To (privately) disapprove of my friend having a cleaner

(537 Posts)
Unami Mon 29-Apr-13 16:08:54

Ok. This may be long, but I will do my best to explain where I am coming from. My friend has a cleaner and I privately disapprove. I would never make an issue of it to her, or even bring it up. It was brought up by another friend when we were at her place for drinks. She was a bit hmm about it, and it led to a big discussion, but I didn't say anything committal. I do recognise that she can hire a cleaner if she likes. If she likes she can hire a troupe of jugglers and have them juggle in her kitchen all day, if she likes. It's none of my business, I get that.

But I still privately disapprove. AIBU?

Her cleaner comes to her two bedroom flat twice a week and gives it a full clean, and that apparently includes hoovering all carpets and upholdstry, dusting all surfaces, polishing wood, sweeping and cleaning wooden floor in hall and kitchen, emptying waste bins in the house and taking kitchen bins round the back, cleaning mirrors, cleaning the inside of windows, full clean of the kitchen including inside the fridge, full clean of bathroom. Once a month she also gets the oven cleaned, extractor fan cleaned and polished (!?), cupboards dusted inside and out. She says she pays £45 a week for this.

It's just her in the flat. She doesn't have kids and doesn't live with her bf.

Here's my perspective. People say that having a cleaner is just like hiring any other service provider. But it's not. Domestic cleaners clean intimate, private parts of our houses, and clean up our bodily mess, and it's low paid, low status work. Yes, people hire gardeners and window cleaners, but these are roles which require specialist equipment and insurance, and they only work on the outside and periphery of your home. Yes, I recognise that cleaners are employed in offices I use, cafes I eat in and so on, but it's not really the same either. Most commerical cleaners are employed as staff and so get holiday pay, sick pay, NI etc. Agency workers don't have it so good, and I disagree with the terms of their employment too. But domestic cleaners are often paid cash in hand because employers think they are doing them a favour. But they have no holiday, sick pay - what happens if they have an accident in the house they are cleaning in. I know there are some well organised small cleaning companies, but I think they are the exception.

But most of all, I just feel like my friend is just being lazy or thinks she's too good to pick up after herself. If you are elderly or disabled or immobile, then I see nothing wrong with getting the help that you need. Likewise, if you have a busy family, and don't want to be stuck being the person who picks up after everyone else - get the help you need and show the family how much your time costs. But if you have a quiet life and are fit and healthy, I don't see why you think it's ok to have someone over to clean your toilet. I also think that people who say they are so impossibly busy with work that they can't lift a duster once a week really ought to think about cutting back their ft hours, and give others access to the surplus of work they have.

I'm not going to have a go at my friend. But I just don't think it's right.

GettingObsessive Tue 30-Apr-13 21:29:09

And a lot of them were privately educated and/or went to Oxbridge. How are they supposed to overcome that sort of hurdle early in life?

Hmm? Hmm?

AlwaysWashing Tue 30-Apr-13 21:53:39

Bet she gets her grocery shopping delivered too - ooooh!

What a bizarre thing to be concerning yourself with hmm

Goldenbear Tue 30-Apr-13 21:57:09

Yes, because the answer is to employ women (often) to do work that is perceived to be womens' work- really helping to reduce the gender inequalities there aren't we? Oh well, most cleaners must choose this role because people who are working class on this thread have said so, nothing at all to do with economic necessity. Well, at least you can reassure yourselves that you pay a good hourly rate for your little 'treasure'. God forbid you might have to operate a Hoover- it is such a complicated bit of equipment.

Cloverer Tue 30-Apr-13 22:02:12

Having a job is an economic necessity for most working class women Goldenbear. Working as a self-employed cleaning is often a better option than working in a shop, nursery or care home.

ShadowStorm Tue 30-Apr-13 22:05:09

Goldenbear - how would not employing a cleaner help to reduce gender inequalities?

I appreciate that a lot of cleaners will be working out of necessity, or maybe chosing cleaning over other low status jobs, but I genuinely don't understand how chosing to do your own cleaning helps to reduce gender inequalities.

LittleBearPad Tue 30-Apr-13 22:15:22

It doesn't. Just like not employing a cleaner doesn't reduce social inequalities.

Sod it. I get my groceries delivered and am quite happy for the delivery person to bring it to my second floor flat. Just like I much prefer that my cleaner does the ironing and cleans the bathroom and kitchen.

flowery Tue 30-Apr-13 22:15:31

"Oh well, most cleaners must choose this role because people who are working class on this thread have said so, nothing at all to do with economic necessity."

