What Does Cleaning Cost?

As consultants, one of the most common questions we get is, "What are the current cleaning industry pricing and production rates?"

This is a tough issue to deal with, as there is no easy or simple answer to this question.

Let me open the discussion with a disclaimer, then I''ll give you some information and close with a list of resources.

First off, in my opinion, there is no such thing as an accurate average cost per square foot or production rate per hour that will apply in all situations.

There are simply too many variables for that to be a realistic option.

This includes such things as size and type of building, the specifications and everything in between — including the expectations of occupants.

Other primary factors are local market conditions, staffing availability, overhead, wage rates and profit required.

In my mind, the best and only truly reliable source of cost and production rates are determined by looking at what a company has done in the past, as this is based on their actual history over a period of time.

The longer the experience with a property and the closer the property is to what is trying to be calculated, the more accurate the numbers will be.

Some Rough Numbers

Productivity rates for commercial buildings: For Class-A and Class-B office space in a property that is over 300,000 square feet in size in a metro area, you need to be doing 4,500 to 6,000 square feet per hour per worker to be competitive in the marketplace.

Cost percentages haven''t changed much over the years, with the exception that equipment costs are increasing slightly and labor costs are decreasing slightly due to the use of more equipment that can achieve higher production rates being used versus more bodies.

Labor accounts for 55 percent to 65 percent, not including supervision or management; supplies account for roughly four percent; equipment adds another two percent, but does not include paper, plastics or soaps, gels, deodorants, etc., which can run upwards of seven percent.

What is the average square foot price?

For basic janitorial work, 9 cents to 14 cents per square foot per month for over 300,000 square feet in a metro area of office would be in the ballpark today; some cities may be as low as 4 cents to 6 cents.

Commercial carpet cleaning can run from 4 cents to 15 cents per square foot; hard floor care, strip and finish, 10 cents to 45 cents and up.

As for industry benchmarks and averages, here are some sources:

  • Building Owners and Managers Association(BOMA) Experience Exchange Report

  • ISSA 540 Cleaning Times

  • Numerous Building Service Contractor Association International (BSCAI) reports and manuals

  • Logistics Measurement Institute, used by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and other government agencies for janitorial production rates and pricing

  • How to Sell and Price Contact Cleaning, by Wm R. Griffin

  • Several International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) reports and manuals.

I could go on, but space constraints do not allow that.

I welcome you to drop me an e-mail or give me a ring if you would like the exhaustive list.

There is no end to sources for the benchmarking of cleaning costs and production rates.

The fact remains that the only truly accurate and reliable numbers are those produced by the company doing the work, as they are based on facts and results of what can actually be done, not guesstimates or unverifiable industry averages.

Sorry, there is no magic number, but I hope this helps.

Posted On September 9, 2011
William R. Griffin

William R. Griffin

President of Cleaning Consultant Services, Inc.

William Griffin is the president of Cleaning Consultant Services, Inc. He is an industry consultant, author, and trainer with more than 35 years of experience. Contact him at or visit

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