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Clean or Paint First?

Clean or Paint First woman thinking, clean or paint first“Do I clean or paint first on this move out clean? I’m trying to clean my space in the most efficient way and I need cleaning advice. The painters want the maid service to vacuum. But should they clean or paint first? There will be more cleaning on this end of tenant clean after the painter’s finish.”

We Ask a House Cleaner whether to clean or paint first and move out cleaning tips. Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru on today’s cleaning channel gives cleaning tips and bidding tips. 

Today’s sponsors are Savvy Cleaner (Training and certification for house cleaners and maids.) HouseCleaning360 (list your business and find homeowners to hire you.) My Cleaning Connection (A resource hub for cool cleaning stuff.) And Savvy Perks (Everyday useful benefits for small business owners and their employees.)

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Listen: Clean or Paint First? (House Cleaner on a Move Out Cleaning)

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Watch: Clean or Paint First? (House Cleaner on a Move Out Cleaning)


Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer.

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Question: Clean or Paint First? (House Cleaner on a Move Out Cleaning)

Clean or Paint First clueless woman shrugging“Hi, Angela. I’m a residential and commercial cleaning lady. I have my own gig. It’s just me, and sometimes I hire other women to help me on the side. I have a disgusting rental redo that has not been cleaned for five years. They had a roach infestation, which is now gone, of course, but the carpet is dirty.

They want me to clean so the painters can come, and they want me to vacuum the carpet and then clean. But since they’re replacing the carpet, I think they should have that removed so I can clean and sanitize because it’s really gross. What is your step process when it comes to what do you do first? Do you remove the flooring if it’s being replaced and then clean and then paint?”

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Steps to Clean or Paint First

Clean or Paint First disgusted woman grimacingAll right. There are elements of that that just make my heart sink. I’m thinking of a messy house neglected for five years, and you just want to yank everything out and torch the house and start over again. It’s like a construction clean. I’ve been there. I know what you’re going through.

As you go to the customer’s house, and you’re going to do a walkthrough. The decisions about the steps to take are between you and the homeowner. 

The process of what you’re going to do next is determined by the homeowner, and so going in … You look at the floor, and you’re like, “There’s no way I can vacuum this floor and make sense of this before the painter comes.”

Negotiate Whether to Clean or Paint First – You’re the Expert

Clean or Paint First disgusting, dirty roomIt’s your business and you set the price. What you may want to do is say, “Hey, did you want me to spend your time that you’re paying me for cleaning the carpet? Or, since you’re going to rip it out anyway, you want me to do everything but the carpet? Just leave the carpet. Let the painter come in?

He doesn’t even need to put drop cloths down. Once he paints, stuff might spill on the floor. You’re going to yank those carpets out, and you’re going to replace those for the new person that’s moving into the house.”

Plant Seeds Whether to Clean or Paint First

Clean or Paint First thoughtful painter holding rollerOnce you have that conversation, what you’ve done is you’ve planted seeds in the mind of the homeowner.

 If they’re having you come in to clean before the painter comes, they’ve probably already hired the painter. And the painter came in and looked around and said. “There’s no way I’m going to come in here and paint unless you get a house cleaner to come in and scoop everything out.”

Then, they called you because they haven’t thought through this. I promise you this. If the homeowner hasn’t cleaned their house in five years, they’re not thinking through all the different steps. Nothing wrong with the way they’re thinking. They’re just not thinking like a professional house cleaner.

Clean or Paint First?  House Cleaner vs. Painter

Clean or Paint First tools next to partially removed carpetNow, we are not painters, and so we don’t know what the painters are thinking either. But my guess is they are not prepared to come and paint over grease and dirt and grime and maybe stuff that’s actually stuck on the walls.  So, it’s possible that they want you to do a total gut-through of the house. 

Then, they’ll come in and paint. And then the homeowner needs to hire you back to clean up all the painting debris. This includes any of the dust, tape, anything left behind before the carpet guys come. Or, maybe even after the carpet guys so that you can reset the house for the new homeowners.

 Clean or Paint First – Then Clean Again

Clean or Paint First woman cleaning counters with spongeYour job is not one, but probably two cleanings. So, which do you do first? I don’t care. The homeowner probably doesn’t care either, but they need you to make some suggestions. As a professional, you get to put on your professional consulting hat. 

You get to show up and do a walkthrough of the house. You get a look at everything and, inside your head, freak out and go like … “It’s going to take a lot of work.” And then you have to professionally present that to the client.

