While both the topics of domestic work (DW) and trafficking human beings (THB) have received increased attention in scholarship, there is very limited research on the nexus of these two issues in Italy, i.e. on cases of THB in the DW sector. This paper investigates the forms of severe exploitation and THB in DW in Italy and examines the factors affecting the demand-side in this sector. Moreover, it analyses the gaps in current legal and political responses. The paper highlights that domestic workers frequently experience several forms of exploitation and maltreatment, which go from the violation of the fundamental protection provided by the contract to severe abuse and trafficking. The hidden nature of DW renders the identification of cases of THB extremely difficult. The paper reveals that while economic motivations are the main factor influencing the demand for cheap and exploitable workers in DW, other aspects, such as political, legal, social and cultural factors, also play a crucial role in affecting the demand-side. Moreover, this study points out that Italian legal and political responses to THB and severe exploitation have proven inadequate in preventing these phenomena and in protecting the rights of the victims. By highlighting the need to adopt a comprehensive approach to THB, the paper proposes a set of recommendations in regard to political and legal responses, also addressing the demand-side.