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Instructions for Housekeepers

The hardest part of your job as a housekeeper may not be the cleaning. If you and your client speak different languages, miscommunication can be a problem. Be upfront about your English ability from the beginning. Ask your client to speak slowly if you don't understand the instructions. It is a good idea to ask your client to give you a checklist of things that need doing. Impress your client by preparing a checklist ahead of time, and asking them to take a moment to check off anything that needs doing. Leave extra space for specific instructions and details. You may want to personalize your checklist for each client.

Sample Blank Checklist

Please place a Y (Yes) beside any item you would like completed today. Add details where needed.
Clean appliances  
Take garbage out  
Errands or Shopping:
Notes to housekeeper:
Notes from housekeeper:

Sample Filled-in Checklist

Please place a Y (Yes) beside any item you would like completed today. Add details where needed.
Sweep Y main floor
Laundry Y load of whites
Tidy Y upstairs
Clean appliances  
Bathrooms Y all 3 please
Take garbage out Y  
Other Y water plants

Errands or Shopping:

pick up kids at school 3:15

pick up milk and postage stamps

Notes to housekeeper: Vacuum isn't working. It's getting repaired.
Notes from housekeeper: Where are the extra towels?

Following Instructions: Listening Practice

1. Listen to the five sets of instructions (A-E).

2. Answer the questions after each set of instructions.

3. Check your answers.

4. Listen to the instructions a second time while you read the transcripts below.

A. Listen and check

1. What must the housekeeper do after the general cleaning?

2. How should the housekeeper separate the clothes?

3. What does the housekeeper NOT have to do?

B. Listen and check

1. Which best describes the client's opinion of the housekeeper?

2. What is the housekeepers main job today?

3. What should the housekeeper do if he or she cannot find the sponges?

C. Listen and check

1. Where will the children be while the housekeeper cleans?

2. What type of cleaning is required today?

3. What time must the housekeeper leave to pick up the kids?

D. Listen and check

1. What area of the house did the housekeeper concentrate on last time?

2. What does NOT need to be done upstairs?

3. What should be done with the winter clothes?

E. Listen and check

1. Where does the client ask the housekeeper to go?

2. Which appliance is broken?

3. What cleaning job is required?


  1. When you are through with the regular cleaning, I'd like you to do a few loads of laundry. Please make sure to separate the lights and darks and to follow the washing instructions. Hang up anything that you think might shrink in the dryer. You can fold the clothes and then when I get home I'll show you where to put everything away. That way you'll know for next time. If you have trouble finding anything give me a call on my cell.
  2. You did a really great job last time, but I forgot to mention that the fridge needed cleaning. Feel free to rearrange everything in an organized manner. Oh, and don't forget the freezer. I'll probably get you to do the oven next week, because we're going to be hosting a dinner party at the end of the month. I'll be upstairs working on my laptop. If you have any questions just holler.
  3. The kids need to be picked up at school at 3:30. You should leave the house at 3:15 to leave yourself enough time to get there. While they're at school I'd love if you could organize their toys and games. The playroom is really messy. If there are any toys you think the kids would have outgrown, just put them in a basket and I'll sort through them.
  4. Thanks for doing such a great job of cleaning the main floor. Today I'd like you to concentrate on the upstairs. It mainly needs dusting and tidying, but we also need to put away our summer clothes and get out the winter ones. I've pulled some boxes out if you don't mind putting the winter clothes through the wash for me.
  5. Our vacuum isn't working, so I need you to take it to the repair shop. You can also drop off some dry cleaning for us while you're out. There are also some pots and pans in the sink from last night's dinner. They're soaking, but you'll need to give them a good scrub.