One of the challenges facing cleaning professionals in an era of budget cuts is to find ways of reducing costs. Although you can save money in many different areas, the greatest source of lost revenue is in wasted labor hours. Smart Cleaning is a training concept being utilized with great success across the country. The concept involves a step-by-step training that eliminates backtracking and disorganization resulting in huge savings.

Smart Cleaning does not mean cutting corners; rather it requires that you train workers to clean a facility in a systematic, synchronized manner within a certain amount of time. Most Smart Cleaners can accomplish in 8 hours what a regular cleaner would accomplish in 10 hours or more. 


Smart Cleaning relies on four major principles to accomplish cleaning tasks:

• Move from top to bottom in a room

• Move through a room in a circular pattern

• Don’t clean areas not needing cleaning

• Don’t backtrack


Tips to analyze processes and train employees:

Where is the best place to start cleaning? Workers should be directed to the ideal starting point based on tenant traffic, operation times, etc.

What equipment and supplies are needed? Utility carts, dusters, cloths, etc. should be specified so that the worker does not have to go back to the janitor closet for any reason.

How can I make sure workers have the correct tools with them? Use a comprehensive check list to identify the tools needed for each worker.

How can I eliminate backtracking? Supervisors should observe workers and ask why they are going back to the closet.  Then make corrections to keep it from re-occurring.

What is the fastest (and most appropriate) equipment to do the job? Look at everything from dusters to vacuums to mops. Remember that quality pays when it comes to supplies.

Where are the “hot spots” in the building? Usually it will be the restrooms, front lobby or the VIP office. Develop special procedures for these areas.

What is the best cleaning sequence and traffic pattern of movement? Do not assume that the average worker knows how to clean efficiently. Observe your best (and fastest) workers.  

Invest the time necessary to train workers in how to be Smart Cleaners. Give them the exact procedures and the production rates expected. Demonstrate the correct cleaning techniques using the same tools and supplies they will use. Have them perform their job duties to determine their understanding of the information. A laminated card system customized for their job will be of great value. Finally, correct any mistakes and utilize the card system until they have mastered the movements, equipment and techniques perfectly.


Inspect, Correct, Observe, Correct, Inspect until it is right:

The key person in this endeavor is the on-site supervisor. He/she must unlearn old habits and assumptions while acquiring new skills. Supervisors must have confidence in themselves and in the Smart Cleaning system. Workers will challenge the process until they are convinced that it actually makes their job easier.  Of course, recognition such as bonuses and raises will reinforce the concept quickly.

The best time to introduce Smart Cleaning is when a new worker starts. One side benefit has been a reduction in turnover of workers. Happy, productive, motivated workers tend to stay longer at the same job thereby reducing administrative costs.  

Your comments and questions are important.  I hope to hear from you soon.  Until then, keep it clean.


Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years.  He is a trainer, speaker and consultant.  You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or