Cleaning Rates: How Much Should I Charge?
How should you charge clients for your housekeeping services?
One of the hardest parts of being a housekeeper is figuring out what to charge clients. There are a lot of factors to consider, like the location, the size of the house, the frequency of cleanings, how clean it is, etc. You also need to decide how to charge.
When you provide cleaning services, there is more than one way to set up fees. Most housekeeping jobs use an hourly rate or a flat fee, but you can also charge clients by the number of rooms, by the square foot or by the type of project. Which method is best for you? To get a ballpark estimate, use our housekeeping rate calculator to see average rates near you.
Sometimes an hourly rate of pay is the best way to go. It's a good option for when you're just starting out with a new client and you're not sure how long the cleaning will take. It also might work if you just need to do smaller jobs like laundry and light cleaning.
But be careful. It's easy to tie up a big block of time for a relatively small amount of pay. On the flip side, the job might not be worth your time if you're only going for an hour or two. If you charge an hourly rate, consider specifying that you need a minimum of three to four hours.
What's a good hourly rate for cleaning? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average wage for housekeepers is about $14 per hour. But that number can be higher or lower depending on your area and the cleaning involved.
Most cleaning services use a flat rate for regular clients. If you know the size of the house, the level of clutter and how many rooms there are to clean, you know approximately how many hours it will take you to get the job done, so you can adequately figure out how much to charge. Factor in whether you are cleaning the home every week, every other week or once a month. If you are only cleaning on a monthly basis, the job will naturally take longer. Make sure you're clear with clients about what the flat rate includes. You may want to offer basic cleaning for this fee, and then have clients add on additional chores for additional fees (see Project Rate below).
Flat rates for cleaning can range from $75 in rural areas to $150 in urban areas. Again, exact prices differ widely depending on the circumstances involved.
Per Room Rate
Some professionals charge clients per room. This can be a great method, but it gets more complicated. You need to keep in mind that it takes a lot longer to clean a kitchen than a bedroom. Decide on different rates for each type of room and then average them out for one total rate, so you're not undercharging.
Square Foot Rate
Charging by the square foot, or even by the square inch, may be the best option when cleaning larger homes or vacation homes. You may even need to add an assistant to help with these mega-cleaning jobs. Often, there are portions of the home that are rarely used and may require deep cleaning. But like the per room rate, it takes longer to clean certain areas than others, so make sure you're offering an average.
There are certain cleaning tasks that aren't necessary for every client or every job, for example, laundry, washing windows, cleaning the fridge, etc. It might be simpler to charge a basic flat or hourly fee for standard cleaning and then present clients with a printed out a la carte list of additional tasks you can do, with your fee for each. This is a great idea because then you aren't charging normal cleaning fees for these more complex tasks. Plus, you're also giving clients ideas for other ways you can help out -- making your services more valuable.
Whichever option you choose, here are additional things to factor in:
- You're running a business and in order to make a profit, keep in mind things like transportation expenses, the cost of cleaning supplies and equipment (if you provide them), insurance and taxes. They should all be a part of the fee you settle on.
- The first time you clean a home make take longer. You never know what state it's in. Think about charging one price for the initial clean, then a lower one for future ones.
- Don't agree on a price or fee structure before you actually see the home. If the family has lots of kids or pets or the house is on the messy side, it will be more work. You need to know what you're getting into and get paid for it.
- Before you settle on a final price, do your research. Look at the Care.com profiles of other housekeepers in your area. Talk to other local professionals. What do they charge? You want to make sure you're in the same range for the services you offer.
- Once you negotiate your price with a client, draft a written agreement that spells everything out. Define the areas that will be cleaned, how often, the rate and any fees for extra duties, including laundry, windows, ovens, refrigerators or deep cleaning.
There are as many different ways to charge for house cleaning services as there are ways to clean. Do your homework and decide what works best for you and your clients.
Sandy Wallace is a freelance writer in Virginia. Her work can be found here.