House Cleaning Tips & Concerns around COVID-19

While the shelter in place has not been lifted, folks may be starting to think about having their house cleaners return. Hopefully you’ve been able to continue paying your domestic workers and have stayed in touch with them during the lockdown. As you reconnect and invite them back into your home, these tips and things to consider can help keep both your cleaner and your family safe.

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Think through your comfort levels. While you may be ready to have your home clean, are you okay with the added stress and worry that the logistics of having your cleaner visit may cause? Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to uncertainty and stress, so think about the balance between a clean home and you and your family’s added worry.

Keep lines of communication open. Ask your house cleaner if they have friends and family that have had COVID, and inform them if someone in your circle has had it. If someone in your family gets sick or has been sick recently, do not bring in a cleaner for the safety of both parties.

Consider the risks of travel. Taking public transportation increases the likelihood that your cleaner brings the virus into your house. If you can pick them up in your own car or come to an agreement with them about taking a car service, that will reduce the number of people they will come into contact with before entering your home.

Consider timing. If your cleaner is traveling by public transportation, then try to work it out so they can come during off-peak hours and/or at an earlier time when the subway has been more recently disinfected. If you can have them come during a time that you’re out of the house entirely, then that would be most safe for all parties involved.

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If possible, ventilate your house before the cleaner arrives. Open up windows and use ventilating fans to increase air circulation. This is for the safety of your cleaner in case anyone in your household has been unknowingly affected, as proper ventilation can help remove contaminated air.

Take safety precautions. Use personal protective equipment (PPE) and make sure your cleaner removes shoes and washes hands for 20 seconds when they arrive. Provide them with disposable gloves, shoe covers, and a mask, and assure them that they can take more breaks than usual, as cleaning with a mask on is more taxing than normal cleaning. If possible, have your cleaner bring clothes to change into after coming in from the street. And, as always, keep a six-foot distance at all times.

Cleaning supplies. If they are bringing their own, check that the supplies have been thoroughly disinfected. If you are providing the cleaning supplies, properly clean and disinfect them before the cleaner arrives and once they are finished. Make a habit of emptying and disinfecting your vacuum and cleaning larger items such as mops. If possible, use paper towels and wipes rather than cloth rags, as these can be disposed of and you don’t have to worry about cleaning them. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of disinfectants that combat COVID-19.

Consider paying your cleaner more if you can. You may think about providing “hazard pay” for your house cleaner given the increased stress and riskiness of today’s times.

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Further reading:

CDC: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility
Everyday Steps, Steps When Someone is Sick, and Considerations for Employers