What Does a Full-Time Housekeeper Do?

Housekeepers have long been an integral part of British households, ensuring that homes are well-organised, clean and comfortable. Housekeepers no longer work exclusively on large estates - they are professionals who play a vital role in maintaining households at all levels, often juggling multiple responsibilities that extend beyond cleaning.

Whether you're considering hiring a full-time housekeeper or contemplating a career in housekeeping, understanding the role is essential. In the following guide, we explain the responsibilities and tasks that a full-time housekeeper typically undertakes.

Core housekeeper responsibilities

The duties that a housekeeper has to undertake can vary based on what their client wants and needs from them. This is typically agreed on during the recruitment process or early in the housekeeper’s employment, and will be outlined in their job description and employment agreement. However, housekeeper duties generally include:

Cleaning duties and maintenance

Daily tasks will usually include sweeping and mopping floors throughout the home, dusting furniture and fixtures, cleaning kitchen surfaces and appliances, emptying bins and disposing of waste. Bathrooms may also require daily attention, which will usually include cleaning toilets, sinks and showers.

On a weekly basis, a housekeeper may focus on vacuuming carpets and upholstery, washing windows and mirrors, and polishing wooden furniture and silverware. Deep-cleaning tasks for kitchen appliances like ovens and refrigerators are also typically done weekly.

Monthly chores may involve cleaning areas that are usually out of sight, such as behind and underneath furniture. Cupboards and storage areas may be cleared out and cleaned, air filters checked and replaced if applicable, and minor repairs like fixing loose door handles or changing light bulbs may be carried out.

Laundry and linen care

Laundry and caring for the house's bed linens, clothes and curtains is another significant area of responsibility. On a daily basis, the housekeeper will likely organise and wash clothes, folding and putting away laundry as needed. Weekly tasks can include ironing clothes and linens, changing bed linens, and rotating towels and other frequently used textiles. On a monthly basis, the housekeeper may manage seasonal wardrobes, storing away out-of-season clothing and deep-cleaning items like curtains, rugs and upholstery.

Meal preparation

Meal preparation goes beyond cooking; it's about managing the entire kitchen operation. A housekeeper may be responsible for preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner as required, along with washing dishes and maintaining kitchen cleanliness. Weekly responsibilities can involve planning a menu in consultation with the household and shopping for groceries based on this plan. The pantry and refrigerator should also be organised weekly. Monthly tasks might include reviewing and updating kitchen inventory, including ingredients, dry goods and perishables, as well as deep-cleaning kitchen appliances and storage areas.

Childcare and elderly care (if applicable)

In households where childcare or elderly care is required, the housekeeper's role can expand significantly. A nanny housekeeper is a specialised housekeeping professional with the skills required to care for children alongside their household duties.

A housekeeper may need to assist with morning routines, such as getting dressed and preparing for school or activities, along with basic monitoring and supervision. Weekly responsibilities could involve coordinating with other caregivers or tutors and planning and executing educational or recreational activities. Monthly tasks might include reviewing and updating care schedules and assisting in medical appointments or other important events.

Pet care (if applicable)

For households with pets, the housekeeper's responsibilities often extend to animal care. Daily tasks may include feeding the pets and ensuring they have fresh water, as well as walking dogs or providing other forms of exercise. Weekly grooming tasks might involve brushing or bathing the pets and cleaning their living areas, such as cages or beds. Monthly responsibilities could include scheduling and attending vet appointments and reviewing and replenishing pet supplies, such as food and medication.

By fully understanding the scope of these core responsibilities, both employers and housekeepers can set clear and realistic expectations, and ensure that the household runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Specialised tasks

In addition to these core responsibilities, a full-time housekeeper may also be entrusted with specialised tasks that go beyond the routine. These tasks often depend on the specific needs of the household and can add an extra layer of comfort and organisation to daily life.

Seasonal chores

As the seasons change, so do the requirements of a household. Spring cleaning is a typical example, where the housekeeper might undertake a thorough clean of the entire home, including areas that are not regularly addressed. This could involve washing walls, shampooing carpets or reorganising storage spaces. In autumn, tasks might include preparing the home for colder weather, such as by checking insulation, sealing drafts and organising winter clothing.

Holiday preparations

Holidays often come with their own sets of tasks, from putting up decorations to preparing special meals. A full-time housekeeper may be responsible for decorating the home for festivities like Christmas, Easter or other celebrations observed by the household. This could also extend to planning and preparing special holiday meals, coordinating with caterers or assisting in hosting holiday events.

