Janitorial Service

Part of running a business is keeping your work spaces clean and useable. For most businesses this means that you have to have someone come in after normal business hours to do cleaning a restocking because it often is disruptive to have a janitorial presence around during the workday. A janitorial service will empty trash cans, dust work surfaces, vacuum, wipe down kitchen appliances, clean bathrooms, and restock disposable items around the office such as paper towels, sanitary napkins, and kitchen items. You can also arrange with your janitorial service to occasionally do major cleaning projects like shampooing the carpets, waxing the floors, cleaning windows, scrubbing walls, and outdoor maintenance projects like power washing sidewalks or signs. The services offered by a professional janitorial service are quite numerous and you can cater them to your needs.

Benefits of a Janitorial Service

The fact that there is no one size fits all janitorial service is one of the major advantages. Typically you will meet with a sales person for the janitorial company and go over what your expectations are, give a tour of your business, and talk about what kind of cleaning you want done. Then a quote can be tailored to your specific situation. You do not have to pay for more than what you need and you can get everything you want done addressed. If you hire your own janitorial staff and purchase all of your own janitorial supplies, you may be paying someone for doing a lot of sitting around if you do not have much work for them every day. Conversely, you may not be able to rely on them to get everything you need done finished in the allotted time. A janitorial service company will bring in extra janitorial personnel if it is needed.

Another advantage of hiring a janitorial service is that the cleaning company will be bonded to protect their customers from theft or damage. If you have your own janitorial staff, then you have to rely on your own property insurance for protection and if there is a problem, your rates could be affected. A janitorial supply and equipment company that offers cleaning services also has the burden of doing background checks and making sure the people they hire are trustworthy enough to be allowed inside a business after hours without supervision. The cost of doing an extensive background check along with the liability of choosing the right people is a great reason to choose janitorial services over doing your office cleaning in house.

One last advantage worth mentioning is that you will be dealing with professionals if you hire a janitorial service. Even if you buy all the right janitorial products and make sure you have all the best janitorial equipment, if you do not have a trained janitorial staff, you will not get good results. Janitorial service companies spend time training their employees on how to use the equipment, what kinds of cleaners are best for different situations, and on etiquette and how to go about their jobs unobtrusively. The costs of training a new employee could be quite substantial because you will need to utilize outside resources since you do not have the expertise in house. A janitorial service already has trained individuals that can start making a difference in the cleanliness and convenience of your office and work places immediately rather than waiting for training to take effect.

Possible Disadvantages of a Janitorial Service

Of course, a janitorial service is not the perfect solution and there are some possible pit falls or problems with hiring a professional cleaning service to work in your place of business. First, there will be people in your office that do not work for you. Even if the cleaning company is bonded, you run the risk of letting someone in who may steal from you, use your workplace for inappropriate activities, damage your work or property, or commit acts of industrial espionage. Just because someone makes it through a back ground check, it does not mean they are immune to the temptation of stealing or, more likely, to the possibility that something might accidentally break under their watch. You have to give up a great deal of control to allow a non-employee into your office when you are not there. It is a good idea, if you hire a janitorial service to password protect your computers and lock filing cabinets. In addition, you will need to take the time to move any models or fragile work items to the middle of a large conference table or anywhere that they cannot be accidentally bumped or damaged.

Another disadvantage of hiring professional janitorial services is that it is difficult to prove if the work is not being done to your satisfaction. Generally the janitorial company will leave a checklist of all the items that were supposed to complete when they leave for proof that they did all that was expected of them. However, there is no one to double check their work and make sure that it was done to your satisfaction. Unless you are the first person in the office and do a complete tour when you arrive in the morning, there is no way to know if the office or bathroom in questions was clean before other people arrived and starting using it. If it were your own employee you could walk them through what was expected of them and discipline them accordingly f the job was not done to your satisfaction. With a janitorial service, you can fill out the survey they leave when they are done for the night, but they will not see the results until they are called or are supposed to come back on a contract. It often takes several reviews and a phone call or two to a supervisor before you start seeing results of your complaints.

