Common Cleaning Inspection Questions

PART 2: Are your Cleaning Inspections too Lenient, or too Critical?

This blog post continues our series on the most common cleaning quality inspection questions that our customers have asked the Smart Inspect team over the years. Today, we tackle the question of inspection scores and how they are perceived by stakeholders.

Many quality auditors and their managers struggle to know what constitutes an “appropriate” score. Some worry that their scores are too critical, while others feel that their scores might be too lenient. Is there a way to know if your inspection scores are accurately representing the true quality levels?

To answer this question, it’s helpful to consider the two extremes. At one end of the spectrum are inspectors that are too critical. These inspectors often evaluate their cleaners’ performance without a scoring system in mind. They may indicate every single deficiency they see, without marking any merits in the cleaning. While helpful for corrective action and problem identification, this cleaning audit philosophy may demoralize the cleaners and alarm your customers.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are quality inspectors that are too lenient. They may indicate absolutely no deficiencies and mark everything as clean. Shown below is an example of a quality report from a lenient inspector. These inspectors often fail to mark deficiencies for fear of customer perception or upsetting the service provider. While the quality scores appear excellent, there is little to no information for corrective action or continuous improvement.


Cleaning quality inspectors should be careful to avoid falling on either end of this extreme. Not only is being overly critical or overly lenient a waste of your time, it’s a waste of your cleaners’ and customers’ time.

Talk with your customers and cleaners. Come to an agreement on the level of expectations.

As an inspector, you should make sure you agree with your customers and cleaners regarding the standard of cleanliness, and then inspect accordingly. Have an idea of what is acceptable versus unacceptable and have discussions with your team of inspectors to make sure everyone is inspecting according to these standards. When inspecting, be sure to note both the acceptable and deficient items and cleaning outcomes. Customers, cleaners and management all need to know where the team is succeeding, and what items, areas, or service providers need to improve.

In our own experience of third-party audits, a “clean” building should register somewhere between 85% and 92% with the Smart Inspect program, with exceptionally clean buildings or areas scoring in the 92% to 96% range. These outcomes are neither too critical nor too lenient; the scores indicate that the buildings are cleaned according to the specification, but deficiencies are still noted and photographed for corrective action and re-training.

It takes practice, but by following these tips your inspection team will learn to have a critical eye for deficiencies, without being so harsh as to discourage your customers and cleaning team.