Housekeeper vs. Maid: What’s the Difference, and why CottageCare says “Maids? No Way!” | CottageCare

No matter what you call them, house cleaners have been an important profession in modern society for centuries. Ever since homeowners started leaving the home to earn a wage, they’ve been exchanging some of those earnings to pay for home cleaning services. But over time, the name for those services and service workers has changed. What should you call your housekeeper? CottageCare is here to help you answer that question and more!

Is Maid a Derogatory Term?

The word “maid” is considered derogatory in modern usage and should be phased out of our vocabularies. To some, the word “maid” may feel like a perfectly acceptable way to describe a house cleaner, but it’s loaded with all kinds of historical and cultural baggage. Let’s take a look at why that is.


The title “maid” comes from a very different time when class structures were more rigidly and clearly defined. Women working as maids tended to be ranked lower in the socioeconomic hierarchy than the homeowners they were working for. 

In the 21st century, anyone who’s motivated, hard-working, and pays attention to details can work as a home cleaner; and if you want to work for us at CottageCare, you’ll get to be part of an awesome team of friendly house cleaners!


When you hear the word “maid”, you almost certainly think of a woman, maybe even in an old-school cleaner outfit. But being a house cleaner is not a gendered profession! Since we wouldn’t call a male member of the CottageCare staff a maid, we don’t use the word at all.


The etymology of the word “maid” is a shortening of the English word “maiden”, which was originally used to describe “a virgin; a young, unmarried woman.” While words do change in meaning over time, this definition is still listed as the first definition in Merriam-Webster. As we discussed above, house cleaning has nothing to do with gender in the modern age, and it certainly isn’t associated with a person’s marital status! 

All those reasons and more are why CottageCare says “Maids? No Way!”.

Maid vs. Housekeeper vs. Domestic Worker: What’s the difference?

While we don’t use the term “maid” anymore, we still wanted to clearly define some of the terms used in our industry to help people better understand their meanings.

What is a maid?

Aside from our conclusion that “maid” is a demeaning and outdated term that we should stop using, the word itself refers to a female domestic servant. Maids’ duties usually consist of cleaning and other forms of housekeeping. 

What is a housekeeper?

A housekeeper or house cleaner refers to anyone who is employed in the work of cleaning homes and apartments. We refer to our team members at CottageCare as professional house cleaners.

What is a domestic worker?

“Domestic worker” is a term that more broadly describes someone who gets paid to do work in someone else’s home, not just cleaning. This can include child care, laundry, cooking, and cleaning.

Housekeeper vs. maid

The main difference between maids and housekeepers is the terminology: “maid” is a gendered and outdated term for a housekeeper. Many house cleaning companies unfortunately still refer to their employees as maids, but not us!

What do house cleaners do?

You might have guessed from the name: house cleaners provide cleaning services to homes, apartments, and other residences! While we can’t speak to the detail and quality of our competitors, CottageCare tackles 165 tasks on average during an individual home cleaning. From kitchen countertops to window blinds and toilet sanitization to closet vacuuming, our house cleaners get to every nook and cranny that someone else might miss.

If you’re ready to see the difference that hiring CottageCare house cleaners (not “maids!”) makes, fill out our free quote form online to get started. With over 40 locations in North America, we’re all but guaranteed to have an office available to send our friendly and professional house cleaners to clean your home.