Ask a House Cleaner, I Should Have Said No, Savvy Cleaner

I Should Have Said No – Weirdest Cleaning Requests

I should have said no to the weirdest cleaning requests.

As a house cleaner or maid, we aim for customer service and customer satisfaction. But the day will come when you’ll have a cleaning mistake that will leave you saying “I should have said no.”

Today on Ask a House Cleaner tips include a house cleaning waiver and knowing when to walk away.

Housework Twilight Zone style will leave you with regret, lessons learned and saying “I should have said no.”

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Listen: I Should Have Said No – Weirdest Cleaning Requests

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Watch: I Should Have Said No – Weirdest Cleaning Requests


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: What Cleaning Job Should You Have Declined?

Today’s question is a little bit on the irreverent side, it is not so much a “how to” tip as it is a confessional.
A customer wrote in and wanted to know;
“Angela, what is a job (in the vein of cleaning) that you took, that you should have said no to?”

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Answer: I Should Have Said No To Quite A Few

I started thinking about this and I thought, there were probably quite a few over the years.
But a couple came to the front of my mind.
And I’m going way back because my business model changed over the years.
And I got smart and I just started saying no to particular projects.

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Upsell Available Time With Special Projects

But there was a time when a customer would pay me by the hour. I charged by the hour and I was doing all sorts of little projects.
So, if you wanted me to help you with your Christmas decorations I would do that.
Or if you wanted me to help you design and put up the ornaments on your Christmas tree I would do that.
If you wanted your freezer defrosted I would do that. It wasn’t all routine cleaning.

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I Should Have Said No To Washing a Dog

So, one day I got to this lady’s house and she says “Hey, will you bathe my dog?”
And I said “Well, no. That’s not what I do, I clean. I do special projects but I’ve never bathed a dog before.”
And she said “Oh, it’s so easy. If you can bathe a child, you can bathe a dog.” And she knew that I am from a big family and I’ve bathed lots of kids.
And I was like “How hard can it be?”

Okay, if it’s a dog that doesn’t like you, it can be very hard.

So I had this little dog and it did not like me for whatever reason, we did not get along.
And the lady had left the house and when she comes back expects her dog is going to be clean.

If You’ve Got Common Sense Use It

I should have said no to dog washing dog with towel on his headSo, I get the little dog and put it in the bathtub. Because I didn’t know “am I supposed to hose it off outside? Or am I supposed to bathe him in the bathtub or what?”
And since I’d neve bathed him before, I didn’t know if she had special dog shampoo or whatever.
There’s some Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo on the ledge of the tub and I say “Hey, if it’s good enough for a baby’s head, it’s probably good enough for a dog.”

So I shampooed this little dog and he is soapy. I mean soap everywhere and I’m trying to, she doesn’t have the showerhead on a hose, she just has the regular faucet that comes out.
Anyway, so I’m grabbing water and putting it on the dog, and the dog is shaking his head, and he’s got soap now in his eyes.
And he’s squealing and squirming and he’s all upset. And I’m kind of pulling the dog back over to the faucet so the water can just run down on him. It was a mess.

Finally, I get all the soap out of the poor dog’s eyes and the dog is shaking his head. And there’s soapy water everywhere.
I mean the walls are covered in water, the toilet, the mirrors, the sink, I mean it was a mess.
Okay, so after that I’m like “No more dogs.” Let the homeowner clean up the dogs, because I’m not good at all at washing dogs.
Okay, so that was a weird, one thing I should have said no to.

I Should Have Said No to Washing Dried Flower Arrangements

I’ve cleaned a lot of silk plants over the years. And there are particular types of silk plants that you can take and just hose off in the bathtub. I should have said no to washing dried flower arrangements
Because they will bounce back and they are fine.
But there’s this woman who had a whole bunch of dried flower arrangements.

That were like real dried plants.
And she’s like “will you wash these off in the tub?” And I’m thinking “ugh no because if I do that it’s going to destroy the flower arrangements.” 
They were dried flower arrangements that had been dried when they were alive and they were kind of like just frozen in time.

And they were incredibly dusty.
And so she’s like “No, no, no, I want you to wash these off.”
I’m thinking “Okay, it’s going to ruin these, it’s going to ruin this arrangement. Even though these are incredibly dusty and the dust was so thick you could see it.

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Have Your Client Sign a Waiver or a Release Form From Damage

I had her sign something. So if these get damaged in the process, I’m not responsible.
And she’s like “yeah, yeah, yeah.” So, she signed this waiver, saying that I wouldn’t be responsible.
And I should have said no.

Because once I started washing…she explained exactly how she wanted it done. And she’s paying by the hour, so whatever. No.
I started to wash these plants and the pedals fell off.
And then there was this stuff that was kind of like, think of a dandelion that has been hair sprayed like after it’s already gone puffy.
Stuff like that.

And now it’s all over the tub. There is just a tub full of gunk. It’s dried leaves, it’s pieces of things. Dust. Debris, Leaves. Petals. Puff.
And then try to clean that out.
The flower arrangements were absolutely ruined.

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I Created More Work For MySelf – I Should Have Said No

But then the junk that was left in the tub was beyond any cleaning thing that I’ve ever seen.
And then I’m trying to keep it from going down the drain and I’m trying to drain the water out. And the bathtub is plugged up.
I should have said no.

Then there’s the time, a woman asked me if I would help her decorate her house.
And you know, like I said, sometimes we decorated Christmas trees. Sometimes we put out Easter baskets and we hid Easter eggs for kids. And they’re paying by the hour. Sometimes they just need an extra set of hands. It’s a way to upsell your services.

And so my recommendation is: upsell your services if you’re comfortable with the task.
But on this particular occasion, she wanted help decorating her house. And what that meant was hanging wallpaper.

I Should Have Said No to Hanging Wallpaper

I should have said no to hanging wallpaperThere comes a time when you have to draw a line in the sand. This is one of those times where I didn’t but I should have said no.
Because she had the wrong kind of wallpaper glue.
We were trying to hang it up and keep it from getting wrinkled was an impossible task because the glue wouldn’t stick. And it kind of takes two people. But the wallpaper wasn’t hanging right. 

And were trying to match up the seams, while it turned into a huge disaster.
And the wallpaper was expensive and ugly.

That is one of those times, (she had also signed a waiver, saying I was not responsible if everything screwed up.) Which thank goodness she signed it, in advance of the project. But I should have said no.

So, there are times in your career that your confidence will take over. And you’ll think “Ah. How hard can it be?”

Guess what? It can be harder than you actually imagine.

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Follow Your Gut When It Tells You To Walk Away

And so if there is an opportunity for you to turn and walk away. This is one of those times where I encourage you to listen to your gut.
Because your gut might say “Don’t do this. Just walk away.”
And guess what? In that particular scenario, I’m going to encourage you, and this comes from experience, turn and walk away.
Say “Oh, you know what? That’s beyond my pay grade. I don’t have the skills to pull that off to your satisfaction.” And refuse to do the project.

Because I totally ruined that one lady’s flower arrangements. They were ruined anyway. They were dusty. She should have just tossed them. But I made this huge colossal mess in her bathtub.
And in her bathroom, and all over the floor, and the sink and everywhere else.
Just walk away.

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

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