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Licensed Cleaning Services in San Francisco, CA

How to Hire a Good Cleaning Service in San Francisco

Cleaning services in San Francisco can help you eradicate dirt, bacteria, viruses, and other microbes in your home from areas that you did not even know existed. With more than 122,000 coronavirus infections and 800 coronavirus fatalities recorded amongst San Franciscans, proper cleaning and disinfection of living and working spaces in the city is of utmost importance. Hiring a cleaning company that provides their services per relevant cleaning standards and local guidance not only ensures the health and safety of you and your loved ones but also frees up time for you to do other things you love. However, before making your decision on which cleaning company in the city to hire, you should not only ask but also get satisfactory answers to the following questions:

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Cleaner in the City of San Francisco

  1. Are You Licensed to Practice as a Cleaning Service in the City of San Francisco?

    Before a cleaning company can conduct business in San Francisco and legally offer its services to residents and other interested parties in the city, they must meet certain regulatory requirements. These include choosing a business structure, applying for an Employer Identification Number from the IRS, and registering their businesses.

    Business registration is handled by the SF Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector (TTX) and must be done no later than 15 days after the cleaning company commences business in the city. This registration can be done online, and registrants will be required to provide certain details, such as their business name, business tax ID, legal structure, ownership names and addresses, location information, and other requested information. Once the online application has been submitted, registrants will receive two separate emails containing an e-signature application that must be completed and returned to the SF Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector, and instructions on how to pay the applicable registration fee.

    Note that cleaning companies that are structured as limited liability companies, corporations, limited partnerships, or limited liability partnerships will also be required to register their businesses or incorporate at the state level with the California Secretary of State. Also, cleaning companies that wish to conduct business under assumed or fictitious names will be required to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement with the San Francisco Office of the County Clerk.

    Queries related to the business registration process can be directed to the SF Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector at:

    • City Hall
    • 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
    • Room 140
    • San Francisco, CA 94102
    • Phone: (415) 554-6134
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays

    Finally, cleaning companies in San Francisco that offer post-construction cleaning services worth more than $500, inclusive of labor and material costs, will be required to obtain a state-issued D-63 Construction Clean-up Contractor License from the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). This license covers activities that involve the cleanup or removal of construction-generated debris, such as scrap lumber, dirt, drywall, and paint or adhesive products, from building grounds and structures. Requirements for obtaining this license include providing proof of on-the-job experience and passing a licensing examination. You can contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 to get additional information on its licensing requirements and procedures. If your reason for hiring a cleaning company is to provide post-construction cleanup services, then you can confirm that they possess a valid CSLB-issued license online via the board's Check a License portal.

  2. How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Cleaning Services in the City of San Francisco?

    You should always find out how much a cleaning service will charge you before finalizing any hiring arrangements with them. Per data published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, cleaning workers in the San Francisco area earn hourly wages of about $21.50. However, the amount of money that you will be charged for a cleaning job in the city is influenced by several factors, some of which include:

    • The location and size of the residence or facility that needs cleaning
    • The condition of your home or facility
    • The type of cleaning service that you require
    • The number of cleaners that will be involved in the job
    • The labor intensity of the cleaning job
    • The cleaning company's reputation
    • The type of cleaning supplies that will be used for the job

    One way to make sure that you pay a reasonable rate for your required cleaning service is by getting cost estimates for the job from several cleaning companies in the city and comparing these estimates. Doing this not only gives you an idea of the average rates for cleaning companies in the city but also helps you work out a budget for the work and protect yourself against cleaners that overcharge unsuspecting consumers.

    Building and grounds cleaning workers in San Francisco earn an average wage of $44,770 annually. A comparison of the average hourly wages of workers in San Francisco's building and grounds cleaning and maintenance industry against those of workers in the rest of California and five other major cities in the country is provided below:

    San Francisco Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage
    $21.53
    California Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage
    $18.74
    Los Angeles Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage
    $18.32
    New York City Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage
    $19.09
    Houston Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage
    $13.53
    Chicago Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage
    $16.44
    San Jose Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage
    $20.90

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  3. What Types of Cleaning Services Do You Offer?

