Heartbroken and angry

Cstone01

New member
Jun 13, 2019
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I’m really sorry if this comes off out of touch, I know they’re very big things going on in the world but I feel like I need to tell people this and get advice.

We have a woman that cleans our house, she cleaned my mothers house for many years, she helped raise me and has worked for her family for more than 30 years. She comes to my house three times a week. She stays for three or four hours on two of the days that I am around the house and on Tuesdays she cleans all day. I am almost always at another property Tuesday night doing maintenance and checking up.

My mother and I both have birds and a very specific about the products that are used to clean our house, We just use steam, vinegar, lemon and grapefruit seed oil. I do let her use commercial products on the bathrooms at the far end of our home.

One of my girlfriends who also has birds had left something in my house and dropped by to grab it yesterday while I was away, she called me and said “hey I’m sure you already know this is bad but just in case you cannot have those cleaning products in your bird room.” I asked her what she meant and told her that we only use non toxiC products- She said I should go to the house and check in, I decided to drive home.

The woman who works for us had pulled the cages to the center of the room and was washing the walls with industrial strength degreaser. A chemical product you cannot even buy in stores, the crap they use at restaurants. I was super panicked and trying to talk to her and get my birds out. I really do not think I was accusatory or aggressive with her at all but she came back super defensive. She said something like “I’ve been using this for years around your birds and I used it at your mothers house, they have always been fine and it was perfectly OK until you knew I was using it”

I honestly said some things I really shouldn’t have to her, but I couldn’t believe she said that and that she’s been lying to us for years. I buy her all of her cleaning products, I pay her very well (We are the only people she works for right now, she doesn’t clean any other houses and shes still comfortable). Woman has lived with us on and off, she helped raise me.

It really did not end on good terms, I did not fire her but I don’t know if she will ever come back or if I would be comfortable with it. I simply cannot clean this house alone, it’s more than 12,000 ft.². To top it off we are moving across the country in less than two months now and it Has to be clean and presentable enough to have it on the market. This woman was close enough to my family she was moving with us. I have been crying all day and I feel pretty stupid for it but I just don’t know what I’m going to do. I know we can hire some temporary companies especially putting the house on the market. It’s so hard to find people you’re comfortable with to be in your home all the time and we have had people steal from us before. I feel so stupid about being so upset I just don’t know what we’re going to do, I really can’t do all of this alone. I know I’m over reacting Emotionally because it’s such a stressful time with the move etc. but I really Don’t know what to do. This falling out honestly hurts like a break up and doing all of this work alone seems so monumental and intimidating. My husband cannot help me pack this house, he works 12 hours a day at the hospital. How do I even find someone who will get this house market ready using Just steam? My birds seem fine, I move them to another room so at least that’s a positive
 
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Skarila

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I would be super furious as well. I get really upset when people think just because the birds are still alive that it is okay, my parents have a similar behaviour which I loathe. It is something like saying that smoking must be ok, because you're still alive and "well".

In think case I would lock the bird room whenever the woman must come to clean, and wouldn't let her near the room. You could clean the bird room instead, but leave the rest to the cleaning lady. It will be just 2 months.
Normaly you can use normal detergents in the house, but just not right where the bird is, so the bird room should stay product free. However for washing floors I do use very diluted detergent/wax for wooden floors, and always keep the windows fully open while doing so. Birds should truly be fine when you are cleaning and having a good air ventilation, but of course heavy duty detergents, which are truly extremely strong should surely be avoided. If it hurts you when you sniff it, surely it does the bird as well.

But I would surely be upset with the person who has been lying to me for years, it is immediately trust breaking. Reminds me of a worker at my brother's pastry shops, woman would steal the pastry mixes, and set up old pastries for sale while eating the fresh ones, once we installed the cameras she was still doing it and denying any of her deeds, so she was fired instantly. Was hard for my brother due to lack of workforce, but at least he had himself whom he trusts, if that makes sense...

Surely try to search for a cleaning lady who does agree to clean to your terms, and let them be open, if they cannot wash something with non toxic stuff, you should let them speak to you, and maybe you can come to terms, which will be safe for your birds. I would note that in case they do use something undercover near the birds and the birds get sick, that they will get the vet bill, which will not be small.
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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You have every right to be furious. It would FEEL like someone gambled with your child's life or something (kind of like finding out someone was feeding a kid with a peanut allergy peanuts, even though there was other food in the house). That having been said, people just DO NOT get it when it comes to fumes etc and parrots. It's so far outside their scope of experience, that it's practically unimaginable to many...I feel like people often assume it's an exaggeration or imaginary.


