The reason I know I can transform hopeless cases into spic-and-span home dwellers is that I underwent this transformation myself. I was not born the cleaning maven that I am now. In fact, quite the opposite. My mother used to say that crossing my bedroom floor was an Olympic event. My seventh-grade teacher chose to make an example out of my disorganized self one day and dumped the entire contents of my deskonto the floor. I had to clean it up while my classmates watched (hello, therapy). I hated cleaning, and I didn’t experience the joy or rewards of a clean personal space. I just felt like it took away from valuable sticker trading or Nintendo-playing time.
What I did dream about was being an entrepreneur, from a very young age. So when I graduated from business school, no one was surprised when I decided to start my own business. I didn’t know yet what kind of business, so I kept my eyes and ears open and left it up to the universe to tell me. Imagine my horror, then, when the thing I kept on hearing about was the stress of cleaning house and how hard it was to do it, and for those who wanted to hire it out, how hard it was to find a reliable, trustworthy cleaning person who actually knew what they were doing. I couldn’t avoid this constant barrage of the same message even though it was so contrary to who I was. Me? Start a cleaning company? Do you know who I am?
Nonetheless, I followed the noise and wrote a business plan and took it to my uncle Larry, my trusted mentor. He told me that in orderto be a success, I’d have to start cleaning and learning my business from the ground up. When I got over my initial shock, I decided I’d go into it fully, sleeves rolled up and boots to the ground. After eighteen months of research, practice, and hard-core business building—waiting tables at night and cleaning for clients during the day—I was able to quit my serving job and focus on the business full time.
By this point, I had figured out that I could get more done in less time if I reengineered the way I worked. I went through all the general cleaning tasks that needed to be done at each visit in a home (using my creation, the 59-Point Checklist) and tested many techniques, various products (both homemade and store-bought) and, of course, timed and critiqued myself while doing so. I put a lot of hours, money, and energy into it, and what I came out with were vast improvements on how to get the job done well in the least amount of time. I started to write down these ideas and teach new hires how to clean this way (I even managed to convert seasoned employees who’d occasionally throw me a raised eyebrow—who does she think she is?). It was awkward at times. I was only twenty-four. But they listened!
Our reputation was incredible and my staff performed their jobs impeccably: I had come up with a better way to clean. In 2008, when the economy took a nose-dive, I worried that my business, just eighteen months old at the time, would have to close down. To my surprise, the business grew fivefold that year! People wanted to come home to a clean space, regardless of how the economy was doing. They’d sooner give up dining out or new handbags before they’d say goodbye to a clean, serene home. I knew I was onto something.
In 2011, my then-fiancé, Chad, and I started making YouTube videos about cleaning. We thought it would help grow the service business in Toronto. What we didn’t really consider was how global and prolific YouTube would become, and next thing we knew, we were getting clicks from all over the world. We have since created hundreds of videos that have garnered millions of views. I’m often asked for a whole cleaning routine, or a more holistic approach, that encapsulates all my teachings and simplifications in one place. And that’s why I put together this book. I want to teach you all my secrets and show you how to reform your cleaning habits, no matter if you’re just starting out or are a veteran home-keeper.
Copyright © 2017 by Melissa Maker. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.