Hiring a Housekeeper: Duties and 7 Considerations

A good housekeeper meets their clients expectations

House Spring Cleaning Maid Housework Service, Cleaner Entering Home Door
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Hiring a housekeeper can relieve you, but only if you do your homework. It's important to find someone trustworthy, particularly if they will be cleaning your home while you're at work or running errands and will take their time to do the job properly.

Ask around for referrals and consider the ins and outs of using a sole proprietor or hiring a larger cleaning company before you commit to a housekeeper.

If you're thinking about hiring a housekeeper, look at a typical housekeeper job description to know what you can expect. Also, review seven things to consider before hiring a housekeeper.

Housekeeper Job Description

The terms "housekeeper" or "maid" is generally interchangeable by today's standards. Both do light cleaning duties to maintain a clean home. However, a housekeeper or maid is different from a house cleaner. If you don't clean regularly or have a maid or housekeeper to keep your home tidy to do daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning chores, you likely need a house cleaner to do a deep clean first. After a deep clean from a house cleaner, a housekeeper can keep it clean over time.

Here's what to discuss with a housekeeper you are considering hiring:

  • Frequency: Housekeepers can come daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on your schedule. The frequency of your housekeeper's visits depends on your needs and your budget. If you have a large family or entertain guests frequently, you might want a housekeeper to come more often.
  • Duties: Typically, housekeeping includes light cleaning, wiping, dusting, tidying, and straightening. Specific tasks include dishwashing, sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, bathroom and kitchen cleaning, trash removal, dusting, making the beds, changing the bed linens, and general tidying. Some say the difference between a housekeeper and a maid is a maid will not do errands, cook, shop, or do other tasks outside of cleaning.
  • Extra Tasks: Some housekeepers may do errands, cook, shop, or do other jobs. They may charge extra for those tasks.
  • Non-negotiables: Most housekeepers and cleaning services have stipulations on the tasks they may or may not perform. Some housekeepers have a set window of time between homes. They may not have time for laundry. Or, some may do laundry but not do the ironing. Others might include changing litter boxes, or some may not. Others may opt not to use cleaning fluids with bleach or caustic materials or may not work in homes with dogs or pets. Have a frank discussion to determine your needs and if a particular housekeeper can meet them.

7 Top Considerations Before Hiring a Housekeeper

  1. Independent Workers vs. Cleaning Companies

    Many housekeepers work as sole proprietors of their own businesses, but you might be more comfortable with a larger cleaning company that hires its employees. There are pros and cons to both.


    • Cleaning companies are responsible for screening the employees to ensure that a background check comes up clean.
    • A service can send a replacement if your regular housekeeper is sick or on vacation.
    • Companies are usually licensed, insured, and bonded.


    • Turnover tends to be higher with cleaning companies.
    • They might send a different person each time.
    • Sole proprietors may not be insured and can't cover repairs to items they may break or if they get hurt on the job.
  2. Get a Referral

    The best place to start looking for a great housekeeper is to ask your family and friends if they have a company or person they use and love. One of the great things about using a cleaning service is that they have multiple people who might work out well for your needs. Many services will allow you to try different housekeepers until you find one perfect for your needs.

  3. Interview Candidates

    Take some time to come up with real questions, and ensure you're thorough with the interview. Ask questions about what they enjoy about their work. Why did they choose housekeeping as a line of work? Check references, work history, and criminal history. Many services will do these things in advance, but be thorough and check out the results.

  4. Decide on a Flat or Hourly Fee

    When considering hiring a housekeeper, one of the things that you might have to decide is if you're going to pay by the hour or pay a flat fee, though the housekeeper or company might have non-negotiable policies.

    If you pay by the hour, many worry that a housekeeper will stretch out the job to take more time. However, paying a flat fee might mean the housekeeper rushes through their work. Discuss the options with your chosen housekeeper.

  5. List Out Tasks

    Specific house-cleaning tasks are standard, such as sweeping, mopping, and scrubbing the showers and toilets. However, you might have to negotiate additional tasks, such as laundry or dishes, to be done regularly. Sometimes, you can also request to add duties twice yearly, such as cleaning the fridge or ovens.

    A housekeeper's insurance might limit specific duties; for example, house cleaners aren't often allowed to clean the exterior of windows. Any tasks that require climbing on ladders to great heights, like cleaning chandeliers or the tops of cabinets, might be denied, too.

  6. Agree to a Trial Period

    So you interviewed and found the perfect candidate to keep your home clean. Now you're ready to hire them and live happily ever after? It's a good idea to start with a trial period of two-four weeks. This will give them time to get used to your expectations and allow you to let them settle into what your home needs. Any less time​ and you might not get a fair assessment of their capabilities.

    If you're unsatisfied after several visits and clear expectations, then there's a good chance the relationship won't work. A trial period protects you and the housekeeper.

  7. Create Clear Expectations and Boundaries

    To be fair, you'll need to understand what your housekeeper will and won't do in your home. Considering co-creating a list of what chores will be done with any specific instructions you might have. Negotiating these things before work begins will help.

    You might want also to negotiate a way to request and pay for extra chores above the regular cleaning routine. Be sure to set boundaries about what won't occur in your home. If you don't want the housekeeper using your telephone, computer, stereo, or television, now is the time to stress any of these boundaries.