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Mbali Nhlapho’s extraordinary journey from housekeeper to TikTok sensation

Mbali Nhlapho’s extraordinary journey from housekeeper to TikTok sensation
Viral TikToker Mbali Nhlapho at her home. (Photo: Bukamuso Sebata)

In the realm of housekeeping and DIY cleaning, Mbali Nhlapho is helping people, one TikTok video at a time.

@mbalinhlapho7 Diy polish #diypolish #bymbali #cleaningbookbymbali #sistersatworkcleaningservices #cleanlikembali #diywithmbali #traningatwork #diywithmbali #housekeeper #immbalinhlapho ♬ original sound – Mbali Nhlapho house keeper

‘My name is Mbali Nhlapho, and I’m the housekeeper.” 

This catchphrase by an entrepreneur from Soweto has won the hearts of hundreds of thousands of social media users captivated by Nhlapho’s journey from housekeeper to online star.

Nhlapo’s TikTok opener has been adopted by many who engage in even the most menial of chores.

Raised in the vibrant suburb of Diepkloof, Nhlapho is one of five children born to Nomusa and Siphiwe Nhlapho. Beyond her role as a mother to her sons, Mpilo and Phila, the online sensation wears many hats. She is not only a business owner and author, but also a housekeeper extraordinaire. 

One of her proudest achievements is Sisters at Work, a company offering bespoke cleaning services tailored to the needs of individual clients.

Nhlapho started Sisters at Work as a cleaning business in 2017 and now employs 46 people.

“I’m truly enjoying this journey,” Nhlapho reflects.

Her motivation for venturing into entrepreneurship came when her sister-in-law was struggling to find a helper after her six-month maternity leave.

Nhlapho stepped in and found a helper for her sister-in-law within two weeks. This triggered a flood of inquiries from others seeking nannies and cleaning services, leading to the birth of Sisters at Work

Having lost her job at a furniture store, she began creating cleaning products, drawing on knowledge passed down by the grandmother who raised her.

“Growing up in Soweto as a little girl, we made floor polish and other cleaning products from scratch. I never imagined that these skills would become invaluable for the profession I would pursue,” Nhlapho explains.

Nhlapho now blends her cleaning products, using simple yet effective ingredients like bicarbonate of soda, dishwashing liquid, salt and vinegar. She now shares these DIY product recipes among her legion of fans who watch her TikTok videos.

Nhlapho’s engagement with her online audience includes providing solutions to cleaning problems through tutorial videos.

Nhlapho began her TikTok journey in October 2021 and soon acquired an impressive 750,000 followers. However, the account was banned after she shared her phone number with followers. Undeterred, she made a fresh start in August this year. Her new account already has more than 330,000 followers.

While she is delighted that her content is reaching younger people, Nhlapho takes pride in her ability to assist the older generation. 

“The ingredients I use can be found at your corner shop, something my mother and her friends exploited when trying to create their cleaning products,” she says.

“Every morning when I wake up, I want to make my (late) mother proud, whether we believe that she sees me or not, whether we believe that she can hear or not,” she says.

Nhlapo admits to having her critics, some of whom suggest she relies too heavily on bicarbonate of soda for almost all her products. However, she says such comments do not deter her from her mission of helping others and sharing her expertise.

For those sceptical of her use of bicarb, it should be said that the ingredient has been shown to be effective for household cleaning, and it is safe to mix with vinegar when cleaning areas where food is stored.

Looking ahead, Nhlapho envisions collaborating with brands and continuing to create online content. Her recent involvement in the TV show Yekela, where she plays a specialist helping hoarders to clean their homes, reflects her expanding influence.

As her TikTok following grows, Nhlapho is extending her repertoire to include advice on skincare and managing menstrual pain.

@mbalinhlapho7 Replying to @decemberq16 #housekeeper #immbalinhlapho #sistersatworkcleaningservices #diywithmbali #honeycombasmr #honeyh ♬ original sound – Mbali Nhlapho house keeper

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  • Jacqueline Kinnear Kinnear says:

    I’m this made me smile today. Thank you for an uplifting and inspiring story. I’m definitely sharing this with my housekeeper, she’s going to love it 👌🤩

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