Should I Tip The Housekeeper?

It’s a big holiday week in the United States with many of you off to some vacation destination to spend time in sun and fun or skiing away from dawn until dusk.  Even though you may have tipped everyone from the mailman to the sanitation workers this holiday season, it’s not uncommon for you to see a pesky little tip envelope in your hotel room from your trusty housekeeper during your vacation stay.    One question I get from lots of people taking a vacation is whether or not it is expected to tip the housekeeper at a hotel.    Ever since I saw the 20/20 episode with John Stossel where they went into hotel rooms using a black light to show the nastiness left behind for us, I’ve wondered whether a tip would give me an edge in having a room that gets cleaned better than the other ones.

According the site RetailMeNot, among those who tip, 44% leave at least $5 while 33% tend just to leave a dollar or two.   It seems that most of us are pretty miserable when it comes to leaving this type of tip.   Nearly 50% of all Americans don’t leave a tip for the hotel housekeeper.   I guess we are mad enough about the high prices we pay also with all of the service/gratuity taxes, so we just figure that the tip is probably included in high-priced hotel bills.  You better make sure you bring a little Purell for that remote control as that part of a hotel room is considered to most germ laden item in the room.

Let’s put some perspective into the whole vacation and hotel experience.  The lion’s share of vacationers are pretty quick to tip the bellman or the person who carts our bags up to our rooms.   Admittedly, we are usually in pretty good mood at the start of a vacation, thus tipping the person who basically pressed the elevator button and seems like a pretty good idea.   In my opinion, we are quick to give the bellman $5 just to get them out of the room so we can begin playing with the remote control and check out our new surroundings.   However, it is the housekeeper that can really make your stay great by keeping your room lickety split clean when you come back from your days events.

Unfortunately, the thought of tipping the housekeeper typically occurs to us at the end of our vacation.   At this point, we’ve spent a ton of money and it can cloud our decision about whether tipping the housekeeper is a good idea.    If you are staying in the same location for a week, I recommend you leave a tip of $15 to $20 if the job is well done.   Typically a hotel housekeeper will do somewhere between 14 to 16 rooms a day of cleaning the bathrooms, the sheets, and whatever other mess you have left in the hotel room.    If you gave the initial doorman a fiver, than certainly a few bucks a day makes sense for the housekeeper.    If you stay as a business traveler from one hotel to another hotel on the road, then leaving a few bucks for the overnight stay would be appropriate.

Housekeepers can often be out of sight and out of mind because you rarely see them with exception of whomever you bump into on your way to the elevator for your day of fun.    Make sure you leave the money in something clearly labeled at a ‘tip for housekeeper’ or otherwise they mistake it as money or change you have left out and will not take it as a tip.    If you think about your last family vacation and tornado of mess you left in the hotel room every day, then you’ll quickly realize that leaving a tip for the housekeeper is the right thing to do!

Written by:

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®

Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc – The Leaders in Gen X & Y Financial Advice and Services

Ted Jenkin  is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice to the X and Y Generation.

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About the author  ⁄ Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves


My friends and family all think I’m a workaholic, but I say I’m just a guy that loves to help people do better in life.

My mother is still the only one that calls me by my real name Theodore Michael, my wife calls me Teddy, but for the rest of you it is just plain old Ted.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved money and being an entrepreneur. In fact, I still have cassette tapes of me talking to my grandmother at the age of five and my mother tells me all the time how much I played with money as a kid...

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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

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  • Avatar
    December 24, 2012

    I never think about tipping my housekeeper. I don’t know if it is a function of not seeing the housekeeper or what. But, I never seem to think about tipping them.

  • Avatar
    December 26, 2012

    I’ve read a suggestion that you should leave a small tip daily, so it goes to the person who actually cleans your room. I try to do this when I remember.

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