More than 303,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,100 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in San Jose and across Santa Clara County since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the CDC, proper cleaning and disinfection is an effective method for reducing the transmission of the coronavirus. However, the efficacy of these activities is largely dependent on how they are carried out as well as the types of cleaning materials that are used for the task. Hiring a licensed and experienced cleaning contractor ensures that the cleaning and disinfection of your home or office is done professionally, and per necessary city guidance, thereby keeping you and your loved ones safe and healthy.
Getting answers to the questions provided below can help you determine whether or not the cleaning contractor you intend to hire is duly qualified for the job:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Cleaning Service in the City of San Jose?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Cleaning Services in the City of San Jose?
- What Types of Cleaning Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Comply with the City of San Jose's COVID-19 Regulations?
- Do You Provide Commercial Cleaning Services for Non-Residential Buildings in the City of San Jose?
- Do You Engage Unionized Cleaners for Non-Residential Buildings in the City of San Jose?
- Do You Offer Covid-19 Disinfecting Services in the City of San Jose?
- What Cleaning Supplies Do You Use?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Cleaners in the City of San Jose?
Cleaning contractors that wish to conduct business in the City of San Jose must register for a Business Tax Certificate with the city's Finance Department. However, business tax exemptions are typically made for cleaning contractors that are small business owners with business gross receipts of less than $25,760 or annual household incomes of less than $51,520. Note that these figures are based on current poverty income levels as established by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Cleaning contractors can obtain business tax certificates by completing a registration form online or by contacting the San Jose Finance Department in person at:
- San Jose City Hall
- 200 E. Santa Clara Street
- 1st Floor
- San Jose, CA 95113
Registrants will be required to pay a fee and also provide certain information, such as their Tax Identification Number, business ownership names and addresses, contact information, and a valid government-issued photo ID. Queries concerning the San Jose business tax registration process can be directed to the city's Finance Department at (408) 535-7055.
Note that, in addition to obtaining a city-issued business tax certificate, cleaning contractors in San Jose that provide post-construction cleanup services must also obtain a separate state-issued D-63 Construction Clean-up Contractor License from the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Certain requirements must be met before this license can be obtained, and they include having at least four years of verifiable journeyman-level work experience, providing proof of insurance and bonding, and passing a CSLB-administered licensing examination. Inquiries related to state-issued post-construction cleanup contractor licenses can be directed to the CSLB at (800) 321-2752. It should be noted that providing post-construction cleanup services in San Jose without possessing a state-issued contractor license is considered a misdemeanor offense and can result in jail time of up to six months as well as fines of up to $5,000. You can confirm state-issued contractor licenses in San Jose online via the CSLB's Check a License portal. Similarly, you can confirm that your intended cleaning contractor has duly registered their business with the city via the San Jose Finance Department's Business Tax Lookup portal or by contacting this department at (408) 535-7055.
When searching for cleaning contractors in the City of San Jose, it is necessary to find out how much you will be required to pay for these professionals' services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cleaning contractors in the city earn an hourly wage of close to $21. However, the overall cost of your cleaning job will be affected by other factors excluding the contractor's estimated labor fees. These factors include:
- The cleaning contractor's level of experience and reputation
- The type and quality of cleaning supplies and equipment that will be used
- The nature and scope of the cleaning job
- The urgency of the job
- The size of the space that requires cleaning
It is always a good idea to get and compare estimates from multiple cleaning contractors in the city as opposed to just hiring the first contractor that you come in contact with. Comparing multiple estimates gives you a better gauge of the cost of your requested service and also ensures that you do not get overcharged by a fraudulent cleaning contractor.