    When searching for suitable cleaning companies in San Francisco, you should always find out the types of services that your preferred company provides to ensure that they are qualified to deliver your required service satisfactorily. Services that are commonly offered by professional cleaning companies in the city include:

    • Regular house cleaning
    • Deep cleaning
    • Move in/move out cleaning
    • Individual room cleaning
    • Post-construction cleaning
    • Vacation rentals cleaning
    • Office and commercial building cleaning
    • Special event cleaning
    • Enhanced disinfection services
    • Green cleaning
    • Live-in housekeeper and maid services

    Confirm that the cleaning company you intend to hire provides the specific type of service that you require or can tailor their available services to fit your specific needs. You should ensure that they utilize the right types of cleaning supplies and tools necessary to deliver a satisfactory outcome after the job is done. Finally, you should also find out how much you will be charged for the service. Note that, depending on the service that is being offered, you may be charged hourly rates or square footage rates. Provided below are cost estimates for some cleaning services offered in San Francisco:

    Graffiti removal and protection
    $2.15 - $3.60 per square foot
    Janitorial services
    $0.16 - $0.27 per square foot
    Industrial cleaning services
    $0.35 - $0.55 per square foot
    Medical office & healthcare facility cleaning services
    $0.21 - $0.42 per square foot
    Upholstery and furniture cleaning
    $92.95 - $98.50 (for average-sized couch)
    Cleaning a typical four-bedroom home
    $133 - $158 per visit
    Maid services/home cleaning
    $20 - $23.35 per hour, per person
  4. Do You Comply with the City of San Francisco's COVID-19 Regulations?

    Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, a total of more than 122,000 confirmed cases and 800 fatalities have been recorded in San Francisco. As of February 2022, more than 782,700 residents of the area have been vaccinated, and at least 83 percent of San Franciscans have completed a vaccination series. Even though a large percentage of the city's residents have been vaccinated, it is still important to make sure that any cleaning company you hire in the area is conversant with relevant COVID-related information and guidance provided by the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

    Compliance with these guidances is necessary to ensure that a resurgence of coronavirus cases does not occur in San Francisco, and you should always make sure that your preferred cleaning company follows the guidelines provided by these regulations when providing their services. Some of these guidelines are adopted from CDC recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting homes, business premises, and facilities, such as using approved disinfectants, using masks, gloves, and appropriate PPE, paying attention to high-touch surfaces, and properly disposing of contaminated items.

    You can make inquiries or get additional information on San Francisco COVID-19 guidance and regulations by calling 311 or by contacting the San Francisco Department of Public Health at:

    • 101 Grove Street
    • San Francisco, CA 94102
    • Phone: (415) 554-2500
  5. Do You Provide Commercial Cleaning Services for Non-Residential Buildings in the City of San Francisco?

    Cleaning companies in San Francisco generally offer residential cleaning services, commercial cleaning services, or a combination of both. There are slight differences between residential and commercial cleaning services, the key one being that the former focuses on single-family homes and other types of residential dwellings, while the latter focuses on commercial buildings and facilities. Another difference is that commercial cleaners typically require specialized training, tools, and equipment to provide their services, while residential cleaners do not.

    There are no special business license requirements for cleaning companies in San Francisco that provide commercial cleaning services. Nonetheless, cleaners that wish to provide post-construction cleanup services are required to obtain an occupational license at the state level from the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Failing to obtain this license can result in state-imposed statutory penalties of up to $5,000 in fines, six months in jail, or a combination of both, as well as administrative fines of anywhere between $200 and $15,000.

    Note that additional permits may also be required for certain types of cleaning services in the city. For example, cleaning companies that transport or dispose of medical waste and other types of hazardous wastes may need to either register or obtain a permit from the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Inquiries on medical and hazardous waste registration and permits can be directed to this department at (415) 554-2500. You can also get information on additional permits and registrations that may be required by cleaning companies in San Francisco by contacting the California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, either online or via phone number (877) 345-4633.

  6. Do You Engage Unionized Cleaners for Non-Residential Buildings in the City of San Francisco?

    Unions like the SEIU Local 1021 and the SEIU: United Service Workers West help cleaners in San Francisco fight for better wages, healthcare, job security, overall working conditions, and other benefits. Many building owners and managers favor hiring cleaners or unionized cleaning services when in need of recurring commercial cleaning services because of considerations for these matters.

