5 Horrible Things You See Cleaning Other People’s Homes


Sometimes – in order to get by – you have to work jobs that are not so pleasant. And by not so pleasant I mean soul-crushing and awful. The types of job that make the thought of robbing a bank more and more plausible. Don’t try this unless you have Ryan Gosling as a runaway driver.

If the economy is bad, you’ll be willing to work anything as long as you still have a roof to live under and food to eat. And let me tell you, I’ve had my fair share of working odd jobs. After I dropped out of college, I found myself in the social gap of being young, poor and unqualified for any kind of work. I always imagined my hitchhikers thumbs (that’s a thing by the way, look it up) would at least get me a position in the circus. Neptune’s beard! – I was living a lie. Turns out there are a lot of people who can bend their limbs in freaky ways.

For a while, I wobbled from job to job and I saw many dirty things – as the song goes, “you wouldn’t even believe.” I ended up in a domestic cleaning company operating in London and embarked upon a two-year stint cleaning homes, offices and public venues. The job was fine, paid well and had reasonable work hours. However, coming this close to other people’s dwellings didn’t leave me without any stories to tell. By sparing you the really nasty details (which I’d love to share if the circumstances were different and involved a bottle of scotch), here are five horrible things you witness while cleaning other people’s homes.

#1. Their Secrets… Their Scary, Crazy, Godawful, Embarrassing Secrets

The sell point for a lot of home cleaning companies is the statement “without disrupting your privacy” or some similar nonsense – that’s what regular customers value the most. As a domestic cleaner, it is your duty to clean other people’s messes, collect their junk and put their satin socks in the laundry basket – not tell them how insane they are for turning one of their rooms into a Nazi artwork gallery.

“Oh, good – you are here to clean up the place. You can start with the kitchen. Hey, see that door over there? Please, don’t go in – it’s our meth lab!”

For some reason, homeowners tend to trust their housemaids – probably because a housemaid would do anything to keep her job. If you commit murder in your own home and the housemaid is the only witness, she’d probably ask you whether you want that blood stain cleaned right away or if you’d prefer to lick it off the floor by yourself.

You’d be amazed by the variety of weird stuff people keep in their homes. You think that your widowed aunt is the only person crazy enough to hang snake carcasses on a wood board in her basement?

#2. Unimaginable Levels of Negligence

Television has long discovered how destructive psychological problems can be a source of laughter and merry chuckles. Hence the show Hoarders is celebrating such a huge success. As far as a show about toilets caked with layers of human excrement can be successful, that is. On the other hand, television is often regarded as the dumbest medium so how are we supposed to take it seriously? You can’t fool us, TV, we know your reality shows are as real as the moon landing.

But things don’t look laughable when you’re the one who has to clean an apartment with muddy footprints on the walls… and the ceiling! Seriously, why would anyone do that? They must have had one mad tea party in there.

It’s nothing compared to the worst cases of extreme hoarders I’ve seen. Imagine if someone paid you to trash a house beyond any possible restoration – just how creative will you get, right? No matter what you think of, somebody already beat you to it. Anything. From collecting roadkill in plastic tubs filled with water to mountains of cardboard and weird paintings made by kindergarten children.

And then there are those who hoard animals. Indoors. The stench is blinding. It’s like somebody set your lungs on fire. If Hell exists, it smells like a small apartment stuffed with cats. Or parrots. Which kind of brings us to my next point…

#3. Tortured Pets

Pet owners often order domestic cleaning services because animals love to poop and smear their deposits all over your floors. But here’s the deal, if you can’t take care of an animal, why buy it in the first place? Opening a whole bag of granules and spilling it in the corner does not count as feeding the cat!

Surprisingly (or not?), there are pet owners who are the complete opposite! They love their pets beyond reason. And when they realize they are unhappy because of their dog’s stupid face, they’d just send Gucci (or Versace, or whatever fashion designer they named the flea bag after) to the pet surgeon. That’s right, there are pet surgeons now. Is there really a better way to tell the world that you’re filthy rich than to butcher your pekingese? Animal tattoos, piercings, make up and even fur dyes – there are whole industries which thrive on the suffering of defenseless cats and dogs. PETA, you suck at your job big time!

#4. People Obsessed with Home Improvement

An old saying goes a little something like this: A well-dusted home is a sign of wasted life. But if you ask the average OCD cleaner housewife, who is also obsessed with Swedish furniture, what she makes of this, she would probably just break a vase in your head so she can clean up the mess… and hurt you as well.

These people, they love their homes more than their children! They throw tons of money over home advances no sane person would think to buy. They are organizational and cleaning freaks – their vacuum cleaner will put an elephant’s trunk to shame! So why would anyone like this order cleaning services, right? Because they are nuts, that’s why!

This one time, we arrive at an address with a company van where we keep all our cleaning equipment and “very non-toxic and eco-friendly” detergents. The client meets us outside, says he’ll be back in a couple of hours and leaves us with the keys to the apartment. We gear up and go upstairs. There’s something wrong here. The place looks perfectly clean. No dust, no dirty underwear hanging from the ceiling fan, no nothing! We end up watching TV on the couch for two hours. The client comes back, we let him in and he says we did a great job.

Occasionally, there are those who’d want their home cleaned but not too well. Because what would they do when they come back from work, right? And there are those who are never satisfied – they’d call us total morons and tell us we should go back to Cleaning University.

But there’s a thing worse than all of these combined! Sure, most of the people you deal with should be institutionalized, their messiness will disgust you, their ridiculous requirements will make you see red. All this might bruise your pride. But there is one thing that will scar your heart…

#5. The End of Love

Things are looking great for your career, you decide to settle down and start a family. And 15 years later you feel like a prisoner. You and your family – you are inmates and your home is the cell. The prison of family. You thought that you wanted this. And then you realized you didn’t. You start to hate yourself for thinking it – you hate being a parent, you hate family diners, you hate that your best years are behind.

Some are able to swallow the bitterness for the sake of their children. Some find peace in their hobbies. But co-existence can create monsters out of us. Domestic violence, drinking problems, antisocial teenagers, cheating, arguing about money, divorce – the usual. Just like in the movies. Only louder, with brighter colours. So real. To the point where it seems unreal.

Your contract says you have to clean their homes but mopping up their drama wasn’t mentioned anywhere. One week you clean their home and water their plants while they are on a family vacation – the next, you help the husband pack his things. Witnessing how people who lived under one roof for a decade start to hate each other is really tough… unless you’re some sort of heartless sociopath.

Good thing you realize something: people fail. They can fail (or succeed) at pretty much anything in life – not just marriage or being good parents. And even though it’s terrible, it’s part of the human experience.

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