Should I tip the person who cleans my house? How much should I tip?
In some fields a tip may be a gesture of gratitude but for many workers, a tip is a way to supplement low wages from an employer.
The question of whether to tip for house cleaner employers, then, is how do I make sure that I’m paying a fair wage?
The bottom line is money is money. There is no substitute. You want to make sure the cleaner takes home fair compensation for the hard work they do making your home sparkle. It can come either in the form of wages or tips.
Should I tip if I hire a cleaner directly?
If you hire a cleaner who works for themselves, the best thing to do is to pay a fair amount for each cleaning. If you are paying a living wage, then tipping isn’t necessary. We’d never tell you not to tip if you want to, but it’s not required.
What are fair wages?
When we think about fair wages, we take into account the value of the work as well as if the worker has access to benefits and what they need to pay for out of pocket. In most of the country cleaners don’t have access to paid time off, sick days or even for a vacation day. They pay for their transportation to each of their clients. They pay for their own health insurance and if they are hurt on the job they lose income. And depending on your arrangement, they may also be paying for cleaning supplies.
A rule of thumb in most parts of the country is to pay a cleaner an hourly rate of at least $25-$30. Pay more if you live in an area with a higher cost of living. Some cleaners prefer a flat fee for cleaning a house or apartment. You can estimate based on the hourly rate – for example, if it usually takes a cleaner four hours to clean your house, use $30/hour and pay $120 for a cleaning.
If you make additional requests for a particular cleaning that go above and beyond what the cleaner usually does (like, cleaning the inside of the fridge or oven) pay more at a rate you determine with the cleaner.
What if I use a cleaning agency or service?
If you hire through an agency or service, it’s a different story. Whether the agency sends the same cleaner(s) to your house regularly or there’s a different worker doing the job each time the situation is the same. Many agencies pay minimum wage. (There are some exemplary agencies out there who have excellent employment practices, but unfortunately, those are the exception, not the rule.) To offset the lower pay, tip for every cleaning. Aaron Seyedian, founder of Well Paid Maids, advises tipping $20 for a smaller house or $40 for a larger house per cleaning. If you have a team of cleaners they can split the tip. If a cleaner is working alone, they can take home the whole tip.
Can I give a gift instead of a tip?
Some people feel like tipping is awkward, so why not bypass it and give the cleaner a thoughtful gift instead? Maybe you give the cleaner hand-me-downs for their family, a tin of homemade cookies, or a gift card to a coffee shop. Those are all sweet gestures to show your appreciation, but they are not a supplement for a living wage. You may choose to offer gifts to the cleaner, but don’t think it’s a substitute for pay. Tipping is a way to ensure the cleaner is earning a living wage for cleaning your home.
What about an end of year bonus?
An end of year bonus is an opportunity to tell the person who cleans for you how much you appreciate their hard work making your home look its best. Regardless of if you’ve been supplementing wages with tips throughout the year, we recommend giving a generous end of year bonus. An average year-end bonus is usually one to two weeks pay. Check out our Bonus Guide to learn about everything you need to know about providing an end of year bonus.
- Money is money so make sure you’re paying a fair amount by paying a fair hourly wage or adding a tip
- If you hire directly, pay $25-30 per hour minimum
- If you hire through a cleaning agency, tip $20-$40
- Don’t forget an end of year bonus
For more information about how to be a fair employer of a house cleaner, read Everything you need to know about hiring a house cleaner.