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How Much Does A Housekeeper Cost?

Typical Range: $75 - $175

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A housekeeper is more than a maid. A housekeeper can take care of the various duties for which you may not have the time or ability. Housekeepers can come to your home on a per visit basis and charge for their services based on whether you own an apartment, townhome or large home. Then you have housekeepers who live in your home, help with your children after school and basically run your home. The kind of housekeeper you need should be determined by your day to day schedule and budget. Here are some factors involved with hiring a housekeeper and what you could pay for their services.

On This Page:

  1. Price Factors & Considerations
  2. Should You Hire a Housekeeper?
  3. Live-In Housekeepers
  4. Getting References & Reviews
  5. Legal Responsibilities & Contracts
  6. Conclusion

Consider These 10 Housekeeping Cost Factors

If your housekeeping service charges by the hour, expect to pay $9 to $15 an hour, depending on the kind of community you live in. Small rural communities are often on the lower end of the scale due to a relatively low workload. Otherwise you could pay anywhere between $75 and $175 on a per visit basis for a housekeeper. While a housekeeping job can be priced on a number of scales, there are common factors.

  1. Size – Your home's size, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, influences the cost significantly. Bedrooms are frequently more cluttered than common rooms, for example, and bathrooms require extra attention to ensure their cleanliness and sanitation.
  2. Human Occupancy – The number of people living in your home can affect how much of a cleaning your house needs. The more people in a house, the greater the clutter.
  3. Pet Occupancy – Pets bring their own level and style of clutter to a home. Pet toys are notoriously left all over the place, bedding needs to be washed, litter boxes need cleaning and deodorizing and fur gets shed on furniture, carpets and other surfaces.
  4. Frequency – How often a service comes out to your house depends on what you request. Many services offer discounts for more frequent visits. While these discounts may average only $5 to $10 per visit, over time this can add up to $500 in savings for the year!
  5. Level of Clutter – In this case, “level of clutter” refers less to the amount of clutter and more to its accessibility. Houses with high ceilings can have features such as tall shelves, high ceiling fans and high light fixtures. While some companies bring their own ladders for such situations, an individual may ask that you provide the ladder.
  6. Surfaces to be Cleaned – Every surface that has to be cleaned — countertops, shelves, end tables, dining tables, entertainment centers and so on —demands time. While a certain amount of surfaces to be cleaned is expected, an excessive number can add to your cost. If you have a massive collection of objects that sits on a great number of shelves (especially if they’re something fragile like porcelain figurines), your housekeeper might charge extra.
  7. Special Services – Cleaning walls and windows isn’t always considered part of the package. Certain appliances may also not be included. Certain chores, such as putting laundry away, might not be included. Before calling a service for a consultation, go through your house and make a list of everything you want cleaned so that you and the housekeeper both know and agree on what services are to be provided.
  8. Housekeeper Experience – You may have to pay more for an experienced housekeeper. Experienced housekeepers often have the best reputations and references. They are also more familiar with what clients want and know various ways to handle even the trickiest of situations. They will often be familiar with proper cleaning methods for various specialty surfaces, such as marble (which scratches easily).
  9. Size of the Team – This is usually tied to the size of your house. A large house will take more people to clean in a reasonable amount of time. A small house may take only one or two people to clean. Obviously, the more people you require to clean your house, the more you will pay, but having one person clean a very large house can cost even more since it will take longer and represents a greater workload.
  10. Rate of Payment – How the service charges -- by the job or by the hour -- can determine whether or not you’re getting a good rate. Depending on how long it takes to maintain your house, you might get a better deal with one over the other. If you have a service that charges $35 an hour that prices your house at 3 hours, that’s $105 to clean your house. Another service may charge you $75 per visit. Obviously you get a better deal with the flat rate, but if you have a small house, it wouldn’t make much sense for you to pay the same flat rate as someone with a large house that will take longer to clean.
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Do You Need to Hire a Housekeeper?

Many people use the term “housekeeper” in place of the term “maid.” For many, “housekeeper” is seen as a more gender neutral term. When you are hiring a maid or a housekeeper, be sure you both agree on what the position entails and the right term by which to call him or her.

