The Cost of Clean

“Janitorial Math”

Whether you use an in-house team or outsource this function, it’s important to consider the total cost of cleaning. Use the following formula to calculate total cost:  

  • +Labor Costs (Wages)
  • +  Labor Related Costs (taxes, insurance, background checks, workers comp, uniforms)

  • +  Cleaning/Janitorial Supply Costs (chemicals, mop heads, cleaning cloths, gloves) + Equipment Costs (acquisition costs, maintenance, repairs)
    Total Direct Costs

  • + Indirect/Overhead Costs (supervision/oversight)
    Total Direct and Indirect Costs
  • + Markup (add this cost if you outsource your custodial services) **
    Total Cost to Clean your Facilities 

**Important Note: While you typically pay an outsourced vendor a mark-up, most organizations save money by outsourcing due to the elevated cost of labor and labor related items associated with an in- house team.  


While all the items in the formula must be considered, it is Labor and Labor Related costs that account for nearly 75% of the total budget for cleaning a facility. Calculating labor cost is a rather straightforward formula:

Total Hours Required to Clean Your Facility Multiplied by the Average Rate of Pay for Cleaners and Supervision  

This may seem straightforward, but there’s a hitch. Determining the hours required to clean your facility requires some thought and expertise.

For example, the hours needed to clean your facility is based upon the size of your building, the number of people using your building (e.g., employees, visitors, students, patients), the type/segment of your business (e.g. medical, public venue, educational, manufacturing, call center), and your expectation level of cleanliness (the subjective item).

The best methodology for developing an accurate measure of the number work hours is the use of production rates.

Production Rates – The Key to Unlocking Work Hours Required

From contractors to landscapers, every service industry uses some form of production rates. In the janitorial industry, there are two methodologies employed. The first is a simple cleaning production rate based on the type of facility.

For example, a company might use a production rate of 4,500 sq. ft. per hour as a basis for determining how long it will take to clean an office space. Using this example, if a company has a cleanable area of 80,000 sq. ft., it should take approximately 18 work hours to clean.

While this methodology is helpful for providing a “ballpark” estimate, a detailed production rate analysis provides a more accurate measure of work hours. Consider for a moment the difference between cleaning restrooms in a manufacturing facility vs. restrooms in corporate setting. A production rate for a corporate restroom might be 2.5 minutes per fixture, while a manufacturing facility might require 3.5 minutes per fixture because it is simply more difficult to clean. While 1 minute per fixture seems small, consider a facility with 10 restrooms with 6 fixtures in each restroom – that is one extra hour of labor per day.

Using production rates for specific tasks, and then considering the type of business and number of people in a building, will produce a more accurate measure of how long it will take to serve your facility.

If you have gone through the exercise of estimating the number of work hours required to clean your facility, and you have developed a good understanding of market wages, then you should have a pretty good handle on how much it is going to cost to keep your building looking and feeling clean.

Populist Cleaning Co

A full-service commercial cleaning and janitorial services company serving all of Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio including the Adrian, Ann Arbor, Auburn Hills, Belleville, Brighton, Canton, Chelsea, Dexter, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Howell, Livonia, Manchester, Monroe, Northville, Novi, Plymouth, Rochester, Southfield, Sterling Heights, Tecumseh, Toledo, Troy, Warren, Wayne, Westland, Wixom, and Ypsilanti communities since 1980.