How an Ambitious House Cleaner Showed Thousands of People That Toilet Scrubbing Can Be a Noble Profession

Vinegar on granite counter tops is terrible news. Bad for the granite’s finish. Bad for the purifier who damages the granite’s finish and possibly loses a client. Bad for the complete cleansing career when that customer decides in no way to trust some other wipe-wielding outsider in her home and denigrates the career to her neighbors.

Grace Reynolds won’t tolerate it. The co-owner of Handmaid Cleaning, in Walla Walla, Washington, sees her task as a calling, an art, a science. She wants to increase her fellow cleaners inside the public eye and exalt their roles as champions of health and restorers of order and splendor.

That’s why Grace and her husband, Kevin, preside over a Facebook network of greater than 19,000 cleaners who share pointers on getting rid of stains, positive, however also reassure each other about the dignity of their work. That’s why they commenced a expert company to help other small cleaning corporations thrive. And this is why they persuaded the parents at the National Day Calendar, legit registrar of all things commemorative, to proclaim September 17 as National Professional House Cleaners Day.

“There is a deep stigma connected to the cleaning profession,” Grace says. “We need to see reciprocated respect between the patron and the cleanser. And we need cleaners to have love for the work they do and the carrier they provide.”

Handmaid Cleaning employs between 10 and 17 humans, relying at the season, and has annual income of around $500,000. It is a business dedicated to cleanliness that emerged from two very messy lives. The Reynoldses, who now talk in rapturous tones about baseboards and pH balances, survived divorce, unemployment, and–in Grace’s case–abuse. Between them they have eleven youngsters, aged 14 years to two months.

Perhaps that is wherein their empathy comes from. Empathy for other cleaners “whose family members or husbands or boyfriends look down on them for the paintings they do,” says Grace. And empathy for clients, whose troubles they can’t remedy however whose lives they make greater plausible.

Michelle Dressler, who lives in Walla Walla, observed Handmaid years in the past in an online directory of local offerings for human beings present process cancer treatment. “Kevin came out to my house and become so compassionate and type and requested what I wished,” says Dressler, who is now in remission. “I was in the middle of chemotherapy, and I should barely get off the sofa. They supplied me free cleanings. It literally helped save my life.”

Two cleaners serviced Dressler’s domestic for three months. “It was obvious they actually loved their jobs,” she says. “It wasn’t like they were doing it due to the fact they had to. I’m sure that comes from Kevin and Grace.”
A clean smash

Small youngsters are seeking for refuge where they can. When Grace Reynolds became 5 years old and things got terrible at home–which become regularly–she found peace and protection cleansing the toilet. “I pretended I changed into a princess and that my first-rate buddy became a maid,” says Grace. “She turned into my imaginary pal. We could easy together and proportion secrets.”

That become in Mobile, Alabama, wherein Grace grew up. After high faculty she were given married, leaving one abusive household for some other. Needing cash to break out, she implemented for a cleaning job at a Hard Rock Café but become encouraged to be a cocktail waitress there instead. When neighborhood police declined to difficulty a restraining order on her husband, she loaded her daughters, ages 1 and three, and a few plastic baggage of belongings into a Ford Explorer and drove to Pittsburgh, in which a cousin lived.

In Pittsburgh, Grace enrolled in network college, with vague goals to emerge as a nurse. Needing to assist her family, she again considered cleansing but her cousin said it changed into under her. She persisted to waitress, a process that paid poorly. And when you are a younger mom of younger kids scrabbling to continue to exist in a peculiar metropolis, you do what you need to. Grace labored nights dancing at a membership. “I felt determined, trapped,” she says. The irony that she’d reached this juncture due to the fact society deemed cleaning undignified turned into not misplaced on her. One night time in 2011, pushed to her limits by using a consumer, she walked out.

Grace had stored just $900, but it became sufficient. At the local FedEx, she revealed up colorful flyers. Every day, while she wasn’t in faculty, she spent 30 minutes to an hour strolling round Pittsburgh’s top-middle class neighborhoods affixing advertisements to door handles. Her daughters helped.

Handmaid Cleaning promised to exceed clients’ expectations. For Grace, that turned into the fun component. “I love to easy, so I might wipe down baseboards. Dust from pinnacle to backside. Get rid of all the tough water and cleaning soap scum construct-up,” she says. “When I went right into a residence I become on a venture.”

At first she charged $20 an hour, however she soon raised that to $30. As she grew quicker and extra confident, she clearly gave out estimates for complete jobs. “Over six or seven months quite some customers have been paying me $75 an hour,” she says. “They were happy to pay it, too.” By yr’s stop she had round 50 ordinary customers and was a celebrity on Angie’s List. Although she finished her degree, nursing–with its overdue nights and long shifts–now not appealed.

