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At wit's end with helper ruining my clothes - any advice?

  1. #1
    Liquorice is offline Registered User
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    At wit's end with helper ruining my clothes - any advice?

    Having just written a post on another thread about how fantastic my helper is, I am now seeking advice on what to do about her destroying so many clothes (I did mention this bad habit on the aforementioned thread though...).

    Just went upstairs and found another two items of clothing with burn marks on them. She has been regularly ruining clothes by burning them with the iron since she started working for us a year ago. I have done everything that I can think of to change that behavior:

    - talked to her countless times about it in a nice, but firm way
    - taken her through the temperature settings, each time something gets ruined, and what temperatures should be used with what clothes/material
    - showed her how to iron through another thin piece of material if she is unsure whether the iron is the right temperature
    - bought a brand new iron as the old one had some build up on the face of it (probably burnt on old clothes!)

    As the damage continued and my efforts increased I have also now:

    - sectioned off a number of clothes of certain material and told her she doesn't need to iron them (e.g. all sports wear, golfing shirts, anything where hanging would probably make the wrinkles fall out) - plus explained that the same applies to any clothing of the same material that i have not specifically shown her
    - shown her my favourite clothes and simply told her not to ever iron any of them; I'll do it myself.

    But it continues, and continues, and continues. I am starting to get really depressed about it. For ages I have convinced myself that it is not so important as she is really excellent with my son, has a great attitude, is very trustworthy and pleasant to be around, and that these traits are far more important. But I just can't take so many clothes being destroyed anymore.

    Am I being unreasonable?

    Is there anything else I can do / say?

    I really don't want to fire her, and it seems a relatively small thing to fire over (when it is not the primary reason for her employment) and more than anything else my son adores her, but I really am at wit's end.

    In the past she has suggested I deduct money from her salary, but I don't really see that would make any difference and it would go nowhere near replacing my clothes anyway (it's maximum $200 per month I think isn't it?). I also worry that if I take action like that (or other drastic action) then my clothes will just "go missing" when she ruins them. A couple of months ago I lost one of my favourite tops, turned the house upside down and couldn't find it anywhere, then a day later my helper turns up with it (ruined) claiming she found it in a place that I had thoroughly searched the day before.

    The only thing I can think of at the moment is to hire someone else part-time to do the ironing. But then why should I have to fork out more money because she can't do her job properly? An option would be to deduct the cost of the other person from her salary, however (a) part-time rates are higher than live-in so it's not really fair and (b) I don't think I can legally do that anyway. Or maybe I just swallow the extra cost in the interests of not losing so much money on ruined clothes (and of course it isn't just the money, but the sadness when favourite, irreplacable clothes get ruined).

    Has anyone got any advice or suggestions about what I can do?

  2. #2
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    best thing to do?

    do the ironing yourself or hire someone else to do it.

    it would save you the worry about the clothes and it would keep an otherwise great helper in your employ. honestly, no one can be great at everything. so, i'd either suck it up and do it myself (i have some dishes i don't want the helpers to clean) or hire someone else.
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  3. #3
    lisa88 is offline Registered User
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    Hi Liquorice

    I really sympathize, I am in the same boat with an otherwise great helper who is downright awful with housecleaning (I rate my helper as an 'A+' with my preschooler and 'F' for housecleaning and the latter is similarly driving me nuts.

    With ironing I just keep things very simple and get my helper to iron only the cotton and linen garments. So the iron is on the highest setting. All other delicates I send for dry cleaning or I iron them myself. My dry cleaning bills are high but I just 'suck it up' as the price to pay for wanting to preserve expensive silk/delicate clothes. Touch wood, no disasters with the cottons and linens, that is assuming she knows how to separate the laundry and does not forget. Doing it this way means more trips to the laundry shop but then again some shops have a pick up and delivery service if you live close enough and have enough 'volume'. Good luck!
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  4. #4
    lesliefu is offline Registered User
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    you can ask her to put a light cloth on top of the clothes before you irons so that at least if she burns anything it's the light piece of cloth and not your clothes. there's supposedly this iron from fortress that is burn free no matter what. it's $500+ dollars, have bought it for my helpers. Bosch is the brand. good luck!
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  5. #5
    Liquorice is offline Registered User
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    Hi Lesliefu, I might try that iron too. I have suggested in the past that she iron through a cloth, but she never does it I don't think.

  6. #6
    pixelelf is offline Registered User
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    actually. we outsource our laundry to the shops. our helper's ironing skill is really bad as well. it's alot more efficient and seriously no staining/burning problems. no more grief.
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  7. #7
    mummymoo is offline Registered User
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    Liquorice, my helpers are obsessed with ironing, even though I have asked them to STOP! They iron even my undies, bras, bra straps ect which fades the underwear out and they lose their elasticity. Not sure where this ironing obsession comes from, I hardly ever ironed any of my clothes back in Australia but have given up picking them up on it. They however have never brunt anything of mine.

    For your problem, you could buy her one of those steamers, which doesn't burn the clothes, gets out the wrinkles and is pretty much disaster proof. The other thing is, for things that need to be ironed, keep the iron on one setting (it may be too much to ask her to dial the heat up or down) and ask her to spray water to get the wrinkles out before ironing.

    Good luck! She seems good otherwise, so I don't think you should let her go.

  8. #8
    Redestiny is offline Registered User
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    Have you thought about buying a clothes steamer? They arn't that expensive and really quick and easy to use. I don't have a helper but with a clothes steamer I only ever have to iron cotton and linen, which need to be ironed on the hot setting anyway.

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