Cleaning Lady: What NOT to buy (2023)

I occasionally get asked about products. Thing is, I don’t really have any particular products I’m rabid about – I like Fabuloso because it cleans, it smells nice and its CHEAP at Home Depot. I like Pine Oil cleaner because it can disinfect, deodorize and cut grease like a mofo. Plus I can also get it in bulk super CHEAP at HD. (HD, Fabuloso and Pine-Sol have not paid me for mentioning their products) I’d just as soon use another brand or generic if it is available and cheaper than the stuff I already buy. Sometimes I use dishwashing liquid and I’ve even used automatic dishwasher detergent to clean things. I once had a couple who only let me use Dr Bronners and Bon Ami for everything. Generally I don’t use scrubs at all as they are hell on the hands and a pain to rinse off. I have been known to use bleach-based cleaners especially in toilets because they are the bomb at getting it clean and disinfected super-quick. But they have nasty fumes that aggravate my asthma so no more of that. (also be advised that Pine Oil cleaner will defat your skin which isn’t painful but makes your epidermis peel off like a weird sunburn for a week. I have photographic proof)

However, there are SOME products I will not use. Not only that, if I think my client is using them, I will do everything in my power to get them to stop. I feel its part of my job to let people know the truth about things and cleaning products are no different. Listen and learn, my children, listen and learn.

Murphy’s Oil Soap

I’ll start gentle and nice: do not use Murphy’s on your hardwood floors or your wood furniture. Just don’t. If you are confused as to why, just look at the label. This is soap, made from oil. Oil that does not mix entirely with water (because its in soap, not detergent or solvent) So whenever you use soap (and I’ve ranted against soap use in the shower/bath) you leave behind a kind of weird sort of oily residue that may or may not also contain dirt, depending on how exactly you mixed your solution. Soap does not actually strip oil very well. It will dissolve some fats, especially fats that have been contaminated with dirt but overall, soap is a very ineffective and inefficient cleaner for most surfaces. Oil based soap even more so. (by the way, Dr Bronners is a soap. It’s an oil-based soap but because of other ingredients, its actually more effective at cleaning than most oil-based soaps. but that’s not saying a whole lot)

Wood is a natural surface but in the vast majority of cases, wood isn’t in its natural state when it is a household object of any use. Wood is almost always coated in either paint or some type of varnish/urethane. The coating of wood protects the wood from superficial damage over time from sun, humidity and dirt. So when you are cleaning your floors or your furniture or bookshelves you are usually not cleaning wood. You are cleaning urethane or paint. If you use soap, especially an oil-based soap, you are leaving a residue on the surface that might still contain particles of dirt.
Now what do you think happens over time as you use oil based soap? It builds up. On your shiny urethane or painted surface. It builds up with oil and often smears of dirt too. Because really, oil and water only mix so well and most of the time people use too much soap anyway. The reason there are directions for mixing things like Murphy’s is because the soap needs to attach to water in order to do its job and then leave. If there is too much soap, there will not be enough water to carry the excess soap away. Soap already leaves a bit of oil behind anyway but when you do not mix it properly (and it must be mixed in blazing hot water to really work) you not only leave oil behind, you leave soap too. Sticky sticky soap.
Obviously, if you use too much water, you will not get the dirt to vacate the premises and you are more or less wasting soap and putting water on your nice wood floor. Not good. So if you ARE using Murphys or Dr Bronners or any other soap-based cleaner, always be sure to mix it exactly according to directions (I usually skimp a tad on the soap anyway) but the only time you should be using soap-based cleaners for your house is if you need to scrub stone, brick or certain kinds of tile.

In any case, stop using Murphy’s or ANY oil soap for your finished wood. IF you have bare wood and are interested in oiling or waxing it, Murphys can possibly clean it a bit between stripping sessions but its not really necessary then either.


To clean a hardwood floor, figure out if you have pre-formed laminate sub flooring (like Pergo) or just urethaned wood.

