COVID-19: The Aftermath for the Cleaning and Restoration Industries

Sunset over the North Wildwood sea wall, aerial view

By Jeff Cross

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cleaning and restoration industries will never be the same again.

As I write these words, we are living in a time in which we are all in the same battle with similar concerns and challenges. Some of you involved in restoration might be as busy or busier than before COVID-19 emerged. Others of you that concentrate on carpet cleaning and related services might still be working but finding your faithful customers are doing what they feel is right: cancelling their appointments and waiting this out.

Some of you are completely shut down. Your commercial accounts have closed their doors and are cancelling or postponing their appointments with you. From my conversations with some of you, it’s when you pull up to do the job that you find out they aren’t having you clean for them. Yes, you tried to reach them in advance, but it is difficult to connect with decision makers right now.

You owners of companies with employees dreaded the conversations you had to have with your faithful employees when you “let them go.” Even if this is temporary, it still hurts.

Yes, in the COVID-19 aftermath, the cleaning and restoration industry will never be the same again. What we are going through right now might be, if I can say it, good for the industry in the long run. Feels funny to write that, but I believe it. When we come out of this, we will find ourselves in a stronger position.

Here’s why.

A united industry

There is a similar theme for the building service contracting and distribution/manufacturing segments of our overall cleaning industry. We are uniting. We realize that going solo provides limited results. By teaming up and becoming “one” and pushing forward collectively, we can and will see great things come in the COVID-19 aftermath.

I would go out on a limb here and say that all leading associations and groups are joining forces with a collective theme. ISSA, IICRC, RIA, CIRI, and others, including influential companies in all segments of the industry, are coming together with a united voice as we deal with this pandemic.

Think about this: Right now, in all the states across the country that I am aware of, carpet cleaning is deemed an “essential service,” and you can operate. It makes sense. The government realizes that we provide a health benefit. It’s not just about, “Let’s get the carpet cleaned for the graduation party.” It goes deeper than that. How can you have a sanitary home without a professional deep cleaning of surfaces?

Restoration is a “given” in that it is an emergency service. Restoration contractors are needed, and most are currently seeing only a slight dip in calls or even seeing an increase if they perform virus-response work.

What comes next for the cleaning and restoration industry?

The bottom line is this single question: What is this pandemic doing for global awareness of cleaning? Whether it is facility cleaning, residential cleaning, hard floor cleaning, carpet cleaning, furniture cleaning… any type of cleaning?

I’ll tell you. People are seeing the value of clean, which is what ISSA, the parent company of Cleanfax magazine, truly believes is important: We are changing the way the world views cleaning.

We aren’t simply cleaning because of appearance issues, although to be honest that’s the number one trigger for most people. If it looks dirty, it’s time to clean it. No, the science of cleaning shows that more has to be done.

The COVID-19 aftermath is forcing the issue. It’s bringing our value to the top of the heap, and when this current pandemic crisis is over, you will have hard data, science, and evidence to push your cleaning company to the next level.

For restoration, it is very similar. Homes and buildings must be restored to pre-loss, clean condition.

I predict there will be funding and money to make all of this happen. You will see people willing to pay more for quality service, which we have talked about for years but find it a struggle to see come to fruition. You will see facilities increase their budgets for contract cleaners (still competitive but more profitable for you) and for their own cleaning crews.

Products are going to change in the COVID-19 aftermath. We are going to see more innovations in cleaning equipment, tools, and solutions and more money spent on research and development.

What happens during this time when there is pushback? All you have to do is point to COVID-19. When you do that, you will have plenty of evidence that this must happen—that we all have to embrace cleaning, disinfecting, and protecting public health.

Be ready

Right now, you might be hoping your phone will ring and that another job will come your way. It’s going to be slow. You may check your phone and wonder, “Is it still working?” We all have to be patient.

There’s nothing we can do now except be proactive and prepare for the future. Don’t wait for something to happen. Now’s the time to work on your company, to be creative about what you will do when we come out of this pandemic era.

Communicate with industry professionals. Get onto the social media sites that we all frequent. Share your thoughts and ideas, and you will get many more in return.

The cleaning and restoration industries will never be the same again. It is going to be busier, and your expertise will be needed.

Resources for you

Here are some links to online resources that will help you with this current crisis.

  • Visit and use all the content on the ISSA/GBAC resource page “Cleaning and Disinfecting for the Coronavirus” at issa.com/coronavirus.
  • For your business operations and information you need to move forward, the ISSA Government Affairs resources at issa.com are valuable.
  • From the ISSA homepage, follow the “Advocacy” drop-down menu to “Policy Priorities” for coronavirus. This has important updates about ISSA’s advocacy efforts and resources you can use for your essential businesses.

Share your thoughts

Cleanfax and ISSA want to hear your voice. Please contact us with questions and concerns and tell us how we can help you in this crisis. Share your own observations and what you are doing to handle this COVID-19 outbreak with your cleaning and restoration company. What are you doing? How will you cope? How will you move forward in the COVID-19 aftermath when the crisis is over? Share your thoughts by emailing [email protected].


Jeff Cross is the editorial director of ISSA Media, which includes Cleanfax magazine. He is the previous owner of a successful cleaning and restoration firm. He also works as a trainer and consultant for business owners, managers, and front-line technicians. He can be reached at [email protected].

Jeff Cross

Jeff Cross is the ISSA media director, with publications that include Cleaning & Maintenance Management, ISSA Today, and Cleanfax magazines. He is the previous owner of a successful cleaning and restoration firm. He also works as a trainer and consultant for business owners, managers, and front-line technicians. He can be reached at [email protected].

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