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Commercial Cleaning Services: Buyers’ Guide

Commercial Cleaning Services

Considering commercial cleaning services for your facility? You’ve come to the right place.

At The Wilburn Company, we’ve been cleaning commercial buildings for decades. We offer green cleaning services, secure cleaning services, emergency cleaning services, and standard commercial cleaning services in the Maryland, Virginia, and DC areas.

We’ve put together this guide to help you make an informed decisions about selecting a commercial cleaning service.

This page covers questions like:

Our goals are twofold: to give you a comprehensive view of what working with a commercial cleaning company is like, and to offer a strategic framework for how to get started.

Ready? Let’s dive in. Here’s the buyer’s guide to commercial cleaning services.

What is commercial cleaning?

Our definition: Commercial cleaning is a service that sanitizes retail shops, office buildings, medical facilities, and other types of commercial facilities. Commercial janitors will work on everything that isn’t residential, although sometimes specific companies will focus on just office or retail buildings.

Commercial cleaning is quite different from residential cleaning. The square footage is larger, the stakes are higher, and expectations are quite different from when you’re caring for your own home.

If you’re a new building or business owner, commercial cleaning may not be at the top of your mind until you’re the one left to disinfect several thousand square feet. It’s important to understand that commercial cleaning can make a huge difference in tenant satisfaction and ROI.

What services do commercial cleaning companies offer?

There are a variety of services that can be included under the umbrella of “commercial cleaning.” Here are five of the most critical.

1. Commercial custodial services.

Let’s start with the basics. Our environmental hygienists perform a wide variety of tasks that maintain a sanitary workplace. These include:

  • Vacuuming carpets
  • Dusting
  • Sweeping
  • Mopping
  • Glass cleaning
  • sanitizing fixtures
  • Buffing and floor polishing
  • Refinishing hard surface flooring

…And more. All of these services are minor on their own. But when combined, they create a powerful commercial cleaning service that keeps your tenants and employees happy.

2. Day porter services.

The day porter is the unsung hero that keeps your office running smoothly. They monitor and service all bathrooms to ensure that toilet paper and paper towels are readily available. If a meeting is set to take place, they handle setup and teardown. If your office kitchen is a mess after lunch, your day porter would clean it. A day porter can take care of whatever you need to keep your office running smoothly throughout the day.

When most people think of commercial cleaning services, a day porter is not the first thing to come to mind. However, it’s an important solution that can save your staff time. The service also maintains a tidier office than just a once-a-week, deep clean.

3. Green cleaning.

Green cleaning is rising in popularity as a commercial cleaning solution. As climate change concerns continue to increase, more and more building owners are paying attention to what chemicals their cleaners are using and how much waste they’re creating. The majority of cleaning companies use harsh chemicals that can harm the environment. They also use disposable mop heads that can add up in landfills.

At the Wilburn Company, we prioritize green cleaning services for our clients. We still provide the same great clean, but we utilize green products, reusable materials, and less water. In 2018, we became GS-42 certified, and we take our company’s impact on the environment seriously. We understand the health effects of using harsh chemicals in the workplace. These chemicals can take a toll on the health of your workers and cost your business as sick days add up.

4. Emergency response cleaning.

This is, hopefully, only needed infrequently – but it is needed.

Our emergency response cleaning includes all of our basic custodial services, delivered quickly in extreme situations. For example, our employees are trained in handling hazardous materials, as well as in bloodborne pathogens and HAZCOM. With this special training, we can take care of emergencies related to weather, water mitigation, occupant accidents, and even vandalism.

Emergency response cleaning is an important commercial cleaning service that the Wilburn Company offers our clients. It allows our clients to focus on what matters in the event of a crisis.

5. Post-construction cleaning.

Every building needs to undergo renovations in order to stay up to date and competitive in the market. Refreshing your building is a great idea – new paint, internal structure changes, and more. But it’s also a messy process.

For a while, your building will be covered in tarps and have a fine coating of dust everywhere. There could be construction debris in the hallways and the noise can be quite disruptive. After all of the construction workers leave the building, you’ll be left with the dust, the debris, and the mess. That’s where post-construction commercial cleaning services come in.

The Wilburn Company’s post-construction offering takes care of the mess so that you don’t have to. Instead, you’re able to sit back and enjoy your new building without the dust and dirt in the way.

Read more about services that are included via commercial cleaning engagements here.

