Maids and housekeeping cleaners perform general cleaning tasks, including making beds and vacuuming halls, in private homes and commercial establishments.


Maids and housekeeping cleaners typically do the following:

  • Clean rooms, hallways, and other living or work areas
  • Change sheets and towels; make beds; and wash, fold, and iron clothes
  • Empty wastebaskets and take trash to disposal areas
  • Replenish supplies, such as soap and toilet paper
  • Dust and polish furniture and equipment
  • Sweep, wax, or polish floors, using brooms, mops, and other floor-cleaning equipment
  • Vacuum rugs, carpets, and upholstered furniture
  • Clean and polish windows, walls, and woodwork
  • Lift and move lightweight objects and equipment

Maids and housekeeping cleaners do light cleaning tasks in homes and commercial establishments, such as hotels, restaurants, hospitals, and nursing facilities.

In addition to keeping places clean and neat, maids who work in private homes also may prepare meals, polish silver, and clean ovens, refrigerators, and sometimes windows. Some also shop for groceries, pick up and drop off drycleaning, and run other errands.

Those who work in hotels, hospitals, and other commercial establishments are responsible for cleaning and maintaining the premises. They also may share other duties. For example, housekeeping cleaners who work in hotels may deliver ironing boards, cribs, and roll-away beds to guests’ rooms. In hospitals, workers may have to wash bedframes and disinfect and sanitize other equipment with germicides.

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Work Environment

Maids and housekeeping cleaners held about 1.4 million jobs in 2012. About 12 percent were self-employed.

Although most cleaners work indoors in a hotel, restaurant, hospital, or nursing home, many maids who work for individuals or families may have to run errands outside the home. The work can be physically demanding.

The industries that employed the most maids and housekeeping cleaners in 2012 were as follows:

Traveler accommodation 30%
Nursing and residential care facilities 9
Hospitals; state, local, and private 8
Services to buildings and dwellings 7

Work Schedules

Most maids and housekeeping cleaners work full time. Part-time maids and cleaners—particularly those who work at hotels and hospitals—often work evenings and weekends.

Injuries and Illnesses

Maids and housekeeping cleaners spend most of their day on their feet, sometimes lifting or pushing heavy furniture. Many tasks, such as dusting or sweeping, require frequent bending, stooping, and stretching. Lifting mattresses to change the linens can cause back injuries and sprains. Because of these hazards, maids and housekeeping cleaners have a rate of injuries and illnesses that is much higher than the national average.

Education and Training

Most maids and housekeeping cleaners are trained on the job. No formal education is required.


Formal education is not required. Most maids and housekeeping cleaners are trained on the job.


Entry-level maids and housekeeping cleaners typically work alongside a more experienced cleaner and gain more responsibilities and more difficult work as they become experienced.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Because maids and housekeeping cleaners are responsible for cleaning rooms, they must pay close attention to detail. For example, household maids need to be thorough when polishing silver.

Interpersonal skills. Maids and housekeeping cleaners who work in private homes must get along well with the people they provide services for. Those who work in hotels, hospitals, office buildings, and other places also often come into contact with people whose spaces they are cleaning. They must be polite and friendly.

Physical stamina. Maids and housekeeping cleaners spend many hours on their feet, scrubbing, bending, and stretching. As a result, they should have good physical stamina.


The median annual wage for maids and housekeeping cleaners was $19,570 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,430, and the top 10 percent earned more than $30,980.

In May 2012, the median annual wages in the top four industries employing the largest numbers of maids and housekeeping cleaners were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private  $22,840
Nursing and residential care facilities 19,910
Administrative and support services  19,140
Accommodation and food services 19,010

Most maids and housekeeping cleaners work full time. Part-time maids and cleaners—particularly those who work at hotels and hospitals—often work evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook

Employment of maids and housekeeping cleaners is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Most new jobs are expected in health care, as this industry is expected to grow rapidly. In addition, many jobs will continue to be at hotels—the largest employing industry—as demand for accommodations increases.

Companies that supply cleaning services on a contract basis also will experience employment growth as more of this work is being contracted out.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities are expected to be good overall and more favorable for those who have related work experience. Many job openings will result from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation each year.

For More Information

For more information about certification for maids and housekeeping cleaners, visit:

Building Service Contractors Association International

IEHA (formerly International Executive Housekeepers Association)

For information about the home cleaning industry, visit

Association of Residential Cleaning Services International

For more information about cleaning and housekeeping, visit

The Housekeeping Channel

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook,

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