Clean House

Hi. We are a new HO family and are lucky that we have a lovely couple coming to sit for us very soon. I have been researching the house sitter posts to find out likes and dislikes from the HS. One of the most important ones it a clean house. This is understandable. Define clean house? We live in an historic house with 15 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. Sadly this will never be as clean as a comfortable 4 bed house. We tend to live in a section of the house which is cleaned very regularly. Do we shut off the rest of the house from the HS?
Would love some feedback from sitters who have sat in similar houses. We would like to make sure the house is a clean and as comfortable as possible for the HS

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I think most sitters would be ok if the rest of the house is closed off. It gives them a smaller area to clean at the end of the sit! As long as they have access to a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and sitting area most will be happy.
If you are away for a longer period you may wish to ask the sitter to check other areas, in case of any damage - eg burst pipes. I have sat in larger properties in Asia where I have been asked to turn the AC on in various rooms for a few hours. As long as the main area to be used by the sitter is clean and tidy, most sitters understand that this is a home, not a hotel.

You should also make it clear in your initial post/chat that although there are 15 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms, some areas will be closed off during the sit.

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Hi Coco and welcome. I hope your first experience is a great one and it sounds like you are keen to ensure your sitters will have a comfortable stay.
We are experienced sitters and we would only use the rooms designated to us and as long as they are clean and we have a comfy bed, access to a decent shower, somewhere to hang our clothes and store toiletries we would be happy. Anything else is a bonus.
A detailed Welcome Guide is always a plus and communication is the key.
Enjoy your break

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@Coco A big welcome to both TrustedHousesitters and the Forum. It sounds like you are doing lots of research to make this a great first sit, and your sitters will very much appreciate that.

Your house sounds amazing and I agree with @Petermac - I’m sure no-one will mind some of the rooms in such a large property being closed off.

We recently house sat a chateau in France where some parts where still being renovated, but the area we “lived” in was totally comfortable and very clean. Because of the historic nature of the building we were happy to be taken on a tour, but also happy to close the doors on some parts and retreat to the normal living space :slight_smile: Being upfront (as these owners were) is the key… no surprises :slight_smile:

Just generally on the topic of cleanliness (which you’ve discovered is an important one), here’s a short TrustedHousesitters blog that was prepared to give some tips to owners. There’s also a link at the bottom for a similar blog for sitters - as cleanliness works both ways.

Have a fabulous first sitter experience and enjoy your time away. We hope to see you around the forum with an update :slight_smile:

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Thank you all for your advice and help.

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Hello Coco
Your house sounds fabulous. We tend to stay in larger homes and there are some rooms where we have never ventured. A few may be locked, e.g. offices but most rooms usually just have the doors closed. As @Petermac states, you may want the sitter to have access to most rooms in case anything requires checking.
We do like our space and are always interested in bathrooms. We have one each at home (the secret to a good marriage) so appreciate the use of 2 when we are sitting. So please don’t make too many areas out of bounds.
As to cleanliness, the odd cobweb, spider and dust would not put us off! It is a home not a showhouse.
I hope that you enjoy your first THS experience

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We confine ourselves to the rooms where we will be comfortable in, kitchen with table, bedroom, nearby shower room and a seating place although we do like an outside room eg sun lounge. Like some others we are usually asked to keep an eye on the other rooms and if the pets have a favourite room we always keep that door open but all others are shut. I’m basically lazy and only want to clean essential rooms that we have used.
Now, outside, that’s totally different. The bigger the garden the better.

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Hello @Coco! Welcome! Your place sounds fabulous. I have sat in all kinds of places on opposite ends of the spectrum. I have seen things I wish I could unsee :laughing:
HOs can and have expressed, verbally and non verbally, what they are comfortable with and what they expect. This can be done in the initial interview/communication during the application process. They usually expect that you leave the house in the same condition they left it to you. When the house(s) are expansive, they or I, will indicate what rooms I will have access to and which to stay clear of. That being said, I clean after myself and the spaces I have lived in. I have had HOs that prefer I not go into their private living spaces. I try to match and meet their standards. So I would suggest, you include what your expectations are in your post.
All the best.

