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Like many others, during March 2020, Vanesa Amaro’s housekeeping job came to a screeching halt. She and her husband Alex, whom she learned to clean while living at her parents’ house, had just started cleaning houses. What had started as a hobby and side hustle for Vanesa quickly became a main source of income during a financially difficult period in her and Alex’s life. While the start of the pandemic forced them to stop their household project, this downtime would catapult Vanesa to build her brand and enter her calling – TikToks”The queen of cleaning.”
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“In May 2020, I finally took the plunge and downloaded TikTok at my sister’s insistence,” says Vanesa. “Aside from dancing teenagers, I noticed a lot of videos about DIY, repairs and other tips. I said to myself, ‘I can do this! I know how to clean houses.'”
Vanesa’s first handful of videos went viral, amassing millions of views and 45,000 followers overnight. After just six months, her followers reached one million and today she has more than 5.5 million followers. Her videos were, and still are, some of the most popular on #CleanTok, TikTok’s hashtag aimed specifically at those looking for cleaning tips, hacks, and everything in between. Vanesa’s following and brand as a professional housekeeper-turned-cleaner TikToker has given her the opportunity to work as an ambassador with well-known brands such as Cloroxdesign cleaning products like her Scrub babies (resized Screw dad mushrooms that fit smaller hands), and drop her own cleaning e-book that includes tips, a cleaning checklist and more.
“Having such amazing opportunities to collaborate with brands like Clorox is still surreal to me,” says Vanesa. “These are brands and products I grew up with and have used as a housekeeper, so I’m just very grateful to everyone who has believed in me along the way.”
Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Vanesa later moved to Texas, which she now calls home. Spending time between the two countries growing up shaped her cultural identity. Despite not being able to finish school, Vanesa has more than overcome a number of obstacles and struggles to become a proud and successful Latina with a relatability she feels is what primarily draws people to her content.
“I have a lot of things stacked against me: I’m brown, I’m a woman, I’m Latina, I’m a homemaker, and I live in Texas!” she says. “I love that I’ve been able to use my platform to advocate for domestic workers and share tips on how to be comfortable and confident when doing this type of work in someone’s home.”
Throughout her years as a housekeeper, Vanesa has had to dodge the racial stereotype of the Latina girl while struggling with her feelings of shame common to Latina women and the act of cleaning. She remembers a moment from several years ago where she mentioned that she had lowered her head and looked down at the floor when the homeowner walked past her in the hallway.
“I cried later that day because I felt so ashamed that I did it,” she says. “We’re not different because someone pays me to clean their toilet, and we shouldn’t give them more power over us because that just perpetuates the stereotype.”
Vanesa is on a mission to destigmatize what it means to clean, especially for those who work in the service industry. For far too long the housekeeping profession has been looked down upon and Vanesa is dedicated to breaking stereotypes, being a helpful resource and sharing advice with those who feel shame in any way when it comes to cleaning.
“Cleaning can be overwhelming, so it’s OK to ask for help,” she says. “In our culture, it’s common for women to clean and look after a home as if it’s our job, but even if you don’t have the money to hire someone, ask a friend or family member for help. It is the only way we can balance our lives, our families and ourselves.”
In addition to creating content and collaborating with brands, Vanesa and her husband spend much of their free time cleaning houses for free for families whose loved ones are battling terminal illnesses.
“I’m so privileged and grateful that I’m no longer dependent on a job as a housekeeper, so I just want to continue to pay it forward,” she says. “We’ve been able to help so many families and the journey has been amazing.”
When creating new content, or even just cleaning her own home, Vanesa looks to the trusted products she grew up with that are not only functional, but also fill her with the nostalgia that connects her to her culture. Here are Vanessa’s favorite Mexican cleaning supplies.