Do good cleaning companies get bad reviews? The answer is yes. Wow, that was easy, if only that were the whole story! There are many reasons that a good company will get bad reviews, and please notice that I said WILL get negative reviews, not MAY. Small companies where the owner is still cleaning in the field may not get any bad reviews UNTIL they grow. A growing company eventually reaches a critical mass of clients. That’s when they start relying on employees to do the work. But companies that you would typically think of as ones where the employees were cleaning and supervised while they perform the bulk of the cleaning activities – those companies will get some bad reviews. This makes perfect sense, as explored below. 

Why do cleaners get bad reviews?

Good companies get bad reviews simply because they are run by humans and used by humans. Humans make mistakes, are misunderstood, egotistical, and can be crabby, vengeful, or spiteful. They can also try hard to do their best and still not measure up, pick the wrong people to clean for or have a difficult day. You can probably see that those descriptions can apply to owners, supervisors, managers, employees, etc. It’s a wonder that there aren’t more negative reviews.

Let’s talk about some of these reasons in a little more detail. There are three main reasons why a company will get negative reviews even if they are run very well, provide a consistently high level of service, and genuinely WANT to meet or exceed their customers’ needs.

Unmet expectations

Why do cleaners get bad reviewsWhen a potential customer contacts a cleaning company, there are certain expectations on both sides. Most of the time, these expectations are addressed. If either the customer or the company believes there is a mismatch, no service will be performed. Additionally, companies work very hard to craft a message that helps set the correct expectations. They put in place systems and processes to support that message. But sometimes, things can slip through the cracks.

For example, a customer might expect that the windows of a home are included in a deep-cleaning price, while the company typically charges extra for windows. It’s easy to see that a customer paying $200 expecting to have their windows cleaned is going to be upset. And it’s just as easy to see how a company that does $200 worth of cleaning can be upset to hear that the customer expected $300 worth of cleaning for only $200.

In this case, lack of communication contributed to the problem. It could have possibly been avoided if either side had addressed window cleaning during the initial setup of the services. In this particular case, I would put the responsibility on the company. Since window cleaning is a typical service for cleaning companies to perform, it’s reasonable that they address and set the expectation.

There are also situations where a customer may appear to be responsible. For instance, a customer might have non-cleaning-related expectations – watering plants, the type of employees that will do the cleaning (size of a team, gender, race, a language spoken), organizing cupboards, etc. I would argue that a good cleaning company will create systems and processes to address situations that might potentially upset and frustrate the customer.

To avoid unmet expectations on either side, it’s important to communicate your needs from the get-go. Here are some questions to ask a cleaning company to help you prevent misunderstandings:

  • What items or furniture will be moved during cleaning?
  • How much clutter will need to be picked up?
  • How are dirty dishes handled?
  • How are pets cared for (or not)?
  • What happens with pet accidents/waste?
  • Who will be in the home?
  • How will the company enter the house?
  • How much do they charge for this particular service?
  • What time will the cleaning begin/end?
  • What happens if things are broken?
  • What is included/not included in the cleaning?

Good strong companies may use FAQ pages to address many of these issues and more.


Closely tied to lack of communication, miscommunication can be frustrating for everyone. There are many such reasons for the miscommunication that I won’t go into them all here. A good company will take many precautions to avoid miscommunication as much as possible. They may put as much in writing as possible, including all work instructions and agreements. They may ask for clarification from the customer or ask for comprehension. Some companies may go to the home and visit the customer before signing them up for service if they are concerned.

Miscommunication almost always occurs innocently but may be perceived harshly. The company may say they will be arriving to clean between 9 and 11, but the customer may interpret that to mean that they will be arriving at 9:00 a.m. and cleaning until 11:00 a.m. If the company comes at 10:45 a.m., this customer may be distraught. Were this customer to leave a poor review, a good company would hear this feedback as an opportunity to improve its systems and processes.

Because miscommunication can happen in so many ways and be such an innocent thing, it can feel unfair to the company to receive a negative review. A good company will want to manage these negative reviews in ways that will make it stronger. And a customer can prevent future disappointments by carefully considering what questions to ask a potential cleaner beforehand.

Workforce constraints

What should I look for when hiring a cleaning serviceFollowing needs and demands, the house cleaning industry currently tends to hire lower-wage employees who may not be as dedicated to the job as their higher-paid counterparts. Even those who are very dedicated and have a good work ethic tend to have home issues that compound their ability to meet the unusual pressures and demands placed upon them.

