The Cleaning Survey 2023

The Cleaning Survey 2023: The Results are In

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The Cleaning Survey 2023 : Thorn Baker FM

The Cleaning Survey 2023: The Results are In

Welcome to the results from our first cleaning survey. We will be aiming to conduct this survey annually, building upon it each time. Your feedback will be essential to shaping how this develops, so we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has taken part, and if you missed out this time don’t worry, you’ll get another chance next year!

Our aim with this survey is to get a better understanding of the cleaning community's pain points, biggest challenges, positive changes, and hiring trends.

As a team we discussed some current issues and talking points that your specialist Recruiters have picked up on their recent site visits and calls with their clients and candidates. Three areas came up frequently: sustainability, staffing, and apprenticeships and training. We focused on those and have surveyed both our clients and candidates to get what could potentially be different views on the same subject.

We have surveyed over 25,000 people and the results are in so let’s get started…



Sustainability has been a hot topic for some time across multiple sectors and it’s something likely to be an ever-growing discussion in future – how can we be greener, what is our environmental impact, how can we improve?

This is one of the subjects that the team has been having a lot of discussions about recently. From digital business cards, hand drying methods, single use plastic to electric vans. In true assume fashion the results weren’t really what we expected.

We asked; Do you think sustainability is the biggest issue the cleaning industry is currently facing?

The Cleaning Survey 2023 : Thorn Baker FM


And the answer was no. Now this surprised us given the volume of conversations that we’d had around this very topic. What are your thoughts, do you agree? Let us know.

But the feedback was clear, it is an important issue but when asked if they’d answered no what they felt was, 100% of the responses were recruitment/ staffing. We’ll come back to that…

The Cleaning Survey 2023 : Thorn Baker FM

A round-up of the additional questions asked:

  • 50% of people were working towards a more sustainable hand-drying method

  • 0% were using eco-friendly paper towels

  • 50% were using traditional towels and the other 50% were using hand dryers

  • 100% are currently using reusable trigger spray bottles having moved away from single-use plastic.

In this area we asked our candidates an additional question about sustainable products: Do you think eco-friendly products clean as well as traditional products?

The Cleaning Survey 2023 : Thorn Baker FM

The results feel too close to make a comment really, it could purely be down to personal preference. But we had to ask…



Staffing needs a little bit of context so if we roll back slightly and take a look at the last few years, we all know that pre and post-pandemic the world views cleaning in a totally different way. There is more demand now and dare we say more respect for the industry.

The cleaning industry employs 970,000 people. If we include all cleaning-related jobs, the number jumps to 1.47 million people, making up 5% of the UK workforce, placing the sector among the top in the country.

Some other interesting facts include:

  • Nearly 450,000 people work in the commercial cleaning sector.

  • More than 50% of them are employed by the top 1% of cleaning companies in the UK.

  • There are almost 66,500 cleaning companies registered in the UK, with the average number of cleaners per business being 15.

The Cleaning Survey 2023 : Thorn Baker FM

The view that anyone can clean just isn’t correct. Anyone in a hiring position for cleaning staff could tell you that. It’s hard, physical work that needs high attention to detail. There are levels and procedures to follow from basic cleaning 101’s through to more in-depth requirements dependent on the sector, training must be completed for some sectors as well (training will be our next discussion point).

100% of the people we surveyed were currently hiring but only 25% felt that they were getting enough, quality applications. Labour shortage is another subject that shows no sign of disappearing, we have spoken about it at length and you read our most recent solution-based blog right here. If you’re a candidate and you’d like to about how you can make the most of the current candidate focused job market you can do that here.


Apprenticeships and Training

Established in 1982, the British Cleaning Council (BCC) is the authoritative voice of UK cleaning, hygiene and waste industry, a sector worth nearly £59bn a year to the country’s economy and one which employs 1.47 million people.

The BCC is championing several areas for the cleaning industry with the Government at the moment. Just to name a few these include:

  • Urgent consideration to be given to making cleaning staff eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa scheme.

  • A standard qualification for cleaning to be developed within the Apprenticeship Levy.

  • Training budgets for cleaning operatives should be adequate.

All of the above would help to alleviate some of the current issues around recruitment and training. If you’d like to join the BCC’s We Clean, We Care campaign, which reflects the pride that skilled and professional cleaning staff have in the vital, frontline role simply scan this QR code.

The Cleaning Survey 2023 : Thorn Baker FM


But what results did we get on our survey?

From the client’s side overall it was seen as a good idea and the majority felt that not on the business but their workers would benefit from apprenticeships and training. An interesting comment was that it could be used as a route to cheap labour.

The Cleaning Survey 2023 : Thorn Baker FM

From the candidate’s perspective the idea of apprenticeships wasn’t warmly received, but a repeat theme in the responses was on the job training. Most people felt that practical training would be of huge benefit to them rather than an online course which could easily be skimmed through (you have to respect honesty!)


And finally…

The question you’ve all been waiting to hear the results on: Robot cleaners, will they ever be able to replace a real person?

87% of people said no. Sarah Connor will be relieved.


If you’d like to discuss these results further or perhaps you need help recruiting cleaning staff for your sites our team can help. We currently supply temporary cleaners to our large multi-site clients across the UK and we can help support you too. Contact the team here or simply fill in our contact form and we’ll call you.