The average cleaning department sets aside 51 percent of the budget for labor. The fact that more than half of the overall budget goes to this one line item creates certain challenges for cleaning managers.

According to a Facility Cleaning Decisions survey, the average introductory salary for new cleaning workers is $26,075. This is actually higher than some salary comparison websites such as, listing the average custodian at $22,120, and, at a slightly higher wage of $23,000 a year.

Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise since reader surveys revealed that 53 percent of cleaning managers believe their starting salaries for janitors are at a living wage that is higher than Federal and State minimum requirements. But they still fall short of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic averages for building cleaning workers at $30,200 annually.

New employees in the cleaning market notoriously make low wages, which is the reason why 40 percent of the workers will leave for more pay elsewhere. In fact, departments experience a turnover rate of 16 percent.

When asked what would keep staff on hand, the answer was no surprise: higher salaries. In response, managers are doing their best with what they have to keep quality staff — 41 percent made retention their top management priority by adding salary increases to their efforts.

Although starting salaries might be lower than workers prefer, 67 percent of workers will receive a wage increase between 2 and 3 percent each year. This tactic seems to be working for departments seeking staff longevity. According to Facility Cleaning Decisions surveys, 67 percent of cleaning staff will stay in their position for five or more years.

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Member Content: Salary Survey Benchmarks For Facility Cleaning Managers