Do you need a uniform for house cleaning? Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru, discusses the pros and cons of wearing a uniform to clean houses in. Do you need embroidered logos on your shirts? Do your uniforms have to be expensive? What happens when you don’t wear a uniform?
Listen: Do I Need a Uniform For My Cleaning Company?
Watch: Do I Need a Uniform For My Cleaning Business?
Hi there. I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner.
This is a show where you get ask your house cleaning questions, and I get to help you find any answer. I’ve been a professional house cleaner for 25 years. If I don’t have the answer, I probably know somebody who does.
I’m connected to the best and the brightest minds in the house cleaning industry. These are my peers and my colleagues, and we are determined to help you find the answers to your house cleaning questions.
Today’s Question: Do I Need a Uniform For My Cleaning Business?
So, having said that, today’s question comes from a guy who wants to know “How important it is when running a housecleaning company for him to have a uniform?”
Today’s Answer: A Uniform Is Part of Your Brand
Yes. You do need a uniform, but I love this question because you’re thinking about your brand.
A uniform is part of your brand.
Now for me, part of my brand is this color blue. I wear this color in all of my videos. I wear this color when I clean houses. I’ve worn this color for many years.
So when people see me coming, “Oh yes, it’s the girl in the blue.” It’s part of my brand.
The logo for my business is the same color, okay? So whatever your uniform is it’s part of your brand.
Brands Build Consistency in The Minds of The Buyer
Here’s why it’s important; if I show up to your house one day and I’m wearing sweats, and I have my hair in a ponytail, okay that’s fine. I’m a small mom-and-pop company it’s no big deal.
The next time I come, let’s say that my hair is down and I have a big clip at the top of my hair. And I’m wearing a green shirt that has some letters or something on the front of it. No big deal but, okay. Whatever.
And then the next time I come, my hair is up in a bun, and I have glasses on this time, and I might be wearing just a big oversized t-shirt and some leggings.
Okay, whatever, if she still cleaning it has nothing to do with her job.
Okay! That has nothing to do with the job. But it has everything to do with perception.
Uniforms Have Everything to Do With Perception
Because here’s what happens when you show up looking different every single time, you create an inconsistency that your customers then have to work through. And they say “Wait, a second, is that the same girl? Oh yes, that’s the same girl.”
“Is she doing the same job?
Okay so this is going to scare you, and this is kind of an awful story, but I’ve worn my hair the same way for 25 years.
I’ve worn the same earrings, the same shirt, the same everything,
What I’m doing is I’m creating consistency when I show up I look the exact same way every single time.
What that does is send a message to you as my customer, “I’m going to get the same consistent job every single time.”
Does Your Uniform Have to Be Fancy?
No, it does not. but I recommend wearing a collared shirt.
You can buy inexpensive collared shirts for like 15 bucks. There are stores all over the Internet that sell these kinds of shirts.
So if you’re going to have a shirt where you’re going to be doing a lot of physical and manual labor you want something that is stain resistant.
The collared shirt is a step above a T-shirt and the reason I recommend a collared shirt is because it sends a message.
All of our friends in the golf community wear collared shirts. It’s part of the golfing brand.
And what you’re doing is you’re stepping up to that level. You’re saying “I’m a premier cleaning agency.”
Maybe you’re not, but you’re sending that message, which means “I can charge a little bit more.” If I show up in leggings and a t-shirt guess what that says? “I’m rock bottom price. Go ahead challenge me on my price; I don’t care about my clothing. Therefore, I’m going to wear the lowest common denominator of clothing available.”
Don’t Shoot For the Lowest Common Denominator
They’re going to expect the lowest common denominator price.
So the message that you send comes from your uniform and the way you wear your hair.
Keep it super simple. Wear a uniform that is appropriate to the job they are expecting you to do.
Here’s How Uniforms Work
Let’s say that you injure yourself and you have to go to the hospital. And you walk in, and you’re sitting in the waiting room. Some dude, comes skating in on a skateboard, and he’s full of tats; and wearing leggings, and maybe some sleeveless t-shirt that’s too tight.
He checks in at the front counter, and grabs a clipboard and turns to face you and says; “Oh hey, you’re next.”
