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Reducing the cost of cleaning supplies

Monday, December 18, 2017
By Michael Wilson

Many facilities prefer to retain their own cleaning workers and purchase their own cleaning supplies, but when budgets get tight, reducing the number of custodial workers is often an initial consideration.

However, astute managers have learned such strategies result in a host of new problems, such as unhealthy buildings. Rather than cut back on workers, saving money on cleaning supplies is another option.

Here, Michael Wilson, vice president of marketing for AFFLINK, lists a few ways to reduce cleaning supply costs. The first step is to examine what cleaning solutions, tools, tasks and equipment are necessary for maintaining the building.

Selecting cost-saving products and supplies

Supply costs tend to add up, especially in larger facilities. For example, plastic liners used to line trash cans are not considered a high-cost item, but in large facilities with hundreds of trash cans, this cost quickly increases. Most of these liners end up in landfills where they can take years to disintegrate.

According to Ron Segura, founder and president of Segura & Associates, a janitorial consulting company based in the United States, omitting liners from trash cans can be a significant cost savings. He points to a large corporate centre that removed all trash liners. Cans that received dry trash were spot cleaned as needed, while cans containing wet trash were replaced with new cans and pressure washed. It was found this method reduced cleaning times and eliminated the need for thousands of trash can liners.

Paper products

With paper products, choosing the right dispensing system can also lead to savings. Sensor-controlled dispensing systems can be regulated to release a specific amount of paper, helping to reduce paper towel waste and costs.

Hand soap

Similarly, one way to reduce the amount of hand soap used in a restroom is to install touch-free dispensers. Once again, these can be regulated to release just the amount of soap necessary to adequately clean hands.

Toilet paper

Switching from traditional small roll toilet paper to large roll paper and dispensers invariably results in cost savings. C-fold, single- and bi-fold paper towels are not the most economical.

Cleaning chemicals

Cleaning chemical dilution control systems are a must because they help eliminate waste. Using too much chemical is not only wasteful and costly, but can increase the immunity of pathogens on surfaces, leaving chemical residue, which causes rapid re-soiling.

Ready-to-use products are quick and easy, but managers are paying for that convenience, much more than they realize. Selecting cleaning solutions in five-gallon containers is more cost effective because the solution is often highly concentrated. It lasts longer and reduces packaging needs and fuel for transporting the products.

Disinfectants should be used only where needed and only after a surface has been cleaned. Disinfectant use often becomes a cleaning habit, applied everywhere for all types of cleaning needs.


Dashboard systems are available online and are designed to work on different computer devices. Some are free.  They allow the user to select a product and then compare it with others designed for the same or similar purpose. Additionally, they allow users to select green-certified alternatives to many products. This makes product shopping easier for both contractors and managers, helping to eliminate costly trial-and-error purchasing.

Product mapping

Another way to reduce cleaning costs is to compare products used in a facility to the scope of products on the market, looking at cost, effectiveness, ease of use and other metrics. This is referred to as product mapping.

Many facilities often select a particular product and keep re-ordering it without considering products that may be more effective and less expensive.

If a facility was using four different brands of all-purpose cleaning solutions that range from $10 per gallon to $25 per gallon, each product should be ranked according to cost and performance. Study the map. What is listed as the most expensive all-purpose cleaning solution may not necessarily rank as the best performer. In some cases, the less expensive product will prove the best performer or rank as well as the best performer.

Not only can product mapping help facilities select the most cost-effective and best-performing products, but it can also help them eliminate products they no longer use. By purchasing large amounts of just one product, distributors can often pass on savings and rebates from manufacturers.

Michael Wilson is vice-president of marketing for AFFLINK, a global supply chain optimization that provides clients with procurement solutions to drive efficiencies.


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