My parents and I have had some massive fights over this issue (I don't live with them, but sometimes we visit for a few weeks at a time). They are better about it now, but it's taken years for this to really click...I bring my own cleaners there too, but there have been many incidents over the years..Especially early on.

Maybe in a setting away from your home, you could ask her to speak with you honestly when you both have had some time to breathe. Sometimes I think people think, "oh, she just is being paranoid and this works so much better" blah blah. Unfortunately, what probably started as a 1x thing became more regular when, in her eyes, nothing bad happened. Now, obviously this is faulty logic, and it definitely doesn't make it okay..Not all damage is visible and she knew better. It's possible that she hasn't been doing it for years-- you could always ask, but it's probably too fresh a wound for that conversation at the moment...Again, I would have the same reaction and moving is SO AWFUL anyway. Certain companies are required to use certain products but it sounds like she wasn't contracted through a company, so there's really no excuse.

What she did was unacceptable professionally. In terms of your personal relationship, I think that is probably salvageable. I suppose it is up to you whether you believe it is worth salvaging.

If you hire someone new, you could explain what happened...You could also install some cameras and just be real with them about it up front..they have those "nanny cams" that are very portable (if you want to go that route).

Can you hire some specialty movers (not like 2 men and a truck) but something more personalized? I am sure they are out there but they probably would be expensive. When I was in college one summer, I worked for a woman in her home, but she worked along side me because she just needed some extra help..You could consider something like that. She taught me how to do everything and what to use (she had very specific ways she wanted things done, but having her around was nice because I could always ask if I was unsure). We actually became very close friends.

Sorry you are going through this.


*note- for certain cleaners, a separate room is still not sufficient, due to air flow in a home...if my dad pours bleach down the basement drain (in a back room with it's own door, and with the main basement door shut), you can smell it all over the first floor almost immediately and so I would not assume that keeping the birds in their own space would negate all risk of using certain chemicals in the home* One or 2 squirts of windex on the other side of the house is not the same as cleaning an entire bathroom on the other side of the house with chemicals. People who clean with this stuff often, also become desensitized to the smell, and therefore are unaware of how far the fumes can travel. On a visit with Noodles, my mom once sprayed some bleach on an item of clothing over 200 feet away from me in a totally separate room, with a shut door (tried to sneak it, because a child had soiled his/her undergarments and she was trying to be sanitary, but knew it was bad for the bird). Despite the small amount sprayed, I smelled it in the bird room (where I was reading). As soon as I smelled it, I was like, "who is using bleach?!" (never saw her with it and warned her not to use it, so it's not like this was a placebo due to me seeing her use it or anything). She could not smell it as well because when you use cleaners like that a lot, you get used to them. Again, she did this in a sneaky way and I didn't see her do it etc. if I hadn't smelled it, I wouldn't have known...but I did smell it...all the way across the house, many rooms over, and through a shut door. That's central air/heat at work. She admitted to it when I got really stressed/kept trying to understand where the smell was coming from, but she insisted she used so little..I believe her, but that small amount smelled very strong to me many rooms over.


I guess I am just trying to say that I wouldn't bank on a separate room as a safety net when using chemicals...because being able to smell something is only one indicator of concern, but some equally harsh chemical have a less intense smell which would be harder to detect.
 
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Laurasea

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Aug 2, 2018
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I agree I would be so upset mad and afraid! You paid for a service, and you stipulations what was required.

She lied, she cannot be trusted. What if tge chemicals sge has been using want off market and she got a new brand and bam yiur birds are dead? She dies nit get to gamble with your birds lives. There are no second chances!!!!!!! Its not her right to gamble your burds lives and go against your wishes.

Plenty of people need jobs. Find new people. As I would never trust this person ever ever ever again.
 

Littleredbeak

Well-known member
May 27, 2020
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I do not think you over reacted at all. I would never trust this person to clean my house again (family included) that stuff is bad for people to breath in - I’ve worked at a restaurant! Restaurants have heavy duty fans to suck Cleaning fumes and cooking fumes out of the building. I can’t imagine what it has done to your birds‘ lungs over the years... maybe you have really good air circulation or some angels looking out for your birds. Start calling around I’m sure you’ll find someone who is willing to clean your house chemically free. Reach out your friends- holistic groups (we have a holistic mom group who has great resources!) And please alert your mom- birds are okay and until they aren’t( as I’m sure you know).
 

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