Working Up Window Cleaning Estimates

For those venturing into the window-cleaning market segment, below are a few suggestions to create happy customers and proper profits.

First impressions

First, don’t be late. Set your schedule and stick to it; customers don’t want to wonder where you are.

Next, accurately estimate your time and set a flat rate. Try to get the customer on a contract or verbal agreement for regular service — monthly, weekly, quarterly, etc.As written contracts turn some people off, verbal agreements may be the best you can expect; do what makes the customer comfortable.

When it comes to pricing, keep the price lower if it is regular and easy repeat work. Window-cleaning schedules will vary, (twice monthly, monthly, quarterly, twice a year, yearly) depending on location, need and budget. To negotiate a repeat contract, ask the prospect or customer how often they need their windows cleaned. Then, consider a discount anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent for agreeing to a regular, repeat schedule. But remember; keep the initial cleaning at the non-discount price to prevent anyone from taking advantage of the discounting and then not calling back.

A few pricing suggestions:

  • Minimum bid — US$65 to $100 
  • Hourly rate ­­— $24 to $55 per hour 
  • Suggested minimum trip charge — $45 plus the first hour.

Set a bottom fee regardless of the time it takes. Initial clean-up, especially if really dirty, will be more. A one-time service should cost 50 percent more than repeat work.

Importance Of Appearance

Once you establish yourself, customers will refer you to others who are in same area, franchise, chain or type of business.

As usual, your appearance is important:

  • Keep your clothes clean and odor free. 
  • Don’t be offensive, rude or noisy. 
  • Be polite and courteous. 
  • Open the door if cleaning it. 
  • Smile and speak to people. 
  • Never do windows over people who are eating, working or sitting. 
  • Watch for safety and security issues and report them. 
  • Cover desks and sills with a clean plastic drop cloth to catch drips. 
  • Put a towel on wooden sills to catch the dirty solution so it doesn’t lie there and damage them.

Commercial Window Cleaning — Large Panes

A good rule of thumb on large panes of glass (over 8 square feet) is that it takes one hour to clean 1,000 square feet of glass (inside and out). Greasy or dirty glass that has not been cleaned on a regular basis may need to be cleaned two or three times to get acceptable results. Glass that cannot be cleaned from the ground is charged at a higher rate — add 10 to 20 percent in cost.Inside glass takes 20 percent longer to clean than exterior glass. Window work is always charged at higher hourly rates than basic janitorial tasks. Add 30 percent to 50 percent to your standard cleaning rate and your price should be competitive.

Multi-floor Work

Develop a unit plate cost based on time. Count the number of units and multiply by two times your hourly rate for inside and outside. Don’t forget to calculate the time it takes to get to and back from the window if on a ladder, staging or chair. More time is required for inside work due to obstructions and the additional care.A 3 foot by 4 foot plate takes two to three minutes; a 5 foot by 6 foot plate takes three to five minutes per side. Accessibility is critical to efficient cleaning. More time may be required for gaining access than for actual cleaning. It is faster to drop over the edge on anything above three stories.

A tucker pole can be used up to four to five stories, but is difficult to control and takes time to set up and take down. Use a rope from the top of tucker pole to secure/control it at upper limits. Below three stories, use a tucker pole or ladder for best results. Tucker poles take a third to a quarter more time than a ladder due to setup and moving.

Construction Work

When bidding construction cleaning of glass, multiply your normal rate or time by three or four to determine the appropriate cost. These jobs often require that you do molding and scrape paint, putty, etc., from the surfaces. This may require several washes to get the glass clean.

To calculate a cost, determine a cost for each plate, count the number of plates per each floor, and if the same on each floor, multiply this times the number of floors to determine cleaning time. Add 10 to 15 percent for error and multiply this time by your hourly rate to determine job cost. Careful inspection of glass before cleaning is required to prevent claims for existing scratches, glass defects and other damage that you didn’t cause but could easily be blamed for.

Posted On September 9, 2013

William R. Griffin

President of Cleaning Consultant Services, Inc.

William Griffin is the president of Cleaning Consultant Services, Inc. He is an industry consultant, author, and trainer with more than 35 years of experience. Contact him at wgriff[email protected] or visit

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