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Housekeeping Duties: What Can You Expect From Your Housekeeper

Kayla Mossien
March 14, 2018

Hiring a housekeeper doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some common housekeeping duties you can expect from your housekeeper, plus some tips on writing an effective housekeeper job description to help you find the best housekeeper for your family.

It’s not uncommon in this day and age for families to outsource household maintenance and upkeep. With one or more working parents, kids of varying ages in school and extracurricular activities, and all of the scheduling and running around that entails, it can be difficult to keep up! Hiring a housekeeper is one way that families can lighten their load and get some extra help around the house. But what exactly can you expect from your housekeeper? And how do you go about hiring one that fits your needs and lifestyle? The first step is understanding what the most common housekeeper duties are, and then tailoring those to create an effective housekeeper job description.

Once you’re familiar with what a typical housekeeper does and what the most common housekeeper duties are, you’ll feel more comfortable crafting your own housekeeper job description. We’ve highlighted some of the duties that families rely on their housekeepers to manage, which will serve as an excellent starting point for your own housekeeper search. As with any domestic employee, you want to make sure that the person you hire fits with your family and lifestyle, and that you clearly communicate your expectations and needs up front. Knowing what housekeeping duties you need managed and including them in your housekeeper job description can help make hiring a housekeeper a seamless and easy process.


Housekeeping Services vs. Home Cleaning Services

Before hiring a housekeeper or housekeeping service, you’ll want to determine if you’re looking for a housekeeper, or a home cleaner. While the two jobs sound very similar, they differ greatly in what services they perform, and the frequency of visits to your home. Housekeepers generally work 1-2 days per week (or more, depending on your needs), and complete a set list of housekeeper duties on a daily and weekly basis. A home cleaner, on the other hand, is someone you’d hire for a specific one-off job. For example, a housekeeper is responsible for general upkeep and maintenance in the home. A home cleaner would be hired to deep clean a kitchen or bathrooms, clean a vacation home before your arrival, or do a major top-to-bottom deep cleaning of your entire home. If you have a big job and just need someone to complete it, a home cleaner would be your best option. However, if you’re looking for consistent help in completing a list of housekeeper duties, hiring a regular housekeeper is the way to go.


What Duties Can You Expect Your Housekeeper to Complete and Manage?

Before you embark on hiring a housekeeper, it’s important to identify what your family’s needs are, and create a list of housekeeper duties you’d expect your housekeeper to manage. By this point, you’ve decided that a regular housekeeper is what you’re looking for, rather than a house cleaner to help with random projects. So now you need to ask yourself: what do we need from our housekeeper? Are their specific things that you don’t have the time to get to every week, or tasks that you need help with in order to simplify your life and manage your time and household better? This list will look very different for every family, and really comes down to what YOUR needs are. But as a general rule of thumb, these are some of the housekeeper duties a typical housekeeper may perform.

  • Tidy up bedrooms and living spaces. Some people will do some light tidying up before their housekeeper arrives (putting toys away, putting laundry in the hamper, straightening up the office, etc). This allows the housekeeper to focus on more involved tasks in each room.
  • Laundry. Having someone sort, wash, dry, and fold laundry for you can be a huge help, we know! Some housekeepers may not consider this a part of their regular housekeeping duties, so it’s a good idea to specify that laundry is expected when you write your housekeeper job description.
  • Clean the floors, which should include sweeping and mopping hardwood or tile floors, and vacuuming carpets and rugs throughout the home.
  • Clean the bathrooms, including toilets, wiping down counters, cleaning mirrors, and scrubbing tubs and showers.
  • Clean the kitchen, including wiping down counters and appliances, cleaning the sink, and wiping down cabinet doors.
  • Dusting, which should include all rooms and surfaces.
  • Wash indoor windows as needed, except anything above arm’s reach. You’ll also want to specify in your housekeeper job description if you require blinds and drapes to be cleaned on a set schedule.
  • Change linens and makes beds in all rooms, as needed.
  • Empty trash cans throughout the home, and dispose of trash in a sanitary manner.
  • Keep track of cleaning supplies and what needs to be replaced and/or restocked, and report to you on an as-needed basis.


Additional Housekeeping Duties to Include in Your Job Description

In addition to the typical housekeeper duties you can expect a housekeeper to complete, you may have a list of other things you’d like them to manage as well. This, again, will look different for every family depending on their needs. Likewise, if you’d like the housekeeper to be responsible for any of these additional tasks, make sure to specify that in your housekeeper job description! And keep in mind you may have to pay extra for your housekeeper to complete anything above and beyond the typical housekeeper duties.