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Hi Coco. I agree with the comments by @Petermac and @Twitcher. The fact that you’re asking questions shows you care, which is great. I’m currently on a 2-week, 3-bedroom house sit and have closed off the doors to the other bedrooms and bathroom. As has been said, it reduces my need to clean. I do first make sure that closing those areas won’t overly upset the pet, as sometimes it includes their safe space. I usually ask the homeowner, or else just test it out myself. I also close the door of the room I’m sleeping in when I go out, just in case the pet decides they’re anxious at being left yet again. These will be unusual times for the pet, no matter how good the pet sitter is and, although I’m home most of the day, even I have to leave the pet at times. It’s just a little added security against a pet acting up. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thank you to all who have commented. I have had some very helpful advice. It is definitely worth taking the trouble to make sure everyone is happy and I do believe from the comments made that communication is a vital contributor to this.

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@Coco
Your house sounds very interesting
I love to stay in large houses.
My husband & I enjoy the space!
Probably because we have downsized & now live in a small 3 bed bungalow with 1 bathroom.
Large old buildings have that rustic wild charm about them!
I wouldn’t close part of your house off apart from maybe locking the door to your wine cellar.
If I’m on a sit & the home owner says this room is out of bounds, then I wouldn’t go in it & I would hope the HO had enough trust in me & know I respect their wishes
but if they said this // half of the house :house_with_garden: is out of bounds then I would feel they don’t trust me.
I also don’t do any sits where I’m stuck in a small annex away from the main building it’s all a bit like upstairs downstairs & the ( unpaid staff ) have their own quarters.
Just my opion.

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If I were to have the privilege of sitting for you, all I would expect would be to have my room prepared as well as the common living areas (that I would need to use) clean. If I were an owner I would just shut the door to any bedrooms or bathrooms that wouldn’t be necessary for me to even go in. Including the master and any other family members. If you keep the office door open then we know we can use it, if you do not most of us probably know that we cannot. And the best time to talk about that is when you’re interviewing them if you do so on the phone or face-to-face. And as a sitter, I would not snoop in areas that I was not expected to use regularly.

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Petermac expressed my suggestions very well.

We have a (much) smaller period home. We thoroughly clean the guest bedroom with ensuite area, the main living area which is adjacent to the kitchen and the garden areas outside. We tidy up but don’t thoroughly clean the rest of the house. With six bedrooms and four bathrooms, some of which belong to grown up children, we don’t want it to be turned into an AirBnB fun house.

We tend to choose middle-aged couples as sitters because the house can be spooky for a single younger person who has watched too many horror shows on Netflix. Before trustedhousesitters, we had a friend’s daughter agree to sit and she was so freaked out (as she described it), she would leave around 10:00 pm and go home to her parents’ place and come back at 6:00 am to take the dogs for a walk!

Our sitters have all been great and they have left the house in as good a condition as we handed it over.

With a period home, I suggest you meet the sitters and go through the house carefully with them. There are many idiosyncrasies in older homes that aren’t immediately apparent - older appliances and things that need a bit of TLC at inopportune times.

Go through each room and its little quirks so they know what to expect and how to deal with things if issues arise.

We give the details of our regular cleaner, a trusted local agency with access to handymen and tradies, and a family member who lives nearby - all just in case.

We had the hot water service go a few trips back and it was replaced in less than 24 hours - all done with only a phone call to confirm the costs.

Good luck!

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Petermac’s comments are spot on.
One of my first sits was in a 19th c grade 3 listed castle in the UK. The kitchen was updated but as with any really old house, there were places where dust came in and the 2 dogs who spent most of the day on the lawn and in the woods around the house would bring stuff in.
It was fine for me - I mostly confined myself to the ground and first floor where the guestroom was. But the only shower in the house was adjacent to the 3rd floor bedrooms so I did go up there daily (and it was really the 5th floor because the ceilings for floors 1 and 2 were 25 feet each).
So yes, shut off the other parts of the house.

