What’s the difference between a house cleaner and a housekeeper?

House cleaners and housekeepers are two different professionals. Know which services you need help with before you hire. (Photo courtesy of Seattle Green Cleaner)

House cleaners and housekeepers are two different professionals. Know which services you need help with before you hire. (Photo courtesy of Seattle Green Cleaner)

House cleaner and housekeeper – they sound the same, but they’re actually two very different jobs.

Are you looking for someone to clean the kitchen, scrub the toilets and make appliances shine? Or, are you looking for someone to change the sheets, wash and put away dishes and do some light dusting?

A housekeeper is an individual who is usually in the home for a longer period of time and may have many projects within the home to keep them busy.A housekeeper is usually hired by a family who provides everything needed for the job, which stays in the home.

Typical duties of a housekeeper may include:

  • Light cleaning (not deep cleaning), dusting, sweeping, mopping
  • Washing and drying dishes
  • Washing, folding and ironing clothes
  • Changing bed linens and making beds
  • Separating and remove garbage and recycling
  • Restocking personal care products, toilet paper, etc.
  • Picking up toys and/or clutter and other general organizing
  • Running errands for the family
  • Preparing meals
  • Replacing light bulbs
  • Scooping litter boxes
  • Other light duties as requested

A house cleaner is an individual or a team of cleaners who arrives on a scheduled day and time with all the proper cleaning supplies, products and equipment.

They are usually in the home for a specific amount of time and take their supplies with them when they leave for their next cleaning appointment. Cleaners may be independently employed or employed by a house cleaning company.

Typical duties of a house cleaner may include:

  • Deep cleaning most surfaces (countertops, sinks, tubs, toilets, floors, appliances, etc.)
  • Scrubbing and sanitizing kitchens from top to bottom, including the exterior of cabinets and drawers, exterior of appliances like stoves and refrigerators, countertops, sinks and drains, backsplashes, light switch plate covers, knobs and handles, vacuuming and mopping, cleaning tables and chairs
  • Scrubbing and sanitizing bathrooms from top to bottom, including toilets, tubs, showers, sinks and drain openings and polishing chrome
  • Dusting trim work, baseboards, doors, picture frames, light fixtures, etc.
  • Vacuuming upholstery and carpet
  • Vacuuming and mopping hard floors
  • Interior window cleaning

If you think in terms of light-duty work with some organizing thrown in, that’s for a housekeeper. If you’re looking for a top-to-bottom cleaning of your home, that’s for a house cleaner.

Whether you choose a housekeeper or a house cleaner, just don’t call them a maid! The word is shortened from “female maidservant” and “female housemaid.” It’s now considered derogatory – especially to male house cleaners and keepers.

Jennifer Troyer is the founder of Seattle Green Cleaner, LLC; an environmentally and socially responsible professional house cleaning company. Established in 2007, Troyer takes pride in her environmental stewardship while being a socially responsible employer. Her cleaners are all W-2 employees who enjoy paid time off, top pay for a job well done, have everything they need provided for them and they are protected. Seattle Green Cleaner is a fully licensed, bonded and insured, residential cleaning company serving Greater Seattle,  and they've earned the Angie's List Super Service Award three years in a row.

As of April 10, 2012, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.


I love ur comment,but I will like 2 enligtening u that they re still d same whereas u re been call 2 do housekeeper with instruction that everwhere most be clean including the interior and exterior with the surrounding,wash cloth!dishes, etc without doing it not,u will not be paid,wat should I do

Add comment

Anonymous reviews are Internet graffiti.  Angie's List has real reviews from real people.

What is Angie's List?

Angie’s List is the trusted site where more than 2 million households go to get ratings and reviews on everything from home repair to health care. Stop guessing when it comes to hiring! Check Angie’s List to find out who does the best work in town.

Local Discounts

Daily deals up to 70% off popular home improvement projects from top-rated contractors on Angie’s List!