Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
For residential and commercial properties alike, there will always be a high demand for cleaning services. Any entrepreneur with the right skills and business plan can start a cleaning business with ease.
Whether you’re just looking for a small side hustle or want to scale a huge cleaning operation, this guide will teach you how.
Why Starting a Cleaning Business is Worth It
Starting a cleaning business from scratch is easy and relatively inexpensive, especially if you plan to do the cleaning yourself and use your personal vehicle. You just need some cleaning supplies and a positive attitude.
Finding potential clients shouldn’t be an issue either. You can list your services on social media sites, Craigslist, Angi, Taskrabbit, Thumbtack, and other similar platforms.
The great part about running a cleaning service is the flexibility. You can work as little or as much as you want to based on your goals and schedule.
For example, you could just clean a handful of properties on nights or weekends, which is ideal for students or people who already work full-time jobs. Or you can have a fleet of 20 trucks on the road with a huge team cleaning properties for you seven days per week. You even could run a cleaning business without ever picking up a mop or a sponge.
There’s an opportunity to generate a significant income from a cleaning business, especially for commercial properties. You can get recurring income from homeowners, businesses, property managers, vacation rentals, and more. Beyond the initial account setup, cleaning services don’t require much customer interaction either.
The Investment Needed to Start a Cleaning Business
The investment required to start a cleaning business depends on your aspirations. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, the bare minimum investment required is cleaning supplies and transportation. Some platforms let you post your services online for free, so you won’t have to worry about listing fees or ads either. In this scenario, your out-of-pocket cost is less than $500.
To make your business appear more legitimate, you should also form a legal business entity with your state. The fees to form an LLC vary from state to state, but you should expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $500, with the average fee around $150.
Some states, regions, and cities may require you to obtain a permit to perform cleaning services. You should also get insurance, especially if you’re going to hire employees. These fees typically start around $100 and $500, respectively.
Your costs will rise if you scale and decide to purchase company vehicles for your staff. You’ll also need equipment on each vehicle and additional insurance. These costs will be in the tens of thousands of dollars, but you don’t need to do this from day one if you want to start small.
Every cleaning business needs modern software to stay organized. Solutions like Jobber provide you with tools for scheduling, team dispatching, job management, checklists, CRM, invoicing capabilities, payment acceptance, and so much more. You can access all of these tools from a simple cleaning business app, making it possible for you to run your business from anywhere. Plans start at just $29 per month.
5 Steps to Start a Cleaning Business
Ready to get started? Just follow the step-by-step instructions below:
#1 – Define Your Cleaning Services
The term “cleaning business” is really broad. So the first thing you need to do is narrow your focus to a specific niche. This will help you for branding and marketing purposes while also making it easier for you to purchase the appropriate equipment.
Some of you might decide to offer multiple types of cleaning services. Others may start with one and add more down the road as the business scales.
Here’s a general overview of some popular types of cleaning services that you can start:
Residential cleaning jobs are performed at a client’s home. This could be a traditional single-family home, condo, townhome, apartment, or vacation home.
In an ideal scenario, you can set up your residential clients on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly schedule. You’ll likely set up an agreement of a fixed rate for a certain number of hours, such as $75 for three hours of cleaning.
Be prepared to supply all of the cleaning products, chemicals, and equipment for residential jobs. Some clients may supply their own chemicals and equipment, depending on their preferences.
For example, you may have a client that only wants “green” or natural chemicals used in their home. Others may not want you using a vacuum or mop that travels to other houses.
As the name implies, commercial cleaning jobs cater to other businesses.
This could involve small office cleaning, large office cleaning, employee break rooms, retail floor space, employee and customer bathrooms, warehouse cleaning, window washing, trash emptying, and more.
Many commercial cleaning contracts happen after hours, as not to disrupt the flow of an office or customers. So if you’re interested in working nights in an empty office, this type of service offering could work for your schedule.
Nearly every business in existence with some type of physical presence needs to maintain cleanliness. So there will always be a great demand for commercial cleaning services.
Deep cleaning goes beyond the basic services offered in a weekly or bi-weekly cleaning. Also known as spring cleaning, anything outside the scope of what’s considered “normal maintenance” would fall into this category.
Examples of deep cleaning include walls, baseboards, cabinets, pantries, and ceiling fans. You may also need to move large pieces of furniture like couches, beds, desks, and dressers to access hidden areas that aren’t normally cleaned during your weekly appointments.
The exact requirements of deep cleaning services will depend on each client. If you’re using cleaning software, you create customized checklists for what needs to be done during these types of visits.
With a tool like Jobber, you can send these custom instructions directly to your team. They can access the list from a mobile app without having to disturb the client with any questions.
Even if you’re doing all of the cleanings on your own, this type of tool is great for staying organized as instructions will vary from job to job.
This is a niche-specific cleaning job that can be performed at residential and commercial properties alike.
