What do you do with the dishes in the sink when you go to clean a house? Should the homeowner clean dirty dishes before the house cleaner arrives?
It’s a conversation house cleaners need to have, let’s talk about it.
Listen: Dishes In the Kitchen Sink
Watch: Dishes In the Kitchen Sink
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. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
What to Do About Dishes in the Sink
What? Dishes in the sink? When you go to clean a house, there are dishes in this sink. What on earth does that mean? Does that mean you’re going to clean them? Does that mean you’re going to take them out of the sink and then just clean the sink and put the dishes back inside?
Now there’s a house cleaner that wrote into the show and she wanted to know “What happens if I get to a house, and there are dishes in the sink because I don’t do dishes.” Well, the answer is what did you agree with the homeowner?
What Did You Agree to With the Homeowner?
Well, the answer is what did you agree with the homeowner? There was an agreement, right? So, here’s how it goes. If you are the homeowner and you’re hiring a house cleaner, there are certain things that you do. And if you are a house cleaner on a walkthrough with a customer there are certain things that you do.
As you’re walking through the house, and we call it a walkthrough. It’s a job bid or an estimate where you go with the customer and you walk through the house and you look at the house and you see how messy or how clean the house is.
Look Around and Ask Questions
You need to look around and ask questions. How do they use the rooms of the house? How many people live there? How many pets are there? How frequently do they want it cleaned? You’re going to figure out how much they’re going to pay to clean for you to come to clean their house.
That’s the walkthrough questions. When you get to the kitchen, I want both of you. I don’t know who’s in charge, but I want both of you to stop at the kitchen sink. And I want you to have this conversation.
“Hey, I see that there are no dishes in the sink right now. Is it always going to be this way when I get here or if I come and there are dishes in the sink, how do you want me to handle that?” Now, if you have that conversation and they say, “Oh, we always have lots of dishes.” “Okay, great. Let me add that to the price I give you.”
You Have to Allocate Time for Dishes
Because then you can allocate for the time that it’s going to take you to wash dishes and put them in the dishwasher, and you can also add that to your price. If they say, “Oh no, we never have dishes. The sink will be clean and dry before you get here.”
“Okay, great. Now I know.” But now you’ve had a conversation. Why is the conversation important? It’s important for this reason. There are daily, weekly, and bi-weekly chores. When you hire a house cleaner, you’re often hiring them for weekly and bi-weekly chores. So, if they get to your house and there are daily chores, which are like washing dishes, loading and unloading the dishwasher.
The homeowners usually do the daily chores, because it costs a lot of money to have a house cleaner come in, or are you going to pay a lot of money to have somebody come to your daily chores? The answer is yes. There are people that are very happy, and they will pay you the money to do daily chores. But you need to understand if that is part of the bid you are giving them.
Many House Cleaners Don’t Have This Conversation
The problem is this. We have lots of house cleaners that do not have this conversation, and then they get to the house, and lo and behold there are dishes. And they go, “Well, it’s only two dishes in the sink, not a problem.” So, they wash the two dishes, and then they put them away.
So, the homeowner goes, “Huh. My house cleaner just washed my two dishes. I wonder if they’ll wash 10?” So next time when they get there, instead of two dishes in the sink, there are 10. And the house cleaner’s like, “10 dishes in the sink. That’s going to take an extra couple of minutes. It’s not a big deal, but okay.”
So, then they wash the 10 dishes and they put them away and whatever, and they go about cleaning the house. And the homeowner goes, “Huh. Look at that. 10 dishes. Didn’t bat an eye. I wonder about 20.”
Homeowners Will Keep Adding Dishes
So the homeowner keeps adding dishes, and the next time you come, there are 20 dishes in the sink and a pan with spaghetti in it. And the house cleaner’s like, “What on earth? I didn’t say this kind of time.” And now they’re taking time away that should be spent on the weekly and bi-weekly chores, and they’re doing your daily chores at no extra cost. Yay for the homeowner, right? Not so yay for the house cleaner.
Because the work that the homeowner was expecting the house cleaner to do, that they bid for, they’re not going to be able to get to and do a very good job because now the time they were going to spend, they’re spending doing other things.
What happens is this, the homeowner is going to get sad because they’re going to say, “My house cleaner didn’t do a very good job.” And the house cleaner is going to get sad because they’re going to say, “My homeowner is taking advantage of me and they keep leaving more and more and more dishes.”
Eventually, the Kitchen is Full of Dishes
So, what happens when you come two times from now, the entire kitchen is full of dirty dishes, pots, pans and stuff that’s leftover from last night. The homeowner is going to be very, very pleased that the house cleaner did the dishes, and the house cleaner is going to go, “Wow, these guys are taking advantage of me. I think I’m going to drop them as a client.”
And they’re not pleased at all. But what’s not pleasing is this. There was no conversation. The house cleaner, by doing the dishes every time without the conversation, they have enabled the homeowner to continue this behavior and to make it worse. “I don’t have to do dishes tonight. The house cleaner is coming tomorrow.”
They have enabled that behavior. Now, the house cleaner on the other side is super frustrated because now they’re racing through the rest of the cleaning to get the job done because they have another house they have to go to.
Doing Dishes is Unfair to Other Customers
And it is not fair to the other customer to show up late, because you gave them extra work that they weren’t being paid for. So there needs to be a conversation on day one. “Are you paying me extra money to wash your dishes?”
The homeowner’s like, “I’m not paying you any extra to do my dishes.” “Okay, great. Let’s agree that when we come every time to clean your house that the sink will look just like this. It will be empty of dirty dishes. And I will come in and I will polish it up and I’ll make it look spit shine, and then we all win.”
You have allocated the time to clean the sink, not to clean the whole counter full of dirty dishes and soak pots and pans and all that other stuff. It starts out small, and then it grows like a disease. Dirty dishes.
Have the Conversation With the Customer
So have the conversation, because if you don’t have a conversation, what you’re doing as a business owner is reinventing the wheel every single time you come to the customer’s house which is exhausting and frustrating.
It’s not just one house, but if you don’t have this policy in place at every single house, you’re reinventing the wheel every time. I know it’s devastating. That’s not how you run a business.
Here’s where it gets bad. If you are a solo operator and this is how you run your business, and there are no rules, regulations and boundaries in place. The first time you try to hire anyone and grow your business. What happens is they reinvent the wheel as well, because why? They duplicate what they saw you do, and now you have chaos in your business, where there are all kinds of stuff happening.
Don’t Do Daily Chores for Free
And you’re kind of doing customers’ daily chores, and they’re letting you, and you’re not getting paid any extra money. If you are the homeowner have the conversation. If you are the house cleaner, have the conversation. You guys come to an agreement on what you’re paying for and the services you expect.
Then I will never get another call like this, where people say, “Oh, what do I do? There are dishes in the sink.” Let me check. Whatever your agreement is. Because you guys already worked that out.
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