You probably reveal more to your house cleaner than you realize.
“I’ve been cleaning houses for many years and nothing really surprises me anymore,” said Sara San Angelo, a professional house cleaner with 20 years of experience. Some clients consider San Angelo “part of the family” and others want her to be “a ghostly apparition, sneaking in through the back door to magically make their house sparkle, only to be acknowledged when they haggle over the bill,” she said.
Whether you love or hate your house cleaner, San Angelo says they “know all your secrets, all without having to even see you.” She emphasizes that house cleaners “are not snoops,” but they learn a lot because they have “to be in every nook and cranny of your home” to do their job. If this makes you uncomfortable, San Angelo says there is an easy solution. “If you don’t want me to know you have herpes, put your cream somewhere I don’t have to clean,” she said.
Other than knowing what medications you take, here are seven things your house cleaner probably knows about you.
They can tell if someone in the house has a drinking problem.
While cleaning a 15-year-old boy’s room, Adrienne Parkes, who has been cleaning homes for six years and owns Common Sense Cleaning, once found hidden liquor bottles. Parkes was concerned for the teen and told his mom. The boy got revenge by putting a can of White Claw on the driver’s seat of Parkes’ van the next time she cleaned his house. “He really showed me,” she said.
San Angelo has also found hidden bottles. For many years, she cleaned for a family in which the husband was a recovering alcoholic. While emptying the trash one day, a small vodka bottle rolled out. “My jaw dropped and my eyes almost popped out of my head. Over the weeks and months, I found more,” she said. San Angelo never revealed what she found in the trash to the man’s wife, but she emphasizes that “just because you bury something in the trash does not make it disappear.”
They know a lot about your sex life.
Parkes has found “extra-large condoms, pregnancy tests, sex toys … you name it!”
One of Parkes’ clients slept in a different room than her husband. When Parkes arrived to clean one day, the wife had left a vibrator and book about female pleasure on the bed. “She went out of her way to leave it out when she could have easily put it away,” Parkes said.
Your cleaning person might also be able to tell if you have had an affair. While tidying up the house of one of her clients, San Angelo found a stack of love letters. At first, she thought “how sweet,” but she later realized that she recognized a unique name on the letters. “It was the nickname of a very high-powered local politician, with a wife and four kids,” she said.
They know if your lifestyle isn’t as glamorous as others think.
Even if the world thinks you are on top of your game, your housekeeper will know the truth. “I cleaned for a Netflix actor and he was not living the glam life at all. He lived on DoorDash and fancy frozen meals and walked everywhere. ... He had affirmations written on Post-its all over the walls,” Parkes said.
Delah Gomasi, the founder and CEO of Australia’s Maid For You, saidhe has clients he describes as “very outwardly successful” and “extremely glamorous in their outward appearance.” However, their homes tell a different story. “When we enter their home there are rooms filled with take-away pizza boxes, Uber Eats and DoorDash paper bags, dirty mattresses that have no sheets, soiled underwear and animal feces throughout their apartment,” he shared.
They know if you’re stingy with money.
“Typically the more money a client has, the cheaper they are and they are unlikely to tip. They’re also the ones who want you to hand-wash their glass staircase in a 5,000-square-foot mansion for $150,” Parkes said.
Some of Parkes’ clients don’t even tip at Christmas. Others canceled shortly after she raised her rates to keep up with inflation.
Parkes also has some clients who “definitely need a cleaning twice a month, but choose once to save money.” She also has clients who are worried Parkes might take their valuables and hide them when she comes to clean. “I want the job, not their damn Apple Watch,” she said.
One of San Angelo’s clients would consistently short her $20 to $30. “She was always telling me she would get me back next week. It would never happen. … Eventually I had to fire her as a client,” she said.
Parkes had one client who refused to pay at all. She took the client to court and won.
Every medicine cabinet tells a story.
They know the state of your mental health.
“It’s a little scary how many of my clients are on prescription meds. And I don’t mean antibiotics. If there is a mental health crisis in America, I am witness to it,” San Angelo said. In addition to medications like OxyContin, Xanax, Adderall and Klonopin, she has found what she calls “heavy-duty anti-psychotic drugs.”
Rocky Vunog, a house cleaner for eight years at Calibre Cleaning in Australia, said other signs can also alert him to a client’s mental state. “A noticeable decline in a home’s upkeep, especially if it was previously meticulous, can sometimes be an indicator of someone facing challenges. Signs like accumulated unopened mail or a preference for keeping rooms dark might be subtle indicators” that a client is not doing well, he said.
They know if you are confident with your body.
“I have some clients who are not bashful at all,” San Angelo shared. She used to clean for a yoga instructor who loved to walk around naked. “The yoga client liked to stand there and talk to me while she was getting dressed. I didn’t know where to look,” she said.
But it’s not just fitness-professional clients who like to be in the nude in front of their house cleaner. “Unfortunately, I also have a very elderly lady who likes to do this as well,” San Angelo said.
Parkes once had a new client answer the door in nothing but a towel. Another client had a nude painting of herself hanging in the master bathroom.
They know if your marriage is in trouble.
“We can always tell when a couple is having relationship trouble,” Gomasi said. When it comes to married couples, he notes that services are almost always booked in the wife’s name. Sometimes the husband is on board, but Gomasi has “entered multiple houses where the husband has been visibly unhappy that a cleaner has been booked.”
If the wife cancels ongoing services, it’s a bad sign. “Almost always a move-out service is booked within a month or two, and two separate move-in cleanings are booked,” he said. Gomasi has also cleaned homes where “the couch has been turned into a makeshift bed and the bed in the master bedroom only has one pillow on it.”