What is the Difference between a Housekeeper and a Cleaner?

Apple and Orange

Published on July 29, 2019

You may have decided that you need a bit of extra help with the upkeep of your home. Maybe you don’t have time due to other commitments. (Things such as running your own business, a super busy work schedule, child care). Or maybe there are just plenty of other things you’d rather be doing than cleaning! Either way, you may have started to look into hiring a housekeeper or a cleaner.  Both may seem like they are the same thing. But, in fact, there are some huge differences between what a housekeeper and a cleaner actually do.

So, what is the difference between a housekeeper and a cleaner?

Differences explained:

Housekeeper Cleaner
Number of hours worked Usually, housekeeping would be a full time, regular job. Some housekeepers even live in their clients home! The amount of hours depends on the size of your property and how many people live there. But usually, housekeepers duties would be enough to fill a full time position. For very large properties you may consider hiring more than one housekeeper. 


A cleaner would usually have multiple clients who they work for. And they would visit each one for a couple of hours each week. Cleaners usually either work for a cleaning company and work with a team of cleaners. Or they work for themselves and personally visit each client. To get the job done quicker, multiple cleaners may visit each clients house and work together to get the cleaning done. 


Equipment  You should provide all the necessary equipment and cleaning products and these should be kept at your home. You housekeeper can be in charge of ordering/restocking these products. And you have the advantage that you can choose to only use your favourite products. Maybe, for example, you want to be eco-friendly!


A cleaner would typically bring their own equipment and cleaning products to use at your house. You may be able to request certain products. But it can’t be guaranteed that they will use them.

Typical duties
  1. Laundry and ironing
  2. Making beds
  3. Shopping and running errands – restocking when needed
  4. Picking up clutter and general tidying
  5. Cooking and preparing meals
  6. Taking care of pets
  7. General day-to-day cleaning of the household. Including all the cleaning tasks performed by a cleaner
  8. Deep cleaning the bathrooms, including toilets, baths, showers
  9. Deep cleaning kitchens, including appliances, cupboards, drawers, ovens and the floor
  10. Steam cleaning carpets and upholstery
  11. Mopping and steam cleaning all floors
  12. Additional duties may even include light childcare or babysitting
  1. Light cleaning of the bathrooms, including toilets, baths, showers
  2. Light cleaning of kitchens, including appliances, cupboards, drawers, ovens and the floor
  3. Cleaning windows
  4. Dusting
  5. Laundry
  6. Mopping and cleaning all the floors
What you shouldn’t ask them to do
  1. Heavy lifting and moving furniture
  2. Climbing without health and safety precautions in place 
  3. Cleaning up human or pet faeces without necessary health and safety precautions in place
  4. Anything illegal!
  1. Tidy up before cleaning
  2. Run personal errands/shopping
  3. Deep cleaning (fridge, oven, etc) – expect to pay extra for these services!
  4. Cooking
  5. Taking care of pets or children
  6. Heavy lifting and moving furniture
  7. Climbing without health and safety precautions in place 
  8. Cleaning up human or pet faeces without necessary health and safety precautions in place
  9. Anything illegal!

What fits you best?

There is a large difference in what housekeepers and cleaners actually do. Maybe you have decided that you would like to hire a housekeeper to take care of your home, or maybe you have a cleaner who is great and you would like them to become your full-time housekeeper! For information about how Polo & Tweed can help give them the necessary training feel free to give us a call or find more information here. 

If you would like to know more about the costs of hiring a housekeeper, please take a look here.

You might also like to consider whether you would like a live-in or live-out housekeeper – more information and guidance on this can be found here.

Finally, to understand what it takes to hire and employ someone, have a look at this handy UK government website.

How Polo & Tweed can help

At Polo & Tweed we have some of the best housekeepers on our books! If you would like us to help you with your search for the perfect housekeeper, or would just like some general guidance, please give us a call on +44(0)203 858 0233 or contact us here today!