Are you wondering if its safe to have your housekeeper or house cleaner clean your house in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic? With Covid-19 cases rapidly rising, it feels risky to have your housekeeper or house cleaner clean your house. By having a house cleaner work in your house you risk potentially being infected with Covid-19. I’m writing to share my experience and safety advice on how to safely have your housekeeper or house cleaner clean your house during the Covid-19 pandemic. Below you will find Covid-19 safety precautions I took with my housekeeper that resulted in my family not getting infected with Covid-19 despite the fact that our housekeeper was in our house for 8 hours the day before she started experiencing Covid-19 symptoms! Studies have shown that a person infected with COVID-19 is contagious 48 to 72 hours before starting to experience Covid symptoms. That means my housekeeper was at my house when she was contagious with Covid-19! My Covid positive housekeeper was touching everything! We were breathing the same indoor air as my Covid-19 positive housekeeper! However, despite being exposed to our Covid positive housekeeper, we did not get infected with Covid! I’m sharing the safety precautions we took that may have helped protect my family from getting Covid-19 from our housekeeper.
Five Covid-19 Safety Tips for Your Housekeeper or House Cleaner
My housekeeper was infected with Covid-19 the day she cleaned our house but we did not get Covid from her. Below are five Covid-19 safety tips to safely have your housekeeper or house cleaner clean your home.
Covid-19 Safety Tip 1: Ask Questions to Know Your Housekeeper’s Covid-19 Exposure
Make sure you have an honest discussion with your housekeeper or house cleaner to understand her Covid-19 exposure before she starts cleaning your house. The more your housekeeper or house cleaner is exposed to Covid-19, the higher your chances in getting infected with Covid-19. You need to understand your housekeeper’s potential exposure to Covid-19 by asking the questions below.
Questions to ask your Housekeeper or House Cleaner to Understand Covid-19 Exposure
Below are questions to ask your housekeeper or house cleaner to understand her Covid-19 exposure.
- Ask your housekeeper or house cleaner questions about the other families she works for. How many families does she work for? Are the kids back in school? Are the parents working from home or are they back at their office? Do they take public transportation to work? How frequently do they travel? Does your housekeeper wear masks when she cleans at the other homes? Does your housekeeper wear gloves?
- Find out if your housekeeper or housecleaner have other part time jobs. Aside from cleaning homes, do you have other part time jobs? If so, describe your part time job? Describe your Covid-19 exposure at these part time jobs.
- Find out more about your housekeeper or house cleaner’s living arrangements. Who does she live with? Does she have kids? Are her kids back in school? Does she live with extended family? Where do they work?
It may feel very personal and invasive to be asking your housekeeper these questions but you need to understand your housekeeper or house cleaner’s Covid-19 exposure in order to safely assess whether or not you want your housekeeper or house cleaner in your house. In a way, by having your housekeeper or house cleaner working in your house, you are essentially bringing your housekeeper into your pod. And all the families that she works for and everyone else that she lives with are an extension of your pod as well. In my case, my housekeeper worked for one other family so I thought I was fairly safe from being exposed to Covid-19. In hindsight, I did feel slightly uncomfortable with her living arrangement because she lived with extended family who are essential workers. So I knew by hiring my housekeeper to clean my house, I was exposing my family to my housekeeper’s extended family. I shrugged it off thinking what are the chances my housekeeper will get Covid-19? I know how careful she is with social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing. Well, it turns out my housekeeper got Covid-19 from a family member! That’s the one thing I learned when it comes to risk-taking during the Covid-19 pandemic, it only takes one exposure to get Covid-19. You can be the most careful person in the world and the one time you let your guard down, you can get Covid-19. Just know, any time you bring someone into your house, there is always a chance of getting Covid-19.
PS: If you are looking for a housekeeper or house cleaner, try Care.com. I found my housekeeper from Care.com. There were a lot of good housekeepers to choose from on Care.com. I like that they do background checks on every candidate as part of their screening process.
Covid-19 Safety Tip 2: Social Distance with Your Housekeeper or House Cleaner
You need to maintain social distance with your housekeeper or house cleaner to reduce Covid-19 transmission. Person to person transmission is the main source of Covid-19 transmission, therefore it is important that you and your family maintain physical distance with your housekeeper or house cleaner. I made sure we were not in the same room as my housekeeper. It was not easy since my husband and kids were all home. My husband worked in his home office so I asked my housekeeper not to clean the office while he was inside. My kids spent most of their time outside, in the playroom or in their bedrooms so I had to constantly remind them not to be in the same room as my housekeeper. I also minimized my exposure to my housekeeper and mostly stayed out of her way. If I did see my housekeeper or if I had to talk to her, I had my mask on. The goal was to have minimal exposure to my housekeeper. It was not easy to keep up for 8 hours, I felt like I was on the lookout and constantly reminding everyone to keep their distance from my housekeeper. In hindsight, I’m glad we maintained social distance with our housekeeper, it helped protected us from getting Covid-19 from our housekeeper!
