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Hiring a Maid: Maid Service or Independent?

VirginiaLynne likes to share her creative ideas for DIY home renovation and maintenance. She uses these tips to store her own receipts.

Feeling stressed? Need help cleaning your house? Which is better: hiring a maid service or an independent house cleaner?

A maid service company usually has many employees that work in teams. Some of the companies are franchises that have specially developed products and equipment to professionally clean your house in an environmentally friendly way. Companies provide easy-to-schedule, dependable cleaning, which is usually bonded and insured.

Independent house cleaners may be more flexible and willing to adapt to your needs, as well as become someone your family knows and trusts. The person who cleans your home learns a lot about you, and you may prefer having a personal relationship with that person—along with the ability to have them clean what you need done, rather than the set program of cleaning offered by most maid services.

A maid service can be a big boon to your life.

A maid service can be a big boon to your life.

How to Find Local Cleaning Services

To find help in cleaning your house, you can:

  1. Ask friends, co-workers or neighbors for recommendations of maid services or independent house cleaners.
  2. Search the internet for "maid services [your town]."
  3. Look in the Yellow Pages of your phone book for local cleaning services.
  4. Look for newspaper advertisements for maid, housekeeping or cleaning services.

Comparing Services

Maid Service CompanyIndependent House Cleaner


Because maid services usually have several employees, you generally will be able to have a choice of days and times of service, but there may not be as much flexibility and you may have to pay for the service even if you need to cancel.

An independent house cleaner is often very flexible about scheduling your service and can sometimes work around your schedule if they don't have too many clients.

Cleaning Service

Most maid services have a set way of cleaning and offer a package of cleaning services. If you need additional cleaning that isn't a part of the package either every week or periodically, you can usually buy that separately.

An independent house cleaner may have specific ways that they clean a house but they are often much more flexible to do what you want them to do. Moreover, you can schedule them to do some tasks one week, and other tasks another week.

Bonded and Insured

Most maid services are bonded and insured which protects you and your property. Be sure the maid service insurance includes protection for breakage, damage and loss of your property and is not just workman's compensation for the maids.

You are usually responsible for insurance for your own property and for any work injuries for your maid.

Time Cleaning

Maid services often work as a team or two or four people which often means your cleaning is done quickly, in 1-2 hours.

Some independent house cleaners work in teams, or have a helper, but most work alone and may take 4-8 hours to do the work. However, they may also be willing to work alongside of you, if you want help cleaning rather than just someone to do the work for you.

Supplies and Equipment

Usually provides their own and often has green supplies and professional grade equipment. This can save you money.

Usually uses your supplies and equipment, which lets you have them clean with the products you like best, but is an additional cost to you in buying supplies and buying and repairing and replacing equipment.

What Your Money Buys

Generally, with a maid service, you are buying a specific type of cleaning service which is often very specific and detailed on the company website.

Generally, with an independent house cleaner, you are buying that person's time, rather than a specific service, so you can decide how they will spend that time.

Documented Workers

Most maid service companies will only hire people who are documented workers. Moreover, because you hire the company and not the individual worker, that can be an additional layer of protection for you if you have legal concerns about hiring undocumented employees.

Independent house cleaners may be undocumented workers. Some may actually have been in the United States for many years and speak excellent English. However, if hiring undocumented workers is a concern of yours, you will have to check the status of an independent house cleaner yourself, which can be uncomfortable.

Illness and Cancellation

With many employees, a maid service company can usually find a substitute for anyone who is ill and your services will probably not be canceled.

If your Independent house cleaner is ill, has sick children or a family emergency, they may cancel your cleaning.

Protection and Quality Control

Using teams of workers, supervisors and insurance, maid services offer protection against theft, breakage and poor quality of work.

Usually, an independent house cleaner will not have insurance or supervision. You will need to find someone you can trust, so often finding one through friends or quizzing references carefully is important.


Maid services seek to be seen as professional services and that is how they handle the relationship with a client. With a maid service, you may develop a relationship with the people who come to your house, but these people may change week to week.

Your home is your personal, private space and someone who cleans it learns a lot about you. With an independent house cleaner, you will often develop a strong relationship which may last many years. Sometimes that relationship can involve you in that person's personal problems and family.

Complaints and Problems

With a maid service, there is usually a formal way to handle complaints and a manager or owner you can go to with problems about service. Moreover, they may even have a policy of 100% satisfaction.

You will be responsible for confronting an independent house cleaner about problems, mistakes or things you want changed in cleaning. Moreover, if you have a house cleaner for many years and their service to you declines, you will have to handle that.

Hiring a maid lets you spend time on your kids, not on your house.

Hiring a maid lets you spend time on your kids, not on your house.

