What is Housekeeping?

Housekeeping is the management of a home or commercial institution. It involves cleaning and laundry but can also include grocery shopping, food preparation, and paying bills.

What is Housekeeping?

The two most common forms of housekeeping are domestic and institutional. Family members often perform the chores in domestic housekeeping, although some hire a cleaning service, maid, or housekeeper. In institutional housekeeping, employees keep the business up to cleanliness standards.

Types of Housekeeping

There are three types of housekeeping: domestic, institutional, and industrial. 

Domestic Housekeeping

Domestic housekeeping, also referred to as homemaking, includes cleaning the living room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, and other areas of the home. It also involves laundry, grocery shopping, organizing, and food preparation.

Even though anyone can perform domestic housekeeping duties, the responsibilities are more often left to women, according to a 2019 Gallup Research study.

Institutional Housekeeping

Institutional housekeeping refers to cleaning processes for establishments that offer lodging, such as hotels, resorts, cruise ships, inns, prisons, hospitals, and dormitories.  

Institutional housekeepers tidy an area, sweep, mop, wipe down surfaces, and do laundry. Depending on the establishment, these housekeepers may also be responsible for disinfecting and keeping the business up to health and safety standards.

Hospital housekeeping requires more stringent cleaning and disinfecting practices than other businesses. Hospital housekeepers must sanitize every part of a room to avoid cross-contamination among patients.

The difference between domestic and industrial housekeeping is that domestic refers to a home, and industrial refers to a business or government institution that houses guests, patients, or inmates.

Industrial Housekeeping

Industrial housekeeping, also known as workplace housekeeping, is the general practice of keeping workplaces clean and tidy. Workplace housekeeping refers to any business that doesn’t offer lodging. Typical duties include taking out the trash, wiping hard surfaces, washing the windows, and vacuuming.

Types of Housekeeping Services

Businesses that require institutional housekeeping most often hire employees to perform these duties. Sometimes outside help is hired. 

Anyone can pay for the following types of housekeeping services to better stay on top of chores:

  • Maid – Maids provide cleaning services. They can live in your home or only visit a few times per month, depending on your needs.
  • Housekeeper – Housekeepers perform more in-depth services than maids. They offer deep cleaning and do tasks such as grocery shopping or running errands. Housekeepers can live in your home full-time or offer help as little as once per month.
  • Cleaning Company – Cleaning companies offer a defined set of services you can schedule as needed. 

Most Common Housekeeping Duties


The most basic level of housekeeping is straightening or tidying a room. Straightening a room includes putting items back where they belong, throwing away trash, and keeping up with organization.


After straightening up a room, comes cleaning. Cleaning involves making a space dust-free and sanitary. For domestic housekeeping, there are some basic cleaning tasks you need to perform every week. These include:

Dusting or wiping down surfaces – Cleaning starts with dusting surfaces, moving from top to bottom. Depending on the surface type, housekeepers can use a feather duster, all-purpose cleaning spray, or disinfecting spray.

Sweeping or vacuuming – Carpets get swept with a vacuum. You can clean hard surfaces such as wood floors, laminate, vinyl, and tile with a broom and dustpan or hard floor-safe vacuum.

Mopping – After sweeping, hard floors can be mopped using water and a floor-appropriate cleaning solution.

Cleaning toilets – To keep toilets clean and reduce germs, clean them at least once per week. To clean a toilet, squirt toilet bowl cleaner under the rim, allow it to sit for a few minutes and then scrub with a toilet bowl brush.

Cleaning the bathtub and shower – Clean or disinfect the shower surround and bathtub based on its material. 

Cleaning sinks – Kitchen sinks harbor more germs than any other area of the home. Disinfect the kitchen and bathroom sinks once per week with a disinfecting spray.

Cleaning windows – Keep window glass clear by wiping it with a glass cleaner once per week.

In addition to weekly tasks, domestic housekeepers are responsible for as-needed deep cleaning chores such as cleaning the dishwasher and microwave, eliminating small amounts of mold, and cleaning bedding and mattresses.

The same cleaning chores relate to institutional housekeeping but, depending on the business model, are performed more often.


Laundry is an essential chore for domestic and institutional housekeeping. It includes washing clothes, shoes, stuffed animals, bedding, and pillows. 

Sometimes, you can’t perform laundry on-site, and the housekeeper must take it to the dry cleaners.


Housekeeping can organizing. Organizing is going through belongings, getting rid of items no longer needed, and arranging what’s left over. Proper organization ensures items are easy to find and easy to put away.

Keeping Up on Housekeeping Duties

The main purpose of housekeeping is to keep a home or business clean and efficient.

Institutional organizations require housekeeping staff to perform daily cleaning tasks. To stay on top of domestic housekeeping, consider using a weekly or monthly cleaning checklist.