How much should we pay our Housekeeper to clean our 4,000 sq ft house?
August 5, 2008 9:16 AM   Subscribe

How much should we pay our Housekeeper to clean our 4,000 sq ft house?

Whenever we hired her we asked her what she charged and she said “It’s up to you.” She said that another client of hers (who we know – his house is about 3,000 sq ft) would sometimes give her $80, sometimes $90, sometimes $100.

Other details:
- She comes about every other week.
- She stays most of the working part of the day. Around 9:20am to 5pm.
- We provide the cleaning supplies, lunch, and pick her up/drop her off…..which I don’t understand because I know that she has a car and does drive it, but I haven’t had the guts to ask why she can’t drive here. It’s about 10-15 minutes away. In fact, the above mentioned client stopped using her b/c he got tired of the driving her.
- We live in an area with relatively low cost of living.

I ask because we started giving her a certain amount, and the next time she stayed longer so I gave her more. The next time a little longer; again I gave her more. See where I’m going with this? I don’t want her to purposely slow down and us end up paying an inflated amount, but I want to pay her fair as well.
posted by texas_blissful to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, it is $25 per hour for what I pay in the Midwest. At the initial cleaning she spent the day but after that it was maintenance cleaning and only took 2-3 hours. I have less than 2K of footage in my home.

I would base it on per hour of what you would pay for another service. Factor in reasonable counter charge for mileage and honestly access how much work is happening. Me and my tribe are slobs so we know that a cleaning lady is worth it while a neat freak may feel otherwise.
posted by jadepearl at 9:24 AM on August 5, 2008

Well, assuming your friend's average of $30/1000 sq ft, I would say you should pay her $120.

You could just ask her. Tell her that you would like to continue using her services but need to be able to budget for it.
posted by ian1977 at 9:25 AM on August 5, 2008

My aunt and uncle have a similar size house. For cost comparison, their cleaners come once a week. They are a team of three (sometimes four) women and typically stay two hours. They alternate a light cleaning (which takes ~2 hrs) with heavy cleanings (which take more like 3 hours) and charge $50 and $80 respectively.

They drive themselves and bring their own supplies.

I'd suggest having a clear and very specific conversation with your housekeeper about what duties you'd like her to perform (e.g. laundry as well as cleaning?) while she is there and settle on an amount you'll pay her, and stick to it. Decide if you care about the car- if you do, ask that she drive and adjust the amount you pay her accordingly.
posted by arnicae at 9:27 AM on August 5, 2008

$15 per hour, or $120 a day.
posted by gyusan at 9:28 AM on August 5, 2008

We have an approx. 1800sq. ft. house and pay $90 for approx.3 hrs every 2 weeks. It would be $85 but my cleaning lady charges me $5 extra and I get a receipt so I can claim part on my taxes (I work from home).

I agree with ian1977, tell her you need to be able to budget and settle up on how much, how long, and what gets done.

PS. Best money I spend...I LOVE LOVE LOVE the days our cleaning lady comes.
posted by Abbril at 9:38 AM on August 5, 2008

I don't know the market there -- here (San Francisco) you would pay a lot more than any of the figures above (I pay $85 for two people working about 1.5 to two hours apiece). For a person who is not an employee, it's not just picking an hourly wage that the person would earn out in the world. The household is not paying FICA, Social Security, etc., all of those responsibilities are on the cleaner. So the amount is usually more than the hourly wage the person would be paid as an employee.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:48 AM on August 5, 2008

We pay ours $60 every other week for a 1600 sq. ft. house. Agreed, best money we spend all month. You get so much free time back in return it's insane, and the worst jobs in the house (shower, toilets, etc.) become a complete afterthought.
posted by fusinski at 10:35 AM on August 5, 2008

We paid $65 for a 1,700 sq ft house in Chicago.
posted by dasheekeejones at 10:35 AM on August 5, 2008

Whenever we hired her we asked her what she charged and she said “It’s up to you.” She said that another client of hers (who we know – his house is about 3,000 sq ft) would sometimes give her $80, sometimes $90, sometimes $100.

This is a bizarre way to do business with someone. The charge should be X dollars an hour, including these duties, at an appointed time.
posted by desuetude at 10:45 AM on August 5, 2008

Be aware that you are required to pay social security and medicare taxes if you are paying this worker more than $1600 per year, unless she works through an agency that pays the taxes.
posted by JackFlash at 10:55 AM on August 5, 2008

I like the idea of charging per square foot mentioned by ian1977 above, unless you've got her cleaning out your stables or doing something equally heinous in which case I'd throw in some hazard pay.

Settle this the net time you see her; perhaps write it down? Don't be afraid to offend; she's already quoted you a reasonable figure, and I doubt she expects her pay to continually increase. Give her the justification about square footage and she'll probably be happy that she isn't being nitpicked down to how well she vacuumed the taxidermy bison or polished the bowling trophies...and provide a little extra at the holidays, too.
posted by mdonley at 11:06 AM on August 5, 2008

As ClaudiaCenter noted, the compensation should reflect who's covering business costs and risks.

What's appropriate depends in part on whether she is an employee or contractor. You determine her rate of compensation; you have control over tools, supplies, meal, and what time she comes/goes via the transport you provide. Sounds a heck of a lot more like an employee than a contractor. If you're both fine with this, okay. (Though make sure you're doing appropriate withholding and filing a W-2 for her.) If one or both of you are looking for a contracting arrangement, you'd be prudent to consult an accountant about how best to arrange this so you don't have to worrying about getting hit with back taxes and penalties later. Or perhaps find a housekeeper who takes a more professional and clear approach to their business. This person's odd approach sounds like rather more headache than is necessary.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:08 AM on August 5, 2008

I should clarify that the social security info JackFlash linked to does apply to household employees, however not all household workers are necessarily your employees. For instance, you could contract with a cleaning service. They do the employing; provide their workers with training, transport, supplies, etc. as well as taking care of all the required withholding et al. But then you're paying for not only the worker's time but the service's overhead.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:15 AM on August 5, 2008

I have small crew who clean my house. The charge is $27 per person per hour for a weekly cleaning but we have agreed upfront as to how many hours it should take so I pay a flat fee every week. (5.5 hours for 2300 sq. ft) The exception is if it unusually dirty (visitors or they skipped a week) then I pay extra. If they finish early, they will do something extra like windows.

Over the years, we have occasionally adjusted the number up or down as the number of people living in the house has changed. Part of what makes it work is that I am usually home when they are here and I can see that they work nonstop and they get the house far cleaner than I every would. They bring their own supplies and I know for a fact that they pay their taxes - including social security and disability.
posted by metahawk at 1:42 PM on August 5, 2008

How much is a day of free time worth to you? Thats how much you should pay her - if it takes her all day to clean your house then she has saved you a day's worth of housework. Of course, I'd subtract some for the cost of supplies, lunch and taxi service. Does she have a partner? Maybe he/she uses the car during the day, because the other option is she just wants you to pay for the gas ;)

On the days when she stayed longer, was the house cleaner? If she's staying longer to get more cash out of you but not doing a better job I'd get another housekeeper. Payment should be based on the quality of the job not how long it took her. If I were you I'd make a concrete list of her duties and agree on an amount for completing the job then she gets paid for the work not the time.
posted by missmagenta at 1:44 PM on August 5, 2008

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