With her sweet catchphrase, “My name is Mbali Nhlapho, and I’m a housekeeper”, captivating audiences, the charismatic 40-year-old uses TikTok and other online networks to share cleaning tips with audiences.

In her videos, Mbali often uses everyday household products, such as vinegar, lemons, toothpaste, and bicarbonate of soda, to remove stains, get rid of bugs, or use them as disinfectants and fabric softeners.

The Soweto resident is not only a housekeeper, she is also an inspiring businesswoman and author who runs a cleaning company called ‘Sisters @ Work’, where she matches housekeepers to potential families in need. Mbali is on a mission to destigmatise the world of domestic work. She aims to remove the negative stereotypes people often have about housekeepers and advocates for these workers to be fairly remunerated and respected for their work.

I interviewed the social media sensation, who shared more about her biggest achievements, future goals, and much more.

1.) What inspired you to share your cleaning tips online?
I learnt many of my cleaning tips from my grandmother, and I wanted to try and make cleaning accessible to people, even to those who cannot afford the most expensive products. I also desired for housekeepers to work smart, not hard, and to save their employment by giving them tricks they could use to obtain the best cleaning results.

2.) What are some of your biggest accomplishments?
I loved writing a cleaning book entitled My Name is Mbali Nhlapho, I am a housekeeper, because it allowed me to fully explain all the cleaning tips that I touch on in my TikTok videos. I also enjoyed hosting my high tea, which was a wonderful success.

3.) What are your plans for the future?
I aspire to open a centre where I can train future housekeepers. The business will be called “Training @ Work”. I am very excited about this project and the people who will be trained in the process.

4.) What are some of the pros and cons of your increased popularity, especially among young people?
I appreciate the social media recognition I have garnered – it has all been surreal and amazing, but I always remember to be humble. I have had the chance to work with popular South African brands. In terms of the impact this recognition has had on my life, I will say there is far less privacy now, which is something I needed to get used to.

5.) Why is it so important for you to play a role in removing the stigma around domestic work?
Housekeeping is often looked down upon, and this should not be the case because, through this profession, other careers are born. Housekeepers are known to have taken their children to university by saving what they earn at their cleaning jobs. I feel that housekeepers need to be acknowledged and respected, just like any other profession that is purposeful in the upkeep of a family.

Mbali Nhlapho is an activist, author, businesswoman, and proud housekeeper. Not only does this woman advocate for domestic work to be seen as a respected profession, but she also shows how cheaper household items can be used for cleaning. Her fun and energetic online persona, coupled with the determination she has to assist others, has made Mbali a household name, loved by young and older South Africans. This iconic housekeeper is challenging the status quo and societal perceptions we may have about housekeeping, and there’s nothing more inspiring than that!

What are some noble professions you think people often look down upon? Why do you think there is so much stigma around taking on certain jobs?