Do I really need to clean before the cleaner?

You've made the decision to hire a cleaner. Superb. That's sure going to make life easier. But before you grab the remote, settle on the couch and get cosy with the idea of never having to do a chore in your home again, you may want to read this:

While hired cleaners do the majority of the heavy-lifting when it comes to cleaning your home, there are general assumptions about what you, as the client, will contribute to the partnership. The first, and most important step, is to make sure expectations are clearly set at the start. If you are just at the start of the process of hiring a cleaner, go here to read my tips on what to consider first.

Now, assuming you have set clear expectations for your cleaner on what tasks they should complete while in your home, it is your job to facilitate that to happen in the easiest possible way. You are not expected to vacuum before they vacuum or dust before they dust- they are being paid to clean your house after all, but you are expected to tidy it first, in such a way as to make the areas you require them to clean, accessible.

Let's say, for example, that you have indicated that your cleaner should dust, vacuum, mop, wipe countertops and clean the bathroom on their fortnightly 1-hour-long visit. Imagine how much harder that might be for them to achieve when they arrive and you have clothes strewn across the bedroom floor, food scraps in the sink, paperwork cluttering the dining table, dirty dishes on the kitchen counters and dozens of products littering the bathroom vanity. The cleaner will spend the majority of their time tidying away or moving your mess to simply access the areas they are supposed to be cleaning, rather than doing the actual clean.

Tidy dirty dishes away to give the cleaner access to your kitchen counters.

The primary concern with this is that the cleaner is surface cleaning rather than deep cleaning your home. This often leads to the client (that's you!) having to pay more, covering the additional hours the cleaner requires, to finish the expected list of jobs. And that is only if the cleaner is willing to be responsible for tidying the general household mess (spoiler alert: most aren't). So you will either be out of pocket more than you expected, or having your cleaner terminate the contract because they aren't satisfied with the conditions. But there is an easier way to keep the cleaner happy and productive and you coming home to a sparkling house. And that is for you to tidy first. Not clean before the cleaner, but tidy before the cleaner.

Here are 3 key things you should do before the cleaner comes:

1. Remove majority of items from surfaces you want cleaned.

Give them easy access by:

  1. Picking up all of the kids toys or pets toys from floor.

  2. Tidying away clothes, bags, books, gym equipment and paperwork left laying around.

  3. Make sure the tech-gear is neat with cords, cables, consoles and controllers put out of the way.

  4. Clear surplus bathroom products, kitchen items and anything else from the countertops.

If you don't have designated homes for those items to go into or are short on time, consider packing them in a basket or bin (your laundry basket would work) to deal with after the cleaner has been or stack in a spare room that the cleaner will not be expected to access while there.

2. Clean away food mess.

  1. Wash dishes or stack the dishwasher.

  2. Remove all food scraps.

  3. Clean any excessive spills or messes.

The day/ time the cleaner comes should be the natural deadline for having these things completed. Put it in your calendar, make it part of your routine and make it happen. Ideally, if you wash the dishes and tidy the kitchen after every meal, there shouldn't be need for a big panic and rushed tidy-up session on the day the cleaner comes.

3. Take the guesswork out of it.

Get the things out that you want the cleaner to use:

  1. If there are additional tasks or particular areas to pay attention to this week, leave a note or send a message with clear instructions. Cleaners aren't mind readers.

  2. If you want the cleaner to change and wash your bedding or towels, have a new set of linen stacked and easy to access in the bedroom or bathroom, to save the cleaner digging around in the linen closet for what they need.

  3. If you want them to use certain products or appliances, have them out and ready or communicate clearly about where they are located.

Remember, you are paying your cleaner to do the hard stuff - the deep cleaning that takes more time and more effort (and that you dread doing yourself). The easy tasks like loading the dishwasher or picking up your dirty laundry is the stuff you can be doing and if you don't even want to be doing that, then maybe you should be in the market for a house-keeper not a house-cleaner. If you're not sure of the difference click here for a concise comparison. Remember: you want to make it as easy as possible for your cleaner to enter your house and get straight to the deep cleaning rather than spending their time doing the surface cleaning.

So reframe your expectations, get off the couch and make time to tidy before the cleaner arrives to keep your wallet, your home and your cleaner all in a happy healthy relationship.

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