Pre-formed laminate can only be cleaned by solvent-based cleaners. Windex, Clean-up, even very watered down automatic dishwashing detergent will do the trick. But really all you need is some vinegar and water. Laminate floor doesn’t realy get a lot of dirt embedded in it. Because it doesn’t get pits and micro-cracks like urethane does, dirt mostly vacuums away. Anything left behind can be wiped with a soft cloth and some glass or all-purpose surface cleaner. Or, vinegar and water.
A solvent based cleaner will NOT build up and it will NOT dull over time. Unless you are really grinding stuff into your floor, whacking it with metal objects (don’t laugh, I know people who practice their throwing star technique over their laminate flooring… or sword fights) or deliberately scoring it with a key, there’s no reason to believe you need anything more than a basic wipe down of your floor. If you HAVE used an oil-based cleaner, I’m sure you noticed the dulling that resulted. If you are one of the unlucky people who learned all this the hard way there is nothing to be done except go to HD and buy some laminate floor stripper and redo the finish. You’ll end up spending a pretty penny (stripper, cleaner, refinisher) but once you do it, you should be golden for a while. And I know you won’t make that mistake again. Learn from this my friends; learn.

Now, if you have a urethaned floor, you can also use solvent based cleaners to avoid the build up and dulling. However, urethane decomposes over time and ends up with cracks and pits and peeling which means things can get under the urethane and possibly in the wood itself. That is to say, urethaned wood can, over time, be progressively harder to keep clean. That’s when you might want to OCCASIONALLY use a detergent to clean it. You can even scrub it. However, HOWEVER, the problem is that any water you put on the floor will actually speed the degradation of the urethane. The longer the water is on the floor the more it will compromise the urethane. So if you’ve really got some serious dirt to battle, I still recommend avoiding detergent until you know for sure that nothing else will get it out. You can try dry cleaners like borax or baking soda. Sprinkle it on, rub it in a bit then sweep and vacuum it out. Wipe with a DAMP cloth then immediately dry. You can try solvent-based cleaners without any water – glass cleaner, counter cleaners, anything that smells like petrol. Just be sure to wipe it dry.
IF YOU MUST mop your urethaned floor, then be assiduous. Make sure your detergent solution is properly mixed (although the less detergent, the better) and that you are wiping all the excess water off in a timely fashion. This is tedious and back-breaking labor. If you insist on doing it this way, you are probably one of those stubborn old-fashioned people who thinks Donna Reed was the ultimate in womanhood (and I hate to burst your bubble but that perky happy always perfect housewife thing she did was an ACT. She was probably a really sweet lady but she was also an actress. Nobody could be Donna Reed in real life, not even Donna Reed) OR you are someone who has a cruel brain that convinces you the only way to clean something is to torture your body. (modern life has given us so many advances, please give them a try)

But for all that is holy in this world, if you love your beautiful wood floor, DO NOT use Murphy’s Oil Soap (or any oil based soap) to clean it!! EVER.

(if you still are skeptical, peruse the authorities: Flooring companiesand consumer advisors)

Swiffer (wet-jet spray)

Now that you understand how cleaners work and the differences therein, you will understand why Swiffer is an evil evil thing and must never be used.
I have used a lot of cleaning products during my time. I’ve learned a lot about the physics and chemistry of cleaning. To this day, I do not understand what Swiffer’s wet-jet spray is. Is it a solvent? Is it a soap? Is it a detergent? Is it some combination?
Its’ impossible to tell because it has every bad quality of every one of those things and none of the good. I’ve seen floors that have been wet-jetted beyond recognition. Globbed on, nearly transparent swirls that have clear swipe marks and still contain bits of dirt and detritus. I have gotten on my knees and actually tried to figure out what in blazes goes on when this hellacious compound is applied as directed. I have not made any discoveries of note. All I can do is guess. Therefore, I am certain wet-jet spray is made of shellac, acid and probably the ground up tails of kittens. It leaves a bizarre sort-of shiny glaze wherever it goes. That shiny glaze can build up with only three applications (depending on how evenly you spread it) but it can also leave a murky dull coating that contains fur and dirt and old food that you swear you never ate and it will do both at the same time.
I have never seen a floor that was actually cleaned by using a wet-jet spray device. Never. I’ve spent hours stripping that ghastly chemical soup off of a perfectly nice floor using only dishwashing detergent. I don’t know what effect wet-jet spray has on the floor over time and honestly I don’t want to know. I only know that the madness must stop. Don’t use it. Ever. On anything. Just don’t. Now that you know how to keep your wood floor clean, beautiful AND safe, you can go forth and Swiffer no more, my friend.



