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Ask a cleaning lady!

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[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2011
377 posts
161 upvotes
Mississauga

Ask a cleaning lady!

I've been a professional domestic cleaner for over 10 years, and I get a lot of questions about cleaning methods. Green vs traditional cleaners, techniques, and trade secrets, ask away! keeping your biggest investment looking beautiful is important, but hardly glamorous. I'll give you dirt on the cleaning industry. I have been with a major chain, and now a private cleaner.
Also, I can answer questions about how long you should book a cleaner, how often, what to look for in a cleaner, what things do we NOT do, and pros and cons of hiring privately vs a company. Fire away!
493 replies
Newbie
Dec 10, 2013
48 posts
37 upvotes
Spruce Grove
petitallegra wrote:
Jan 22nd, 2015 2:06 pm
I've been a professional domestic cleaner for over 10 years, and I get a lot of questions about cleaning methods. Green vs traditional cleaners, techniques, and trade secrets, ask away! keeping your biggest investment looking beautiful is important, but hardly glamorous. I'll give you dirt on the cleaning industry. I have been with a major chain, and now a private cleaner.
Also, I can answer questions about how long you should book a cleaner, how often, what to look for in a cleaner, what things do we NOT do, and pros and cons of hiring privately vs a company. Fire away!
Im totally curious about that statement, we want horror stories about what clients have wanted!
Deal Addict
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Nov 19, 2003
4520 posts
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A Place to Stand
Do you rifle through people's underwear drawer?? Just want to know if I should throw out the ones with holes in them or not.
[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2011
377 posts
161 upvotes
Mississauga
Lol! Everyone loves the horror stories :)
Well, as you can imagine, I see my share of toliet nightmares. Many people clog their plumbing, and leave it for us to sort out. However, I am not a plumber! So if a flush doesn't fix it, I have no choice but to leave it. However, I at least clean the seat ;)
We get our share of hoarder type situations, where we are booked for a 4 hour clean, and they expect everything to magically be clean!
I think my personal worse is a home that hadn't been cleaned in YEARS, and they booked me for 2 hours. When I was only able to get through the kitchen in that time, they flipped out and refused to pay, because they expected the whole place to be spotless!

So, the usual list of things we DON'T do:
Clogged plumbing
Things that require anything higher than a step ladder
Picking up dead rodents from traps
Pest or infestation issues.

Then most cleaners have general rules:
Only wash dishes if there is a few, not a sink full
If there is less than 10 knick knacks, we move them, if you have a mantel full of tiny collectables we dust around.
No emptying diaper pails
Clean outer spaces, not interior spaces (such as cupboards, bedroom closets)
No laundry services (unless you book extra time)

Keep in mind, if you have a collection of 1000 tiny figurines, and you are willing to pay someone to move and dust each one, then go for it! But if we only have 4 hours booked, and you have spread every item you own across every inch of counter space, you are going to get a lot less cleaning bang for your buck!

75% of my regulars are good clients, with regular amounts of build up between cleans. I only have a few who treat their homes like trash.
[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2011
377 posts
161 upvotes
Mississauga
We don't open any drawers unless requested. We see lots of skid mark and holey underwear though! Most people are not so courteous as to put it away! I pick up pounds of dirty clothes each week, from all over the house!
Also, probably a bag a week of used Kleenex and sanitary napkins.
Newbie
Dec 10, 2013
48 posts
37 upvotes
Spruce Grove
petitallegra wrote:
Jan 22nd, 2015 2:30 pm
We don't open any drawers unless requested. We see lots of skid mark and holey underwear though! Most people are not so courteous as to put it away! I pick up pounds of dirty clothes each week, from all over the house!
Also, probably a bag a week of used Kleenex and sanitary napkins.
LOL! Thats rough, I feel your pain! Some days I think about hiring a cleaner because I get too busy at times to do a good job keeping things clean, so I end up doing a big monthly cleanup!
Deal Fanatic
Dec 11, 2008
6806 posts
370 upvotes
Do you clean new homes on a one time basis?

