What a Professional Housecleaner Will Clean (and What They Won’t)


Hiring a cleaning service can be very helpful, but there are some things you can’t (or won’t) do.

If you are busy, unorganized, or in a hurry, hiring a house cleaner can be very helpful, but there are some etiquettes you need to know before hiring a stranger to clean your home. For example, there are some things that professional cleaners should not or cannot clean. It may be a matter of time or efficiency, or it may be a matter of safety, but whatever the reason, it is good to have reasonable expectations. To avoid confusion and inconvenience, here are some things that a professional cleaner can and cannot (or will not) handle.

What you can ask your dry cleaner to do

James Penn, a professional cleaner with 12 years of experience in New York City, told Lifehacker that cleaners, of course, can and should do the basics, such as dusting, mopping, vacuuming, and scrubbing walls. These basics are the bread and butter you pay for, although you should outline which areas need to be dusted and polished the most before they arrive, especially if you have not been in that house for a long time.

“Organization is also something you can ask for if you want to be able to trust the people who are sent to help you,” he adds. I will let them know in advance if they will clean out the bookcases and wardrobes, but usually it is not a problem if you clearly tell them that this is what you want them to do.

Penn points out that there are some unexpected jobs that cleaners can usually handle, such as cleaning out vents and unclogging.

Vera Peterson, president of Molly Maid, notes that “members of a professional housecleaning team often have the best tools, products, and experience to effectively solve household problems. For example, it is not unreasonable to ask for a long-handled duster for a ceiling fan or crown molding. Professional cleaners can reasonably be expected to take on the following tasks

  • Kitchen (including appliances, counters, chairs and tables, and floors)
  • Living room (dusting, vacuuming, getting under cushions, etc.)
  • Your bedroom, including skirting boards, window sills, picture frames, mirrors, etc.
  • Bathrooms (including tubs, showers, mirrors, counters, vanity faucets, toilets)

Things you can’t ask the cleaners to do

According to Penn, “anything that uses a ladder” is prohibited, so if you’re looking for someone to dust a high ceiling fan or straighten your curtains, don’t expect maid service. It is dangerous for them, and they would not want to put you in harm’s way, even if you or your company have insurance.

Furthermore, “some companies and people will not consider a house if there are pets, excessive pests, bad smells, or excessive clutter.”

That’s why it’s important to inquire about services in advance, talk to the appointed professional, and find out what they will and will not do. For example, some professional services deal with biohazard cleanups or serious trash situations, but not the typical maid company.

Peterson adds that professional cleaners are not capable of handling deep cleaning of mold, air ducts, chimneys, and carpets. Properly handling these tasks, especially mold and air ducts, is a safety issue and should be done by professionals.

According to Peterson, cleaners generally do not clean up clutter, put away children’s toys, wash dishes, or do laundry. They may clean the inside of cupboards, cookware, and refrigerators, but this is also a special request and should be addressed in advance.