When you’re just starting with your cleaning business one of the first things you need to do is determine how long it will take you to finish a job. This lets you quote customers accurately, and it helps you fill up your schedule appropriately.
So you may be asking yourself how long does it take to clean a house professionally?
Depending on the amount of cleaning and how deep it needs to be, it will take you about three or four hours to clean the typical two to three-bedroom home.
This, of course, is a variable number, so let me explain some factors you can use to more accurately predict how long it will take to clean a home.
Visit the House First
Regardless of how long you’ve been running your cleaning business don’t give estimates over the phone. Whether they mean to or not, people tend to undersell their mess.
Tell the potential customer that you need to visit the home to give them an accurate quote. While you’re there you can assess just how much cleaning you will need to do.
If you decide to charge by square footage you can measure the house to get an accurate idea of its size, or simply ask the owner the size of the house.
Keep in mind that initial cleanings tend to take longer than the subsequent ones depending on what has been neglected and what the customer expects.
Regardless, there a few different ways you can price your services. The more comfortable you get with your own pace the more accurately you will be able to provide quotes.
The most straightforward way to estimate time is by the square footage of the house.
Typically a homeowner will have this knowledge or access to it, but you might also want to measure (just to verify). This is as simple as measuring the length and the width of the area that needs cleaning and multiplying the two numbers (l x w = square footage).
This can be done per room or on the whole house; that’s up to you and the customer.
After you get the square footage a general rule for cleaning time is 1.5 hours per 1000 square feet for general cleaning.
Again, keep in mind that first cleanings can affect this time. You may also need to add time if deep cleaning is required or requested.
Alternatively, you can estimate time on the number and nature of the rooms you will be cleaning.
The most common areas you will run into are:
Kitchen: If the customer cleans as they cook it shouldn’t take long to go over the kitchen, somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes. The kitchen can potentially be the messiest room, and deep cleaning can take just over an hour.
Bathroom: Bathrooms are easy to clean as they’re used, and usually only take about 30 minutes to clean. If you encounter one that isn’t smelling so fresh it can take up o 45 minutes to clean and disinfect the area.
Living Room: While they are perhaps the largest room in the house, they aren’t typically the most cluttered. Unless you need to tidy up space, or you have decorations to dust around the living room shouldn’t take more than one hour.
Bedroom: Because the cleanliness of the bedroom is intrinsic to its resident these have the widest range of potential times. Deep cleaning should take about 30 minutes per room, but if you have to tidy up the room before getting to the actual keeping that will tag on an extra 30 minutes.
Apartments are typically smaller than homes, and they don’t necessarily take as long. For a general rule, an apartment with one bedroom and one bathroom should take 1.5 to 2.5 hours to clean. A two-bedroom one-bathroom apartment usually sits around 2.5-3.5 hours.
Time works differently when you’re focusing on a specialized area of cleaning. You don’t have to worry about doing many things at once, but you do need to commit time to the specific area you’re cleaning.
Because carpet cleaning and window cleaning are the most common for a residential home, we’ll look at those.
Carpet cleaning takes an average of 30 minutes per room. Things that need to be factored into the time are the condition of the carpet (is it lightly soiled, or does it need a deep clean?) and the size of carpeting and rugs.
You won’t need to worry about rooms that don’t have carpeting, such as kitchens, but larger rooms like living rooms can take 10-15 minutes longer.
You should also keep the method of cleaning in mind. Dry cleaning doesn’t take as long as hot water extraction, which can take almost twice as long for drying time.
Window cleaning is usually done once a year, and it takes about three hours to clean the windows of an average-sized house. This can fluctuate based on the number of windows, whether some skylights or screens need to be cleaned, and how much work needs to be done to clean window sills.
Check out our list of services to offer at your business HERE.
Things That Can Add on Time for You
Sometimes you can tell right off the bat if a cleaning job is going to take longer than average. Some key indicators are:
Clutter in the Home: If the client is the kind to pile stuff on top of the surfaces you need to clean you can expect to either be putting that away or moving it back and forth to clean. Either way, it will take up more of your time.
Grime Buildup: You will typically see this in the kitchen and bathrooms. The buildup of grease, soap, and dust can significantly impact your cleaning time. Usually, you can soak the area while cleaning another space, but it may still require some extra soaking and scrubbing.
Pets/Kids: It’s not that they want to be dirty; kids and animals usually can’t help it, and that’s evident when cleaning. You shouldn’t be picking up after the, but houses with kids and pets may require a bit more attention.
Smoking: It can take quite a bit longer to properly neutralize the effects of cigarette smoke on a house. Most people smoke outside for this reason, but if the smell is in the house you should prepare to spend more time cleaning. You may even need to clean areas like walls and upholstery that aren’t typically dealt with regularly.
Things You can Recommend to Customers Can to Save Time (and Money)
Customers can prepare the area to save you time (and money). If they think your estimate is high, or they want to pinch a few pennies, you can make these recommendations.
Clean as you cook in the kitchen. This typically takes ten minutes a day, but it’s much easier to clean up food messes when they are fresh. It’s also a good idea to get dishes out of the way before having a whole-house cleaning.
Touch up the bathroom as you use it. A toilet cleaner that functions as you flush can keep things fresh, and you can wipe down the shower while you’re in it (this one blew my mind).
Take time to tidy the bedroom every night. Keep a small trash can in the bedroom if you need to, and make sure everything finds its place before you turn out the lights.
To keep living rooms from being the catch-all of the house you can adopt a basket system. Things that don’t belong in the living room go into the basket, and once it’s full you take the basket around and return the items to their appropriate rooms.
They may seem like simple tips, but they pave the way for you to do a deeper cleaning job that will better satisfy the customer and their bank account.
How much should I charge per hour?
That’s entirely dependent on the pricing in your area. The average rate spans from $25 to $90 per hour. Some things you need to keep in mind when determining your hourly rate are the cost of supplies, cost of transportation (gas, bus fare, vehicle upkeep), insurance (both business and personal), and any taxes that are taken from your income.
How much does the time change with more than one person working?
Theoretically, you could cut the work time in half when you have a coworker. Keep in mind that there may be instances where you step on each other’s toes or one of you has nothing to do, so you’ll have to figure out a rhythm that works for both of you.
How can I figure out my cleaning speed?
This is the easiest to do with square footage. Keep track of the square footage of an area you clean and how long it takes you to clean that space. Average Cleaning Speed = Square Footage/Time. You might also want to keep track of any other details that may have affected that time, but it shouldn’t take long to have a good idea of what your cleaning speed is.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
To learn more on how to start your own cleaning business check out my startup documents and course here.