Many new clients looking for housekeeping ask us for guidance as they have no clue what is deemed to be housekeeping and what’s not, or how a housekeeper differs from a domestic cleaner.

Some clients are calling because their housekeeper has left but they are not sure why. The possible reasons for departure only become clear once we start discussing what they have asked their housekeeper to do.

What is the difference between a housekeeper and a domestic cleaner?

The difference between a domestic cleaner and a housekeeper is that cleaners clean and don’t do any other tasks other than that. A housekeeper will clean as well as manage and maintain the running of the home and household.

There are several types of housekeepers you may consider based on your needs, such a part-time housekeeper who pops in for a few hours a day, or a live-in housekeeper who can help manage the running of the household every day.

As an expert housekeeping agency in London, we can help you find your ideal housekeeper. With our years of experience, we’ll find you the best candidate who can seamlessly integrate into your household and make it a haven of cleanliness and calm.

What can you expect from your housekeeper?

The things you can expect your housekeeper to do for you will nearly always include tasks such as:

  • Full deep cleaning of the house and hoovering the hall stairs and landing areas.
  • Laundry, bed-linen change overs and ironing, along with putting away laundered items and taking any dry cleaning away to be processed.
  • Maintaining the home environment including cleaning the kitchen cupboards and fridges, freezer, storage, and larder.
  • Keeping on top of groceries and topping up items that are running low.
  • Watering house plants and usually feeding the cat and letting the dog out.
  • Wardrobe sorting, such as separating seasonal items and putting away winter coats and shoes/boots.
  • Decluttering and sorting out items for donation or to be taken to the tip, including outgrown children’s toys, books, and games that have seen better days.
  • Topping up of toilet tissues, hand soaps and refreshing towels and wash cloths.
  • Grocery shopping – either ordering online or visiting the supermarket for the weekly shop, as well as unpacking and putting away purchases.
  • Removing and disposing of any out of date or expired food stuffs.
  • Emptying the bins and sorting out the recycling.
  • Loading and unloading the dishwasher.
  • Arranging for any servicing on home appliances or the boiler.
  • Waiting in and signing for packages and deliveries.
  • Tidying up and keeping the home presentable and smelling nice.
  • Removing any dead flower arrangements and refreshing as required.
  • Cleaning any fingerprints off windows and doors.
  • Descaling and kettle and coffee machine as needed.
  • Cleaning out the fire and relaying a new one.
  • Descaling or any taps or shower heads.
  • Unblocking sink holes, removing and treating mould or grime in the shower, and removing limescale from taps.
  • Sorting out the post.
  • Paying bills if needed.
  • Booking taxis if needed or if requested drop off/pick up at the station.
  • Cooking a meal for supper for the family.
  • Plumping cushions and folding blankets and throws on the settee.
  • Clearing up any glasses, cups magazines and newspapers.
  • Answering the house phone and taking messages if asked to do so.
  • Polishing silver wear.
  • Packing sports kit and cleaning riding boots, rugby, or football boots.

And so the list goes on. Most if these things won’t be a problem – many housekeepers enjoy the variations in the role and being busy. Most will work on their initiative and keep on top of their workload, prioritising as they go.

Every home is different and has its own rhythm. Sometimes, it can take a few weeks for a new housekeeper to settle in and find their own pace. Every placement needs good communication from both parties and mistakes can easily be made if a family have failed to convey a certain requirement, having assumed the housekeeper will know what they want.

It’s always wise to keep your housekeeper up to date on any changes and if there are any new requests its always worth discussing with them before adding to the workload.

What your housekeeper can’t do

So why do housekeepers leave? It usually when they are asked to do something that would not be deemed acceptable or part of the housekeeper's role unless it has been discussed and agreed on in advance.

Here are a few examples we have come across recently which are not appropriate to ask of your housekeeper:

  • Signing for a large consignment of logs, then asking the housekeeper to remove them off the drive where they were deposited and taken down the garden to the log store.
  • Cleaning out and hand washing the car.
  • Picking up dog mess from the garden or lawn.
  • Picking up heavily stained or soiled underwear from the floor.
  • Picking up and disposing of used sanitary products.
  • Cleaning out the shed or garage, including moving heavy items like lawn mowers and DIY equipment.
  • Painting and redecorating the children’s bedrooms.
  • Defrosting the family’s cars in the morning.
  • Shovelling snow off the driveway and clear a path.
  • Going up in the loft and bring down boxes or luggage.
  • Washing the family dog.
  • Mucking out the horses.
  • Gardening, including mowing the lawn and caring for patio furniture and play equipment.
  • Putting up shelves, pictures or any DIY projects.
  • Wrapping all Christmas gifts and writing Christmas cards.

The message here is very clear – everybody has their limit on what they are prepared to do. There is always room for a good will gesture or one-off favour, but regular inappropriate requests will nearly always lead to an unexpected departure.

Hire a housekeeper the Hummingbird way

With over twenty-five years of experience in placing housekeepers with families, we know what makes a good match. We carefully hand select all our candidates, ensuring we find housekeepers who will meet all your needs, no matter your requirements.

Get in touch with our team today to discover more and start the journey to hiring a housekeeper today!

Keeping your housekeeper happy – some basic rules to keep things sweet