Do You Suffer From Cleaner Guilt?

If you’re faced with the prospect of cleaning a filthy bathroom, being able to pay a cleaner to do the dirty work instead might seem an ideal arrangement. But many people react in the opposite way: tidying before the cleaner arrives to avoid embarrassment at being slovenly, a phenomenon we might describe as “cleaner guilt”.

Guardian columnist Homa Khaleeli highlighted the issue, quoting one cleaner who was annoyed by the excessive reactions of some of her customers:

Some people clean up too much. It makes me feel guilty because there’s nothing to do. Why waste products cleaning the same toilet again if you have already done it?

At the other end of the scale was the client who left sex toys lying around to be tidied away (though we’re not told whether they were cleaned first).

I’ve never hired a cleaner, and in the fiscally unlikely event that I did, I think I’d be happy to let them get on with it. But I’d like to know what others think. Have you ever suffered from “cleaner guilt”? And have you found any strategies to overcome it? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Why having a cleaner isn’t always domestic bliss [The Guardian]


  • Yes, to the point that I haven’t yet hired one to do the job…
    I could possibly afford it (and would dearly like it) but just cant bring myself to get one in… because it is dirty!

    Crazy shit I know.

  • I think there is a key distinction to be made between cleaning and tidying

    My parents hired a cleaner for a while and I found that it was not so much “clearner guilt” but more lets do a tidy so they can actually clean

    My girlfriend and have thought about it from time to time – we keep our place tidy but struggle to find time for rigerous cleaning. One reason I’d like a cleaner is because I know it would force me to do a good tidy and put things away in their proper place and allow the cleaner to do the actual cleaning

    You can have a tidy unclean house and an clean untidy house etc

    • @Chupachup: I think you summed it up pretty well.

      I’ve never been in a situation where I could afford a cleaner (and not entirely sure I’m comfortable with the prospect of a complete stranger [at first] coming into all areas of my home); but if I were in that situation, I am sure I’d feel bad for obstructing the cleaner from doing their job in my messy home.

  • I have a cleaner and have for years, and suffer absolutely no guilt! I do however always tidy up before she comes.It doesn’t make any sense to have her trying to clean around mess, or wasting time putting things away in the wrong place. I find it helps to keep the house tidy knowing that at least once a week everything has to be put away. Though sometimes I think there’s stuff that ONLY gets put away once a week… sigh…

  • I’ve thought about it, particularly around rental inspection time, but then I remember how much they cost per hour and I reckon I could probably do it myself and then spend the money on ME instead lol.

  • I would get a cleaner, but as with the reasons above it doesn’t make much sense to….

    I’d have to tidy up first so the cleaner could actually clean. You can’t dust when there shit all over the place. So I’d probably spend more time tidying up then the cleaner would cleaning. At which point I begin to ask myself, why not just spend the extra hour doing the cleaning yourself, you’ve already spent so long tidying up?


    Having done cleaning work professionally before, I’d say just this:

    If you throw a huge fit because a SPECK of dust landed in the sink after your cleaner was done with it, you’re an anal-retentive jerk.

    If you leave hair, body fluids, and underwear (or sex toys) lying around, he/she will probably take longer out of sheer disgust. Also, I would never pick up someone else’s sex toy. I would leave it exactly where it was and clean elsewhere.

    If you leave used, unwrapped tampons in an un-lined garbage can… you’re gross and we will talk shit about you later.

    You are paying extra money because no one wants to clean a stranger’s toilets for under a certain amount. Cleaners are not your mothers, so at least tidy up your clothes, stray garbage, and the stuff you personally would find disgusting if you had to clean it at a stranger’s house.

  • If we don’t do a thorough tidy of the house, our cleaner doesn’t bother to dust or wipe down the benches… so it’s not really out of guilt so much as out of necessity.

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