Practicing Discretion with your Cleaning Customers

Practicing discretion with cleaning customers.
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One of the qualities of being a great cleaning company is practicing discretion with your customers.  It’s important to remember that your work place is someone else’s home.  That needs to stay top of mind when professionally cleaning.


Typically, it is not a forethought to consider the circumstances of our customer’s homes before we arrive to clean.  We have other things on our minds.


We think about work related things – the surfaces to clean in each home, the tasks to perform, the material we need to clean with, and the time allocated to clean each house.  We’re not thinking about anything else.

Our thoughts are – their home is our work place. 


That’s it!  That’s all.

… and nothing wrong with it.


It is easy to forget that our residential customers have morning rituals just like us.  And just like us they wake, refresh, get prepared for the day, and head off to their daily schedule of work or school or whatever.


Like probably many of us, if our customer’s morning routine was rushed just a little, they may have forgotten a thing or two to put away, or any area to tidy up, or a special keepsake to put away anticipating our arrival.  Just like our minds are on our day and all of its responsibilities, so is our customers of theirs.


Yeah, they’re human just like us.


Go figure….


And, when we think about it, there are times we may leave our own homes in a condition that we would absolutely melt in the floor if any random person would come over for a visit or to provide a service for us.


After all it’s our home not their work place.


Sometimes when we show up to our “work place”, it doesn’t come to mind that we are at someone’s “home” until we encounter the unexpected.


It could be something minor as they forgot to prepare the bathroom and put important things away.


Maybe they didn’t pick the children’s toys up and make the living space ready to clean as in our agreement.


Or, maybe, just maybe, they left an unmentionable item out in full display while in a mad rush to get to their work place.


Who knows why.


And, regardless if we give notifications to our residential cleaning customers to expect us, sometimes they forget.  However the case, we get a real glimpse into our “work place” being someone else’s home when they have not tidied up and are ready for us to clean.


It is especially these times that you must be sensitive and operate with integrity.  THIS is when practicing discretion with your cleaning customers is essential and a quality of being a great cleaning company.


This is not stated to imply that you’re not trustworthy and sincere at any other time when cleaning.  This article is written to highlight that sometimes it needs to be an intention to remember that our work place is someone else’s home.  That being respectful at all times should be put into play.


3 ways to practice discretion with your cleaning customers

1. If you should come across an item or two that would make anyone want to jump out of a window out of embarrassment, just exit the space and allow your customer to keep their dignity. Particularly items found in the bedroom or bathroom.  Just try your best to cover it, leave it, clean around it.


**If you should ever come across items that are illegal and/or against your personal beliefs such as child pornography, or animal abuse, or anything against your morals, make your best decision.


Here’s the thing with us.  Elbert and I have 3 small boys and our philosophy is one child is everyone’s child.  So, for us, we WOULD MAKE OUR BEST DECISION.  Luckily, we have never encountered this or anything of the sort in the 27 years professionally cleaning.


2. Do not broadcast the “things” that one customer has especially to another customer or on social media. So, again, if a customer owns an impressive coin collection, it is no one else’s business.  If you see someone famous at your customer’s home.  Don’t discuss this with anyone especially if your customer asked you to keep it private.  Remember, your customers trust your integrity with knowing these things about them.  Just keep it to yourself.


3. Don’t look in drawers, cabinets, or rooms that are off limits. Once again, your sole purpose is to clean the home.  If you must open a drawer, it is assumed to wipe the inner edge, that’s it, not to riffle through it, okay.  If certain things are off limits, just don’t touch it.  If certain doors are closed, don’t go in them.  Seriously, your customers trust you.



These 3 ways to practice discretion while house cleaning are not the only ways.  I’m sure there are more offenses like eating the customer’s food, wearing their clothes, watching TV, taking a nap, etc.  The list could go on endlessly to the ridiculous.  And, the list can vary between professional cleaning companies.


Just remember this saying, ‘what goes around, comes back around’.  How you treat others, will come back to you.  So just be sure to be completely respectful while cleaning.




Homework:  Keep in mind to treat your “work place” as a home.  It is easy to forget sometimes, but someone lives at the place you work.  Whatever you see, find, experience, it is ultimately none of your concern.  You are there to clean.  Respect the person’s privacy.  However, if you innocently come across something that is against every fibre of your being, make a decision of how to handle that.  Perhaps incorporate a clause in your employment agreement with your staff.  Or, add a sentence to emphasize how important your customer’s privacy is to your company.  It can make a difference.



Keep it top of mind that your work place is someone else’s home.  It should be respected no matter if the homeowner is home or not.  If your customer forgot to make the place ready, just improvise as best as you can.  If you run across an unmentionable….. don’t mention it to anyone.  Lastly, a minor offense may be major to the homeowner.   So be careful.  Simply put, practice discretion for all your cleaning customers as you know best.


“Nothing is more dangerous than a friend without discretion; even a prudent enemy is preferable.” – Jean de La Fontaine



Until next time,

Happy Cleaning!


Creator of A Janitor’s Story®.  I started my office cleaning side hustle at 20 years old. Years later, with the partnership of my husband and our amazing staff, my business grew to mid-six figures and fulfilled my wildest dreams!  Now, 27 years STRONG, I’ve retired, and I help aspiring entrepreneurs to START and GROW their house and office cleaning service businesses to achieve their biggest dreams.  I’d like to help you do the same.


Click here to join my email list for constant inspiration, deals and special offers EXCLUSIVELY for new cleaning business solopreneurs and small cleaning teams.  I look forward to meeting you inside!




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