7 tips from a professional cleaner

Lotlot Hadjilaya has been my short-let rental cleaner for almost three years now. I first met Lotlot during my time running Airbnb management companies in Brisbane, Queensland. From my rough calculations, Lotlot has done over 2,000 short-let change-over cleans, all of which gained 5-star reviews. Her talent and experience are incredibly valuable, and something that shows just as much value is Lotlot's story. With the current struggles in our industry, I believe Lotlot's story shows how important our industry is and the kind of brilliant people it creates.

Hi, my name is Lotlot, born and raised in Davao, Philippines. Now an international student in Brisbane pursuing a Diploma while working. For almost 15 years, I have been a cleaner. Below is my story, and also my seven tips to ensure your short-term rental is perfectly clean for guests.

It was summer, and I just completed secondary school. Unfortunately, my family couldn't afford to send me to college. Work in our province was hard to find. My former classmate offered me a cleaning job at her employer up in Manila: "We will work together in one house". I was so excited as this was my first opportunity ever to earn my own money and to help my family. Manila is a 24-hour city and very far away and different from where I came from.

This first job was not easy! I was a housekeeper/maid for a very demanding and wealthy family who had all the modern equipment I have never used before such as rice cooker, washing machine, coffee maker, vacuum, dryer and more. As you can imagine, there are some funny stories of 'discovery' for this simple country girl.

Being far away from home in a new environment was hard for me, but I never gave up! I started to get better, and I began to grow in confidence.

A friend advised me to look for a job overseas, "The money is good", she said. I was fortunate that via my aunt's connections, I was offered to work as a cleaner in the Netherlands for six months. My eyes opened again! The life in the Netherlands is so different from the Philippines! I met many interesting and friendly people. I learned you don't live to work, but your work to live! Maybe being a housekeeper can create this opportunity for me.

After six months, I could not extend my visa and had to return to the Philippines. This experience overseas opened my eyes to a life that could be better for me, one away from poverty. I had to earn more money before I could make the next step.

I signed up to work as a domestic helper in Singapore. Contract of 2 years, living with your employer. I stayed for eight years in Singapore, and I worked for Chinese, English, American, Australian, Ukrainian and Dutch people. Such a vibrant mix of cultures, habits and requirements. Long working hours, one day off per week, no holidays. But as a person, I kept growing. I sent money back to support my family, and the rest I kept to help achieve my dream. After working for eight years day and night, I finally saved enough money for the next leap forward in my life as an international student. After many days of research, I chose to pursue a Diploma in Brisbane. Lucky me ☺

As an international student, it's challenging to find a job. Lucky my many years of working as a cleaner benefited me once again. Within a week I saw my first cleaning job, and I have been combining working as a cleaner with my studies ever since. My time in Brissy has been fantastic so far. Hard to imagine that I once was that shy country girl. My life is excellent, and my future will be awesome!

My life as a cleaner has enabled me to travel the world and live comfortably. I love to share my experience because maybe my experience could be valuable for you too. Below are my favourite seven tips that have helped me in my career.

1. Dust

House dust is a combination of particles, formed from clothing fibres, hair, pollens, soil, air and many more. People usually wipe the baseboards, drawers, cupboards and shelves with a microfiber cloth. Not realizing that the cloth can only hold a few grams of dust.

You can save more time by actually using the vacuum cleaner dusting brush accessory. With the dusting brush, you vacuum all the dust, and you're not displacing it anymore. After dusting, I use a cleaning cloth with the surface cleaner to wipe the remaining dust off.

2. The bathroom

Vacuuming after washing your bathroom is a challenge. The hair or dust will stick more when the floor or surfaces are wet. So first you need to wipe the sink top, so all the hair and dust fall on the floor, then vacuum everything on the floor before you start washing the bathroom. Simple!

3. Windows and mirrors

Having trouble getting that crystal-clear shine on those windows and mirrors? Did you know that using too much glass cleaner can lead to a smear? Using Norwex (or similar) cloth with minimal glass cleaner, you can have that crystal-clear windows and mirrors! Remember, less is more.

4. Toilet

Don't you hate those dirty toilet bowls where it's challenging to get those hairs and dust off? Don't start with spraying the bowl with a cleaning agent. First, wipe the bowl with a cloth, you will see hairs and dust come off easier. Only after wiping with a cloth apply the cleaning agent. Saves time!

5. Tea and coffee stains

Rental accommodation needs the chinaware to be spotless, but how can you get rid of the tea and coffee stains on those cups? Use your gloves, get the bleach and a sponge. Apply just a bit of bleach on the sponge and start rubbing it to the stained area of the cup. Once the stains are gone, soak the cup in hot water for about 5 minutes. Then give it a good soapy wash. No more smell from the bleach and sparking clean cups!

6. Kitchen

Do you see those greasy tiles behind the cooking area? All that buildup of food stains come from different herbs, spices and oil mixtures. For me, the kitchen is often the hardest part of the house to clean, especially the cooking area. Make your life easier by using detergent for dissolving that grease. Let it soak for at least 5 minutes and then scrub it with a stainless-steel wool scrubber.

7. Linens and towels

Sometimes we have to wash and dry the linens and towels of service apartments ourselves when they don't use a company to deliver fresh linens and towels. After using the washing machine, don't put the linens and towels all at once into the dyer. Try to load two sheets at a time, to let the sheets to have space while the machine is running. This will prevent the sheets from tangling up inside the drum. It will dry quicker, and the sheets will come out with fewer wrinkles. Don't forget to clean the filter and throw the water out from the dispenser.