Housekeeping standards

I’d like to ask anonymously for opinions and experiences around interiors especially. I see some owners are unhappy that a sitter did not leave the place spotless, or sitters who found the owner’s hygiene standards unpalatable. I’ve only had one sitter so far, and I outperformed myself in the housekeeping stakes in the couple of days beforehand so that the place was as clean as I could make it. I was exhausted, really needed my holiday after that! But my house is a bit scruffy, and in modern parlance, a lot of it is ‘vintage’. Some areas could benefit from redecoration. I doubt I will ever catch every single cobweb. I’m not filthy dirty, I clean kitchen and bathroom frequently, and my laundry is impeccable, but the sofa covers are cat scratched and the rugs are ancient and dirt sometimes gets tracked in.

I was astonished the my sitter had already laundered the bedding and towels when I got home. In my view, part of the perk for the sitter is to have a bit of a holiday, too; I would hate to think they spent loads of time cleaning, (especially if they did it better than me!) The most important thing for me is that my beloved pets have been kept company, given attention and treated kindly. That is the priceless benefit of having a sitter; the dust can wait til I get home! I suppose I’d not be delighted if there was a mighty pile of unwashed dishes, but if they’d not thought to empty the bins, that’s nothing to get upset about. To be honest, at least one owner complaint made me raise an eyebrow; sitters aren’t servants, surely!

Anyway - just my thoughts and anxieties - would welcome your views.

PS I have tried to be honest in descriptions and photos, but it’s a fine line to tread between making the place seem unappealing by emphasising the lived-in look, or trumpeting the many advantages.


I think you’ll find a lot of sitters wash the bedding before they leave, if they have the time, and in general, try to leave your home as clean as they found it. It’s part of the exchange.

“Cleanliness” is such a subjective thing that I suspect we’ll never all fully agree on what is clean and what is not. I know my standards at home are never as high as my standards when I’m house sitting and I always try to go out of my way to clean the home as thoroughly as I can, depending on how long I’ve been there.


Hello and welcome. You might want to read through the post on clean house, where this topic is discussed.

As @Kelownagurl has said, members - sitters and homeowners - are unlikely to agree on what is seen as clean. However, providing realistic photos and having an honest discussion with prospective sitters is always important. Some sitters will be attracted to a home that looks like it came out of a designer magazine, whereas others will steer clear of those as they don’t feel they could relax there.


Scruffy but clean is good. It means we aren’t walking around on tiptoes looking for old glasses to use. We can relax and not worry about the pristine sofas or whether the cat is allowed up there!
One of my most favourite sits was in an old farmhouse in the borders of Scotland. The lady told us the history of it and how they came to buy it. It was old with huge high windows covered in cobwebs, books everywhere, worn carpets and a house duckling. The views were incredible. The house seemed to wrap itself round us. I knew why they fell in love with it. It was perfect.
As long as a house is clean I don’t really care what state it’s in. And yes I try to do the laundry before I go and clean the cooker and fridge. We are passionate cooks but try never to leave a messy kitchen.
I hope you find people who appreciate your pets and house. There’s always someone out there that fits.


The fact that you’re asking about cleanliness levels for sitters makes me think your house is plenty clean, and that you’re a conscientious and caring host.

If potential sitters are put off by homes that wouldn’t be fancy enough to be featured in an upscale magazine, they can judge by the photos and not apply.

I myself love a comfy, scruffy, lived-in home that “could benefit from redecoration.”

I don’t want to worry every minute that the animals might get some dirt on a pristine white rug, or puke on a super-expensive sofa.

A bit of wear and tear from your animals should be expected by people experienced with animals!

There’s a few things that would make me uncomfortable, like arriving to a flea infestation, sticky counters, a stack of dirty dishes in the sink, a shower with a lot of obvious mold, that kind of thing.

You don’t have to clean as though you’re awaiting the arrival of a dignitary!
House sitters are very clear that we’re going to be staying in a home, not a hotel. We like it that way.


Our house is old, remodeled several times, the pictures look like for a magazine but it is also well lived in.
Once a week the most important areas are thoroughly cleaned and the kitchen shelves once a month, which I think is reasonable to keep everything on a certain cleanliness level.
I would never expect a sitter to clean the kitchen shelves and all the stuff outside of the closets. It is done right before the sitter’s arrival and the next time can wait for 4 weeks. As we’re never away longer than 3 weeks no sitter has to worry about it.
I also don’t like the statement “I leave a home cleaner than I found it”, because to me this implies that the sitter’s standards for cleanliness are higher than my own (and mine are not low😉).
Much more important is the well-being of our cats. If they are happy when we get back then I can overlook cobwebs and a few crumbs. However dirty dishes and dirty bathrooms are not acceptable. I don’t want to clean up toothpaste splotches from the sink.
Using the vacuum cleaner and a broom should be the minimum before leaving a sit, if there’s time for more I wouldn’t say no either, but if I didn’t find a single dust flake I would be wondering what else the sitter had had the time to do during the sit.


We like a house that looks lived in . We definitely do not want to stay in a pigsty but places that are immaculate make us nervous.
We take the house sitting aspect as seriously as the pet sitting so when we leave, the house is always at least as clean as it was when we arrived.
Basically, we treat our host accommodation the same way that we would treat our own .
If we stay for one night we will wash the dishes, if we stay for a week the home will be hoovered and dusted, if we stay for a month we would likely have cleaned the windows and/or mowed the lawn. - It just feels like common courtesy


Hi @Geiriadur your home’s sounds just like ours! We live in a big old house and we have a cleaner who comes in once a week. The house is not and never will be spotless! It is however very comfortable and welcoming and everyone who has been in here says that it feels very homely… We live here and it’s where our three dogs feel comfortable. Both pairs of sitters who have been here have made repeat visits and are all booked again for some dates this year, so it can’t be too bad! When looking through applications we tend to avoid sitters who seem to put an undue emphasis on the house looking like something out of the Ideal Home exhibition before or after their sit…


:rofl: :rofl:
Looking for the most common glass of the house
is always what we do first when we arrive in a new house ! I alway ask if there are some items that are precious to the OH so we don’t use them. And I must say it did happen that I bought a pair of glasses to replace the one I broke :grimacing: :innocent: :innocent: !!!

