Hong Kong householders looking to hire extra help to perform their traditional pre-Chinese New Year clean-up may have to pay more this year.

Performing special cleaning before Chinese New Year is a Chinese tradition intended to bring good fortune to the household. In Chinese, the word “dust” also means “old”, and cleaning the dust out of every corner of the home is thought to drive out old, bad luck to prepare the home for a new start in the new year.

Costs for hiring help to do this are going up. The hourly rate for hiring a local part-time cleaner now ranges from HK$115 to 140 (US$14-17). Last year, the high end of the wage range was HK130, Apple Daily reported.

The Employees Retraining Board (ERB) said their “Smart Living” Scheme – a free referral platform to match up Hong Kong helpers and employers – had already received 700 requests for service.

ERB manager Chan Suet-king said they received 4,000 requests for help last year, and urged employers who want assistance this year to lodge their request as soon as possible.

Other than cleaning, workers can also help cook traditional dishes and festive food. For this they charge an hourly rate ranging from HK$100 to HK$120.

Local worker Amy, who has worked as a household helper for 11 years, said she usually needs to work seven days a week in the run-up to Chinese New Year. During this peak season, she can earn between HK$17,000 and HK$20,000, or 30% more than her average monthly wage.

The Chinese New Year of Pig starts on Tuesday, February 5.