What supplies are needed to strip and wax floors?

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by Tom Watson on April 10, 2016

When you first start out doing floor work, you will need a base set of supplies, tools and other miscellaneous items.

Over time you will probably collect some more specialty type supplies, things that will make your life easier and the job go faster.

For now however let’s stick to a basic set plus a few inexpensive things that are nice to have. What I do want to mention before you look at this list and start buying all this stuff, is that generally speaking you DO NOT want to buy supplies until you land your first paying customer.

Why spend tons of money on supplies when that money could be better spent trying to get people to hire you? With that said, if you have plenty of spare cash, then there is nothing inherently wrong with it, but if you are on the “budget plan”, then wait until someone hires you THEN go on a buying spree.

If you do plan on waiting to buy, just make sure you have your vendors all lined up so you buy what you need fast. My point is just BE PREPARED. With all that out of the way… here is my list for you.

Equipment needed to strip & wax floors

1 rotary floor machine with clutch plate. This is the machine that you’ll run over the floor with the proper floor pad to agitate the stripper solution.

1 wet / dry vacuum and hose with proper attachments. Once you complete the stripping process with the floor machine you need to suck up excess water off the floor.

1 Air mover. This is just a glorified fan that is designed to move some air across the floor to help in the drying process. On larger jobs, you would want to have several all working at once to get the job done a little faster.

2 (or more) buckets with wringer. One will be used for the stripping solution and one for the rinse water. It’s a good idea to have a few extra in reserve, especially for larger jobs.

Generally I bring 4 or 5 to a job, as it helps move the process along faster (you get to dedicate certain buckets for specific tasks (ie: one for stripper, one for rinse water, one for sealer, one for finish etc…).

2 (or more) Mop handles. These will be used with the buckets above. Having a few extra is a good idea here as well.

Mop heads (regular). These will be used for rinsing the floor.

Mop heads (finish). These will be used for applying the floor finish.

Stripping Pad for floor machine. This is the actual pad that sits on the bottom of the clutch plate. They come in various colors, such as black, blue, green, red among others. Black pads are used quite often for stripping.

1 Dust mop. You’ll need one of these to sweep the floor thoroughly before ever getting started.

1 broom with dustpan. Doesn’t hurt to have a broom and dustpan to pick up what the dust mop collects.

3 – 5 wet floor signs. You need to be extremely cautious when performing this type work. Many times people may try to just walk around while you’ll performing the work, which is dangerous because the floor can be very slippery, especially when the stripper is still on the floor.

1 Box latex gloves. It’s a good idea to have some gloves on hand. While you may not mind getting your hands dirty, your staff may not feel the same. Once you get a bunch of people working for you, it’s best to purchase different size glove (small, medium and large), as they will want to wear a pair that actually fits them.

2 Sets of goggles. Eye protection is mandatory for those who work near or handle the various cleaning agents. Have at least one set for each employee on the job, then stay on top of them to make sure they wear them.

1 Can baseboard stripper. This is a spray can (aerosol product) that is commonly used to clean up baseboards that are covered with wax. You may or may not need it on every job but it’s good to have a few on hand just in case.

1 Box can liners. You’ll use these to line the buckets you put the sealer and wax in. Doing so will speed up the clean up process after you finish the job. I would use 39 gallon liners, as they will fit over the bucket easily.

2 Putty knives (1 wide & 1 slim edge). These are nice to have as they allow you to scrape off excess wax from areas that the machine can’t reach.

1 Roll masking tape. This is always nice to have for when you need to protect carpeting that may connect to the floor you are about to strip. You would use this tape in conjunction with the terry cloths towels below.

1 Pack white terry cloth towels. Perfect for general clean up and for protecting any carpeting from overspill that may occur during the stripping process.

Doodlebug Pad and holder (Optional). This is a nifty little tool that makes it easier to remove any wax build up that collects on the baseboards.

1 Floor dolly (optional). This is more of an option, but I put it in here as it’s something that really comes in handy if you are required to move heavy objects. Having at least one is a good idea just in case.

1 Set floor gliders (optional). These are useful for a variety of situations you may face. They’re economical plus they don’t take up a lot of space in your vehicle.

