Spring Cleaning

The fact that this is my most frequently asked of all my frequently asked questions must say something about how Greenwich is changing these days, though since it’s been the number one FAQ ever since I started blogging it’s nothing very new. The question?

Where can I find a reliable cleaner?

I get asked this, on average, once a month, but recently the gloom and dirt of a filthy winter has clearly become ingrained – and people have become desperate for a spot of spring cleanery. Three people have asked me in the past seven days, so I guess it’s worth having a general discussion about it.

The first thing I should say is that I can’t actually recommend anyone from experience. Whatever cleaning gets (sporadically) done chez Phantom is currently ‘in-house’ (I have a very fetching 1950s-floral print tricorn-and-pinny ensemble, just so you can picture the scene) though I can’t say that I enjoy the experience.

The Nirvana of cleaners, of course, is that jolly old soul, Mrs Mopp. The cheery cockney cliche in a turban headscarf who pops up with happy homilies and stories about a clutch of scampish grandchildren in British comedies circa 1963. She’s the career cleaner who actually enjoys being on her ‘ands and knees polishing front steps.

And they do exist. I even know some people who have one. Trouble is, once you’ve got your ‘treasure’, you’re not going to want to tell anyone about her (she is always a ‘she’ in Ealing Comedy Land) in case you lose her.

So it becomes a secret as closely guarded as the Masons. People who would normally share all kinds of intimacies suddenly clam up as soon as they’re asked The Question.

Good cleaners – the ones who actually do it because it’s a viable career choice – are always booked up to the gills, which means that what’s left are either people who are doing it because they can’t find anything else, or are employed by cleaning companies, often at less-than-respectable wages.

Admittedly it was America, but I’ve been edgy about cleaning companies ever since I read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed. Of course, I’m sure British companies wouldn’t dream of treating their workers poorly or get up to the sort of scams that the American ones do (for example, if they’re running late, sometimes they just squirt the room with a very smelly polishing spray to make it smell like they cleaned it…) Perhaps someone can recommend a company that pays its workers a good wage and consistently come up with decent results for my questioners.

I get little photocopied leaflets through the door from people from time to time offering their services. They may be the treasures that everyone seeks, but their problem is that no one knows who they are. The issue being, of course (especially since the folk who want cleaners are typically out during the day) leaving a key to your place with some random person who stuck a leaflet through your door.

So what’s the answer? I don’t know. Maybe someone’s prepared to share their treasure with the good folks of Greenwich. Me, I’m just going to don that pinny and flowery tricorn and get down on me ‘ands and knees…

18 Comments to “Spring Cleaning”

  1. Capability Bowes says:

    Having been out of work for the last six weeks, I'll volunteer if anyone wants their carpet hoovering. I'm serious.

    However, I don't clean ovens and there is the distinct possibility that I will flirt with your husband.

    Incidentally,the best way to stop limescale in your loo is to put a couple of handfuls of seashells in the cistern. Its true.

  2. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    Top tip, CB! Of course – must be all that calcium…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Happy New Year Phantom
    I Have a wonderful girl who cleans No 16.( over 6 years now)She asked me a few days ago about wanting to do more work in a different way and did I have any ideas?
    I said " always do somthing different and start small"I suggested cleaning ovens on a one off basis, we all hate this! She seemed keen,and said she didnt know where to start. So I would like to launch St Alfege`s Scrubbers anyone in need?Call or e mail Number 16 St Alfege Passage
    Best wishes

  4. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    Huzzah – Phantom Scrubbers!!