Covid-19 Safety Tip 3: Ask Your Housekeeper or House Cleaner to Wear Masks and Gloves
To prevent Covid-19 transmission, I asked my housekeeper to wear mask and gloves. It felt weird at first to ask my housekeeper to wear masks and gloves. Given that my housekeeper comes in a few days a week, it felt excessive to require her to wear masks and gloves for 8 hours straight. I talked to her about mask wearing and we agreed that if she is near us or cleaning bedrooms and kitchen, she should wear her mask and gloves. She can take off her mask when cleaning our bathrooms since there is a lot of disinfectant used. She should also wear her mask when talking to any member of the family. And we all had our masks handy to put on whenever we needed to talk to our housekeeper or even if we bumped into her in the hallway. I’m glad I asked my housekeeper to wear her mask and gloves, because I think mask wearing helped protect my family from getting infected with Covid-19.
I also made sure my housekeeper was wearing high quality masks. Instead of wearing a cloth face covering, I gave her surgical masks to wear when she cleaned my house. My husband and I wore our KN95 masks at home (make sure you get KN95 mask included in the FDA Emergency Use Authorization List). I think we benefited from the higher quality masks and it helped protect us against getting Covid-19 from our housekeeper.
Covid-19 Safety Tip 4: Increase Air Ventilation in Your House to Reduce Indoor Covid-19 Airborne Transmission
In order to safely have your housekeeper or house cleaner work in your house, you need to improve air ventilation in your house to reduce indoor Covid-19 airborne transmission. According to the CDC, Covid-19 can be spread through airborne transmission. If you have poor air ventilation at home, Covid-19 respiratory droplets can build up in enclosed indoor space with poor air flow. These respiratory droplets will then infect people with Covid-19. You can improve indoor air ventilation at home with HEPA air purifiers and MERV 13 HVAC air filters. Since we were indoors with my housekeeper all day, I was very concerned with the risk of airborne Covid-19 transmission and did everything I could to increase indoor air ventilation by using HEPA air purifiers and MERV-13 HVAC air filters.
The day my Covid-19 positive housekeeper cleaned my house, I had a couple of HEPA air purifiers units running around the house. The HEPA air purifiers units were placed strategically around the house to increase overall indoor air flow which I think greatly reduced Covid-19 airborne transmission. There was a HEPA air purifier unit in every bedroom, one in the kitchen and an air purifier unit in the interior hallway to improve the airflow in the hallway. My advice to you when buying air purifiers is to double check to make sure you buy the type of air purifier that can filter out Covid-19 virus. According to the EPA, in order to reduce Covid-19 transmission, you need an air purifier that meets at least one of these criteria: 1.) an air purifier designated as High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA), 2.) an air purifier that is Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) rated or 3.) the manufacturer states that your air purifier will remove most particles in the size range below 1 um. Check out this article on air purifiers that can filter out Covid-19. I personally use Eureka air purifiers, I bought several units to use around the house.
Another thing that we did that protected us from getting Covid-19 from our housekeeper is we upgraded our HVAC air filters to MERV 13. MERV is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, it is a rating on the filter’s ability to capture small particles. The higher the MERV rating, the better it is in filtering out small particles like Covid-19 viruses. In order to filter out small particles such as Covid-19 viruses from the air, you need to install air filters with MERV 13 or higher rating. I get my MERV 13 air filters from airfilters.com. I like that they send me reminders to change my MERV 13 air filters every 90 days.
I honestly think improving the indoor air ventilation with MERV 13 air filters and HEPA air purifiers played a big role in protecting my family from catching Covid-19 from our housekeeper. Just imagine, we were breathing the same indoor air for 8 hours that day my housekeeper was contagious with Covid-19 and we did not get Covid-19!
Covid-19 Safety Tip 5: Don’t Share Bathroom and Dining Space with Your Housekeeper or House Cleaner
Another safety precaution that we took with my Covid-19 positive housekeeper is we kept our housekeeper’s bathroom and dining space separate from us. Pre-Covid times, my housekeeper usually brings her own lunch that she stores it in our fridge, heats up in the microwave and usually eats on the same table that we eat in. Because I was worried about Covid-19 surface transmission, I asked my housekeeper to eat in a separate space. I have a wet bar that we don’t use so I asked my housekeeper to store her lunch in the wet bar mini-fridge, use the microwave there and to eat there as well. I also assigned a spare bathroom exclusively for my housekeeper’s use. I know these safety precautions are a bit extreme and probably not practical for those of you who don’t have the extra space but I do want to share this Covid-19 safety precaution with you since it may have helped protected us against getting Covid-19 from our housekeeper.
Final Thoughts on How to Reduce Covid-19 Exposure with Housekeepers and House Cleaners
There is always risk of Covid-19 transmission whenever you have your housekeeper or house cleaner work in your house. However, from my experience with my housekeeper, there are ways to reduce Covid-19 exposure with housekeepers and house cleaners. You need to decide if its worth taking the risk of Covid-19 exposure. I can’t tell you exactly which of these safety precautions helped in protecting my family from getting Covid-19 from our housekeeper. I just know that if we had not taken any Covid-19 safety precautions around our housekeeper that day, we would have been infected with Covid-19. I’m thankful that I had these Covid-19 safety precautions in place with our housekeeper because it played a big role in preventing my family from getting Covid-19 from our housekeeper.
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