  • Track household grocery or sundry items, and replace as needed on weekly shopping trips. Some families task their housekeepers with completing weekly grocery shopping, either giving them access to the funds to do so, or reimbursing the housekeeper using receipts.
  • Plan and cook meals or snacks. Cooking for the family requires an additional skill set, so including your expectations regarding food preparation in your housekeeper job description is particularly important.
  • Run errands for you and your family. This can include dropping off or picking up clothes at the dry cleaner, taking an item for repair, or picking up a package from the post office.
  • Care for your pets. Like food preparation, this one requires a special skill set that you need to specify upfront. Some housekeepers may not feel comfortable enough with animals to handle this responsibility. Additionally, if you expect your housekeeper to clean up after any pets (cleaning the cat box, refilling food and water, etc.), this should be made clear in the housekeeper job description.
  • Deep cleaning, such as cleaning an oven, refrigerator, shampooing carpets or upholstery. If you’d like these tasks completed at some point, discuss with your housekeeper what their fee would be to complete them. But they shouldn’t be included in their daily or weekly housekeeper duties.


4 Duties You Shouldn’t Expect Your Housekeeper to Complete

While the list of common housekeeper duties is long and comprehensive, there are some things you shouldn’t expect your housekeeper to complete while in your employ. These are typically tasks that may put the housekeeper in danger, put an inordinate physical burden on them, or change the job description from housekeeper to nanny. If you need any of these duties completed, hiring someone who specializes in them is your best bet.

  • Lift heavy objects or move furniture. As a general rule, most housekeepers won’t attempt to lift or move anything over 35 pounds. You want to make sure their safety and physical abilities are the priority, so don’t ask your housekeeper to rearrange your living room or move a safe into the attic.
  • Wash outside windows, or climb anything taller than a stepstool. If you have high windows or surfaces in your home that need attention, you’ll want to hire a service that has the right equipment and insurance to do that. Remember, you’re responsible for the safety of anyone who works in your home, and are liable for any injuries that occur while completing duties assigned to them. Limit your liability and ensure the safety of your domestic employees by hiring companies to handle the big stuff.
  • Clean up human waste. There have been many instances of housekeepers who’ve gotten sick from mishandling human waste, and that’s a danger you don’t want to expose anyone to. Again, hire a company that specializes in waste removal, if necessary.
  • Childcare. If you’re looking for someone to complete all of these housekeeper duties AND watch your children, then you may want to consider hiring a live-in domestic employee or nanny.


Writing an Effective and Comprehensive Housekeeper Job Description

Now that you’re familiar with the typical housekeeper duties you may expect to be completed by whomever you hire, it’s time to compose a detailed housekeeper job description. Remember, being clear and upfront about your expectations is key; if you’re vague on what you’re looking for in a housekeeper, you’ll find yourself weeding through a lot of unqualified or uninterested applicants.

This is a good example of what your housekeeper job description should look like. Depending on your family’s needs, you may have additional housekeeper duties you’d like completed, so when you’re writing your own job description, make sure to add those in!


Housekeeper Wanted for Weekly Maintenance of Our Family’s Home

Housekeeper Job Description
 We’re looking for a housekeeper for 2 days a week to complete chores around the home, shop for groceries and household items, and run household-related errands. The ideal candidate will be reliable, detail-oriented, comfortable with pets, and experienced in working in a bustling family home!


Expected Housekeeper Duties
Tidy bedrooms, living spaces, kitchen, and bathrooms
●Sweep and mop wood floors in living spaces, and vacuum carpets in all bedrooms
●Unload and load dishwasher as needed
●Wipe down kitchen countertops, cabinet doors and appliances, and scrub kitchen sinks
●Wipe down mirrors and bathroom countertops, clean toilets, scrub tubs and shower stalls, and restock toiletries as needed
●Wash, dry, and fold sorted laundry, and place in correct room to be put away
●Dust all surfaces in bedrooms and living spaces
●Clean inside windows on a biweekly basis
●Empty trash bins throughout the home, and dispose of trash in outside receptacles
●Change linens and make beds in all bedrooms
●Clean cat box and refill food and water as needed
●Keep track of household items and replace as needed with money provided by us
●Complete weekly grocery shopping trips with list and money provided by us
●Drop off and pick up clothes at the dry-cleaner on a weekly basis