What item thing in the house is most missed during cleaning? ›

Toothbrush holder

This is one of the most noticeable areas of neglect, but very easy to maintain. It's surprising how many people are lazy rinsers and neglect to remove all the toothpaste, causing a buildup of grime mixture.

What is reasonable to expect from a cleaning lady? ›

Typical services offered by cleaning services

Vacuuming throughout the house. Mopping. Making beds. Dusting all surfaces, including baseboards and light fixtures.

What can I ask my cleaning lady to do? ›

There are some things that almost every house cleaning service provides. Dusting the furniture, sweeping and vacuuming floors, cleaning windows, cleaning bathrooms, and cleaning the kitchen can all be pretty much expected. Some tasks vary by cleaners.

What do most people forget to clean? ›

even more places you forget to clean in your home…

Banisters- These get so dirty and should be cleaned often. Dust house plants- You can use a light touch and a microfiber cloth. Light switches- Wipe those down, sanitize and replace any broken switch plates. Button to garage door- Mine was filthy!

What should be cleaned first in a house? ›

Bathrooms and kitchens are known as 'wet areas'. These often take the most time to clean. That's why they should be first in the order you clean your house. Once you've done step 1 and 3, dust everything and then get down to work in your bathrooms and kitchen.

How much money should you give your cleaning lady for Christmas? ›

If someone cleans your house only once or twice a month, consider tipping them about half the amount of one service. So, if you pay your cleaner $100 to come once a month, think about $50 to $100 as a holiday thank you. Regular cleaner: Up to one week's pay and/or a small gift.

Does a cleaning lady bring her own supplies? ›

In most cases, professional residential cleaning companies will provide their own cleaning products and equipment when cleaning your home. This is because their cleaners are trained in the safe use of their own supplies and equipment, and they know that they'll have everything they require to clean your home properly.

Should I tip my cleaning lady? ›

If you hire someone directly for a one time or infrequent cleaning, most etiqueete professionals say you should tip. $10 to $20 per cleaning is a good ballpark range. If you have a home cleaner year round, it is probably not necessary to tip each time. Instead, you can give a cash bonus or gift at the end of the year.

What can a cleaner do in 3 hours? ›

What can be achieved in 3 hours?
  • Vacuuming the entire house.
  • Cleaning the bathrooms, including toilets, sinks, showers and baths.
  • Cleaning the kitchen, including mopping the floor.
  • Wiping surfaces down, emptying bins, clean mirrors etc.
Sep 22, 2020

What should a cleaner do in 2 hours? ›

In two hours, a cleaner should have enough time to:
  • Mop your kitchen floor quickly.
  • Wipe your kitchen counters down.
  • Clean a small number of dishes in the sink.
  • Hoover the main floors in a house – this does not mean moving furniture around.
  • Clean a toilet.
  • Wipe the sinks/taps around your home down.
Nov 5, 2021

Do cleaning people judge you? ›

Cleaners (probably) won't judge you—but you should expect the job to take a bit longer. Be honest with your housecleaners about the home's current state so they can allocate enough time on their schedule.

