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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.

curryeater Mon 29-Apr-13 16:31:34


1. how do you know she is not concerned about the working life of the cleaner? Maybe she is and it is a very good arrangement for the cleaner.

2. "she does not live with her partner". Oh, so if she did then that would be different, because - why? because there would be more to do, because you can't expect a man to clean?

3. "I just can't shake the feeling that picking up and cleaning up after yourself is one of life's levellers". No it isn't. One class of people is much better than the other at getting out of cleaning: men. If there were an existing status quo where it were generally accepted that every individual do a basic level of personal cleaning, and everyone else did this, and she were a lone individual breaking the rules, then maybe it would be fucking with some sort of social contract. But no such social contract exists. She isn't fucking with anything.

4. Main point (for me). I am actively, ideologically, in favour of the existence of (well-paid, well-treated) domestic cleaners. Not as a necessary evil, not as a guilty secret, but as a Good Thing. Because I think housework should be recognised and paid. The more of it is privately done and economically invisible, the more you reinforce a structure where some people think that fairies wash the socks and others are stuck washing socks at 1 am. Guess which people are which. There will always be households - many households - who cannot afford a cleaner. But pulling cleaning out of the shadows of invisible, free, negligible labour, and into the economic daylight, helps to inform the world that it takes up real time, and it has to be done.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Mon 29-Apr-13 16:31:39

'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.'

Just piss off please.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Mon 29-Apr-13 16:31:55

PS and you're not this woman's friend if you think that of her.

woozlebear Mon 29-Apr-13 16:31:55

<sneaks back sheepishly>

I can say something as well, right?

<ahem> I know loads of people who do what you'd probably deem perfectly acceptable jobs, but freelance. They don't get sick leave or holidays. Why don't you spend all the spare time you clearly have on your hands writing to companies who, say, use freelance IT consultants and tell them how much you disapprove?

And really, it's ok if you have kids, but not otherwise? What a strange rule!! I hope you get as righteous about things that you personally could do something about. Have you checked out the labour conditions behind the manufacture of your white goods, for example?

Tee2072 Mon 29-Apr-13 16:32:22

So, now you know YABU are you willing to take that on board and change your opinion?

bakingaddict Mon 29-Apr-13 16:32:52

Jealousy is never a pretty thing to see....what other things do you resent your friend for and regarding a cleaner having an accident in any house they are cleaning, i'm pretty certain that if it was negligence on the part of the home-owner then they would be able to claim through the home-owners insurance

JamieandtheMagicTorch Mon 29-Apr-13 16:32:54



I think that you are entitled to feel what you feel about this. I'm sure many people agree with you, deep down.

I think people should know how to clean, in case they have to, and they should probably be tidy enough so that it doesn't impinge on, for example, their work colleagues or their partners.

But if they simply want to prioritise other things above cleaning, and can afford it, then it's not a problem to have a cleaner.

I have had a cleaner for about 10 years but she's gone off on a long holiday so we are doing more now. The increased amount that needs to be done is a good opportunity to teach my DCs how to do things I didn't bother teaching them before.

EuroShaggleton Mon 29-Apr-13 16:33:18

You are being completely unreasonable.

I work full time with unpredictable hours (sometimes 7 days a week, lots of overseas travel and so on). The little free time I have I do not want to spend cleaning and ironing. So I pay someone else to do it. That person has 5 children. No doubt she finds that money useful. I've done this for 10 years and I am very happy with my domestic arrangements.

BTW, unless you only buy pick your own fruit and veg, you are paying people indirectly to do menial tasks for you. Also, do you wash up your own cutlery and crockery when you eat in a restaurant? Thought not. So once again, you are paying indirectly to have that menial task done for you.

HeadFairy Mon 29-Apr-13 16:33:28

I'm quite envious of your friend (though strangely not envious of her choice of friends)

I'd love to have a house that was sparkling and clean and not have to actually do it myself. As it is I'm usually doing housework well in to the evening because I can't afford a cleaner.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Mon 29-Apr-13 16:33:36

Very good points, curryeater, especially the last one. I completely agree.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Mon 29-Apr-13 16:33:38

... my DCs are boys

Abra1d Mon 29-Apr-13 16:34:20

My cleaning job was one of the best paid 'casual' (and I don't use that word lightly) jobs I ever had. It was brilliant. Hard work, though.

TheRainbowsEnd Mon 29-Apr-13 16:34:30

Of course cleaners have insurance. My friend owns a cleaning company, and employs around 10-15 people now - so yes of course she has insurance, very stupid of you to assume that cleaners don't tbh.

Your friend might not like cleaning and would prefer to do other things with her free time? As I'm assuming she works full-time. She is also giving someone else a job.