But as to answer to @Geiriadur, I also feel it is not a nice thing to clean more than it was when we arrived. I can truly understand how it make the OH feels (uncomfortable). I wouldn’t like it either. As a sitter, we usually house-sit for 1 or 2 / 3 weeks and we try to leave the house as clean as it was. I would say we act the way we would do after spending holidays to friend’s home : to be more precise we usually broom daily and mop every other day, depending how muddy/wet it is outside and we usually spend 3 hours cleaning before we leave (hoovering, dusting, cleaning bathroom (sink and toothpaste
residue :wink:@anon39388349) toilets and kitchen (but not the shelves :wink: again @anon39388349 ! But the doors : and some kitchen elements doors are a nightmare to clean : black cupboards right in the sun OMG). I must say we’ve never done the windows @colin ! :woozy_face: But we did cut the grass (we were not asked but found it was easy to enjoy the garden - and make sure the OH were happy with it !)! I hope we have done enough and not too much… We always tend to adjust to the level we found.


We always like to leave the house just a little cleaner than we find it.
Would never want the home owner to be upset about that, we just appreciate that you let us look after your home & pets & think it’s nice to come without much trouble do.
Like most though, we like clean but not spotless.
I wouldn’t be keen on a sit if the HO were ultra house proud, I’d be too stressed.


I love your post and your understanding that sitters aren’t ‘servants’ and are there also to have a holiday with the company of pets. My main concern, as most Housesitters, is that your pets are cared for, as you say. I will always leave the house as clean as I found it, occasionally cleaner but the owners might be offended by that. I understand that everyone has different degrees of cleanliness and agree that a bit of dust can wait. Thank you for your understanding.


I usually leave the house as clean - or cleaner - than I found it. I got criticized after one sit because I had moved a few items, including coasters! That was unreasonable, I thought. It’s not like I had hidden anything!


I always feel that my house could do with another days cleaning when a cat sitter comes to stay! Once I took a day off and cleaned and cleaned, i was almost frazzled, only to come back to the feeling that the place hadn’t been really hoovered. Since then I’ve been a bit more laid back - sure the place is clean, and hopefully pretty tidy, but i say to people to clean and mop the areas they have used. I am comfortable with places I stay in feeling like homes but not hotels. And I feel it’s worked well so far! My main peeve has been flowers or plants not watered enough. But overall - it’s been great (,from my point of view anyway!)


As a HO I try to leave our house very clean in all the areas the sitters will use (their bathroom and bedroom, kitchen, sunroom and dining/living room and laundry area). Our personal parts of the house are usually less cleaned as the sitter will not be using them. I also try to leave the car that the sitter will use fairly clean (not detailed though) and with a full to mostly full tank of gas. As I leave it clean for them, I appreciate it being left in the same clean condition when they leave (bed at least stripped, bathroom and kitchen cleaned, floors vacuumed) . Sadly, the standard of home care seems to be slipping with some of our (mostly younger) recent sitters. As the pets have always been very well cared for, I try to overlook the extra housework waiting for me upon my return home.

As a sitter, I wouldn’t think of leaving a housesit without cleaning after myself/us. That includes washing sheets, remaking bed, cleaning bath and kitchen, cleaning floors, caring for plants. Definitely pets are walked, fed, brushed and cleaned up after before we leave (no matter how early our departure). I don’t want a HO to have to come back from their vacation to clean their house again when they left it cleaned for me. Seems fair!

As a HO I totally agree, except the washing of the sheets and remaking the bed. But that’s my personal preference and I have it in the welcome guide that I don’t need it.


My last review the host reviewed our cleanliness at a 4. I thought I was cleaning all the time. I even did the windows. I kept dishes under control, vacuumed and dusted several times cleaned the bathrooms. I even cleaned the garden. I don’t know why she gave us a 4. The only thing I can think of was I kept getting the recycling confused. It’s so complicated in rural Italy. She didn’t say anything in the review that would explain the 4. After your story I’m hoping future hosts won’t read too much into that. We were afraid it would hurt us in getting more Housesits but so far we’re good.

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I didn’t think you could be rated for different things, I thought that was just for non TH sits. As a sitter I can only give 1-5 stars, it doesn’t appear to be broken down into different sections

At the bottom of the review is a star section. We’ve always gotten 5’s but I think this sitter was unrealistic in her expectations. She expected us to get up at 6am every morning for a 2 hour hike with her dogs. She had cameras in the house which I was uncomfortable with. And she was in and out traveling. She and I got along but she didn’t like my husband. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect your sitter to do things you don’t even normally do.


I wouldn’t take the star ratings to seriously. I just noticed the other week we had only given two of our pet owners 4 stars. I am absolutely positive we gave them 5 when we rated them. The two in question were exemplary sits with fantastic animals and all the facilities were first class.
It’s as if the star system has a mind if it’s own and changes through time.

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I recently noticed I’d given my last sit 4 stars when it should have been 5. I thought I’d clicked on 5 but maybe not. I contacted Therese via this forum and asked her to correct it to 5, which she did