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How To Best Help Someone Clean

Updated on February 24, 2015

It’s possible you will volunteer or be asked to help someone else clean in the near future. Such circumstances can range from helping a friend who broke his arm vacuum to more intense deep cleaning for an aging relative. While the circumstances may vary greatly, it is important to note a few essential things you should and should not do when helping someone clean.

The first thing you should do is be upfront and specific about how much help you are offering. Statements such as “I am able to help you for two hours next Saturday” to “I will help you vacuum your downstairs once a week for the next three weeks” will help make it clear to the person you are helping what your parameters are. One reason you must insist on being upfront and specific is that cleaning jobs often take longer than anticipated; therefore, by setting a firm boundary of how much help you are offering, you will hopefully escape getting roped into a much more extensive project than you are willing to help with.

You should also discuss the expectations with the person you are helping before you start cleaning. This is because you may be a more fastidious, exacting person who wants every surface polished and clean, whereas your friend or relative may be content with a general level of tidiness. Moreover, you may think it is of utmost importance to dust all the bookshelves, whereas the person you are helping may be much more interested in sorting through the bookshelves to decide which volumes to donate to the local library.

It’s also important to wear appropriate clothing when you are helping someone clean. While this doesn’t mean you put on your ugliest, frumpiest pair of sweats, it does mean you should refrain from wearing anything you would have to dry clean if you got it dirty. Furthermore, try to wear comfortable clothes you can move easily around in in case your cleaning duties require more movement than expected.

Speaking of expectations, it is essential to know if you expect your friend or relative to help you clean at a later date. If you do, this topic should be broached before the cleaning starts. It’s possible that your friend or relative has no interest—and, in the case of those who have limited mobility, little energy or ability—to return the favor. If this is not acceptable for you, it is probably best not to help them clean after all.

This brings me to the first don’t: Don’t expect the person you are helping to automatically help you in return unless you have discussed this in a clear, straightforward manner. Certain people, whether because of personality or life circumstances, are used to getting ample help from others without giving much help in return. You are still free to help this person clean, of course, yet unrealistic expectations on your part could lead to resentment and possibly a fractured future relationship with the person you are helping.

You should also refrain from unnecessarily imposing your standards on the person you are helping. While you may keep your own home so clean pictures of it could be featured in Better Homes & Gardens magazine, this doesn’t mean your friend or relatives should aspire to this level of cleanliness. Everyone has varying preferences for order and cleanliness, and respecting their preference—presuming that no health risks are posed by unhealthy amounts of mess or dangerous items left on the living room floor where they could be stepped on—is a must if you help someone else clean.

You should also refrain, especially if you have offered to help for more than a few hours, from working through without even a short break to get a glass of water or maybe even have a snack. Stepping away from a cleaning project, even for a few minutes, is an automatic refresher which may give you an extra boost of energy to keep working.

In general you should refrain from opening all sorts of cabinets and drawers in order to find cleaning supplies. Your friend or relative should be asked to either set these out beforehand, or, if they do not, you should ask where they are instead of potentially wasting time and energy hunting them down.

Unless you have been told this is permissible, don’t automatically insert your earbuds and start listening to your iPod while cleaning. Certain people you help may have no issue with this; others, however, may wish to converse while cleaning, or, at the very least, not have to nudge you to pull out an earbud to make a request or ask a question.

If these dos and don’ts are followed, cleaning for someone can be an enjoyable, worthwhile task for you and the person you are helping.

Proof cleaning can be fun


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    • Julie K Henderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie K Henderson 

      3 years ago

      Thank you. I was inspired to write it after helping a good friend with a little deep cleaning.

    • Claudia Mathews profile image

      Claudia Mathews 

      3 years ago

      Interesting article and your points are well thought out. I clean for a living, atm, but have helped friends clean when they were moving. Also had people help me when I moved. From my point of view, if you help someone, help because you want to, and for no other reason. Great Hub


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