Over the years I have helped many people start a cleaning business. Questions about supplies and equipment are very common. Many people assume that they will need to spend a large amount of money right away to buy floor scrubbers, carpet extractors etc.
The good news is that you do not have to spend a great deal of money to start a cleaning business. For general cleaning and janitorial, it is not necessary to own specialty service equipment right away.
We recommend that you contract out any carpet cleaning and floor strip/finish/buffing to the pros with the right equipment. Let’s start by looking at supplies & equipment that would be needed to clean a small building once or twice a week.
Smaller Buildings (under 15,000 sq ft)
Estimated Supplies & Equipment Cost: $300-$1,000
Something to consider when cleaning small businesses – there may not be a large janitorial storage closet for you to leave your supplies & equipment in. If you are only cleaning a building once per week you may not want to invest in equipment to leave there as well. Here’s a list of things we would suggest:
- Small cleaning caddy with general cleaning supplies. Glass cleaner, toilet cleaner, stainless steel cleaner, furniture polish, all-purpose cleaner, paper towels/microfiber etc.
- Broom & dustpan if you are not using a backpack style vacuum. Backpack style vacuums are great but they start around $400.00
- Self-wringing mop & small bucket. Remember – this could be a very small building without a slop sink for a larger bucket/wringer.
- Some people prefer the flat mop floor systems, this is completely your preference.
- A good commercial vacuum will be needed as well. If you are cleaning yourself, bring one with you. As you grow you will need to buy one or more for each facility.
Medium Size Buildings (15,000 – 50,000 sq ft)
Estimated Supplies & Equipment Cost: $600 – $10,000
Starting a larger facility can be more expensive. You may need a walk behind floor scrubber, you will definitely need rolling janitorial carts, mop buckets, vacuums etc.
Having the right cleaning supplies & equipment for larger buildings is crucial for effective time management. Every minute counts when you are paying employees, they must have the right tools for the job. With these types of buildings, you will probably have a dedicated janitorial closet to leave your supplies & equipment in.
We highly recommend a mixing station for your cleaning products. A mixing station connected to a water source automatically mixes your solution from the concentrated chemical. It is very efficient and helps avoid waste.
They also come with matching spray bottles that are properly labeled and color coded. It’s very important that all of your cleaning solutions are properly labeled with MSDS sheets close by.
Many janitorial suppliers will give you a free mixing station if you are purchasing the concentrated products from them.
Rolling janitorial carts are a must to keep all supplies together and organized. Small rolling carts start around $100 and go up from there. Each cart should have the following:
- All cleaners that will be used including toilet bowl cleaner, glass cleaner, stainless steel cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, air deodorizers, etc.
- Mop & bucket
- Broom & dustpan
- Extra paper products for restrooms
- Trash bags and can liners
- Paper towels, microfiber and cleaning towels
- Dusting wand
Vacuums & Carpet Maintenance
You will need a few vacuums that you can leave on site for buildings this size. One commercial backpack and one or two commercial upright machines should be enough. Commercial backpacks work well on most carpeted surfaces and hard floor surfaces as well.
They are not the best for vacuuming walk-off mats because there is no beater bar. You should also have a small portable carpet extractor for spot cleaning. This is typically a hand-held machine and not for large areas.
Commercial Upright Vacuum $200-$400
Portable Carpet Extractor $100-$400
Floor Cleaning & Maintenance
Floor care will depend on the size of the building and how much hard floor surface cleaning is required. Several mops & buckets with wringers may be needed if you go the traditional route. Many cleaning services are now using the flat mop color-coded system for floor care. It’s important to remember not to use the same mop in other areas if it gets used in a restroom.
For large floor areas and hallways, a walk behind auto scrubber is recommended. You can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 – $7,000 for a walk behind machine. Ride on scrubbers costing upwards of $16,000 are usually not needed in buildings this size.
Restroom Cleaning Supplies
When cleaning restrooms you should have everything you need on a rolling janitorial cart with you at all times. Trips back and forth to the supply room can eat away at valuable minutes, costing you money.
For larger restrooms, you may want to consider a touch-free restroom cleaning system. The investment starts around $2,000 but will pay for itself in labor cost savings.
You can learn more about touchless restroom cleaning systems here
Trash & Recycling Removal
Removing the trash & recycled items from a facility can be an enormous portion of the job. It’s important to have a good system and routine in place so time does not get wasted. Rolling trash carts are a must. Dual cart holders with wheels allow one can for trash and another for recycled paper.
The cart needs to have a place to store large can liners and small can liners. You will also need a place for a spray bottle and towel to wipe the cans if needed.
For industrial facilities, large rolling carts will be needed.
Larger Facilities over 50,000 sq ft.
Estimated Cost $5,000- $20,000
Now you are entering a different world. The cleaning supplies and equipment for large facilities can easily start at $5,000 and go up from there. If you are fortunate, a large facility will sometimes have their own ride on auto scrubbers they allow you to use. Ride on scrubbers will be a must for large open floor areas. The last time we bought one it cost $16,000 and that was in 2011.
If a facility requires 12 people a night, and you have people working in teams of two, then you will need a minimum of six sets of everything. You should also have one backup for each vacuum, mop bucket and janitorial cart on site. Your employees will break things, it happens.
It is not likely that you will get any large contracts right away. If you do, then you will figure out a way to make it happen. It usually takes several years of experience to be ready for a large contract. For now, focus on getting your first contract if you haven’t already!
I hope that this has answered your question about cleaning supplies & equipment when starting a cleaning business. Feel free to leave a comment or question below.
Be sure to check out our free course on locating commercial cleaning contracts.