Commercial cleaning is not a static industry. Here’s what’s changing.

1. The industry is growing.

While the average job growth in industries is 7% from 2016 to 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the cleaning industry will out pace the other industries. The cleaning industry is forecasted to grow 10% by 2026. In 2015 Statista forecasted that the industry will earn over $46 billion dollars for the first time in 2020.

2. Smart cleaning devices are making work more efficient.

Just as the commercial cleaning sector continues to grow, the technology for commercial cleaning services has grown right along with it. Like many other sectors in the United States, autonomous machines are beginning to make themselves known. Canadian autonomous cleaning robot maker, Avidbots, stepped into the commercial cleaning sector in 2014. The robots are starting to make a splash in the industry, with their latest autonomous floor cleaner, Neo. These autonomous robots are able to provide color-coded reports, along with other metrics including water usage. A multitude of sensors allows them to navigate floor layouts safely and effectively, while also providing a deeper clean.

The IoT is also stepping into the commercial cleaning industry with internet connected washing machines, soap dispensers, and floor scrubbers. As the commercial cleaning industry becomes more and more connected, there may be a tendency for workers and business owners to worry about the entire industry becoming autonomous. However, the new technology also has the ability to greatly improve the customer and employee experience.

3. Specialty cleaning (green cleaning, secure cleaning, emergency response cleaning) services are adding value.

Wilburn specializes in unique cleaning opportunities such as green cleaning, secure cleaning, and emergency response. We predict that in 2019 green cleaning services and secure cleaning services will continue to grow in popularity and need.

Learn more about commercial cleaning trends here.

How much does commercial cleaning cost?

Generally, commercial cleaning services cost from $0.05 to $0.25 per square foot.

Premium services (deep cleaning, add-ons like floor waxing, or specialty services for healthcare or highly secure facilities) may cost $0.50 per square foot. Obviously, these square-footage costs vary widely depending on the size of the facility and the scope of services delivered. Here’s how they translate as cumulative costs at commercial buildings of various sizes and service levels:

Sq. Footage    Minimum Service   High Service   Premium Service   
($0.05 per square foot)   ($0.25 per square foot)   ($0.50 per square foot)   

Want an estimate on the cost your commercial facility? The table above is a helpful starting point, but to get a more detailed idea of the cost for your facility – one that takes your needs and context into account – the best path forward is to have a consultation with an expert.

Get a free, customized quote today from our expert team at The Wilburn Company.

To learn more about how costs are set, read our in-depth review of cost factors and examples.

What are common commercial cleaning supplies?

At the Wilburn Company, we do our best to use green cleaning supplies that are good for our employees, clients, and the environment. This allows us to offer high-quality cleaning services while reducing the presence of harmful toxins. Because of this, you’ll notice that our list of commercial cleaning supplies incorporates green or reusable versions of the most common tools.

With that in mind, here are a few of the most common commercial cleaning supplies.

Disinfectant cleaners.

These limit the spread of disease, protect against the flu, and provide employees with sanitary working conditions. Disinfectants can range from 409 to Mr. Fantastic to straight bleach. Two environmentally friendly products are Simple Green or PureGreen24. Both of these products limit the spread of volatile organic compounds while still killing off unhealthy bacteria.

Reusable mop heads.

Many companies use one-time use mop heads that are made of a highly absorbent fibrous material. While these are an excellent choice for emergency situations that involve bio-hazardous fluids, we prefer to have reusable mop heads on our list of commercial cleaning supplies. Our mop heads are washed after every use, either in an industrial washing machine, or soaked in a disinfectant.

Rubber gloves.

Rubber gloves are an essential part of every cleaning toolkit. Gloves protect our employees from exposure to harsh chemicals or unsanitary conditions. Depending on the weight of the glove, they’re also used when cleaning up emergency situations. A great pair of rubber gloves keeps our employees safe when handling hazards like blood.

Long-lasting sponges.

While your average sponge is made from an oil-based plastic, we strive to use ones that are sustainably sourced. Some examples of these include cellulose and hemp fiber sponges, as well as natural loofahs.


Rags can be used for many of the same things that sponges can be, but they are much easier to keep clean. Sponges have a shorter lifespan as they’re difficult to sanitize. A rag can be thrown into the wash and be sanitized for use on another day.

Glass cleaner.

Commercial cleaning companies use a squeegee and a window cleaning solution for the best result. These solutions are diluted at a high ratio to ensure a streak-free clean at a low concentration of chemicals.

