Should I tip my house cleaner?


For many people, the practice of tipping is fraught with worry and anxiety. Should I tip my house cleaner? Will offering a tip be offensive? Will not offering one be rude? How much should I tip? The questions feel endless, so let me help you out.

Should I Tip My House Cleaner? There are no universal standards to cover tipping your house cleaner. Standard practice varies according to where you live, whether you work with a company or an individual, how frequently you are utilizing your cleaning service, and how much work you are expecting. And, of course, it depends on you and your house cleaner.

To help you decide what’s right for you and your house cleaner, let’s take a dive into the complicated world of tipping your house cleaner.

Should I Tip My House Cleaner?

Now, while there are no hard and fast rules for whether or not to tip your house cleaner, I can give you some guidance.

First and foremost, and this may be controversial, ignore local customs. Just because something has always been done a certain way in the past doesn’t make it appropriate or fair.

Secondly, and continuing the controversial theme;

There is a school of thought that says tipping perpetuates social inequity. It encourages a dynamic in which the person doing the work is considered inferior to the person tipping.

So, with those thoughts in mind, ask yourself;

Are You Working With A Company Or An Individual?

You might think that a house cleaner working for a company is well compensated and doesn’t require a tip, and an individual won’t be earning much, so a tip would be beneficial.

However, the opposite is often true.

Minimum Wage For Employees

There is a federal minimum wage, which is the lowest allowable amount for the entire country. Some states have legislated a higher minimum wage rate, and in this case, the State minimum applies, not the federal. People employed by a business, on an hourly basis, must be paid minimum wage by their employer.

But there’s a catch. Employees who earn $30 or more in tips each month can be paid less by their employer, as long as the tips and the reduced pay add up to the standard minimum wage.

Independent House Cleaners

House cleaners working for themselves set their own rates. Rather than risk relying on tips that may or may not materialize, most self-employed house cleaners set a rate assuming a no-tip scenario.

So, What To Do?

First, find out what the minimum wage rate is in your state. If you hire a company to clean your house, ask how much they pay their staff and whether or not their wage is set on the assumption that homeowners will be paying tips.

If you are working with an individual, ensure you are paying, at the very least, the minimum wage rate.

Then, whether it’s a company or an individual, if the pay rate isn’t an accurate reflection of the value of your house cleaner’s work, pay a higher rate for their standard day-to-day work. If that isn’t an option, think about how you can show your appreciation.

The Bottom Line

If the company pays its staff a low rate that assumes tips, be sure to provide a tip to your service provider. Ask if you can have the same person or crew for every visit and if this is possible, let your house cleaner know you would like to provide a tip and ask if you should pay this weekly or monthly.

How Often Should I Tip My House Cleaner?

If you are going to tip your house cleaner, the next questions are usually How often should I tip my house cleaner? or Should I tip my house cleaner every at every appointment?

The short answer is:

  • If you are having a one-off clean, tip when they are done.
  • If you have a recurring service, tipping either once a week, once a month, once a quarter, or once a year can be an option, depending on the frequency of your service.
  • Remember, if you have a regular service and you ask if an additional task can be undertaken, pay for the work and consider a gift as an additional thank you.

What Should I Give My House Cleaner As A Tip?

Providing additional cash as a tip is likely to be most appreciated. It enables your house cleaner to funnel your appreciation for a job well done into something meaningful for them.

If you feel uncomfortable giving cash or feel it is impersonal or inappropriate, there are alternatives.

  1. A gift card: If you go the gift card route, ensure it is for a retailer your house cleaner uses.
  2. A gift: Something you know your house cleaner will like or an item you have made yourself can be a meaningful expression of your appreciation.

Things to avoid:

  • Alcohol: Unless you know your house cleaner enjoys a particular drink, avoid alcohol. There are many people who chose not to drink, do not approve of drinking, or are in recovery. In this case, your gift can backfire and appear tone-deaf.
  • Gift cards you would like: Assuming a gift card for, say Starbucks, is a good idea, just because you go there says, “I feel like I should give you something, but I don’t care enough about this gift to bother getting something you would like.”
  • Obvious regifting: Giving your house cleaner a gift they have seen sitting in your home, unused for several months, is not showing your appreciation for their work.

How Much Should I Tip My House Cleaner?

The “standard” amount for a tip is somewhere in the 15% – 20% of the cost of your service range.

Some House Cleaner Tipping Scenarios

All of this, “it depends,” gets confusing, so let’s take a look at a couple of real-world examples.

  1. You use a house cleaning service that pays on the assumption customers will pay a tip. The same house cleaner comes to your home once a week for two hours, and you pay the company $100 per week. A tip of between $15 and $20 for each week’s work would be appropriate.
  2. For the same service, you use a house cleaning business that pays their staff a rate above the minimum wage, and you pay $160 a month. A regular tip is not necessary, but you may wish to offer an “I appreciate the work you do bonus” either once a quarter or once a year.
  3. You have a self-employed individual providing your cleaning service, and they have quoted you $10 an hour. The minimum wage in your state is $12.50, and you decide to pay that instead. A tip is not necessary, but an occasional appreciation bonus is thoughtful.

Other Considerations

There are other occasions when you might want to demonstrate your appreciation for a job well done or how much you value your house cleaner and their work.

If you ask your house cleaner to work some extra hours, clean something outside of their usual remit, or otherwise do something they don’t have to, recognize their willingness to do more.

Some people bring their house cleaner a gift from vacation; others give little gifts randomly “just because.” If you have built up a relationship with your house cleaner and know it’s their birthday, or they have a special occasion coming up, a gift is a thoughtful way to show you care.

Finally, if you have a self-employed house cleaner, remember that they don’t get paid if they don’t work. Paying your house cleaner when you go on vacation or if you cancel for one week shows you recognize their worth.

Final Thoughts

In an ideal world, you shouldn’t have to wonder, Should I Tip My House Cleaner? Because their wage would accurately reflect the value of their work. Unfortunately, the reality is we live in a much more complex world that may or may not value service work and pay for it accordingly.

If you decide a tip is appropriate, 15%-20% is considered standard. For the one-off use of a cleaning service, this is straight forward. For a regular service, you could choose to tip once a month, once a quarter, or once a year, whichever would be most appropriate for you.

Geoff

Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.

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