People who can benefit from a housekeeper include:

  • Those with very busy schedules. When you regularly put in overtime at work or have too many social obligations, it’s easy to feel too overwhelmed to do laundry. Just as important, however, are keeping a clean house, grocery shopping, walking the dog, picking up the kids from school, getting family members to appointments and other daily chores. A housekeeper can help you with life’s mandatory balancing acts.
  • A person with a physical disability. A back, foot or leg surgery patient may not have the ability to stand for long periods of time to complete tasks like washing dishes. Walking up and down stairs to do the laundry can be a monumental chore, let alone driving to the store or appointments. Joint issues such as severe arthritis can make any movement difficult at best. Sometimes you need an extra set of hands to help keep your home decent and livable.
  • Frequent travelers. Even if you have neighbors to collect your mail and newspaper, it doesn’t take long for a dedicated criminal to realize that nobody’s home. The presence of a housekeeper, particularly a live-in housekeeper, helps keep your home not only clean and organized but secure.
  • The elderly. If they can’t get around as well as they used to, the living conditions in their homes can become unbearable if not dangerous. If they live alone, a housekeeper’s visit, though no substitute for an actual gathering of friends and family, can alleviate that loneliness for some.
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In-Home Consultations

Every cleaning and housekeeping situation is unique. An in-home consultation is necessary so the person or company you are interviewing can see exactly what needs to be done and can give you the most accurate price. They can see if certain areas will need special attention, ask questions about tasks that are unique to your household and answer any questions you may have.

If you are hiring an individual, this is your chance to get to meet the person. A face-to-face meeting can help you get to know a person far better than you would over a phone conversation. It’s also a good time to introduce the pets. Animals can be unpredictable in behavior, so it’s best to see how they take to someone you will be letting into your home.

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Questions To Ask a Housekeeper

There are some important questions to ask either on the phone or during the in-home consultation:

  • What services do you offer? – This should be the first question asked. Make sure at the start that the service or person can provide what you need.
  • Do you provide references? – A reputable service or person should be more than happy to give references to show the quality of their work.
  • Do you run background checks? – You are perfectly within your rights to ask about background checks before entrusting your home and belongings to a stranger.
  • Do you provide the supplies? – Don’t assume they’ll bring supplies and equipment. If you have special needs, such as all-green products or anti-allergen products, make sure this is known upfront.
  • Will it be the same people each time? – When hiring a service, it’s important to know if you will be dealing with a regular team or if the employees rotate. Some companies even rotate individual team members if there’s a problem.
  • Who do I call if there’s a problem? – A good housekeeping service will have a customer service representative you can call if there’s a problem. If you hired an individual, they may be the go-to person for problems since they are the ones you hired.
  • Are you okay with pets? – While this should come up normally in the interview, any pet issues should be discussed. Your dog may be perfectly friendly but may respond aggressively if someone reaches for his food dish while he’s near it. Your cat may be a “door-dasher” if it’s left open too long. If you own an exotic pet, make sure the housekeeper is aware of this as soon as possible. Some people are okay with dogs, cats and birds, but won’t go into a room with snake or a tarantula.
  • Do I have to be home? – Some services can keep a key to your house for housekeeper use if you can't be at home. These keys should be kept in a secure place. Others request that someone be home to avoid security issues.
  • Are you fully licensed, bonded and insured? – This provides a worry-free experience for both you and the housekeeper.
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Hiring a Live-In Housekeeper

On “The Brady Bunch,” Ann B. Davis’ character Alice was one of the most popular figures on the show. Children loved her because she was funny and personable. Adults loved her because they relied on her to cook, clean and handle all of the tasks for which their increasingly busy lives didn’t leave them time. The house was always clean, the beds were always made and you never saw dirty dishes or laundry anywhere. She was a good example of the live-in housekeeper.

