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Housecleaners’ Cleaning Etiquette: Rules of the House Cleaning Business

Written by Nicky Tomboulides .

Talking to your housecleaner about what's acceptable and what isn't can be a difficult or slightly awkward conversation.

Hopefully the following tips will make that conversation easier.  You can use this as a checklist and go over these points with your new housecleaner.  Alternatively, you can make this article avaiable to them to make this conversation easier.  You may consider providing your new housecleaner a copy they can take home and review.  Once you both agree, you may consider signing and dating it!

1. Let your integrity be your best quality. Expect the same from the homeowner.  Always pick customers you like and trust. Be a professional. Although it's good to be cordial with your customer, your customer is NOT your friend. Do not involve your customer in your personal affairs. This is a work relationship that happens to be taking place in someone's home.

2. At the interview, listen carefully, ask questions and take notes.

3. Get to know the client's pet peeves as well as their needs. Write them all down. Not only will your notes serve as a reference in the future, but the very fact that you're taking notes shows your potential employer that you are interested and care about them. Make sure you write down the names and ages of the children, house pets and their names, and above all the cell numbers of all family members along with the family’s emergency contact person.

4.  Expect to get paid on time and mention that during the interview. Charge by the job; not by the hour. In the near future we will address in more detail how you assess a housecleaning job. For now, know you need to be able to estimate the amount of time it will take you to complete the job, multiply it by the amount you are comfortable charging an hour (charge reasonable rates, be fair, ask around) and give the homeowner the total cost for the job. If it takes you longer (and at the beginning it will), you need to cut your losses. If you are new in the housecleaning field, you are on the job training, and should not expect the homeowner to carry the burden of your learning curve. Build your clientele. Have the homeowner's interest ahead of yours and it will pay off. You will get better and faster with time. If not, maybe this is not for you. Do a great job every time. It’s pay for performance. If you happen to be sick or having a bad day (we all have those days), it's best to stay home and reschedule your customer. Be sure to inform them in time so they can make alternate arrangements if they need to.

5. Observe your surroundings. If the house is a mess, be honest and explain to the homeowner that in order for you to do your job, you need all the toys picked up along with all the clothes on the floor. It is a good idea to discuss your responsibilites so that both parties are in agreement on the job duties.

6. Respect your customer’s privacy and expect the same in return. Do not use the customer’s home like it’s yours. Using the house phone to call Scotland is not acceptable. Turning the TV on to watch your favorite soap opera while cleaning is not acceptable. Opening the fridge to have a snack or a drink is not acceptable. 

7.  Accidents happen. If you break or damage an item, inform your customer right away. Honesty is the best policy hands down. Offer to repair or replace it and do so as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to have a breakage fund saved in the amount of your insurance deductible.   

8. Dress to clean, ‘cleanwear’ is comfortable jeans, a cotton T-shirt and sneakers and light makeup if any. Don't wear jewelry; only a watch will do. Be neat and clean. That means no heavy makeup, red lipstick, tight clothes, earrings, high heels or flip flops.  

9. The house belongs to you for the amount of time that you will be there cleaning it. Ask permission to clean without any distractions. The quality and time of your cleaning will be compromised if you have distractions whether caused by the homeowner or by you. Long cell conversations are NOT acceptable and remain one of the most serious and common complaints from the homeowners.

To work smarter you need to set boundaries for yourself and for others. Stay focused get in the ZONE!   

Keep it Clean! ;)

Nicky Tomboulides
Nicky Tomboulides

Nicky P.E. Tomboulides, MBA has run and managed Penguin's Best Housekeeping Service, LLCsince 1994. Nicky's entrepreneurial experience and spirit is behind the birth of her business. Penguin's Best, an upscale residential cleaning service, has evolved from teaching and training its own crew to running outside classes and workshops for various organ.. Read more

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Comments (9)

  • Guest (Di)


    I have one more rule that I think is important and should be observed by both the cleaner and the employer. If the cleaner cannot clean on their scheduled day, let the employer know as soon as possible. If possible, let the employer know the night before or early morning of the appointment. Nothing more annoying than coming home to a house that hasn't been cleaned or tidying up the house early morning/night before the appointment only to come home at the end of the day to find out the cleaner never showed up, or the cleaner calls at the last minute to cancel. The employer should also give cleaner as much notice as possible when needing to cancel or switch scheduled cleaning.

  • Guest (Nicky)


    I absolutely agree with you. Also, if an appointment is cancelled last minute both parties better
    have a good reason for doing so. Like any other business when you don't go to work
    you don't get paid. Thanks for your comment!

    Happy Cleaning!

  • Guest (EdwardThirlwall)


    Your work ethic will shine through and determine if your employer will continue hiring you or not I feel. Only those cleaners who are diligent and honest - you know the type that don't skim over the self storage cabinets and dark corners - will be asked to come to clean again. If you want a long term client, you jolly well better do your best!

  • Guest (Melba Thomas)


    The number of peoples are in this house cleaning business and they are profession that is quite helpful tips are listed for the beginner who start house cleaning essay service online business newly. And that is knowledgeable for the peoples who wanted to hire someone for house cleaning services.

  • Guest (Nicky P. E. Tomboulides)


    Thank you for your comment.
    Happy Cleaning! :)

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  • Guest (Mike Benedict)


    If you are not busy we have also article about house cleaning in your website. For example, salt uses for effective house hold cleaning. This articles are from our website Austin House Cleaning Service

  • Guest (Cyndi)


    Love the advice in this article. Not so in love with the photo choice. As a cleaning service owner fir 12 years, I suggest supporting the article with a more professional visual image.

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