Carpet and upholstery cleaner.

At the Wilburn Company, we use green carpet cleaning machines that require less water and a lower concentration of cleaning solution. These fabric cleaners are free of volatile organic compounds and do not cause respiratory or air quality issues.

Non-chlorinated bleach.

Non-chlorinated bleach gives you all of the benefits of true bleach without any harmful side effects. Due to its solution of 5.25% sodium hypochlorite in water, non-chlorinated bleach does not harm the environment. But it still whitens clothing, kills germs, and works effectively.

Commercial vacuums.

LEED-certified vacuums operate below a 70-dBA noise decibel to reduce the impact on user fatigue. They must also operate using environmentally preferable batteries, such as lithium-ion.

Read more about the most common commercial cleaning supplies here.

What are the benefits of commercial cleaning?

Too often, the general public thinks of a commercial cleaning team as one that merely empties the trash and vacuums the carpets. A great company does much more than that, and the benefits of the service are many.

1. Commercial cleaning enables quick responses to building issues.

Oftentimes commercial hygienists are the first to notice signs of pest infestations, mold, or peeling paint because they clean every inch of your building. This can be a huge benefit to your maintenance team. It’s easy to miss red flags when you’re in charge of a large amount of square footage. Your cleaning team is an asset when it comes to fixing problems before they become serious issues.

2. Commercial cleaning benefits building and occupant health.

There are also many health benefits to commercial cleaning. A good team can prevent the flu from spreading, reduce the number of winter colds your staff receives, and even create better air quality in your office building. This is all due to the products your team uses and the quality of the clean. A thorough cleaning, including doorknobs, phones, and common areas, can greatly decrease the number of germs in your office.

A commercial cleaning team that uses environmentally friendly products isn’t introducing as many chemicals into the air that could irritate your employees’ allergies or other respiratory conditions. Dirty carpets can trap air pollutants in their dense fibers, also decreasing office air quality. A good clean removes dust, dirt, allergens, and other irritants from your building.

Learn more about the benefits of commercial cleaning here.

Should you choose green commercial cleaning?

At The Wilburn Company, we believe that the answer to this question is yes. Commercial cleaning should be green. Green commercial cleaning provides your building and people with huge benefits.

1. Green commercial cleaning benefits the environment.

Green commercial cleaning reduces water and energy usage while cutting down on the use of harmful chemicals that release things like volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere.

2. Green commercial cleaning benefits employee health.

The toxic chemicals used in most regular cleaning products can take a toll on the health of your workers, leading to avoidable illnesses that end up needlessly costing your company money.

Regular cleaning products contain chemicals like endocrine disrupters, phosphorus, nitrogen, and volatile organic compounds. These can cause harm to workers by increasing skin and eye irritation as well as restricting airways. Green cleaning products and services emphasize human health and are less harsh.

3. Green cleaning has cost benefits.

When hidden savings like employee productivity and increased building wellness are considered, green cleaning is often more affordable than traditional commercial cleaning.

When you calculate the cost of employee sick days due to harsh chemical exposure, green cleaning is worth it. You’ll have fewer sick days, reduced water and energy usage, lowering the cost of your utilities.

Better yet, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint as a whole. You can also potentially gain LEED points.

Commercial properties that are going green are winning in more ways than one.

Read more about the benefits of green commercial cleaning here.

How should you choose a commercial cleaning provider?

1. Look for customizable and comprehensive cleaning services.

When choosing a commercial cleaning company, make sure you choose one that can meet all of your needs.

Here at the Wilburn Company, we don’t just offer commercial cleaning services. We offer green cleaning services, general office cleaning services, or day porter services. Our extensive resources and experience allow us to customize your cleaning experience to meet all of your needs.

We dedicate one team to a building or group of buildings. That means that your environmental hygienists are familiar with your building.

2. Look for green cleaning.

Traditional ways of commercial cleaning feature wasted water, harsh chemicals, and can even damage employee health. The volatile organic compounds in traditional cleaning can cause respiratory issues, headaches, and make your employees ill. The more sick days your employees have to take, the worse your productivity will be.

Green cleaning uses less resources like water, and also uses energy efficient new equipment that provides a deep clean without chemicals that break down office décor, like carpet.

3. Get proof of quality.

When choosing a commercial cleaning service, get testimonials, data, case studies, and references to ensure they perform quality work.

