Now that you have selected a house cleaner (see: Find Your Ideal House Cleaner), it is time to prepare. No, you shall not clean your house before they come. Unless you really need to. My house got so bad once that I had to call a service to arrange a spring cleaning and had them start a regular schedule 2 weeks later. Either way, do not waste your energy trying to impress the cleaners, they’ll know. And they have probably seen worse.
I used to clean house for a couple who were chain smokers and got new ashtrays instead of dumping old ones, gave the bathtub to the cat as a litter-box and cut their hair in the living room. However they left me love notes every week, bought me gifts when they traveled and tipped big, so I didn’t mind as much as you’d think. It is amazing how far a little appreciation will get you.
So what is preparing? Well let’s assume they are providing the cleaning checklist, if not I have some here. Make sure that they can dust, you and your household needs to pick up the detritus that accumulates throughout the week. Sounds easier than it is. Honestly, before kids, my husband and I would fill a laundry basket every week and put it on the spare bed with a note to “just work around this”. I still tell my cleaners not to try to clean the top of my dresser if my jewelry is not put away (I make my own, and can be very prolific occasionally).
But you cannot do this everywhere. I will have other posts on the site with tips for minimizing the clutter, but for now, each person should have a basket and run around putting all of their stuff in it to put away now or later. If kids are not going to pick up their rooms, the cleaners cannot clean it. I know some will try to do it anyway, but others will just quit. I had a friend who went through a cleaning person every 3 months because they just got overwhelmed by the clutter. Elsewhere I will vehemently deny saying it is okay to shove everything into a box at the bottom of your closet, but for your cleaning person, I will make an exception. They work hard enough.
Make sure they have access to the house. Is someone letting them in? Are you giving them a key? Security code? Contact number if they can’t find something? I like to be home the first couple times I have a new cleaner; it makes it easier, but when I can’t I make sure they have a number to call, just in case. Are you leaving a note; can they read?
I am always shocked at how many of my cleaners cannot read my notes and are afraid to tell me so. Most of mine have spoken English as a 3rd or 4th language, so it’s not surprising that their written English isn’t as strong as they’d like. It is very possible they may not have even grown up with our alphabet. Try using simple words and block printing or call ahead with a verbal message. But do not talk down to them; literacy and intelligence are not the same thing.
Be sure you have payment organized, you would not believe how many times I have run to the bank and raced home to make sure I had the cash in my cleaners hand before they left; talk about frazzled.
Lastly, be patient and manage your expectations. This is their first visit; they don’t know you, your house or your preferences. You will need to gently nurture this relationship to get everything you can from it. And be kind; this work is hard enough.