Coming Clean in the Gender Wars: Can a Housekeeper Save Your Relationship?

April 14, 2016

Few things generate as much heat and resentment between men and women as housework. One partner may be committed to the keeping the house beautiful, and spend as much of their spare time working on this, while the other may have much lower standards, and is willing to lie on the couch, oblivious as dust buffaloes stampede across the floor.

Is the Cleaning Gender Gap Real?

Research shows that the one with the more relaxed attitude is more likely to be male. While women have increasingly come to share duties as bread winners, men have not reciprocated to the same degree in participating in housekeeping chores. In some cases, women earning much more than their partners still find themselves doing almost all of the housework because they have come to the weary conclusion that it’s easier to handle it themselves than lighting a fire under their better half.

Whether it is the man or woman who takes the lead cleaning, stats show that 46% of couples who live together will argue about housework. More than 50% of them will complain that not cleaning enough is one of their partner’s biggest shortcomings.

Men Are Different

That said, more men are getting with the cleaning program and trying to do their share. Rather than embracing old gender stereotypes, they are more likely to be infected with “male blindness,” not seeing the fingermarks on the wall as readily as their partners, or not thinking about emptying the garbage can until it is overflowing.

Recognizing the gender difference, author Tom McNulty wrote Clean Like a Man, with the rationale: “Most men have a problem with cleaning the house. They don’t know how to do it, and they don’t particularly want to learn. The results are usually a messy house, a bitter spouse – or both.”

McNulty does his best to make cleaning easy for men, with advice such as following “gravity in cleaning” (working from the top down), cleaning as they go, setting time limits on tasks, and even scheduling a party to provide incentive to make things look good.

Housekeepers: The Clean Solution

While some men no doubt need to up their cleaning game, couples can also find peace by hiring a professional housekeeper to do the work. To decide whether this is a good solution for them, those in a messy relationship need to put aside guilt and anger, and really examine the potential benefits.

For example, if both partners are working in demanding jobs, do they really want to spend precious time on weekends doing house cleaning? By taking this common stress out of their lives, they can spend more time relaxing with each other, strengthening rather than straining the relationship.

A hired housekeeper will also appeal to couples who are frazzled taking care of young children, or elderly parents, or who entertain a lot and need help getting things ready, or who recognize their limitations and can see that a cleaning professional will do a much more thorough job than they ever could.


The clincher is the cost. Many people are surprised to see that cleaning help is more affordable than they imagined. However, if they want to crunch the numbers, they can go to a calculator, such as this one at LearnVest, to figure how much their time is worth per hour and then compare this to the cost of hiring a cleaner. Usually, the disparity is enough to make a compelling case.

And many couples will conclude that finding new peace in their relationship is worth any price.

What do you think? Can hiring a housekeeper actually help close the cleaning gender gap?