Zone Cleaning Vs. Team Cleaning

Zone Cleaning Vs. Team Cleaning

Taking a scientific approach towards cleaning requires the assessment of conventional vs. emerging methods--in this case, individual zone cleaning compared to specialized team cleaning--and how that impacts overall business goals and outcomes.

Zone Cleaning Vs. Team Cleaning

Zone Cleaning, Team Cleaning, and the Rise of the Custodial Specialist

How organizations staff and coordinate custodial services directly impacts cleaning efficiency, effectiveness, facility hygiene, and occupant health.

Zone cleaning, the most traditional and conventional method, leverages a 'jack of all trades' approach.

A single custodian is equipped with all tools and chemicals necessary to service an entire room, section, or facility by themselves.

Historically, this method most appealed to organizations with limited budgets and relatively minor square footage that required ongoing service.

However, managers for larger facilities--smaller organizations being quick to catch on--realized that zone cleaning was extremely inefficient, resulting in:

  • A heavy workload being placed on too few service personnel.
  • Poor cleaning and hygiene outcomes.
  • High cost.
  • Rapid burnout, and;
  • Service continuity issues due to high turnover.

Conversely, team cleaning places several custodians in a single zone and makes each responsible for a specific surface or task.

This approach allows for:

  • Task specialization.
  • Significantly lower costs when compared to individual zone cleaning.
  • Interchangeability between team members.
  • Improved service provider health and safety.
  • Shorter training time requirements, and;
  • Reduced management overhead.


Assessing Standard Team Cleaning Makeups

The makeup of a standard team cleaning group will consist of most commonly four, but up to seven, members depending on the size and complexity of the facility and environment being serviced.

In general, the makeup consists of:

  • Light Duty Specialist - Tasks involving dusting, emptying trash, and spot cleaning.
  • Vacuum Specialist - Focuses on vacuuming carpets as well as hard floors.
  • Restroom Specialist - Specifically focused on cleaning, sanitizing, and restocking supplies in restrooms, and;
  • Utility Specialist - Focused on cleaning lobby areas, spot cleaning glass, mopping and scrubbing hard floors, and hauling trash to dumpsters from central collection points.


Team vs. Zone Cleaning--Which is Better?

An assessment of research has shown that team cleaning has demonstrated marginally superior outcomes across all major metrics when compared side-by-side to zone cleaning methods.

According to CMM Online;

Overall, the results found on average, Team Cleaning delivers marginally greater cleanliness quality, greater client satisfaction, and productivity than Zone Cleaning.

Team Cleaning is less costly than Zone Cleaning.

On a cost-for-performance basis, on average, Team Cleaning delivers the best overall value because of the balance of low price and good cleanliness quality.

Part Two: Team vs. Zone Cleaning

However, research into the organization of custodial teams has shown that while team cleaning is typically the most desirable route, zone cleaning may prove to be the superior alternative in specific instances, and the author cautions facility managers to map both methods to determine which results in maximum occupant safety and facility sanitation.

Although it has been documented that team cleaning is more effective, management should carefully examine cleaning requirements and cleaning space configuration to ascertain which cleaning method is best for their organization.

For instance, from understanding the cleaning requirements and cleanable space configuration, management could determine which cleaning system is more cost-effective.

Mapping both systems, zone, and team cleaning will determine the cleaning procedure that maximizes safety, quality, and tractability and minimizes labor and equipment outlay.

Reorganization of Custodial Work


References & Resources



Deciding upon the ideal approach to cleaning your facility will directly impact cost, levels of cleanliness, occupant health, customer satisfaction, service provider safety, and overall productivity.

In most cases, on average, team cleaning has proven superior to individual zone cleaning across all metrics.

While the advantage of team vs. zone cleaning is marginal, those margins will add up over time, especially regarding cost, productivity, health, and satisfaction.

One issue with maintaining a four-plus person team of skilled and specialized custodial workers in-house is cost and liability, especially for smaller blue-collar organizations with comparatively smaller budgets than large corporate offices.

In those instances, outsourcing to an experienced local service provider can afford your organization the highly specialized skills and tools necessary to provide your company with the highest cleanliness and safety standards.

Contact us today and discover why Vanguard Cleaning Systems® is the Standard of Clean® for businesses throughout Northwest Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, dial 918-960-4450

In Arkansas, dial 479-717-2410

In Missouri, dial 417-812-9777

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Ozarks.

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Ozarks.