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February 03, 2009

How to Hire a Housekeeper

BLOG-Housekeeper-Tips Donna, a Co-Founder and VP of Operations here at Care.com, is in her third trimester and just went on maternity leave. She told me the other day that she's looking for help a few times each week with dishes, laundry, cooking, and household management throughout the rest of her pregnancy and after her new baby arrives. She posted a job on Care.com and is already interviewing some folks from our housekeeping and Care Gigs services.

Donna's not alone in needing a hand around the house. Quite a few of my friends and relatives are about to have babies, too. We looked into the Census stats and saw that the birth rate spikes from January through April, so that's not a surprise. If you're looking for help in the home, check out these tips that Donna put together for us. Here's what you need to know before you hire a housekeeper and what questions you should ask when you do.

Decide if a housekeeper is right for you
Does clutter pile up because you're too busy to organize? Are you lagging behind on basic errands? Can you write your name in the dust on your bookshelves? Has takeout become part of the routine because you're too busy to cook? A housekeeper can help you keep things together around the home.

There are plenty of reasons to hire a housekeeper. The one you really need to figure out, though, is NEED. Do you need a housekeeper? For my family, I definitely need one now—there are some things I can't do with a baby on the way. But different families have different needs. Some people need extra room in their schedule because their work life keeps them busy. Others want to spend more time with their family and less time scrubbing. Figure out what your specific need is—if it's big enough to look for outside help, it's time to hire a housekeeper.

Know how much to pay
Trying to figure out the going rate for housekeepers is confusing if you've never hired one before, so be sure to shop around before you hire. There are plenty of housekeeping companies out there. It's sometimes easier to go with them, but their rates tend to be higher than going with a self-employed housekeeper.

Check out caregivers in the housekeeping section on Care.com. You'll see that each one lists their rate on their profile. Search through a few in your area and you'll have a good idea what you should pay.

Decide what you want done
Are you looking for someone to clean up from time to time or do you want to hire someone to literally keep house on a daily basis?

Before you interview housekeepers, make sure you know what kind of job you're hiring them for. They'll appreciate the foresight and you won't end up paying for more work than you'd planned.

When you find the person that's right for your family, write down their job description before they start working. In my case, I'm looking for someone to do the dishes and light house cleaning, prepare meals for my family, run errands, and keep track of a weekly budget. I want to make sure they know all of their requirements beforehand so there aren't any surprises a month into the job.

A list of questions for the interview
When you get to the interview stage, here are a few questions you should ask:

  • How do they determine their pay rate (by hour or day)?
  • How much do they charge?
  • Do they have their own cleaning supplies or will they use yours? (If you have a preference on cleaning products, you should supply them).
  • When are they available to work?
  • Do they have restrictions on what type of work they'll do?
  • Are they insured? (If they are, they may charge a higher rate to cover their costs.)
  • Can you contact other clients for a reference?
  • Consider running a background check. If they're going to be managing any household finances, you'll want to know their history.


If you end up talking to more than one housekeeper, send an email to the ones you don't hire. Although they might be disappointed, they'll appreciate the courtesy. You never know when you might need their services in the future.

When you do make a hire, you might want to try out your housekeeper on a trial basis, at first. I want mine to be a good fit, not only for the job, but also for my entire family since we'll be interacting with each other on a daily basis.

Good luck with your search for a housekeeper! We hope whoever you hire will make your life easier and leave your home sparkling.

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Comments

Anna

I am wondering about how these housekeepers pay taxes. I wish there was a section on this website that would make that part of the arrangement more "user friendly". I'm unsure of what questions to ask, and I'm unsure if answers I'm receiving from potential housekeepers, like "I am an independant contractor, so you don't pay my taxes" is sufficient and won't end up getting me into trouble with the IRS.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks!
Anna

Monika

Anna,
If you are going to hire an individual it is imperative that you hire someone who is bonded and insured if you want to protect yourself from any liabilities. If the person you hire doesn't have workman's compensation insurance and they get hurt in your home on the job, they can expect you, thier employer, to take care of their medical expenses, etc. If you don't want to be required to withhold taxes for them and pay workman's compensation insurance for them, you or your account need to file a 1099 at the end of the year to show what you paid them as an independent contractor requiring that they withhold and pay their own taxes. Hiring a legitimate Housecleaning company will relieve you of these burdens and liabilities, as the company will have insured and bonded all of their employee's for you. This is why legitimate cleaning services will cost more than hiring a freelance individual; they assume and pay for all taxes, risk and liability. A company can also control & guaurauntee the work delivered and have enough staff to replace yours if they are sick or on vacation, etc. So, there are many advantages to hiring a company with much less risk involved, but also more expense for theses advantages. But if hiring an individual is your preference, just do it right: request copies of their workman's compensation insurance and bond, always pay with a check for documentation, and give them a 1099 at the end of the year to protect yourself IRS. I also suggest running a criminal background check prior to hiring, why can typicially be done through your local police office for under $20.00 per report. Hope this helps!

