How to start a cleaning business

Editorial Team

6 min read
Person cleans bathroom sink

Many people either don’t enjoy cleaning; don’t have the time to clean; or a combination of both. That’s where professional cleaning services come in. It’s a relatively easy venture to establish, and it may be possible to start a cleaning service even if you don’t have any prior experience.

This guide explains how to start a cleaning business that you can scale over time.

1. Get started with some general business tips

There are some general aspects of launching a business that are common to all startups – regardless of location, niche, or size. We’ve written a more comprehensive article on what’s involved, but below are the some of the most important aspects:

  • Planning: Identify your target market and determine what kinds of solutions your business will provide.
  • Registering your business: Choose a corporate structure for your startup, apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), and register your business’s name. Check out this resource for tips on how to complete these essential steps.

The remaining steps below are industry-specific, with tips on how to run a cleaning business, even if you’re starting from scratch.

2. Decide which type of cleaning services you’ll offer

Most professional cleaning services fall into one of three broad categories:

  • Residential: You interface exclusively with homeowners. You’ll likely follow normal business hours if you choose this option.
  • Commercial: Be prepared to work outside the standard workday, since many businesses only need cleaning once the office is closed.
  • Industrial: If you will be handling construction, medical, or hazardous materials, you may need extensive training.

3. Determine the range of services you’ll offer

Although residential, commercial, and industrial are useful categories with which to start, it’s possible to narrow down your offerings even further. When opening a cleaning business, for example, you could choose to specialize in the following:

  • Post-event cleaning for private parties or industry trade shows
  • Vacation rentals
  • Relocation cleaning (for people who are changing homes or offices)
  • Spring cleaning – sometimes referred to as “deep cleaning”

4. Calculate what you should charge

Some professional cleaners charge by the hour, while others charge by the job. Either way, the market largely sets a ceiling on how much your clients will be willing to pay. This threshold changes depending on your location and how specialized your services are.

Just remember the following:

  • Professional cleaners make an average of $25 to $90 an hour. Your rates should probably fall somewhere on this spectrum.
  • As long as you charge enough to cover operating expenses such as travel, supplies, business insurance, and vehicle maintenance, your startup could be profitable.

5. Obtain the necessary cleaning licenses

Professional cleaning isn’t as tightly regulated as other industries. However, to stay legitimate, you may need to secure:

  • A surety bond that acts as an insurance deposit against accidental damage

It’s also a good idea to take out general liability insurance to help cover expenses and losses stemming from accidents, injuries, or property damage.

6. Acquire the essential equipment and supplies

Although some clients will have cleaning supplies on-site, it’s customary to bring your own equipment and products with you for each session. Fortunately, there is a lot of leeway over what to include in your cleaning business equipment list.

For example, will you choose industrial-strength products that get the job done quickly and efficiently? Or will you build your brand around eco-friendly cleaning products that appeal to more health-conscious customers?

In addition, remember that cars, computers, and even your website all technically count as equipment and supplies if you use them for your professional cleaning business.

7. Hire staff for your growing business

With only 24 hours in a day, there’s a limit to how much money you can earn when working by yourself. This is true even if you charge above-market prices. This upper limit disappears once you start taking on employees. If you ever decide to franchise, the profit potential becomes higher still.

Just remember, if opening a cleaning business with employees, you are responsible for payroll, benefits, taxes, training, workplace safety, etc.

8. Select a POS system for payments and business management

Although it’s possible to run a cash-only cleaning service, accepting payments will become more complicated as the size of your operation grows. In addition, many commercial and industrial clients might insist on using corporate credit cards or ACH payments.

This is why you need a point of sale (POS) solution that can handle it all.

At Clover, for example, we offer portable, handheld POS devices such as the Go and the Flex that allow you to securely process credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, and mobile wallet payments like Apple Pay® while in the field. In addition, we provide invoicing capabilities and recurring payment functionality to help automate payments. We also partner with third-party apps in the Clover App Market to help set up appointments and manage your team’s schedule so that you don’t have to handle these types of time-consuming tasks manually.

9. Launch a marketing campaign to spread the word

Once your professional cleaning business is finally set up, you’re ready to start attracting clients. For that, you’ll need a marketing campaign that lets potential clients know about your offerings – and why they should choose your services.

As your cleaning service grows, you’ll likely want to investigate continued business development, which means scaling your operations by attracting repeat clients. When your business reaches this critical point, be sure to check out some of the customer engagement solutions that come featured with our POS solutions.

What do you need to open a cleaning business?

With a little planning, the right supplies, and a secure way to accept payments while in the field, opening a cleaning business can be relatively easy.

Whenever you’re ready to make that first sale, schedule a free consultation with our merchant services team so that we can help set you up with PCI-compliant payment processing and business management solutions.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or tax advice. Readers should contact their attorneys, financial advisors, or tax professionals to obtain advice with respect to any particular matter.

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