    Note that, while it may be cheaper to contract a non-union cleaning service due to the lower wages that their cleaners typically earn, you may receive negative public attention and also be faced with pressure from unions in the city to cancel your contract. As such, it is advisable to look out for cleaning companies that employ union cleaners when searching for recurring commercial cleaning services in San Francisco. In addition to reducing the chances of your business activities being interrupted, contracting union cleaning services also has other advantages, such as low employee turnover and up-to-date training, certifications, and insurance for cleaners.

  7. Do You Offer Covid-19 Disinfecting Services in the City of San Francisco?

    In order to provide a safe and healthy environment for your family, tenants, customers, employees, or visitors, it is important to ensure that your home or workspace is properly cleaned and disinfected after a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case. However, not every cleaning company in San Francisco is adequately equipped to provide COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection services. As such, it is your responsibility to determine the qualifications of your intended cleaning company regarding the provision of these enhanced disinfection services.

    To this end, you should always let the cleaning company know that you specifically require COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection services and confirm that they provide this service. Next, find out the types of disinfectants that they intend to use for the job and make sure these disinfectants are included on the EPA's List N Disinfectants for Coronavirus, which have been determined to be effective against all strains and variants of the coronavirus. It is also a good idea to inform the cleaning company of any allergies or respiratory-related medical conditions that you or regular occupants of the infected space may have, such as asthma, so that they do not use any products that may trigger an attack or allergic reaction. Finally, find out if the cleaning company is familiar with the city's COVID-19 guidances and get verbal confirmation that the cleaning and disinfection will be done per their recommendations. Aspects of these guidances that are of particular relevance to COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection activities include:

    • Properly following label instructions on disinfectants and all other types of cleaning products used for the cleaning task
    • Wearing masks, gloves, and other necessary PPE during the cleaning and disinfection
    • Ensuring that the area being cleaned is adequately ventilated while disinfectants are being used
    • Cleaning visibly dirty surfaces with regular cleaning products that contain soap or detergent before applying disinfectants. However, if the disinfectant product being used contains a cleaning agent, then this step may not be necessary
    • Ensuring that high touch surfaces and areas like tables, light switches, doorknobs and handles, faucets, sinks, and toilets, as well as any areas that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them, are properly cleaned and disinfected
    • Properly disposing of all masks, gloves, and contaminated items after the job is completed. Non-disposable items like clothes and reusable PPE should also be properly decontaminated before re-use
  8. What Cleaning Supplies Do You Use?

    The outcomes of cleaning services are largely affected by the types of cleaning supplies that are used as well as their suitability to the specific nature of the required service. For example, the ideal types of cleaning supplies to use for medical and healthcare facilities are non-toxic and easy-to-use cleaning agents and disinfectants that are also easily soluble and do not have an offensive odor. As such, it is always a good idea to find out the types of cleaning supplies that will be used for your cleaning job before the actual cleaning and disinfection starts. This not only ensures that you get satisfactory service but also helps you avoid misunderstandings with your cleaners down the road.

    Cleaning supplies commonly used in San Francisco can be grouped into cleaning tools and equipment like vacuum cleaners, disposable rags, mops, buckets, scrubbing brushes, brooms, and dustpans, and cleaning products like cleaning agents, sanitizers, and disinfectants. Cleaning agents typically are used for removing dirt and stains, and they are further subcategorized into four groups, namely:

    • Detergents
    • Degreasers
    • Abrasives
    • Acids

    Detergents are the most common types of cleaning agents. They generally have to be dissolved in water before use and are suitable for different types of residential and commercial surfaces. Degreasers are mostly used to remove stubborn organic stains like grease and fats from surfaces in kitchens, while abrasives utilize scouring action to scratch off stains and dirt from hard surfaces. Similarly, acids are used to descale surfaces and remove tough hard water or mineral deposits and stains. These particular types of cleaning agents have to be properly diluted before use and require professional handling to avoid accidents and injuries during use.