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Thank you. This is really helpful. I want the sitters to enjoy the house but we do have areas that are under renovation (a seperate wing) that looks bad at the moment. This we can shut off as it is not being used at the moment. Like you we have a sitting room off the kitchen which we tend to live in and this has the wi fi and all the gadgets.

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I am sure any reasonable sitter will be delighted by your home. It sounds fabulous!

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Hello,
We sit large old Homes, it comes with the age of property, that’s what gives them their charm!
I would just let them know, you occupy this end of the House due to it being so large and that the rest of the house is of it’s age.
I ask before hand, we have some where Bat’s occupy the Attic Rooms and we just didn’t go up there, there are always Rooms in the Houses we sit that are not in use (now Storage)
Manda

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We don’t go into unused rooms (with the exception of flushing/toilets running water if vacant for several weeks) and checking for any damage if bad weather.

It is not uncommon for an owner to say "don’t use these rooms, don’t go in the kid’s room, etc.).

We don’t clean the rooms we don’t use.

Our expectations are that the bathroom we use have ample space for our toiletries. We’re put off of having to handle someone’s used linens, toothbrush, razor, etc. and appreciate it when owners remove their toiletries.

Same goes for nightstands.

If the kitchen canisters/appliances/surfaces are sticky, dusty - we will take everything off the counters and clean it before we would use the kitchen. We’d consider that an unclean house.

If there are unidentified leftovers in the fridge (I don’t mean a nice gesture of leaving half a homemade pie or meal) we have no option but to toss it for you.

If I have to retrieve a remote from under a couch cushion - what would I find?

Would I be grossed out by stains when I change your pillows and sheets?

Can I lie on the floor in the room where I sleep and where we will spend most of our time without having to brush myself off - (animal hair is fine - last week’s pretzels are not).

Does dust activate your security cameras? (We had a homeowner tell us they thought they had a poltergeist!! Turned out to be dust!!! No thanks!).

Most owners have CLEAN HOMES and are unnecessarily concerned about sitters complaining about dirty houses. The things I listed above are unsatisfactory for sitters but we’ve all had it at one time or another.

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First of all welcome to this wonderful house sitting community! I really appreciate your consideration of the sitter.

There is nothing like turning up to a home to less than desirable conditions, when you are there free of charge on a trust based exchange, expecting a clean and comfortable place to stay in exchange for your time, love and care for animals and or property. It has only ever happened to us once, we had to clean before we could use any area. Out of years of sitting, we are thankful to the homeowners that go above and beyond to make sure our stay is comfortable and have become firm friends with them!

Bedroom, living area, kitchen and bathroom need to be clean. Clean bedding and towels for your guest.
What many struggle with is mice, fleas, dirty bed linen and towels and basically undesirable conditions s when they have travelled and sometimes flown to the location at their own cost to look after homeowners place so that they can leave with worry or concern knowing everything is taken care of.

It sounds like you have already a safe clean space for your sitter. My tip would be to make sure they have a shelf or two in the fridge and a little space in the freezer for their food. Somewhere to put their clothes.

Enjoy your holiday!

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Hi Coco,

Welcome to TH. Most of what I would say has already been said. My house is small so I have it professionally cleaned before I go. Anyone who stays her will likely use every room except for maybe the den. I always ask people to return my house the way I left it. If it’s really clean when they come, it’s easier to keep it up. Fortunately I have a small non-shedding dog so that keeps the dust and dirt down. I have extra sheets so do prefer that they change them before I come home but I don’t care if they wash them or just put them in the hamper. As long as the used towels are dry they can go in the hamper too.

The key is communication—both the sitter asking for preferences and the HO sharing their expectations.

I think some of the frustrations of sitters may have come from the unique situation where a HO goes out of town often and has multiple sitters several times a year. In that case, a HO could get used to just picking up and leaving the house as is. This could take advantage of sitters who feel the need to clean the house just to stay there. In that case, the HO is getting a regular house cleaner as well as a petsitter. That would get old, as a sitter.

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