Building and grounds cleaning workers in San Jose earn an average wage of $43,460 annually. A comparison of the average hourly wages of workers in San Jose'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 Jose Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage$20.90California Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage$18.74San Francisco Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage$21.53Los Angeles Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage$18.32Houston Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage$13.53Chicago Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage$16.44New York City Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage$19.09Phoenix Cleaning Contractors Average Hourly Wage$15.26
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Finding out the types of services that a cleaning contractor offers as well as the supplies and equipment that will be used to provide these services is necessary for ensuring that you hire the best fit for the job. Professional cleaning contractors in San Jose provide several general and customized cleaning services that are tailored to suit the individual needs of their customers. These services include apartment cleaning, office cleaning, enhanced cleaning and disinfection services, move-in/move-out cleaning, green cleaning, housekeeping, and maid services. Always confirm that your intended cleaning contractor is experienced and properly equipped to satisfactorily provide the specific cleaning service that you require before finalizing any agreements with this individual.
The list below provides cost estimates for cleaning services commonly offered by professional cleaning contractors in San Jose:Graffiti removal and protection$2.25 - $3.80 per square footJanitorial services$0.16 - $0.27 per square footMedical office & healthcare facility cleaning services$0.20 - $0.40 per square footUpholstery and furniture cleaning$97.50 - $103.30 (for average-sized couch)Cleaning a typical four-bedroom home$129.15 - $143.50Maid services/home cleaning$25 - $45 per person, per hour
According to data published by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, more than 76 percent of the recorded COVID-19 cases in the area were transmitted by either unknown means or via community transmission. Also, as of February 2022, overall seven-day case rates amongst vaccinated residents of the area stood at 22 per 100,000, while that of unvaccinated residents stood at 173.5 per 100,000 residents. Considering these numbers, the importance of working with a cleaning contractor that complies with the Santa Clara Public Health Department's Business and Workplaces Guidances cannot be overemphasized. These guidances stipulate work-related regulations and guidelines that are necessary for protecting the health and welfare of business owners in San Jose as well as their employees and customers and reducing the spread of the coronavirus in the city.
Note that, in addition to encouraging vaccination amongst residents of the city, these guidances focus on several other key coronavirus-related areas. These include providing guidelines and recommendations for maintaining clean and sanitary work environments, disinfecting facilities with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, and also providing mask and face-covering requirements. Always confirm that the cleaning contractor you wish to hire is conversant with and also adheres to the relevant provisions of these guidances, as failing to do so can severely compromise the health of you and your loved ones.
You can direct inquiries concerning the Santa Clara Public Health Department's Business and Workplaces Guidances and other local COVID-19 regulations to this department's COVID-19 Business Call Center at (408) 961-5500 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays. COVID-19-related queries can also be directed to the Santa Clara Public Health Department via an online request form.
The City of San Jose does not have any licensing requirements that are specific to commercial cleaning contractors. The key difference between residential cleaning contractors and commercial cleaning contractors is that the former focus mostly on homes and residential dwellings while the latter specialize in the cleaning of commercial buildings, premises, and facilities. These include but are not limited to, medical and healthcare facilities, schools and universities, offices and workspaces, and research and development facilities. When searching for commercial cleaning services in San Jose, it is important to ensure that the cleaning company you contract has the necessary cleaning equipment for the job and employees that have been adequately trained to handle these types of equipment.
Nevertheless, any cleaning contractor that wishes to remove or clean up debris generated during construction projects in the city must obtain a state-issued contractor license if the value of the cleanup job will be worth more than $500. This licensing requirement covers both residential and commercial construction projects, and cleaning contractors that fail to meet it can face statutory and administrative penalties of up to $15,000 in fines, six months in jail, or a combination of fines and jail time. In addition to this state-issued license, San Jose cleaning contractors may be required to obtain locally-issued permits before performing some types of cleaning jobs. For example, cleaning contractors that clean septic tanks and chemical toilets are typically required to register with and obtain a permit from the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health. Queries concerning this department's registration and permitting process can be directed to:
- 1555 Berger Drive
- Suite 300
- 3rd Floor
- San Jose, CA 95112
- Phone: (408) 918-3400
- Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays
You can also contact the California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development either online or by calling (877) 345-4633 to direct queries concerning required permits for cleaning contractors in San Jose.
