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Should You Hire a Housekeeper?

Jun 14, 2020 by Maurie Backman

Remember Alice, the jovial, lovable housekeeper on "The Brady Bunch" who not only served as a sounding board for the Brady gang, but also made sure their house was perpetually neat and clean? Real-life housekeepers may not be as willing to offer hugs and advice on the regular, but

hiring a housekeeper is a good way to keep your home tidy and avoid the hassle of having to clean and maintain it yourself. But is a housekeeper worth the money? Or should you tackle household chores yourself?

What does a housekeeper do?

The amount of work your housekeeper will be responsible for will depend on your specific arrangement. Generally speaking, though, housekeeping duties include:

  • Cleaning high-touch areas like bathrooms.
  • Keeping your kitchen tidy.
  • Sweeping and mopping floors.
  • Doing laundry, including sheets and linens.
  • Dusting.
  • Washing windows.
  • Taking out garbage and recycling.
  • Grocery shopping.
  • Restocking cleaning supplies.
  • Cooking.
  • Bringing in packages and mail.

Of course, the specific tasks your housekeeper does will depend on the person you hire for the job and the arrangement you come to. Some housekeepers, for example, won't cook, while others will. If you have children, you may also opt to hire a nanny housekeeper -- someone who will mind your little ones while also ensuring your house is kept in order.

The frequency at which your housekeeper comes in to clean and do chores will vary based on the agreement you come to. If you have extensive needs, you may opt to hire a live-in housekeeper so your housework gets done every day. And a live-in housekeeper may also be useful if that person is doubling as your nanny. On the other hand, you may find that having a private housekeeper come in once or twice a week is enough to keep your home in good shape. Usually, you’ll need to commit to at least one visit a week for a housekeeper to agree to work for you, though there may be exceptions.

How much does a housekeeper cost?

HomeAdvisor reports that you should expect to pay $15 to $40 per hour for a professional housekeeper, but the exact amount you wind up shelling out will depend on the arrangement at hand. Someone with lots of housekeeping experience, for example, might charge more than a novice. Also, you might pay more if you're looking to hire a housekeeper who will be responsible for not only house cleaning, but also errands, laundry, and cooking.

Furthermore, if you're hiring an independent housekeeper to work for you on a full-time basis, you may need to treat that person as an employee. As an employer, that means you may be responsible for tax withholding and worker's compensation insurance. On the other hand, if you go through a housekeeping or maid service, you shouldn't have to worry about taxes and insurance because the cleaning company you contract with should take care of all that. Under that arrangement, you'd be paying the cleaning service itself, not the individual who comes to your home.

Is a housekeeper worth it?

To determine whether it pays to hire a housekeeper, you basically need to ask yourself what your time is worth and how much of it you have available to keep your home in order. If you work long hours and can't realistically maintain your home in the manner you'd like, then you may want to spring for a good housekeeper who can lift that burden.

Furthermore, if you're self-employed, hiring a housekeeper could actually save you money. Imagine it takes six hours a week to care for and clean your home. If you normally earn $100 an hour and can instead work during that time and pay a housekeeper $20 an hour, you'll come out way ahead financially.

Additionally, if you own a rental property, hiring a housekeeper could save you a world of time and hassle. Imagine you own a vacation home that you rent out on a short-term basis. Hiring a housekeeper to come in every other day to tidy up and change sheets and linens is a good way to attract renters. At the same time, you can also bring in that housekeeper to do a deep clean in between renters so you don't have to do that work yourself. And if your housekeeper is willing to cook, that's another great perk to offer guests -- and a reason to charge a premium for them to stay on your property.

Should you hire a housekeeper or just use a cleaning service?

As mentioned earlier, it's not unheard of for a housekeeper to charge up to $40 an hour, especially if that person is cooking for you as well, but with a cleaning service, you might pay anywhere from $40 to $80 per hour, reports HomeAdvisor. That said, with a housekeeper, you’ll often need to commit to a minimum number of hours each week. While it’s possible to use a housekeeper just once a week or even less frequently in some cases, usually these arrangements involve multiple visits a week, so if you don’t need all that much help, a housekeeper could end up costing you more.

Furthermore, if you own a rental property and really only need someone to come in and do a deep cleaning between short-term tenants, a cleaning service is probably a better bet.

On the other hand, if your list of housekeeping tasks entails things like laundry, shopping, and cooking, those are tasks a regular house cleaner generally won’t do. As such, you may need a housekeeper to check every item off your list.

Is a housekeeper right for you?

A housekeeper is a luxury not everyone can afford, but if you can, hiring one is apt to make your life easier. And if you own an income property, having a housekeeper at the ready will make it easier to keep that second home tidy so that guests are comfortable and satisfied. But if you’re going to hire a housekeeper, shop around for one and aim to get recommendations, especially if it’s someone you expect will work in your home multiple days a week. That way, you’re more likely to get your money’s worth.

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