When it comes to going viral online, there’s no real way of knowing what’s going to take off. Few people know this better than 32-year-old Brandon Pleshek of Clean That Up. We spoke with the third-generation janitor-turned-TikTok creator and Instagram influencer about the rise of his platform, and how the need for a mental break from pandemic stress turned into a successful TikTok account with almost 850k followers and an average of one million views per week.
How He Got Started
Based just south of Green Bay in Appleton, Wis., Brandon took over his family’s decades-old cleaning business about 10 years ago. But then, COVID struck. Fully aware that sending his team into other people’s homes might put them at risk, Brandon made the choice to shut down for four months, starting in March 2020. “As a business owner, I was freaking out,” he said. “My escape was to start posting silly, kind of crazy cleaning videos on the internet.”
One of the first videos he posted was of a post-carpet cleaning technique called carpet grooming. After it received nearly 40K views, Brandon thought he might actually be onto something. “I was like… whoa, that’s wild. I didn’t think people would care about a janitor from Wisconsin.”
Questions began pouring into Brandon’s inbox, and his platforms have steadily grown ever since. We asked Brandon to share his top-performing TikTok cleaning videos, as well as his personal favorites.
01 of 08
“For whatever reason, this just blows people’s minds. My family didn’t invent this hack--it’s just something that’s an old thing. We’ve done it for years, but every single time I’ve posted this it gets about a million views!”
As for the pillowcase, this is really Brandon's only hack... for now. They’ll occasionally use them as drop cloths, but when it comes to fan blades, they're your best bet for trapping the dust.
02 of 08
“This was definitely a request, but because I wear my AirPods all the time while I clean, it came out of necessity, too.”
Fun Tak, it turns out, is a common item in Brandon's cleaning arsenal, because it's perfect for anything you don’t want to stick a brush into. “Some people feel it gets caught in the grill, so just don’t get it too warm. But I use it when I want to grab dust and pull it out but a brush or vacuum would be too aggressive.”
Play-Doh works in a pinch, but “it’s not as tacky.”
03 of 08
“I’m sitting on a TikTok rug that I have destroyed [doing test runs],” Brandon admitted, though this particular video was shot using a carpet square from a local carpet store that has donated tons of samples for his cause.
“I usually test on my own carpet, especially when I definitely know I can get it out!”
04 of 08
Brandon is very careful to never share things he hasn’t tried personally. “I do chuckle at some of the hacks out there,” he said with a laugh.
When it comes to creating new content, he really lets his followers lead the way. “My audience goes in waves of needs. Spring cleaning was recent, and we’re still kind of in that, so there are a lot of spring cleaning and deep cleaning-related questions. As the year progresses, the audience’s needs and questions change. I build my content around them to be helpful.”Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
This pick is reminiscent of Brandon’s first viral video. “Our business does a ton of carpet cleaning,” he said. “This is one way we do it to speed it up. We use an industrial-sized steamer, but an iron works great, too.”
And if you're in the market for a new vacuum, Brandon swears by Hoover. “My family has literally been using Hoover for forty years now."
06 of 08
When asked if he was forced to only keep one cleaning solution on hand, Brandon said vinegar is his top choice, due to its versatility. "It's all around. You can clean so much with it."
07 of 08
Rubbing alcohol and Barkeepers Friend were a close second for his must-have cleaning solutions, and Brandon laughed as he recalled how many people asked, "Is the answer always Barkeepers Friend? And yeah... sometimes it just is!"
08 of 08
“This was a TikTok video that I saw that I thought was really cool and innovative," explained Brandon. "I’d never seen it before, so I tested it out and it worked great!”
These days, Brandon sees more views on his videos than he ever thought possible. On average, he gets about a million a week—but it all depends on the content. “My highest video is at like 12-14 million views, somewhere in there,” he said.
But while TikTok is where Brandon got his start as an influencer, it’s not necessarily where he sees his content thriving. Over on Instagram, his account has seen steady growth, amassing 50k followers over the past 30 days—bringing him to just over 100k. “I can have more of a connection with my audience [on Instagram]. TikTok casts a wide net to a wide audience, but Instagram is a place where I’m able to share stories throughout my day and really connect. They work well together. TikTok kind of gets you out there, and Instagram allows you to really help people.”
His next move is to branch out even further onto YouTube. “I want to have longer-form videos where we can really talk about processes and proper techniques.” And when it comes to coming up with new content, Brandon is sure he’ll never run out. Whether he’s testing out hacks other cleaning creators have shared or coming up with a solution for a follower in need, Brandon sees no shortage of opportunities for the world of cleaning online.
“There will always be dirt and dust and things to clean. [People ask] if I’m ever going to run out of things to clean and I’m like… probably not! Dirt and grime aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.”