13 Things Your Housecleaner Won't Tell You

The first in a series of cool and useful features with Reader's Digest.

Jan. 16, 2012— -- "GMA" is teaming up with Reader's Digest on a special series of "13 Things Your ____ Won't Tell You." We're kicking it off with a peek inside the world of professional housecleaners: "13 Things Your Housecleaner Won't Tell You."

1. My best clients are people who work for their money, like teachers, bartenders and cops. Rich people think they're doing you a favor by allowing you to scrub their toilets. Working people understand you are doing them a service by making their lives easier.

2. I wish you wouldn't insist on bleach and other harsh cleaners. For almost every situation, there's an eco-friendly option that's just as effective.

3. After I leave, check the base of the toilet and the top of the fridge. If they're clean, you know I'm thorough.

4. Many cleaning companies do not run any sort of background check or even check references. I answered an ad, I was on time and presentable, and I was willing to take the job. That is all most companies care about.

5. Even though I smile and act interested, don't use me as your therapist, gossip buddy or friend. Frankly, most of us have a lot less thanyou, and we can't fathom why you're complaining. Plus, you slow me down.

6. Want to save money on high-priced maid services? Instead of booking a regular appointment, ask to be on our on-call list to fill last-minute slots at a discount. Or see if you can be a "training home" for new cleaners.

7. If you use a service instead of an individual, ask for the same people every time. Your cleanings will be more consistent, with fewer strangers in your home.

8. When using a new maid service, leave a few dollars hanging out of a pants pocket or lying on the counter. If we take a dollar or two, you'll know we're probably going to take other things.

9. Make sure we're bonded and have liability insurance. Otherwise, you're on the hook if we break something or get hurt on the job.

10. Pick your clothes up off the floor, get your dishes out of the sink, and clean up your kids' toys. Your house will end up a lot cleaner.

11. If you leave your personal life out for us to see, we most definitely will talk about you. We may even send pictures to our friends and relatives.

12. Recommend us to your friends. We may give you $25 to $50 off a cleaning for each referral—if you ask.

13. If you don't have a lot of cash, ask me to come for just one hour. I can do just the bathrooms and the kitchen or only the areas guests will see.

Cleaning Tips You Haven't Heard Before

The best way to dust blinds: Close them, then wipe up and down with an old dryer sheet. It'll create an antistatic barrier that helps prevent dust from building up again.

The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is your friend. It will cut your cleaning time in half for bathtubs, sinks, countertops, and dirty walls.

To clean glass and mirrors, use coffee filters, not paper towels. They leave no streaks or lint — and they're cheap.

Vinegar and water is a great deodorizer for a musty bathroom.Spray your shower down as you're getting out. It really absorbs the odors, and the smell of vinegar goes away in an hour.

A wet pumice stone will clean a dirty oven faster than any spray-on product.

Vacuuming bathroom mats is a nightmare. Toss them in thewash every week or two instead.

To damp-mop wood floors, use plain water or a water-based floor cleaner like Bona. Don't use vinegar. The acid in it will pit your polyurethane finish, can void your warranty, and may reduce shine over time.

Seventh Generation dish liquid diluted with water is a great nontoxic all-purpose cleanser. Just put two squirts in a spray bottle and fill it with water.

Our biggest secret weapon? A powdered product called BarKeepers Friend (amazon.com). We use it on everything. Its active ingredient is rhubarb powder, which really cuts through grit and grime. It cleans glass-top stoves, counters, toilets, porcelain and more. Your sink will never be shinier.

To clean your microwave oven, microwave a cup of water with some baking soda in it until it's boiling. That eliminates odors and makes it super easy to wipe away all that stuck-on stuff.

Clean cobwebs with a yardstick covered by a tube sock. That also works for cleaning under stoves and refrigerators.

Shine your bathroom tiles with lemon oil. It also helps preventmold and mildew.

To eliminate that ring in your toilet, drop in a bubbling denture tablet, and leave it for at least 30 minutes or overnight. The stain will come off with just a few swishes of the brush.

Sources: Torrey Shannon, former maid service owner in Westcliffe, Colorado; Lynette Haugen, owner of True Blue Maids of Pasadena; Tangela Ekhoff, a housecleaner in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Theresa Peterson, owner of Quality Cleaning "Maid to Order" in Fremont, California; Dee Strickland, owner of A Zing Zap Cleaning Service in Minneola, Florida.

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