Extension cord (optional). It never hurts to have one of these handy. Sometimes there is a lack of outlets at the job site meaning you need a long extension cord. This is a detail (lack of outlets) that can be easily missed during the walk through, so it’s a good idea to have one handy.

Floor Stripper. This is the actual solution that is used to remove the old wax off the floor. Check manufacturers recommendation for how much you’ll need for each job. Keep in mind that having a little too much is always better than having  too little. ZEP is a brand I regularly use.

Floor sealer. This product helps fill in the pores in the tiles and will help protect the tile from some stains. By using a sealer you’ll use less finish as the sealer fills in the pores in the tile better than the finish will.

For instance: Two coats of sealer and two coats of finish will perform much better than four coats of finish all by itself. Check manufacturers recommendation for how much you’ll need for each job. Once again, ZEP is a brand I use regularly.

Floor finish (wax). This product delivers a highly durable shine that resists scuffs and heel marks. Most companies also make it formulated to prevent slipping. Check manufacturers recommendation for how much you’ll need for each job.

This list of products should be sufficient to get you up and running stripping and waxing floors, not to mention other related tasks, such as performing a scrub and wax for example. It’s a great service to offer because not every cleaning company provides it and it can give you another profit center for your business.

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Please note: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase any items through my links odds are I’ll earn a commission of some kind. I only recommend products and services that I have used or think may be useful to those starting or operating a cleaning business.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Evan Rumbaugh April 10, 2016 at 11:12 am

Hi Tom!

The strip and wax is a must add that I have grown to love. By adding it into our janitorial contracts not only is it a huge value to the customer, but also a nice chuck of change.

To add to your list, have you got your hands on a doodle scrub? We simply love it and would recommend it to anyone. Not the cheapest tool, but boy does it cut down on the elbow grease and time.

Thank you for helping me get into the business, I couldn’t have done it without you!

PCS Erie

2 Tom Watson April 10, 2016 at 11:14 am


3 Denise April 10, 2016 at 11:20 am

Wow that is a long list of things you need. I would like to start offering this service but have no idea how to even do this type of work. Do you have a post on how to strip and wax a floor?


4 Tom Watson April 10, 2016 at 11:23 am

Hi Denise! A lot of the items are not all that expensive, so price wise it’s not that bad (plus these jobs are very profitable when priced correctly). As far as how to perform this work… I have a course on that. Details here… http://www.cleaning-4-profit.com/learn-how-to-strip-wax-vct-floors/

5 Binda Kebohula April 10, 2016 at 12:02 pm

This is wonderful Tom. Well once I have gained sufficient experience in office cleaning, I will definitely add this one.
Please do you have a separate course on pricing office cleaning jobs using the square footage since I am desperately in need of this for my market here in Botswana?

6 Angela Dowd April 10, 2016 at 7:02 pm

You can’t beat Toms training. Trust me, 20 yrs I’ve been doing VCT tile and the $$ is awesome and I had only the school of hard knocks to learn from where I lol. Go, learn from the expert, find the WORK first like he said, then invest and roll!!!! The rest will be rolls of $$$$ in your bank account

7 Tom Watson April 12, 2016 at 8:51 am

Hi Angela! (and THANKS for the kind words).

8 angela April 12, 2016 at 8:58 am

You are truly one of the top out there. Yes you have to make a living but what is so amazing about you is the fact you truly care that people succeed and it shows. It shows in your willingness to help people when you dont have to, it shows in the quality of every one of your products and siftinf through everything thrown at new businesses today and how confusing it can get, your nothing but a huge sigh of relief and breathe of fresh air, thank you Tom for being YOU and giving small business a place to go, learn and not die on their budget to learn quality materials much needed. The return on their invest here on cleaning 4 profit is unmeasurable.

9 Tom Watson April 12, 2016 at 9:12 am

Hi Binda! I’m happy you enjoyed the post. To your question… you do not need another course to find what you are looking for. Come up with the price like I teach in the course (the customer DOES NOT CARE how you “come up” with a price. All you need to do is CONVERT your price into a number HE or SHE UNDERSTANDS (price per square foot).