A live-in housekeeper makes anywhere between $30,000 and $60,000 annually, depending on how many tasks and other assorted chores he or she does during the day. While many people think of housekeeping as routine intensive cleaning, there are other tasks a housekeeper can perform. These tasks include:

  • Organizing storage areas such as closets and changing out seasonal clothes, tidying up storage rooms like attics and basements and keeping linen closets neat
  • Shopping for groceries based on a list or menu that you have created.
  • Walking the dog, scooping the litter box and tending aquariums or cages
  • Replenishing your supplies of basic household goods such as batteries, cleaning supplies, soap and other small but important items.
  • Weeding the garden or mowing the lawn
  • Running errands such as dropping off donations, picking up the dry cleaners and depositing mail at the post office.
  • Packing things away for moving or for sending a child off to camp or college can be made easier if you ask your housekeeper to help.
  • Decorating your home for the holidays is important if you entertain guests. A housekeeper can handle the decorating for you. All you need to do is make sure the boxes are labeled and have clear instructions for where everything is supposed to go. After the holidays, the housekeeper can take everything down and pack it away for next year.
  • Doing the laundry from start to finish as part of the job.

Live-in housekeepers can also provide transportation needs.

  • For Adults – Some dental appointments, including oral surgery, require the patient to have someone there to drive them home even if the sedative was mild. In a house with two working adults, this can mean two days’ worth of work missed. Instead of hoping to find a friend or relative who can do the driving, your housekeeper can do it as part of their job. You can also be dropped off at an extensive hair appointment while your housekeeper continues to run other important errands and returns to pick you up.
  • For Kids – Sports practice and extracurricular classes such as dance or music can be handled by your housekeeper. Picking up and dropping off at school is a very time-consuming chore that must be done. Often, a parent or legal guardian is required to be present for doctor or dentist appointments, but many others can be done by your housekeeper.

Live-in housekeepers can help with the cooking or even complete it themselves. Preparing a good, balanced meal is important but can take quite a bit of effort. Your schedule may not give you the time to get a roast going in the oven, and you may not feel comfortable leaving an appliance like a slow-cooker running while nobody's home. Even something like a salad can take more time than you have. If your housekeeper cooks for you, you have more time to spend catching up on whatever you need to do, from work to family time. Once the meal is done, you can relax knowing the dishes will get washed.

Of all the tasks in the kitchen, however, few are more dreaded than cleaning the appliances. A housekeeper can clean out the refrigerator and wipe down sides and shelves and clean out the meat and vegetable bins. Stovetops can be quite a chore, and the oven is a task in and of itself. If time or a disability prevents you from keeping up with these tasks, a live-in housekeeper will be a welcome addition to your home!

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Check References & Reviews

One of the best sources of reviews is to ask someone who is using the service you wish to hire. A friend or neighbor who is using a particular service can show you first-hand the quality of the work. If this is not possible for you, check various websites for reviews of the company you are considering. A company should also be more than willing to give you references to attest to the quality of their work.

Hiring an individual can be a little more intimidating. Without a company to provide oversight, you may feel like you are going in blind. However, if you hire an individual through an online service, make sure the online service has pre-screened the housekeepers registered on their site. Many do background checks before letting someone offer their services through their site, and many profiles include customer reviews for the individual. Their profiles also usually list what services they offer and what they include for extra pay.

Guidelines to Follow

When you arrange for an interview with a housekeeper, here are some guidelines to follow to ensure you get relevant and important information:

  • Ask for general background information, and let them do most of the talking. This will give you a feel for their personality and communication skills.
  • Ask for work and character references and then follow up on them. Remember that this is a stranger you’re letting into your house. It’s best to get to know them before you invite them to care for your home.
  • Create a small application to help you get consistent information. This application should include:
    • Full name and address with phone and/or email
    • Social Security, driver’s license or ID number (to verify identification)
    • Proof of legal status for employment in the United States
    • Reference names and phone numbers
    • Whether the candidate is bonded and insured
    • Emergency contact information
  • Run a background check. Many agencies will provide this service for a small fee.
  • Ask them about hypothetical situations to determine their work ethic and approach to the job of cleaning and housekeeping.
  • Be upfront during the interview about what you expect and how much you will pay.
  • Establish a trial period to make sure the person performs to your expectations and that you have compatible personalities.