So? A huge proportion of people do their job because of economic necessity!

If you work Goldenbear, I assume you love your job and do it for the love of it rather than because you need the money, but it's ridiculous in the extreme to say that we shouldn't employ cleaners because they would be doing it for the money and not enjoying the work.

prettybird Tue 30-Apr-13 22:43:26

A former colleague of mine (single) hired her neighbour to clean her house (she lives in a courtyard development). She loves coming home to a sofa with plumped up cushions (her words).

He had spare time and enjoys cleaning. She hates cleaning and has spare money.

Who is being exploited?! hmm

goodasgold Wed 01-May-13 00:04:40

I am Russell Group educated. I am tri lingual. I aspire to be a care assistant. Not a nurse or a doctor but an actual bum wiping care giving soul and I actually give a shit about feminism, please accept that there are people who just want to do a job. I have thought I should be a nurse or a doctor, but no, I don't want that, I actually want to help people. If on min wage I employed somebody to clean, on min wage or above how is that wrong?

Rosesforrosie Wed 01-May-13 00:57:02

Well, at least you can reassure yourselves that you pay a good hourly rate for your little 'treasure'. God forbid you might have to operate a Hoover- it is such a complicated bit of equipment.

Don't patronise me or my cleaner. She isn't a child and im not an imbecile. She does a good job, for which she is paid a fair wage.

Scissors are less complicated than a Hoover. I still don't cut my own hair

ODFOD

Do you understand OP that people who have cleaners usually vacuum, wipe, wash up, shop, cook, tidy etc etc - but pay a pro to CLEAN properly, concentrating on cleaning? It is not as if people with cleaners do not lift a finger when the cleaner isn't there.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Wed 01-May-13 02:32:54

^ God forbid you might have to operate a Hoover- it is such a complicated bit of equipment.^

This comes across as so unbelievably chippy and 'who does she think she is?!', that it puts people off seeing the point.

Clearly a vacuum cleaner is not complicated to operate. If a cleaner comes once a week, then chances are the vacuum cleaner will be brought out and operated by family members at other times, so they're getting their 'levelling' or quota of hard graft, which seems to be so desperately necessary for some.

I still don't understand why people should have to clean, if they don't always wish to. Why cleaning - above absolutely everything else - is so loaded a concept, that if it's done by anyone other than the people who created the mess, it's a travesty.

There are plenty of people who outsource lawn-mowing, window cleaning, cake-baking/icing, transportation of things, etc, etc, ad nauseum, who don't come in for the same level of vitriol as people who outsource cleaning.

Anyone can bake a cake, if they follow a recipe. Plenty of people get someone in to garden tend, even though they have the equipment, to save time and energy. I've just bought an item of furniture of <eBay equivalent> from someone in a neighbouring suburb; I could hire a trailer and shift it myself, but I can't really be arsed with the faff, so I'm paying someone who does that sort of thing to do it for me.

All of this is seen as fine. But cleaning? No, it is Inherently Bad if you don't don the marigolds yourself.

Someone else doing your cleaning frees up your time for more pleasurable, or equally necessary (but perhaps tiresome) pursuits. That is all. If you don't get that, then you don't get it. Fine.

If you (generic) think that doing your own cleaning is important, then by all means do it. But you are never, ever going to convince people who outsource it that doing so is anything other than a brilliant idea.

And here's why: because when those people are on their deathbed's reflecting back on their one and only life on this planet, they are not going to regret the fact that they didn't live life less, and scrub the grout a bit more.

I think the OP imagines people with cleaners lie there helplessly dropping fag ash and pork pie wrappers on greasy sofas, sneezing because of the dust and scratching because of the fleas, before morosely crunching across the crumb-infested carpet, tiptoeing gingerly on the mildewed bathroom floor and collapsing into a stinking scrunched-up pile of dirty bedding on the days the cleaner doesn't attend.

toiletbrush Wed 01-May-13 07:10:30

I'm a cleaner and a lone parent too and I can tell you there's a world of difference doing this job because you "love cleaning" and it gives you a nice bit of money in your pocket to having to rely on it to pay the bills and keep a roof over your dcs head.

It's back breaking and at times dirty work. It offers no prospects or future and certainly does nothing for your CV.