What do cleaners not do? ›

What can't a domestic cleaner do? Domestic cleaners don't offer carpet cleaning or upholstery cleaning services. They also can't do end of tenancy or deep cleaning services. This is because their time with each customer is limited.

How many times should a cleaning lady come? ›

Regular visits from a housekeeping team may be done on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. The most common choice is bi-weekly. Again, it all depends on your home and your needs. If you live in a small one-bedroom apartment, biweekly cleanings might be a bit excessive or beyond your means.

Should you leave when cleaners come? ›

Whether you choose to stay or leave your home while the cleaners work is entirely up to you. Your cleaners might have an easier time without anyone home, especially children. But if you're not comfortable having people in your home while you're not there, it's also acceptable to stay while they're cleaning.

What is the most cleanest thing? ›

The cleanest objects ever manufactured are the sample return tubes used by NASA's Perseverance Mars rover (which launched on 30 July 2020).

What are common things people forget? ›

Here are the ten most common things we forget...
  • Our passwords.
  • What we need at the grocery store.
  • Where our keys are.
  • Walking into a room, and forgetting why you walked in there.
  • People's names after you've been introduced.
  • Having a word on the tip of your tongue, and you can't remember it.
Jun 30, 2020

What should you clean every day? ›

Spend up to 20 minutes a day on one or a combination of the following tasks:
  • Wiping glass and mirrors in the bathrooms and elsewhere.
  • Dusting.
  • Vacuuming carpets.
  • Wet mopping hard floors.
  • Cleaning bathroom counters and toilets.
  • Cleaning out the fridge.
  • Tackling clutter hot spots.
  • Deeper cleaning of kitchen appliances.
Jul 11, 2017

What is the 1 minute rule for cleaning? ›

The rule is simple: If a task can be completed in one minute or less, it should be done immediately, like washing a dish, answering an email or picking up a few things on the floor.

How do housekeepers clean so fast? ›

Make Every Movement Count

Professional cleaners don't circle a room more than once. Taking their place before the bathroom sink, they'll spray and wipe the mirror, scrub the sink, wipe down counters and polish fixtures before they move one inch to the right or left.

What should you not do when cleaning a bathroom? ›

12 Mistakes You Should Never Make When Cleaning Your Bathroom
  1. Putting the Toilet Brush Right Back in the Holder.
  2. Forgetting To Dust First.
  3. Wiping Surfaces Right After Spraying Them.
  4. Not Wiping Off Your Surfaces After Spraying Them.
  5. Mixing Cleaning Products.
  6. Using an Abrasive Cleanser on Ceramic and Tile.
Apr 14, 2022

How much should a gift be as a cleaner? ›

For a regular crew, the price of one cleaning, to divide among themselves. If a different employee shows up each visit, holiday tipping is unnecessary. $10 to $30, or the equivalent of one month of the subscription price.

Should you give your cleaning lady a Christmas gift? ›

So to summarize, acknowledging your house cleaner at the holidays is up to you, but we do recommend it. Giving an extra holiday tip or gift is a thoughtful gesture and passes along some holiday cheer to the people who work hard to make your busy life a little bit easier.

Should I tip the Merry Maids? ›

Bottom Line

You are not required or expected to give a tip to your house cleaner, regardless of whether they're freelancers or from a cleaning agency. However, it's always good to show someone who did a good job your appreciation.

Should a cleaning lady make the beds? ›

For the most part, your house cleaner will take care of weekly and bi-weekly chores. Daily tasks, including making the bed, will be left to the homeowner.

What do I clean before my cleaning lady comes? ›

The most important thing you can do is make sure the dishes are washed or loaded into the dishwasher before your cleaning professional arrives. Make sure to put away any leftovers, put things like bread and pasta boxes in the pantry, and clear away any food scraps before the cleaner comes.

Should a cleaner bring their own vacuum? ›

Yes, most cleaning companies will be happy to bring their own vacuum if that's what they need to do. It's best to let them know ahead of time as some companies may assume that there will be a vacuum available- at least in most residential situations.

