The Importance of Cleaning Inspections

Six ways to make inspections more effective

quality control

Continuous improvement requires continuous evaluation, which is exactly where cleaning inspections come into play. Whether you are a cleaning contractor or an in-house operation, cleaning inspections are your fundamental tool for evaluating services and communicating with customers/stakeholders.

In order to be effective, cleaning inspections must first establish a baseline against which to measure whether service is improving, staying about the same, or declining. You can then use that information to fix problems, often before your client knows they exist.

An effective cleaning inspection program should include six parts.

1. Consistent Standards

You will need to decide your measurement standards and how to apply them. Measurement standards might include:

  • Frequency. Inspections should be frequent enough to provide the right amount of data to measure quality of cleaning. The number or types of rooms in the facility will factor into how many rooms to audit per month. You might consider a certain percentage—for example, 10 percent each month.
  • Type. Although visual inspections are the most popular, others, such as fluorescent marking and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) monitoring systems, provide accurate and traceable verification of a surface’s hygienic status—the key component of a good sanitation program.
  • Components. Do you need to inspect everything in the room, such as the door, chair, and window ledge, or just high-touch surfaces?
  • Ratings. In the educational environment, a rating system of 1-5 is predominately used. Other industries may use a percentage (1 to 100 percent).
  • Specific item weighting. You may want to consider a weighting system that specifies, for example, that the floor has a higher rating than the ceiling.

2. Inspector Training

Because cleaning is somewhat subjective, it is of the utmost importance to eliminate deviations among inspectors as much as possible. Each inspector should be trained on clearly defined standards. Pictures of various ratings/areas—for example, what constitutes a 1, 2, 3, or 4 rating—are a great way to communicate standards. Another is to have several people inspect the same area and discuss results as a way to help all inspectors get on the same page.

3. Technology

Providing real-time data is invaluable to your cleaning operation and to your end-users. The technology you use should be easy to set up, easy to use, and flexible enough to easily customize inspections to the facility. With so many technology platforms on the market today, be sure to select the one that works best for your operation.

4. Reporting

While reporting inspection results to clients is important, reports should always be tailored to client needs. Know your audience and how much time they have to digest the information you provide. When determining how much detail to provide, consider whether your report will be for the chief financial officer (CFO), facility manger, or the cleaner for the area. Too many details can waste the reader’s time. A CFO may only need a high level report to ensure specific targets are being met, while the facility manager may require details on how you are going to fix a situation.

5. Provide Feedback

Use inspection data to provide feedback to your cleaning staff. They can’t fix a problem they don’t know exists. Be sure to also give positive feedback. The cleaning industry does not hear enough positive feedback, and communicating inspection reports offers a great opportunity to thank your cleaning staff for a job well done.

6. Follow Up

I cannot emphasize this enough. If you have identified an issue, you must ensure it does not arise again. Following up is the only way to reduce this risk.

A proper cleaning inspection process demonstrates that you are proactive and doing what you were hired to do, which is to provide high-quality cleaning. It demonstrates respect for your client’s time and ensures they are getting optimum value for their cleaning dollars.

Posted On February 25, 2016

Judy Gillies

Founder and President of The Surge Group, Inc.

Judy Gillies is the founder and president of The Surge Group, Inc., a cleaning consulting company in Toronto that helps facilities managers improve their cleaning operations. She is a co-author of Behind the Broom. For more information, visit

Topics Tags

Also in Health and Safety

A Primer on Healthy Cleaning Chemicals
May 14, 2024 Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner

A Primer on Healthy Cleaning Chemicals

May 8, 2024 Austin Gardiner

A Guide to Safe Pool Water Quality

April 17, 2024

Air Quality 2.0—Shaping IAQ Now and Into the Future

March 25, 2024

Facility Health and Infection Prevention Roundup

Sponsored in Health and Safety

TRUCE software
November 3, 2023 Sponsored by TRUCE Software

Safety: The Dirty Secret of the Cleaning & Maintenance Industries

July 17, 2023 Sponsored by PDI

Core Concepts of Disinfection

July 21, 2022

Video: Hand Hygiene and Understanding Hand Sanitizers

December 15, 2021

CMM Webinar: Enhancing Facility Image—Beyond Appearances

Recent News

flu testing

CDC Wants Increased Flu Testing This Summer

IICRC Releases Revised Mold Remediation Standard

Hazard Communication Standard Update Improves Chemical Labelling

EPA Releases 2023 Pesticide Registration Improvement Act Annual Report

The Importance of Cleaning Inspections
Share Article
Subscribe to CMM