If there’s nothing on their website, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for proof of quality assurance. For example, Wilburn has a quality assurance system that has created a culture of accountability and quality within our company.

4. Ask about their employees.

Don’t be afraid to ask your sales contact at your potential new commercial cleaning service about what type of training their janitors undergo. At Wilburn, our environmental hygienists undergo aggressive training to prepare them for any situation. All employees are required to participate in 36 hours of GS-42 training, along with other workforce training, such as:

  • General Cleaning Supplies, Equipment & Procedures use
  • HAZCOM Right to Know/Understand
  • GS42 Green Cleaning Procedures
  • Concentration Dispensing System for Green Cleaning Chemicals
  • Blood Borne Pathogen Cleaning Procedures
  • Hazardous Materials Handling, Transportation & Disposal
  • Green Clean training for Supervisory & Management

4. Choose a provider with a history of expertise.

The Wilburn Company has decades of experience in commercial cleaning. Today, as a GS-42 Green Seal certified cleaner with over 450 cleared employees maintaining over 8 million square feet with a focus on secure facility space, we are dedicated to providing premiere cleaning services that truly meet our clients’ needs.

Learn more about how to select a commercial cleaning service here.

What is it like working with a commercial cleaning provider?

Considering moving forward with commercial cleaning and wondering what an engagement looks like? Here’s the cadence we implement at The Wilburn Company.

1. A comprehensive kickoff.

When the contract is awarded, our next step isn’t to jump in and start cleaning a space based on assumptions. Instead, we sit down with the necessary teams and fully vet out the situation, uncovering any challenges or potential issues before they have a chance to materialize.

The reality is that commercial cleaning doesn’t involve waving a magic wand. It’s a people business. It’s predicated on understandings between cleaners (or environmental hygienists), occupants, and building owners – and there will always be complexities when you’re dealing with people.

For that reason, we also request that clients communicate the scope of cleaning with building occupants, letting them know what they’ll be able to expect in terms that are as clear as possible. This can help to avoid unnecessary tensions. For example, if trash removal has been scheduled for 5:30pm and an occupant is unaware of that, they might get their trash ready at 8:00pm – and then complain when it doesn’t get picked up.

With clear upfront communication, those kinds of misunderstandings don’t happen.

2. Regular progress calls.

The initial communication lays a solid groundwork of understanding. Progress calls ensure that understanding improves over time. They’re a forum for unpacking service success, and they help to ensure that any bumps get resolved quickly so that they don’t become real issues.

We hold progress calls based on need, so the frequency of calls varies. But a common progression is to begin a contract with weekly calls, and then space them out as routines develop and bumps are smoothed out.

3. Nightly reports.

Even more frequent than progress calls, though, are nightly reports. These are designed to identify issues as quickly as possible. They’re viewable at any time, without necessarily requiring direct communication each day (although communication lines are open should there be a need).

Here’s the process: the night supervisor on site files a report documenting any issues that occurred during cleaning. For instance, if a conference room was in-use at a late hour that precluded a scheduled cleaning, that would be noted. Maintenance issues or observations would be, too – for instance, if an office light was inadvertently left on, or if there was water leakage in an area, those items would be recorded.

4. Quarterly business review meetings.

We also believe it’s valuable to review service at a higher level on a recurring basis. Our regular quarterly meetings offer a chance to review performance and contract details. We typically review what’s being provided, and discuss any needed tweaks – for instance, if office cleaning at a weekly rate isn’t producing ideal outcomes, we might adjust to clean daily. Or, if vacuuming doesn’t appear to be necessary in low-traffic areas on a weekly basis, we might adjust to make it biweekly.

5. Open lines at any time.

With kickoff meetings, progress calls, quarterly reviews, and nightly reports, our cadence (and our entire philosophy of communication) is founded on the idea that touchpoints are far better than radio silence. We believe in keeping communication lines open.

Learn more about what it looks like to work with a commercial cleaning company here.

Ready to get started with commercial cleaning?

Hopefully, this information has been helpful as you consider commercial cleaning services for your facility. To take the first step or request a proposal, get in touch with us.

At The Wilburn Company, we’ve been serving DC, Virginia, and Maryland businesses with cleaning services for decades. We’re leaders in green cleaning and industry leaders in quality assurance.

If you’re looking for commercial cleaning services for your facility, let’s talk.