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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.

dutchyoriginal Fri 03-May-13 10:23:12

Still think the not unsubstantial amount of money I pay my cleaner, is the best money spent every week! Also, having her around, usually means I start tidying and cleaning other things as well.

thermalsinapril Fri 03-May-13 09:27:04

So what if someone does find a hoover too complicated to operate? It's still none of the OP's business.

ComposHat Belgium Thu 02-May-13 22:04:56

Am I missing something - do people lie on their deathbed regretting they didn't do more cleaning?

Daft thing is my mother probably will!

I am perfectly capable of changing the oil in my car, but it is time consuming and messy ao I get the garage to do it. Does the op feel that this is demeaning for the mechanic, to get grubby doing a routine job, that anyone could do?

RawShark Thu 02-May-13 21:54:21

Am I missing something - do people lie on their deathbed regretting they didn't do more cleaning? confused

Mimishimi Thu 02-May-13 21:45:51

I suppose, so long as you keep those feelings private, you can disapprove of whatever you like. I do feel YABU with your reasons though - maybe she just doesn't like cleaning and she is giving someone else a job.

Fecklessdizzy Thu 02-May-13 09:25:32

I think it's viewed as "demeaning" by some people because it's traditionally done by women for nothing - If the pay and conditions of those doing it professionally are reasonable then more people will see it as a job which needs doing and requires some skill and application to do well ( we had a male cleaner at work - he thought it was beneath him and said so at every oppotunity - he was bloody awful at cleaning! Very much Oh-women-do-it-how-hard-can-it-be ... Twat grin )

So everyone who has/ is/ was a cleaner should sing their praises and force up the job's profile!

Rosesforrosie Thu 02-May-13 09:20:10

Katy, of course running the business side is hard and time consuming I didn't mean to imply any differently. I was saying that it is not an innately gendered thing, men and women can both run the business equally well. But because of social norms men are more likely to pursue that angle.

Absolutelylost Thu 02-May-13 07:10:30

I've had cleaners for 10 years, whilst I ran my own business from home and just didn't have time. We sold the business and were left in debt, so the cleaners went. Whilst trying to get new jobs, I thought I might start a cleaning agency, not doing the actual work myself, you understand. But then I thought I would just do a bit to start with, so that I would know how to assess a new client.

I felt I had to have the framework of it being for a new business venture because I did feel embarrassed about it. I am a graduate, worked in social services management for years, ran my own business for 5 years employing 25 staff.

But I actually quite like it - after the grief of my own business, I find it rather meditative and soothing. I have two clients, both school mum friends and neither house is remotely skanky. I almost prefer the messier one, its nice to bring order. It pays better than my current 'day job'' too.

I didn't like my 5 year old daughter telling everyone I was a cleaner. And I now have a part time job working for a charity, as a community development worker, which I love and, if I am brutally honest, I like to tell people about it.

So I have some sympathy for the OP, I can't work out my own feelings on the whole subject at all!

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 01-May-13 23:32:49

Running the business properly is actually a lot of work, Rosesforrosie. I may say I make £X per hour of cleaning, but there's a lot of extra, unpaid work involved, as well as the overhead for things like laundering cloths, driving all over town to do no-obligation quotes, leafleting, book keeping, scheduling, etc.

We're always in competition against people who are totally cash-in-hand, not paying taxes, uninsured, and willing to work cheap for a little extra money. I am sure that many of them are very good cleaners who work hard and take pride in their work. I don't think that price is really an indication of quality. But, it does keep me on my toes.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 01-May-13 23:27:42

I don't know if they clean better or not. One of them, I think, probably does. He's very, very, very into cleaning and takes a great deal of pride in what he does. He charges per job rather than per hour and he told me that he's averaged out what he makes per hour, and it's about £18.

I'm not as sure about the second one, but I do think he cares a lot about doing a good job.

The third one actually owns a company in Harrogate. I think he used to be like the first guy - really into cleaning and taking great pride in it - when he used to be a solo cleaner. Now, he has a company built on the American model (similar to Molly Maids, which is an American franchise). I know they charge about £20 an hour, which is what you need to charge to keep good employees, pay VAT, and make enough profit to make running the company (a massive headache) worthwhile. Like Molly Maid, they charge by the job (but, when you have employees, it's crucial to price by the hour.)

Charging by the job rather than the hour is a way to avoid people getting bent out of shape over how much a lowly cleaner is making. I've discovered that a lot of my cheaper hourly competition aren't really cheaper than I am because they'll say it's three hours to do a two-hour job. You just have to make sure that you deliver on your promises to do a really good job.

Rosesforrosie Wed 01-May-13 23:23:28

IMO they don't clean better.

But, I think they are more likely to take Katy's approach to cleaning. Learning the trade, doing the best job possible and having the balls to demand decent money and run the business properly.

It is not that women can't do that. But that they don't all do that/feel empowered enough to do that.

I bet those that do earn the same money, but the average is skewed by those that don't.

dogsandcats Wed 01-May-13 23:16:19

One quick thing I can think of.
Do they actually clean any better?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

You sound jealous imo, yabu.

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.

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.

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