The level of detail required from these employees on a very constant basis rivals many more highly compensated positions. A certain amount of muscle memory comes into play with some of the more repetitive parts of the job – cleaning toilets, for instance – but many more areas require 100% focus. Employees must look carefully at every surface they clean and pay attention to precisely the needs of that surface area. Highly trained cleaning technicians will note the surface, type of soil, and best solutions for each item they are cleaning for up to 8 hours a day. This level of focus is seldom needed in most jobs and can be even more exhausting when paired with the physical work of cleaning homes.

The elevated level of discipline needed, combined with the physically challenging aspects of the job and the low(er) pay, make the typical house cleaning job unattractive at best and degrading at worst. For this reason, even good cleaning companies may struggle to hire and retain employees who are willing and capable to do the work needed for lengthy periods. The good business owner must balance these considerations as well as the fee the market will bear, negative stereotypes about “maids,” child care considerations, and low unemployment statistics.

Creating a healthy culture of appreciation, respect, and accountability will go a long way toward maintaining an environment where employees perform to their best abilities. Even in the best circumstances, things can go awry with the best people putting in their best effort. If not for one of the two reasons above, then sometimes just because the workload may increase on any given day.

Let’s use illness as an example. To ensure that employees are receiving a living wage, they are assigned a full schedule every day. When the flu hits a cleaning company, there will be fewer employees cleaning homes since it simply isn’t prudent to send sick people out to clean other peoples’ homes. When an employee is absent, there are three possible outcomes. The remaining employees may increase their total workloads to compensate for the sick people; the supervisor moves those jobs to another day where there will also not be enough time to do additional work or both.

Any absence due to illness puts extraordinary pressure on most companies and their customers. Most employees will also need some time off for doctor visits, child care closures, and their children’s activities. Good companies will have trained backup help available including call-in employees, those with days off, etc. Still, these people are not always available as quickly as needed, potentially leading to negative reviews.

What should I look for when hiring a cleaning service?

I hope I’ve been able to illustrate how even good companies can get bad reviews. Since all companies will get negative reviews – good and bad alike, consider asking yourself how do I tell the good companies from the not-so-good by reading reviews? Here are some tips.

  • Read the review carefully. Does it sound like this is an anomaly, or is there a common theme? If it is an anomaly, this may be a good company to work with.
  • Does the reviewer sound emotionally charged? Because cleaning companies deal with their customers’ intimate spaces, emotions can quickly get out of control. Many times, a customer will respond way out of proportion to the problem they experienced. The best way to know if it is out of balance is to check the company’s response, as noted next.
  • Look at the company’s response. The best companies know how to respond to a cleaning complaint. Does the company get defensive or look for ways to solve the issue for the customer? Is the company understanding and helpful while trying to gain an understanding of their side of things? A good company will remember that this is a customer they chose to do business with and are ultimately responsible for the customer’s satisfaction. Not because they made any mistakes, but simply because by accepting this customer, they took all that comes with them and have the most power to fix the situation.
  • Are there many reviews but no negative reviews at all? Unfortunately, there are easy ways to get fake reviews and bribe people to take down negative reviews, just as there are customers who will blackmail a company to receive a free cleaning. No negative reviews are a sign that something is amiss.
  • Are the ratings disbursed among all the ranges, or do they mainly fall very high with only a few low scores? An outstanding company will have all four or 5-star reviews and a minimal amount of 1 or 2-star reviews. A company with its reviews scattered between 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 stars may have more issues than you would want to deal with.
  • Look for comments to determine the validity of the ratings. Do the 5-star reviews have praise that goes along with them or just the score? Most “true” customers rating 5 stars will be doing so because something was so great they felt compelled to tell others.

Finally, if you are happy with the service you receive from a company, think about taking a few minutes to say what you liked and why. Additionally, if there was a problem with the service, let the company know what they could do to make their service better rather than telling them how bad they are. Most good companies are appreciative and grateful for the feedback that helps them improve their service.

How do I hire good cleaners?

When it comes to letting someone into your intimate space, you can never be too careful. You’ll need a team of trustworthy, background-checked, and competent individuals who understand how to meet customer demands. This is where Castle Keepers comes in. We’re a reputable company that checks all the boxes.

Contact us if you need experts to keep your home smelling fresh, get candle wax staining out of your upholstery, or protect your wood furniture as they clean. We use only the best cleaning supplies out there and take good care of our tools and products. Reach out to us to schedule your tailored cleaning service!


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