Queen’s ex-cleaner shares her tips – avoid bleach, punch pillows and fold toilet roll

Jerome Powell

It’s no surprise that when working for the Queen, standards are extremely high.

And one of her former housekeepers has revealed the tricks and tips she used for keeping royal residences pristine.

Barbara Allred was the head housekeeper at Sandringham for over 10 years and says only the finest attention to detail will do.

She told the Daily Mail : “When you’re working for the top, standards have to be 110 per cent, not just 100 per cent.”

Here are some of her best tips…

Avoid bleach

When it comes to the glamorous task of cleaning the loo, Barbara advises using a limescale product instead of bleach.

Barbara Allred says standards have to be high when cleaning royal residences

She said: “Bleach takes the shine off porcelain.”

She also says that toilet paper should roll from the front and be folded to a point to show the bathroom has been cleaned.

Punch your pillows

When it comes to making beds, it is advised that pillows are punched to plump them while the bedcover is folded into thirds, concertina style.

Barabara says: “So if you’re cold at night, you can pull it up easily.”

In addition, any stripes on pillows should always face down and Barbara says a bed is only made when it looks so inviting you want to dive into it.

Folding towels

Buckingham Palace staff prepare tables ahead of a dinner in 2018
Buckingham Palace staff prepare tables ahead of a dinner in 2018

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When it comes to folding towels professionally, Barbara revealed her technique.

She lays them flat and then folds them into three lengthwise.

After she then hangs them on a towel rail for display.


When dusting, Barbara says a squeezed out damp cloth is best for cleaning ornaments as if it’s dry, it is just pushing dust around.

She suggests the same for furniture – use a tightly squeezed out soft cloth and never spray the polish directly onto wood – always spray onto the cloth.

Gin for jewels

The Queen's dresser Angela Kelly revealed she uses gin and water to help keep her jewels sparkling
The Queen’s dresser Angela Kelly revealed she uses gin and water to help keep her jewels sparkling

Another member of the royal household to share her cleaning tips is the Queen’s dresser and right-hand woman Angela Kelly.

She revealed in her book The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, The Dresser, and the Wardrobe that a popular tipple helps keep diamonds bright and sparkling.

Angela wrote: “Gin and water are handy for giving the royal diamonds a little extra sparkle.”

The big test

When it comes to hiring cleaners for the royal household, the recruitment team have a strange test to spot the “special” cleaners amid the good ones.

According to Tracey Waterman, the head of recruitment, the team put the secret challenge to all interviewees to see how they react.

She explains that she will place a dead fly on the fireplace or carpet of the room to see if they notice it – and what they do if they spot it.

Tracey adds: “It’s a great test, maybe out of 10 people half the candidates will notice the fly. One out of ten will actually bend down and pick it up, that’s the special housekeeper.”

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