A procedure and tools for quantifying surface cleanliness are described. Cleanliness of a target surface is quantified by wiping a prescribed area of the surface with a flexible, bright white cloth swatch, preferably mounted on a special tool. The cloth picks up a substantial amount of any particulate surface contamination. The amount of contamination is determined by measuring the reflectivity loss of the cloth before and after wiping on the contaminated system and comparing that loss to a previous calibration with similar contamination. In the alternative, a visual comparison of the contaminated cloth to a contamination key provides an indication of the surface cleanliness.