Lessons From a Housecleaner

Lessons From a Housecleaner

I recently volunteered to do a complete house cleaning for newly constructed home. It was a paid job, and since I’d had some experience in house cleaning, I thought it would be a nice way to earn some extra cash. The job is now done, and as I look back, I realize how unprepared I really was. The extra money was nice, but the lessons learned were even more valuable.

The first thing to keep in mind is that you will be working for a general contractor.  That’s just it, you work for him! This is way different than doing regular housecleaning for your neighbor.  Be flexible.  Realize that he’s working with several people and things don’t always go exactly as scheduled…

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*I highly recommend keeping a small notebook, (or a page in your bullet journal), for housecleaning purposes only. Include contractor’s name, phone number, supply list, duties, a place for receipts, hours you worked, and any other issue that might come up.

*Ask the contractor if he has a set price that he pays.  If not, be prepared to give him your hourly rate. Cleaning windows tends to cost extra. You can check with some local cleaning businesses to see what the going rate is.

*Make a list of all things you are expected to clean. As well as types of floors and countertops.  This will effect the kind of cleaner you will need. For example, laminate floors require special care. [amazon_textlink asin=’B000ARPVIY’ text=’Bona’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’besidethecreek-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3acad9ba-2250-11e7-af3f-415748696920′] products work great, by the way.  **If there’s a basement or carport, ask if that is included in your list of responsibilities. (I learned this one after the fact)

*IF you are able to do a quick walk through before you start your cleaning job, this makes things a lot easier. I was able to walk through with the owner beforehand and see exactly what I was getting into.

*Supplies: for new construction homes, you will probably have to supply everything. Rags, cleaner, brooms, mops, paper towels, vacuum. Keep all your items in a caddy or a small box.  One of the nice things about this job was there was a central vacuum system installed in the house, which made sweeping a lot easier!

*Things expected of you:  New homes are often covered with a thin layer of dust from installing wall board and sanding.   You will have to vacuum inside and outside the cabinets, all fixtures, and the floor before you can wipe/mop things down. If there’s still the plastic wrap or packing tape on appliances, you’ll need to peel that off. Keep in mind: you’re turning this building into a clean house that someone is going to come in and make into a HOME.

*Some plumbers turn the water valve off every time they leave the house, so find out if that’s the case before you start. You will need to know where the cut off valve’s hard to wipe down cabinets without water…The plumbers do this so that they won’t be responsible for a leaky pipe that ruins new flooring before the new tenants move in. Check to see their preferences.

*Don’t forget to ask about the key! Each job may be different. Just make sure you will be able to actually get in the house when it’s time for you to clean.

*Windows are tough.  Be expected to clean the inside and out.  I like using Stoner Invisible Glass glass cleaner and newspapers, but your hands do turn black with this, so be careful what you touch. The newspapers work great at leaving no streaks. [amazon_textlink asin=’B001R4XHRQ’ text=’Goo Gone’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’besidethecreek-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’122211ea-2250-11e7-8a96-e197ddf713cd’] is great for getting the gummy sticker goo off the glass.  Also, take a small razor blade for scraping paint drops off the windows.  (After I finished, I was asked to go back to the house and peel the silicone off from around the encased windows that the carpenter’s smeared a little too much…one lesson learned.Update: Since writing this post, I’ve learned about Norwex products. Their Window Cloth is the best!!  I now only use this when cleaning windows.  It saves so much time and does a great job.  Check out Amy’s Cleaning Machines on Facebook if you’d like to order. 

There’s the “how to’s”, now here’s the life lessons I learned. I must admit, I was a little bummed when the contractor came to pick up the bill and had some complaints.  I had just spent 14 hours, spread out over 3 days, had great parents who kept the kids while I worked, plus extra bruises and sore muscles, and he has complaints?!  Yea, that was my flesh talking…but The Holy Spirit said, “Just chill out and listen.”

So, I took in his “words of advice” and after mulling over it for a couple hours, got over myself. I realized this was my first time ever doing this type of a job and I shouldn’t expect perfection having never done it before. The man was simply giving me some constructive criticism.  I had a choice here: continue sulking because I didn’t get the praise I wanted or humbly accept the advice and be better prepared for the next time. After some light-hearted humor from my husband and a dear brother, I chose the latter.

My mind quickly went to my kids: how many times have they worked really hard at something only to have me come behind them and point out all the bad or wrong things they did…or ways I would have done it.  I know part of my responsibility as a parent is to train my children and teach them the correct way to do things.  Sometimes that requires that I point our their mistakes.  They need to learn, that as adults, if they want to keep a good job, they will be expected to follow it the way the boss says.  But I think that after this little episode, my tone with them will be a little softer. Hopefully I will be faster to pick out the positive aspects of their work and encourage them to continue on.

I’m very thankful for the cleaning opportunity, but more grateful for the humbling I myself received. It’s amazing how we as adults can become so over confident in ourselves.  I needed this simple little reminder that I’m still a work in progress and never too old to learn new lessons.