house-cleaning agent or cleaner

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
Can I use 'Why don't you ask a house-cleaning agent to come?' in the following context?
Or do you think I should use 'a cleaner' instead of 'a house-cleaning agent' ?

  A: My bedroom was made filthy by my pet yesterday. So, I couldn' t sleep in the room.
    What do you think I should do?
  B: Why don't you ask a house-cleaning agent to come? The room will be cleaned.

Thanks in advance.
  • Inglip

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I would certinly know what a 'house cleaning agent' was, although I have never come across that. And I have had my fair share of maids and cleaners in my house.

    I have only every heard them called 'cleaners' or 'maids.' Or house cleaner or house maid. Never house cleaning agent.


    Senior Member
    A house-cleaning agent is a product ie. Chlorox used to clean a house. A house-cleaning agency is a business which you call to send you a maid.

    In this case, I would say house cleaner or maid. If I was specifically suggesting the person call an agency since he didn't have a good contact, I would say, "Why don't you call an agency and have them send you a maid?"

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would say why don't you get a cleaning agency in, since this is a one -off job. Clearly an agency that specialises in cleaning business or industrial premises is not going to clean one room in a house. If you need to be specific it could be called a domestic cleaning agency. In the UK we do not refer to cleaners as maids although some domestic cleaning agencies have pretentious names such as MaidService.

    My weekly cleaner is in no sense my 'maid'.



    Senior Member
    In the U.S. we do use maid routinely to mean housecleaner. Perhaps because in the U.S. we have no tradition of real uniformed servants so the word has been co-opted.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    There are two AE/BE issues here:

    It is common in the UK to use "cleaner" where we use "janitor" or "custodian." In hotels, "housekeeper" has virtually replaced "maid." (In a movement away from terms that some might consider demeaning. Some people in private homes employ "housekeepers" occasionally. I'm rather surpsied, no, make that "gobsmacked" to hear that anyone would call a housekeeper a "maid" in the U.S. these days.

    "Agent" seems to be used more in the UK than in the U.S. In the U.K., for example, you find "newsagents" rather than "newsstands."

    Thus, Honki, the answers you receive will reflect an AE/BE difference, which can be confusing, but there you are.

    As to what you should do ... I suggest keeping your pet somewhere other than your bedroom. :D


    Senior Member
    In the U.K. the company you call to get a house cleaner is an agency right, not an agent? In the U.S. it is absolutely an agency and "cleaning agent" is a fancy technical term for a product used in cleaning.

    Sorry to gobsmack you but yes, many of us are so politically incorrect in the U.S. as to call our housecleaners maids. This term is partially encouraged by many companies with names such as "Merry Maids" and "Maid for a Day." The term maid is also widely used in hotels, as many of you may have noticed if you read the news stories about DSK's adventure at the Sofitel.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I think that in addition to AE/BE differences, there are probably local differences as well.
    Here, a person who comes regularly (e.g., once a week, or every two weeks) to clean one's house (or apartment) is a housekeeper (and is usually not an employee). If we want a crew to come in to deal with an especially nasty or long-term mess, we call a cleaning service.
    < Previous | Next >