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How to Start a Cleaning Business: An Indepth Guide (6 Simple Steps)

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Is it Worth Starting a Cleaning Business?

Cleaning is crucial for every office and home. Americans spend an average of six hours per week cleaning their homes. A clean home or office can not only improve the air quality, but it can impact your productivity and mental health. However, not everyone has the time, energy or inclination to complete their own cleaning. This creates an opportunity for those looking into starting a cleaning business. 

The cleaning industry is currently worth more than $46 billion. It is set to grow approximately 10% in the next five years.

The average salary for cleaning business owners is $55,000 per year. But, it is possible to earn far more. If you can grow your business to clean 30+ homes per day, you could earn $1 million each year. There are currently several house cleaning companies here in the U.S that are earning this much. 

Decide What Type of Cleaning Business You Want to Run

There are two primary markets in the cleaning industry. So, before delving into how to start a cleaning business, you’ll need to choose what type of operation you want to run. 

It is important to decide on a niche so you can concentrate on building your business to serve your chosen market. 

Residential Cleaning Service

This group of services include residential maid services, window cleaning, carpet cleaning and other cleaning tasks that are typically required less frequently. 

You may offer services on a monthly, weekly or daily basis. The typical tasks include:

  • Dusting
  • Vacuuming
  • Mopping floors
  • Laundry & ironing
  • Washing dishes
  • Cleaning bathrooms & kitchens

Commercial Cleaning Service

The commercial sector is typically dominated by janitorial services. These cleaners provide a wider variety of services compared to residential maids. Another difference between residential and commercial cleaning, is that as a commercial cleaning business, you’re likely to work outside of the typical business hours. Most companies appreciate not having to interrupt their operations for cleaning while they are at work. 

Vehicles & Transportation

There are 273 million vehicles in the USA alone. Many drivers prefer traveling in a clean and presentable vehicle. So, there is lots of scope to create a vehicle cleaning business. 

You don’t even need to invest in large premises for your enterprise. You could start as a mobile car cleaning service, washing and detailing cars at homes, offices or businesses. 

Do the Initial Cleaning Jobs Yourself in The Chosen Field

If you’re looking at how to start a cleaning business with no money or limited capital, you will need to be prepared to do the initial cleaning jobs yourself. 

Although many people may think that staffing is the logical starting point, this is not the case. By doing the jobs yourself, you’ll learn about what’s involved in the day to day operations from day one. Another solid reason for taking care of your first clients yourself is that you can maintain control of the image and standards of your business. It can also help in developing a positive reputation to attract more clients. As your business grows, you can take on employees and train them to your exacting standards. 

Crunch The Numbers

Before you start getting too far into how to start a cleaning business, you need to sit down and crunch the numbers. You may wonder if it is possible to start a cleaning business with no money or keep your costs low. 

You’ll need to determine a reasonable budget for your new business.This will include:


Although you’ll be starting by yourself, you will eventually need to employ others as your cleaning business grows. Additionally, you will need to think about your own hourly rate. 

While you may be prepared to make some sacrifices initially, you can’t live on thin air as you get your business off the ground.


You will also need to think about your transportation. If you’re starting a cleaning business, you’ll need to be able to get yourself and your equipment to the jobs. This tends to be easier for residential cleaning jobs. Most of the things you’ll need will easily fit in a moderate sized car, which you may already have. Think about what you need to clean your own home and imagine if it will fit in your current vehicle.

If you’re looking to complete commercial cleaning, you may need a larger vehicle or van. Since offices and commercial premises tend to be larger, you’ll need more supplies. You may also need to carry more specialist equipment. 

Remember that in addition to securing a vehicle, you’ll need to think about your day to day transportation costs. Fuel, commercial insurance, maintenance and other vehicle costs can quickly add up. So, you’ll need to factor them into your rates. 


The initial list of essential cleaning business equipment is quite inexpensive. You’ll need:

  • A vacuum cleaner with carpet and hardwood attachments
  • Container to carry supplies
  • Mop and bucket
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Glass cleaning cloths
  • Cleaning brushes
  • Protective rubber gloves

As your business grows, you may invest in additional equipment such as carpet cleaning machinery and floor polishing equipment. This will depend on the level of services you’ll offer to your clients. 


