Is Age Relevant In The World Of Professional Cleaning

Hey there, cleaning junkies, Dave here with another quick blog post to share. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend – I certainly did. Like most other people who are tuned in to the sports world, I was watching the Super Sunday in the Premier League and the Golf Masters from Augusta National simultaneously. Since both football matches proved to be a bit of a letdown, I quickly turned my attention to Augusta, where history was unfolding right before our eyes. Wow, a 15th Major for Tiger, eleven years after the last one, and fourteen after his last triumph at arguably the most challenging course in the world. And the greatest thing about it – he did it at the ripe old age (chuckling) of 43 when most people have written him off.

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – APRIL 14: Tiger Woods of the United States celebrates after sinking his putt on the 18th green to win during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Tiger’s victory made me think about my career and industry, and the relevance of age throughout it. I have worked with hundreds of cleaners and personally trained a few dozens of any sex, age group, racial and cultural background you can imagine. And do not think there is a precise algorithm or maths behind the perfect age to be a cleaner. I do believe, however, that there are limits of efficiency – and today’s post will discuss them, and how to take advantage of them.

The Starting Age

If we have to be fair, most people do not choose cleaning as their first job. I do not know a single person whom you could ask, and they will tell you that their dream was to become a carpet cleaner or a housemaid when they were nine years old. Therefore the majority of workers in the industry start at a relatively later age than an IT specialist or a doctor, for example. The flip side to this argument is that it takes significantly less time to become proficient in house cleaning than in medicine or code writing. I would put the lower limit for a successful cleaning professional at about 28-30 years old.

How so? Let’s say you start at 25, which is reasonable in our industry. If you have serious plans to advance in the field, you will need to spend at least six months in drills and training, preferably at a professional institution – if you are located in the UK, the National Carpet Cleaners Association and the British Window Cleaning Academy come to mind. Then you will need another 24 to 36 months of real practice to put what you have learnt to the test. In other words, three years after you have started on this professional path, you will be able to claim a decent level of knowledge and skill.

The Upper Limit

I had my stage of denial, but the truth is that top-notch cleaning requires the energy and young legs of men and women in their physical prime. I do not mean to say that people over 45 cannot be effective cleaners – I do claim that they are at a disadvantage, compared to someone ten years younger.

Let’s face it – housekeeping or any cleaning-related work requires a lot of physical effort, repetitive motions, and excellent muscle coordination – to put it plainly, you have to be in a more than decent shape to do the job. From personal experience and conversations with colleagues who have been in the business for more than two decades, the first thing to give in is your back, then the legs (especially the knees) start causing you problems.

While not nearly as dramatic as professional sports, if you choose cleaning as your job, it will take its toll on your body. How can you counter that? You can use your experience and go to the next step in your career – become a cleaning instructor, a training expert, or a manager. Take advantage of all the things you have learned throughout the years and pass them on to the next generation.

The alternative is to lean on the increasing mechanisation in the industry – let the equipment and the new-age gadgets do the hard work, while you retain the overall quality control of the cleaning process. You have to recognise, however, that this is postponing the inevitable – your hygienic efficiency will deteriorate if you rely exclusively on tools instead of fresh legs and manual effort. Do not forget – cleaning equipment is meant to make your job easier, not to substitute the human element entirely.

So, my conclusion for everybody who is about to use the services of a professional domestic cleaner – choose a person between the age of thirty and forty. During your first meeting, ask them how many years of experience do they have in the industry – any answer under five or over twenty should ring the alarm bell in your head. To pretend that age does not matter in a business that requires so much physical effort is to invite trouble. After all, not all people can be superhuman or as historically great as Tiger Woods.