You’re going to look at that person and go “ugh ugh, no way; you’re not my doctor. You don’t look like a doctor.”
We Expect A Doctor To Look a Certain Way
So, when the doctor opens the door any comes in, and he’s wearing scrubs and lab coat, and he has the little stethoscope around his neck, guess what?
You think; “Oh hey, that must be my doctor!” And we feel totally comfortable with him because he’s wearing a uniform.
The truth of the matter is that this skateboard dude and the doctor in the lab coat can be the exact same person.
But with the scrubs and the lab coat on we expect he now has the credibility to deliver the job we need.
No One is Home When I Clean – They Won’t See Me
Housekeepers and maids argue: “my customers aren’t even home. They’re not going to know what I look like.” Guess what? Yes, they do! Everybody now has home security cameras. They’re watching you on a camera. And so if you look different every single time, they’re going to think “Holy Cow, this isn’t consistent work I’m paying for.”
Erase those questions that nobody’s asking. Show up every single time looking the exact same way.
A Uniform, Like a Picture, Speaks a Thousand Words
It lends credibility to your business. It also builds confidence in the person wearing the uniform. Or rather keeps them in character with the job they are performing. This is important if you are just starting your house cleaning business. You want to “look” like you know what you are doing right from the start.
Your uniform doesn’t have to be expensive or have embroidered logos or a company name on it, although those are great options.
I recommend saving embroidered logos until you are ready to hire a team and expand your cleaning services. Then I do encourage everybody on your cleaning team to match and look alike.
If you are a solo maid or housekeeper – a simple consistent uniform will do just fine. Your object is to get up and running right away with minimal start-up costs.
NOTE: When you are ready to make a logo and get it printed or embroidered on your shirts there are several companies that do a great job. See “Resources” at the end of this post for special deals Savvy Cleaner has negotiated with our partners for your convenience and savings.
Choose a Shirt That Fits Your Job
You want a shirt that can breathe, and you want something that has wick properties so that it will wick away sweat. Because you are going to sweat during the course of the day.
You don’t want to get rashes or boils or whatever from clothes that rub the wrong way they’re not soft, the material is scratchy, or whatever. And make sure you choose a shirt that is comfortable.
Not important, but I’ve made this mistake in the past. You want to get collars that lay flat. That way they’re not all scrunched and bunched, and they don’t look crappy because I did that for years. I had crappy collars, but now they sell shirts with flat lay collars.
Choose shirts that are microfiber or stretch polyester. They are super comfortable, they last forever, they are stain resistant and breathable. Best of all, they have lay flat collars that don’t curl.
What Color Should You Choose?
For your uniform top, you can pick any color you want.
If you have already created a media kit for your business – you will have company colors.
If you haven’t chosen colors yet for your business, do that before you choose your uniform colors. Again this reinforces the consistency in your brand.
The rule of thumb is to pick two colors – three at the most for your business. Use these colors in everything you use to brand your business.
How Many Uniforms Do You Need To Buy?
Order 7 new shirts a year. This gives you one for every day you work so you only have to do laundry once a week. I usually save 2 shirts to toss in the mix about halfway through the year if one gets stained, ripped or torn.
We order ours from a uniform store. They specialize in service industries like house cleaning. And they have some fantastic athletic style fabrics designed to wick away sweat.
At the end of the year, (or whenever they wear out,) rotate all the shirts. Last year’s work shirts become this year’s gardening shirts. Or when you are doing move out cleans or attic or garage cleans where you are bound to get them dirty or soiled.
You might find that your seven shirts last two or three years – that’s fine. You only need to replace them when they no longer represent a top notch professional look.
For uniform pants, I buy Dickies or some other form of loose fit cargo pants (with lots of pockets) online. They come in a wide variety of colors including camel, navy, and black.
You can buy them from Workwear USA ($9 – $19 a pair) or Amazon
Navy and black are preferable since they don’t show grime as easily, as lighter colored pants. Work pants are durable and have double stitching on the seams and pockets. Most of them are made from stain resistant stretch fabric. Most you can wear every day for three to four years of daily use without needing to replace them. I’ve had the uniform pants I’m wearing now going on three years and they’ll hold out for another year or two. They are colorfast and they don’t fade.
