Housekeeping is no longer the exclusive domain of women in China, with some young men now offering to clean the corners of your house or tidy up your messy kitchen, for a fee.
More than 300 home service companies have popped up nationwide over the past two years, and some have begun to hire energetic men for housekeeping duties. They are helping to challenge the traditional idea that housekeeping is women’s work, at least according to a report from Urban Express in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.
Generally, the cost of male housekeepers is upward of 25 yuan per square meter, which is more than women earn doing the same work, although many male housekeepers are also asked to do more physically demanding tasks.
Shao Gang and Shao Qiang－twins born in 1990 in Shandong province－and their 30 male employees all wear uniforms to work. From cleaning greasy cooker hoods and fixing cracks in windows, to dusting ceiling lights and even polishing the shell of your pet turtle, they do it all.
The twins originally came to Hangzhou at the end of 2015 to work as e-commerce livestream hosts, but when they turned up to film, they felt uncomfortable.
“It was as if there was nowhere to stand because the house was packed so full of products for the livestreams,” Shao Gang said.
Shortly afterward, he learned that deep cleaning services were in great demand but because most cleaners were women, and often elderly, they weren’t able to move beds or sofas or climb up to dust lampshades or ceiling corners, and so the idea for a new business was born.
Before they opened Hangzhou Shenshi Housekeeping Service Co in May last year, the twins spent 10,000 yuan ($1,500) being trained to clean professionally by a household service company in Zhengzhou, Henan province.
Once their company was up and running, they advertised by posting videos on platforms like Bilibili and Douyin, which are popular with the younger generation.
Business has been good and can bring in up to 300,000 yuan a month. As a result, the twins have opened new branches and now offer deep cleaning services in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou and a number of other cities, and have served thousands of customers.
Compared with the 300 to 400 yuan ordinary cleaning services charge, deep cleaning is more expensive, which means that the twins have to offer clients higher quality service.
Take cleaning a cooker hood as an example. The company mandates a four-step process.
“First, we remove the oil catcher, spray it with a professional cleaner and then scrub it vigorously. Then we wipe off the oil with a scouring pad and finally, we rub it clean with a white rag,” Shao Gang said.
When cleaning glass or a mirrored surface, there can be no fingerprints or watermarks, and clients should be able to see only a perfect reflection.
Even though many challenges remain in this corner of the service industry－including frequent quality complaints and labor disputes－the twins have found that demand for their service is growing rapidly, especially among younger clients.
“More than 80 percent of our customers are young people,” Shao Gang said, explaining that even many born in the 2000s who have only just started to work are willing to spend money on deep cleaning.
“For the young, who are more concerned with their quality of life, renting a house is not just about finding a place to sleep but about making a home where they can rest and relax, and so they are willing to pay for our services.”