Finally, there is the cost associated with hiring an outside janitorial service. If you run a small business, then you might not need daily or even weekly cleaning and the small amount of cleaning that you do have may be able to be handling by existing staff. If you have a laborer who is underutilized or has down time frequently, then you can assign them janitorial tasks and it will not cost you any more than it would otherwise except for the cost of the janitorial supplies. Even if you only have a janitorial company come in once every other week, it is still an expense that you have to add to the bottom line.

Steps to Hiring a Janitorial Service

Once you have made the decision to hire a janitor service, there are several steps that you should follow to make sure that you get a reputable company and to make sure you are paying for exactly as much cleaning as you need, no more and no less.

  1. Your first step should be to create what people in the janitorial industry call a request for proposal. This document should outline details about your facility such as square footage, the types of flooring you have, a complete list of duties that will be expected, and any special circumstances that might affect how a company cleans or who specifically can complete the job. For example, if you workplace is a green workplace and you require that only green cleaning products and recycled paper products be used.
  2. Once you have prepared the RFP, you should ask for bids or quotes from at least three companies. The more janitorial service companies you ask to bid, the better, but you need to make sure you will have time to review each bid carefully when it comes back. A good way to find possible janitorial services is to do an online search or ask neighboring businesses who they use.
  3. Once you have reviewed each proposal, you should probably eliminate the lowest cost option and any company that is showing you introductory or special rates. Many times, janitorial service companies give you one rate that is your introductory rate and the price is going to go up considerably after your trial period. Make sure you are comparing the base rate of one company with the base rate of another rather than sales or specials.
  4. With the remaining professional cleaning companies, check to make sure that they are all bonded. Each janitorial service should be able to produce proof of bonding and insurance upon your request. If they cannot, then they are not a good fit for your business. Bonding protects you, the consumer, from any damage or theft that is the fault of the janitorial service or their employees.
  5. Next, you should check references for each janitor service. Again, the companies should be happy to provide you with references and you should be skeptical of any janitorial company that will not provide them. When you call a reference make sure to ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer and make sure to ask about the companies weaknesses.
  6. Before you sign any contract with a janitorial company, make sure that they are comfortable with you visiting the office during their cleaning hours to check on their work. Many companies that offer janitorial services will do a practice run before a contract begins so that you can see if you are happy with the results.
  7. Ask for a complete list of a janitorial service company’s services so that you are aware of any additional a la carte cleaning projects you might want to add. Every janitorial service will include cleaning bathrooms, but you might have to pay a onetime fee for some heavy duty grout cleaning every so often. Alternatively, you might be willing to pay a fee for carpet cleaning.
  8. Some janitorial companies offer maintenance work as well. They can do tasks such as clean debris off of your roof, change the batteries on your solar lights, power wash sidewalks, and rake leaves. If the company offers many additional services, that is a plus and should be considered before making your final decision.

Cost of a Janitorial Service

Most janitorial contracts are set up so that you pay a monthly fee for whatever work is completed by the janitor service. Whether the janitor crew comes in once a week or daily, the bill is usually paid once a month. There will be a base fee that is negotiated before a business relationship begins where both the client and the janitorial service work out exactly what the responsibilities of the janitorial service will be. On top of that base fee, the business can choose to add a la carte cleaning items for additional fees. These cleaning projects are usually detailed in a price list provided to the client when they sign their contract. The base cost can be anywhere from one hundred dollars per month up to thousands of dollars a month depending on the number of square feet and how many cleaning personnel the job takes. They have internal numbers that say what their overhead is per hour and how many square feet they can clean in an hour to come up with an overall cost to the customer. If you are stressing over how to clean grout in your office restrooms, you can probably hire a janitorial service for around twenty to thirty cents per square foot.

