How to Clean Like a Professional

I recently got a flyer in the mail from The Cleaning Authority, a housecleaning service.  It wasn’t addressed to “occupant” or “resident.”  It was addressed to me by name.  What have they heard???  Is someone staging an anonymous intervention on me?  Well, regardless of how The Cleaning Authority found out that my house needs cleaning, they’ve wasted a stamp.

I can’t imagine that I’m their target demographic.  I mean, if I had a LOT of spare money, I would love to pay someone else to clean my house.  Who wouldn’t?  But we are currently a single-earner household (I make a little bit, but it’s like a cheap “tip” next to my husband’s salary), and that makes me a housewife (I prefer “fire tender”), the very definition of which suggests a certain amount of domestic responsibility (unless your life is a TV show).  And just because I don’t like that responsibility and am hopelessly inept at it doesn’t mean that I get to fritter away the kids’ college money by paying someone else to take care of it.  Wait a minute; we don’t have college money for the kids.  All the more reason to quit fantasizing about someone else cleaning my house!

Actually, it would be a little weird having someone else cleaning my house.  I once dated a guy in Belgium who had a maid come in.  And yeah, it was weird.  I felt like I should help.  And it creeped me out that a stranger was scrubbing our toilet, changing our sheets, and picking up his underwear (not that I ever would have done those things for him; you gotta marry me to get that kind of service).  One day I wanted to ask her to not smoke in the house (this was Europe, remember) and to not move my stuff, so I asked my boyfriend if she spoke English.  He said, “She’s Romanian.  She barely even speaks any French!”  I barely spoke any French, either (other than to ask what time it is, sing the alphabet, and order a chocolate croissant), so I think my requests came out as something like, “Please don’t pee in the attic.” After that, I tried to make my requests in the form of pantomimes, but that seemed to alternately amuse and infuriate (but not enlighten) her.  I didn’t like her.  But my boyfriend loved her and clearly seemed to think she was channeling his mother, so I knew better than to suggest that he switch maids.  Needless to say, that relationship didn’t last (mine and his, not his and hers), and I was left with a bit of maidphobia.

I’m sure that in the US you don’t have to worry about maids who don’t speak English.  Hahaha.  But at least I’m sure they wouldn’t smoke in your house (um . . . right?).  Nevertheless, outside domestic help is not in our future for many reasons, so I need to buckle down and become more domestic.  Fortunately, the well-timed flyer details what the cleaning service maids do, so now all I have to do is follow the list, and my house will look like it’s been professionally cleaned!

The list is broken down into what maids clean for “every clean” and “detail-clean rotation” (wow, I’m starting to feel domestic already).

Every Clean (shouldn’t that be every cleaning?)


  • Tile walls, bathtubs, showers, shower doors
  • Vanity, sink, fixtures, mirrors
  • Floors
  • Toilets
  • Windows sills, ledges, blinds
  • Doors and door frames spot cleaned
  • Dusting
  • Cobwebs removed


  • Counters
  • Range, hood, drip pans (I don’t have drip pans . . . think I’d get a discount?)
  • Sinks, fixtures
  • Appliances
  • Floors
  • Windows sills, ledges, and blinds (wait . . . they don’t clean the windows themselves???  I’m starting to suspect the origin of the expression “I don’t do windows”)
  • Microwave (I think they would charge extra for mine)
  • Cobwebs
  • Doors and door frames
  • Dusting

Sleeping/Living Areas

  • Flat surfaces hand wiped (huh?)
  • Doors and door frames (they apparently move up in priority here)
  • Cobwebs (ditto)
  • Dusting of picture frames, ceiling fans, lampshades, intricate items, heavy knickknacks (do light knickknacks not get dusted, or do they count as “intricate items”?), window sills, blinds, ledges
  • Floors (including in the closet, which seems a little personal to me!  But they specify that only “readily accessible” floors will be vacuumed, so that would leave out my closet)

That’s it!  That’s all you have to do to make it look like you have a maid!

Important Disclaimer:  Note that they don’t make beds, change sheets, do laundry, wash dishes, change diapers, make dinner, pick up your kids from school, wait for the cable guy, pay bills, attend parent–teacher conferences, schedule dentist appointments, or a bunch of other stuff your family is probably counting on you to do.  So if you’re going to use this list for your own daily routine, be sure to add in those things.

The cleaning service’s “detail-clean rotation” mostly consists of cleaning the same things they usually do, only better.  For example, in the bathroom, they won’t just clean the tile, they’ll scrub the grout.  They’ll wipe your kitchen furniture.  They’ll also hit the baseboards and “toothbrush” your drains (hopefully not using your toothbrush).  I can think of a lot of “detail-clean rotation” tasks they don’t mention, but I can’t say I necessarily do them, anyway (I just know you’re supposed to).

If you want lists of things you really should clean and do (as someone who lives there, not as hired help), check out the infamous Flylady.

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One Response to How to Clean Like a Professional

  1. DWW says:

    I share the belief of a character from an Agatha Christie book (I believe, The Labours of Hercules). In the book, he tells Hercules Poirot “Never do for yourself what you can pay others to do.” (something like that) I have a lot of things that I would happily pay others to do, if it were in my budget. One of those would be cleaning my shower and bathtub. I don’t even like to mop. Do I expect or even want someone to do everything for me? No, absolutely not. However, since I work a lot of hours and have some mobility issues, the dream of having a cleaning person is a nice one. I guard my privacy more than most, but I would give some of that up to have terrifyingly clean windows and sills. Hmmm…a personal assistant would be nice, too.

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