To Tip or Not To Tip? The Guide to Tipping your House Cleaner.

In this guide, we are going to review etiquette for tipping your help around the house.  There are different schools of thought here, so the answer is “It Depends”.

  • First, the traditional approach.  This is hiring someone directly and paying them a tip at Christmas.
  • Second, the agency approach, where tipping is generally accepted.
  • Finally, the “Uber” approach.  This is that tip is not required, and paying Homekeepers more.  

In general, regardless of the approach you take, right now the expectations tend to be based on whether or not the service is recurring. If you book a recurring service, the expecation is that tipping is not required, and an end of year bonus of about $100 is appreciated. For one time services, the expectations are that you do tip for cleaning.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of tipping your house cleaner in a post-COVID world, including industry standards, modern approaches, alternative ways to show appreciation, and how expectations have changed since before 2019.

At TIDY, we take this last approach, but you should adjust your tipping to your circumstance.  Tipping has now become an important part of our everyday life in the US. Most of us know how much to tip a wait staff or a bartender. But there is no ground rule on how much to tip the maid.

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POST-COVID CHANGES TO TIPPING PRACTICES

In the wake of COVID, several aspects of tipping practices have changed. Inflation has caused the price of cleanings and maintenance to increase about 50% over 2019 levels. As a result, tipping has become more commonly expected for one-time services, but continues to be not expected for recurring services. In those cases, the expectation is often to provide a “Christmas bonus” or end-of-year gift.

Tipping expectations have risen to about 15-25%, following the trend seen in other industries. Before 2019, the general rule of thumb for tipping house cleaners was around $10-$20 per service or a fixed percentage of the service cost.

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TIPPING ETIQUETTE FOR TRADITIONAL OR AGENCY MODELS

Hiring a professional house cleaning service can be daunting sometimes. It can be awkward to figure out how much to tip a professional house cleaner.  Although most house cleaners charge by the hour for the job, you may have to tip them for the service. Is there a hard rule?  No.  Some agencies and individuals live off tips.  

In general, tipping your house cleaner is not as crucial as tipping your waiter or waitress. However, many agencies pay only minimum wage, and their Home Cleaners depend on tips to earn extra money. If using an agency, go ahead and ask them for guidance on tipping. In the wake of COVID, tipping expectations have increased to about 15-25%.

This only applies for tipping for one time jobs (or very infrequent ones, like every 6 months). If you are booking a recurring service, the expectation is that tipping occurs once per year, at the end of the year.

HOW MUCH TO TIP IF I HIRE A HOUSE CLEANER DIRECTLY?

If you hire an independent house cleaner for a one-time or infrequent cleaning, many people will not tip, as they selected the price with the person directly. Although when the service is done, some people will tip tipping 15-25% of the service cost for one time jobs.

If you have a home cleaner year round, it is probably not necessary to tip each time.  Instead, you can give a cash bonus or gift at the end of the year. This is very common for year round cleaners, even if you hire them directly.This is a nice way to show your appreciation and make the house cleaner feel good about his or her service. Again, it is always up to you whether you want to give some cash or gift to the maid or not.

THE UBER MODEL OF TIPPING

Some companies explicitly say “Tip is not required.”  They take the approach of making sure home cleaners make more money per hour.  This allows home cleaners to feel more comfortable that they will make a living wage.  It allows clients avoid awkward interactions and fumbling for cash. This was made popular for a time by Uber, but even they have moved back to a tipping model in the US.

ALTERNATIVES TO CASH

Some homeowners prefer to give something other than cash to the housekeeper. In such cases, you can choose a gift or a gift card instead of cash. If not, you could also choose a thoughtful present to show appreciation to your house cleaner as well.  We’ve heard of people giving fresh-baked cookies, hand-knitted scarves, or even a nice bottle of wine. If you know your maid really well, you can choose a gift based on her personal taste too. Tickets to a theme park or event are nice because they help the home cleaner splurge on a fun event for themselves.  A handwritten thank you note is also an inexpensive way to show your appreciation.

WHAT DO WE DO HERE AT TIDY?

At TIDY, we let clients know that the service provider was selecting their own rate, tipping was not necessary. Pros using TIDY make significantly more than traditional home cleaners.  Although we don’t ban tipping, the vast majority of clients do not tip. However, we do support all tipping models, including paying a percentage of the job and one time annual bonuses. Our goal is to support all types of models pros and customers want for tipping, and continue to update accordingly.

SUMMARY – WHEN TO TIP A CLEANER

If you’re looking for specific numbers in a post-COVID world, consider these suggestions:

  • If you’ve hired them directly, 15%-25% for one time services OR $100 during the holidays for recurring services.
  • If you are working with the agency, ask them. 15%-25% per service is probably appropriate.
  • If you are working with a service adopting the “no tip required” model, there is no need to tip.

Is tipping the right thing?

It isn’t exactly right and wrong, but cultural norms are shifting.  Many people are moving to a simpler model where you don’t tip.  Here are some articles that highlight some of the debate:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBTfj2lN6sQ‍

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/18/i-dare-you-to-read-this-and-still-feel-ok-about-tipping-in-the-united-states/

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-22/tipping-is-coming-to-uber-and-it-s-going-to-be-awkward

What do you think?  Do you like tipping?  Is it awkward?

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