Confessions Of A Professional Housekeeper

I've worked at cleaning homes for a professional cleaning company and on my own. These days I am a mixture of nanny, housekeeper and cook for one employer.

Housecleaning is literally a tough job that someone has to do. Here are some of the dirty little secrets of the trade that will help you get better service and less snooping from your cleaning person.

First, to a greater extent than you might imagine, the person who cleans your home knows the real you. They know how clean you are, what you like to eat and drink and your preferences in undergarments-for both work and play. The fact is, a person doesn't even have to go into your closets or drawers to find out stuff you'd rather they not know.

So, lesson one: If you hire a housekeeper be aware of what you leave lying around. Cleaning a house means going through the entire house dusting, vacuuming and straightening. While most housekeepers do not pilfer or steal while they're working they can gain a lot information. Sometimes they can't help it-clients really leave their lives wide open-and sometimes they're kind of nosy...oops, I mean inquisitive.

Some housekeepers cannot control themselves when it comes to reading anything they come across. I have worked with people who know what a client pays for utilities, when she had cosmetic surgery or plans to, and what type it will be. A housekeeper like this will know if you received a traffic ticket, have been in court or received a summons. I found out without really trying about a man who, along with his girlfriend, took his wife to court for stalking him.

People routinely leave medications lying around without thinking about it. Most of the time this isn't a big thing, although it might be embarrassing to realize what it tells the housekeeper about your personal life. For example, most housekeepers know which male clients are on Viagra.

Additionally, a lot of people leave pills lying around outside of their containers on counters and sink tops. This is a bad idea. Cleaning products have a lot of chemicals. Housekeepers who are trying to work quickly probably won't move stray pills out of the way of their spray. For the same reason, it's a good idea to put toothbrushes away before your housecleaner comes.

If you use a service that provides the cleaning equipment, keep in mind that a worker will use the same equipment for several homes. Some homes are filthy! I cleaned one home that had 12 cats and four large dogs-that's a lot of stray hair. Another had food on the kitchen floor that had to be scraped off with a putty knife; it would never have occurred to the owners to wipe up spills as they happened. In short, you never know what a cleaner is bringing into your home via the dusters, vacuum bags and rags he brings with him, so whenever possible ask him to use your own cleaning products and equipment instead.

One way to break up the tedium of cleaning is to try on the client's clothes when she is away. This is especially true if items are left out. My cleaning partner and I cleaned one home where the lady of the house would leave out dress-up costumes. We couldn't resist looking at them and having a good laugh.

Another coworker always helped herself to food, candy or chips that she found around the house. Some clients invite housekeepers to help themselves to the fridge; most do not. But if you can't quite keep certain foods in the house and you can't figure out why, well, maybe your housekeeper is hungry.

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October 11 2011 at 5:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I need a housekeeper. Trustworthy, references and is a christian.

April 29 2010 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

New York City, Queens

April 29 2010 at 9:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cathy -- Not all housecleaners are "illegals" -- another broad slam at the people who do this kind of work. My housecleaners are totally legal, and are issued a 1099 at the end of each year. They have benefits. Am I the only person out here who things housecleaners and housekeepers deserve some respect?

April 29 2010 at 2:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

ERMA - Good for you for standing up against this malicious urban legend that housekeepers {I will include hotel maids too} - are snoops and thieves and eat all your food. There are some bad apples in every barrel - but let's not indict a whole segment of the population! There ae dirty cops too and adulterous past presidents - it doesn't mean every person who holds those jobs is guilty of wrong doing! HOGWASH!

April 28 2010 at 9:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thank you Cher! I appreciate that! The voices of reason will prevail!

April 28 2010 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Erma McConnell


I have been in the residential cleaning business for about 12 years. I cannot even relate to snooping in my clients personal business. As one cleaner stated, we are there to clean, nothing more and nothing less. I like to see my clients happy with a clean home. Who cares what they pay for utilities. I thank GOD that they trusted me in their home and being paid.

Erma- 1st Class Maid Service, Inc- GA

April 28 2010 at 8:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I will tell all you people who say housekeepers are nosy of course they are, you leave everything out in the open for all to see ,that does not mean they will spread gossip about you ,most are loyal workers who make your life a lot easier and you know it , I have owned a cleaning service for 28 years and Im thinking about writing a book on my adventures as a cleaning service and believe me it will be hillarious ,the things I have seen and been asked to do will be a best seller , Thanks to all the cleaning people and housekeepers out there ,your know your clients secrets are safe with you KEEP ON CLEANING

April 28 2010 at 8:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BETTY HARVEY's comment
Erma McConnell

So right!

Love your comment. Just making a living.


April 28 2010 at 8:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I for one have a housecleaning business, and as I'd like to be "in and out" as fast as possiable, I don't understand how anyone can clean very well without noticing a painting that has to be dusted for two years! I have never gone through anyones dresser draws, closets (except to clean) and for petes sake.....never tried they're clothes on! Who has time for all that? We need to make money by CLEANING houses.......not going through personal items!

April 28 2010 at 7:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Apr 6th 2010 @ 6:54PM
Karebooo SAYS.....
HAVOK, how can you insult someone when English is supposed to be your first language but you cant spell or punctuate?
KAREBOOO,maybe you can write and spell better but another person like me who also has the same problem,making typos, make up for it with professional mechanical skills you would not know a thing about.
I have never ever taken a car in a shop for repairs,
I repair just about anything that is mechanical and I also save people a lot of money especially when it;s hot and the A/C stops cooling so I have many friends that pay a heck of a lot less to me and they don't care if I make a typo when writing out the bill

April 28 2010 at 6:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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