Part of a movement: Blue Jay Cleaning Oklahoma and Florida fights to be recognized as a trade industry — the cleaning trade

Trades are often known as carpenters, plumbers, painters.  Some trades require schooling and many need licenses.  Learning a trade can be as simple as just showing up and putting in time.  So, is professional cleaning a trade?

Yes!  But the cleaning industry has had to fight for this title. 

Reason the cleaning industry is a trade:

  1. Required training period
  2. Skills developed over a long period of time
  3. Knowledge of chemicals
  4. Knowledge of how to properly clean specific surfaces
  5. Knowledge of how to use and care for equipment
  6. Knowing what is not within scope

Required training period

At Blue Jay Cleaning, in order for a cleaning technician to go solo, they must undergo around 60-80 hours of one-on-one training depending on their experience and performance. Some require longer training periods. This is not like other entry level jobs where skills can be learned in one day. There are hundreds of scenarios and considerations that happen on the job. In so many words, it is not repetitive or mindless action. Even after going solo, the technician is still in a training period and in constant communication with management.

Skills developed over a long period of time

Not everyone has what it takes to be a professional cleaner.  Albeit, cleaning is one of the easier trades to join.  But, simplicity (lack of licensing, exams, lengthy apprenticeships, etc.)  does not necessarily correlate in the execution of a longstanding career.  Professional cleaning requires both a mental focus and a physicality many cannot maintain. It takes years to develop into an outstanding cleaning technician who can deliver quality and is efficient with time.

Knowledge of chemicals

We study the PH of specific cleaners and know scientifically how our detergent cleaner captures dirt, grime, grease, debris. We know what the difference is between and cleaner, sanitizers and disinfectant. We also know what not to do!

Cleaning technicians understand the critical nature of professional cleaning because, if not done correctly, they could leave behind a property with thousands of dollars in damage.  

For example, amateur house cleaners using oven cleaner to clean a shower is a cleaning “trick” that is frowned upon in the professional cleaning world. We see Facebook posts frequently from a desperate new cleaner who is trying to figure out how to fix their clients marble or travertine shower after using one of the internet’s “hacks.” It is a cringeworthy moment to inform them the expensive stone was damaged and could cost up to thousands to repair.  

Another unfortunate occurrence we see often is hazardous mixing of chemicals or use of toxic chemicals that are created for specific use with needed PPE (personal protective equipment).  This can have detrimental, if not deadly, health effects. Chemical mixing is a lack of training and knowledge.

Knowledge of how to properly clean specific surfaces

In Blue Jay Cleaning, we train on not just chemical safety but how to use properly use the chemicals on certain materials and surfaces. It is critical to know if a material porous or more solid and how chemical PH can affect the material. There are many cleaning practices that are outdated and not actually cleaning. For example, using Pledge for dusting or polishing furniture. (Some furniture needs polish but there are better products to use). Frequent use of Pledge actually causes a greasy build up that can trap more dust!

What method do you use clean copper or travertine or mineral deposit on hardware? We know the answer but not the everyday person does.

Knowledge of how to use and care for equipment and tools

How to most effectively use a mop, broom, vacuum, duster can make a huge difference in quality and efficiency of a professional cleaner. We, (us professional cleaners), take great pride in perfect vacuum lines! We also know if you are not sweating when you are mopping, you’re not scrubbing hard enough.

Caring for equipment is also important. Blue Jay Cleaning’s teams know to clean their filters, brush rollers and how to check for clogs and clean a vacuum.

Some cleaning companies incorporate razors in cleaning which takes ample training to know when and when not use and how to properly use without damaging surfaces.

Knowing what is not within scope

When one is a professional cleaner, they understand their niche. 

Post-construction cleaning (PCC) isn’t for an everyday house cleaner.  Special chemical, tool knowledge and training is needed to complete a newly built structure along with the experience in bidding and scheduling the clean.  Blue Jay post-construction cleaning started with shadowing a PCC company out of a different market in order to gain understanding of the general process. In addition, dozens of hours of research and studying took place to find the best practices before starting a PCC clean. Even with ample preparation, much was learned about this specific type of clean over the years on the job.

Another example, if a client is expecting their house cleaning company to steam or shampoo their carpets, a professional cleaning service or individual has the wherewithal to inform their clients that carpet cleaning is not part of the scope of work they do and refer them to carpet experts.  The same goes for window cleaning, grout cleaning, etc.

Who is aiding in efforts to establish the cleaning trade?

There are several organizations spearheading the movement for professional cleaning to gain respect as a trade.  Of these: the American House Cleaners Association AHCA. https://www.theahca.org/. has pushed for a more grassroots effort. Excellent results have come from them rallying to cleaning troops to advocate locally.

ARCSI, Association for Residential Cleaning Services International, is part of the largest cleaning industry organization, the International Sanitary Supply Association, ISSA.  ARCSI has simultaneously pushed for better training and standardized practices among the house cleaning trade.

Insurance companies take the cleaning business quite seriously too.  Just ask about our premiums; they must see cleaning as a trade! 

More (truly) professional cleaners are making their way into the field.  What fantastic news because together, it elevates the trade.  Added training of safety, chemical and material knowledge, tool improvements and other education is creating career capable cleaning technicians who are valued and compensated well for their efforts.  Cleaners who can also state, “I am in the cleaning trade.” As for Blue Jay Cleaning, we will continue to improve our training for our staff to increase their skill level and our delivery of services.