Cleaning for Chinese New Year involves 'getting rid of the old' - a thorough clean before the new year comes. Photo: iStockphoto

Cleaning before Chinese New Year is a tradition for Chinese people, but this year employers may need to pay more to hire extra hands to do the household chores.

The hourly rate for hiring a local helper for cleaning before the Chinese New Year ranges from HK$105 to $130 (US$13 to $16), which is HK$5 more than the rate last year, Sing Tao Daily reported.

According to Cheung Yuen-yee, senior manager of Employees Retraining Board (ERB), said “Smart Living” Scheme – a free referral platform administrated by ERB to match up local helpers and employers – had already received 580 requests for service.

Some 2,400 people who graduated from ERB’s training courses have registered as helpers for this year.

Cheung said 2,200 people registered as helpers last year but they had received 3,500 service requests. The average rate was HK$111 an hour while the highest rate an employer paid was $220 an hour.

Other than cleaning, the helpers can also help cook traditional dishes and festive food.

A 38-year-old female helper named Chun said she graduated from a 128-hour training course by ERB in 2011 and started to join the scheme in 2013.

Chun said cleaning for the Chinese New Year is different from daily household cleaning, as the word “dust” also means “old” –  thus every corner of the flat has to be cleaned thoroughly, to drive bad luck or old things away from the house to get ready for a new start.

Spaces under beds, under washing machines, refrigerators and behind the closets have to be cleaned too, Chun said.

The Chinese Year of the Dog starts on Friday February 16.