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How much should you charge for housekeeping services?

Sept. 6, 2019
How much should you charge for housekeeping services?

One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a new housekeeper is how much you charge for your services. But picking a price point can be tricky. You want to make your rates competitive while still making enough to cover your labor, materials and overhead costs. There’s no magic formula that will tell you what to charge, but there are some things you can keep in mind — many of which have to do with how long it will take to clean the space. 

Factors that can affect how much you charge for housekeeping services

How much you should charge for your housekeeping services can depend on a wide range of factors, including where your client is located and how much work you’re being asked to do. Here are some things to think about when setting your rates:

1. Location of the home

Before setting your base rate for housekeeping services, first take a look at what the going rates are in your area. According to 2018 Care.com data, housekeepers charged about $16 per hour in 2018, but it varied a lot throughout the country and even within states. Housekeepers in Breckenridge, Colorado, for example, charged an average of $21.77 per hour, while those less than two hours away in Denver charged just over $17 per hour on average. 

Scoping out prices in your area can give you a feel for what your competition is charging and — more importantly — what clients might be willing to pay. 

Average pay rate comparison for housekeepers on Care.com in 2018 

 

Location

 

Average pay rates

National average

$16.27

Albuquerque, New Mexico

$15.23

Houston, Texas metro area

$15.88

Boston, Massachusetts metro area

$17.90

San Francisco, California metro area 

$18.43

Breckenridge, Colorado

$21.77

Source: Care.com 2018 Data 

2. Size of the space being cleaned

The size of the home or office can be a good indicator for how much time, effort and (in some cases) products you’ll have to put in to clean it. 

Arthur Ruth, vice president of operations at Memphis Maids, says his company sets its base rate based on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms a home has. He found that if they charged by the hour, clients might be unhappy if the cleaner finishes sooner or later than expected. And while square footage can be helpful in figuring out just how big a home might be, it’s not always the best indication of how much work there is to do. 

Picking your price by the number of rooms and bathrooms is “a good approximation of the size of the house, and everyone is happy,” Ruth says.    

3. Type of fee

Some housekeepers charge an hourly rate, while others might prefer to ask a flat fee — it’s all based on preference, says April Harned, owner of Harned’s Cleaning in eastern Maryland. The benefit to charging an hourly rate is that you have a guaranteed amount you’ll make each hour you’re working. That can be helpful when you take on a client who’s home or office space needs more time than you originally estimated. With an hourly rate, you don’t eat those extra costs. 

But hourly rates are also limiting. The more efficient you get at cleaning, the less you get paid to do the same job. And clients can get upset when you go over time and charge more than they expected. 

Charging a flat fee makes it easier for you to take on more clients as you get more efficient, Harned says, and your client knows exactly what they’ll be paying each time. The risk of a flat fee is underestimating how much time you need to do a specific job, but that can be balanced out by other spaces taking less time, she says. 

4. Type of cleaning

There’s a big difference between a routine cleaning and a deep clean, and your prices should reflect the extra work a deeper clean entails. You decide what your various levels will be, but generally, cleanings are divided into three categories, each more expensive than the next. 

  • Routine clean: Routine cleanings involve basic cleaning tasks like vacuuming, mopping and wiping down countertops. They generally don’t take as much time to complete, so housekeepers don’t charge as much for them as, say, a deep clean. These types of cleans, however, assume the home is cleaned regularly and is in fairly good condition. 

  • Deep clean: A deep clean is typically needed when the space hasn’t been cleaned in a while and involves doing things not included in a routine cleaning, such as scrubbing off soap scum and wiping down blinds and baseboards, Harned says. Housekeepers might do a deep clean during the first visit, before or after an event (ex. a new baby) or on a seasonal basis (ex. a “spring clean”). 

  • Move-in/move-out clean: A move-in/move-out clean is an even deeper clean that includes everything you might do during a routine and deep clean, as well as scrubbing more obscure areas like inside kitchen cabinets, vent grates or underneath big appliances. Because this type of cleaning is so involved, housekeepers typically charge the most for this type of service.  

5. Condition of the space

If a new client is interested in recurring cleanings, Harned says she’ll usually do a deep clean first and charge accordingly. Some spaces can be in rough shape, and doing a deeper clean during the first visit can make the regular cleanings go more smoothly. 

Touring the space beforehand can give you a better idea of what state it’s in and how much time you’ll need before agreeing to a regular/routine cleaning price. 

6. Occupants 

A space with only one occupant is generally easier to clean than one with multiple ones, Harned says, and the messier the inhabitants, the more work it will take to clean on a regular basis. That’s why Harned says she typically charges a little more if a home has small children, say, or a messy pet. The floors get dirtier between cleanings and take more time to scrub each visit.  

7. Extra services

Decide what you’ll do as part of a standard cleaning and what services you would charge extra to do. For example, Harned doesn’t include cleaning the refrigerator or changing sheets as part of her routine cleanings, but she’s happy to do it for clients for a small additional fee. Some services that might warrant additional fees include: 

  • Cleaning inside large appliances like the refrigerator or oven.

  • Cleaning baseboards. 

  • Washing windows inside and/or outside. 

  • Doing laundry. 

  • Washing and/or putting away dishes. 

  • Changing linens. 

  • Spot-cleaning carpets. 

  • Cleaning outdoor spaces, like patios and patio furniture.

How much you charge for these tasks is typically based on how much work you think it will take to do them. For example, you might charge $20 to clean most refrigerators but have a range on what you charge for windows. Similarly, you might charge more to do laundry for a family of four than you would a single individual. 

Whatever you choose, however, Harned recommends being clear with your client about what is included and what isn’t, and understand the long-term consequences of what you decide to include during your initial visits. 

8. Overhead costs 

Your time and labor isn’t the only cost associated with providing cleaning services. You might have other expenses, too. And all those costs should be taken into consideration when setting your prices, says Robert Wade, part owner of Maid Healthy, Inc. in Annapolis, Maryland. Some overhead costs you might want to think about include: 

  • Liability insurance. (Some commercial properties might require you to have it.) 

  • Time spent traveling to and from the client.

  • Gas and maintenance costs for the vehicle you take to and from the job.

  • Additional labor costs if you need to hire extra help to manage your workload.

  • Materials, such as vacuum cleaners or cleaning products.

  • Self-employment taxes. 

  • Health insurance. 

  • Any marketing materials to promote your services.

  • Inflation (when you’re considering a rate increase). 

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