It’s cheap – but is it effective? 5 ways a cheap clean can cost you more in the long run

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It’s cheap – but is it effective? 5 ways a cheap clean can cost you more in the long run

If you’re a busy business owner or office manager, you probably don’t spend hours thinking about who cleans your office. But perhaps you should.

We all want great value for money, so when it’s time to appoint a new cleaner and you’re calling for quotes, here are 5 key questions to ask. The answers can make a big difference to not only the quality of your clean, but your business peace of mind.

1.      Injuries on site are your problem: does your $25 per hour cleaner have insurance?

Did you know that if staff or contractors trip and fall in your workplace, you may be liable? This is quite sobering when you consider that most commercial cleaning jobs are done out of hours, when no one else is around. ‘Accidently’ tripping on the vacuum cleaner cord in your office can provide a nice cash bonus too for a creative and unsavoury character.

Unless you are prepared to cop an insurance claim on your own policy and enjoy paperwork, insisting that your cleaner comes with their own Workcover insurance is a smart move.

2.      Why pay for breakages when you don’t have to? The case for public liability insurance

Whilst we’re on the subject of insurance, legitimate accidents do happen. If a mop handle goes through a window or that expensive lamp gets knocked over, a cleaner with their own liability insurance will take care of it for you.

With the cost of insurance being what it is, this usually forms a key difference in quote value between Gumtree part timer and a professional cleaning company.

3.       Who will be in your workplace after hours?

You take your office security seriously. You’ve got alarms, swipe cards and cameras. But it never ceases to amaze us how many businesses seem have a blind spot when it comes to their cleaners. Aside from the issue of illegal workers (which is a topic for another day but often flagged in a cheap cleaning quote), do you know who is actually going through your bins and looking at paperwork on your desk?

A classic example was a business in Mt Martha, where the Manager unexpectedly dropped in on a Sunday to find the office cleaner had 4 toddlers on the job with her! If you don’t want random people and kids in your workplace afterhours, this is important to note.

We recommend always meeting the actual cleaners who will be doing the job before you hand over the keys and keeping in regular contact with them. After all, they are part of the team that keep your business humming.

4.      What happens when the kids get sick or your cleaner wants a holiday?

In my experience, the two main pain points for business are quality and reliability. Even the most reliable of cleaners need time off and the benefit of a cleaning company as opposed to a sole trader, is seamless service.

5.      Sanitiser vs Disinfectant. What’s the difference and why’s it important?

Just spraying chemicals everywhere doesn’t necessarily provide a hygienic environment. If you’re in a café, kitchen or restaurant, appropriate product is critical but everyone with a busy workplace bathroom can benefit from some diligence in this area!

Cheap chemicals can also damage surfaces. I inspected a site last week with a beautiful wooden reception desk and new polished concrete floors. They had lost their lustre and a quick inspection of the cleaning cupboard showed why.  Chemical choice is not just about hygiene. You need the right chemical to not damage your precious surfaces.

If you are providing the chemicals, you have control over the quality. The good news is, commercial grade products usually work out cheaper in the end than a cupboard full of supermarket options.

6. Are they a licensed Victorian commercial cleaning company? 

Unless they are a sole trader doing every shift themselves, they need to be. If not, you could be liable for a fine of up to $500,000 and your own insurance may be void.

If you’d like advice on the right chemicals for your commercial environment, contact me via LinkedIn or at

First published April 2018

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Joanna Baker