YABU and extremely snobby.

CMOTDibbler Mon 29-Apr-13 16:34:37


I have a cleaner, and we've talked about the thing that theres some shame in not doing your own cleaning. Her thought is that she likes cleaning, she likes working for herself, and since her clients don't like cleaning this works out very nicely. If she doesn't like someone, she drops them as a client.

She factors in sick and holiday pay into her hourly rate, and has her own insurance in case of accident.

So, is my time worth more than hers? No. But a job I (and dh) hate is turned into someone elses income, and it is therefore a mutually good thing.

Squitten Mon 29-Apr-13 16:34:43


She's using her money to employ someone else to do the jobs she doesn't want to spend her time doing. She gets to live in a sparkly clean house (envy) and doesn't have to worry about it herself. Sounds bloody brilliant! Her cleaner is getting paid well to do a job that she evidently does well.

Whether you think cleaning is demeaning or not is really irrelevant. I assume you must ask for a list of cleaners everywhere you go because I would bet my house on the fact that you've either fed yourself or made use of facilities in places that are cleaned by people who really are exploited.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Mon 29-Apr-13 16:35:02


for so many reasons

but most importantly because life is too fucking short to clean if you dont want to and can afford to PAY (she's not taking advantage of anyone here) to have it done for you.

also, who the fuck cares?

quirrelquarrel Mon 29-Apr-13 16:35:13

One of the most judgy OPs I've ever seen on AIBU!!

JamieandtheMagicTorch Mon 29-Apr-13 16:36:29

Excellent point curryeater

It sort of links to my post though. By having a cleaner and not making my DCs do cleaning for themselves, I was sort of enabling.

(I have always made them clean their own skiddies from the toilet, wipe their own spills and empty and fill the dishwasher though)

MrsSpagBol Mon 29-Apr-13 16:36:45

I just can't shake the feeling that picking up and cleaning up after yourself is one of life's levellers. I don't see why someone should feel their time is so special that they can farm it out to someone for a few quid an hour, and not be concerned about that person's other work/income."

What are you on woman?! Stop superimposing your own views on other people. TBH your post shows that YOU think cleaning is menial work.

Yabvvvvvu and you sound completely jealous. She can spend the moneybshe has earnt any way she wants!!!

CaramelLatte Mon 29-Apr-13 16:37:28

I am a self.employed cleaner..I earn a very decent wage from it as I charge my customers what I am worth. It is not cash in hand, I declare all my earnings, I have insurance, I take my job very sound like you look down on cleaners. I decided to do this to spend more time with my children while they are still young, I will then possibly go back to a "proper" job when they are older.

Unami Mon 29-Apr-13 16:37:35

Thanks for your considered reply curryeater. That's given me a really different perspective on things.

And thanks for everyone else's responses too - even the people telling me to piss off, I guess.

I can see that the vast majority of you think IAB(V)U.

But I can also see that this topic seems to have triggered a lot of very strong (maybe disproportionately strong) feelings. Which to me indicates that there might be something else at play here - maybe some other feelings as to where guilt/money/power lie in this exchange.

I agree that it would be totally inappropriate to make an issue of this in rl, but I'm still not totally convinced that my feelings are 100% wrong. Also, thanks to those posters who think IANBU. I am actually surprised how one sided opinions seem to have been.

I'm going to have to ponder what curryeater and others have said

HazleNutt Mon 29-Apr-13 16:38:24

She works hard enough to afford the cleaner, but is still lazy because she does not want to dust herself? Even though I would guess it's quite likely that her job is in fact more difficuly to do than dusting.

curryeater Mon 29-Apr-13 16:38:58

Euroshaggleton, right.

Our lives depend completely on the labour of others but we are squeamish about it because it is being done out of sight.
Which is worse, employing a skivvy on a small wage to wash up, or having a dishwaster manufactured in another country by people on tiny wages? Arguably the latter, because of the environmental impact as well, and because if you could see your skivvy you might at least give them time off if they were sick, or a lovely Christmas box. Patronising, yes - not good enough, no - no substitute for dignity and decent employment rights, no not in the slightest - but face it, these are both ways of not standing over your sink washing every greasy pan yourself.
We don't have cooks but there are people in factories chopping vegetables and making soups and sauces and we don't have to look at them. etc etc, it is endless.

You are saying she is jumped up. You are making a judgement on what women should be able to get away with.

lynniep Mon 29-Apr-13 16:39:03

LOL. YABU. And talking utter b*ll*cks

JamieandtheMagicTorch Mon 29-Apr-13 16:39:04


I think some of (us) feel a bit guilty.

But I think that's because we are women

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