Janitorial Supplies

It doesn’t matter if you are responsible for cleaning a house or cleaning an office building, you will most likely need some janitorial supplies for cleaning. There is a wide variety of types and classes of janitorial supplies to choose from and you may not need every kind for your particular cleaning project. There are consumable janitorial supplies as well as janitorial equipment supplies to help get the job done. Some of the janitorial equipment can be rented rather than purchased if you do not need it regularly. No matter where you are cleaning or what kind of cleaning job you have, there are the right janitor supplies for the you.

Types of Janitorial Supplies

There are many different ways to classify janitor supplies, and each wholesaler or online retailer for janitorial supplies will classify thing differently. Below is a list of some of the more common categories and an idea of what kind of products you would find in each. Not every wholesale janitor supplier will have every single one of these categories and some may have ones that are not mentioned here.

Bag and Can Liners

Every janitorial supply company should have a category for bags and can liners because they are such a basic part of any janitor’s tool kit. Within this category of janitorial supplies there are several subcategories including paper bags, plastic bags, and trash bags. Each type of bag has a purpose, and generally you do not want to use one type of bag as a substitute when there is one designed for the purpose.

Paper bags come in many sizes and the size of the bag generally dictates it use. The smallest paper bags I have seen in online janitor supply stores are meant to be liners for waste receptacles in bathroom stalls. These paper bags are generally made of wax paper so that there are no leaks into the sanitary napkin receptacle in between bag changes. Larger paper bags are well suited for collecting leaves and other plant debris. If you need to keep the parking lot or lawn of your office building clear, paper bags are a great choice for collecting waste because they stay open and you do not have to spend time fumbling with a half full plastic bag without a trash can to hold t open. Another reason you might buy paper bags from your janitorial supply company is that you can just throw the entire package into a fire if you burn or recycle your leaves.

Plastic bags also come in all sizes, but it is generally the style of bag rather than the size that dictates the use. One style of plastic bag is a Ziplock style with a means of closing the bag. The most common use that janitorial supply websites sell resealable bags is for storage. A good janitor supply closet should have some storage bags for opened containers of cleaner that you want to prevent leaks from or for storing loose cleaning tools like rags or small brushes. Your company or business might also buy plastic grocery style bags to give to customers if they actually buy products from you and need a way to carry them out. Of course there are places other than a wholesale janitor supplier you can buy grocery bags from, but it might be convenient to get them from the janitorial supplier if you are buying other janitorial supplies at the same time.

Finally, you can get trash bags or can liners from a janitorial supply company in all sizes, colors, and strengths. Some of the more common sizes for trash bags are 13 gallon, 30 gallon, and 55 gallon because those are the most common sizes for trash cans. However, a good janitorial supplier will have many other sizes as well like 60 gallon, 45 gallon or 8 gallon. The strength of the bags will also vary, but a good rule of thumb is that the larger the bag, the stronger it will be because it needs to be able to support the weight of more trash and debris. Janitorial supply closets must have trash bags in them for every trash receptacle in a office building or home.

Chemicals and Green Cleaning Products

Of course, no janitor supply stock is complete without the cleaning products that are a janitor’s most important tools. There are a wide variety of cleaning chemicals available for purchase from various different janitorial supply companies, so I will not go into detail about each one. Instead, I will discuss three different classifications of janitorial cleaning products.

The first two categories are known simply as janitorial cleaning supplies and professional strength cleaning supplies. These janitorial cleaning products are mostly the same, the only difference being that the professional or commercial strength janitor supplies are a little stronger and sometimes need to be diluted. You can find cleaners of every kind on both varieties. Some janitorial cleaners will give you instructions on how to clean grout while others will help with cleaning glass or mirrors. If you buy professional strength janitorial supplies, make sure that you test these cleaners in small inconspicuous area to make sure there is no damage to grout lines, tiles, paints, or wallpaper. Grout cleaning especially can be difficult because sometimes you need a cleaner that is very strong to get rid of stains, but the strong chemical could destroy your grout.