After a construction company, contractor, or specialist performs a job, it’s common for them to leave a mess behind. This can include dust, pieces of wood, paint chips, water, nails, plastic, and even mud tracked into the property from everyone’s boots.
Some construction cleanup jobs will require additional licenses and permits. You may also need specialized equipment to handle these jobs, which will add to your startup costs.
Disaster and Hazardous Waste Cleaning
This type of cleaning service definitely isn’t as common, and it’s probably not the first thing that comes to your mind when you’re thinking of starting a new business. But there’s definitely a demand for these services, and the jobs can be high-paying.
Examples of jobs in this category include natural disaster cleanup and medical office cleaning. These services may even be required at crime scenes.
You’ll need to follow strict guidelines set forth by OSHA and the EPA if you plan to offer commercial cleaning services in this highly specialized niche.
Carpet cleaners need to have specialized equipment. In many cases, you’ll need to have a van at each job site that runs a cleaning hose to the area you’re cleaning.
Don’t expect clients to need your services here on a frequent basis. For residential and carpet cleaning alike, most people won’t hire a carpet cleaner more than once per year. Some will even wait two or three years between cleanings. But you can typically charge more for your services compared to a traditional residential house cleaning job.
Targeting people with pets is an excellent marketing strategy if you want to be a carpet cleaner.
Move-In and Move-Out Cleaning
For this type of cleaning job, your clients will be property managers and landlords. You could be performing deep cleaning on apartments and rental properties before or after tenants move out.
This type of cleaning service is also in high demand for property managers with short-term vacation rental listings. In this scenario, you could be cleaning the same property every few days depending on the turnover rate and duration of bookings.
#2 – Form a Business Entity and Handle the Legal Stuff
Once you’ve narrowed your focus, it’s time to get yourself organized and determine the formal business structure of your cleaning business.
Examples of popular entity types for cleaning businesses include:
- Sole Proprietorship — Sole proprietors don’t need to formally register their cleaning business with the state. This is a good option if you’re planning to do all the cleaning on your own without any employees. But this structure also exposes you to potential liability problems.
- Partnership — Partnerships share business responsibilities between two or more people. All owners share liability in the business and have a right to profit distributions.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) — As the name implies, LLCs limit the personal liabilities of members (owners). It helps shield your personal assets if the cleaning company gets sued or owes money to creditors or lenders.
- Corporation — Corporations are completely separate from shareholders. A corporation can own property, equipment, be held liable, enter contracts, and pay its own taxes. This structure is better for larger cleaning operations, but income will be subject to double taxation.
After you choose your entity structure, you’ll also need to set up a business bank account, get an EIN (employer identification number), obtain licenses and permits, and get insurance for your cleaning business.
#3 – Invest in Cleaning Software
As previously mentioned, cleaning software can really make your life easier as you’re building a cleaning business from the ground up. There are tons of solutions to consider in this category, but Jobber is our top recommendation.
The Jobber mobile app makes it easy for you to run your business and manage your staff from anywhere.
It supports client scheduling, dispatching, online bookings, job forms, customer communication, email marketing, and so much more. Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur starting a cleaning business as a part-time side hustle or you want to run a regional empire for commercial cleaning, Jobber will support your goals.
Pricing starts at $29 per month for a single user. They also offer $99 per month and $199 per month plans that support up to seven and 30 users, respectively.
Try it for free with a 14-day trial.
#4 – Find and Attract New Clients
Once you’re officially set up, it’s just a matter of finding cleaning jobs. You can offer your services on a mix of free and paid platforms, depending on your marketing budget.
- Business website
- Google My Business
- Yellow Pages
- Google Ads
Once you start securing clients, you may start to get referrals as well. You could even set up a referral program that offers your clients a one-time discount each time they recommend someone else for your services.
#5 – Set Up a System For Estimates, Invoicing, and Payments
The days of cleaning businesses getting paid via check in the mail or cash on-site are long behind us. So you’ll need a modern tool to handle your payment acceptance.
Jobber comes with a built-in solution for managing estimates and sending invoices. You can manage all of your client’s bills through the mobile app.
Not only does this make you appear more professional, but it also ensures you get paid faster for your services. It’s really convenient for your customers if they can pay you with a credit card from a digital invoice.
Every Jobber plan comes with built-in credit card processing and a mobile card reader. Credit card rates range from 2.5% + $0.30 per transaction to 3.1% + $0.30 per transaction, depending on your plan and the payment method.
Jobber also supports ACH payments with a 1% per transaction fee.
Cleaning businesses come with a fair share of risks and potential liabilities. So you’ll want to make sure that you’re protected and compliant with all state, local, and regulatory laws.
The easiest way to ensure compliance is by consulting with a legal professional. Check out our list of the best online legal services for guidance.
You can use these legal services to help you register your business with the state, obtain licenses and permits, and understand your employer obligations.