I am closing on a house and was wondering if cleaning service companies clean homes that are vacant; specifically things like toilets, ovens, fridges (inside) and all showers/bathtubs only and not do things like dust, laundry, floors etc.

Also do you normally clean homes with clients there or away?
[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2011
377 posts
161 upvotes
Mississauga
speedyforme wrote:
Jan 22nd, 2015 2:53 pm
Do you clean new homes on a one time basis?

I am closing on a house and was wondering if cleaning service companies clean homes that are vacant; specifically things like toilets, ovens, fridges (inside) and all showers/bathtubs only and not do things like dust, laundry, floors etc.

Also do you normally clean homes with clients there or away?
Yes, absolutely! We call those move in/move outs. There are a lot of cleaners who even specialize in these. I usually get these 3-4 times a month. Be sure to book your cleaner at least 2 weeks before if your move is near the first or last weekend of the month, as this is our busy time. (As we need to fit them in between our regular clients)

During these, I usually deep clean all the areas we can't usually get to, such as cupboard shelves, interior of the fridge, baseboards, ect. Then all the usual cleaning, such as bathrooms, kitchens, floors, ect.
New builds usually have a ton of drywall and builder dust, so floors usually require vacuum and mopping twice, to really get it all. If you don't want the movers to ruin the floors, we can also put paper down after we've cleaned, so they stay nice, and only need a quick vacuum after your move is complete. Also, if you booking a duct cleaner, have them come first, before your residential cleaner.

We prefer to clean with the clients away, because they usually (un-intentionally) get in our way, as we have a method to our "path" that maximizes how quickly we can go. However, if the client is willing to pay an extra 15-20 minutes of time because we need to work around them, we don't mind at all :)
Deal Addict
Feb 22, 2007
1548 posts
54 upvotes
Mississauga
the other day I was using scrubbing bubbles 'orange' solution (which is their green solution)....I didn't realize I had bought that one and I sprayed onto my tub/tiles and it was doing absolutely NOTHING. then I realized why, since it was a green product. I think grabbed my vim/ajax etc. and cleaned everything up in a charm.

do any 'green' solution products actually work?
[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2011
377 posts
161 upvotes
Mississauga
pardnme wrote:
Jan 22nd, 2015 3:24 pm
the other day I was using scrubbing bubbles 'orange' solution (which is their green solution)....I didn't realize I had bought that one and I sprayed onto my tub/tiles and it was doing absolutely NOTHING. then I realized why, since it was a green product. I think grabbed my vim/ajax etc. and cleaned everything up in a charm.

do any 'green' solution products actually work?
A lot of the green products on the shelf are junk. The best "green" products are the ones you mix yourself.

I like to use straight vinegar as my glass and polish cleaner, tea tree oil, baking powder, as my abrasive, and I make my all-purpose cleaner myself. If I need to heavy duty clean an area, such as an oven, I will mix the vinegar and baking powder into a paste, and use that.

The recipe for all-purpose cleaner is very cheap and simple:
1/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup water
4 tbsp castille soap
3 drops tea tree oil (you can substitute a citrus oil if you don't like the smell of tea tree)
Shake the bottle, and you are good to go!

The secret to green products is labour. I can get the same results from my green products, as I do from Lysol. The difference is it takes me double the time and elbow grease! This is why you pay more for green cleaners, it's way more work!
Deal Addict
Dec 31, 2007
3697 posts
476 upvotes
Richmond Hill
Thanks OP for starting this thread.

1. What is a decent vacuum?
2. What is the proper amount of cleaning solution to water ratio to mop floors so that it doesn't feel sticky afterwards?
3. What is good to clean hardwood floors?
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 14, 2005
10534 posts
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City of Vancouver
Has the OP ever cleaned up after a crime scene?
De gustibus non est disputandum
Crazy people will make even sane people crazy.
Member
Dec 30, 2006
430 posts
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Toronto
What do you recommend for hardwood floors to really get them to shine?
Member
Jan 1, 2006
256 posts
5 upvotes
Richmond Hill
How do you restore the original color of floor tile grout that has darkened with time?

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