After my divorce the choices were to live on unemployment benefit for however long it took me to find a job having been a sahm for several years or go out and clean and bring some money in. There was no "choosing" to be a cleaner in my case.

edwardsmum11 Wed 01-May-13 07:16:38

You sound jealous imo, yabu.

cory Wed 01-May-13 08:51:09

On the fence over this one. Otoh there is no doubt the job as a cleaner can be a shit one, otoh it is hardly the case that stopping the employ cleaners would suddenly create lots of pleasanter and better paid jobs for the ex-cleaners.

I have friends who work as cleaners: in their case, as in toiletbrush's, it was a choice between that and unemployment.

Rosesforrosie Wed 01-May-13 09:23:02

I'm not suggesting for one second that 'cleaner' is the job title of choice for many people.

Nor I'd imagine is 'refuse collector' or 'data entry' etc etc...

That doesn't in some way make the jobs not worthwhile or demeaning in some way.

Thousands of people don't work in their first choice careers. But what's the alternative?

It's ridiculous to blame the people employing cleaners for providing employment.

HazleNutt Wed 01-May-13 09:28:17

No I don't find a hoover too complicated to operate, that's not the reason I have a cleaner. I just prefer to do other things instead of cleaning.

Sparklyboots Wed 01-May-13 20:24:45

If we paid domestic cleaners well enough, and required men to be as flexible and involved in childcare, there would be more male cleaners without a doubt. How does insisting women do this work for free encourage social equality? It doesn't. How does hoping that men will start to participate more in domestic chores more encourage social equality? It barely makes a difference - men upped their domestic chore input by 7 mins per WEEK between 1965 and 1999 iirc. How does paying people properly to clean change social inequality? By recognising it as work and affording them the protections of workers in their job. Moving from having women do it unpaid to having women paid for doing it is a massive step in the direction of social equality. I agree that pay and conditions need to address the status of the job, as they have done (round our way at least) for bin collectors. But nothing about insisting a women clean up for free, and cut down her working hours to do so, will produce social equality - in either class or gender terms.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 01-May-13 21:14:48

I know some men who do domestic cleaning. They seem to make better money than women. I guess because they're taken more seriously.

You know, in Finland, you can get a Bachelors of Science in cleaning. It's taken much more seriously in some other countries. I suppose just pushing a duster around and spraying a bit of Flash isn't particularly skilled work, but some people who love to clean go to some lengths to learn a lot about cleaning, particularly the chemistry behind products.

One reason why I can get a lot of area cleaned in a shorter length of time than many other cleaners is I use the best materials and equipment. Elbow grease is for amateurs.

dogsandcats Wed 01-May-13 21:33:06

Interesting post KatyTheCleaningLady.
I wonder why the men make more.
Are they quicker, use more elbow grease, sell themselves well, ask for more money, clean more lucrative places,travel all over the place?

Men chefs can earn more than women cant they, I did wonder if men cleaners would somehow end up earning more than women if they went cleaning.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Wed 01-May-13 21:52:40

But nothing about insisting a women clean up for free, and cut down her working hours to do so, will produce social equality - in either class or gender terms.

^^ This, with bells on.

And what a surprise that male cleaners get paid more than female. Would love to understand the reasons why - probably many of the ones dogsandcats has listed.

Anecdotal of course, but the only person I actually know who has worked as a cleaner (offices) was my brother, to help put himself through law school. He's now a partner in the City earning well into 6 figures. After he graduated and was working long hours one of the first things he did was, yes, get a cleaner. He had no qualms about it. I don't buy that it is a class issue per se; there's a wide variety of people who work as cleaners for as equally a wide variety of reasons.

If course, outside the UK, these things are viewed quite differently and so the whole concept of cleaning isn't as loaded and class-ridden as it is there.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 01-May-13 23:04:26

dogsandcats When I waitressed (in the US), I noticed the men made more tips than the women, too. And, if there were any sort of competition on (management would give a prize to whoever could sell the most strawberry shortcake in a week, or whatever) men always won. I think it's because men have more authority. They get more respect from people.

If a woman does something, it's just frivolous women's business. If a man does it, then it's worthwhile.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 01-May-13 23:07:39

The men I know who clean do things the same way I do: they advertise locally and clean homes. I think they just ask for more money and people tend to respect their wishes.

I have three male "mentors" in the cleaning business and they're the reason why I decided to charge 25%-50% more than the local competition. I think a lot of it just comes down to having the balls, so to speak, to ask for more money.

But, I'm tall, assertive, and very well-spoken (as well as American) so I may catch people out and get around the stereotypical little lady who does thing that way.

dogsandcats Wed 01-May-13 23:15:05

Again, very interesting.
Thanks for that.
Too tired to think properly now, so will respond better in the morning.

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