What is proper house cleaner etiquette? ›

Pick Up the Clutter

To help the cleaners make the most of their time in your home, make it a point to clean up a few things before they arrive. Put toys in toy bins. Clear mail, newspapers, and magazines from the coffee or dining table. Put dishes away and clear off counters. Move piles of dirty laundry into the hamper.

Is it rude to not tip housekeeping? ›

Do you have to tip housekeeping? The answer is a resounding yes. The people who clean and take care of your room during your stay, clean and sanitize it between customers, and answer the sorts of things you really shouldn't be asking hotel staff are essential workers.

How much do you tip housekeeping if not clean? ›

The recommended tipping range

The American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests leaving a $1-to-$5 tip per day for the housekeeping staff.

How long should it take a cleaner to clean a bathroom? ›

If your bathroom is dingy and not smelling fresh, it's probably time for a more thorough cleaning. To get everything shiny and germ-free, expect it to take from 20 to 45 minutes to clean a bathroom. That includes cleaning and disinfecting toilets, showers, bathtubs, and more.

How much should a cleaner get per hour? ›

Average £10.40 per hour

Is this useful?

How long does it take a cleaner to clean a room? ›

It takes a professional domestic cleaner around 1.5 hours to clean a one bedroom home with one bathroom. However, it will only take this long if the home is cleaned on a regular weekly basis. If the cleaning in the home is not maintained then it can take at least 2.5 hours.

How many houses can a cleaner do in a day? ›

Depends on who they schedule you for. You could be set for 3 houses for the day unless they call during your run and add more if another team can't do it.

How much should I charge for 2 hours of cleaning? ›

An appropriate hourly rate is around $25–50 for less experienced cleaners or standard services, but a one-time deep cleaning cost per hour could be up to $100.

How do I tell my cleaning lady to clean better? ›

Phrases like, “The kitchen floor is sticky, and there are still dishes in the sink” is more effective than “I need you to clean the kitchen better.” Be clear and state facts. Begin with the benefit of the doubt (perhaps they spent more time on another room of importance or this was just a one-time event).

Do cleaners judge messy houses? ›

So chill out: Those in the cleaning service don't actually judge you as much as you think they do. It's their job to deal with other people's messes.

How do you end a cleaning lady? ›

You can soften the blow by giving your housekeeper as much notice as possible and by offering to recommend their services others. Try saying: “I wanted to let you know I'll be discontinuing service as of [this date]. I have been happy with your housecleaning, but I need to refocus my spending for the time being.”

What makes someone a good cleaner? ›

  • Skills and qualifications. A thorough knowledge and understanding of cleaning is important, but it's not just about knowing your anti-bacterials from your elbow. ...
  • An arsenal of tools. ...
  • A strong stomach. ...
  • An eagerness to please. ...
  • Good health. ...
  • Friendliness. ...
  • Consistency. ...
  • Trustworthiness.
Sep 30, 2015

What is the most common mistake of people when using cleaners? ›

Many people think that mixing two strong cleaners will give better and faster result. In some cases this might be true, but when you mix ammonia and bleach (or products, containing bleach and ammonia) they form highly toxic gases. These vapors are very dangerous and can be lethal.

What does a basic clean include? ›

A typical cleaning service can include dusting and vacuuming floors, wiping down surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen, emptying trash cans, scrubbing sinks and toilets, washing dishes and doing laundry (double check during booking), and cleaning out difficult to reach areas like under beds.

What day of the week is best for cleaning? ›

  • The Best Day To Clean: Saturday. ...
  • The Best Day To Clean: Sunday. ...
  • Best Day To Clean: Wednesday. ...
  • Best Day To Clean: Spread It Out. ...
  • The Best Day To Have Your Home Cleaned. ...
  • Worst Day To Clean: Monday or Friday. ...
  • Worst Day To Clean: The Weekend.
Aug 25, 2022

How long should cleaning take? ›

If you are to clean a house all by yourself, it usually takes around 3 hours to complete a standard size of a home. On the other hand, maid services and other cleaning services will clean at a 1-hour pace since they send at least two cleaners, but it will always depend on the size of your home that needs tidying up.