A large number of cleaners in San Jose belong to unions like the SEIU Local 521, the AFSCME California, and the SEIU: United Service Workers West, due to the benefits that these union memberships provide, like higher wages, and access to better healthcare and pension options. Many commercial property owners and building managers lean towards hiring cleaning companies with union cleaners, because, even though the wages of their cleaners are usually higher than those of non-union cleaners, these companies typically have less employee turnover. This, in turn, negates the time and cost that is usually spent on constantly re-familiarize new cleaners with your facility's layout and specific cleaning needs. Union cleaners also have the advantage of receiving regular training and certifications, as well as being adequately insured, thereby ensuring that they perform their jobs as professionally as possible.
It should be noted that some unions have been known to employ methods like picketing and strikes to get commercial property owners and building managers to employ union cleaners or cancel their existing contracts with non-union cleaning companies. In many cases, these actions lead to a disruption of services for the facilities involved in the situation. Nonetheless, the decision on whether or not to hire a union cleaning service for your commercial property or building ultimately lies with you.
Specialized cleaning, sanitization, and disinfection services are necessary to mitigate the spread of infection in residential and commercial buildings where there have been confirmed COVID-19 cases. However, when looking to undertake cleaning and disinfection efforts to rid your home or office of the coronavirus, you need to make sure that the cleaning contractor you hire is qualified to provide this specialized service. The first step to take when doing this is letting the contractor know the reason for which you require their services and finding out the type of cleaning products that they will use for the job. Make sure that these products are not only EPA-registered but have also been approved for use against the coronavirus. Also, confirm that the cleaning, sanitization, and disinfection process will be carried out per local guidances and CDC recommendations.
Areas of these guidances and recommendations that should strictly be adhered to include:
- Using masks, gloves, and other necessary personal protective equipment during the cleaning, sanitization, and disinfection
- Opening outside doors and windows and suing fans and HVAC settings to increase air circulation
- Using lined bags to trash all disposable items used during the job
- Using only EPA registered and approved cleaning products for the job
- Focusing on high-touch surfaces during the cleaning, sanitization, and disinfection. These surfaces include light switches, doorknobs and door handles, tables, and phones. Extra attention should also be placed on any areas, items, or equipment that may have been used by the individual that tested positive for COVID-19
Finally, it is advisable to request a list of cleaning products that the cleaning contractor intends to use for the cleaning, sanitization, and disinfection job to ensure that they do not contain any components that you may be allergic to.
The types of cleaning supplies used for a cleaning job affect the outcome of this job and whether or not you will be satisfied with the service provided by the cleaning contractor. Common cleaning supplies used by San Jose cleaning contractors include vacuums, mops, disposable rags, brooms, dustpans, scrubbing brushes. Depending on the nature of the required service, cleaning products like cleaners or cleaning agents, sanitizers, and disinfectants will also have to be used. Cleaners are the most common types of cleaning products and they are used to remove dirt and stains through wiping, mopping, or scrubbing action. These cleaners can further be subcategorized into four groups which are:
- Abrasives: Abrasives are cleaners that are used to remove dirt and stains from hard surfaces like floors. These cleaners require scouring action to work and are not suitable for surfaces that are prone to scratching
- Acids: Acids are potent cleaning agents that require professional handling. They are typically used for descaling and removing mineral deposits from surfaces. Note that acids must be properly diluted before use due to their highly corrosive nature
- Degreasers: Degreasers are commonly used in kitchens to remove grease, fats, and other types of organic statins and they are suitable for a wide variety of surfaces
- Detergents: Detergents are the most commonly used types of cleaners, and they are suitable for a wide range of residential and commercial building surfaces. Detergents generally come in powder, gel, liquid, or crystal form, and they typically need to be dissolved in water for effective use
Similarly, sanitizers are cleaning products that reduce the presence of microorganisms on surfaces and are also typically used to avoid cross-contamination or allergic reactions to environmental allergens and other cleaning agents. On the other hand, disinfectants completely destroy or inactivate infection-causing microorganisms and are mostly used for hospitals, healthcare facilities, and other cleaning services that involve infection control. To avoid any misunderstandings down the road, you should always find out the types of cleaning supplies and products that cleaning contractors intend to use for your job and make sure that they are suitable for the nature of your required service.
