Ask a House Cleaner, Chatty Cathy, Savvy Cleaner

Chatty Cathy – House Cleaners Point of View

Chatty Cathy from the house cleaners point of view. This is the first of a two-part series on Chatty Cathy or Talking Tammy, Victim Vickie or Whining Wendy.  What it boils down to is house cleaner training. Is there room for a Chatty Cathy? And what to do if your clients are lonely, talking, visiting, or want to be friends.

We Ask a House Cleaner about boundaries and expectations and human interaction from customers who work at home.

Tomorrow we cover the client’s perspective and how they feel about cleaning vs. chatting.  And should you leave or stay when the maid comes to clean?

Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru gives tips and a method to get your work done.

Today’s sponsor is #HouseCleaning360 where you can grab a fan page for your cleaning business. 

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If you are living in similar weather conditions, you may want to call a sprinkler repair guy. You can find one on

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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: Chatty Cathy – House Cleaners Point of View 

Fire My Cleaning Employee, Woman Dusting Bookshelf“I started cleaning this woman’s house that’s chatty. For the most part, I will wear headphones for this kind of situation. I just listen to podcasts or music to get my cleaning done.

But this lady’s house was nice and clean. I didn’t have to do a lot. Not a typical house cleaning because she only wants certain things done.

I went the first day without charging her the one-time fee for the first-time house cleaning. And I forget my headphones. She ends up being chatty, following me around, and what should have taken me three hours took me six hours.

I ended up having to tell her, “Okay, this is what I didn’t get done. And I’m going to have to do it in two weeks when I come back.”

So, I get home and she sends me a text and says, “Sorry, but you did miss several things cleaning today. I just talk too much.” I responded, “I will be there 10 a.m. and I’ll have 15 minutes if you want to show me what I need to work on.” She says, “I don’t think 15 minutes will be enough time to correct the cleaning but will show you.” What should I do?

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Answer: Chatty Cathy – House Cleaners Point of View

So you got a Chatty Cathy on your hands.

As house cleaners, we go inside people’s homes every day, and we have a specific way that we work.

A lot of times it’s easier for us if the homeowner is not at home and that they don’t interrupt us what their chatting. They don’t know that.

They don’t have house cleaners coming to their house every day. They only have house cleaners coming once every couple of weeks. And maybe they are hiring a house cleaner for the first time. Or maybe it’s been a long time.

Set Boundaries Upfront

Chatty Cathy, Woman and ExterminatorFor example, say you were a pest control service and you were going to a customer’s house. You would let them know upfront, “Hey, while I’m spraying for bugs I need all the kids out of the house.”

Because you don’t want the kids in the house while you’re spraying for the bugs, right? That’s just standard, and you would let them know upfront.

House cleaners also have the responsibility of letting the homeowner know their expectations.

Before The Initial Walkthrough

Price Shopping woman on phoneOn the telephone, before you ever go to bid the customer’s house, this is the time that you tell them.

“Hey, how do you work? Are you working from your home and will you be at home while I’m cleaning?”

If they say yes, this is where you tell them. “Ok, I should tell you then. It’s okay if you stay at the house while I’m cleaning. But we can’t carry on conversations because I don’t work well while I’m talking.”

Boundaries Already Set

Chatty Cathy, Do Not Cross Line BoundaryYou have to set that boundary right up front. When you go over to bid the job they already know who you are. 

This is going to be a person that’s going to be cleaning my house, not a person that’s going to be my free therapist. If you were getting paid for therapy, you would make a whole lot more money than you would as a house cleaner.

But you got to make that clear upfront with your homeowners so that they don’t stand there and chat the whole time.

On Your Way Out

Extra Work Time ClockNow, on your way out the door, as you are leaving, you can’t stand there and chat for 20 or 30 minutes either.

Say you have a customer that you clean for every other week. And you stand there for 20 minutes chatting after the job is complete. That is eight and a half hours over the course of a year.

This is a time that you are not getting paid for that you’ve just blown visiting. Even 20 minutes per visit, it adds up over time.

This is your business and you get paid for the time that you spend so you got to be careful about your time.

A Chatty Cathy Can’t Talk if You’re Wearing Headphones

Chatty Cathy, Woman Cleaning Wearing HeadphoneIf you work with headphones, then you got to make sure that there are headphones in your cleaning caddy.

You might also want to have a spare pair out in your car.

In the event that you find that you got to a house and you don’t have them, go out to your car and get your spare pair.

Because that signals to your customer that, “Hey, I’m busy.”

You don’t even have to be listening to anything. If you have headphones in, it signals that they should not interrupt you.

Let your customer know that is how you work upfront. Then they know, so they’re not going to take offense. They might even wonder if they should be there when the cleaning lady or man is there.

Start Over

Chatty Cathy, To Do ListFor this particular customer, my recommendation is that you just completely start over. Bring it out in the open.

Say, “Hey listen. Last time I was here we were chatting. It was great to visit with you, but I didn’t get all the work done. Starting from right now, we have 15 minutes. Let’s redo the walkthrough. You show me the things that need cleaning. I will make notes on my notepad and I will do these every time I come.”


You Need to Get Paid For Your Time payment in the form of a money clock

Unless you’ve set it up that you do different tasks every time you come, things need to change. 

She doesn’t need to spend 15 minutes on every visit that you’re not getting paid for giving you new to-do tasks. 

Because that is part of your pay. You need to get paid for that time.

Start over again. Do your walkthrough over again. 

Set new boundaries, set new rules. Let her know that when you are there, you are working.

No visiting while I’m here. 60 seconds in, 60 seconds out, hi and goodbye.

Then get on to the next job, because in this business time is money.

 Alrighty, that’s my two cents for today. Until we meet again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it. 

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Resources For This Episode

Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life –

Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge –

Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day –

Model Rules of Professional Conduct, 2017 –

The Customer Rules: The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service –

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