Sell the Client the Clean or Paint First

Clean or Paint First woman housecleaner freaking out“Here’s what I would recommend for this particular job. Based on the condition of the flooring …” 

Don’t make it the customer’s fault. Make it the floor’s fault. “Based on the condition of the flooring, the condition of the walls, the condition of … “

You talk about the condition that the home is in. It’s nobody’s fault, and we’re not passing blame. We don’t want to embarrass the customer and say things like, “Oh, this is so gross. Oh, it smells bad in here.”

Yeah, it does. That’s why they’ve hired you, and so they’re well aware that they need much more than they are able or willing or know how to do for their house. 

Freak Out Quietly – Then Negotiate Terms

Clean or Paint First man ripping up old carpetYou walk in, and you’re freaked out. That’s fine. Freak out on the inside. On the outside, paint a professional picture. 

“Here’s how much it’s going to cost to hoard all this stuff outside and to put it in a trash dumpster. 

Here’s how much this is going to cost to rip out the flooring. 

Are you going to pay a carpet cleaner to come and rip out the flooring, or did you want us to do that as well?”

This is a Chance to Upsell Extra Services

Clean or Paint First handyman tacking down carpetRipping out carpet is not hard. Whie it is considered a renovation or repair, it’s something that pretty much anybody can do, or they can hire a handyman. 

If you’re just ripping it out, you’re just ripping it out. What you do have to be careful of are the tack strips. They use these where they’ve tacked the corners of the carpet to the walls and the flooring so that it doesn’t go anywhere. And they have little nails on them. 

You don’t want to step on those, so you want to be careful if you do pull up the carpet yourself.

You might add onto that that as part of your construction clean, you’re going to gut everything out and take it with you. 

Upsell Means Upcharge

Don't Have Enough Money income increaseNow, if you do that, you’re going to charge them a much higher fee than you would if you were coming in just to do a move-out clean. And so, you have to be specific about what it is you are able to provide.

If ripping out carpet is not a service you’ve ever done, please don’t bid that into your bid. Okay? You don’t want to over-promise for things that you can’t deliver. Or if you have no idea what you’re talking about – because you won’t know how long it will take.

If it’s not something you do, don’t add that into your bid. But if it is, go ahead and create a nice, fancy bid and say, “Here’s my price.”

Sell Value Not Price

Upsell to Party Hosting from House Cleaning, Writing a CheckNow, the customer, because they’re not thinking through everything, they may call two or three people and get estimates. 

 That’s fine, but the reality is you want to paint a picture that says you will provide all these different services. 

They look at it, and they say, “Wow. These are services I didn’t even know I needed, and so you’re an invaluable person to me. I must hire you.” And it’s not hiring you for one time. It’s hiring you for two times. You’re going to do a before-the-painter clean. You’re going to do a ready-for-delivery clean.

Do a Move-Out – Gut Out Construction Clean First

Clean or Paint First large cockroach on exposed woodThe move-out – gut out clean is where you’re going to be carting dead roaches away. And dead mice, and mice poo, and bad carpet, and stinky socks, and whatever is left. 

 There are gobs of things that people leave behind when they haven’t cleaned in five years. So, the cleaning that you’re doing right now, it’s not a delivery clean. 

This is not getting ready for the next person to move in. This is getting ready for the next step, which is the carpet guys and the painters.

Set Realistic Expectations and Realistic Fees

Clean or Paint First cleaning mold with spongeWhatever you decide to charge, that’s going to be between you and the homeowner. 

My suggestion is that you spend some time and you think through what it’s going to take to do this job properly. Because you don’t want to underbid the job. If you come up with a price that is more expensive than you’re comfortable with, that’s a good thing. The reason being is you don’t know how involved this is going to be.

I promise it always takes longer than we expect. You start to rip something up, and you realize there’s mold there. It was hiding something that was in its way. You didn’t see the mold, and you didn’t bid for the mold. 

Get the Homeowner Involved in the Decision Process

Cleaning Contract, Letter of Agreement, Hands ShakingIt always takes a little bit longer and a little bit more cleaning supplies and a lot more chutzpah than you actually bid into the job. 

 Get the homeowner involved in the decision-making process. Help them understand that because of the condition of the house, these are the things that you would recommend. Then pull out your calendar and ask how soon they want to get started. 

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About the Show

Learn how the show came to be, interesting facts about the show host, and other frequently asked questions about the show.

Resources For This Episode

Negotiation Genius: How to Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Brilliant Results at the Bargaining Table and Beyond – https://amzn.to/2Kyty3y

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It – https://amzn.to/2IooTVk

Start with NO… The Negotiating Tools that the Pros Don’t Want You to Know – Start with NO… The Negotiating Tools that the Pros Don’t Want You to Know – https://amzn.to/2wOmFZI

Getting More: How to Be a More Persuasive Person in Work and In Life – https://amzn.to/2IrGMlW

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In – https://amzn.to/2IszdY2

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