A Calgary cleaning company has gained an unexpected boost in Instagram followers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the province has begun easing restrictions and allowing services like hers to operate, owner Sarah McAllister is looking to use that popularity to grow her business.
McAllister put her company, GOCLEANCO, on social media back in November 2018.
“[On Instagram] I originally only shared aesthetically pleasing things that were really nice,” McAllister says. “And then, after a while, I started showing a little bit of the grime we were finding in houses and showing people how to clean things properly.”
With that kind of content, GOCLEANCO was able to gain a decent following.
“We hit 10,000 followers in February … which was awesome for a local cleaning company to have,” she says.
“We thought that was just the bomb, we thought it was so great.”
And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and McAllister began sharing as much information as she could about disinfecting and deep cleaning techniques, such as laundry stripping — which involves soaking fabrics in a mixture of Borax, washing soda, Tide powder and hot water to pull out any hard water, fabric softener, dirt and soap scum that can build up and even cause odors — and her following exploded.
“I find that the biggest feedback has been that [cleaning] gives them something they can control while COVID is going on,” says McAllister.
Since February, the GOCLEANCO Instagram account has grown from 10,000 followers to 696,000 followers as of early July.
“It’s just been crazy. I can’t stop smiling. It makes me really happy [that] even if people can’t hire us, at least we know that they’re cleaning their homes and [we’re] helping them along the way.”
McAllister says her passion for cleaning came from her mom, who began teaching her and her two sisters at a young age.
“My mom was always a clean freak,” she says. “It was part of growing up, we were responsible to do our own laundry and that type of stuff since we were probably seven or eight. So, I’ve always learned this kind of stuff, and… I’ve taken it forward into my life.”
McAllister, who used to own a long-standing dog-walking business in the city, decided to start GOCLEANCO because she would constantly be asked by her dog-walking clients if she knew any good housekeepers.
“I just thought, ‘Why don’t I do this myself?’”
GOCLEANCO owner Sarah McAllister says her passion for cleaning came from her mom, who began teaching her and her sisters at an early age. Photo courtesy of Sarah McAllister.
THE #CLEANING ARMY
Currently, more than half of GOCLEANCO’s Instagram followers, also known as the #CleaningArmy, are American, with a large portion also coming from Australia and, of course, Canada. Based on their comments on the account’s posts, followers have been drawn to the page for a number of different reasons.
Instagram user brit_nevarez credits the page with inspiring her to clean.
“I hate cleaning but now I’m obsessed,” she writes. “My house has never been so clean.”
Others have more emotional reasons for following.
“My dad passed away from COVID and I found your account a few days after,” writes Instagram user motherhood.chronicled. “I became obsessed with all your videos and [a cleaning handbook McAllister created] and have been learning as much as possible.
“Thank you for all the information you share. You have no idea how much of an impact you’ve made in my life in just a short period of time. I want to make sure my kids are safe and cleaning and disinfecting is a high priority right now. Plus, it helps my mind stay busy so I don’t stay sad the entire time.”
BACK TO BUSINESS
Since the beginning of the pandemic, McAllister has only been able to run GOCLEANCO’s social media accounts, and not the cleaning business itself as they stopped taking bookings while COVID-19 restrictions were strict.
Since the province’s announcement that Alberta was entering phase two of its relaunch strategy on June 12, McAllister has been faced with the challenge of getting business back on track, and capitalizing on her newfound popularity. She’s excited for the challenge but worries that there might be just one small hiccup.
“I’m really excited to reopen,” she says. “We’ve got a really good reopen plan… and we’ll see how it works out. But who knows, maybe everyone’s houses are going to be clean.”