How do I prepare my house for a cleaning lady? ›

Here is what to do before your house cleaner arrives
  1. Clear the floors. It is greatly appreciated if you could do your best to pick as many items off of the floor as possible. ...
  2. Tidy up the counters. ...
  3. Put away valuables and important documents. ...
  4. Secure any pets. ...
  5. Leave specific instructions, if necessary.
May 21, 2021

What makes a good cleaning lady? ›

Housekeepers should be responsible and hardworking in putting their time, effort, and energy necessary to make the house thoroughly spotless. They should work obediently with great zeal and passion on what they do. A good housekeeper should always be reliable and dedicated enough to create an excellent job.

How many hours a week does it take to keep a house clean? ›

Weekly house cleaning (average: 3–5hrs)

A domestic clean includes general cleaning, wiping of surfaces, dusting, sweeping, mopping and vacuuming. Detailed cleaning will usually take about 50% more time than a domestic clean. For example, a 2 bedroom home will require 3hrs of time for detailed cleaning.

Which parts are frequently missed during cleaning? ›

Areas frequently missed include the tips of the fingers, palms of your hands and thumbs.

What are some overlooked surfaces to keep clean? ›

9 Spots in the Kitchen You're Forgetting to Clean (and How to Take Them On)
  • Light switches. ...
  • Window screens. ...
  • Trash cans. ...
  • Under your appliances. ...
  • The dishwasher. ...
  • The coffee maker. ...
  • Cabinet hardware and appliance handles. ...
  • Baseboards and door frames.
Jun 6, 2019

What should be cleaned every week? ›

Weekly Cleaning Tasks
  • Dust all hard surfaces.
  • Vacuum and/or mop floors.
  • Wipe down appliances.
  • Wipe down and disinfect countertops.
  • Wipe down mirrors.
  • Scrub and disinfect the kitchen sink.
  • Scrub and disinfect toilets.
  • Clean and scrub showers and tubs.
Feb 3, 2023

How many times should you get a cleaning? ›

Having a routine dental cleaning twice a year is an essential part of keeping teeth and gums healthy. During a cleaning, tartar is removed from the patient's teeth, and that helps to prevent tooth decay.

How often should things be cleaned in a house? ›

Spills and trash get taken care of on an as-needed basis every day or two. Vacuuming and mopping should happen at least once a week. Clean carpets every three to six months. Living rooms and bedrooms should be attacked at least once a week.

What day do most people clean their house? ›

The question is, which day should you allot to tidying up? While there's no objective way to determine which day is best for chores, a majority of Americans, however, like to do theirs on Saturday mornings. A survey of 2,000 U.S. residents revealed that the early in the weekend is the most popular time for cleaning.

What not to do when cleaning? ›

6 Cleaning Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Stuff
  1. of 6. DON'T: Use Vinegar on Stone Counters. ...
  2. of 6. DON'T: Mix Bleach With Ammonia. ...
  3. of 6. DON'T: Use Laundry Stain Remover on Carpets. ...
  4. of 6. DON'T: Dust Furniture With a Dry Rag. ...
  5. of 6. DON'T: Use Bleach to Clean Rust. ...
  6. of 6.
May 15, 2015

What cleaners should you not use? ›

8 Cleaning Products You Should Never Mix
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner and Bleach.
  • Bleach and Ammonia.
  • Bleach and Vinegar.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide and Vinegar.
  • Drain Cleaner and Bleach.
  • Different Brands of Drain Cleaners.
  • Bleach and Rubbing Alcohol.
  • Oxalic Acid and Trichloroisocyanuric Acid.
Oct 28, 2022


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