Your list of supplies will be items you need to replenish regularly. To get started you’ll need: 

  • Disinfectant wipes for kitchen and bathroom surfaces
  • Spray bottles with all purpose or homemade cleaning products
  • Bleach
  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels

You will need to give some thought to how you will avoid cross contamination between your client’s homes. This could involve stringent sanitation practices or using disposable materials. Either approach will need consideration when you’re planning the cost of purchasing your supplies. 


Even if you’re starting your cleaning business as a side hustle, you’ll need to think about your tax obligations. This will vary according to your home state. But, it is always a good idea to factor in the maximum amount of taxes and keep these funds set aside. There is nothing worse than thinking you’ve had a decent year and then getting stung with a higher than expected tax bill. 


You won’t get your cleaning business off the ground if you don’t have any clients. So, you’ll need to consider a marketing budget. Even if you plan a low key marketing approach, cleaning business cards and flyers are not free. 

Think about your marketing strategies and look at how much money you’ll need to factor into your budget. 


The ideal profit margin for a services business is 15 to 20%. As a new business, you may need to look at a lower profit margin of 10% initially and build up to the ideal. 

Assess Your Finances

Once you have an idea of how much you’ll need to get your business off the ground, you’ll need to assess your finances. Can you make some thrift decisions on your current expenses to cover your setup and initial running costs? The alternatives will involve using your savings or seeking finance for your new business. 

part time jobs that pay well

Create the Brand

Any start up business needs a brand. This involves a number of steps. 


Obviously, your business will need a name. You can use all or part of your name, play on words or even something based on the services you offer or your geographical location.

The name should:

  • Accurately describe your business
  • Not already be in use
  • Be easy to remember and spell
  • Have the capacity to grow with your business.

Company Values

Next you’ll need to think about your company values. This could be something as simple as whether you offer a budget friendly service or a more premium service. 

Customer Experience

The customer experience plays a crucial role in company branding. So, you need to think about how all you offer will impact the customer experience.

Online Presence

Finally, no brand is complete without an online presence. You should think about setting up relevant social media accounts or even a website. 

Once you’re ready to officially become a business, you’ll need to get the legal stuff in order. The requirements can vary according to your state and local legislation. But, you’ll need to consider:


Unless you’re planning on setting up a high rise window cleaning business, you’re not likely to need formal qualifications to start your enterprise. It may be beneficial to obtain qualifications for using certain types of machinery, such as carpet cleaning equipment. But, this may not be necessary initially. 

Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) or Sole Proprietorships

An LLC reduces the liability you have as an individual. It puts the company assets at risk rather than your home or other personal assets. 

A sole proprietorship tends to be cheaper to establish. The downside is that if your business is not profitable, your personal assets may be at risk.


You will need permits and a licence to operate your business. If you use a business name, you will need a license to ensure your company can operate legitimately. 


As a business owner, it is mandatory that you have public liability coverage. This type of insurance provides protection should there be consequences of your business activities. For example, if someone slips on a floor you’ve just mopped or trips on your vacuum cleaner power cord. 


Finally, think about how you will manage the accounting for your business. Taxes and other liabilities can be complex, so it is important that you comply with all regulations. For this reason, it is a good idea to hire an accountant to provide further advice and guidance. 

Get Clients for Your Cleaning Business

Now you’re ready to find some clients and get started. You can get clients for your cleaning business in a number of ways:


This is the cheapest and easiest way to get clients. All you need to do is provide good service and ask your happy customers to refer friends and family

Paid advertising can range from placing newspaper ads or posting flyers to paying for Google Adsense on your website. 

Local Promotions

This is a great way to gain attention as a new business. You could post flyers in a specific local area offering a discounted rate or other promotion. 

Facebook Groups

Another option is to post in Facebook groups, highlighting your services. 

How to Protect Your Cleaning Business from Failing?

Nothing is guaranteed in this world, but you can protect your cleaning business from failing to some degree by offering great service.

Aim to put the customer first and ensure that you not only provide a great service, but are always courteous and polite. This will increase the chances of repeat business and referrals, so you won’t need to spend massive amounts on marketing campaigns. 

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Kate Starr


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