In 2020, 4,764 work-related fatalities and 2.7 million work-related injuries were reported across the United States. The risk of injury and death is present in every occupation, including the cleaning industry, where workers face several on-the-job hazards, such as slips, trips, and falls, and exposure to chemicals and pathogens. Hiring a cleaning contractor that has an active insurance plan insulates you from the financial implications of a work-related injury occurring during the execution of your cleaning service. This insurance coverage also spares you from the legal liabilities that are typically involved with these injuries and covers the cost of on-the-job damage caused to your home or property by the cleaning contractor.
As such, you should always hire cleaning contractors that are adequately insured and also take steps to confirm this coverage with the necessary insurance providers. Ensure that this coverage includes general liability insurance to cover the cost of on-the-job injuries and property damage, and employee dishonesty insurance to cover the cost of theft or other dishonest acts by the cleaning contractor or their employees. Note that, per state requirements, all cleaning contractors in San Jose that have at least one employee must carry valid workers' compensation insurance. Also, cleaning contractors that possess a state-issued post-construction cleanup license must maintain surety bonds of $15,000 during the validity period of these licenses.
Fraudulent contractors in San Jose prey on unsuspecting homeowners and property managers that require cleaning services and utilize several tactics to deceptively obtain money from them. These tactics include requesting large upfront payment before providing the required service and then absconding, stealing from customers, or providing sloppily done cleaning services despite charging premium rates. In 2017, the East Bay Times reported that several San Jose homeowners had fallen victim to a contractor that requested large advance payments to clean up and fix their basements in the wake of devastating floods in the area. Likewise, in 2019, ABC 7 News reported that San Jose residents that had fallen victim to one of the largest contractor fraud cases in California had given testimony in court against the husband-wife team of contractors that had defrauded them of up to $900,000.
In view of this, it is in your best interest to be on the lookout for fraudulent contractors when planning to undertake a cleaning project in San Jose. The following tips can also help you ensure that you end up retaining the services of a legit cleaning contractor in the city:
- Be wary of cleaning contractors that show up to your home or office unsolicited, especially after a disaster
- Get referrals to cleaning contractors in the city from trusted friends, relatives, or online resources like the Better Business Bureau
- Confirm that the cleaning contractor is authorized to conduct business in the city by requesting a copy of their current business tax certificate. You can validate this document by contacting the San Jose Finance Department at (408) 535-7055. If the cleaning contractor intends to provide post-construction cleanup services, then also request proof of a state-issued license. State-issued contractor license can be verified by calling (800) 321-2752
- Get multiple estimates for the cleaning job
- Always request references from cleaning contractors. Make sure that the contractor provides at least three local and verifiable references, and never hire any contractor that either cannot or is hesitant to provide you with these references. It is also a good idea to look up reviews on the contractor online via third-party websites like Yelp, Google Review, and the Better Business Bureau
- Make sure that any cleaners that will be involved in the job have been properly vetted by the cleaning contractor. Also make sure that these cleaners, as well as the cleaning contractor, are properly insured and bonded
- Do not agree to verbal or oral agreements. Request a written contract. Make sure that it contains the contractor's contact information, a description of the cleaning service and the types of cleaning supplies and products to be used for the job, its total cost, and a payment schedule. Review this contract properly before signing it
- Do not make any down payment that exceeds $1,000 or 10 percent of the total cost of the cleaning job, whichever amount is less
- Never pay the full cost of the cleaning job upfront
- Avoid cash payments and be wary of contractors that insist on this form of payment
Complaints concerning fraudulent contractors and cleaning scams in the City of San Jose can be filed with the Office of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Consumer Protection Unit via an online complaint form or by submitting a pdf consumer complaint form to:
- Santa Clara County
- Office of the District Attorney
- Mediation Services
- Consumer Protection Unit
- 70 West Hedding Street
- San Jose, CA 95110