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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

The History of Home Cleaning Services in Scotland

Domestic workers in Scotland have always been present in one form or another so it is difficult to pinpoint a precise starting point however there have been some key milestones in the development of domestic work as an occupation.

Prior to industrialisation, domestic work was predominantly carried out by young women from agricultural communities who would often migrate to urban areas, including cities like Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, in search of work as live-in maids. These maids would provide a range of services, including cleaning, cooking, laundry, and general household tasks.

During Scotland’s industrialisation and urban growth, the demand for domestic workers increased in our expanding cities. With the rise of the middle class, more households required assistance in managing their homes.

During the 20th century, the domestic cleaning industry underwent significant changes due to societal shifts and technological advancements. At the beginning of the century, domestic work was still predominantly carried out by live-in servants. However, the First World War and subsequent social changes led to a sharp decline in the number of available domestic workers.

As the century progressed, the introduction of household appliances such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and electric irons revolutionised domestic cleaning practices. These appliances made cleaning tasks more efficient and less time-consuming, enabling householders themselves to maintain cleaner homes without the need for maids.

The post-World War II era saw an increase in women joining the workforce, resulting in a new surge in demand for professional cleaning services. Cleaning agencies and other companies emerged to meet this demand, and would act as intermediaries between householders seeking domestic help and those looking for employment as domestic maids. They would handle the recruitment, vetting, referencing and qualifications of potential staff, and match them with suitable employers. Live in maids were still very popular.

As the century progressed, societal changes, shifts in labour laws, and evolving household dynamics saw the traditional live-in maid model became less common, and part-time cleaning services became popular. Homeowners sought more flexibility with maids visiting their homes for scheduled cleaning days or for specific tasks.

With the internet and the rise of the gig economy, homeowners have more ways than ever to connect with independent domestic cleaners and cleaning agencies. These platforms offer convenience, transparency, and a wide range of options for both homeowners and maids.

Today, the home maid industry in Scotland continues to adapt to the changing needs and preferences of households. Domestic cleaning maids come from a wide variety of classes and backgrounds: at our own agency we have cleaners who are young mums, semi-retired school teachers, ex forces, and cleaners who have been cleaning for 20+ years. They all play a vital role in supporting busy lifestyles and allowing householders to enjoy their free time without having to worry about the chores.

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