Confessions of a Kiwi cleaner: Weird and strange items left behind revealed

Bodily fluids, cat poo, wedding rings and false teeth are among the weird and wonderful things left behind for cleaners.

A list of some of the strangest things found by New Zealand cleaners was supplied to NZME to help mark Thank Your Cleaner Day today.

Building Services Contractors (NZ) chief executive Sarah McBride said the day was a reminder of how important cleaners were.

“Thank Your Cleaner Day reminds people of the dedication and expertise that come with really professional cleaners. It also helps build relationships between clients and the cleaning teams who look after their premises.”

OCS managing director Gareth Marriott said he was proud of his team and it was important everyone could trust cleaners who come into homes and workplaces “so that’s one of our core values”.

Marriott said cleaners were in a position of real responsibility: “The best professional cleaners are not just good at their jobs, they are also decent, honest people, and that’s why it’s nice to say ‘thanks’ once in a while.”

To mark the day, some cleaners have shared with us some of the strangest or grossest encounters on the job.

1. Every bodily fluid you could imagine
Many cleaners may work in corporate offices but many others also work at crime scenes, in prisons and police cells. Hamilton woman Rose Mauriohooho has seen it all in her 18 years of cleaning at a police station. Rose has to wear special gear when she’s working in the cells to protect her from blood and human waste: “I’ve got my mask, gloves, overalls. I just do what I have to do; get on with it.”

2. Nasty Animal Stuff
“Your cat is on my naughty list!” texts Tauranga house cleaner Naomi to a client whose cat has pooed inside. ‘I’m so very glad it’s not a moist one’ she adds, with a cry-laughing face emoji. Naomi works for herself and can sometimes feel like more of a vet than a cleaner. Her cat-related encounters include dead or mutilated small animals (‘it looked like a crime scene!’) and she once found a bird flying around inside the house: ‘The family didn’t actually have a bird!’

3. A Priceless Diamond
Invercargill cleaner Le-Ann Peterson found a 3.25 carat diamond that had come loose from an airport passenger’s heirloom ring. “I saw something glinting in the sun over by the wheelchairs- I ran towards it and wrapped it in my hand. People were asking to look at it but I wasn’t letting it go!” Le-Ann had been hunting for the missing diamond for three days, knowing how upset its owner was; “My grandpop had died a few days before and I think it was a sign from him that I found it.”

4. False Teeth
A worker cleaning up in an airport food court ended up going through a full rubbish bin when an elderly English visitor lost his dentures. “He couldn’t eat with them so he put them on the side of the tray, but accidentally threw them in the bin,” said Ann Manaia, who works for cleaning and facilities management company OCS. “He was upset because they’d cost him $800.” Ann and her teammate spent half an hour sifting through bin bags to find the missing teeth, and were rewarded with big hugs when they found them.

5. Bags and wallets full of cash
OCS staff also recovered a paper bag containing around $500 cash – its distressed owner had been about to fly out to Samoa- while another team member cleaning up after a big rugby game found a wallet containing thousands of dollars (the owner promptly gave $100 to the cleaner as a reward for her honesty).

6. Wedding Ring
Stadium cleaners have also found irreplaceable treasures, like a man’s wedding ring that slipped off his finger during a concert. Eagle-eyed workers scoured the grounds- which were strewn with empty cups and food wrappers- and eventually managed to find the ring and get it back to the relieved husband.

You can read the full Herald article here.