Event planning and hosting assistance

If the household frequently hosts events, the housekeeper may play a role in planning and execution. This could involve coordinating with vendors, setting up the event space and managing the clean-up afterwards. For smaller events, the housekeeper might be responsible for setting the table, serving food and drinks and ensuring that guests are taken care of.

Running errands

While not a daily requirement, running errands can sometimes fall under the purview of a full-time housekeeper. This could range from picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy to posting parcels or even doing the school run. These tasks are often dependent on the specific needs of the household and may require a level of trust and responsibility beyond the usual cleaning and maintenance tasks.

Personal organisation

In some households, a full-time housekeeper may also assist with personal organisation tasks. This could involve anything from managing household accounts and budgets to scheduling appointments and reminders. Some housekeepers even assist with travel planning, including packing and preparing the home for the family's absence.

By taking on these specialised tasks, a full-time housekeeper can provide invaluable support to a household, going beyond cleaning and maintenance to contribute to a more organised and harmonious living environment.

Skills and qualities of a full-time housekeeper

A successful full-time housekeeper possesses a range of skills and qualities, including:

  • Professionalism and discretion: housekeepers often have access to private areas of the home and personal information, and must take care not to intrude.
  • Attention to detail: whether it's spotting a cobweb in a corner or noticing a missing button on a shirt, attention to detail is crucial.
  • Time management and multitasking: with a variety of tasks to complete, effective time management is essential.
  • Communication skills: clear communication with employers ensures that tasks are completed to satisfaction and any issues are promptly addressed.

Legal and ethical considerations

When employing a full-time housekeeper, it's important to consider legal and ethical aspects such as employment contracts, workers' rights, and health and safety regulations. Employers should also think about insurance and liability to protect both parties.

Employment contracts

In the UK, it's strongly recommended to have a formal, written employment contract between the employer and the housekeeper. This contract should outline the terms and conditions of employment, including working hours, pay rate and the scope of responsibilities. It should also comply with UK employment laws, ensuring that the housekeeper receives at least the national minimum wage, paid holidays,and other statutory benefits like sick pay and pension contributions. 

If you don’t have an employment contract in place and any issues arise, it will be difficult for you to take legal steps to resolve them, and you may even be held liable.

Working hours

The Working Time Regulations 1998 set the legal framework for working hours in the UK. For a full-time housekeeper, this generally means a limit of 48 hours of work per week, unless both parties agree to opt out of this limit in writing. Rest breaks and periods are also mandated by law.

Health and safety

Employers are obligated to ensure a safe working environment under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This could involve risk assessments for tasks that involve lifting heavy objects, using potentially harmful cleaning chemicals, or operating machinery like vacuum cleaners or lawnmowers. Any necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) should be provided by the employer, such as gloves for gardening.


Employers are generally required to have Employers' Liability Insurance to cover any accidents or injuries that may occur in the workplace. This is particularly important when employing housekeepers, where physical tasks are common.

Right to work

Before employing a housekeeper, you must check that they have the legal right to work in the UK. This involves verifying identification documents and, if necessary, checking immigration status. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties, including fines and potential imprisonment.

Ethical Considerations

Beyond legal obligations, ethical considerations should also be taken into account. This includes treating the housekeeper with respect and dignity, providing fair working conditions and ensuring you respect their need for a work-life balance. Discrimination based on age, gender, ethnicity, religion or any other protected characteristic is illegal under the Equality Act 2010 and should be actively avoided.

By upholding your legal and ethical responsibilities, you can also maintain a positive relationship with your housekeeper. 

Nannies Matter can help

A full-time housekeeper can play a multifaceted role in maintaining a household, from duties like cleaning and maintenance to specialised tasks like event planning. Their skills and responsibilities are diverse, and they bring immense value to a household by saving time and reducing stress. Understanding the full scope of what a full-time housekeeper does can help set clear expectations and foster a successful working relationship.

At Nannies Matter, we help to pair our clients with professional housekeepers, taking into account the needs and requirements of both sides. We can help you to navigate the employment process and understand your obligations, as well as what you should be expecting from your service or employment.

For more information on housekeepers, 0800 121 4881 or fill out our online contact form and we'll be in touch at a time that’s suitable for you.

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