Jenny Killingsworth never enjoyed cleaning. But when she brainstormed for a way to support herself as a newly single mother of two, she brushed up on what her business degree taught her and started scrubbing.
Ruby Red Cleaning was born from her desire to support her family with a sustainable business, while also being able to control her own hours to spend as much time as possible with her sons.
“You’re always going to need [cleaners],” she said. “It’s going to be a long way in the future that we’ll have Rosie the Robot from ‘The Jetsons’ as competition.”
After years spent scouring homes for filth and dust, Killingsworth came up with a tried-and-true method for cleaning in the most efficient and effective way possible.
“It was like meditation after awhile,” she said.
She took that method, along with her belief that cleaners deserved more respect and care, and traded in her broom for a corner office. Killingsworth now employs seven cleaners from her Baldwin Park-based business on Lake Baldwin Lane.
Ruby Red Cleaning, she said, works to bring dignity and pride to a profession often looked down upon. It starts with making the right hires. The two things she looks for first in a prospective employee: that they are sweet and kind.
“I can teach anyone to clean a house,” Killingsworth said. “But I can’t teach character, and I can’t teach kindness.”
After extensive training, each new Ruby Red cleaner get to pick out a pair of bright red shoes to wear on the job. When she started her business, Killingsworth took Dorothy’s signature phrase from “The Wizard of Oz” and cleaned it up just a little to make it her own slogan.
“There’s no place like a clean home,” is the business’s tagline.
Every client is matched with one cleaner, and before the cleaners make their rounds, Killingsworth gives her employees a write up with the story behind each home they visit.
“Nobody hires us because they can’t figure out how to clean their own microwave,” she said.
“…It’s not just cleaning a counter, it’s doing it maybe so a dad can spend time with his kids for the weekend.”
Knowing why and how they’re helping through their work, Killingsworth said, it teaches her cleaners to take pride in their job.
Her workers favorite and most meaningful jobs, however, are the ones they take on through Cleaning for a Reason, which provides free cleaning services to women with cancer.
“When you can clean their house for them, it brings them a sense of normalcy. It brings peace,” Killingsworth said.
“The employees love doing it… It’s just so meaningful.”
Killingsworth, who relocated to Baldwin Park after falling in love with the community after she opened her office here, said cleaning houses for a living helped her grow not only as a business woman, but as a person.
“It taught me a lot,” she said. “It really shaped me.”
And now she’s imparting the lessons that she learned onto her employees. It’s all about finding joy and pride in the service you’re providing, she said, no matter if it’s cleaning out cobwebbed corners or banking major business deals.
“I try to be a really good lily pad for the people who work for me,” Killingsworth said. “I don’t just want to give you a job. I want to give you a gift that you can take with you for the rest of your life.”
“…We don’t just clean, we care.”