What to Discuss with the Housekeeper

Once you have decided to hire a housekeeper, whether a company or an individual, there are some things you can do to make sure that your relationship with the housekeeper is a good one:

  • Make sure you both understand the responsibilities and duties and know if they are being met.
  • Define your trial period and agree to a review after that time to address any issues or concerns, or to end the service if it doesn’t work out.
  • Communicate special requests. While some such requests may be last-minute (for example, an unexpected spill that you blotted up but that left a stain), you may know ahead of time what will need extra attention. Be sure to let your housekeeper know as far in advance as possible so that they can work it into their day.
  • Remember that everyone has their own way of doing things. As long as the job is getting done, the method shouldn’t be important as long as it’s not taking too long. For example, some people prefer to do the silverware first when washing dishes while others prefer to do the glassware first. Whichever one your housekeeper prefers to do first shouldn’t matter as long as the dishes are clean.
  • Make any special instructions known. You may have a collection that you don’t want touched for fear of breaking. You might have some rooms that are off-limits. You could have a fine antique that could get damaged from certain cleaning products. Any peculiarities about your house should be made clear, such as a door that sticks if it’s not closed gently. Be clear about these needs and limits by writing them down and providing your housekeeper with a copy.
  • Be clear about how to handle changes in schedules, rescheduling if your housekeeper is sick or how to cancel service.
  • Not every housekeeper is a thief. If something is not where it should be, don’t assume theft right away. Ask your housekeeper about its location directly. It could be that they moved it for cleaning and forgot to put it back. If genuine theft is suspected, however, contact the housekeeper’s agency immediately. This should also apply to items that get damaged or broken. Trust is important in the relationship.
  • If your housekeeper has done a great job during the trial period, say so! Praise is a great motivator for people, so words of appreciation for a job well done encourage your employee to keep up the good work.
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Contracts and Your Legal Responsibilities

If you have hired a housekeeper through a service, your work is done. You’ve read the contract and either signed it or not. If you are hiring an individual, you have a little more work to do and have certain obligations.

The Contract

A good contract for hiring a housekeeper should include the following:

  • Terms of payment, including the amount and frequency.
  • What hours the housekeeper is expected to work.
  • What exactly is expected of the housekeeper and what is considered “extra.”
  • Who will provide the equipment and supplies?
  • What’s off-limits and if the housekeeper is allowed to use the kitchen appliances to make meals or snacks during the day.
  • Pet policies, such as where pets are or are not allowed to be and how to confine them if necessary.
  • Sick days or vacation days. A housekeeper is human, after all, and needs down-time!
  • How much notice ahead of time is needed for rescheduling?
  • How to end the contract should the need arise.
  • Taxes and benefits.

Insurance for Injuries

Be sure your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance covers any injuries or accidents that might occur. This is especially important if you have a regular housekeeper.

Housekeeper Access

Make arrangements for letting your housekeeper in the house. If you are home during the service, this isn’t a problem. If a housekeeper is to work while you are not home, make sure they have access to a key. For added security, your house’s alarm system can usually be set to give the housekeeper a separate entry code that you can change if you need to let them go.

Taxes and Employment Eligibility

If you hire a housekeeping service, this is all handled for you. If your housekeeper provides their own equipment and does work for others, they are considered an independent contractor and must file their own paperwork. If, however, you are paying the housekeeper’s wages directly and his or her pay amounts to more than $1,500 a year, you will be responsible for reporting those wages to the IRS, withholding Social Security and Medicare and withholding any state taxes. Check with the IRS and your state’s tax board about current requirements.

You are also required fill out an I-9 form to verify that your housekeeper is legally allowed to work in the United States. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges and fines ranging from $250 to $10,000 or even jail time. You must make a good-faith effort to protect yourself in the event someone is using a stolen identity. Part of this good-faith effort includes contacting the Social Security Administration to verify that the Social Security number you were given matches the employee.

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In Conclusion

Hiring a housekeeper is an excellent way to give yourself the time you need to take care of a very busy life, to tackle large jobs that seem too daunting or to have an extra set of hands around the house when you need them. With a regular housekeeper, you can even find a new friend in the process, while a live-in housekeeper can almost become part of the family! At any rate, when there aren’t enough hours in the day, a housekeeper becomes your partner in helping get the necessities done so you can focus on your personal work and family.

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