    Finally, sanitizers and disinfectants are used to reduce the presence of microbes on surfaces or completely wipe out infection-causing microorganisms. They are commonly used for both residential and commercial buildings, but are especially important in medical and healthcare cleaning services.

  9. Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Cleaners in the City of San Francisco?

    Work-related accidents and injuries are a common occurrence across every type of occupation, and the cleaning industry is no exception to this. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 57 fatal occupational injuries and 44,860 nonfatal occupational injuries were recorded amongst building cleaning workers across the country in 2020. Hiring a cleaning company that is adequately insured ensures that you are not held liable, either financially or legally, for any work-related injuries that occur during the provision of your cleaning service. In addition, proper insurance and bonding also covers the cost of any damages done to your property by the company's cleaners during the job as well as any thefts or other types of dishonest acts that may be committed by these cleaners.

    Therefore, you should always confirm the insurance status of any cleaning company that you intend to hire and make sure that their insurance plan covers every single cleaner that will be actively involved in your cleaning job. You can do this by requesting proof of the cleaning company's insurance coverage and contacting the relevant insurance provider to authenticate this proof. Make sure that the insurance includes general liability coverage to cover on-the-job accidents and property damage as well as employee dishonesty coverage or janitorial bonds to cover theft and dishonest acts.

    It should be noted that cleaning companies in San Francisco are statutorily required to carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees. Also, if you are hiring a cleaning company to provide post-construction cleanup services, then they are mandatorily required by the California Contractors State License Board to maintain a surety bond of $15,000.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Cleaner in the City of San Francisco

When searching for qualified cleaners in San Francisco to handle the cleaning and disinfection of your residence or commercial property, it is important to take precautions against con artists and fraudulent individuals that are looking to scam unsuspecting residents of the city. These scams typically include overcharging for services, using cheap cleaning materials and providing sloppy services, and outright theft of personal or valuable items. In 2017, CBS San Francisco reported that a house cleaner had been arrested in connection with a string of home burglaries in the area. According to the report, the cleaner had worked in all the residences that had been victimized, had been hired through an online app, and had stolen personal items, cash, and jewelry from the victims. According to data published by the San Francisco Police Department, approximately 31,660 larceny-theft incidents occurred in San Francisco in 2021, representing an increase of more than 23 percent when compared with figures from the previous year.

To this end, some of the precautions that you can take when hiring cleaners in the city to avoid falling prey to con artists and scammers include:

  • Get referrals to cleaners and cleaning companies from trusted sources, such as friends, family, or websites like the Better Business Bureau. Never hire any cleaner that shows up at your home unsolicited, especially in the aftermath of a disaster
  • Always get and compare estimates for your required cleaning service from at least two or three cleaning companies
  • Request references from any cleaners or cleaning companies that you intend to hire and always contact these references. Do not retain the services of any of these individuals or businesses that cannot provide you with at least three local verifiable references. Also, if you contract with a cleaning company, make sure that all their employees have been fully vetted
  • Confirm the insurance status of any cleaner that you hire
  • If you intend to undertake post-construction cleaning, make sure that the cleaner or cleaning company you hire possesses a valid state-issued D-63 Construction Clean-up Contractor License by calling (800) 321-2752. This license can also be verified online
  • Never agree to verbal contracts or agreements. Always insist on a well-detailed written contract that contains key information like a description of the cleaning services to be provided, the cost and the types of cleaning supplies to be used for the service, and a payment schedule. The contract should also include the cleaner or cleaning company's name and contact details
  • Always read and review any documents that you are given before signing them
  • Do not pay for the cleaning service before it commences. If you have to make advance payments, limit this to 10% of the total cost of the job or $1,000, whichever amount is less. Also, avoid cash transactions and be wary of individuals or businesses that insist on this form of payment

You can report cleaning scams and other types of fraudulent or deceptive business practices and activities to the San Francisco District Attorney's Office by completing and submitting an online consumer complaint form. You can also file complaints on these types of matters by contacting this office at:

  • 350 Rhode Island Street
  • North Building
  • Suite 400N
  • San Francisco, CA 94103
  • Phone: (628) 652-4000
  • Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays