Domestic housekeeper

A domestic housekeeper


Domestic housekeepers are responsible for all the household activities in a private house. They oversee and execute duties according to the needs of the employer such as cooking, cleaning and washing activities, taking care of children and gardening. They order supplies and are in charge of expenditures allocated. Domestic housekeepers may supervise and instruct household staff in large households.

The duties of a domestic housekeeper include, but are not limited to:

  • Cleaning bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, stairways, and other household areas
  • Organizing and maintaining inventory of cleaning supplies
  • Communicating with clients about scheduling changes or problems with existing arrangements
  • Maintaining inventory of household supplies and equipment such as toilet paper, soap, light bulbs, etc.
  • Tending to pets or performing other household maintenance tasks that do not require extensive training or expertise
  • Polishing silverware, dishes, and other items that need to be cleaned but cannot be washed in a dishwasher
  • Cleaning and sanitizing furniture and other items that cannot be moved from their location
  • Dusting shelves, blinds, baseboards, ceilings, windowsills, and other surfaces in the home
  • Cleaning floors and carpets using steam or shampoo machines. May also clean walls, ceiling fans, or other hard to reach places on request

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to domestic housekeeper:

house caretaker couple
private housekeeping director
live in housekeeper
live in housekeeping couple
domestic couple

Working conditions

Domestic housekeepers work in the homes of their employers, performing a variety of domestic tasks. These tasks may include cooking, cleaning, laundry, and ironing. In some cases, they may also be responsible for grocery shopping, paying bills, and running errands for their employers.

Domestic housekeepers typically work long hours, often starting early in the morning and working into the evening. They may also be required to work on weekends and holidays. Because they work in their employers’ homes, they must be trustworthy and discreet. They must also be able to work independently and be self-motivated.

Minimum qualifications

There are no specific educational requirements for domestic housekeepers. Some employers prefer people who have a high school education. Experience and skill in caring for a home are generally more important than formal education. Domestic housekeepers should know how to use such appliances as clothes washers, should be familiar with household cleaning products, and should know the basics of good nutrition.

Prospective domestic housekeepers can improve their skills in cooking, child care, and house cleaning by working as a helper to an experienced housekeeper. High school courses in family and consumer science may be helpful. Some community service organizations, social service agencies, vocational schools, and community colleges offer courses in food service, child development, and consumer studies.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Domestic housekeeper is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Domestic housekeeper career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to domestic housekeeper.

domestic butler
au pair

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of domestic housekeeper. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of domestic housekeeper with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

private chef
legal guardian
pastry chef
rooms division manager

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of domestic housekeeper.

  • Cleaning techniques: Various techniques and tools used to clean different types of surfaces to achieve a certain degree of cleanliness such as sweeping, vacuuming, degreasing and wet cleaning.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of domestic housekeeper.