Lesley

I adore my housekeeper. Thank you Care.com!

Lynne Corenbaum

I have wondered how to advertise my bookkeeping skills for those that use care.com services and those that provide the services. I am not sure where to list those! Also, there may be someone that needs a bookkeeper to enter the checks, do the Bank Rec. etc. Any ideas? I have two masters degrees in accounting and just want to slow down a bit!
-Lynne

Daisy

I have worked with families before so I am familiar with household chores and tasks I would be given, I speak some english, my language is spanish. thank you

carolina

clean guest rooms make beds, clean bathrooms scrub,mop,dust,vaccum, enjoy interacting with people. Neat and clean appearance and pleasant personality and can adapt to changing situations.

John

At what point are you considered an employer vs someone employing contract services?

brenda huth

i have been cleaning empty buildings houses for ten years i do a really good and i do it very well and fast.

priscilla

Are the housekeepers listed for employment with Care.Com bonded and insured by your company and do they have workman's comp?

If you ask a potential employee if they're bonded and insured and they say "yes" -- how can you be sure they're telling you the truth?

Stacey ONeill

I am looking for a housekeeper. I live in a one bedroom condo. I own two cats, and a puppy. I need someone who can walk the dog. Someone who is comfterable with pets. I need someone to do laundry, make the bed, clean the kitchen (counters, fridge, cabinets, stove, microwave) dust everything, organize, clean up after the pets, sweep and mop the floors, and possibly run some errands from time to time. I forgot to mention, cleaning the bathroom (everything)Someone who has their own transportion, doesnt smoke, has experience.

Becky Stoll

I am a housekeeper. Insured and Bonded. I am comfortable with pets. I clean anything you need cleaned. I use my rainbow vacum and my new Haan steam cleaner.

hire staff

Thanks for the sharing tips.

DELORIS

well i really agree

Maria

I'm a licensed and experienced housekeeper, please give me the opportunity to
clean your home or office, I'm comfortable with pets and will bring my own supplies, Daily, Monthly, Weekly, Bi-weekly or just a one time cleaning service.
Very responsible,friendly,detail oriented and I charge a reasonable fee, according to your home size

Karen

Unlike those traditional cleaning companies today, I am a Cape Cod Green Cleaning Professional, using only Green Seal Certified house cleaning products, and in many cases, using every day household products; baking soda, and vinegar to name just a few. Our fully bonded and trained expert green cleaning professionals use only micro fiber cleaning cloths and as a company, we provide Dyson HEPA filtration vacuum cleaners to each one of our cleaning teams. We take pride in providing a healthier, alternative to cleaning with no sacrifices to quality in the process. In fact, you do not have to invest any extra money to begin the step to green cleaning when you choose our company. We believe that every one should “Go Green” with Green Cleaning.

kasaundra burr

I am a parent of a 1 year old and pregnant my fiance is a stay at home dad for now until he can go back to work. I have a Black lab/ springer spanial who loves attention. i need someone who can walk him as well as help me with chores i am a full time student and full time work and my son doesn't let my fiance clean i just need someone to help clean the kitchen once a week. and be able to be around animals cause i have two farrets and a bunny as well.

Sharky

Thanks a lot for your advice, it is really helpful!

Joshua Abernathy

I myself like to use a hired cleaning person to do just my average household cleaning, nothing much more than that. I can tend to my cooking and other needs, I just don't like to do the cleaning part. One thing that I really consider though is, does the company use green products. Do they themselves consider the environment. In today's world, it is important for us to consider how we are affecting the environment because of all the damage we have already done to it. I think that should be the biggest consideration when choosing what cleaning company to go with.

Rose

There are a lot of things to consider if you need help around the house. If only you have a relative who would love to help you out. I come from a closely knit big family so there is always someone .. an aunt or a niece or a sister who would love to come over, stay for awhile and help out. But if its for a long term, then good luck. It is a tough job screening applicants, making sure that the person of choice is the most reliable and trustworthy one.

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