    Looks like you've got a top money making idea there, Robert!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Talking of scrubbing. The director of the new Greenwich based film "The Cost of Love" (Gay Thriller set in modern day Greenwich)asked if I could mention it to The Phantom.(There is a mad scene in it with yours truely scrubbing a loo with very little on .Not a pretty sight) .Will send more info later. Coming out in March . The film not me!!
    Robert No 16

  6. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    Blimey – now there's an image I'm going to carry round with me all day…

    I'll look forward to hearing more about it. It vaguely rings a bell…

  7. Deptford dame says:

    Damn, I finally relented and cleaned the oven the other day – only two years after putting it on my 'to do' list! Might I suggest to Robert's cleaner that another job I love to hate is cleaning the fridge, perhaps she could offer that too!

  8. Anonymous says:

    So Sorry for that Dear Phantom.I should have a lie down to loose that awful image.I do think the film will end my acting career.!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Dear Deptford Dame
    Thank you for fridge mention. She said she was up for that too.

  10. Anonymous says:

    THinking of Robert's role in the upcoing movie, when I stayed in San Francisco my friend and I noticed regular ad for a Nude Cleaners serivce (girls or boys available). WE called several times but they were sadly always booked up, so I can't offer an opinion on how efficiently they scrubbed the oven.

    In San Fran they would also do next-day phone installs, and doorstep deliveries of crack. THey really had that customer service ethos sussed.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dear Anonymous
    Good ideas. Maybe I should offer myself for naked cleaning money to go to charity.
    Please nobody bid for my body

  12. Anonymous says:

    I've not used them personally, but Aussie Man & a Van now offer cleaning services. And if their cleaning is anything like their moving, it's sure to be excellent.


  13. Clean for me! says:

    It's a dilemma I'm currently in, do you employ an agency worker for the safety aspect (fully vetted & insured (you hope)) but know that the cleaner is getting the raw end of the deal, or do you take a risk on an unknown person and pay them a better wage?

    Some pointed me in the direction of the website below. Apparently a website which (for a fee) will put you in touch with local cleaners (like a particularly odd dating site I assume?)

  14. Clean for me (please)? says:

    Not sure if it stripped out the web address or I just forgot to add it (doh!) Just google opalcleaning for the address. I've not used them so can't give a recommendation, please check into them if you plan to.

  15. Capability Bowes says:

    The trouble with getting a cleaner is that one tends to rush round tidying up before they arrive so they don't think you live like a pig. And I really wouldn't inflicy my oven on anyone.

    Top cleaning tip: for a sparkling house, invite your mother-in-law round for the weekend. Your partner will then spend the next 24 hours cleaning everything in sight at top speed. Either that or Ma-in-Law will be so disgusted with the mess that she will do spend the weekend cleaning (while tutting and muttering sotto voce about what a dirty slut their son/daughter has ended up with).

    As for doorstep deliveries of crack, I did see a TV programme a good while back which mentioned "Dial a gram" who send a good-looking,leather clad biker to your door with cocaine. I jest not. But they didn't give the telephone number. If anyone would like to enlighten me, please feel free.

    Eh? Waddya mean I've had too much wine with my dinner?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Mmm – interesting! My daughter and I have been toying with the idea of starting a 'cleaning double-act' for ages – perhaps now is the time.She's the fast one with the vacuum cleaner & duster,I'm the steady polisher and…doh!… oven cleaner!I went to hear B.E.speak when Nickle & Dimed came out Phant – she was very impressive, & her stories heartbreaking – I think she's in the UK for her new book,Smile or Die.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I am one of the prople who asked this question.
    I currently use an agency but the cleaner is not great and doesn't speak any (or very little) English and so I can't let her know what she needs to do. The agency don't seem to pass on my comments and have now raised their fees by 3%. So feeling extremely disgruntled and want to find a good cleaner in the area!
    The choice is to spend my weekends cleaning and argueing with my husband about the jobs to do!
    If anyone has any recommendations (about cleaners!) , would love to hear them.

  18. Mrs. T says:

    Evening everyone,

    Frequent lurker on this unique & interesting site. Wondered if there were any new recommendations for cleaners that cover the SE7 area? There never seems to be enough time to do all that is required and it’s more than frustrating when husband is not in the slightest bit interested either.