Are cleaning and organizing the same thing?


I recently hired cleaners to clean our house monthly. We used to have cleaners when my daughter was a baby, but after moving across country, we moved in with family for a few years, so the service wasn't needed.


We have been in our current home for almost 4 years, and I finally took the plunge! On their last visit, I walked around after they left and realized why I love having them in my home. They reset my house! I don't mind cleaning, but what I don't have, is the time to clean my entire house the way they do, all in one day. When they come, I feel like our home gets a fresh start every month.


When we used to have cleaners years ago, my husband would chuckle and ask why I cleaned before the cleaners came. I used to think it was because I didn't want them to walk in on a mess, but this time around, I knew the answer, when I read this in an email from our current cleaning company before their first visit:


"It is important to notice that we do not wash dishes or organize the house. On the day of the cleaning the house needs to be ready to receive the service."


And there it was. The reason I always tidy my house before the cleaner comes is because their job is to clean my house, not tidy it. I think there are a lot of misconceptions between tidying and cleaning. I think there are even more misconceptions between organizing and cleaning. So, I recently took some time to interview Danny, the owner of the company we use, to get her thoughts on the subject. Danny started her business 20 years ago. She has grown from a staff of 1 person (herself) to 14 crews that service homes in Baltimore, Howard County, and Montgomery County.


Here are some key ideas Danny shared with me during our conversation:


  • Before booking a new client, she has a phone call to explain her services. She goes through a very detailed list of all the things her crew members will clean when they service your home. She wants each client to receive a thorough cleaning so much that she encourages her clients to contact her if their service was not up to their standards.

  • After being in business for 20 years, she has noticed that disorganized homes take a lot more time to clean. She prefers for her staff to be able to spend time cleaning your home, rather than tidying it. When they have to pick up a lot of items off the floors and other surfaces, it increases the time spent in the home, which increases the price of the service.

  • She has organized spaces in her clients' homes before and found that it took a lot of time and she still had to clean the entire home after organizing a space. (Ha! There is a reason I usually spend no less than 3-4 hours in a client's home for one organizing appointment). For her company, she has decided to specifically state that while they can provide a thorough cleaning, they do not provide organizing services.

  • She still regularly gets asked if her company provides organizing services and sees it as a need and important service.

  • Some of the things her staff will not do include: they will not do laundry, wash dishes and spend a lot of time putting things away.

  • Danny has noticed that her tidy clients are usually more organized.

  • She believes that her expertise is in cleaning and that by not focusing on getting her clients organized, she is able to provide a more effective cleaning service.


Were you surprised by anything from our conversation? While I am sure all cleaning companies differ, I think that there were some good points made here. As I think about it, even the process of getting your home ready for a cleaning versus an organizing services are very different. Here are my takeaways:


  1. Cleaning and organizing are not the same thing! To help, think of cleaning as disinfected versus organized as put away (in a place you can find it).

  2. Organized spaces won't always be clean, but they will be easier to tidy and put things back where they belong.

  3. If you are looking for a cleaning company, have an open conversation of what you are looking for. This will avoid any major disappointments after the first service.


I really enjoyed this conversation and think that cleaning and organizing companies could build some beautiful partnerships in the future!


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