Cleaning Industry Dollars

Cleaning Industry Dollars – $68 Billion Spent To Hold A Mop

Take a look through any college or trade school course schedule and it is doubtful you will find a single course on cleaning. While there has been talk in the industry for years about developing education programs for cleaning professionals, and there are many out there, few programs have gotten any traction when it comes to the mainstream business world. This is a very frustrating situation. As I have discussed before, there are few positions out there that require no formal training. Especially jobs that impact so many of us. With that being said, there is one subject that almost always leads to action and that is the money. So I dug in to the cleaning industry dollars.

One Of The Largest Industries In The  World

The cleaning industry is, in fact, one of the largest in the world, because it’s done pretty much world-wide at some level. In the U.S. alone, there are almost 3 million individuals that clean professionally. I would venture to guess that only a small percentage of these have had even a couple of hours of formal training in their field. When you begin to apply the labor dollars to the industry, it becomes staggering.

Cleaning Industry Dollars and Labor Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures from 2011, there were 2,068,460 janitors/cleaners and 877,980 maids and housekeepers on record. The average wage for these positions was $11.13 per hour. That means that in just one year, based on a 40 hour work week, $68,211,264,576 in wages was paid out to professional cleaning personal. Yes, that is over $68 billion, with a “B”.

Compare this to the highly skilled trade of electrician which the Bureau reports there were a total of 633,010 in 2011, earning an average wage of $23.89 per hour. Bringing the total for a $604,904,356.

That means that there is almost 113 times the amount of money spent on cleaning staff than electricians. But it is widely accepted that to become a licensed electrician takes months if not years of classroom and hands on training.

For an industry that is more wide-spread, costs 113 times more to operate and impacts every other employee in the business, we only require that you show up… today.

Learning On The Job Is Not Enough

The standard educational process in the cleaning industry is to learn on the job. A couple of hours shadowing a supervisor or a senior employee and they are ready to go. This along with any required orientation stuff like Right To Know and other safety presentations. But that’s it.

With out formally educating them on why their job is important or how it should be done properly, is it really a wonder that so many complain about high turn over rates, poor attendance and staff members that really do not care?

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3 replies
  1. James Cleary
    James Cleary says:


    I totally agree. It’s almost criminal how the “authorities” nearly worldwide turn a blind eye to the need for regulation and/or the need for qualifications. I would also like to point out that the “training” that is done, the shadowing as you call it, is never about teaching the new employee anything about the skills required but more about where to clean, where to store the equipment and where to take your break!
    I start a mission to teach front line cleaners the skills needs and to me the most important aspect of cleaning – understanding the “why”. I believe that the majority of cleaners are good hard working people and if we arm them with some understand of the principles behind the job and teach them how important the work they do is then we will see increases in attendance, team work, job satisfaction, engagement and most importantly standards.

    • BaldGuyClean
      BaldGuyClean says:

      Thank you for your comment and for your efforts. You are absolutely correct. A guided tour of a facility is not the way to teach the skill of cleaning. Why we clean should always be the focus. Keep up the good work!


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  1. […] but they are still faced with dirty restrooms at the end of the day? Despite hours of work, thousands of dollars spent on cleaning products and major upgrades to facilities, when the door is opened smells and stains are still […]

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