Most people’s homes are shockingly dirty — even million-dollar ones. This is the filthy truth Sarah McAllister has awakened the world to through her company Go Clean Co.‘s Instagram stories. Her shocking before-and-after videos of clients’ homes going from grimy to sparkling have sent people racing to buy powdered Tide, bleach, Bar Keepers Friend and blue Dawn dish soap.
“The satisfying, super gross content is what works the best for us,” says McAllister.
Go Clean Co. specializes in deep cleaning services in Calgary and the surrounding areas. Its cleaning methods go far beyond wiping down countertops. Each team member is trained to follow a room-by-room system created by McAllister that includes sanitizing the dishwasher, scrubbing baseboards and cleaning the seal of your washing machine.
At the beginning of 2020, Go Clean Co. had been in business for just one year and had amassed about 10,000 Instagram followers, which is no small feat for a startup. The questions rolling into Go Clean Co’s Instagram DMs were already out of control, so McAllister began working on an e-book of cleaning hacks and tips, such as how to effectively use bleach. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America and her business shut down during lockdown, she finished the handbook and started pushing out even more nitty gritty content on social media.
Very quickly, Go Clean Co.’s Instagram account started growing by tens of thousands of followers (who she refers to as the “cleaning army”) every day. Today, Go Clean Co. has amassed just under two-million Instagram followers (around 70 per cent of whom are actually American, according to McAllister).
“Honestly, I just kept laughing,” McAllister says of the company’s rapid social media growth. “I still laugh every single day. I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe this has happened.”
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McAllister is an entrepreneur at heart. At the beginning of the pandemic, she was also running Go Dog Co., a dog walking business that she owned and operated for 15 years. The idea for Go Clean Co. came after noticing the subpar job other cleaning services were doing when she would drop dogs off at their homes.
After the first lockdown came and went, and less people needed a dog walker since they were staying home, McAllister decided not to reopen Go Dog Co. and to instead focus her efforts on what Calgarians did need — someone to vacuum the inside of their fridge (yes, it’s a thing and yes, you should be doing it).
McAllister’s cleaning systems are inspired by her mother’s methods.
“She taught us from a very young age. When I was eight, I knew that the bathroom baseboards needed to be wiped and that cleaning your bedroom didn’t mean just tidying. It was vacuuming and it was wiping light switches,” McAllister says.
What has resonated most with her followers, McAllister says, is a focus on transparency. She is upfront about what works and what doesn’t (she says she’s spent thousands of dollars testing products). She ensures that her methods adhere to government guidelines (especially when talking about bleach), and she’s even been able to speak directly with scientists who work for some of the product brands she uses.
“[People are] overwhelmed and it’s not their fault,” says McAllister. “They have kids, they have a career, they feel horrible about their houses and when they come home they can’t relax. So, I try to break it down really simply and, you know, put a little twist of humour on it. Like, yeah, we’re all slobs.”
Another focus of the business is supporting women. “A common misconception about me is that my passion is cleaning,” McAllister says. “I’m obviously good at it, but the thing that really gets me going is women in business. I love their ideas.”
McAllister describes Go Clean Co. as “female-led” and all her employees identify as women. Many are recent high-school graduates or post-secondary students.
Go Clean Co. is now booking into 2022. The team is currently developing a Go Clean Co. Certified online course that would allow vetted business owners, including Airbnb hosts and commercial cleaners, the opportunity to learn from them and be certified in their methods. If you want to get started on your own cleaning journey, Go Clean Co.’s e-books can be purchased here.
4 Cleaning Tips from Sarah McAllister
Clean, or it’ll cost you
“I always say the first step in home maintenance is cleaning because stuff gets wrecked when you ignore it, like bathroom fixtures and letting your shower doors go to the point where they look frosted, and they’re not. You can’t bring them back.”
Consider the salt
“We forget that the salt on your shoes is really hard on the floor. It’s important to have the $20 Costco mat at the front door.”
Start in the kitchen
“It’s the biggest job and the most overwhelming. I find if I tackle that one big job, it’s a domino effect for the rest of the house. It gives you confidence.”
Work in a circle
“If you start in your kitchen, go in a circle, finish that floor and then go to the basement. Then you know you’re not going to miss anything. People miss hallways all the time. We have one staff dedicated to just hallways and stairways. And closets. They’re really dirty.”