The third category of janitorial cleaners is green cleaning products. Green janitorial supplies use no toxic chemicals and tend to consist of natural cleaning materials such as alcohol, baking soda, or vinegar. In addition, the packaging for green cleaning supplies should be smaller and made of recycled materials. Because the packaging is generally small, the green formulas are usually concentrated and you could need to dilute them. Green janitor products are becoming more and more popular as business try to show environmental responsibility in every aspect of their business.

Mops, Brooms, and Brushes

Part of every janitor supply cart is the cleaning utensils like brooms, mops, and scrub brushes. There are many varieties of each and which one you use depends on what you are trying to clean up and where you are trying to clean it up. There are basically three types of brooms to choose from. The first is push brooms. Push brooms are usually much wider than other types of brooms and are best for cleaning in large open spaces where there are not many pieces of furniture. Most push brooms come in two pieces, the head and the pole. This allows you to replace one or the other as needed. Most of the time, the pole will screw into the head, but sometimes the pole is attached with a clamp or clasp. Generally the screw in pole are more secure and are better for pushing heavy loads.

The second kind of broom is an angle broom. Angle brooms are meant to sweep up smaller areas or to reach under furniture and into corners. The bottom of the bristle head in not straight across, rather than bristles are cut at an angle for easier handling. The bristles are usually made of some kind of plastic fiber and the handle or pole is not detachable. The last type of broom is a corn broom made with natural broomcorn. The broom head is much stiffer than angle brooms which means that it can push dirt around much easier. A well stocked janitorial supply might have all three type of brooms since different situations call for different brooms.

In addition to brooms, janitorial supplies must include at least one mop. Like brooms, janitorial mops usually come in two pieces with a mop head and a handle. There are two main types of mop heads to choose between. The first is cotton wet mop heads. These mop heads are made of strings of cotton joined together at the top where the mop head attaches to the handle. You can further divide this category into two groups because some cotton mop head have open ends and others have looped ends. The open ends are better for mopping larger areas in a shorter amount of time but the lopped ends will give you a better clean. These mops are usually used in combination with a wringer bucket. The wringer bucket has one section for holding the cleaning solution and another for wringing out the dirty mop.

In addition of cotton wet mop heads, you might also find solid microfiber mop heads that use a flat surface for cleaning rather than many cotton strings. These mops usually come with a handle and mounting system attached together so that you can ring the mop head out in a sink with the pull or push of a lever. This variety of mop head is typically best for small areas that do not have good drainage because they leave far less water on the floor when you are done. In addition to brooms and mops, janitorial tools also include scrub brushes. Scrub brushes are necessary for bathroom and kitchen cleaning especially.

Facility Maintenance and Safety Supply

Once you have purchased your cleaning supplies and tools, you will probably need some place to store all of these janitorial supplies. Utility carts and janitorial supply caddies are great for storing all your cleaning needs. Depending on how many janitorial materials you have and the size of the area you need to clean and stock, a handheld caddy might be best or a rolling utility cart. The janitorial utility carts are nice because you can store you mops and brooms as well as extra supplies for stocking bathrooms and relining trash cans. It is a good idea if the cart is small enough that it can be rolled into a utility or janitor closet.

In terms of safety, it is important for people handling janitorial supplies that they wear gloves so that they do not come in to contact with germs or bacteria. There are various types of gloves that range from disposable one time use gloves to heavy duty plastic gloves that are meant to be worn many times. Another important janitorial safety supply is a face mask. Simple masks will prevent the inhalation of toxic chemicals or unpleasant odors.

Floor and Carpet Care

In addition to the cleaning products discussed above, there are pieces of janitorial equipment that are necessary for cleaning floors and carpets. A vacuum cleaner is an essential janitorial tool that every office or home needs in order to keep their carpets clean. Carpet manufacturers say that you should vacuum your carpets once per week per person in a household. That would mean that you should be vacuuming daily in an office building. That is why it is important to get the most powerful vacuum cleaner available from janitorial supply companies as well as a machine that has a good warranty and will last a long time.

