You knew from the moment you hired your house cleaner that they were going to make your life infinitely less stressful. According to Grace Reynolds, co-founder of the American House Cleaners Association, “House cleaning affects every area of our lives — a clean home is a healthier home, both mentally and physically.” Not only is a clean home aesthetically pleasing, but it actually brings peace and clarity to your life which affects your family life and work life, she points out.
House cleaners take on the dirty tasks that you may not have the time, desire or ability to do. But what happens when a new cleaning need arises? How can you best communicate what you need done differently? Professionals share their top tips for ensuring you come home happy to a clean house every time.
Tips for talking to your house cleaner about new or different tasks
1. Get specific
Be clear and direct when communicating your new needs to your house cleaner, recommends Adriana Aziz, Operations Manager of Maid for You in Sydney, Australia.
Keep in mind that house cleaners go to work to provide the best service they can to their clientele, says Aziz. So if you’re unhappy with how they’ve been tackling a particular task or would like a particular part of the job done differently, try to be very specific about that need, so the house cleaner can pivot and provide the service the client is really after, she suggests.
2. Start off with a compliment about what’s been going well
Give the “compliment sandwich technique” a try. Begin by praising an area of the cleaning that is going well, next offer feedback on what you need done differently, then wrap it up with an expression of gratitude.
“A text message of encouragement or in-person compliment goes an extremely long way,” says Aziz. “Usually, cleaners or housekeepers don’t know if they’re meeting a homeowner’s expectations; they’ll only know when they’re not.”
3. Make sure you adjust your existing contract — or create a new one
Documenting job expectations when hiring a housekeeper allows for both the homeowner and house cleaner to have a clear understanding of the tasks, explains Reynolds. “Having a contract is the best way to establish a healthy relationship and then if needed add things to that contract in the future,” she explains. After all, everyone’s goal is to have a happy and healthy home at the end of the day.
7 potential scenarios that might affect your cleaning needs
1. You’ve started a new work-from-home job
Between Zoom meetings and important phone calls, the last thing you need is a noisy vacuum ruining your train of thought during the work day.
Toby Schulz, CEO and co-founder of Maid2Match suggests carving out a set time of the day in advance for the house cleaner to clean your home office. “I would highly recommend asking them to clean your home office either at the beginning or end of the service,” he notes. “This way, you have a clear idea of what time your work will be briefly interrupted and for how long.”
He also recommends informing your house cleaner of any video calls you might have scheduled. “This way, they can be conscious of the time for using the vacuum near your home office, so background noise is kept to a minimum during meetings,” notes Schulz.
2. You prefer chemical-free cleaning
You’re on an all-around health kick and have decided to replace your chemical-laden cleaning products for all-natural ones. This shouldn’t be an issue with your housekeeper, right?
Reynolds advises talking to your house cleaner about the types of products you’d prefer are used around your home. And if they’re not familiar with how to utilize them in the most effective way, talk about which surfaces the cleaning agents can be used on, so that they are not ruining the appliances or surfaces, she suggests. (The American House Cleaners Association offers a healthy cleaning guide that helps inform homeowners and house cleaners of the types of cleaning products on the market and how to use them safely and effectively.)
Keep in mind that you may be required to purchase the new cleaning products or you may be able to negotiate additional compensation for the house cleaner if they are willing to purchase them.
3. You have a new furry friend
If you’ve introduced a new pet into your home, be sure to give your cleaner fair warning so that they can best prepare.
“If new cleaning tasks are required, such as vacuuming furniture for pet hair, discuss whether additional time will be required for your service,” suggests Schulz. “You don’t want your housekeeper to feel pressured for time and sacrifice quality.”
Keeping your furry friend and house cleaner safe during the cleaning is also something to keep in mind. “Ensure the kitten or puppy is enclosed somewhere safe, such as the laundry room, so they don’t get out of the house or in the way of the cleaning service,” notes Schulz.
Does anyone actually enjoy washing dishes or folding laundry? If you’re finding that too many chores are piling up, you may be able to ask the house cleaner to help. Reynolds says it’s important to discuss the new tasks in detail, so that the house cleaner can schedule more time for cleaning your home if necessary.
“Most housekeepers are happy to take on additional chores if they are compensated for the extra time it takes to complete them,” she notes, pointing out that, for instance, for laundry services, some housekeepers will charge per pound of clothing, others will have a flat rate.
5. You’ve recently welcomed a new baby
A new addition to the family brings about a lot of changes. Discussing your new needs with the house cleaner is key. Shari Stamps of Sacramento, California says having a specific schedule for her regular cleanings helps keep everyone on routine. “I would have the housekeeper arrive in the morning and start downstairs if the baby was asleep upstairs,” she explains. “Then, the room he was napping in was the very last room on their to-do list for the day.”
Other parents interviewed say that going for a walk outside in the stroller can give the house cleaner enough time to clean the nursery.
6. You would like an occasional deep cleaning
Adding in an annual or quarterly deep clean can be a pricey expense, but it can lead to a healthier environment for you and your loved ones, says Reynolds.
Before booking a deep clean, Reynolds advises walking through your home with the house cleaner and writing a list of specific tasks that you want included, whether that means wiping down baseboards, cleaning the inside of cabinets or disinfecting the refrigerator. “The most important thing is having a real good understanding of what is going to be done on that day,” adds Reynolds.
7. You notice the cleaning has not been up to par
If you’re fortunate enough to have employed the same house cleaner for many months or even years, you’re probably accustomed to having the cleaning done at a certain standard. Everyone has an off day, but if you’re noticing that the quality of cleaning has dwindled repeatedly, it’s time to discuss the matter with your house cleaner.
Stamps recommends bringing the issue to the house cleaner’s attention right away.
Schulz agrees that communicating your concerns promptly is the best solution in this scenario. “It can be stress-inducing to think about letting your housekeeper know you’re not as happy with their cleaning anymore, when you likely have a great relationship with them after many years,” he notes. “However, if the housekeeper is passionate about what they do, they will appreciate receiving constructive feedback and will be grateful you’re giving them the opportunity to improve, rather than looking for a replacement.”