17 Ways You’re Horrifying Your Housekeeper
If you want your housekeeper to be a return visitor, it's time to quit these icky habits.
They scrub your tub, fold your unmentionables, and sweep out the detritus around your appliances that you might otherwise leave to languish for a lifetime. Yes, your housekeeper may arrive to find your home at its worst and leave with it looking its best, but that doesn’t mean he or she is immune to the ick factor. From what they wish you’d clean yourself to the surprising things they find, read on to discover the 17 ways you’re horrifying your housekeeper.
Leaving signs you’ve been sick
While your housekeeper may clean the sinks you’ve spit into or launder your sweaty clothes, exposing them to other bodily fluids without warning is an absolute no-no. “We’ve entered spaces where people have been very sick,” says cleaning expert Melissa Maker, founder of Clean My Space, a housekeeping service based in Toronto, and host of the CleanMySpace YouTube channel.
“We’ve found vomit and other bodily fluids and had to immediately leave. It’s gross and also an unsafe condition to be working in.”
Keeping your toothbrush in a filthy container
Your toothbrush may help keep your teeth sparkling clean, but many a housekeeper will attest to the fact that those brushes often aren’t stored in the most sanitary environments. “Toothbrush holders are among the dirtiest places in a home! Yet, because they’re an insignificant part of our everyday routine, we don’t think to clean them,” says Maker.
So just how dirty are they? “During an organism analysis, the National Sanitation Foundation found more than 3 million organisms in a toothbrush holder, including E. coli, staph, mold, mildew, and coliform,” she says.
Not notifying them of bed bugs
If you know (or even suspect) you have bed bugs in your home, it’s essential that you tell your housekeeper before inviting him or her into your home.
“I’ve walked into situations where there have been bed bug infestations, which is obviously a hazard in itself,” says Maker.
Not washing your blankets
You wash your sheets with some frequency (we hope), but can you say the same for your blankets? If not, your housekeeper may have some seriously icky work on their hands.
“Blankets are another pretty gross one, particularly throw blankets on sofas,” says Maker. “They can get super nasty. The soft materials can absorb and collect… dander, pet hair, dirt, body oils, dead skin cells, food particles, and so much more. These should definitely be added into your cleaning routine—simply check the care label and launder accordingly.”
Not cleaning up after your pets
While your housekeeper may not mind vacuuming your dog’s fur out of the rug, that doesn’t mean he or she is going to be cool with them treating your house as a personal patch of grass. Maker says she’s encountered a number of “extreme situations with animal owners—feces, urine, you name it.”
And ignoring pet-related pestilence
Your furry friends may be picking up more than the occasional discarded pizza crust when they go out for their daily walks—and what they bring home is likely to horrify your housekeeper. “It goes without saying that fleas are disgusting and are extremely difficult to eliminate,” says Lisa Ciao, President of Maid For You, Inc., an independently-owned professional cleaning service in Pennsylvania.
In fact, fleas are such an issue for housekeepers that you may even be out hundreds of dollars if they find them in your house. “I had to toss out some of our equipment because there was no way we could use it at another client’s home,” says Ciao.
Leaving your recycling un-rinsed
If you expect your housekeeper to take out your recycling for you, at least do them a favor and make sure your items have been thoroughly rinsed first. “These containers become splattered with food particles and liquids that can turn rancid,” says Abe Navas, general manager of cleaning service Emily’s Maids in Dallas, Texas. “Over time, these sticky spills attract more dirt and pests and the smell only worsens.”
Not thoroughly scrubbing your fridge
“Organic material decomposes and creates a putrid odor. So, if you never clean your fridge, an almost black, viscous scum will form,” says Navas. Unfortunately, even for the pros, “it’s really difficult to clean, and it smells really bad. You need lots of soap and water to eliminate it. … Our staff asks for gloves for this very reason.”
And not cleaning your garbage can
Before you ask your housekeeper to take out the trash, make sure what’s hiding under that garbage bag isn’t even grosser than its contents. “Bags aren’t perfect and solids transform into liquids with time; chicken and meat decompose rapidly and the odor that creates is so vile that it makes me nauseous just thinking about it,” says Navas.
Not snaking your drain
That clogged bathtub drain isn’t just gross for you—it’s a pretty horrifying find for your housekeeper, too. “If you don’t regularly remove the plughole and rinse out the dirt, you’ll find that thick gunk begins to accumulate over time, usually mixed in with hair, making it difficult to remove,” says Sean Parry, a cleaning expert at U.K.-based house cleaning company Neat Services. “As this gunky mass retains water, the damp stench is often fairly terrible and gets worse over time.”
Leaving your toilet seat hinges to collect grime
You may clean your toilet from time to time, but Parry reveals that many clients aren’t actually giving the whole throne a sufficient scrub.
“Cleaning your toilet regularly is one thing, but how often do you unscrew the toilet seat from its hinges? It’s obviously not something you need to do every week but we recommend at least every few months,” he says. “You’ll be amazed at the gunk that builds up. Water, urine, and other horrible get trapped in the hinges and can be difficult to remove.”
Neglecting your washing machine seals
Similarly, those rubber seals around the exterior of your washing machine could use a regular wipe-down, although it’s something that housekeepers frequently find their clients have left untouched.
“Next time you open the door of your washing machine, take a look at the rubber seal around at the edge of the drum. Unless you clean it regularly, you’ll probably see a build-up of black gunky mold,” says Parry. “This is usually due to the fact that the seals never completely dry between cycles, and the warm moist environment is perfect for mold to grow. When you add various things like hair and food from dirty clothing, it’s easy to see how mold build up worsens over time.”
Not wiping down your remote
According to Jane Wilson, manager of the Melbourne branch of Australia’s Fantastic Cleaners, remotes “are often overlooked even in homes with otherwise impeccable hygiene.”
“You can’t see any staining or dirt on these items, but this doesn’t mean that they are not dirty,” she notes. If you want to keep your home cleaner, make sure you’re wiping down your remote at least once a week with an electronics-safe antibacterial cleaner.
And never wiping down your light switches
While your light switches may not appear visibly dirty, if you’re not cleaning them regularly, they’re “just as full of germs as the toilet seat or the kitchen sink,” says Wilson. “Even though unnoticeable, these germs can weaken the immune system and make us prone to common diseases like the flu. This is why it’s important to wipe them with a disinfectant from time to time.”
Neglecting your doorknobs
The same goes for doorknobs, according to Wilson. While many people would be horrified at the thought of not wiping down their sink or tub, they give little thought to the germs spread via contact with doorknobs. In fact, according to a 2012 study published in the journal PLoS One, doorknobs had particularly high levels of bacterial contamination, even in hospital settings where hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer are standard practice.
Leaving your keyboards uncleaned
If you’re not regularly cleaning your keyboard, your housekeeper will notice. “We touch these things all the time, and we often do that without washing our hands prior, which means that the germs from our hands go directly onto [them],” says Wilson.
In fact, according to a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Staphylococcus aureus was commonly found on keyboards, but disinfection with an antibacterial cleaner significantly reduced the amount of contamination.
Though you may be paying your housekeeper a standard fee for their services, if you’re not tipping, you may be inciting their ire. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to tip after every cleaning, but a tip around the holidays certainly wouldn’t go unappreciated. As for hotel housekeepers, guests should expect to tip between $1 and $5 per night, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association. And for more insight into the hospitality industry, check out these 20 Shocking Facts About Your Hotel Room.
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