Nannies and Au Pairs and Housekeeping

How Much Cleaning is a Nanny’s Responsibility?

There is hardly a more controversial topic for nannies than how many housekeeping duties are their responsibility. Professional nannies pride themselves in being responsible for the care of children and often resent also being asked to clean the home they work in.

Undoubtedly, much of the day caring for children includes cleaning-up after children, especially in the kitchen after meals, in their bedrooms, bathrooms, and play areas. But, most childcare providers prefer working in homes where the employers hire separate housekeepers to do the family’s heavy cleaning. Some daily housework is involved in the care of the children and should be expected of nannies and au pairs.

In our monthly poll at 778 in-home childcare providers took our survey about housekeeping.

Of the caregivers that took this poll only 9% are both the full-time childcare provider and the full-time housekeeper employed by a family.

The majority of nannies are responsible for light housekeeping as summarized here.

Of the caregivers that took this poll:

  • 770 (99%) clean or wipe counters and tables after meals and crafts with the children
  • 646 (83%) wash, fold, and put away the children’s laundry
  • 645 (83%) put away and organize toys and craft supplies in the children’s play areas
  • 576 (74%) load and unload the dishwasher
  • 552 (71%) sweep, vacuum, wipe-up, mop children’s and nanny messes if necessary
  • 529 (68%) wipe-up messes and pick-up the children’s bathroom towels
  • 498 (64%) change the sheets and bedding of the children
  • 459 (59%) clean and sterilize baby pacifiers, bottles, and toys as needed
  • 451 (58%) clean and sanitize toys as needed
  • 436 (56%) empty the kitchen trash and diaper pails
  • 420 (54%) make the children’s beds
  • 389 (50%) rotate the children’s seasonal clothing
  • 350 (45%) inventory food, grocery shop, and put groceries away
  • 226 (29%) keep the nanny car clean
  • 156 (20%) wash, fold, and put away the entire family’s laundry including the parents
  • 156 (20%) empty household trash
  • 148 (19%) keep their nanny bedroom clean
  • 140 (18%) iron the children’s laundry
  • 132 (17%) cook dinner for the entire family
  • 117 (15%) sweep, vacuum, and mop the entire house as needed
  • 93 (12%) change sheets and bedding of the entire family including the parents
  • 93 (12%) dust
  • 77 (10%) clean bathrooms
  • 70 (9%) are the only housekeeper employed by the family
  • 62 (8%) make the entire family’s beds
  • 62 (8%) iron entire family’s laundry including the parents

Other tasks listed included: feeding pets, make travel arrangements, and overseeing workmen.

Share your advice for nannies and au pairs about housekeeping by clicking “comments” below.


  1. I work and live in England and our philosophy is to help the mother and child in anyway possible. Granted the parents typically should do their own laundry while I wash the children’s laundry if a mother has a newborn I would always help out in any way I can including doing the mother’s laundry. It is the parents that are paying you so help them out in any way you can.

  2. As a nanny I clean all of the time. I am exhausted at the end of the day too. After being used to working along with a housekeeper who does the heavy cleaning it would be a real problem if the family were to put that work on me because they need to economize. I would look for a new job.Maria Staten Island

  3. The chances of me cleaning for the healthy, capable, adult parents is not likely. More money or not. I am constantly cleaning up after the kids. I do laundry hours every week, so much picking up after the kids and I am miserable doing that work, so adding chores a housekeeper or parent used to do is not going to work for me. Nannies are childcare providers and should not be expected to be dusting or cleaning toilets

  4. I am shocked that so many nannies feel as if they are “above” housekeeping. We are in a service industry. We get dirty, we service the family. If you do not want to get your hands dirty than you are in the wrong profession. It is a shame that society on the whole forgets the other care we provide beyond cleaning and grunt work, but that is partly due to the fact that we do a lot of cleaning and house work. It is part of the job. You are working for the parents and anything you can do to assist the parents in making their days easier you should do it. Although I do agree that child care is most important and the number one priority. Parents should understand that caring for sick child means the laundry might not get done one week. After child care I am happy to assist the parents when and however I can.Melissa, Silver Spring, MD

  5. I am shocked by the number of child related duties that some nannies don’t do: changing their bed linens, rotating their seasonal clothes. checking for outgrown toys and clothes, ect. I personally feel if the task if child-related I as the nanny and go ahead and take care of it, unless the parents would rather do it themselves.

  6. I agree with Michelle above. What’s the big deal? Aren’t we there to help?Sandra, Naperville, IL

  7. I just don’t get how a family can leave dishes from their weekend and expect their nanny to do them for them. It’s rude. I’m not even saying just one glass but they are too lazy to unload Fridays dishwasher and just let the dishes pile up for me (the nanny) to deal with on Monday morning.The toys not put away, messy bathroom, all of the things I’m responsible to get the kids to do with me during the week suddenly disappear on the weekends?It is just rude to not wash your own dishes and care for your own belongings. Just one hour before bed Sunday night the parents could wash up their dishes, clean up the playroom, and any evidence of the weekend to welcome me to my week. Instead I feel overwhelmed and upset when parents do this to me each Monday.

  8. I don’t know, maybe I am an unusual nanny or something, but it has never occurred to me or the parents (I think!) that I should do any housekeeping. I am there to take care of the kids. Of course that includes putting dishes away, wiping counters and tables after usage and that sort of cleaning, but it would never dawn on me to go clean a toilet.The one time I washed sheets was when I was sitting on the kid’s bed and detected quite some oder…you probably know it! But that was just an exception, but in a way an example of how it works where I work: if something needs to be done right away, like wiping up a spill or cleaning up after the dog after he had an indoor-accident (yey, so much fun…), I of course do it, but if it can just as well be done later (like vacuuming, and all the regular housekeeping chores), I don’t.I probably need to mention that the kids are 6 and 8 yrs old, so there is a lot less laundry than with a bunch of small kids. With older kids, not only don’t they get as dirty, they do a lot themselves (put their own dishes in the dishwasher, clean up their own rooms, etc.). So I guess depending what age the kids are might be an important factor in determining the amount of housekeeping that needs to be done by a nanny.I guess there are different kinds of expectations of all kinds of parents and nannies, as long as the respective parties are on the same page, I suppose that’s more than alright. But I sure am glad I don’t have to worry about cleaning a house, and can care for the kids instead.

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