Requirements and Qualifications
●Previous experience working in a family home
●Comfortable working in a home with pets
●Must provide your own transportation with proof of clean driving record and insurance
●Ability to lift up to 35 pounds
●Must commit to two full days to be determined (we’re willing to work with your schedule!)
●Able to work with minimal supervision
●Able to manage time effectively in order to complete housekeeping duties
●3 professional references, previous employers preferred

Hiring a housekeeper to work in your home can be an easy process, as long as you’re crystal-clear on your expectations of housekeeper duties and qualifications in your housekeeper job description. Just like when you hire a nanny or babysitter, you want to make sure that you’re getting the best candidates to fill the role. Following these guidelines can ensure you find the best housekeeper to fit your family, lifestyle, and needs.


Updated by Jayme Kennedy on March 13, 2018.

User in Cranbury, NJ
March 11, 2018

I cant believe the comments here and my God the outrageous pay scale.. I know that this kind of a position does not require rocket science skills or a college degree. It was what most people originally do in life. I have had a live in nanny/housekeeper etc. for the past 5 yrs. We pay decently well. At this point we are almost family. She understands her responsibilities well and helps out when needed without having to ask (That is most important, we do not want to have to pay someone who sits around and says the kids are in school). All the same, there are days when nothing much gets done, like in any regular household and we are ok with that as long as basics are taken care. It is an understanding between employer and employee. Some of the claims in here about charging $30/hr. makes me wonder what college degree or education was required to warrant this kind of overscaled expectation. And the comments here about post one job and expect 2/3 different things, yeah well, there are things in a home that dont need doing every day (ex: change sheets) and there are others that need to be done every day (ex: pack lunch). I also once had an unfortunate incident of a housekeeper who insisted on changing sheets and washin them everyday, for what purpose? i dont know but when we are paying per hour we would rather pay them for things we want done not what they are comfortable with. I felt that this section lacked employer comments and viewpoints. Hence my comment.

India in Boston, MA
July 15, 2017

I just want to be the devils advocate for one moment....the way that this site is set up you can only select certain "descriptions" for job positions. I understand that what many of you are describing DOES happen, people take advantage and ask for more and more and more. For me, there is no exact job description for what I need, I am 44, so i am not elderly, but I had to select eldercare because it is the closest to what I need. When you delve further into the job description and then follow up with me I am VERY clear in my needs, but I used to own my own business so I am super clear about my needs and write them all down in a contract and everything. If someone does not want the job then that is cool. It is hard for people to hire for in the home, they just don't know how. Advocate for yourself and draw clear lines of what you will and will not do, put it in writing at the beginning, and keep it professional, that is my best suggestion, it will help you and your employer.

Everyone here makes great points. But the 10 dollars an hour is not accurate these days. Most charge from 15 to 30 dollars or more per hour,depending on the private person or cleaning company. I have been in business for 35 years. I am American but I`m definitely not lazy. You can get someone who can do all that stuff except maybe for cooking. But there are a few rules that apply. If someone has the ability to do more than clean and is experienced at doing it,it will cost you more. Some clients will want more of one thing and less than another.  Time is all relative. Certain things require more time. In that case the house cleaner should should advice his/her client of that ahead of time. Unless you have a full time Housekeeper,most cleaning ladies have more than one account on any given day. Giving everybody what they want becomes quite challenging when there are time restraints. There is not much I have not done in so many years. But yes,it is hard to find someone like this now days. Honesty is a HUGE deal in this business. It can make or break your livelihood if you do this for a living. Apparently people have chose to keep me around or I would not still be in this business. And who drinks on that kind of  job? I managed to break a couple of bones over the years on falls,but I was sober,lol. Pick your priorities when hiring a housekeeper or cleaning lady, other wise she can do it for you. ;-)

User in Alabaster, AL
March 20, 2017

Basically American women are lazy ...getting and keeping a good housekeeper is hard some will work others I've had wanted a raise in the 1st Day .... the Diva types will not even apply I've also had the perfectionist types lol .. also those who drank on the job. ... I will not tolerate stealing the police will be called

Declutter and organization are inevitable for an Executive Housekeeper. Cleaning in a cluttered and disorganized environment is beyond my comprehension: for example if the floor of a kid room is full of toys, how can you get to the bed and surrounding areas without decluttering? Many cleaners will skip the area, others will say they cleaned the room. But how? 
In essence, to answer your question: I would help you if you were my client. In particularly because you are offering to help. Many times it depends who you hired and the rapport you have established. 

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