  • Maintain inventory of cleaning supplies: Follow the stock of cleaning materials, order new material when the stock is empty and closely follow their usage to maintain a constant supply.
  • Supervise housekeeping operations: Oversee the day-to-day service and cleaning of rooms and public areas to ensure continuous operations.
  • Wash the laundry: Wash or clean clothes by hand or by use of a washing machine.
  • Maintain personal hygiene standards: Preserve impeccable personal hygiene standards and have a tidy appearance.
  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Order supplies: Command products from relevant suppliers to get convenient and profitable products to purchase.
  • Perform dusting activities: Remove dust from furniture, blinds and windowsills using specialised dust cloths or hand-cleaning items.
  • Handle chemical cleaning agents: Ensure proper handling, storage and disposal of cleaning chemicals in accordance with regulations.
  • Iron textiles: Press and iron in order to shape or flatten textiles giving them their final finishing appearance. Iron by hand or with steam pressers.
  • Vacuum surfaces: Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and small particles from floors, drapes, carpets or furniture.
  • Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
  • Clean surfaces: Disinfect surfaces in accordance with sanitary standards.
  • Buy groceries: Purchase ingredients, products and tools that are necessary for daily housekeeping activities.
  • Maintain cleaning equipment: Clean and preserve the equipment and material used for cleaning purposes in a proper state.
  • Clean rooms: Clean rooms by cleaning glasswork and windows, polishing furniture, vacuuming carpets, scrubbing hard floors, and removing garbage.
  • Satisfy customers: Communicate with customers and make them feel satisfied.
  • Monitor kitchen supplies: Oversee stock levels for supplies used in the kitchen. Report to the appropriate person.
  • Prioritise tasks: Organise tasks according to their priority.
  • Store kitchen supplies: Keep delivered kitchen supplies for future use safely and hygienically according to guidelines.
  • Make the beds: Clean sheets, turn mattresses, plump pillows and change cushions.
  • Control of expenses: Monitoring and maintaining effective cost controls, in regards to efficiencies, waste, overtime and staffing. Assessing excesses and strives for efficiency and productivity.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of domestic housekeeper. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Dietary regimes: The field of food habits and dietary regimes, including those inspired by religious beliefs.
  • Lawn care: Procedures, equipment and products used to maintain the cleanliness of lawns and other grass surfaces in parks or residences.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of domestic housekeeper. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Teach housekeeping skills: Teach housekeeping as well as manual skills aiming to improve everyday tasks and life circumstances.
  • Assist children with homework: Help children with school tasks. Assist the child with the interpretation of the assignment and the solutions. Make sure the child studies for tests and exams.
  • Give instructions to staff: Give instructions to subordinates by employing various communication techniques. Adjust communication style to the target audience in order to convey instructions as intended.
  • Feed pets: Make sure that pets are given appropriate food and water on time.
  • Tend to elderly people: Help elderly people in their physical, mental, and social needs.
  • Greet guests: Welcome guests in a friendly manner in a certain place.
  • Clean household linens: Wash linens such as sheets, towels and table cloths with water and soap or detergent. Clean linens by hand or by the use of a washing machine.
  • Organise wine cellar: Systematise the wine cellar to ensure an appropriate amount and variation of wine and carry-out efficient and effective stock rotation.
  • Manage staff: Manage employees and subordinates, working in a team or individually, to maximise their performance and contribution. Schedule their work and activities, give instructions, motivate and direct the workers to meet the company objectives. Monitor and measure how an employee undertakes their responsibilities and how well these activities are executed. Identify areas for improvement and make suggestions to achieve this. Lead a group of people to help them achieve goals and maintain an effective working relationship among staff.
  • Control minor maintenance: Follow up on the maintenance and repairs to be carried out. Solve minor problems and pass harder problems on to the person responsible for maintenance.
  • Collect mail: Empty the letter box on a regular basis, organising it on importance and deal with urgent mail.
  • Serve food in table service: Provide food at the table whilst maintaining high level of customer service and food safety standards.
  • Use food preparation techniques: Apply food preparation techniques including the selecting, washing, cooling, peeling, marinating, preparing of dressings and cutting of ingredients.
  • Follow written instructions: Follow written directions in order to perform a task or carry out a step-by-step procedure.
  • Dispose waste: Dispose waste in accordance with legislation, thereby respecting environmental and company responsibilities.
  • Oversee maintenance work: Oversee the landscaping maintenance work: mowing, strimming, spraying, weeding and pruning.
  • Handle linen in stock: Manage laundered items and store them in safe and hygienic conditions.
  • Promote human rights: Promote and respect human rights and diversity in light of the physical, psychological, spiritual and social needs of autonomous individuals, taking into account their opinions, beliefs and values, and the international and national codes of ethics, as well as the ethical implications of healthcare provision, ensuring their right to privacy and honouring for the confidentiality of healthcare information.
  • Provide dog walking services: Provide dog-walking services, including activities such as agreement of services with the customer, selection and use of handling equipment, interaction with the dog, and safe and responsible dog walking.
  • Disseminate messages to people: Receive, process, and pass messages to people coming from phone calls, faxes, postal, and emails.
  • Support children’s wellbeing: Provide an environment that supports and values children and helps them to manage their own feelings and relationships with others.
  • Manage cleaning activities: Oversee cleaning activities undertaken by employees.
  • Arrange special events: Organise the necessary preparations for catering at special events such as conferences, large parties or banquets.
  • Communicate with youth: Use verbal and non-verbal communication and communicate through writing, electronic means, or drawing. Adapt your communication to children and young people`s age, needs, characteristics, abilities, preferences, and culture.
  • Assist clients with special needs: Aid clients with special needs following relevant guidelines and special standards. Recognise their needs and accurately respond to them if needed.
  • Maintain gardening equipment: Perform daily maintenance on tools and equipment and report major faults to a superior.
  • Attend to children’s basic physical needs: Tend to children by feeding them, dressing them, and, if necessary, regularly changing their diapers in a sanitary manner.
  • Serve beverages: Provide a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages such as soft drinks, mineral waters, wine and bottled beer over a counter or using a tray.
  • Wash the dishes: Wash plates, glasses, silverware and cooking gear used for a meal, by hand or by use of a dish washer. Put everything back in its place afterwards.
  • Polish silverware: Rub the surface of silver or silver coated dishes, containers and cutlery to make it smooth and shiny.
  • Clean glass surfaces: Use cleaning products to clean any surface covered by glass, especially windows.
  • Perform cleaning activities in an outdoor environment: Adapt the cleaning working methods and procedures to the environmental conditions and adapt to weather conditions such as rain, strong wind or snow, when this affects the performance of the equipment or machinery that is being used.
  • Use cooking techniques: Apply cooking techniques including grilling, frying, boiling, braising, poaching, baking or roasting.
  • Supervise children: Keep the children under supervision for a certain period of time, ensuring their safety at all times.

ISCO group and title

5152 – Domestic housekeepers

  1. Domestic housekeeper – ESCO
  2. Domestic Housekeeper Job Description –
  3. Private Housekeeper Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  4. Featured image: Photo by Ketut Subiyanto
Last updated on November 10, 2022

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