Housekeeping services: Here's how much you should be paying
Outsourcing tedious household chores doesn’t just take stress off your plate and crumbs off your counter — it could also significantly improve your quality of life. That’s according to research by Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School. Her studies suggest prioritizing time over money — by doing things like hiring housekeepers to clean your home — could make you happier by allowing you to spend more time on things you value like work and family.
How much money you spend on housekeeping services, however, can depend on a wide variety of things, including where you live, who you hire and what you’ll be asking them to do. Here’s what to keep in mind when budgeting for cleaning services.
Factors that can affect the cost of housekeeping services
House cleaners in the U.S. earn an average hourly rate of $16.27, according to 2018 Care.com data. But the final price tag you pay can run the gamut based on the cleaner you hire and how long it will take to clean your home. Some factors that can make the price of housekeeping services go up or down include:
Location of the home
A big consideration for what you’ll pay for housekeeping services is where your home is located. Average rates in Paris, Tennessee, for example, were $12.50 per hour in 2018 according to Care.com data — while cleaners in Breckenridge, Colorado, earned nearly twice that.
Size and condition of your home
The bigger and dirtier your home, the more you’ll pay for a cleaning, says Marcos Franco, owner of Mighty Clean Home Roswell in Roswell, Georgia. Larger homes or homes that haven’t been cleaned in a while take more work and require more supplies, and that drives up the total price of a cleaning.
For this reason, housekeepers and housekeeping agencies will often base their prices on the square footage of the home, Franco says, as that can greatly affect the hours they’ll likely need to spend cleaning it.
Some inhabitants tend to make more messes than others, and that can increase the cost of cleaning, Franco says. Housekeepers might charge more for cleaning homes with animals or small children, for example, because they expect they’ll need to budget more time to clean up the extra pet hair or splatters.
Type of cleaning
Do you only need a basic clean to spruce up the place? Or is your home in need of a little more elbow grease? The thoroughness of the cleaning you’re booking can affect how much you’ll pay. Housekeepers will often offer varying levels, such as:
Routine/basic clean: This type of service is what you might need to get your usually tidy home ready for guests or fill in the gaps during an especially busy month. Cleaners will do surface cleaning like wiping down counters, sweeping and mopping floors, vacuuming rugs, cleaning toilets — that sort of thing. This is usually the cheapest option. Sometimes cleaners might require a deep clean before committing to a regular basic cleaning schedule to ensure the home is in good condition when routine cleanings begin.
Deep clean: A deep clean is when your home hasn’t gotten much love for a while and needs some extra attention. Some services you might get with a deep clean you won’t necessarily get with a regular or basic cleaning include scrubbing tile grout in the shower, dusting individual knickknacks or wiping down the tops of ceiling fans. This type of housekeeping service is more work and, therefore, more expensive than a routine cleaning.
Move-in/move-out clean: A move-in/move-out clean often involves a little more attention to scrubbing down the nooks and crannies of a home, including wiping inside the pantry or cupboards and washing down marks on the walls. This tends to be the most expensive option due to the work involved.
Knowing what kind of cleaning service you need is important for getting your house where you want it and paying your housekeepers a fair rate, says Jennifer Rodriguez, chief hygiene officer at Pro Housekeepers.
“We sometimes get customers that say they just need a regular cleaning, but when we arrive, their homes look like they haven't been cleaned in years,” Rodriguez says.
In those instances, she says they have to bump up their rates, which can get awkward for everyone involved.
Some housekeepers will come and do a walk-through of your home to see what kind of cleaning you might need and offer their estimate. If you’re getting a quote online or over the phone, however, Rodriguez recommends being as honest and accurate as you can about the condition of your home to avoid misunderstandings about the cost of the service.
Frequency of cleaning
The more often housekeepers come to clean your home, the lower the price usually is, Franco says. That’s because the cleaners are able to keep up the condition of the home, requiring less work for them during each visit.
Hiring a service vs. an individual
Going with an individual housekeeper or a cleaning company has its pros and cons. Companies are generally more structured — with a team of cleaners and its own liability insurance, for example — but they also tend to be more expensive.
Experience of (or demand for) the housekeeper or company
Like in a lot of other industries, more experienced housekeepers are generally more expensive per hour, Franco says. They tend to be more skilled, and that allows them to charge a higher hourly rate.
As a trade-off, they also are generally more efficient than less-experienced cleaners, allowing them to take less time overall to clean your home — which you might not notice if you’re paying a flat rate, but it’s something to consider if you’re paying hourly.
Likewise, in-demand cleaners tend to have less incentive to keep prices low, Franco says, and so they might also charge more than other agencies or housekeepers in the area.
Any additional services
If you want some of the deep-clean services as part of a routine cleaning, you can generally ask for that when you book your cleaning service, Franco says, but it’ll cost extra. Depending on the size and scope of the work involved, he says cleaners might charge an extra $40 to $75 per task.
Some examples of one-time services can include:
Cleaning inside the refrigerator
Cleaning inside the oven
Scrubbing along the baseboards
Washing or putting away laundry, including linens
Tips for saving money on housekeeping services
For families on a budget, there are a few things you can do to save on the price of one-time or routine cleaning. Some cost-saving tips include:
Tidy up: The more time cleaners spend on picking up items off the floor or counters, the longer it will take them to clean. If you’re paying hourly, scooping up toys or papers beforehand can save the cleaners time (and you money).
Tweak the frequency: If you want to pay less overall for housekeeping, but you still want regular service, consider adjusting the schedule to allow more time between cleanings — for example, moving from once every two weeks to once every three weeks. The extra time might not make a huge difference in the condition of your home, but it can reduce the amount you’ll pay over the course of a year.
Offer up your own supplies: Some of the costs associated with housekeeping services might include the cost of cleaning supplies. Ask your cleaner if it’s possible to use your own materials in exchange for a lower rate. This can be especially helpful if you’re particular about the kinds of products used in your home, as some cleaners might up-charge for non-toxic or environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.
Because prices for housekeeping services can vary so much, gathering estimates from a variety of individuals or companies can help you find the best fit for your family’s budget. And if you aren’t sure where to begin, check out Care.com’s housekeeping calculator to get you started.
Read next: What can you expect your housekeeper to do?