Commercial vacuum cleaners are only one type of janitorial equipment you might need to keep your floors in good condition. Floor waxing machines or steam cleaners are necessary if you have linoleum or tile floors in your home or office. A good janitor supply company will have both these kinds of machines. It is important to balance the power and cleaning ability of the machine with how large it is because you need to make sure you will have enough room to store all these janitorial supplies.

One last type of carpet care equipment that is important is a carpet shampoo machine. Janitor supply companies might not be the best place to purchase one of these machines because they might not offer machine with a lot of features, but they are a good place to start. Periodic cleaning of your carpets in necessary even if you keep up with the vacuuming schedule suggested above.


You may be interested to know that some janitorial supply services also offer a wide range of restaurant or food service supplies. While not strictly cleaning products, most janitorial suppliers do offer this line. The restaurant line might include kitchen apparel like aprons and hats as well as paper products like cake boxes, take out containers, cups, lids, plates, bowls, cutlery, or food storage containers. You might also be able to find food preparation supplies or food warming trays. This might also be a good place to find straws, moist towelettes, toothpicks, condiment packets, or any of the small consumables you might need in a restaurant. Of course, some restaurants will get most of these supplies from their food supplier, but it is nice to know that there is a second source where you can get restaurant supplies while you are ordering your other janitorial supplies.

Odor Control

Part of the job of your janitorial items is to eliminate offensive odors both after they have been exposed and before they get a chance to infect a room. Some janitorial supply shops will offer several methods for controlling odors in your home or workplace. Deodorizers and air fresheners come in many different styles. Some deodorizers are just containers that you sit out on a table top and bad smells are attracted to it and then neutralized. Other air fresheners are dispensed automatically on a timer. This variety of odor control janitorial supply needs an electrical outlet to work properly. Some air fresheners are meant to be sprayed and others are potpourri and are just set out to freshen the scent of a room.

Another variety of odor control janitorial supply is meant for use in a restroom. Urinal cakes, urinal blocks and urinal screens are put in the bottom of urinals to try and control the odor that occurs from mass use of this kind of vessel in a public restroom. There are also bowl deodorizers and cleaners that are used on toilet bowls. No matter how often you clean a public restroom, it is almost impossible to control the odors unless you use some kind of janitorial odor product.

Paper and Dispensers

Paper products are a large section of any janitorial supply website or online janitorial supplier. Toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins are an essential part of the janitorial responsibilities of any office or home. The advantage of buying these products from a janitorial service or janitorial supply company is that you can buy them in bulk which saves money. However, many paper towels that you would purchase from a janitorial supply place are meant to be used with a paper towel dispenser. Specifically, C-fold and tri-fold paper towels need a dispenser. These contraptions are usually a single unit that needs to be hung on a wall. They are easy to install and easy to operate. One of the great advantages of getting a paper towel dispenser from a janitorial supply website is that you control the number of paper towels each person takes and cut down on waste.

Skin Care and Personal Hygiene

Many businesses choose to stock their bathrooms with personal hygiene products in addition to having soap available for hand washing. There are two categories of janitorial products you can choose to have available for washing hands in a bathroom. The first is soap which can be dispensed out of soap dispensers. There are two kinds of soap, regular and foam soap. The foam soaps need a special dispenser to work properly so make sure you match your dispenser with the soap product you buy. Your second choice for hand cleaning at the janitorial supply store is hand sanitizer which comes in large containers that you can also use with dispensers.

In addition to hand washing, personal hygiene products like sanitary napkins, tampons, diapers, wipes, or other baby care products, and perfumes or colognes can also be found in some well stocked bathrooms. You can get almost all of these products from a goof janitorial supplier. One last item that you might want that can be found in this category on a janitorial website is a baby changing station. These are great for parents who need a surface to change their babies on and there should be one in both the men’s and women’s bathrooms.

Storage and Material Handling

There are some material handling tools and storage tools that every janitor or office cleaning crew needs in order to move around their materials and keep their janitorial supplies organized. Material handling equipment like dollies and pallet jacks are important and every business should have one of each so that they can handle any kind of janitorial supply shipment. Storage shelves, bins, and cabinets are also handy to keep all of the janitorial products and janitorial equipment organized and easily reached. You can use the storage items in closets or in a hall way where you need to conveniently store extra supplies or cleaning items.

