Have you ever hired someone to clean your home? Are you considering it for the first time? Maybe you tried a service like Handy and now are ready to make a commitment to hiring a cleaner long-term.

House Cleaning graphic, a graphic of a hand washing dishes, on the left an image of a swifter on the floor and cleaning products.

Considering hiring a house cleaner? 

House cleaning is serious work

Cleaning is hard work that takes time– and that’s why so many of us are eager to hire someone to help with cleaning in our homes! And when you’ve experienced a space that’s been professionally cleaned, whether that’s a private home or an immaculate hotel room, you know what a professional clean looks like. 

So put yourself in the mindset of being an employer and join the ranks of those who are doing right by their employees and making their home a workplace to be proud of.

Hiring a house cleaner through word of mouth 

Many house cleaners and employers are connected through friends. Hand in Hand’s New York Director, Ilana Berger, has been one of those connectors herself: “I recommend the house cleaner I employ to anyone who asks. She’s amazing! And now there are at least 6 different families I know who’ve hired her, too.” 

However, just because you hire someone through a word of mouth recommendation, doesn’t mean that your employment relationship should be informal. “I take a lot of care to be a good employer,” Ilana added, “and it matters to me that my friends are also good employers to this person whose work I value so much.” 

A woman holding a broom, with the graphic of palms and a dollar sign in the middle.

What does it cost to hire a house cleaner?

Invite the cleaner to tour your home with you and discuss the job. They may wish to quote you a flat fee or an hourly rate. Be sure the wages you agree upon are at least $75 a visit and equivalent to $25-$30 an hour. If you live in a more expensive city, rates should be higher. (Why should you always pay for at least three hours a visit? To account for the often long, unpaid commutes cleaners make between their clients’ homes.) Plan to revisit your agreement after a few cleanings have happened, and again after one year. 

A couple other expenses to consider are adding worker’s compensation to your home insurance policy if you don’t already have it, and expect to continue purchasing the cleaning supplies to be used in your home, as you already do. (The cleaner may request that you provide specific supplies.) 

Things to discuss when hiring a house cleaner

How often will the house cleaner come?  

House cleaners typically clean once every week or every two weeks. If you’d only like the occasional cleaning, a higher rate may be appropriate – after all, a home that is cleaned more often is far easier to clean. (And: will you be home to let them in? Use a lockbox? Provide a key?)


What does the house cleaner do? 

Cleaning includes these tasks, though you can discuss which tasks and which rooms are most important: 

  •  Dusting
  • Sweeping
  • Mopping 
  • Vacuuming
  • Surface cleaning of counters and appliances
  • Bathroom cleaning
  • Taking out trash
  • Changing sheets, replacing towels

If you’d like other services, like deep-cleaning appliances, cleaning that requires moving heavy furniture, or cleanup after a big party, these should be discussed separately and paid at a higher rate. 

Similarly, don’t throw in tasks like caring for pets or household members – unless this is discussed in advance as part of the job description and compensated accordingly.  


graphic of a paper with scribbles, on the left is an image of a black hand with yellow gloves wiping a counter.

Offer the house cleaner a contract or written agreement 

A written agreement is essential and even required under the law in some places! A written agreement is beneficial to you and the person you hire because it requires you both to think through and communicate many details that can be easy to overlook. 

 Hand in Hand has created a comprehensive and easy-to-use downloadable agreement. Simply print and use!  


A white lady wiping a white door, on the left there is a germ graphic.

Covid-19 safety for house cleaners and you  

The Covid-19 pandemic has made us all more aware of how interconnected we are, both in terms of our health and our livelihoods. Be clear that you will let them know if you’ve been exposed to Covid or become sick and that you’d like them to do the same, and that you will pay them even if either of you cancels the cleaning. See other ventilation, sanitation, and communication tips to keep each other safe and discuss them together. 


Preparing and cleaning before the cleaner

Green and healthy non-toxic cleaning 

It’s in both your and the house cleaner’s best interest to use non-toxic cleaning supplies in your home. Harsh cleaning chemicals can harm our lungs and skin–especially for someone working with them for hours every day. 


Should you clean before the cleaner comes?

Many people feel squeamish about having someone see their home looking messy–but this is like not wanting a doctor to see you sick! 

What you can do, however, is straighten and tidy your home to make the cleaner’s job of dusting, wiping, vacuuming (etc.) easier. The less time they have to spend moving things around on floors and counters, the more they can focus on cleaning those floors and counters.  


What about fragile, valuable, or sentimental things? 

This one is easy: Put things away! Additionally, you can show the house cleaner which things you’d simply rather they skipped. And write it down, too, so you’re not counting on their memory–or yours. You can even put this info right into the work agreement.


Etiquette when the house cleaner comes 

While the rules of any professional relationship apply here, too, you’re not in the neutral territory of an office. Your home is their workplace. So lead with kindness! Offer water or coffee, check whether they’d like you to open windows or turn on a fan, and get pets (or kids!) out of the way. 


Keeping your relationship as clean as your home

Graphic of two text bubbles, on the left a woman is wiping a black side table.

Changes to the house cleaner’s schedule, or yours

In the era of working-from-home and flexible schedules, discuss whether you or other members of the household will be at home during scheduled cleanings. If the cleaner is comfortable having people around while they work, be sure family members know to keep out of the way. 

If you want to change your cleaning schedule one week, ask well in advance! Don’t take it for granted that the cleaner can accommodate you. If you cancel at the last minute and can’t reschedule, pay for that cleaning as planned.  


Keeping in touch, even if you’re never in the same room 

Periodic check-ins are a good idea, whether or not you see each other during cleanings. This could be five minutes each week or a half hour (paid!) every few months. You can give feedback about what you appreciate about their work and if there’s anything specific you want to change going forward. (Note that if you’re requesting any additional tasks, like cleaning out your fridge, adjust their pay/hours accordingly.) Give them a chance to talk too, whether it’s to ask questions about a piece of furniture or request different cleaning supplies.  


Enjoy your professionally cleaned home 

Let the house cleaner know how much their work – and your clean home – mean to you. Words of appreciation can go a long way, but don’t forget the standard practices of offering holiday bonuses and annual wage increases.