How to Find Someone You Can Trust

Since you have fewer protections in hiring an individual, it is often important to make sure you hire someone you can trust. That means it is often best to find someone through your social network rather than through an advertisement. Who do you ask?

Friends and Co-Workers: If a friend has hired someone for several years and is satisfied that the person does a good job cleaning and is trustworthy, then you have a good chance that person will work for you.

Neighbors: Neighbors are an even better source because often a maid prefers to work in the same neighborhood and may give you a discount. Moreover, you can probably have a good idea of the price they would charge by asking your neighbor since your houses are likely fairly the same.

House Cleaner Recommendations: If the maid you talk to can't help you, they may have a friend or relative who can. This sort of reference is not as good, so be sure to ask to talk to previous clients.

 Maids can launder and change sheets and towels.

Maids can launder and change sheets and towels.

Hiring a Service

To hire a maid service, you also can contact friends and neighbors for recommendations, but you also may want to do an internet search. Most companies have web pages that tell you exactly what their service cleans and their company policies. Some companies have set prices, but most will want to talk to you about your home or have a home visit for a free estimate. If you have many valuable items or a lot of things which need to be moved to be dusted, be prepared to pay more.

Average Costs for Maids

How much does it cost to hire residential cleaning services? Of course, that depends on:

  • How many rooms in your house.
  • How often you need it cleaned.
  • Whether you have pets, kids or lots of entertaining that makes more to clean.
  • Whether you have antiques or a lot of things which need dusting.

The average monthly cost is $181 in the United States, with a range from $100 to $400 in the over 27,000 people reporting their costs on Service Magic.

Figuring out costs through the government figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on what maids actually earn, it seems that you should expect to pay between $8.00 to $15.00 per hour, with $1 tip per hour also expected. That tip can come weekly, monthly or in the form of a "bonus" at certain times of the year like Christmas. Assuming 4 hours of cleaning once a week, you can expect to pay between $124-$256 for maid services. However, that would not include the cost of having a maid service which offers bonding and insurance services to their employees.

How Much You Can Expect to Pay

Cleaning ServiceAverage National CostSource

maid service

$181 month

27,387 surveyed by Service Magic

clean windows


472 surveyed by Service Magic

maid service hourly wages

Maids earn $8 to $15 dollars with average of $1 tips per hour. So for 4 hours cleaning every week, you could pay $144 to $256 including tips for an individual maid.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2010

Merry Maids

First visit $125 to $425, frequent visits are less

Merry Maids Website

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Marie Alana from Ohio on February 18, 2013:

Thanks for the great information. I just might use it.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 05, 2013:

I prefer cleaning on my own I don't like having other people doing my house work, I don't feel comfortable with some strange person in my home.

Phil Plasma from Montreal, Quebec on January 30, 2013:

Great hub and timely for my wife and I as we are on the bring of acquiring either a service or an independent. Very informative, thanks for this hub, voted up and useful.

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on December 25, 2012:

Arkirchner--You are absolutely right about the importance of making sure you really get the service you want from a housekeeper or maid service. I certainly have heard many friends get in situations with house cleaners where they have a very close personal relationship with that person, which can be very rewarding since that person really can become like family. However, in several of these cases I know that my friends had trouble because they want the housecleaner to clean more, or in a different way. It can be hard to negotiate that. On the other hand, maid service companies often have a very specific way they clean and you don't have a lot of choices.

Many, many good wishes this Christmas to you too--I'm so glad to have gotten to know you!

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on December 25, 2012:

Informative to say the least--gosh Virginia--you really presented a lot of info in an easy-to-read format. I've hired a few folks over the years to help out when I had problems with my arms--severe tendinitis flareups. I certainly saw a great variance in my own personal experience on how different people clean! In my own experience, I figured since I was paying good money for someone to do the work, it should be done to my satisfaction. I didn't hesitate to request someone who was better at it or at least seemed to clean the things I felt were most important. I had 1 gal who concentrated on germs on light switches and door knobs to distraction and she never managed to finish some of the most important things (to me). Or another who spent an hour cleaning a tub which wasn't even dirty~ It's important once you hire someone to speak up and make sure you're getting what you wanted out of the deal~

Happy Holidays to you and yours, Virginia--it's been a pleasure working with you~!

carol stanley from Arizona on December 24, 2012:

You have a great hub here on all the ins and outs of hiring a cleaning service. Since there are just two of us I am elected chief cleaner upper. I am going to share on facebook..Someone could find this very valuable. Voting up also.

P. Thorpe Christiansen from Pacific Northwest, USA on December 22, 2012:

Very informative hub. I would like to get someone in to clean once a week but I have trouble getting over a stranger in my home, cleaning up my mess. I think it just might be "guilt." Thanks for the great information.