Waste Receptacles

Finally, what janitorial supply list would be complete without a trash can? There are many different styles and types of trashcans to choose from and your office might needs one from each category. First, there are covered trashcans meant for indoor use. These cans will usually have a swinging door on the lid so that you can push the trash can open easily, but keep any possible odors behind closed doors. These cans are typically, but do not have to be, thin and either square or round.

The second kind of trash receptacle can be used inside or outside, but if it is used inside it will be in a place that is out of sight from your customers and is meant ot hold full trash bags from smaller trash cans. These trash cans resemble the kind your home trash collector might issue to you for your weekly trash pickup. The material of construction for this very common janitorial supply product is plastic, but you can also find trash cans that are aluminum. Some of this variety of trash receptacles are for trash while others are for recycling. Usually the recycling trash cans will be bright colors and have symbols on the side to indicate it spurpose. However, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this janitorial supply so you can make any trash can for your trash and any trash can for your recyclables.

A third variety of trash can is meant for outdoor use but in plain sight. These trash cans are typically round and they have a roof over the opening in the top with a space in between the roof and trash can so that you can reach in. It is not realistic to assume a passerby would lift the lid to throw away a piece of trash. However, you do not want to leave a trash can uncovered outdoors because inclement weather might make it impossible to change the trash bag. That is why these janitorial helpers have roofs.

Finally, there is one last types of trash receptacle that you might find outdoors. These are smoke management stations that are for cigarette butts. You typically fill the receptacle with sand so that it will not blow away and so that the cigarettes that fall in will burn themselves out without causing a fire.

Where to Buy Janitorial Supplies

Many of the janitorial supplies that were described above can be purchased in grocery stores or large department stores like Target or Wal-Mart. However, buying from establishments like this can get quite expensive. Also, not all of the supplies or equipment for janitorial use can be purchased here. If you buy janitorial cleaning supplies at the grocery store you will still have to find somewhere else to buy a mop bucket or large trash cans.

The best places to find the janitorial supplies for business or home use are through a catalogue or an online janitorial supply house. A paper catalogue that comes in the mail might have a discount coupon attached to the back cover for your initial purchase which could save you a lot of money if you make a bulk purchase of several months’ worth of janitorial supplies. Catalogues also have a very large selection of items because the person who runs the catalogue does not necessarily have to keep all of the janitorial supplies advertised in their warehouse at any given moment. Instead, they can order janitorial supplies from the manufacturers when they need them for an order.

Online janitorial retailers might also have coupons and discounts available and you will spend much less money buying this way than buying from the grocery store. The same things are true about the inventory of janitorial supplies for online janitorial retailers. They do not have to stock everything at all times, which means the selection can be larger. However, the lead time until you receive your janitorial orders might be longer than if you bought from a janitorial supply store.

Buying Janitorial Supplies versus Hiring a Janitorial Service

Many business owners or home owners might be struggling with the decision of whether to buy janitorial supplies or hire a janitorial service. There are pros and cons to both choices. In the end, each individual or business needs to weigh their options and make a decision that is right for them. There is no one right answer that will work for everyone.

If you have underutilized laborers in your organization then it is certainly a better economical choice to buy your own supplies for janitorial purposes than to hire additional employees to do janitorial work. The employees that you already have can use their downtime to complete some of the janitorial duties. The one downside to this plan is that your janitorial activities will have to be completed during normal business hours unless you run a multiple shift operation.

The hours of operation are the main benefit to hiring a janitorial service. Janitorial services will most likely work at night which is the best time to do major cleaning and restocking because there are no other employees around to get in the way or to be bothered by the cleaning activities. Another plus for hiring a janitorial service is that you do not have to spend the cash to buy janitorial supplies and janitorial equipment because all of those products will be supplied by the service and it is their responsibility to have the appropriate supplies. One less type of inventory to manage and pay for is always welcome.