Dirty jobs can rake in good money

You can earn good money with dirty jobs.

Just ask Sandra Gordon — on any given day, you might find her steaming stains off car seats or scraping dried and still-gooey gunk from strollers, high chairs and toys.

“It’s gross,” she said, “but weirdly satisfying when you’re done.”

Besides, she earns between $75 and $100 an hour doing it.

There’s a misperception that dirty jobs are poorly paid. In reality, the opposite is often true. You can earn good money with dirty jobs — often more than $30 an hour. And although some dirty jobs require training, few demand a college degree.

Gordon, for example, learned about BabyQuip, a site through which people can rent out their baby equipment to travelers, because she writes a blog about baby products. She signed up, figuring it complemented her day job.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, there were fewer travelers needing crib rentals, so BabyQuip added a cleaning feature. Providers such as Gordon needed to get certified before offering the service.

Gordon said it took her the better part of a weekend to get trained. Now her BabyQuip cleaning business is going gangbusters. And the income has helped her family survive her husband’s pandemic-related job loss.

Other specialized cleaning

Not all cleaning jobs are highly paid. Housekeepers, for instance, typically earn just $15 to $25 an hour.

But you can earn good money with the really dirty jobs that housekeepers typically avoid, such as gutters, dryer vents and barbecues. Some of these jobs require you to crawl under a house and/or deal with greasy sludge. But specialized cleaning contractors typically earn $40 to $50 an hour.

Jiffy charges customers $200 for cleaning a three-burner barbecue, $300 for cleaning air conditioning ducts and $150 for cleaning out a dryer vent. The freelancer who does this work takes home more than 80% of that, paying between 12% and 18% to the platform for finding the client and collecting payment.

TaskRabbit, meanwhile, lets workers set their own rates. It helps by telling you what the average charge is for various services in your area. If you’re willing to do “deep cleaning” in Los Angeles and Orange counties, for example, the average freelancer charges $58 an hour, the site says.

Fix-it services

If you’re willing and able to unclog toilets and drains, assemble furniture or hang light fixtures, you can earn even more, according to TaskRabbit.

In Los Angeles, plumbers earn an average of $67 an hour, the site says. Other freelancers willing to do “light construction” in Southern California listed hourly rates between $60 and $100. (Rates tend to be lower in rural areas and near the high end of this range in Washington, Miami, Chicago and other cities.)

When TaskRabbit launched, it imposed hefty fees on freelancers and had unpleasant terms that strong-armed “taskers” into accepting jobs. That has changed; the site now lets freelancers set their own rates and schedules. All site commissions are now paid by customers.

If you’re highly skilled at a home-improvement trade, you can also register with ToolBelt. The site connects plumbers, electricians, painters, drywallers, framers and other construction tradespeople with homeowners and with contractors who need subcontractors.

You set your own rates on ToolBelt and pay a fee only if you use the site frequently enough to need a monthly subscription.

Moving

Another sweaty job that offers good pay is moving. GoShare and HireAHelper promise hourly pay ranging from $30 to $90. It helps if you have a truck, but these sites don’t require it.

For long-haul moving gigs that can involve either furniture or animals, check out CitizenShipper and UShip. You set your rates.

Landscaping

No article about dirty jobs would be complete without talking about gardening.

In addition to listing your mowing, weeding and landscaping services through Jiffy (which charges $110 an hour) and TaskRabbit (average rate in San Francisco: $48), you can use GreenPal, which lets you bid on jobs and set your own rates.

Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent site that reviews hundreds of moneymaking opportunities in the gig economy.