How to Start a Cleaning Business in 2024
Knowing how to start a cleaning business can be overwhelming but very rewarding once established. According to Indeed, a cleaner in the United States can make $24,000 to $55,000 per year, with an average of $36,000. A college degree or prior business knowledge isn't required to start a cleaning business, and the costs to start can be low. You'll likely begin by yourself (self-employed) and expand your cleaning business with more employees as it grows.
Before Starting Your Cleaning Business
Choose Your Business Type
Before starting your cleaning business, decide what business type you want to be for tax and organization purposes. Consider your budget limit, any partners or investors, tax liabilities, and potential risks. Depending on your business type, you may need to file a "doing business as" (DBA) with your state to use a specific business name rather than your personal name.
As the most common type of business, a person who owns an unincorporated business is a sole proprietorship. You'll be a sole proprietor when doing business activities unless you register as a different type of business. Starting a cleaning business with a sole proprietorship is a great choice if you want to test your ideas without spending too much time or money.
General Partnerships (GP) have two or more business partners with equally shared rights and responsibilities. General Partnerships are good for those who want to start a business together equally.
Limited Partnerships (LP) have one general partner who owns and runs the business and limited partners who are only investors. Consider Limited Partnerships if you have people willing to invest in your business
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Although it may require more resources, Limited Liability Companies (LLC) are great for medium to high-risk businesses. If you want to start a risky business, form an LLC to protect your personal assets from business debts and liabilities.
Buy a Cleaning Franchise
Instead of starting your own business from zero, consider buying a franchise from an existing brand or company. It allows your business to use the franchise's existing brand name, systems, and support. Becoming a cleaning franchisee is ideal for those who want to create something other than their own brand or want specialized help with their cleaning business. Buying a cleaning franchise can cost as little as $1,250 up to $100,000, based on your needs and goals.
Residential vs. Commercial Cleaning
In the cleaning industry, there are many different types of cleaning. Residential and commercial cleaning are two types of cleaning to consider. Afterward, you can choose a specific type of cleaning, like window cleaning, pressure wash cleaning, etc.
With Residential Cleaning, you'll be cleaning individual houses or residential properties like apartments, duplexes, or attached dwelling units (ADU). Common residential cleaning services include dusting, vacuuming, mopping, and bathroom cleaning. Residential cleaning is often done during, or shortly before or after work hours.
With commercial cleaning, you'll find yourself cleaning business properties like offices, facilities, retail stores, or campuses. Common commercial cleaning services include power washing, floor waxing, or large window cleaning. Commercial cleaning is often done after business hours to avoid interrupting daily business activities.
Learning How to Clean Properly
Depending on what type of cleaning you want to get into, it's important to learn the proper ways on how to clean safely and effectively. Look into watching cleaning influencers or "cleanfluencers" on social media sites that will show you how to clean properly. Some may also even provide helpful tips and tricks for your cleaning business.
Set Your Cleaning Prices and Services
You're almost ready to start cleaning, but you'll need to figure out what services you'll offer and at what price. See what other cleaning services your area offers to the community by searching through Yelp or Google. Then, list your cleaning services and the competitive prices you'll provide based on your research. Consider a slightly lower price to find work quicker to build your portfolio and credibility.
Getting Clients and Cleaning Jobs
Landing your first client may take some time since you're a new cleaning business. Don't worry; your cleaning company will have an easier time getting clients with a stronger portfolio and credibility as you go. Here are some free ways to find cleaning jobs without spending a dime!
Word of Mouth
Tell your friends and family about how you've started a new cleaning business. Let them know about the cleaning services and prices you offer. They've known you for some, so they'll trust whether you can do the job based on your personal and work ethics. They're also more willing to help someone they know than a random cleaning company.
Post on Advertising Websites
Sites like Craigslist help you find work and inform others about your cleaning services. A simple "household cleaning" or "residential cleaning" search should give you an idea of what to post and look for.
Social Media Advertising
Like advertising websites, you can post on social media sites such as Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, or Reddit to inform others about your services. Although not required, creating quality posts here is best, as people will engage with and remember your business more. Consistent posting is ideal as it helps you develop a community and get more potential clients for your business.
Cleaning Business Expenses
Buying Cleaning Supplies and Equipment
After you've figured out your business type and services, it's time to buy the supplies and equipment needed. With fast shipping services like Amazon, buying cleaning supplies and equipment after you've secured work (depending on your start date) is possible. That way, you can save time and money until needed.
Common Equipment for Cleaning Businesses
- Vacuum cleaner: Consider a commercial vacuum cleaner, as vacuuming is often needed.
- Cleaning solutions: Although all-purpose cleaners may be useful, specific cleaning jobs may require a specific solution (e.g., glass cleaners or disinfectants).
- Cleaning tools: Use sponges, microfiber clothes, rags, or squeegees to clean surfaces or common areas.
- Mop and bucket: Clean hard floors with a mop and a bucket of water or cleaning solution. For electric mops, keep the cord length and available outlets in mind.
- Broom and dustpan: It's best to sweep if there is certain debris or areas where the vacuum isn't ideal.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE): Use gloves and face masks to protect your skin and body from harmful vapors, dust, or liquids.
Tracking Cleaning Business Expenses
As a small cleaning business, saving money lets you invest more into your company or yourself. Since most cleaning business costs are tax-deductible, you can write them off on your taxes. With business tax write-offs, you'll pay less to the IRS when filing taxes. Since you must keep records and logs of your business purchases in case of a tax audit, a business expense tracker is recommended to help you keep track of business expenses and receipts.
Business or Personal Insurance
If you've started your cleaning company as a sole proprietorship, consider buying personal insurance for yourself in case it's needed. Paying out of pocket can be costly, and small business insurance plans may be available in your state.
Generally, you'll want business insurance depending on how risky your cleaning jobs can be. Business insurance is ideal for protecting your cleaning business from severe financial losses due to the business risks involved. For example, common business insurance may protect you from accidental property damage, workplace injuries, and lawsuits.
Taxes for Cleaning Businesses
It's important to know your tax due dates depending on your business type and location. Knowing when certain taxes are due lets you avoid surprise tax fines or penalties. For example, as a sole proprietorship, you may pay quarterly takes if you make over a certain amount. Meanwhile, partnerships or corporations may have annual tax fees and quarterly tax reporting.
Scaling Your Cleaning Business
After establishing your cleaning business for some time, you can expand it if you have enough funds or want to take on more risks or jobs. Scaling your cleaning business can increase your revenue by a considerable amount. You might even become a franchisor!
Hiring More Employees
You can hire more workers to help you with cleaning jobs. With a larger workforce, you can take on more and bigger jobs for your cleaning business. As you often hear, "Teamwork makes the dream work."
Changing Business Types
Depending on how you want to scale, it might be time to change your sole proprietorship to an LLC or a corporation. For example, changing your business type to an LLC lets you take on more risks while keeping your personal assets safe.
Remember posting on social media sites for free? You can guarantee that a certain audience sees your ads or posts with paid advertising. Paid advertising can show your cleaning business to those who most likely need cleaning done.
Starting a cleaning business can be overwhelming, but having a business plan and guidance makes it possible. There are decisions to be made in all stages of your business. You can start looking for work after figuring out your business type and services. After establishing your cleaning business, you can start scaling it to make more money.