Dear Home-Ec 101,
I clean houses part time to bring in some additional income. .
My newest client has severe allergies, no strong chemicals can be used in her home. Currently I’m using soap and water or a vinegar mix for most of the jobs, but her tub and shower combo are quite grungy, (not the glass),and vinegar just isn’t cutting it.
Also, Ivy, since you have worked as a maid, any words of wisdom to pass along to a newbie?
Got it “maid” in Murfreesboro
Cleaning houses part time is a great way to make additional income! I used to have a lot of picky clients, so I understand how that goes. One thing I would suggest is, if they have a specific cleaning product they want you to use, make them buy it and keep it at their house- otherwise your cleaning kit will become very large (and very expensive), very fast.
Vinegar is one of my favorite soap scum busters, but if it is not cutting the mustard, so to speak, I would suggest using a baking soda paste. Just mix the baking soda with the least water possible to make a paste and use it to scrub the tub. If that is not working, I would consider wetting the tub, sprinkling baking soda on the tub so it sticks, and using a cloth dampened with 100% white vinegar. It will cause a foaming action and should make the tub sparkle. Once you have it cleaned the first time, it should not be that hard to maintain.
Heather wanted to add that even with severe allergies, there are some great ways to make a house smell really good- boiling cinnamon sticks in a pan of water, for example, or putting some drops of vanilla on lightbulbs. Heather tells me the natural smells don’t mess with her allergies the way synthetic things do.
She also suggests (if you’re taking care of this client’s linens) that you wash the linens with hot water, to kill dustmites- weekly for sheets, biweekly for mattress pads, and monthly for everything else like dust ruffles and comforters.
I wrote a fab post awhile back at Curbly called “Clean like a maid!” that covers a lot of the tips I learned while working as a maid. Something else I would suggest is not to spend an enormous amount of time in any specific room, even if the room needs a lot of attention. Explain to your clients that some things take several cleanings to “get up to speed” if they have been neglected a long time. I learned this the hard way- a client of mine had the nastiest toilet I have ever seen and I spent 2 hours on the toilet alone. By the time I walked out of that house, I had ended up making way below minimum wage and her house still was not completely clean.
Also, if you are bidding your own jobs, tend toward the overbidding than the underbidding. It is better to lose a client because you are too expensive than to underbid a job and end up vastly underpaid. Of course, you don’t want to grossly overbid anything, but build yourself in a little cushion in case you run into anything especially heinous. The other thing I would suggest is having a completely separate charge for cleaning ovens, if a client requests that. The clients that request that you clean their ovens are the clients that have completely disgusting ovens. Charge a flat rate for cleaning them, I would charge $30 per oven cleaned here in Tennessee.
Good luck with your maid gig, from one maid to another! 🙂