiccups, like, say, a client being so motivated that they start a new project while the cleaning person is there. “I’m so glad you decided to clean out all the cupboards while I am in the middle of cleaning the kitchen.” “Oh, let me help you put all of your clothes back in the drawers so I can change the sheets on the bed.”

The Artist decided to rearrange all of the furniture while I was in the middle of doing the floors. The only way I could distract her was to tell her that the dishwasher would run better if all the dishes were grouped by color. That bought me enough time to put all the furniture back and finish the floors. Good cleaning people have to think outside the box.

Midge’s superpower is to be in the exact place I need to be at the exact same time. Need to wash the dishes? Oh look, there she is by the sink. Need to clean the bathroom? Oh look, there she is walking into the bathroom where she will be for 20 minutes. You could at least give a courtesy flush.

2. Your cleaning person probably knows better than you what the right cleaning product is to use

I know this is hard for some people to hear, especially all those Martha Stewart wannabes who assail newbies for using the wrong product in all those “Cleaning Tips” Facebook groups. But most professional cleaners are just that, professionals. That means they either took classes, went to school, or had professional training on all the cleaning products that they use to clean your house (yes, there are cleaning schools. Did you ever go to one Martha?). Unfortunately these schools don’t teach one how to keep their sanity.

cleaning lady smiling washing mirror
Can you see the twitch?

This is why many cleaning professionals bring their own cleaning supplies. They know what works with what surface (most of the time). And if not, we’re Googling it. And if you insist on using that toilet bowel cleaner on your marble counter tops, they may make you sign a waiver. Something like, “You are forcing me to ruin your countertops and you are going to love the outcome, no matter what.”

My Hoarder, who was obsessed with her floors even though you couldn’t even see them, insisted I use Murphy’s Oil Soap on her hardwood. Murphy’s Oil Soap is actually terrible for your hardwood and in some instances can even void the warranty. She didn’t seem to care. “They said it was fine in my ‘Housecleaning for Martha’s’ Facebook Group.” I’m sure now her floors are three inches thicker and a dull grey with all the build up. (NOTE: I know I give Martha a hard time, but she actually has a good DIY hardwood cleaning solution here).

3. We’re just trying to get through the day

We’re people too. We have families and lives outside of your 3 hour time slot. Sometimes we go to work when we haven’t gotten enough sleep or Aunt Flo snuck up for a visit. The last thing we need is you breaking out that new high tech vacuum for us to put together or springing a last minute deep clean on us. And you are not our only clients. I can’t tell you how many times my clients have gotten mad because I can’t stay later and rearrange the silverware drawer. “Can’t you be a little late to your next house?” I don’t know, can I be late to yours? My clients act like they should be my most important. And while I treat all of my clients as special, I don’t give anyone preferential treatment.

And if you try to push those awful cookies on me this Christmas instead of money, we’ll see how special you really are. Read more about why cleaning people don’t need your help here.

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