Generally I teach you to get a MONTHLY PRICE to give to the customer. BUT… some customers want a per square foot price (like in your area)…. So take your monthly price you came up with, multiply by 12. That is your YEARLY PRICE… now DIVIDE THAT NUMBER by the square footage of the facility to come up with a price per square foot. All done!

10 Tom Watson April 12, 2016 at 9:51 am

Thank you so much. Much appreciated!

11 Ron April 12, 2016 at 10:16 am

Hi Tom. Great advice! Is it a good idea to just add the floors in the cleaning contract or have it separately?

12 angela April 12, 2016 at 10:17 am

Yea I steer clear of monthly pricing and square footage pricing, my pricing is per occurrence other wise you may end up on the short end of the stick. Each month has either 30 or 31 days other than February. Another words, let’s say you have a typical doctors office with 6 patient rooms, front end desk, and three doctors offices, two patient bathrooms, two waiting rooms, entrance, hallways, breakroom, and staff bathroom. That normally, depending on the scope of work (SOW) would be anywhere from $67-$75 per occurrence cleaning, again depending on the scope of work. Once it is on maintenance level it would take two people 2-2.5 hrs to clean. Depending on what your rate is, I pay approximately $10 – $10.50 per hour then figure in your costs of chemicals and what are you going to include in that contract. I normally include everything except paper products and plastic bags. If they want me to include that there is an upcharge for that.

Now, this is VERY VERY VERY basic on my way of giving a proposal. There are MANY variables you will learn, another words, if it is a 5 night a week contract, the entire pricing scheme is different, they get a break because it is much easier to maintain. I also will include a floor maintenance plan, tile/carpet and possibly windows on top of that they can except or not. You may just want to start with the cleaning however until you learn the others or subcontract out the others and make a little on top and sneakily learn it that way AFTER YOU BUY TOMS VIDEOS and watch other companies actually do it 🙂

13 Tom Watson April 12, 2016 at 11:34 am

You can account for the glitch in pricing by determining your weekly price, then multiplying it by 4.33 to reach a monthly number. That will fix that, but I hear what you are saying. SO MANY WAYS to do things.

14 Tom Watson April 12, 2016 at 11:36 am

Hi Ron! I did it separately.

15 Denise May 6, 2016 at 8:53 am

Is there a difference in vct flooring and lvt? I was told lvt don’t necessarily need stripped and waxed, not sure though?


16 Tom Watson May 6, 2016 at 10:01 am

Hi Denise!

I would doubt that lvt (Luxury Vinyl Flooring) gets stripped and waxed. With that said, there are SO MANY different types of new flooring materials there is no way for me to know. What needs to be done is determine the manufacturer for each floor in question THEN go to their website for details on how to care for it.

17 Denise May 6, 2016 at 10:07 am

Thank you, I found the answer, and it is no, these will not need stripped and waxed, Thank god, because this is something I have not done yet.

18 Noah July 29, 2016 at 12:17 am

Thank you for all your tips
On striping and waxing and the tools you mentioned
Thanks again

19 Tom Watson July 30, 2016 at 11:21 am

I’m happy to help Noah!

20 john Victor September 21, 2016 at 1:34 am

Hi, we are new on this, and would like to get to know more about this business, me and my wife would like to open up our own business as full time. so please let us now here to start. we leave in redlands ca.92374. any help will be appreciated.


21 Tom Watson September 26, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Hi John! Sorry for delay, got a little behind. Can you give me a call at 609-451-0903. That is the best way!

22 Leonard June 1, 2017 at 9:25 am

Hi Tom, My name is Leonard and we have been in business for 15 yrs. And we now offer carpet, upholstery, and tile cleaning which has really taking are company to a new level. Now we are looking into VCT strip and wax and not quit sure on calculating cost! Can you be of any assistance with this? I do understand it depends on geographical location.


23 Tom Watson June 5, 2017 at 10:57 am

Sorry for delay, as I was on vacation!

To your question, I have an entire course for that. It’s an awesome course that spells it all out.

Details here… (we ship this out now, we don’t have it online like the page indicates): http://www.cleaning-4-profit.com/learn-how-to-strip-wax-vct-floors/

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