The dark pants go well with solid color shirts. I recommend ones with big cargo pockets on the side where you can hide your cell phone, and small cleaning utensils5. The ones I wear have a back pocket on both butt cheeks that button. This is perfect to hold the handle of a Swiffer duster without it falling out. This way you always have it within reach if you need it.
Pick one color of the shirt and one color of pants and stick with that combo.
Remember we’re going for consistency here. If you keep changing the color of clothes, it’s subtle, it has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of work you do. But your clients know something is not the same as before, and they will assume it’s your work. Solve that question before it becomes conscious.
For shoes, I wear comfortable sneakers with good support and I do not remove the shoes when I go into homes. Rather I buy in bulk from a medical store, shoe booties or shoe covers that slide right over my shoes. This protects my shoes from scuffing hardwood floors as I clean.
The shoe covers we buy are:
- Manufactured from spun bond polypropylene
- Sewn seams, not glued – offers greater strength
- All come in a blue color
- Elastic opening provides a snug comfortable fit
- Non-skid shoe covers offer improved floor traction
Time Saving Bonus for Wearing Uniforms
Wearing the same outfit every day takes the guesswork out of what you will wear, so it saves time getting dressed each day. And having five to seven of each will prevent you from doing laundry each night.
Turn Any Sneakers into Slip-Ons
Some house cleaners prefer to take off their shoes when they clean rather than wear shoe covers. It really comes down to personal preference. I prefer wearing shoes since being on your feet all day takes a toll on your back, your hips, and knees. Wear shoes with good support. You’ll thank me later.
For those who prefer to slip off their shoes, I recommend Hickies or Lock Laces to replace your shoelaces. They turn any sneakers into slip-on shoes. This way if you have to run outside to dump out a mop bucket or you have to go to your car for extra supplies you can get in and out of your shoes in a jiffy.
NOTE: Hickies are also awesome for people who have a tough time bending over to reach their shoes to tie them.
- Never tie your sneakers again
- Snug, secure fit for an active lifestyle.
- Made from Memory-fit elastomer that reacts to the movement of your foot.
Should you wear disposable gloves for house cleaning? Some housekeepers and maids don’t think they need to wear gloves because they don’t clean with toxic chemicals. But there are so many reasons to choose to wear gloves while cleaning.
Where do you buy inexpensive disposable gloves? (You can also buy latex or plastic) but I find non-powdered nitrile gloves are more durable than plastic or latex. They are all about the same price and come in a box of 100 for an average of $9.99 per box. If you buy them in bulk you can get ten boxes of 100 for about $4.50 a box. When you combine your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) items (Gloves, shoe covers, and face masks) in the same order by reaching a certain dollar amount, you can usually get free shipping.
Face Masks (Protective Equipment for Nasty Jobs)
Doctors use these face masks when performing operations and I find there are some nasty cases in cleaning where these come in super handy. I keep them in my car and use them for jobs like attic cleaning, and garage cleaning. They are also helpful for households with lots of pets or in-home smokers or during pollen season or if customers are sick.
- Procedure Masks offer a flexible nose piece that helps form a closure for better protection against exposure
- Pleated earloop procedure masks with glass-free filter
- Also available with optically clear plastic wraparound face shield which provides protection for the face and eyes against pathogens contained in body fluids
- Mask has fluid resistant shield
- Latex free
- Ear Loops
If you are a guy, cut your hair short and shave. Unless you are an actor and you have a signature look, a tidy clean professional look sends the branding message that your service is also well groomed.
If you do have long hair as a girl or guy, when you get out of the shower in the morning (and yes, you do shower before going to work, even if you will need a shower when you get home), make sure when your hair is wet, to pull it back in a tight knot. (Bun, clip or hair tie.) This removes the need for styling before you go which will again save time on your morning routine.
I have shoulder length hair and I add a glob of conditioner to my towel dried but still wet hair, work it through my hair, (which acts like moisturizing gel to hold the hair in place) then do a side sweep of wet hair over my forehead and back into a tight bun with a clip. Four bobby pins hold wisps from getting away, and it’s very tight, clean, look that promotes consistency, and it keeps my hair from falling in the Clients house – which I will later have to clean up.
And show up looking the same every single time. I promise you this, will save you a lot of time on your marketing later on.
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