Grace and Kevin met via a web courting provider and fell in love at some stage in lengthy conversations at the phone. A former paramedic from California, Kevin had divorced and observed his ex-spouse to Walla Walla to be close to his three kids. He struggled to locate paintings there, so when Grace moved out West to be with him past due in 2012, he eagerly joined the enterprise.

“Naturally, before everything I thought I’m no longer going to like scrubbing bathrooms,” Kevin says. “But I loved being round Grace, and I loved her ardour for what she became doing. I wanted to be available in the subject along with her doing it.”

Grace became Kevin’s sanitation sensei. She taught him how to deal with fixtures and surfaces in a home, what works on granite versus marble versus wooden. She defined the way to blend extraordinary consistencies of the mild abrasive Barkeepers Friend for superior overall performance on porcelain, chrome, or stainless-steel.

The Reynoldses knew the way to easy. They did not know how to interrupt into the nearby market. The flyers that had worked in Pittsburgh did not generate a single call. One email did are available. “It stated your commercial enterprise call sucks,” Kevin says. “Good success, but your business is going to die.”
Grant Hindsley

Down to their final $100–surviving on meals stamps–the Reynolds used $30 to buy an advert on Facebook. They worked for as little as $five an hour. From those early jobs they accumulated dramatic before-and-after snap shots, which they posted on their Facebook web page. “It ended up blowing us up available,” Kevin says.

The Reynoldses usually planned to grow Handmaid into a larger commercial enterprise. But Grace fretted over relying on others to uphold her requirements. Then, in 2013, headaches advanced in Grace’s pregnancy. Forced to spend a month in Spokane, where their daughter changed into in a neonatal in depth care unit, they introduced on their first worker and entrusted her with 20 clients.

By 2014, Handmaid Cleaning had eight employees, who earned as an awful lot as $30 an hour. Then one day, “the authorities actually knocked on our the front door,” Kevin says. Two sellers from Washington State’s Department of Labor and Industries asked to peer the Reynoldses’ books. They concluded the couple changed into illegally treating their cleaners as contractors as opposed to employees, demanded $12,000 in again taxes, and ordered them to exchange their commercial enterprise model. Under the brand new shape, personnel might earn extensively much less. “Five of them stop, and one took lots of our clients,” Grace says. “That time become devastating.”
Helping an enterprise shine

Over the following couple of years, Handmaid rebuilt its group of workers and gained greater customers. The Reynoldses increasingly used Facebook–not just to demonstrate their cleansing prowess however additionally to arrange community activities, like charity drives. In 2017, Facebook decided on Handmaid Cleaning for its Small Business Council and flew the couple to a assembly in Menlo Park, California. That event generated nearby press, in addition raising Handmaid’s popularity in Walla Walla. They also earned appropriate will supporting different nearby agencies leverage the platform.

At a Council reunion the next year, a fellow alumnus counseled the Reynoldses begin a expert cleaners’ community, Grace says, “to spread the concept that cleansing is something to take pleasure in.” The House Cleaning Community (“powered through Handmaid”) changed into born and is now extra than 19,000 members robust.
Grace Reynolds and Kevin Reynolds, co-founders of Handmaid Cleaning.Grant Hindsley

The nonprofit American House Cleaners Association, which the Reynoldses released in May, is supposed to raise the profiles of character members and assist them professionalize their offerings. To date, approximately 60 cleansing services pay between $10 and $150 for a emblem, access to a personal Facebook group, nearby promotions, and counseling on advertising and commercial enterprise development. One member–Clean Heart Cleaning Service, in Oneonta, Alabama–was profiled at the local Fox affiliate thanks to an AHCA promotion.

McKenna and Troy Hargis have become paying members quickly after the AHCA’s launch. The owners of Hargis Helpers Cleaning had been suffering for three years to develop their small family commercial enterprise in Raleigh, North Carolina. In quick order, the Reynoldses helped them create contracts, boost costs, jazz up their on-line marketing, switch to natural cleansing products, and adopt a chatbot to deal with customers. They also publicized Hargis Helpers at the affiliation’s web page. “We were given an awesome 15 to twenty calls just from that put up,” McKenna Hargis says.

“The natural products are a huge motive we’re getting plenty extra customers. And humans see we are a part of an association so it is like that backs us up,” she says. “We’ve won plenty from Grace and Kevin. They understand what they are doing.”

Eddie Bowers
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