One of the first questions people have when thinking about cleaning homes (or businesses) professionally is, “What tools, equipment and supplies do I reallyneed?” There are probably as many answers are there are cleaners in the world, but I’m going to try to get you started for as little investment as possible, without sacrificing quality.
Here’s a list of the must-haves of any cleaning company when starting out (note: some links are affiliate links):
- Microfiber cleaning cloths. They need to be about 14″x14″, not much bigger, so they’re easy to handle. You’ll need at least 60 per full time cleaner (you + employees) to last 1 week.
- Paper towels. We use standard Bounty and stock up when they’re on sale. We don’t use many, a roll should last at least a few weeks/. It’s also Ok to use a few of the client’s paper towels.
- Mop. We like these Rubbermaid commercial mops. They are inexpensive, and easy to keep in good shape. (Sometimes the mop head needs replacing, we use this one when it does.)
- Microfiber mop heads. These work so well and wash easily. Having 10-15 on hand for each full-time cleaner is a good idea.
- Vacuum. Because you will be using your vacuum 10-20 times more than typically inside a home, you have two main options: buy an expensive heavy-duty commercial vacuum that may last 5 years or more, or buy a less expensive one that’s lighter and might not last as long, but you’ll be able to afford to replace it quicker. We love Shark DuoClean because it’s less expensive, very light weight, easy to maneuver in and out of cars as well as under furniture. They are usually the least expensive on their website – check for specials like on Black Friday!
- Feather duster. We’ve started using these instead of Swiffer disposable ones. These are healthier because they’re less waste and animals aren’t harmed in the creation of them.
- Blue Scotch-Brite non-scratch scrub sponges.
- Stainless steel scouring pads. Not SOS brand, just plain ones without soap. These are fantastic on the inside of ovens.
- White “magic” erasers. Either Mr. Clean brand or no-name brands. The no-name brands will not last as long, but often 15% the price so you’re still ahead. We like these.
- Liquid Bar Keepers Friend. It will become your friend too we promise!
- Murphy’s Oil Soap. Good for floors (well diluted), woodwork, smells great and grips dust off surfaces to clean well. Always follow up with a clean dry cloth to wipe up any smears.
- Toilet bowl brush. Amazon and IKEA sell simple brushes for about $1, you can buy one to keep at each house (if the house doesn’t have one). It’s also good to have one on hand in a tall sleeve so it doesn’t contaminate the world.
We make our own general bleach cleaner as well as an alcohol cleaner (Recipes HERE!). You’ll need the following ingredients to make your own – feel free to play around with recipes to suit your needs and desires:
When I first began cleaning homes, I had absolutely zero experience other than cleaning my own house. And, quite honestly, I wasn’t that great at cleaning my own home mainly because I hated to do it. So not exactly the best start for a cleaning company! My friends often said to me, “I didn’t know you liked to clean”, to which I replied, “I don’t. But I like to pay my bills and have time with my daughters.”
I’ve come up with a few rules I apply to myself and my employees when we are on a job site.
1. Leave your phone on the kitchen table and get to work.
Cleaning a home professionally is different than cleaning your own home. First we are there to do a job – whereas in your own home there’s no real time constraints other than what you want to accomplish: Do you want to stop mid-vacuuming and answer a phone call? No problem. Are you listening to music from your phone while you clean and hear the constant interruptions of Facebook and text and email notifications? No problem.
But at a client’s home we are there to do a job and those interruptions are disrespectful to the job we are being paid to do. So first rule while at a client’s home is to leave the phone on the kitchen table. Listen to music through an iPod or not at all. If you listen quietly, you’ll still be able to hear phone ring and only if it’s an emergency should you answer the phone.
2. Don’t judge the job of house cleaning based on how you feel the first week.
Your body will probably be pooped, even if you’re in pretty good shape. When we clean, we are bending and twisting and doing different kinds of movements, as well as lots of stair climbing, that our bodies are often not used to. You’ll probably be pretty sore the first few days to a week, and that’s totally normal.
But after the second week, your body will be used to the new movements and you’ll feel different then. Don’t quit too early in the game, it gets better and pretty quickly so just hang on!
3. Have your cleaning checklist handy – and use it!
Your clients have expectations for having their homes professionally cleaned. Having a checklist broken down for each room will help you provide consistent service each and every time. In addition, if you clean homes in the same general order, you’ll learn to be more efficient faster, and be less likely to forget a task.
For example, when I approach a home, here’s my general order:
- Dust the entire house moving through every room and dust from top to bottom.
- While I’m dusting, empty all trash
- Clean the kitchen entirely
- Move to bathrooms, do full then half bathrooms
- Clean any mirrors, glass on doors or shelves, and spot clean fingerprints off windows
- Lastly, finish with floors in all rooms. I vacuum every floor (even hard surfaces) then mop with appropriate cleaner.
You may have a different order, and that’s fine but if you do it the same way in every home, I promise you’ll be less likely to forget to take out the trash because you always do that first. Or whatever.
4. Be consistently consistent. Every time.
The final rule and this goes for solo cleaners, to maid companies to commercial janitorial jobs – be consistent. If you consistently do a great job cleaning, if you always lock up when you leave and don’t break things, and come back when you say you will, I cannot tell you how successful you’ll be.
And it is truly that simple. Apparently not easy, though, or else everyone would be successful. Provide quality cleanings, be trustworthy, and be reliable.
I think that will be a great blog post topic!