Superstar male cleaners shaking up the sector

The domestic cleaning sector is historically female dominated. In fact, a survey in 2018 found that 84%* of cleaners in Europe are female. With this in mind, it’s almost become a household misconception that cleaning in the home is best completed with a ‘woman’s touch’. However, men are just as likely to thrive in the sector. Domestic cleaning franchise Poppies is hoping to address the imbalance of the perceptions of gender stereotypes as part of International Men’s Day on 19th November. Whilst men are in the minority in their 450-strong UK-wide network of cleaners, Poppies are keen to celebrate those superstar men who are shaking things up.

“After two decades as owner of my cleaning business, I’ve certainly recognised that we receive more applications for our roles from women than men. When we do get male cleaners on board, it’s always a welcome addition and something that get our clients talking. What I have noticed is a general difference in attitudes and motivations to work in cleaning between our male and female Poppies.

“In my experience, men are more often driven by completing the process whereas women are cleaning for the outcome. For example, a man might get satisfaction from perfect tramlines in a carpet, but a woman feels happy that the room is ready for the homeowner and their family to enjoy using it again. Of course, it’s most important to us that our Poppies feel valued and our clients’ expectations are met. Whilst we’re celebrating the men in our team today, we’re celebrating our fantastic team culture every day,” said Chris Wootton, long-standing franchisee and franchisor of Poppies.

I like the feeling of completion

At Poppies Peak District, Chris Macdonald is all about getting the job done. An electrician by trade, he’s used to putting in the work to get results. Now, at the age of 68, and after almost eight years working as a cleaner, he still adopts a similar mindset in everything he does.

“Some people find it odd, but I’m the one that completes the jobs that start at 4am. I’m usually in before everyone else and finish before some others begin their day. My whole working life, I’ve been committed to the job at hand and frequently perform at my best when I’m feeling motivated by those around me.

“My favourite part about being a cleaner is interacting with clients, getting to know them and their needs and connecting with them on a personal level too. In my opinion, cleaning is a profession not just a job, and people must have the drive, passion and enthusiasm when looking into it as a career. Poppies has been good to me, providing the support I need to work at the best of my ability - I’m grateful for all that they’ve done in helping me be the best version of myself.”

My hard work got me the nickname ‘The Machine’

Martin Smith joined Poppies Stockport in 2016 after being supported into the role by Pure Innovation. The organisation supports those with a disability and disadvantaged groups find employment – as Martin is deaf, being a cleaner at Poppies was the perfect choice. With his strong work ethic and attention to detail, he’s rightfully earned himself the title ‘Martin the Machine’.

“Pure Innovation were amazing at finding me the right employer and Poppies have exceeded every single expectation. They’re considerate and champion me to do an excellent job. Getting the nickname just for doing my job is a boost of confidence.

“I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I absolutely love what I do and making a difference to people’s lives – even in the simplest of ways. It also makes me proud that I’m able to show that the cleaning industry isn’t just for women. I see more and more male cleaners these days and I’m thrilled to be flying the flag for us.”

If you’re looking to address the balance in the cleaning industry by starting your own cleaning business, visit:


Editor’s notes:

For more information, or to speak with Chris Wootton directly, please contact Liam on 07395 641523 or

Images attached: Image of Martin 'The Machine' Smith & Chris Macdonald.


* Eurostat: European Labour Force Survey (2018).

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About Poppies

Founded in 1980, Poppies is the UK’s original domestic cleaning franchise. Having been recently acquired by long-term franchisee, Chris Wootton, the Poppies brand is poised for countrywide expansion by partnering with ambitious, service-driven investors. Poppies is a scalable management franchise offering real work-life balance. Franchisees profit from a market where demand has increased 25% in the last five years whilst a strong family-values culture underpins both our franchise and services.