Industrial Cleaner

The Job and What's Involved

Industrial cleaners are responsible for the cleaning of non-domestic buildings. They may work at:

- Hospitals
- Prisons
- Health clubs
- Schools
- Offices
- Retail outlets
- Factories and other industrial facilities

Industrial cleaners are responsible for creating and maintaining a safe, clean and hygienic environment within the premises at which they work. They must ensure that the work is carried out to the highest standards, and cleaners in hospitals, laboratories and food preparation areas must be particularly aware of the ease and speed with which viruses can spread.

Cleaning may consist of brushing, mopping, sweeping, dusting, polishing and wiping. The exact role of an industrial cleaner depends on the type of buildings at which they work. Responsibilities may include:

  • Preparing an area for cleaning.
  • Cleaning ceilings, walls, floors, windows and staircases.
  • The cleaning of specific types of areas such as offices, toilets, changing rooms and kitchens.
  • Emptying waste bins, bagging up rubbish and making sure it is disposed of correctly.
  • The removal of graffiti and chewing gum.
  • Placing warning signs to alert people to potential hazards such as wet floors and spillages.
  • Emptying and cleaning storage tanks.
  • Cleaning vehicles and machinery.
  • Cleaning external areas of buildings, including yards, roofs and external walls.
  • Ensuring cleaning products and equipment are stored correctly and safely.
  • Monitoring levels of cleaning materials and reordering where necessary.
  • Completing timesheets.

Cleaners use a range of cleaning products and equipment, including mops, brushes, electric scrubbers, polishers and steam cleaners. Some specialise in areas such as cleaning upholstery and carpets, or dealing with the aftermath of building work, fire or flood.

An industrial cleaner usually works between 35 and 40 hours a week. They normally work early in the morning, in the evening, at night or at the weekend, when buildings are generally quiet or empty. Shift work and part-time opportunities are widely available.

The work can be physically demanding. It may involve climbing ladders, using chemicals and hot water, and working in hazardous environments.

Most employers provide a uniform for staff. Cleaners working with dangerous chemicals are provided with protective clothing, which may include facemasks, overalls and heavy-duty boots.

The starting salary for an industrial cleaner is £5,860 a year, based on the national minimum wage for 16 to 17 year olds.

There may be additional payments for overtime or shift work. Cleaners are often paid by the hour, especially when working part time.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are nearly 830,000 people employed in the industrial cleaning sector. Industrial cleaners can either be employed directly by a company, or work for a cleaning contractor or recruitment company.

Opportunities are to be found across the UK, although there are more jobs in towns and cities than in rural areas. Staff turnover can be high, so there are often numerous vacancies.

Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, Connexions centres and Jobcentre Plus offices.

Education and Training

There are no formal entry qualifications. Employers look for basic written and oral skills, and a responsible attitude. Apprenticeships may be available.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work, Careers Wales; and for Northern Ireland contact

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Most employers provide basic training covering the use of cleaning equipment, the cleaning standards that are expected and the importance of health and safety when handling cleaning products. Trainees may work with more experienced colleagues until they are familiar with the role.

There has been an overall move within the cleaning industry towards raising standards through increased employee training. Employees are encouraged to work towards the following qualifications:

  • NVQ/SVQ in Cleaning and Support Services at
    Levels 1 and 2.
  • City & Guilds Diploma in Cleaning Services Supervision (Level 3).
  • The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) Cleaning Operators Proficiency Certificate.

Suppliers and other training providers may run short courses to cover the use of specialist equipment.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

An industrial cleaner should be:

  • Thorough in their work and take pride in what they do.
  • Able to read and follow instructions.
  • A team player.
  • Prepared to work unsocial hours.
  • Able to work unsupervised.
  • Reliable, honest and trustworthy.
  • Comfortable communicating with customers and colleagues.
  • Fit and healthy, with good mobility.
  • Able to comply with health and safety regulations.

Your Long Term Prospects

Promotion prospects in small organisations may be limited. In large organisations it may be possible for experienced cleaners with relevant qualifications to progress to supervisory or management roles.

Experienced cleaners may become self-employed and set up their own business. Alternatively, they may move into another related field of work, such as caretaking or building maintenance.

Get Further Information

Asset Skills, 2 The Courtyard,
48 New North Road, Exeter EX4 4EP
Tel: 01392 423399

British Cleaning Council,
PO Box 1328, Kidderminster DY11 5ZJ
Tel: 01562 851129

British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc),
9 Premier Court, Boarden Close, Moulton Park,
Northampton NN3 6LF
Tel: 01604 678710

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