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Question: After a recent job change, I’m making enough money that I can afford a house cleaning service once a week. In four weeks, I’ve had four different people come in. Should I be tipping my house cleaner?

— Spotless in Sunnyside

Dear Spotless,
Yes. New Yorkers tip for everything.* Tipping keeps the city operating on all levels — from Wall Street’s megamillion bonuses to the jar on the corner coffee cart.
Since you are using a commercial cleaning service, what you pay is being split between the company and the housekeeper. And you probably have figured out who’s getting the better end of that deal. So don’t be stingy. If the service is charging you $100 a week, you should be giving the housekeeper an additional $20 — more if you ask for something extra or if he or she does something out of the ordinary.

If you hire an individual instead of a service, you won’t be expected to tip weekly, but you should give a week or two of wages as a year-end bonus, along with at least a couple of weeks of paid vacation. And remember to pay extra when you ask your housekeeper to do extra work such as spring closet cleaning or rearranging the kitchen cabinets.

While we’re on the subject, make sure you legally hire your housekeeper and pay all of the appropriate taxes. A commercial cleaning service should be doing this, but if you hire an individual, you are responsible. There are plenty of private companies that will charge a modest fee to operate a domestic payroll account and handle all of the forms and filings. Yes, it can be a hassle, but it’s only fair, especially since your housekeeper might only have Social Security and Medicare in retirement.

*That’s an exaggeration. New Yorkers don’t tip cashiers or salespeople. And we don’t tip bus drivers. But now that I think about it, if the driver’s a regular on your route, a card and $20 during the holidays would be a nice touch. Think about it the next time the bus is pulling away just as you run up to the stop. Couldn’t hurt.

David Crook is a veteran journalist and author of The Complete Wall Street Journal Real-Estate Investing and Homeowner’s Guidebooks. Do you have a question about anything real estate-related in NYC? Write him at For verification purposes, please include your name and a phone number; neither will be published. Note: Nothing in this column should be considered professional legal advice. If you have a legal issue, consult an attorney.