So you want to start a cleaning business. You want to work for yourself, you love a good Mr. Clean Eraser, and TikTok videos of people cleaning are your new obsession. In terms of starting a new business, a cleaning business may be a good choice.
It’s predicted that the employment rate of maids and housekeepers alone will grow by 6.09% by 2029 and commercial cleaning at a rate of 5.4% by 2025.
The big advantage of starting a cleaning business is that you can keep it as small as you like—you cleaning homes in and around your neighborhood—or grow a lucrative commercial cleaning business with a team.
Either way, you’re going to need to know how to start a cleaning business. Lucky for you, that’s what this article is all about. We’ll tackle what a cleaning business is, the different types, why you should start a cleaning business, and the actual steps to take to get your cleaning business up and running.
What is a cleaning business?
A cleaning business is a company that offers various cleaning services to residential, commercial, industrial, or specialized clients.
The services you offer can range from general household or office cleaning to more specialized cleaning tasks like carpet cleaning, window washing, post-construction cleanup, and more.
What are the types of cleaning businesses?
One of the advantages of starting a cleaning business is that you’ve got so many options for what type of cleaning you do and how big you grow your business. Let’s explore some of the more popular cleaning businesses you could start.
1. Residential cleaning services
These businesses focus on cleaning homes, apartments, condos, and other residential spaces. They usually offer standard housekeeping services like dusting, vacuuming, mopping, and bathroom and kitchen cleaning. You could be a solo cleaner or you could hire a small team.
2. Commercial and janitorial cleaning services
These cater to businesses and commercial spaces, including offices, retail stores, restaurants, and more. They offer services like office cleaning, floor maintenance, bathroom cleanup, and common area upkeep. You would most likely be working late nights after these commercial spaces close for business.
3. Specialized cleaning services
Some companies specialize in particular cleaning areas, like carpets and upholstery cleaning, window cleaning, post-construction cleanup, industrial or warehouse cleaning, and exterior cleaning like power washing. This is a more niche way of starting a cleaning business.
4. Green cleaning services
Clients are becoming more and more eco-conscious. Green cleaning businesses focus on using environmentally friendly cleaning products and practices, appealing to a clientele where eco-friendly and sustainable cleaning solutions are important.
5. Move-in/move-out cleaning services
Move-in/move-out services target people or businesses who need a deep cleaning before moving into or out of a property. They aim to prepare or restore spaces for the new occupants. These usually involve a chunk of hours to make the space new again.
6. Special event cleaning services
These businesses provide cleaning services before and after events like weddings, parties, conferences, or exhibitions to make sure that venues are presentable and clean. You could partner with a space or with an event coordinator.
Why start a cleaning business?
Ok, but is starting a cleaning business even a good idea? We sure think so. There’s data to back up that the demand for cleaning services is growing. GrandViewResearch found that “Residential housecleaning is approaching $20 billion in annual sales with a projected annual growth rate of 20%.”
But, if you want a little more convincing that you’re on the right track, here are some advantages to starting a cleaning business:
- High demand: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a constant need for cleanliness in homes and workplaces—especially with upped protocols in public spaces. The demand for cleaning services has only grown.
- Low initial costs: The startup costs for equipment and supplies are relatively low, making getting into this market accessible for many.
- Flexibility: As a cleaning business owner, you control your work schedule, client base, and services, offering work-life balance.
- Growth potential: Starting small and expanding operations over time is absolutely possible. This means opportunities for growth in different niches or services.
How to start a cleaning business in 6 steps
Step 1: Do your research
No matter what business you start, you need to do your research, What are the needs of your target market? What are your direct competitors doing and how can you differentiate your cleaning business? What area do you want to specialize in—residential, commercial, eco-friendly cleaning, carpet cleaning, industrial window cleaning, disaster clean-up? This research is going to be the foundation of your business because it helps carve out your unique selling proposition and target audience.
Step 2: Time to decide on your niche
Decide on who’s your target clientele—residential households, businesses, or specific industries like healthcare or hospitality. Consider specializing in a particular cleaning service that differentiates you from competitors, like offering eco-friendly products or specialized deep-cleaning services. Eventually, you’re going to tailor your marketing and service offerings to cater to this niche.
Step 3: Look at the numbers
Calculate your startup costs, including cleaning supplies, equipment, transportation, insurance, marketing, and licensing fees. You can always start out small and use personal savings. If you’ve got dreams of a big business, you can explore loans or grants. Create a detailed budget to cover these expenses and account for ongoing operational costs like fuel, maintenance, and employee wages if they apply.
Once you’ve got all of these numbers, figure out how much you’re going to charge. Getting all your expenses in line first will make sure that you don’t find yourself in the red because you aren’t charging enough for your services.
Step 4: Take care of the legal stuff
Once you know who you want to help and how much it’s going to cost, you need to handle all the legal stuff. Choose a business structure, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation. Register your business name and get the necessary licenses and permits required by your state or locality, including liability insurance and bonding. Make sure you’re compliant with safety and health regulations related to cleaning products, equipment, and employment.
Step 5: Market your business and get clients
This step’s always easier said than done. This is why a solid marketing plan is the first baby step to getting clients. Luckily, there are many free or inexpensive ways to market your business and get clients. Build an online presence with a basic website, use social media platforms, and get listed in local business directories. A cleaning business does well with traditional marketing methods like flyers, business cards, and networking events as well. You can also create partnerships or collaborations with related businesses.
Once you start to get clients, encourage them to spread the word about your services and leave reviews. Word-of-mouth goes a long way.
Step 6: Grow your business
Now that you’ve got clients and have developed some systems in your business through hard work and practice, consider expanding your services or branching into new markets. You can hire employees to expand your reach, add new services to expand your offerings or franchise your business to expand your bank account.
As you can see, starting a cleaning business involves more than cleaning surfaces; it’s about slowly building a sustainable business. With careful planning and dedication, you can tap into the potential of the cleaning industry.
Prepare to clean up business-wise with Homebase.
Set yourself up for success from the get-go. One of the best things you can do when starting a new business is invest in software that can manage your business expansion now and in the future. Homebase has a suite of tools that can help your business at each stage.
Easy scheduling and time tracking as you grow your team, payroll when you need to pay your people, and team communication to stay in touch with your remote employees. Everything a new, growing business could need so you don’t have to switch as you get bigger.
How to start a cleaning business FAQs
How much money can I make by starting a cleaning business?
The amount of money you can make by starting a cleaning business really depends on a bunch of factors. Things like location, services offered, expenses, and whether you have employees from the start or not can all make a difference. According to the data we provided earlier, cleaning services are in high demand, so your success is really going to depend on how well you market your services, acquire and retain clients, and manage your business costs. It’ll take time, but the potential is there.
Do I need formal training or certification to start a cleaning business?
There are no formal education or certification requirements to start a cleaning business. But, if you want to specialize and niche down to a specific market—things like carpet cleaning, mold remediation, or using eco-friendly products—getting some training can help sell your services to clients who will pay more for someone who knows their stuff. You may also want to do some training on handling harsh chemicals so you don’t accidentally make a noxious substance.
How can I differentiate my cleaning business from competitors?
Differentiating your cleaning business involves identifying unique selling propositions (USPs) that set you apart from competitors. This is where that research step comes into play. You could offer pet clean-up with a piece of equipment none of your competitors have. You could offer window cleaning for small businesses on a monthly retainer so they don’t have to remember to call you every month. Your USP can be in the services you offer, your pricing range, special equipment you have, excellent customer service, and extra touches—like leaving a small bouquet of flowers at your clients’ house. Think outside the box!